Pins and picks

Pins and PicksCleaning off the top of my dresser is always an exercise in personal topography. The year tends to pile up in patches if you don’t get around to shoveling change into the jar and sorting through the many things that are so easy to toss on the dresser.

And this morning while cleaning up, two things stood in juxtaposition. A race number with pins and a set of guitar picks.

The pins and the race number are indicators of that very public commitment you make to participate in an event. You prepare for such things with training, fully knowing your performance will be out there for everyone to see.

The guitar picks, by contrast, are these days a somewhat more private matter. I play songs between writing projects, and try to perfect them to the point that they feel good to play. Some chords can be tough to do in progression. So I practice, and it seldom makes perfect. But it’s a great stress reliever to play music. And it’s fun.

I once shared in the leadership of a church Praise band. For the first few years, my job was rhythm guitar. That means you play the chords, keep the beat and help the band stay on track. For six or eight years I played on Sundays, and even wrote a song, performed it live and that was pretty well received.

For years, I played under the leadership of a talented couple. One played piano and sang. The other had an amazing voice and led the singers. We turned rock standards into church music and played that litany of Praise songs that all contemporary services play. Some of it really sucks. The key changes are maudlin. The lyrics repetitive. But they become standards anyway. Who knows why?

But when our lead couple left the church for other opportunities, I was left with other musicians to lead the thing and we made do. In fact, we made some decent music together. Some weeks I even served as the leader.

My training in the music field technically ended in the 7th grade. But for many years, I sang in the church choir. Not extremely well, grant you. My voice in most circumstances is just passable. On occasion, it actually sounds nice.

Then one day after leading the Praise service someone told me that I should sing more. But I know my limits, and which songs I can handle. Others take my voice to places it does not want to go. That’s a bad scene. Like barfing in the transition area at a triathlon.

It’s always a similar endeavor with endurance sports, is it not? It takes personal courage to give singing in public a try, and it takes guts to go out there and swim, run or ride until you can’t anymore. Sometimes you’re in tune for the day. Sometimes you are not. When you get out there and sense that you are “off key” somehow, you have to make the best of it whether you like it or not.

Ooops

The last time I performed in public on guitar, a horrible thing happened. I’d gotten there early to prepare because I was going to do a painting live during the service along with playing in the Praise Band. There were people running around fixing up the tarps so I would not get paint on the floor, and that was my focus too.

And regretfully, I went out to tune my guitar alone. There was just one problem. The tuner was not set to the 440 mhz it needed to be on key. It was set higher. When I came back to play, it was too late to change it.

When the music started I immediately heard my guitar was out of whack. But there was nothing I could do. I felt a rush of angst and embarrassment, and disappointment that my rhythm guitar would be absent on a piece that needed it.

It wasn’t the first time things like that have happened. And it won’t be the last. Whether it’s forgetting your cycling shoes or helmet, or having no battery in your acoustic guitar for the amp, things happen that are “in your control” and yet “out of your control.” Those are the tarsnakes of this life. But they should not stop us from trying.

Thus the picks and the pins both are a reminder to be prepared the best you can. And to clean off your dresser now and then.

WRARShirtGraphic

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Would love your feedback on my shirt graphics

Creating shirt graphics for We Run and Ride. And through that process have come up with a philosophy that expresses the goals of this blog.

There is a front graphic that looks like this on a white shirt with black shoulders. (cycling)

WRARFrontGraphic

And a back graphic that is looking like this with a couple centering tweaks.

WRARShirtGraphic

Would love to know what you think.

 

Thanks!

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Get your FTP face on

Cyclists love empiric data. As they say in so many endurance sports, the numbers don’t lie.

And yet most endurance athletes with any amount of experience grow pretty good at lying to themselves. It’s a necessity some days. When the cadence drops and the wind is bullying down your throat, you don’t really care if your RPMS hover in the low 70s rather than the mid90s. If a bigger gear gets you through the miserable miles on the wheel of the rider ahead, all good. Cadence be damned.

Which makes the act of riding on a stationary bike in an FTP test something quite interesting to face. The commiserative moaning and groaning about the pending pedalfest was fair enough warning that it would not be easy. But what about cycling ever is? I’ve only been on a bike three times this year. The warmups feel hard at first.

So it could have been embarrassing when the coach went through the numbers one by one after the class had completed its 20-minute FTP. My numbers were singularly unimpressive. My engine does not crank out high wattage by dint of will. I already knew that. I’ve been at this endurance sports game since I was twelve. Learned to accept that without a healthy base, you’re nowhere.

After the event, another coach quietly asked me, “Were you happy with your FTP test?” Of course not. I muttered, “No.” And that’s about all there was to say. The numbers don’t lie, you see. 168 watts on average is nothing to brag about. The resounding silence is real.

Sweat Shop Two

But it’s nothing to be ashamed of, either. Because my focus during the ride, whether this was smart or not, was on keeping my cadence at or near 90. You can see from the early spike that the gear I was assigned to ride was not going to happen. And the 220 level I was assigned was just eyeballed from the outset of my setup at the Sweat Shop. It was not based on any prior data.

There was no way my riding was going to continue at an output of 280 watts. My legs would have imploded. Yet one gear down felt manageable. Sustainable. My legs were feeling it, and there were 19 minutes to go.

So I kept my eyes on the RPMs. What else was there to do? One could argue, since my watts were well below the threshold of 220 assigned by the Computrainer, that was a mistake. I only crossed the red line into Gloryland a few times.

cud-racingBut damn was I consistent on that cadence. I stared at that green bar with intensity the whole time. Coach came by and said, “I like that face.” Because I look like a haggard old hawk when I stare. Always have. Always will.

It’s my… “This may suck but I don’t give up easily” look.

During the test, Coach Rick came by a couple times and glanced at the red bar indicating my low wattage status. Nothing was said, but it was obvious Red is no one’s favorite color in an FTP test. I was bleeding watts, and it was not a pretty sight.

But my Green Happy Place continued on. Mr. Cadence, I was. Maybe I’ll adopt that name now that the local group of hospitals formerly named Cadence has been absorbed by a big Purple Monster named Northwestern Medicine. You can’t compete in the world of healthcare these days if you can’t push the Big Ring.

As for little old me, many times over the years I’ve been counseled by good cyclists to “stay in the small ring” for the first 1000 miles of the season. Don’t push the big gears until you’re ready and the legs have built up the small capillaries necessary to sustain both cadence and endurance.

An FTP test goes completely against this logic, which has, by the way, worked well for me a number of years. Build fitness on a base, then add in intervals, then speed. Works in running. Cycling. Maybe even swimming.

Don’t get me wrong. I go against conventional training practices all the time. Even though I run only 15-20 miles a week in training, I still do hard speed work once a week that makes up about 20% of my total runs. That worked to get me a 42:00 10k last fall, a two-minute improvement over the year before. That’s a pretty decent return on investment, I think.

Back when I started cycling seriously ten years ago, I raced in criteriums 11 times that first year. I accepted the fact that you need to go fast in order to improve. A local bike shop sponsors weekly criterium races at an underdeveloped industrial park near my home. Last year I didn’t race there at all due to other obligations and priorities. So my speed and wattage likely suffered for that lack of high-pressure riding. Criteriums, like the Computrainer, do not lie. You either stick with the bunch or you get dropped.Still, I rode homestyle crits on the big block near my house, and averaged just over 20mph on the Felt last summer.

As for Computraining, I expect the same principles to go to work. Repetition builds muscle, which builds aerobic capacity. Then you can build speed and watts. Otherwise, you’re just fooling yourself. Not facing up to reality. Fitness does not happen by magic. I have never been the guy with the automatic Big Engine. Yes, I was better than many at the running thing. But it always took work, hard work, to achieve a decent level of fitness. And I learned the hard way that I was not world class, or really anywhere near it. But not for lack of trying. Won my share of races, and am happy to have that in the bank of good memories.

Fortunately, my mountain bike wheel is now repaired (broken spoke) and my Specialized Rockhopper is ready for some miles in February. That will be good base work.

And yesterday, in a tantalizing moment, I got to glimpse and lift the new matte black Specialized Venge Expert bike that was ordered and assembled for me at Mill Race Cyclery. As soon as I pay off the rest of that baby with cash, and after a bike fit, it’s mine to ride.

Venge

Because while I love the Waterford in terms of look and feel, it has never been fitted to my body. I jerked the seat way up front for last night’s riding and who knows if that was the right or wrong thing to do. I was just guessing. I’ve been wobbling back and forth during every ride in Computraining. Surely that’s a bit of wasted energy. You think?

Like most things in life, guesswork about the bike gets you nowhere fast. Which is why we all do FTP tests. To remove the guesswork and figure out what kind of bloody watts we’re all cranking out.

It’s something you have to face sooner or later. Might was well get at it.

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Why stuff like fashion, sexism and ageism matter to those who run, ride and swim

So yesterday’s rather long blog about Victoria’s Real Secret might seem to be off the subject of running and riding and swimming.

But I think about these things because they do relate to the worlds of running, cycling and swimming. And multisport as well.

For example, in reference to the evolution of women’s specific exercise clothing, and how it took years for women to get what they wanted (not just what men thought they wanted)  I saw this interesting meme on Instagram this morning. It was posted by trichicks.

Suit Up.png

It’s pretty clear some serious thinking goes into women’s specific clothing. And it’s so easy to take these details from granted. But over the years, I’ve watched the evolution of women’s specific apparel, and to me it’s personal because the women friends in my life matter to me. I get happy about the thought that all women can share in activities that used to be for men only. .

And as my blog yesterday also discussed, there’s still a lot of body shaming going on, and it’s coming from both men and women. For example, I also stumbled this morning on an article about what Susan Sarandon wore to the SAG Awards (that’s the Screen Actors Guild) and the nasty messages people posted on Twitter about her cleavage. They said she was too old to wear a low cut outfit. They made jokes about the “sag” awards as if showing her 60+ breasts was shameful. But here’s a photo of Susan Sarandon. She looks great and stands up well against all the other gals showing their cleavage. It’s her goddamned right.

Susan.png

Oh, and that’s Piers Morgan weighing in below the photo. “Very tacky, Ms Sarandon,” he snarks.

Yes, there are situations in which women step over the line when it comes to what they wear. We’ve all been to that 4th of July party where an elder gal at the party is falling out of her dress. People wish she would just put it away.

But I also admire women that decide to wear what they bloody well want. It’s a bold, happy statement for an older woman with ample breasts to just put it out there and say, in essence, “Deal with it.”

But that’s not precisely the case here either. Susan Sarandon is wearing a quite lovely bra under that white jacket. And it’s just like I was talking about in the blog yesterday. Underwear has become outwear, and in its context, that is a statement about owning your body. It’s the same with wearing a sports bra out to go for a run. Perhaps you cover up to go to Trader Joes. But when you’re running, you can wear what you want.

The same goes for men and their bike shorts, by the way. It doesn’t hurt to put on some nice baggy shorts if you’re going to the grocery store after a ride. And really, tight-fitting clothing does have its place in many societal situations.

Helen-Mirren-helen-mirren-32853620-2000-2020Yet there’s also an ugly bit of ageism going on against Susan Sarandon. Why is sheHelen Mirren being busted when Helen Mirren has made a similar go of it with her aging body and been celebrated? This idea that women are not allowed to age is ridiculous. Certainly Helen Mirren was a young beauty. Yet she’s just as stunning in her elder years.

She even posed nude and that was also a wonderful statement that aging does not mean you’re all used up.

Think about the finish line of your typical triathlon or running event. There are women crossing that line with wrinkles and aging skin. Their bodies may not be what they once were, for certain. But there is great beauty in perseverance.

In an interesting alignment with the Internet gods, this morning I also watched this hilarious and biting video from Amy Schumer. It’s about the Last Fuckable Day among Hollywood actresses. It throws the bullshit expectations of age and women’s body image out the window. Watch it and laugh. And just try to get that image of white spiders out of your head.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 2

THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON — Episode 0291 — Pictured: Comedian Amy Schumer on July 15, 2015 — (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Of course, Amy Schumer rips these perceptions up with regularity. She talks about sex and body parts and wears her own weight with gloriously feminine panache. Her movie Trainwreck admits this is not always a pretty process. The character she plays has genuine issues about commitment and relationships. Well, duh.

But how many times have you seen a woman out for a run with a little bit more weight on her body than she’s probably like and thought to yourself, “You go girl.”

Because for whatever reason she chooses: For health, for weight loss for sanity…that’s a choice she’s making that day. And generally, that’s a good one.

Of course, society can be cruel in such circumstances. Men can shout out the windows of their cars. Whether for compliment or insult, street harassment is still an issue for women.

So it all fits together you see. Just like I said in yesterday’s blog, it’s all about respect in the end. Showing it. Giving it. Expecting it in return. Respect is the foundation of all relationships, public or private.

And respect is the foundation for social justice. Running and riding and swimming play an important societal role in this evolving world. They teach us how to respect the effort of others. Give us empathy for their struggles, and our own. We can align and share these experiences with people of different cultures, races, gender and orientation.

That’s exactly why I write this blog. And always have. And always will.

 

 

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Victoria’s real secret

Boys are like BrasVictoria’s Secret is one of the better merchandisers on this planet. They use every marketing technique available to sell product. From direct mail to text marketing,  email to producing that annual underwear fest they call a TV show. It’s all about moving product. 

I get their emails and mailers because I try to do the right thing and buy what my girlfriend wants. And we’ll get to what that actually means. For the moment, what really intrigued me was the Subject Line of an Email received in my inbox from Victoria’s Secret.

It said: “BOYS ARE LIKE BRAS.”

That made me laugh out loud. Really? Why is that, I wanted to know? Well, it turns out we’re hardly one of a kind. Because the email opens up to a subhead that reads:

So. Many. Options. So why choose just one?

Okay, I get it now. Boys are kind of like bras. Girls do try them on for size. Some they keep. Others they dump. It’s just like Elle King’s recent bop-hop song X’s and O’s

Well, I had me a boy, turned him into a man

I showed him all the things that he didn’t understand

Whoa, and then I let him go

Now, there’s one in California who’s been cursing my name

‘Cause I found me a better lover in the UK

Hey, hey, until I made my getaway

This is the age of female empowerment after all. It took Cosmo magazine 30 years and thousands of headlines telling women how to please a man, and get pleasure in return. And then Victoria’s Secret came along to ostensibly aid women in achieving that goal. As if pleasing a man really takes much effort.

But honestly, I don’t think that’s the real reason why most women buy sexy little bits of underwear. If you learn your way around a Victoria’s Secret store (and guys, you should) it becomes apparent that women’s panties are not about you at all. Panties are essentially a pretty, disposable item. 

For one thing, panties don’t cost all that much. They’re really a loss leader to get women buying other, more expensive items like bras and sprays. You can get six pairs of panties for only $27.00 during one of those VS specials. That’s about the same price guys pay for a set of Hane’s tagless tee shirts at your local Kohl’s store. Think about that for a minute. We’re starting to dial in here. Stick with it.

Those men’s tee shirts last about a year and then the cotton starts to turn a sad grayish color and the material gets floppy around the neck. At that point, most wives secretly dump those old tee shirts into the shoe polish bin and magically a new set of tee shirts appears in the drawer. It’s a simple science. All you need to know is a guy’s chest size and replacing tee shirts is easy. The old tee shirts go off to the thrift store and the old briefs or boxer underwear get tossed into the garbage. 

Practically nothing

It’s a more complicated process in the other direction. It’s a practical fact that women never hurl piles of used panties or bras into a sack and drag them to the thrift shop. As any woman can tell you, that’s just plain gross. There are too many things going on down there for even healthy women to recycle underwear of any kind. And when a bra has finished its service, it won’t even function as a decent slingshot. All these trifles and nothings that women wear under their clothing are fashionable, but ultimately dispensable. If they happen to look sexy, that’s simply the tradeoff for the practical realities of being female. There’s even a transitional store for younger women that goes by the name PINK. It accomplishes the same purpose. 

Unmentionables

So this is a kind way of explaining why there are so many kinds of panties, and in so many pretty colors and patterns. They are camouflage for the gritty fact of being a female. That’s Victoria’s real secret. Make a woman feel pretty through the earthy verve of being a woman and all that it entails, and you have won her heart.

I know I’m right about this because as you’ll note, there is no male equivalent to Victoria’s Secret. Not unless you count Gander Mountain or Cabela’s. Or perhaps a local Under Armor store.

It is interesting to note that the sports industry has gravitated back to the idea where controlling your junk is again a priority. Back in the 60s and 70s men wore jockstraps, which were nothing more than utility thongs with side bands. And they worked.

Deny it all you like, but there was an autoerotic aspect to jockstraps with that stretchy pouch to hold a man’s wank and jewels. Any guy that says he never got a hard-on while putting on a jock is a complete and total liar. Of course, at the age at which most boys began wearing jockstraps, all it took was a stiff breeze to generate an erection. So the premise of that argument is slightly flawed. But you get the drift. 

From jocks to flops

New BalanceThen jockstraps went out of fashion, replaced by running shorts with built-in briefs. These were, at first, an unsettling development. The flop-around factor was considerable, but one got used to that pretty quick. There was a liberating aspect to having your crank flop around inside silk shorts.

This was the 70s, after all, the decade when lots of body parts were flopping around. Women’s breasts drove the jiggle factor that took over our TV sets. Programs like Battle of the Network Stars and Three’s Company were about little more than erect nipples and bouncing breasts.

You may recall that during that same period, some groups of women actually burned their bras. That turned out to be both an iconic and an ironic act. In the short term, all it did was draw even more sexual attention and objectification to women. Not all political actions have straight line results.  

But perhaps there was something else going on. Those old-style giant white bras were sexual in a Rocky Horror Picture Show sort of way. The taboo of those massive undergarments was the entire dynamic. Burning those bras was opening the door to a different kind of revolution.

Because along came the women’s revolution in athletics. No longer did women want to truck about in what amounted to giant white torture devices. The sports bra was invented, and at first, they were all white and had all the fashion glory of a potato sack with the potatoes still stuck inside. Then came the invention of Spandex, which was turned into tights and shorts and finally stretchy bras that were slightly more flattering and functional. Then these garments evolved into yoga pants and athletic wear of a thousand variegations.

Brands for women

It was no coincidence that during the feminist revolution, bras underwent a comfort revolution as well. Women of all sizes wanted bras that not only fit, but worked to prevent breasts from flopping around too much. It was only 30 years ago that the first sports bras emerged on the market. It wasn’t until women took over the process that gals got bras and shorts that actually fit their bodies. Now there are brands for women such as Athleta and Title 9 and Lulomon that specialize in clothing women actually want to wear to work out.

So, if you’re a guy who wants to buy your gal something she really likes, it pays to ask a few questions. That goes for just about everything you ever buy for a woman. Even an engagement ring. Just ask. It’s not that hard. You’ll likely learn a ton of interesting things about how she thinks before the conversation’s over. It’s an Eternal Rule. If you actually listen to what a woman is saying, that will be greatly appreciated. And so will you.

The other Eternal Rule is that while it might appear that women are dressing for you, they’re really not. You’ll note that while Victoria’s Secret also sells workout wear, including sports bras and tee shirt bras and bras that just plain look pretty, there is always a practical issue underlying all these pretty things.

Fashion choices

BrandiYou’ll note that some of the sports bras women can buy are worn without a shirt over them. If women choose to do that, it is a man’s job not to stare. Not all women are imitating Madonna, who started the whole trend of wearing regular bras over her clothes.

Athletic women are far more like soccer player Brandi Chastain who tore off her jersey after winning a soccer game and did so in an enthusiastic, unadorned celebration of life itself. That act generated a lot of controversy, yet in the end, it produced a remarkable change in attitudes toward women athletes. One of respect. 

Morals and morality

The moral of this story is that Victoria’s Secret is not really what you think it is. Sure, the company uses sexuality to sell its product. But in truth, that’s only part of the story. all that sexy marketing is in sum, a ruse to disguise the very practical fact of women want to feel good about themselves. The display pretty bra straps calculatedly layered to show off shoulders may seem entirely sexual, but it’s really not. It’s a fashion statement, and that’s a very different thing. Women (and some enlightened men) actually know this. It’s a brand of visual dialogue that leaps all the way over to the running track, and cycling gear, and swimwear, all of which have a function called performance. And that’s the metric by which women really want to be valued. Yes, it’s nice to be visually appreciated, but not at the cost of letting me be who I am

Fashion and fascism

Because fashion is such an accepted part of being human, it can easily be misunderstood. But as this dialogue from the movie The Devil Wears Prada explains, the underlying fact of what we wear is a reflection of a collective desire for attention and respect. The two can appear to be in conflict when women seem to sexualize themselves and then complain when getting unwanted attention from men. But it’s all part of a perpetually evolving dynamic in which women and all of humanity struggles for respect, equality and empowerment. Fashion is just one of the tools of that expression. This passage from the dialogue in The Devil Wears Prada describes the trickle-down effect of fashion versus the desire to make choices and empowerment of ideas on our own. 

This… ‘stuff’? Oh… ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.

If that seems Draconian and the product of a power-mongering control freak, then you’re paying attention. But in the end, it’s not that the fashion industry entirely controls us. It’s that fashion in all its forms both controls and reflects an individual and collective struggle for recognition, and freedom to choose.

Perversions

Those trends and choices are so easily perverted and exploited by mass communications and politics. One of the mistakes some political leaders make in seeking and wielding power is that they come to assume that the process of creating political “fashion,” their ideology, as it were, places them above the fact that people everywhere still have the right to make their own choices. They ultimately mistake, as Miranda Priestley did, their power for their purpose.

Tragically, when politicians begin to assume they are capable of making individual choices for people, controlling their rights, they have drifted out of the realm of political fashion into a brand of fashionable fascism.

That’s why some brands of male politicians cannot bring themselves to actually respect women even as they sexualize and worship them. They fear women’s bodies even as they desire them. This taboo is use as some sort of excuse to push women into roles or positions they may not desire. This male habit is even codified in the Bible in laws against women that proclaim them “unclean” during their menstrual cycles. And in today’s political climate, this “fear versus respect” internal conflict among some groups of men still drives them to politicize issues of women’s health and take away reproductive freedom. There is fascism in this brand of misogyny.

Confusing messages

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret sells millions of panties making some men think that all women are dressing for them, when in fact those women are dressing for themselves, and perhaps their friends as well. That’s simply approaching fashion in a signatory way. It sends signals of both choice and collaboration. It happens that some gay men are known to dress well, and it is also a signatory device.

But you’ll notice that at the end of the movie The Devil Wears Prada, the character Andy Sachs chooses to reject the more fascist leanings of the fashion industry, which demands that she conform and go along or be cast out. She walks away from her job with Miranda Priestley even though that position confers the young assistant with enormous power. She makes an even more powerful choice on her own volition, and goes into journalism. Because that’s who she ultimately is. She just dresses better now.

The real Victoria’s Secret

The fact that dressing pretty can make a woman feel good about herself, and her body, is the Victoria’s Secret men actually need to learn. It’s not about you, guys. It’s about them. And until you understand that you will never be in on the real secret. It’s called respect, and that’s the most interesting thing you can give to any woman.

But a nicely fashionable bag is a good gift too. Just know what you’re doing, lest you look like a fool.

Nate: Why do women need so many bags?

Lilly: Shut up.

Nate: You have one. You put all your junk in it, and that’s it. You’re done.

Doug: Fashion is not about utility. An accessory is merely a piece of iconography used to express individual identity.

Lilly: Oh! And it’s pretty.

Doug: That too.

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Coping with a world of clutter

 

clutter

Not my work space. Just a testimonial on clutter from the Internet.

A friend posted an article to Facebook about the potential benefits of clutter. I haven’t read the piece yet. I actually don’t intend to read it. I don’t want to justify clutter in any way. In fact, I have already had so much experience with clutter in my life I already know its benefits and detractions.

I have empathy for all those who deal with clutter as a fact of life. From young moms and dads dealing with multiple children, their toys, laundry and toddler detritus, to caregivers dealing with the ongoing burden of health management. I’ve been there. Done that.

As a generally creative person, I know how clutter works, and doesn’t. I’ve been known to scatter materials over a desk or work area to the point where the word “organization” applies as a construct, but not a reality. I also know how to leave this well enough alone during the creative process. You can kill the flow of a project if you spend more time shuffling paper around when the painting or article or solutions are in the making.

Over time I’ve come to learn the balance. Cleaning up your studio before starting a new painting can mace6cdb30879031.56058a85895a5ke the difference between having materials at hand when you need them and having to stop and potentially lose an important moment when the paint is wet and the ideas are happening.

It’s true with watercolor or acrylic or pastel or any other medium in which you want to work. It’s true in writing fiction or non-fiction, B2B technical writing or a blog about hemlines in fashion. Creativity is a balance between organizing your thoughts at the beginning and bringing them out without interruption. I don’t buy the idea that creative people have to be messy in order to do their work. Creativity is both a freedom and a discipline.

Clutter can kill this balance. Throw it out of whack. Searching for notes to write an article or clamming around to find the right jar of paint during a project can bog things down, cause one to lose sight of the aim, and even blow and opportunity for success. All it takes is a missed train to blow an important meeting, or an untied shoelace to blow chances for a PR in a 10K race.

Cluttered ShelfAgain, I have total empathy for those dealing with clutter as a time-pressure of reality rather than a choice. For the last 15 years of my life, I’ve been a direct or indirect caregiver to both my parents and my late wife. During those years it has often been difficult to keep up with the physical and emotional clutter of details and things, always things, that can clutter and preoccupy the mind.

Only recently did my dog move out to live with my daughter. And while I miss his company some days, it has been revelatory to be able focus on my needs and priorities in some respects. He was back for a weekend visit and it was fun. But for now, I’m happy to have him enjoy life with my daughter.

Being responsible for others can be both a clutter maker and a clutter cleaner. You learn to cope, and it can refine your own methods and mind. But we need a bit of both. Obligation and freedom each act as a refining aspect in our lives.

Hoarded living room, Essex.

Things that “don’t go together” in a hoarder’s house.

People who live with hoarders know how difficult life among clutter can be. I recall threading my way through the home of an aged aunt when I was a child. There were stacks of magazines head-high throughout the whole house. Back then I did not understand what that meant. The musty, dusty home in which they lived was jammed with layers of goods both valuable and invaluable. That’s just how it was when we visited.

When they died, the house sat untended for a year. Finally, thieves broke into the house and made off with treasures of Indian arrowhead collections, antique clocks and who knows what else. So much for the clutter. Nature abhors both a vacuum and a stash.

The show American Pickers makes use of this kind of stored clutter to trace American history and celebrate that which we cannot bring ourselves to throw away. Hang onto anything long enough, the show says, and it becomes a keepsake.

With some objects, this is indeed true. Yesterday while cleaning out the closets in my bedroom and inventorying clothing to give to Goodwill or Amvets, I found a simple box at Gold Pursethe back of a closet. Opening the box, I found a gold purse that had been owned by my late grandmother-in-law. It shone with its own life inside that box. And I knew that my daughter would want that clutch purse.

Indeed, it turned out to be the one thing she most prized in memory of her great-grandmother. So I delivered that purse to her last evening when I brought the dog back to her place.

That process of cleaning out all my closets turned up other valuables as well. I found my Chicago Blackhawks cap hanging all alone on the hat rope in the front hall closet. I also dug up my black arm warmers for cycling, and realized I need to look for the newer pair of cycling boots for winter riding.

That was the purpose of all this cleaning. My life is changing in some very good ways of late. The decision to open an art studio at Water Street Studios has made a big difference in productivity and interest in my work. I’ve been keeping that studio space organized and neat. That didn’t use to be my habit.

Venge.jpgGoing into the new year with cycling, I’ll soon have a new bike. With a new fit. And a new set of plans to train and race. I want to be organized about all of that. Want to respect the new equipment with regular upkeep. Not let the goo collect at the base of the bike frame. Nor let the chain get black and gritty. All of that dirt and grime slows you down at some level. As does hunting around for bike gear on the morning of a ride. Same goes for running and swimming gear as well.

Being organized and getting rid of clutter means making good choices before you even begin the workout or embark for a race. And what else is a Transition Zone in a triathlon but an organizational venture to get you in and out of T1 and T2 as fast as possible? It certainly does not help to have your gloves scattered and your shoes knotted. That’s why people lay all that out in advance, and have quicklaces in their shoes. It’s all to reduce the clutter of competition.

 

Uncluttered ClosetI have long reveled in the joy in being fully prepared for a race. After you’ve done the hard work and tested yourself in workouts that go well beyond the pain of racing, it feels good to lace on those shoes on a fresh morning and get warmed up. You’re organized. The clutter of doubt is vanquished from your mind. You are going to give it your best.

That’s how I want to live all of my life. And yes, there will be times when clutter comes back around. It always does. We’re all human. Yet being too possessive and neat is just as bad in some ways as being overwhelmed by clutter.

It is very important to understand that the emotional component of clutter is just as real as the physical. Just last year I tossed a bunch of meaningless trophies that had sat collecting dust for more than two decades. At what point do we divest ourselves of such needless memories? I simply did not need the first place trophy from the Amboy 5 Mile in 1984.

At the same time, I just bit the bullet and paid off an unhealthy chunk of credit card debt that had accrued through poor financial habits. Talk about clutter of the mind! Making minimum payments and watching interest cancel them out is no way to live. That was a financial tarsnake for sure. And while the big payoff hurt to accomplish, it sets the stage for a better future.

So I spent the day Sunday cleaning out closets and making decisions about what to keep and throw out. Granted, an organized closet filled with suits that I seldom wear is a philosophical conundrum of sorts. But when I do wear a suit, I know where to find them. And that’s what really counts. In fact, I recently gave away one of my suits to a young man that needed one to do a job interview. He got the job, and it’s making a big difference in his attitude, and his entire life.

I could have been sentimental about that suit. But it wasn’t worth it. It is perhaps as important to de-clutter our emotions as it is to fix the organization of our physical space. Clearing the mind for new adventures is a healthy thing. It makes room for imagination and its partner, endeavor.

So here’s my simple little list for reducing clutter in your life. It’s all about making decisions in the moment, so that you can see the long term.

  1. Tackle one “room” or one issue at a time, and stage clutter into categories so you can make decisions about what to keep and throw out.
  2. Get help if you need it. Having a third party take a look at your circumstance can be vital to making decisions about what to keep.
  3. Get real about the sentimental attachment to “things.” People often keep objects and things for unhealthy, unresolved reasons. If you find yourself bogged down by emotions about your possessions or clutter, talk to a therapist. All of us have emotional baggage, and that inevitable gets expressed in clutter. If hoarding is an issue for you or someone in your life, it needs to be addressed.
  4. Compare your “real” goals to a life with clutter. What is it you want to achieve, and why is clutter in the way? Often that is the source of clutter. People are typically afraid of what it really means to clean up, and step up. It obligates us to take action and confront the reality of our denial and procrastination on difficult ideas or challenges.
  5. Prioritize to shift clutter where it belongs. Bills sitting out on a counter along with magazines, plates and other detritus are simply decisions waiting to be made.
  6. Write down what it takes to succeed, and consider those habits that lead to that. When it comes to your running, riding and swimming, that may be simple as organizing your gear each week.

Coping with clutter is all about making decisions. In the end it will benefit you by clearing your mind for training and competition. And that’s worth it.

See you on the road.

Runoverthetarsnakes2

 

 

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The dashboard melted but we still have the radio…

DashboardOne of my favorite scenes in the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” finds the characters played by John Candy and Steve Martin pulled over by a policemen who is more than a little fascinated by the condition of their car. Of course, their vehicle burned up in a hilarious incident the night before, and there is ice and snow covering the vehicle as they drive down the road in their horrific caps. Yet when stopped by the police, Candy points out that it’s the damndest thing. The dashboard melted but the radio still works.

Then years later, along came the song Dashboard by Modest Mouse. Please watch the video. It’s so delightfully strange. But the lyrics tell a story of survival in the face of strange odds.

Well, it would’ve been
Could’ve been worse than you would ever know
Oh, the dashboard melted
But we still have the radio

Getting through some of life’s experiences is all we can do sometimes. A few friends of mine, men and women, have recently gone through marriage breakups. Some have discovered that despite the meltdown of their marriages, their “radios” still work. The voice in their head tells them that it’s going to be okay.

Oh, it could’ve been
Should’ve been worse than you would ever know
Well, the windshield was broken
But I love the fresh air ya know
(The dashboard melted, but we still have the radio)

I have had friends, and sons and daughters of friends, that have come through drinking problems or substance abuse. Some of these situations were responses to life’s generally hot breath. Others were damaged from the inside out. The drugs were attempts to self medicate.

Why should we ever even ever really even get to know?
(It was impossible, we ran it good, we ran it good)
Oh, if the world don’t like us
It’ll shake us just like we were a co-oh-oh-oh-old
Now here we go!

I take a dose of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicine each day. It helps, as the psychiatrist who prescribed it once said, “to put air in the tires.” Like many people, I’ve come through some intense stuff in life. Caregiving. Lost people that I love. Faced work and financial challenges. But as noted, my radio is still playing. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about how my head works. Learned to consider life’s challenges, yet not ruminate on doubt and negativity. Tough lessons to learn. The dashboard has melted on occasion, but I still have the radio.

And of course, the most important treatment for mood and motivation (the dashboard) is my running. And my riding. And now my swimming.

It was no coincidence back when I was 14 and first went out for the cross country team… that my body and mind reverberated with life in response to long distance running. Studies have shown that good chemical things happen when you run.

That doesn’t necessarily uncomplicate your life. But with time to process and think about what’s going on around and inside of you, there’s a better chance you’ll figure it out. Come up with creative solutions. And think about the practical aspects of your actions.

Well, we scheme, and we scheme, but we always blow it
We’ve yet to crash, but we still might as well enjoy it
Standing at a light switch to each east and west horizon
Every dawn you’re surprising
And the evening was consoling
Saying, “See, it wasn’t quite as bad as”

There’s a great Peter Gabriel song in which he’s inside his house imagining this monster outside his door. All night long he’s cowering in fear, yet when he opens the door in the morning a harmless creature lays curled up at his feet. It only wanted to come inside to get warm?

We obviously have many coping mechanisms to get along in this world. Sometimes things go up in flames. Yet the funny part is finding out how things turn out despite how far your fearful imaginings take you. That’s why the scene with John Candy and Steve Martin sitting in that frozen car with the dashboard melted is so goddamned funny. They’ve been through hell together, those two. But the music still plays.

You can make up your own allegories from here on out. Perhaps you have a training partner with whom you’ve been to hell and back. Or maybe you’ve come through a divorce, a death of someone important or a divorce. Perhaps a long struggle with food addiction and weight or drugs is always in the back of your mind. None of us is perfect. All of us cringe while the dashboard, on occasion or in our past, melts before our eyes.

It just pays to have a way to figure it all out. Time to process, even to twist the truth around and look at it from all angles.

Hard-wired to conceive, so much we’d have to stow it
Even needs have needs, tiny giants made of tinier giants
Don’t wear eyelids so I don’t miss the last laugh of this show
(The dashboard melted, but we still have the radio)

Life is absurd, you see. And random. There is no pre-ordination or pre-destination to it all. God is not, as Modest Mouse also once said, a control freak.

But there his hope and salvation in learning how to deal with life’s obstacles. And sometimes the voice of God is just the crackling noise coming from a radio that didn’t melt when the dashboard did.

Dashboard Songwriters: JOE PLUMMER, ISAAC K. BROCK, JEREMIAH MARTYN GREEN, ERIC SCOTT JUDY, JOHNNY MARR, THOMAS P. PELOSO © Peermusic Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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From 0 to 58 in nothing flat

Sweat Shop

This post is a bit of a request. During the middle of last night’s Computrain session, a friend and blog reader turned to me and said. “Chris, what are you going to blog about tomorrow?”

It was a good question. Because at that point, blogging was the farthest thing from my mind. I’d gotten off the bike (naughty) to fill my water bottle that had been emptied in the first hour. Sweat was soaked through black bandanna on my head, which now looked like a black banana instead.

You can hardly think when the lactic acid and carbon dioxide starts to eat your brain from the inside out. This was only my second ride of 2016, and the last time I rode in 2015 was on a late October day in the wind and murk. From the get-go I did not feel good that day, and it only got slower the further we went. By the time I got home and forgot the bike was on the roof rack, it was too late. The Felt died that instant.

So the bike perched on the trainer last evening was the Waterford, a machine that has never been properly fitted to my body. The bike expert running the CT training took a look at the seat height for me two weeks ago, and that was okay. But the seat position front and back still seems off. So I nudged it forward last night. But my companion Sue pedaling next to me noticed that I still looked stretched out.

“Don’t remind me,” my brain muttered in silence. “Yeah…” I sighed instead.

There is nothing like those first couple rides on the bike after an intentional or unintentional layoff. If you are unlucky enough to start your season outdoors, the landscape turns into a worldwide torture chamber. No matter how hard or how long you pedal, the cyclometer seems to be lying. You could not possibly be going only 15mph.

And nothing makes you feel your age, no matter what age you truly are, than being out of riding condition. Or running condition. Or swimming condition.

It’s never conditional. The way you feel rhymes with “gain” and starts with the letter “p.” There is no way around this wordplay that hurts so much at times, you wish you were dead.

ResultsSo I’ve gone from zero to 58 in a heartbeat, or many as the case may be. At one point I put a pair of fingers to my neck to check the heart because I was not hooked up to the monitor on the computrainer. That seemed just a bit too intimate. It already owned me body and soul. Why should I let it break my heart as well as my mind?

It all starts with the load assigned to your riding by the cruel man or woman who decides, on a whim, what kind of condition you’re in. Or how you rather look like a rider, so we’ll set you up <<here>>. Mine was 220 for some ungodly reason. Everyone else in the class had a lower number in that category than me.

In some respects, that has been a pattern in my athletic career. Coaches have smiled and told me on many occasions, “I think you can do this.” It happened at age twelve, when I ran my first 12:00 two mile. It hurt, but I did it.

It happened at 14 when I first broke 5:00 in the mile. And again at 17 when I first broke 4:30. And again at 19 when I first broke 4:20. Progress is the word that sounds like “gain” but starts with a “p.” It always, always hurts. But you learn to perform in spite of the “p”.

Yet there’s something unique and special about being stuck in one place on a bike in a basement where the name of the place is the Sweat Shop and there are 10 other people sweating along with you. The music was pure 80s tunes, which took me back to riding my bike in that Chicago apartment during the winters of ’83 and ’84, when I was just 23 years old. It was hard then, and it is hard now. That’s what training is.

And I will admit that the training got so hard at a couple points that I had to stop, let the rear wheel wind to a stop, and start up again. My cadence was low on average, about 74 versus the 90+ one is supposed to maintain. The director came by at one point and asked, “How are you doing?”

“I’m muscling through,” I told him.

“Well, that will have a cost,” he reminded me.

And the gal next to me issued a statement at some point into the third of five hard intervals. “You should keep your cadence up. It’s easier. Or else the trainer makes it harder.”

That was like telling a dying man to breathe a little more. I was doing all I could. The best choice and the worst option was to make sure I hit the harder segments hard. Keep that green bar green, not yellow, blue, orange or red.

It turns out that I averaged 18.55 mph for the hour and a half on the bike. Which absolutely frightens me that I’ve hit some kind of age-related threshold. Because that’s what I’ve averaged on long rides for years.

It also means that other than a couple years, my riding intensity and training have not been sufficiently difficult or “gainful” enough to make a difference. Early on in my riding career, I was too stupid to know that I was riding too hard. And I got faster as a result. But as I’ve aged and gotten wise, my body and mind have learned ways to trick myself into thinking I was riding hard. When I wasn’t.

That’s the ultimate tarsnake of training on the bike, the run or the swim. As you get better, you also get better at tricking yourself and compromising on the “gain” required to improve each year. Which is why the Computrainer and its empiric face are honestly the best way to begin a season in earnest. Next week we’ll do a 20-minute test to see where we really sit in terms of fitness. That will be interesting.

All this gives one an interesting respect for world class cyclists that can crank out 400 watts for hours at a time. I’ve seen inhuman athletes at work. Men like the relatively diminutive Sebastian Coe, who could leg press 700 lbs and run 400 meters in 44 seconds, 800 meters in 1:42 and a mile in 3:46.

And women who defy their supposed status as the “weaker sex,” that can kick your ass on the bike and the run. I once raced next to Grete Waitz for 30+ minutes in the Orange Bowl 10K. I’ve seen what women can do. They are not the “weaker sex.”

And it turns out we’re all together in this world of “gain” that begins with a “p.”

See you at the Sweat Shop.

Runoverthetarsnakes2

 

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Me and XRT

ME and XRTHere in Chicago, we have a radio station that has not just stood the test of time, but helped define it. Back in the 1970s, WXRT started as an FM radio station that put playlists together featuring song messages. The DJs were witty and insightful. There appeared to be very little corporate interference between the air personalities, the music and the audience.

Things have necessarily changed over the 40+ years the station has been in existence. It is corporatized now, rife with advertising that pays the bills. A station cannot exist without that. Yet several of its air personalities remain even from those early days. One is Terri Hemmert, who is currently off-air at this point, working through some form of cancer treatment.

To that, I can certainly relate. Having ushered a wife through eight years of cancer treatment, it is certainly understandable why Terri would not want to be on the air. Depending on the treatment, there are days when you would rather not get out of bed, much less stay vibrant and interested while music plays over the radio.

At one point when I lived in the city, my then-girlfriend and I attended a trivia night hosted by WXRT at a pizza place, Giordano’s I think it was, a couple blocks up from my place 1764 Clark Street. The theme was the Chicago Cubs, who the next year would make a charge for the World Series, and fail. Such is life in Chicago.

But XRT has stayed loyal not only to the Cubs, but to the Sox and all the sports teams in Chicago over the years. The on-air personalities have fun at the expense of teams during bad years, and cheer them on in good years. That’s how it should work.

Yet the more imporChris 1985tant facet of the radio station’s existence is the music it plays. The standard joke about being the “soundtrack of your life” holds very true with WXRT. Through all my hard training, running through Chicago in the early 80s, the station would provide introductions to new music and send me to the record store to purchase albums by the Talking Heads and even the Tom Tom Club. Without that music, I’m not sure the full motivation to run so many miles would have been there. Those songs held me through many cold miles on the lakefront.

I’d also listen to the radio while sitting on my bike trainer in the second story flat on Clark Street. That MagTurbo trainer still sits in my basement thirty years later. And it still works. I was ahead of my time using that Schwinn to pedal miles and get in an aerobic workout when it was twenty below zero outside. The combined humor and music of XRT made those rides tolerable.

There were late night DJs that still got to be playful with the music as well. One strung together the songs Jungleland by Bruce Springsteen and a Supertramp song whose orchestral sound aligned perfectly with the big interludes played by the E Street Band. My best friend and fellow runner called me that very night and said, “Did you hear that?” Yes, it was 80s epic radio. And yes, it can seem trite in retrospect. But it was real. And that’s what counted most. I still own one of the classic “Diamond” XRT tee shirts representing “Chicago’s Finest Rock.” Yes, I do.

In fact, my friends and I have shared many XRT moments and concerts and events over the years. There was humor too, such as the night a DJ had just finished listening to the traffic report which concluded with the street name of “Wacker.”

“You whack’er, you brought her,” he jested.

And that started years of jokes similar to those of Michael Scott (The Office) and his famous line “That’s what she said.” To us the Wacker jokes didn’t mean anything. None of it. Just wordplay.

Scan 14

Linda and Christopher Cudworth with Terri Hemmert of WXRT, circa 1984

All this popped into my mind because while getting ready for work this morning, I turned on a radio that I keep in my bedroom. It is a refugee from simpler times, a “boom box” with an actual antenna. And each time I walked between the radio and the direction from which the radio waves were coming, the sound got hazy and interrupted. It dawned on me: I have a physical effect on whether than sound reaches me or not!

It works both ways. A few years back I heard this song by Modest Mouse in the record store, and fell in love with the band. Yet I wasn’t hearing their music on the radio at WXRT. So I called the station and left a message for them. “Hello WXRT,” I said. “I’ve been a listener since the day you went on the air, and I’ve relied on you for years to find and play new music. But there’s this band Modest Mouse that you’re not playing on the air. And that disappoints me. The song is “Float On,” and I hope to hear it on the station soon.”

And the very next day, while driving around with the car radio on, that song was played on WXRT. Could well have been a coincidence. Would not be the first time in life something like that has happened. And likely won’t be the last. But whatever the circumstance, it felt real.

And the station is still real. Listen to the feature “Lin’s Bin” by on-air morning personality Lin Brehmer, if you don’t believe me. The man has all the ethos of a true radio veteran, yet keeps it fresh. These days I stream the station through my computer and play it through speakers while doing chores around the house. The delivery methods may have changed, but XRT is still XRT.

In sum, that little radio station by the lake has been changed by the years, yet unchanged in many ways. And that’s the connection between me and XRT.

And Terri Hemmert, Queen of Sunday mornings with The Beatles on XRT, get well soon. Cancer is just one of life’s tarsnakes, and not a fun one. We all hope you can kick it.

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One of these (those) days

Cross and Nails copy.jpg

Illustration (2015) by Christopher Cudworth

There are days when you roll through everything. Things go well enough that they seem to have gotten finished. Bills get paid. Work gets done. There might even be some inspired behavior between all those practicalities. We all have our crosses to bear. So to speak.

 

Yesterday was not one of those “roll through it” days. I muddied up a commissioned painting by overworking parts of it. That can happen easily. All it takes is a touch of the wrong color and it seems to spread like blood on a crime scene floor. The damage is done before you even notice it. That means going back to the drawing board. Literally.

All can be repaired. Every artist and writer knows the dangers of the process. A sloppy paragraph needs editing. Lord knows I’ve committed that crime here. Then there are those glitches where technology steps in and repeats a paragraph when you’re not looking, or makes an autocorrect that turns the word “turn” into “turd” for some reason known only to the universe. It’s the product of insane autologic. Yet we honestly know that a million monkeys typing on a million computers will still not produce a novel. That’s just not how it works. The mind of the universe employs the random reality of free will. Every watercolorist knows that process well. But words and twelve mile runs are different. We learn how to make corrections on the run. Intentionally.

But it does not always go as planned. Yesterday was a hopskotch from one process to the next. Painting. Writing. Meeting with client. More writing. Then at four o’clock I went to the gym to get in a pool and weight workout.

Only I was sleepy. Basically, I’d skipped lunch to save on time. By late in the day my energy levels dropped. A week ago that sensation got so bad (on another skipped lunch day) that I slept in the car for half an hour before going into the gym. It’s a strange yet wonderful sensation to ease the car seat back in a dark parking lot and doze off while rain putters on the windshield. Then, like Lazarus wrapped in skin tight Under Armour, you rise to head inside. The Walking Dead.

It wasn’t that bad yesterday, but to get my body warmed up, clean and awake, I took a shower before heading into the pool. The lanes were all open when I walked past the big windows overlooking the pool. No hurry. Or so I assumed.

By the time I sat down by the big whirlpool to let the water beat on my flighty Achilles tendons, one swimmer had occupied a lane. Then I looked up again, and there was one more lane taken in the pool. So I put on my Nike sandals and klopped over to the spot where I’d set my pool float down to indicate my chosen lane.

At that moment a longtime friend and fellow triathlete walked in. He pointed to the other end of the pool. “It looks like someone’s already got your lane,” he said. And sure enough, a gal at the far end slid into the pool.

My buddy’s a good swimmer and triathlete. He looked ready to go. I was not about to bicker over the open lane with him. And truth be told, I just wasn’t in the mood to share that lane, especially at the edge of the pool.

“All good,” I told him, waving my hand toward the gym. “I’m gonna go lift.”

The lifting went well. I just shut my mouth, turned on the focus and worked through every machine I on the floor. I even headed upstairs where the real weight nuts reside and the older equipment lurks. There I found a nice little torture device in which you extend your arms and use your abs to do vertical crunches. It felt good to curl those stomach muscles. Plus the motion resembled the position on a bike. I worked that machine thinking about the summer months, leaning over the handlebars for hours at a time. It takes a strong core, and we all have our crosses to bear. So to speak.

All this proves that when you’re having one of “those” days, it can pay to make it one of “these” days, and be flexible. One of the tarsnakes of training is that you can’t control every factor in your life. Often there’s a reason why things don’t go smoothly. My delay in getting into the pool indicated that I was not mentally ready for that workout. It turned out lifting felt like a resolution of sorts. Today I’m slightly sore and it wakes me up to the fact that there is work to do.

And miles to go before I sleep (again) in the parking lot.

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