Running, Biking, Triathlons, Swimming, Snowshoeing; what's next? Sal's kicks butt.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Locker Room Connoisseur

My gym locker at the college where I work is nice. It's large enough in width, depth and height to easily fit all of my work clothes and run or swim gear. The door closes easily and stays closed. My old-fashioned combo lock fits on nicely. The lockers are school colors, either all black or gold and the locker room is pretty clean. The ideal situation would be to a have a locker in the separate smaller faculty room adjacent to the student room I am in. I've asked many times if one is available, but it never is. I think someone has to die before a locker becomes free.

When I was changing for a lunch time run a couple of days ago I realized how much gym lockers have meant to my life. That sounds like a ridiculous statement but I think it's true.
In elementary-high school gym we had our own skinny lockers to change clothes before and after the class. We were forced to take showers, though I vaguely remember later in high school Mr. Beaney (one of my all-time favorite teachers) wasn't quite as strict about this "policy". When you think about it, having 40 minutes or so to change into gym clothes, do the class and then shower/change back to street clothes was ridiculous. I always walked out of gym still sweating. Some things never change.

When I played on the school tennis team we used the same locker as gym class since the courts were fairly close by. Tennis team lockers are usually clean. Back then you almost always wore a white uniform. There was just a racket (or two if you were fancy), maybe a heavier shirt for cold days. No dirt, little sweat, maybe a cool 1970's headband.

During football season we had a separate locker room just for the football teams in a ground floor space near the practice and game fields at the middle school. The lockers were fairly large since they had to fit shoulder pads, a helmet, cleats, a practice uniform, game uniform and other assorted pads. The football locker room was by far the smelliest of any I have ever been in. A gross mix of sweat, grass, mud, English Leather, Brut and Old Spice. I took some measure of pride in always having one of the stinkier lockers. Hey, if you are a marginal player you need something to have pride in! Eventually the coach would come around and tell us to take stuff home and get it washed. I'm not sure my mother totally enjoyed washing my football gear.

Fast forward ten plus years and I finally got a job at Kodak where I could run at lunch. I didn't have my own locker but could use the space to at least shower and change. Many years and a career change later I worked out at a local fitness facility- really I only used the treadmill in the winter. The locker room there was kind of small and I wouldn't even shower, just change my ultra-sweaty shirt, put on sweatpants and head home. When Jan began training for triathlons and forced me to really learn how to swim we often headed to SUNY Brockport for the pool. Their locker rooms were utilitarian, tough to find an open one, but good enough.

Now Jan and I swim at Roberts Wesleyan College. The teams must have their own modern space. Most of the lockers in my area near the pool are rusted, don't shut and are small. If I won the Powerball I might donate to the college with the stipulation they put in all new lockers and showers that do more than dribble. But the pool is nice and has lots of open hours for community members (with a fee) to swim, and the locker room doesn't smell.

Really it's amazing how many times I have been naked in public places over the past 50+ years. It still seems a bit strange to stand next to a locker and just strip everything off no matter who is nearby. Fitness facilities seem to be doing a good business nowadays, but I wonder if more people would stay members longer if locker space was designed for a bit more privacy?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Life Lessons from Grandfathers

A friend loaned me the book, "The Art of Brewing Beer", which I dutifully began reading Friday afternoon while waiting for my pick-up truck to be repaired. Years ago I used a Mr. Beer kit to make a few varieties of beer. It was fun, but not quite the same as using "real" brewing methods. Also, my wife began training for Ironman races, and my time to make beer became biking and swimming time.

But I digress. When reading the book I remembered stories my father told me about his father having a still and making moonshine in the basement of their home (last of 1930's-early 1940's). Dad and his brother would have to come home from school and help with the brewing. My Grandpa even sold bottles to the local sheriff, so there was no chance of him getting in trouble.

So, why couldn't my Grandpa McCullough have taught me that skill? I didn't know about his moonshine business until he had been dead for 20+ years. It just doesn't seem fair that this knowledge wasn't passed down to me. Now all I can do is drink store bought Bourbon or Southern Comfort after a workout.

I realized at that point both of my grandfathers had skills that I could have found useful to learn. My Grandpa Herman was an excellent swimmer. He would leave me in his boat anchored off the shore of Canandaigua Lake at 7-12 years old and dive in for a swim. I thought this was pretty cool as a kid, but looking back I realize he never took me in to swim. That would have come in handy years later when my wife began making me do triathlons.

Grandpa Herman also played football as a youth and adult. He even played center on a semi-pro team in Rochester (1930's?). I was consumed with football from elementary school-college. I was also skinny as a rail no matter what I ate or weights I lifted. Grandpa came to a couple of my high school games and afterwords told me I played well. I don't know if this was true but felt good coming from him. But why didn't he teach me more when I visited his home? Why didn't I ask him to?
Dumb ass (me).

Grandpa McCullough was good at mechanics. He spent the last twenty years or so of his working life as a tool and die maker. He owned his own small tool and die shop next to his house. As a kid I had absolutely no idea what this meant. I didn't know a wrench from needle-nose pliers. My father had little interest in mechanics and must have shared that gene with me. As a homeowner, bike rider and auto owner I could have used, and still could use, some mechanical skills. I have none. Grandpa should have taken a summer and used me as cheap labor. At the very least maybe I could do more than put air in my bicycle tires. Another opportunity lost for me.

Grandpa M was a farmer. He lived and worked on many farms. I have photographs of him with his huge horses plowing the fields. I remember him taking me around the small farm field by his house later in his life, but again, I was a stupid kid who just wanted to play sports, read and daydream.

Grandpa M of course had many farm animals throughout his life. I don't dislike animals, well, some I do, especially when they are chasing me when I'm running or biking, or fish who swim near me when I'm in a lake, those huge sunfish can be really scary. But why, why didn't I learn anything about farm animals? I could have my own chickens or sheep right now and get free eggs and cheese, homemade feta cheese. Mmmmm. Jan could be sewing clothes with our own sheep wool.

Every home owner can use building and masonry skills. That shop Grandpa M owned? Yes, my Uncles Bud and Tom and Grandpa built it. They fixed their own cars. Uncle Bud made a living as a mason and pool builder. Me, I sit at a desk. Maybe I should have worked summers building and cleaning pools with my Uncle and working on cars with Grandpa.

So, if you get the chance to pick up a few pointers on life from your "old" relatives, do it! Who knows where it will lead you or help it may provide in the future. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Even Steven!

This is a year that I try to transform myself into a triathlete again. It's been a few years since I've really concentrated on the triathlon. Why should a person be mediocre at just one sport, like me in running, when he/she can embrace being inadequate in three?

Now that I recently joined a new age group, one made up of really old people (60), maybe I can actually compete in the triathlon? The odds are stacked against me. With a wetsuit on in a race I can finish maybe in the middle of my age group. On the bike I fall back. Then usually on the run, at least in a sprint distance tri, I can make up some ground. We won't discuss transition times yet, when people can eat a four-course meal quicker than I move from swim to bike and bike to run.

I keep thinking transitions are meant to rest. It's like doing intervals on the track, a rest period is necessary.

For the last few weeks my wife and I have been trying to swim, bike, run and lift weights within a seven day schedule. We want to get adjusted physically and mentally to more workouts and using muscles that may have not been used in a while. I think we have been doing pretty well but doubt can creep into my mind when thoughts of the 70.3 mile race we entered come to the forefront.

Last night, after a day of lifting weights at 5:30am, working all day, then an indoor bike ride of twenty miles, I checked my training log. The first nine days of February I ran 4x, biked 4x, swam 4x and lifted weights 4x. Even Steven. All by accident.

I need to run more though. The winter season is killing me. Getting off the bike and running is mentally killing me. For the rest of February my goal is to stay steady with the bike, swimming and weights and pick up the run distance/time/days.

Any readers have suggestions or similar issues?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sports Business Venture - Alternative Facts

Now that it's appropriate to give information using "alternative facts" I've decided to change my blog to one that may stretch the truth regarding anything around sports. This should greatly increase readership and people re-posting my falsehoods, I mean "facts". In turn I can quit my day job and work from home writing bogus articles and collecting money.

I see this as a win-win. Readers get flamboyant headlines that will touch some raw emotion and stir them to share my articles and I get rich being a fake news writer. America truly is Great again!  How many readers bother to check and see if any articles are fact, semi-fact or all fiction?

To begin 2017 with a bang, here are the top ten sports news items you should know right now;

1. Jim Kelly is coming out of retirement to lead the Buffalo Bills at QB. 
2. Local Spencerport resident retires from factory after 40 years, trains an hour a day and wins the Lake Placid 70.3 mile race. Amazing for a 62 year old man. 
3. No performance enhancing drugs were involved in either one or two (sure)
4. Trump requires each MLB team to hire Russian coaches to be their strength trainers. No other coaches know as much about drugs as the Russians and they are his friends. 
5. The Buffalo Sabres get awarded the Stanley Cup. (awarded, they don't win it, that would be ridiculous. They just get to keep it for a night and dream). 
6. Derek Jeter is buying the NY Yankees. Yes, he will be back at shortstop, who wouldn't want to be a player-owner? 
7. Tom Brady will win the Super Bowl (again), punch NFL commissioner Goodell at the ceremony, tear the trophy open with his bear hands and drink champagne out of it. 

8.  Running with a dog is passe. People now run with their miniature horses. The horse can carry its' own poop bag, small shovel, water for itself and the owner, and is easily kept in any suburban fenced- in yard. Trail running will take over road 5k's as the most popular running event in the U.S.
9. I will have a side business hauling away manure from every runner who has a miniature horse. Renaming the manure to "Organically Grown Fertilizer: especially processed for gardens" will make this an easy sell. Jan (my wife) is sure to help me shovel poop! Cross-training at its' best.
10. My oldest daughter will create a dvd series of alternative exercise you can do with a miniature horse. They are sure to become bestsellers, since I will sell them on my million dollar making blog.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Recovery Method from Indoor Bike Training

After a twenty mile indoor bike ride and cooking an amazing Shepard's Pie for dinner with my wife, why shouldn't I be rewarded with a Southern Comfort while doing the dishes?

In some circles SoCo is considered a recovery drink. Oh, okay, maybe only in my circle. Still, it was nice to sip on between scrubbing pots and pans.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bobke TV - Fortune Cookie Chronicles

Bob Roll was a professional bicycle racer in the 1980-1990 era. He competed in the Tour de France and dozens of other events. Roll was also quite competitive in mountain bike races. He has been a television commentator for many years during the Tour de France.

Roll is quite humorous but also insightful during his commentary. Below is a video from his most recent Fortune Cookie Chronicles on three ways biking may improve your life.

When I think back through my life it's amazing how much I really rode a bike. As a kid I always had a bike and rode everywhere. As a teenager I often rode to school and around town. It just seemed a natural thing to do. In adult life I kind of lost my use of a bike, but did commute to work on occasion. It wasn't until the past ten years or so that I have reconnected with bicycling. Much of that is due to trying to complete duathlons or triathlons, but also commuting to work.

Why do you ride?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Adidas - Break Free

I'm not promoting Adidas products by sharing this video, I just found it really moving. I can see a few people among my running buddies being like this man.