Tuesday, September 19, 2006

(>..)> until further notice <(..<)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Its alive!

Looks like I'm back to normal. I've been sitting idle for almost two weeks while my foot healed. This past weekend I got to test myself, and the test was good. I was not daring enough to hit the off-road trails, but I did do approx. 9 miles of paved trail at Island Lakes, my home away from home.

Actually, it was very funny. I turned the wrong way out of the Trail Head, and ended up at the end of the paved trail, about 3/4 miles away from the starting point. That meant that I had to make up the 3/4 mile and catch up to Joe and Chris. I didn't think I was going to be able to do so, but I did. At approximately the 1/4 point, just beyond the tunnel, I was able to catch up to the both of them. I was full of energy and although tempted a little bit to slow the pace and stay with the group, I decided to pass them and just give it all I had.

One thing was different. This time I took my iPod Nano with me and was able to listen to music while biking. IMHO, its night and day. The music makes me forget that I'm working out, it makes it more like I'm just casually hanging out. Not to mention that when a hard song comes on such as, well anything by Static X, it gives you to motivation to just go out there and fuck something up. I channeled that energy into the drive system of my bike, which made me go farther and faster. I would recommend the two Static X albums, Wisconsin Death Trip and Start a War. Both are filled with bottled rage that will give you the go power you need.

I don't know if it was me or the music, but on my way back, there was some jackass heading right for me. He was on the left hand side of the trail, my right. He and his buddy decided that they would take up the whole trail width, but I didn't give in and played a little game of chicken with him. This kid wasn't small, but I'm very much used to crashing and falling off and getting hurt. He wasn't going to stand a chance. Not to mention that I was in the right. At the last minute, I could hear his grunt "oh shit..." as he swerved out of the way and onto the grass. My guess is that from no on he'll pay more attention and merge over when there is another person coming from the opposite direction or stay on the right side as he should have from the beginning.

This was a fun ride. I have realized that I love to go biking and that I'm going to be depressed when the weather changes and I won't be able to ride around the streets of Southfield and the trails of such places as Island Lakes. The fall is pretty much upon us, and already its raining. I know that its possible to ride during bad weather, but last season when I did that, I got sick the next day, so I won't be trying anything that crazy this year.

In other news, the Tour de Cure people emailed me with good news. Looks like that all of those people involved in this year's fundraiser were not only able to meet, but also exceed the goal.

"The 2006 Southeast Michigan Tour de Cure raised a record $297,000 exceeding our goal of $285,000. We want to thank all who came out and showed their support of the ADA. You have helped increase awareness and raised funds to support our mission, to prevent and cure diabetes
and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes."

As a result all of the people involved in this years event are invited to Carrabba's Italian Grill in Novi Mi. I've emailed all of my teammates and it looks like that Matt and I are the only two going. I will ask Nicki and Ana personally, perhaps they ignored the email. Should be a fun time, there are supposed to be door prizes and games.

As much fun as it was being a couch potato for almost two weeks, I'm am very glad that I am able to get back on the bike. I am looking forward to many more weeks of rides before I call an end to the season this year.

"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down." - Mary Pickford

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I guess I should start by explaining the acronym before I get sent to sensitivity training. The RICE acronym means Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. You're wondering why I'm explaing some medical term, and the reason is simple. I sprained my ankle and as a result I've been off the bike since last weekend. I did go to the doctor just to be sure that there wasn't anything real bad, and my guess was correct. There were no breaks, just a lot of swelling.

This is a big wrench thrown into the works, because I've just increased my distance, and I've been doing a good job loosing weight, and now I can't do anything active until I'm all better. The doc says I have to rest and take it easy for 10 days now. This means that the soonest I can get back on the bike is Monday, the 21st. And I plan on it. I need to get back to my 8 miles so that I can condition myself and eventualy push even harder.

So, maybe I'm pushing myself too hard? No, this injury was caused by everyday walking. I was walking through a patch of grass and it was dark out, and of the four of us, I was the one to find the only hole in the patch. My right foot went in on an angle and my body tried to compensate by acting as a counter balance. I heard a pop and I felt pain. I knew what had happened, because I had injured that same ankle in my college days while playing volleyball. This was not even close to the college injury. With the college injury, I had actualy torn a ligament in my foot to the point of being bound to crutches and a cast. I believe that it was the Calcaneal Fibular. That injury weakened the joint, and I was told that I would be prone to more injuries in my future. The doctor told me that I should be wearing an ankle support whenever I do anything active, and not to wear low cut shoes.

Since the injury happened so long ago I thought that I had healed it completely. That was not the case, obviously. Now I am taped up tight and I am able to walk. Still hurts a little, but I can deal with the pain. I've always been able to deal with pain. When this originaly happened, I probably should have taken care of it with ice and tape, but I chose to ignore it in favor of having a good time with some friends. I am paying for that decision now, but at the time it seemed like the better choice.

"We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves." -Francis J. Braceland

Thursday, August 03, 2006

July Fireworks?

Unfortunately no. I was hoping to end the month of July with a good ole trip to the blue and yellow trails at Island Lakes, but unfortunately that didn't happen. The only one who was gung ho about it was Chris. I, along with everyone else needed a break from it all. Everyone had other plans or some reason or another for not being there.

My reason was simple. I needed the break. All of this biking degraded my mental game and I just needed one weekend to relax. Well, that was the plan anyways. I got to spend some time with friends and cleaning the house, but at night I felt very guilty for not going to the park. So, instead of just letting depression engulf me, I decided I would step up and raise the minimum loop length. From that Sunday forth, each time I've gone biking around my neighborhood, its been a minimum of eight miles.

Today, I'm posting the blog, just moments after I've finished the eight mile run. This would make it my third this week. I've been taking every other day off for recovery. Its actually very weird that my cardio is keeping up with the pace. I am barely winded after an eight mile ride, but my muscles are being tested every time. I felt very sore that Sunday night, but today I seem to have only minor muscle akes. Its very possible that I'm ready to take it up one more notch and start doing twelve miles around the neighborhood. It all depends on this weekend's bike trip. If I end up going to Island Lakes, I will probably push a lot harder than usual. As you may recall from previous posts, the trails there have very aggressive climbs, well for someone my size anyways. I've always come very close on those climbs, and end up having to bail near the midpoint. My absolute best was when I was able to take two climbs upward on the yellow trail without having to bail. However, when I got to the top, I was ready to die. I hope this time around I am more ready for the trails, especial the climb parts.

Very weird to post that nothing out of the usual has happened. I am literally knocking on wood, because I'm about to make some claims. My bike has been solid. I haven't fallen off. No sprains or pains that last longer than one night. All in all, everything seems fine. Too fine. I feel as uncomfortable as when both of my dogs are in the house and I can't hear them playing around, which means that they're up to no good. So, what could this mean, I don't know, it could be that the forces that be are just planning something big. I guess only one way to find out.

"Don't be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid." - John Keats

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back to the house of pain (Island Lakes).

The weekend of the 21st marked the first "return" to mini ironman. As you may recall, the first time we covered this was in the "aftermath post" seen here. The idea was to have those who participated in one of these return once per month and test the skills. We are also more than willing to welcome new members to any part of this. With true BBC tradition nothing went according to plan. The only returning members were Chris and myself. We had a new member, Brad, join us.

So what exactly is the ironman? The actual ironman, seen here, is a triathalon which includes swimming, biking and running over long distances. Our version includes the same, but not like that :) We do the swimming, only when we fall out of our kayaks or canoes. We do the running only when we can't make it up a hill and have to dismount our bikes and run it up the hill. And the biking... well this is the only way we're linked to the actual ironman, except that we do a fraction of the distance. Given the difference between the athleticism and our general health, we're about on par with those guys that compete in the actual ironman. See folks its just simple math.

Seriously though, I've gotta say how happy and impressed I am of both Brad and Chris. These two fine blokes are true river eels as they skip along the Huron river, not even breaking a sweat. I on the other hand, not so much. I pretty much get stuck on logs and tend to scrape the bottom of the river where the water is very shallow. I rely on my strength to muscle through obstacles in my way. I also tend to fall in a lot because my balance in the canoe is poor. I am getting much better. This time around I only fell in once, and technically before I deployed the canoe, so the actual trip I went without falling in once. I've had at least a dozen close calls.

The setup was great. The idea was to chain up the bikes where the canoes would end up, Riverbend. This was the first stop and it measured at approx. 1.5 hours of paddle time. Next, we would beach our kayaks and canoe, and bike back to the rental booth, which measured at approx. 4 miles. We would then load up the bikes into the truck and head home. It all went pretty well. I got my butt kicked on the water, but I was able to redeem myself on land. The best part of this whole outing was that we got oppressed by the "man."

When we first arrived to Riverbend, the gates were closed. There was a DNR ranger waiting for us there, who before even saying hello was kind enough to inform me that I was speeding. I didn't see any kind of chronograph equipment in his truck, so I guess you must develop an eye for that sort of thing once you've been in the bush for a while. Next, he wouldn't let us into the site because there was a "party" that bough the site out for some kind of family reunion. We had to explain ourselves and when he realized that we were only going to beech the kayaks and leave he's said ok. So, this is exactly what we did.

unfortunately our 4th didn't show, so we had to leave one bike behind. When we returned, one of the "party" people stopped me and said that we need to talk to the ranger again. When I approached him, he said "...I though I told this morning you that you couldn't be here..." and I had to explain myself again. This time, I didn't get a warning for speeding. I told the ranger that we're only coming back for one bike that we had to abandon. The "party" member confirmed this. He said that there was a bike chained up to a tree down by the river. I would have been out of their way in about 45 sec. But with the ranger and the party guy stopping me I ended up wasting about 5 minutes of their precious time. The ranger felt that he had to mention that those people paid "good money" for the spot, and that people have been coming into the parking lot all day. Which apparently gives him permission to be a dick to everyone he runs into.

So, we got the bikes and we left. It was an awesome day. Got some exercise in, we bonded with nature and one another and then we got some ice cream. The end.

"Has he lost his mind? Can he see or is he blind. Can he walk at all? Or if he moves will he fall?" - Black Sabbath, Ironman

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kayaking trip to Grayling, MI

So this past weekend my friends and I decided to reinforce our sea legs. Special thanks to Brad and the rest of the Hummel family for hosting the event. As the title says, this took place in Grayling, MI. The trip was preceded by a visit to Ann Arbor, so that we could see the special screening of "A Scanner Darkly", which was a pretty decent movie.

We started the activities early Saturday afternoon, once we all woke up. Both Chris and Brad took kayaks, I had to do a canoe, because I couldn't balance in the kayak at all. Once my paddle hit the water, it was almost guaranteed that I would tip to one side or the other. On the other hand, a canoe is large and more steady for me. So you're thinking, he did better this time, since the Island Lakes fiasco , well thats not an entirely true or false statement. I did have sandals this time so there were no cuts on my feet, but I did manage to crash and overturn the canoe a bunch of times. Including this one time where the water was too deep, and jumping back in was pretty much impossible. I tried anyways, and kept tipping right back in. For those of you who don't know, when the canoe takes on water, its best to empty it. To accomplish this, you have to capsize the canoe, and lift it over your head from either end until its dry. Then you have to flip it in mid air so that it lands proper and doesn't take on any more water. Now imagine me doing this time and time again... almost an exercise in futility. On top of that, I realized that some local was watching me the whole time, so this made me mad. So, the more I failed, the more I got pissed because I knew that the guy was laughing at me. So the more mad I got, the more I fell in. In the end I had to swim behind my canoe until he was out of line of sight before I could get back in.

The main difference between the Manistee river and the Huron river (at Island Lakes) is that the Manistee is narrow and very shallow at times. There were a lot more obstacles in the way, including logs, trees, and people partying. The best part was all the pretty girls in bikinis. That almost took away the pain of embarrassment.

The plan was to go to the first stop, I think it was called the CR 612. When we all got there, we all agreed that we would go to the next stop, because everyone had plenty of steam left in them. The next stop was a rental place called Long's Canoe Livery. I forgot all about it and kept going. Brad was ahead of me the whole time, so from time to time I would ask the people in the water if they seen a guy in a kayak, wearing a blue shirt and a white baseball cap. They would answer, "yeah, you're about 10 minutes behind him." I kept hearing this, even after I passed the stop Brad took. I guess I shouldn't rely on info from folks who party on the river all day drinking beer. To them every guy who passed them was in a kayak, wearing a blue shirt and a white cap. Lucky for me the rest of the gang realized what had happened, and they packed up the kayaks and went to the next stop, Shell Haven Livery.

I was very very happy to see them, although I found out later that I was minutes away from being abandoned. I'm sure they were joking... well I hope they were, otherwise who knows where'd I end up. Just as a going away present, the river made me tip one last time before I could get out of the water, this time, my back crashing onto a rock. It hurt like hell, but I had to take it like a man, too many pretty ladies around. Despite the pain, the afternoon was awesome.

The next day we decided to hit the river once more. This time we only had time to hit the first stop. Brad ended up getting tangled up in tree stumps, loosing his glasses in the process. We tried for about an hour to find them on the bottom of the river, but no luck. We figured they got covered up by the sand or our stomping in the area. We had to get Brad out of the water and ready for pickup, when we discovered the his cell phone got water in it, despite being in a zip lock bag. So, the new plan, Chris and I were to continue along to the CR 612 stop, meet up with Brad's parents and let them know that we need to get Brad. By the time Chris and I arrived at the stop, our pickup was already waiting, and before we could load up the equipment, Brad arrived in his Jeep. He managed to get to his parent's cabin on foot.

I've come to the conclusion that no matter what I get myself into, there will be some kind of drama. From now on taking things as they come, rolling with the punches, hoping for the best. Nothing is easy, especially when you haven't done it before. This weekend coming up we're back at our old stomping grounds, Island Lakes. We're doing "surf and turf" and we're ready this time. I'm sure that if not I, someone will be hurt or stung by bees, or fall into some wolf dookie. You'll hear about it, I guarantee it. Peace.

Map of kayak / canoe trip

Total Distance: Brad and Chris: 8.33 milesMarty: 11.19 miles

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix." -Christina Baldwin

Thursday, July 06, 2006


So here we are. Its been almost a month since the ADA Tour de Cure. For the most part, we're still doing our part to get out to Island Lakes every Saturday, and I'm still trying to recruit. We've added another dimention to our summer sport fest, canoeing and kayaking.

Two weeks ago was the first time I tried to canoe along with Brain (unofficial new member) and Chris (Overwatch). Since I was such a newbie at it, I kept falling in and basically made a fool of myself for about three hours. I also didn't think I'd need aqua shoes, so my feet were diced up beyond recognition by the jagged rocks, sticks and dead muscle shells. Those damned muscle shells were as sharp as razors. I was able to complete the trip, but in the end I was exhausted to the point of total collapse. I lay there on the grass gasping for air, muscles cramping up, sun scorching exposed flesh.

Before all of that happened (this is one of those Tarantino flash backs) it all started when Chris and I couldn't get into the same canoe. He could alone, I could alone, but as soon as we tried to get in together, the canoe would flip, sending us both to the shallow bottom of the river. At the time we didn't know that there were muscle shells on the bottom so we were messing around and laughing, but it all ended when Chris got a real deep cut on his hand, which would have probably bled him out if he went on the trip. So, he did the right thing and went back to the shore to (over)watch our gear and bikes.

Brain and I did the 3 hour river run, in 5 hours, because of my crashing. And the river banks also teased us. Every time I saw people on the shore I thought for sure that that was the end and we could finally get out of the canoes, but no Sir, not by a long shot, as one of the locals told us. When we finally got to the end Brian described me as the Pope kissing the tarmac right after landing.

So, the outlook is this. Every Saturday we bike. David (one of the regular members) is upping the ante. He wants us to go an off-road trail and the paved trail in one sitting. I'm ok with it, we'll have to see how the rest of the group feels about it. I know that Chris will be working on just getting closer to completing the entire paved trail loop, which he's making excellent progress on. I think he's up to something like 6 miles these days. One of these days we won't be counting miles, we'll be counting loops. Just like in the day Chris and I used to count blocks, now we count miles.

This weekend is another regular biking Saturday. Next weekend we're going up to Grayling, MI to do some kayaking. I think the run is three miles, so I should be all set. I've never done a kayak before, so it should be interesting. I understand that there is a backup canoe, so if for some reason the kayak doesn't work out, I'll ask if I can take the canoe out instead.

The weekend after that Grayling trip we're back at Island Lakes and we're doing 2 miles paved, 4 miles water and 2 more miles paved. Those who are up for it will be trying to throw the yellow offroad trail on top of it all for a total exhaustion experience. In the words of the Walgreens' Vulcan "...Should be good..."

One last note. I know that I said that there would be photos from the Tour de Cure, but the photo guy hasn't emailed me yet. I'm not sure what's going on, but I will contact Meagan Lewis and see if she can assist in this matter. It would be a shame to loose such a great memento and let the event go undocumented. I know that its probably on the ADA website or on some news channel, but still, I would have like to have the photo not only for myself, but also for my team mates Nicki, Matt and Ana.

*** Photo Update - I found the team photo on Flickr.com and I'm trying to get the actual print from the photographer, skysinger. Here is a link to the photo.

"The best way out is always through." -Robert Frost