Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

We Were Once All Commuters: Chapter 6

Intuition can be a funny thing.  Most often we joke about a woman's intuition or a mom's intuition.  However, sometimes an intuition can be more than a feeling or a passing thought to avert disaster; it can be a part of a bigger plan as we learned about Jake's demise and communication with a beautiful woman in blue.

The sky was still dark when when Jake was pulled on to the beach.  His eyes were closed, and he was not breathing.  He lay lifeless on the sand.  Quickly his rescuer compressed his chest and turned Jake's head to the side.  Jake awoke.  Water exploded from his lungs.  His head once again hit the packed, water soaked sand as his eyes opened.  He saw Laddie and smiled.  Jake could not speak..  He still struggled to breathe comfortably.  Jake was alive.  His best friend had pulled him from the water and saved his life as the beautiful woman told him.

Laddie, as he rode his bike over the bridge he had a horrible feeling as he approached the draw bridge, the site of their mishap with the radio and the semi.  He thought about Jake being alone at the beach and worried that Jake may not be safe.  He spun his bicycle around and pedaled hard to return to his friend as quickly as possible.  As he rode back toward the beach, Laddie knew something was wrong.  He didn't see Jake.  The sky was too dark, but a glimmer of moon light reflected off the rear reflector of Jake's bike, and Laddie ran to it.

Jake was not there.

Laddie yelled, "Jake!"

There was no response.

Again he yelled, "Jake, where are you?"

No reply.  Only a loud silence.

So, without thinking, Laddie ran into the water.  He didn't think about the waves or the tide.  He knew his friend was drowning, and he had to find him quickly.  Laddie dove under the waves and splashed the surface of the water with his hands hoping to grab hold of Jake, the pal he had left behind.  He found nothing. He dove down into the waves one more time.  He held his breathe and with his eyes closed he reached out to touch the sand floor of the ocean and felt something.  He opened his eyes to see as he grabbed what he could not see, Jake's hand.  He pulled him up close to his body and stood up to walk ashore while dragging Jake to the beach.  He plopped him down and compressed Jake's chest three time before rolling his dearest friend over to spit out the water and to welcome him back to earth.

Jake smiled.

Laddie smiled back and said, "I am sorry I left you."

Jake struggled to breath, but nodded his head in forgiveness, and in a low, scratchy voice he replied, "Me too."

The boys were exhausted and fell asleep in the dry sand close to the dunes, happy that they were finally safe and together.  Although wet and cold, the boys did not worry about getting home just then, but would deal with that tomorrow.

Til then, I will see you on the road.

Runners Qualities...


Saturday, June 13, 2015

The New North West YMCA in Baldwinsville

Its has finally opened.  The new NW YMCA is open for business, and it is a phenomenal place to workout.  I didn't want to leave.  It truly is a beautiful activity center for the entire family.

My first visit to the new Baldwinsville YMCA was just a weight work out visit.  I walked in and headed right to the gym.  Upon entering the gym, all you see are tread mills, ellipticals, stair climbers, and stationary bikes.  Behind them there are Precor machines for circuit training and so much more.  This is a place where every part of your body can be worked out and strengthened however you desire.  There is a large room of free weights and free weight machines, too.  It truly is a gym for all styles of workouts.

Oh, but there is so much more.  On my second visit, I rode my bicycle in the rain to the new YMCA.  I locked it up to a street sign in the parking lot because there aren't any bike racks yet.  The racks are on order, and I was assured that the racks will be ready next week.  After checking in I headed to the locker room which is wide open, has plenty of locker space, and has several amenities similar to the Liverpool YMCA on Wetzel Road such as showers, sauna, scales, mirrors and sinks, and the swim suit dryer which I always appreciate.

After finding a locker, I changed into my swim trunks and entered the pool area from the men's locker room, a nice convenience.  Upon entering the pool area a whole world opens before your as if stepping into Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory for the first time.  There is a six lane lap pool, a children's pool, and a lazy river.  Its quite amazing.  I slipped int the pool and swam for thirty minutes before meeting up with a buddy to hit the weight room.

The weight room, as I mentioned earlier, has amble equipment for any level of athlete or health conscience individual.  I added dead lifts and squats to my exercise routine, to increase my cycling strength.  Today, my legs ache.  I guess adding these exercises was a good idea.  After we worked out some I discovered several new things in the Baldwinsville YMCA:  an indoor track circling the gym on the second level, which from above, while running, I realized the gym has another several sections, basketball courts, a twenty yard turf multi purpose field lined for football, soccer, and lacrosse.  Wow.  This facility is splendid.  I look forward to adding thirty minute runs each time I visit the Y on lifting days and as an alternative to running on treadmills during the cold, snowy winter months.

I failed to mention the aerobics room which I saw through the mirrors from the free weight room  and spinning room located to the left of the locker rooms.  The spinning room has at least 30 or 40 spin bikes.  I haven't much to say about them since I have yet to participate, but I will join a spin class.  Who doesn't love spin class after all?

I rode my bicycle home in the rain following my workout, and I cannot wait to return.  The Baldwinsville YMCA is a workout paradise for all the aforementioned reasons, but the best thing of all, its a workout facility where your children can have as much fun as you while being distracted by the pool, lazy river, and basketball courts.  Unlike being at the Wetzel Road YMCA, your kids will never interrupt you due to boredom.

Til next time, I will see you on the road.

Lake Anna Camp and Gear Review

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Great Article on Cycling FR Events

Our Race for an MS Cure Is a Summer Spectacle http://www.wsj.com/articles/our-race-for-an-ms-cure-is-a-summer-spectacle-1433543778

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Visiting Boston for the ADA

Being in Boston for the ADA is pretty cool.  It's always a great time being involved in a huge event.  So many opportunities to meet different people and to see new things.  That is a joy of living or visiting a larger city.  There are many things to be done in a major city besides the conference, especially if you're a runner or cyclist.

Although there are lots of cars driving around, there are wide sidewalks to run on and the Charles River to run along.  You can map out some awesome run and rides to land marks like Fenway Park or Fanuel Hall just to name a couple spots.

For the cyclist, there are bicycle lanes throughout the city.  While walking between the hotel and the convention center, I kept an eye out for the cyclist; I couldn't believe how many folks were commuters. Some were riding geared bikes with fenders and racks while many others rode fixies and carried a messenger bag over their shoulder.  I saw one young business woman dressed exceptionally well, in her helmet, sneakers, and skirt holding out her hand to make a right turn.  I thought that was so cool.

The largeness cities may not be the best places to live sometimes because of congestion and cost of living, but let me tell you, if I wasn't nursing an injury right now I would be on the street either running across town or riding up and down the streets looking for a cool place to grab a bite and have a drink.

I look forward to getting home though.  I miss my bike and running shoes... Oh, and my family.

Til then, I will see you on the road.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We Were Once All Commuters: Chapter Five

The sky was bright and the air was fresh. Jake's eyes opened, and although he couldn't see right away, he could smell roses and felt the gentle touch of a woman's hand caressing his cheek.  She held him close under her mantle as she had many before him, including her own son.  The woman had many children and hoped for more.  She loved all men, but especially children.  Children were innocent.  She recognized, unlike many moms and dads, that all children are good although they may have bad moments, just bad moments, nothing worse.  Children, however, may learn perpetual poor behavior when given a poor example by the adults in their lives who failed to educate them in charity or when acting in pride.

The woman was truly a beautiful creation; she was as pure as gold, inside and out.  Her hair was dark brown. It fell upon her shoulders in loose curls, and her eyes were as blue as the ocean.  Her touch was soft.  Her demeanor was humble yet strong and confident.  Like most mothers, she rescued him and held him, hoping to warm his body and bring him back to life.  Hope?  What is hope if not a positive desire for the good.  Well the woman is hope.  The woman has been hope to many, and today she is Jake's hope for life.

As Jake's eyes cleared he saw her face. He too noticed her beauty, and he could feel her love for him.  He tried to speak.   He couldn't say a word.  His eyes looked into hers, and he felt joy for the first time in is life.  Jake knew she loved him.  He knew that she only sought to restore him back to life.

Jake loved her.

Behind the woman was the sun, bright and warm.  The sky was blue and the air was fresh.  The scent of roses brought him peace.  The choir of angels sang a beautiful song, "Ave Maria, Gratia plena..." He understood now, as he came to his senses, that he lay beneath the mantle of Our Lady, the Mother of God.  He was in heaven.

He clung to her as a babe hoping she would never let him go.  She promised never to leave Jake; she would always be watching over him.  She prayed for his safety and the safety of all mankind.  She explained how she desired Jake to discipline his passions so as to be more mindful of his friends and family and to avoid placing himself and others in harms way.

"You have a long life to live in service to my Son," she explained and requested that he say an Our Father every morning and a Hail Mary each evening.  Jake agreed.

She said, "I love you."

Jake, with tears in his eyes replied, "I love you, too." He continued in all love and sincerity, "I Shall love Our Lord as you have loved me, and I will do as you as have requested."

The beautiful woman reached out to Jake, took his hand and kissed his forehead.  She said, "Laddie is waiting for you."

A brief side story:
Count Ghisallo, while traveling near the village of Magr├ęglio, was attacked by highway bandits. Spotting an image of the Virgin Mary at a roadside shrine, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it and took refuge; He plead for Our Lady's protection - and was miraculously saved from the robbers.
As the story spread, the Madonna del Ghisallo became known as patroness of local travelers. In more recent times, cyclists often stop to rest and pray at the chapel, which is a local landmark at the top of a steep hill. 

After World War II, Father Ermelindo Vigano, pastor at the shrine, proposed Ghisallo as the site of an Italian shrine for bicyclists, and she was given as patroness of cyclists on 13 October 1949 by Pope Pius XII. The chapel has become equal part religious shrine, part cycling museum, with artifacts and photos from the sport. There is an eternal flame burning there in memory of the cyclists who are no  longer with us, and Masses are said each Christmas Eve and every Feast of All Souls to commemorate them.

Til Jake returns to Laddie, I will see you on the road.  Madonna del Ghisallo, Pray for Us.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Reasons Why I love to Run

I started running back in 2008 after my recovery from pneumonia.  I had been athletic most of my life, but fell into the adult trap of working eating and going to bed.  Other than mowing the lawn or shoveling snow, exercise was not part of my repertoire.  So, when I was diagnosed with pneumonia on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday of 2007 I stopped smoking because its hard to smoke when you cant inhale without coughing and I decided to just stop following the pneumonia diagnosis.  So, that is when I started to take an active role in my health.

I kicked smoking cold turkey with a little help from a lung infection.  Then I started to watch my carb in take and followed a rigid Atkins diet starting in January of 2008.  To sweeten the pot, my co-workers decided to have a weight loss contest.  With in 30 days I dropped at least 30 lbs.  My weight fell from 211 to 181 or so.  By April, I was sitting in the bleachers waiting for my son to finish up a Little League practice that seemed to last forever.  I had nothing to do, so I went for an afternoon run to kill the time.  I remember how hard it was to run that day.  I huffed and puffed.  I dripped in sweat, yet I made it back to the car and the ball field.  Once my son hopped into the car I drove the way I ran just to see how far I had gone; I ran a little less than a mile.  It was a start. The next practice I set a goal of running half of the square of roads that circumnavigated the field, and I did it, success.  That was only about a 2 miles.  Soon I slowed my pace and made it around the entire square of streets, almost 4 miles.  That when I started getting motivated, but I did not consider myself a runner yet.  I was a jogger, but no runner.

I won the contest at work.  I continued to run.  I stepped outside my comfort zone and actually told a few friends that I was running during my sons Little League practice.  Telling others really reinforces your commitment and also provided some positive re-enforcement.  Some folk said, "That's great; I used to run in college."  Others would say, "I wish I could find the time to exercise, never mind the running."  While a few friends would say, and I found this to be the most motivating factor, "You're crazy to run."  I loved hearing that.  So I continued to run.  I loved running.  However, I didn't actually consider myself a runner until I was asked to participate in a local run by a friend of mine who was an organizer of Paige's Butterfly Run. 

What a fun time that was.  I was nervous.  I was actually going to run, for the first time with hundreds of other people and receive a time. I will see how I compare to people who ARE RUNNERS.  I remember the excitement at the starting line.  I saw so many people I knew.  I had an awesome time, but the biggest take away was what I saw while running.

I saw men and women, boys and girls of all ages, sizes, and ability running.  Everyone was happy; everyone had the same goal to finish the race.  No one thought less of another runner because they were slow, overweight, old, or not athletic. Everyone in the race supported each other.  I had a conversations with several people about the course, about work, or about the beautiful day.  It didn't matter.  We were running.  As my friend Mike said, "You accomplished what 90%of Americans haven't accomplished today?" 

I replied, "Oh yeah?  Whats that?"

Mike said, "You got your ass off the couch."

That is true.  I was no longer a couch potato.. I was a runner.  I could run a 5K!  Maybe do more.  But, running helped push my weigh down as low as 158, but I have stabilized at 165.  I am happy with that but feel best closer to 160.  I only get that close as I get more intense about running and truly become conscious of my eating habits.

So, with that being said, What are my Top Reasons for Loving to Run?

1.  I love the act of running.  The ability to focus on my movement and to listen to my breathing puts me in a zone that takes away any pain.

2.  I love the solitude.  Even when running with others, once you hit that zone everything fades away.  At that point, its just you and your thoughts.  I find my most creative thinking to occur while I am running.  I think about running (first), but I also think about my life and interactions with people and co-workers.  I have thoughts about how I could make a difference in the world although I am still cogitating on how I may accomplish that task.  But having the ability to run and clear your mind from the daily grind is a huge relief.  A day without a run (or a bike ride) makes me quite grumpy.

3.  I feel good.  Running makes me feel good.  I feel like I've earned my meal for the day.  My pants seem to fit just a bit more comfortable.  I hate feeling uncomfortable.  Don't you?  Tight jeans or shorts ruin my day.  If or when I feel bloated, I go for a run.

4.  I love that I can take running with me where ever I go.  All I need is a pair of sneakers (preferably Nike), shorts, socks, and a t-shirt I can run anywhere.  I've run in Boston, NYC, San Diego, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Long Island, Saratoga Springs, Florida, and many other places.  Running takes you places and lets you see and do things that you may otherwise miss; for example, I have run the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum and took a selfie with Rocky.

5.  I love running because I have met new friends.  I meet other runners by participating in races, fundraisers, and clubs.  As a matter of fact, while running in Paige's Butterfly Run, I met Ray and John.  We ran together every Thursday at Onondaga Lake Park.  Eventually we ran Thursdays and Saturdays.  Soon we started a running club, The Lake Effect Run Club.  We started with an idea to run and invite others to run on Saturday mornings at the OLP.  We created a web page and posted our runs and told a story about each run, whether it was a weekly run or a race we participated in.   Soon we had 10, 15, 25, or 50 people running with us.  So running brings people together in a positive manner.

Those are my top 5 reasons to run.  I hope you, after reading my post, step outside your comfort zone and tie up your laces to run.  Who cares how far.  Who cares how fast.  Remember the words of my buddy, Mike, "You got your ass off the couch."

Til then, I will see you on the road.

Monday, June 1, 2015

We Were Once All Commuters: Chapter Four

Laddie and Jake had just made it over the third bridge and arrived at the barrier islands.  The two friends rolled onto the small lawn which wrapped around the lighthouse and laid their bicycles beside the stoop that lead to the front door.  Laddie was exhausted and flopped onto the grass.  He placed his hands over his eyes to get a clear look at the beam of light emanating from the top of the beacon while Jake stood tall and looked backward at the three bridges they had just crossed and proudly declared, "We survived one hell of a ride.  I really thought," he continued, "that we would turn back after the boom box fell into the tank and that semi almost crushed us."

Laddie just groaned.  He rolled over and sat up on his knees.  He turned around, looked at Jake and said, "I'm not sure this was such a good idea.  What do we do now? Go home?"

"No way," Jake replied in an exhilarated voice.  "We go to the beach, hang for a while; maybe we can explore the dunes a bit.  This is awesome!"

Laddie rose to his feet, grabbed his bike and started to ride for the bridge.  He had enough excitement for the night and wanted it to end.  "I'm going home."

"Lad, you can't leave now.  We just arrived.  There is way to much to do.  The Beach?  What about hitting the beach,"Jake asked.  Angry and disappointed, Jake said, "I am not leaving; you go if you want, but I'm staying.  This is way to cool."

The two friends didn't see eye to eye.  Laddie pedaled off and left Jake standing at the foot of the lighthouse.  Jake called out to Laddie a few times, but Laddie kept pedaling.  Jake didn't flinch.  He held his ground and stayed behind watching his best friend ride over the bridge til Laddie disappeared to the bridge's opposite side.  Laddie was gone.  Jake stood alone in the dark.

As Laddie made it to the foot of the bridge and started riding across the bay in low gear his legs shook with fear.  He could not believe he rode away from his best and only true buddy.  As Laddie rode up onto the bridge, he heard Jake's last words, "I am not leaving..."  He was too far to hear even the echo of what Jake had shouted.

The wind picked up and the sky was pitch black except for the bright light whirling around the top of the lighthouse.  Jake finally moved.  He reached out for his bicycle and hung his helmet off the edge of the handlebar.  He threw his right leg over the top tube and quickly started to pedal.  He didn't look over his shoulder; he crossed over the small patch of grass  separating the lighthouse from the road and safely made it to the beach.  He sat motionless upon his saddle and listen for a few minutes to the wind blowing passed his ears.  He felt the cool breeze of ocean mist strike his face.  Jake smiled as he looked deep into the darkness.  He saw some breakers reach the shore; he saw the stars and the moon shining bright, but the moon was a rather small crescent.  He dropped his ride in the sand and flopped down next to his bike.

Like all kids, even the older teens, and adults for that matter, he kicked off his shoes, pulled off his socks and stepped into the water.  It was cold as the ocean typically can be up north.  Jake thought for a moment, "I wish Lad was here."

He spoke to himself and pretended he had been marooned on an island.  He rolled his knee length shorts slightly higher and splashed the waves with his hands.  The young man, free as a bird did not see what was coming and fell into the depths; he saw nothing but blackness.  He could feel the grit of the ocean floor slapping against his face. He panicked.

He screamed out while his lungs filled with water.  Jake was taking his last breath as his head poked through to the open air. He gasped and went under for the last time.

As Jake struggles for life and Laddie rides home, I will see you on the road.