Bike Butt

Man in suit riding a bike

CC Bubba

This past weekend was Week 5 of my annual trek up the Little Miami Bike Trail, and this weekend, I rode the section known as the Loveland Bike Trail. This week’s segment took me 14 miles to a railroad town gone to seed called Morrow. It’s a trip I’ve made many times before. However, last week, my aging bike seat came apart as I returned to my car from Loveland. I probably should have replaced it when I had the bike tuned up this spring. But it was so comfortable.

Anyway, as the Loveland Bike Trail is part of one of the longer segments of my annual ride, I dropped the bike off to have the seat replaced, picked it up midweek, and was ready to ride. Right?

Wrong. During last week’s ride, someone pointed out that I needed to raise my seat, so I took care of that when I got the bike home. Not even 100 yards into the ride and my seat slid down to the frame. My bad. I’m not really handy with tools. One trip to the hardware store later, and I was on my way with my seat up where it was supposed to be.

Only the bike shop did not do their part of the job properly. Half a mile up the trail, and the seat had rocked back. Fortunately, I had my crescent wrench with me. That worked for raising and lowering the seat, so it should work for tightening the seat itself into place.

Loveland Bike TrailWell, no. No it wouldn’t. I had the nut tightened on the seat as hard it would go. About 10 miles up the trail, the seat had my nuts tightened. I later told Nita she no longer had to worry about me getting her pregnant. (She was not amused.) So what should have been a 2 hour ride became three because I had to periodically stop and adjust the angle of my seat.

I made the round trip – 26 miles in all. However, my ass felt like I’d sat on a metal bar for three hours. In Loveland, I headed over to Paxton’s for lunch and a beer. Along the way, I passed the bike rental place. The sign listed repairs. I went in and asked.

“We stopped doing repairs last season because we don’t have time to spend on it.” The bike rental place was always crowded.

“Oh,” I said. “I just need the seat tightened.”

“Really?” said the girl behind the counter, clearly younger than my stepson, who graduated high school two years earlier. “That’s two wrenches. Is the bike with you?”

Ten minutes later, the bike was comfortable and ready for another ride.

Too bad the bike shop didn’t get it right the first time (They usually do.) Sunday morning as I type this, even the recliner is giving me saddle sores.

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Remission: Making It A Couple Thing

Jogging couple

CC 2009 Ed Yourdon

This summer, I had to restart my running program. I started walking up to two miles, but running? I needed a kick in the butt.

Fortunately, my wife is always willing to kick me in the butt. She saw me mapping out a mile run on the mapmyrun.com web site and asked if I was planning to do that eventually.

“Um…”

The next night. “Hey, honey. Let’s take a run together.”

Um…

We ran. I did a full mile. Nita ran about almost half a mile, walked a couple of blocks, and finished the run. We were both winded. Yes, I, the guy who said he wants to run the Flying Pig Marathon in a couple of years, was winded after running a mile.

But it’s easier to build up this time. We start at the same time, stretching together and taking off together. Nita’s endurance is building up. So is mine. Eventually, I’ll have to run a separate route as I get up to 2, 3, 4 miles and more. But working together, we’ve been able to push each other to get farther. Nita now runs in the park on days where I’m not running or I’m away in the evening. I’ve added my annual trek up the various segments of the Little Miami Trail to my routine.

The changes are slow and incremental, but we don’t want rapid weight loss. Rapid loss bring rapid gain, a sort of whiplash effect. I suspect that my fast drop from 310 pounds to 280 a few years ago also may have triggered Type II diabetes. So slower weight loss gives the body and the metabolism to adjust. Plus, when you lose slowly, your skin has time to reshape itself so you don’t have massive amounts of skin hanging off you when you hit your target weight.

Even when we don’t run at the same time, this gets more doable with a partner.

 

Remission: No More Excuses

running

(CC) BY-SA Tomas Fano

Winter has finally gone away in most of these United States. (Canada is still waiting. Sorry, Canada.) Which means the weather is finally warm enough to run. Am I doing it?

Yes. No. Maybe. It depends.

Day-to-day life has a lot to do with it. Rain had a lot to do with it. When you’re fully engaged in running with a schedule to keep, a torrential downpour might be a reason to stay inside.

Of course, I’ve had an interesting spring, dominated largely by buying a new car. The test drive and ultimate purchase occurred on a rainy Wednesday night when I originally planned to run. Too bad The Princess (my old, needy 2005 Neon) was not cooperating. So I retired her.

OK, genius. You have a new car. That took one night. What about the rest of those nights?

Ya caught me. I’ve been a bad boy. I should have been out there pounding the pavement, but after a long winter layoff, it’s hard to get back into it. This is the part where you expect me to say I’m not making excuses. Oh, bullshit. I’m making excuses.

It’s a bit dumb of me not to run because the exercise does so much for my health. Just this morning, I spent about an hour working on a proposed article for cracked.com entitled “5 Things Diabetics Are Sick of Hearing.” If I’d stick with the plan, I wouldn’t have to hear them. Or if I did, I could go, “It’s in remission, sweetie. Now save me a cupcake. Daddy’s got a grueling 10-mile run later, and he needs the carbs.” (People hate it when you beat a serious disease, but I’ll save that for the article. Maybe it’ll become a blog post here.)

It’s more than blood sugar, though. When I run, my blood pressure drops. When I run, my good cholesterol rises and the bad cholesterol falls. (I don’t have a problem with triglycerides, the third evil in the cholesterol axis. Treatment for that is its own special kind of hell.) I sleep better. I feel better. I look better.

Then I have to remind myself of a promise I made years ago. I am going to run the Flying Pig Marathon the week of my fiftieth birthday. Well, I have far less time now to slack off and start over than I did when I made that decision. And it’s getting harder to get my numbers back to normal.

So it’s back to the grind. Even if a mile and a half is a challenge right now.

 

Remission: Get Back Out There

lone-runnerI’ve talked a lot about how unremittingly miserable this winter has been. Some would ask why, since I grew up in Cleveland. I wasn’t thrilled with winter in Cleveland, either. There’s a reason so many ex-Clevelanders live in Winter Haven, Florida, while Cincinnatians seem to retire in droves to Hilton Head, SC.

But it’s had health consequences. I originally intended to build up my running endurance so that I was up to three miles a day by St. Patrick’s Day.

That was last week. The mile-and-a-half to the local park and back, never mind the half-mile track inside it, is a challenge. But this week, spring sprung. Monday, I was able to get in part of a mile and a half, making it back to within five blocks of my house. Wednesday, I had a doctor’s appointment midday, which required me to take the morning off. So I ran right after Nita left for work.

It was a gorgeous day, the sky clear. And so peaceful. I’d missed the bulk of rush hour traffic and was able to cross the main drag with little trouble. I even made it back to within three blocks of the house this time. It felt great.

Except it was so freakin’ cold. Yes, winter has been like the drunken relative who insists on crashing on your couch despite the fact that you’re having a dinner party right about when he’s sleeping off a fifth of Ol’ Granddad. As I walked the rest of the way back, I remember thinking to myself, “I could probably run the whole route if it wasn’t so freaking cold!” Twenty degrees.

Last year, though, I ran in single-digit temps. Last year, we didn’t spend most of the winter with ice from partial snowmelt coating the sidewalks.

Of course, next year, I’m just going to have to dig into my pockets and pay LA Fitness $36 a month to use their treadmills from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, or later. By that point, I intend to train for the annual half marathon that runs along with The Flying Pig Marathon.

Or I can just suck it up and learn to run in the snow.

But it’s Cincinnati. Why would I do something silly like that?

Remission: Back On The Horse

mostintrunningLate last year, it became apparent that the pounds I’d lost by May were coming back to stay. Rather than let them bring friends, I decided to get ahead of the curve and start running again. Only I remembered two things about running in winter.

It’s dark as hell by 5:30, earlier on the first day of winter.

It’s also cold.

The latter I deal with by reminding myself that having to jog in the cold is a First World problem, you pussy. Suck it up, put on some layers, and go outside. So I did.

And ran smack (literally) into the first problem. Pretty much any short route I take follows a short residential street in neighboring Amberly Village has decided isn’t worth the streetlights. So, one day in early December, I, being a responsible pedestrian, take my jog up into the grass to avoid on-coming traffic. Getting back onto the pavement, I discovered something else Amberly Village, which incidentally, is one of the wealthiest suburbs in Greater Cincinnati, needs to fund better: Pot holes. (Say what you will about Deer Park and Silverton, on whose fuzzy borders we sit, they fill their pot holes rather quickly.) My foot caught the edge of this seismic fissure in the Earth’s crust and…

“Moooooooooooommmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!”

Yes, a 47-year-old man fell down, skinned his knee, bruised a rib, and cried for his mommy. Don’t judge me. After realizing that 1.) I was no longer 10, and 2.) I hadn’t broken anything, I got up and walked painfully back to the house for a shower and dinner. I sat on the couch sulking with a beer when AJ came home from work.

“What happened to you?”

“I fell down.”

“Were you drinking?”

“Of course. I fell down. Why would I not drink after that?”

He rolled his eyes and went off to his room to play Smite. An hour later, Nita came home from school. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

“I went out for a run and fell down.”

Did I get “Poor baby”?

“Oh. Class was horrible tonight…”

Running outside when you can’t see where the hell you’re going was turning out to be a bad idea. But what to do? Join a gym? Nah! That’s too obvious. And really, I didn’t feel like having to fight with them when I wanted to leave after the days got longer again. Then it came to me. Run in the basement.

Yeah…  We live in a small, four-room postwar cottage. So, we’re talking about forty feet of running room. Then consider that you can only run on one side of the basement as the other is the laundry room. On that clear side of the basement sits an old love seat in what’s now our family room. At the other end is my office. So that takes a few feet out. So what did I do?

Booted up the Mac, built a thirty-minute playlist, and started running back and forth. Silly? Yes. Is it working? Who knows. I’m not running outside until February, when the snows starts melting, the daylight hangs out until after 6, and, most importantly, I can see where I’m going.

The Year In Jim

It’s time to bid 2013 a fond farewell. Or maybe a not so fond farewell. I’ll look at the world’s year in review on Monday. For now, let’s talk about what’s truly important.

Me.

January

  • Nita and I kick off our effort to dump the excess weight once and for all. My plan involves running, followed by P90X, followed by more running. This is not a resolution. No, we don’t ever do resolutions. Never.

February

  • The fifth anniversary of the day Nita and I had our first date.

March

  • I take up running for realz. Actually, I’d been working up to it for weeks, but by the end of April, I’m up to three miles three times a week. G’wan. Ask me how that worked out.

April

  • I actually knock my blood sugar numbers back down to the normal range. This is where I usually get cocky about fitness, and this time, I do not disappoint. Well, not if you were betting on me to backslide.

May

  • The rewrite of Holland Bay is completed only three months after I originally planned.

June

  • Nita and I celebrate five years of marriage. Do the math. Yes, we really did go from first date to walking down the aisle in four months. Both of us are happier on this fifth anniversary than we were in our previous marriages’ fifth anniversaries, so we must have done something right.

July

  • I start writing a science fiction novel under a different name.

August

  • Nita and I start our final year of college. Which will take both of us two years to complete.

September

  • I vacation at the lovely Christ Hospital Resort & Spa in scenic Mt. Auburn, Cincinnati, Ohio, for a week, thanks to a bout of cellulitis. However, for $3000, I expect better food, a pool, and no IV sticking in my hand. My first order of business upon getting home is to grab a beer and a bacon cheeseburger.

October

  • With three exceptions, I decide not to submit to anymore non-paying markets. For science fiction, this isn’t much of a problem. For crime…  Well…  The exceptions are all crime fiction markets.

November

  • Too cheap (broke) to buy a copy of Photoshop, I proceed to learn the free, open-source alternative: GIMP. You’ve been warned.

December

  • The doctor tells me I’m still fat. I smell new year’s resolutions coming.

Remission: Gearing Up For Running Again

Kyle-cassidy-running-1

Photo: Kyle Cassidy, used under Creative Commons

My original plan was to be running 5K and 10K races by now. Every year, rock station WEBN hosts the 5K Run Like Hell that ends in German Cemetery. That’s next Wednesday, I can barely make it half way around the block.

My fault. I stopped running in May when I pushed to get the Holland Bay rewrite finished. I also did not have a plan for after spring semester ended. I had an entire running plan built around my class schedule and failed to do the same with my summer classes.

OK, and I got lazy. Hey, I had my birthday. I had AJ’s birthday. I had my anniversary. And running outside in July is just so hot! Besides, those Nita Ritas won’t drink themselves.

Yes, I really got lazy. I did not plan. So now I need to plan. Last year, I thought I would limit myself to walking until February, when the days start getting long again. But after my recent reminder to take better care of myself, that’s not going to work. I will have to put on my big boy sweats and big boy running shoes, and go out in the dark and the cold after work. I was up to 3 miles a day last spring. There’s no reason I can’t get back to that by Valentine’s Day.

That’s not happening this week. I’m writing this on Sunday morning and already have my week planned out, but next week…? And I do make next week.

Photo: Kyle Cassidy. Sourced from WikiCommons