Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Workout Dilemma

To ride? To walk? To ride stationarily? After much debate in my mind, I decided to have an outdoor ride. But where to ride? The criterium course in Bixby Knolls? The Los Angeles River Bike Path? On the street? Or back to the San Gabriel River Bike Path? I chose the last option and took my bike there in the car. This requires me to take the front wheel off so the bike would fit in the car but since I have quick release wheels, it’s a snap. As soon as I loaded the bike in the car, I realized that I forgot my helmet so I had to go back upstairs to get it, because I wouldn’t dare not wear it, so I can protect whatever grey matter is left in my noggin.
 Like last week, I started at Liberty Park going towards Seal Beach but this time I entered and went around El Dorado Park. I did the same thing on the way back and that added about half an hour to the ride. I deliberately tried not to push the pace this time because I wanted to exceed the one hour workout that I usually do and this was supposed to be an easy day. To reach my goal of an hour and a half, I had to add an extra mile at the end too. My pace was also slower at 15 MPH and I only covered 22.5 miles. Four more miles and I’d be ready for the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour in October since I doubt if I’ll be running or even walking it.
Adding just an extra half hour to the ride has made my legs moderately sore but my ankles appreciate the absence of the impact of running, so even though I’m still experiencing some pain, it doesn’t feel as bad. Other than the soreness, I noticed something new when I stepped in the shower when I got home. The tan lines of my legs which used to be slightly lower than mid-thigh, have gotten lower to the point where my bike shorts end, which is closer to the knees.
On the way back I saw Brian C. running but just like Diane last week, I don’t think he recognized me with my helmet on even when I said hi to him. I'll have to clean the bike because I picked up a lot of fresh grass clippings in El Dorado Park because the grass was being mown while I was there. There were a lot more cyclists on the bike path today and maybe because the sun was out earlier and it was warmer. Sun out early = new lower tan line.
Oh by the way, before this gets buried in the “blog ideas” file: I wanted to try running at the Long Beach City College rubberized track last week to find out how my ankles would feel on the softer surface, or at least walk up and down the bleachers as my workout for that day but the gate was locked. Well, so much for that. It was back home to the stationary bike.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Advantage of Being Horizontal

Another entry from the “blog ideas” vault which was never posted. I wrote this a few months ago when I was still able to run and what used to help me recover somewhat from the pain in my ankles. Unfortunately this technique has stopped working and no amount of being horizontal has helped.
Working 12 hour shifts, plus the time driving to and coming from work has taken a toll on my ankles. At least, that’s my belief. My ankle problems started to develop about the time we switched from 8 hour shifts to 12 hour shifts. Even though I had to work more days in a row with the 8 hour shifts, my joints, muscles and body as a whole got more rest because it was able to settle into a routine of waking, sleeping, and exercising. This is particularly more important when you are working the graveyard shift, where you sleep in the daytime and work at night.
                This used to be my routine with the 8 hour shifts: work from 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., go to sleep from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., run from 3 to 4 p.m., shower, dinner, and TV from 5 to 8 p.m., nap from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., then get ready and leave for work at 11 p.m. My body adjusted and rested pretty well with that routine because I worked 3 to 4 nights in a row.
With the 12 hour shifts, this is how it went: Leave for work at 6:30 p.m., work from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. the next day, go home and sleep from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., exercise from 2 to 3 p.m., dinner at 3:30, then try to take a nap from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Repeat for two days.
I do not work more than two days in a row so that disrupts my sleeping and waking patterns a lot. After trying to sleep in the daytime for two days, I have to switch to sleeping at night time during my days off which is usually three days, then it was back to the daytime sleep. I find myself just hanging in there when working 12 hour shifts for two days and the long hours of staying upright contribute to lesser recovery for my joints. For those two days of working, I don’t get enough sleep and rest.
Even though I exercise every day, much can be said about the time I spend staying horizontal. The position relieves the stresses on my joints, particularly the ankles. With the 12 hour shifts, I tend to stay vertical longer than I did when working 8 hour shifts. When I am able to sleep 7 to 8 hours at night during my days off, my ankle joints seem to recover better than when I am only able to sleep 3 to 4 hours in the daytime when I’m working.
Unfortunately, there are hardly any more 8 hour shift psych hospital jobs and with the current high unemployment rate, it would be difficult to find one and switch anyway. 
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What a Bunch of Horse S..t

No photo on this post because I wish to spare you the grossness. Another bike ride blog since running is not a part of my life any more.

While some of my friends were in San Francisco to run the full or half marathon, I was out on the Los Angeles river bike bath dodging horse dung. Let me explain. The bike path runs alongside a horse path and sometimes the horse riders venture on the bike path. I didn’t see any horses on Sunday morning but they left their offerings on the ground for cyclists to roll over. Not just on one lane, mind you, but on both lanes making them virtually undodgeable. Once I passed that portion of the path it was pretty much unobstructed.
I started the ride from home and entered the bike path from Del Amo boulevard, then headed south towards downtown Long Beach. I went slightly past the point where I turned around last week and I saw people waiting to board the boat to Catalina Island at Catalina landing. I then proceeded towards and around the lighthouse, past Pierpoint landing, until I ended near P.F Chang’s at the Pike. The area which is usually teeming with people was bereft of crowds because it was very early in the morning. Since I was afraid I wasn’t going to find my way back knowing how geographically challenged I am, I turned around at that point.
On the way back, a cyclist not looking forward almost collided head on with me. I had to yell “heads up!” to alert him about his drifting into my lane. Other than the horse dung and near collision, it was a rather unremarkable ride. I didn’t feel the same pep in my pedaling on Sunday as I did on Friday. Maybe I was still exhausted from the unplanned time trial.
I just realized a couple of days ago why there is such a big difference in the equipment and the way the bike feels and handles. My previous bikes were touring bikes while this one is a racing bike. Duh! 
            Oh, BTW, I did manage to avoid the pile of shit, and I don't mean the rider who almost collided with me ; )
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

San Gabriel River Bike Path Time Trial

On Friday morning, I loaded my bike in the car and drove a few miles down the street to Liberty Park in Cerritos so I can ride it on the San Gabriel River bike path. I’m still trying to avoid riding on the streets. It was an unusually cool morning for a summer day so I wore a long sleeved technical running shirt (since I don’t have a cycling jersey), and it still felt cold going out. The headwind didn’t help any.
 I haven’t ridden a bike on that path since the 80’s when I was still living in Bellflower but I’m still very familiar with the course. I set out going south towards Long Beach not knowing how long it will take me to reach the end of the path at the border of Seal Beach. The course, from where I started in Cerritos, goes through Lakewood, then El Dorado Park in Long Beach, towards Seal Beach, was mostly flat other than going under bridges, but riding back up from under those bridges required more effort though not enough for stand ups on the bike. I don’t know why, but I was going on what I thought was a pretty good clip because my breathing was labored. It felt like a 10K run effort most of the way except for the coasting part. Towards the end of the path in Seal Beach, I saw Diane from AREC, whom I ran with in December of 2008 (, and talked to her for a couple of minutes. She was out for a long run before leaving for a South American country later that evening for missionary work. I don’t think she recognized me with my helmet on though.
Back to the ride, I went south for 29 minutes and was faster coming back north by a couple of minutes despite the time spent talking with Diane. Maybe the slight tailwind helped but there was also a crosswind to contend with. In any case, because of the hard effort I put into the ride, I think I would consider that an unintended one hour time trial. I finally wore my GPS watch this time and saw that I covered 16.54 miles in 1 hour. Not quite Tour De France proportions, but nevertheless a good workout for me.
Just as I finished the ride, the battery on my mp3 player died. Good timing, wasn’t it? What are the chances of that happening? Derriere update: it has been feeling better with the combination of the new padded shorts, gel saddle, and just plain adjusting to riding a bike again.      
Four weeks of no running… but you know what? With the hard effort I was able to put in, I think I might have gotten endorphinated by that ride!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

A Cushy Tushy

I wasn’t planning on riding the bike last Wednesday, but I got my new padded shorts in the mail and well, I just had to try it. My first impression upon putting it on was, hmm, it feels like wearing a diaper. Not like I know how wearing one might feel like since I’ve never worn one before. Oh, wait! I’m pretty sure I’ve worn diapers when I was a baby and they were probably the cloth kind, not that I remember anything about it. The problem with buying clothes by mail order is of course picking the proper size. In this case, I lucked out because the shorts fit me perfectly. I also bought a new padded saddle and replaced the one the bike came with. Somehow the memory foam seat cover I put on it last week didn’t work too well in putting the cushy to my tushy. Anyway, I just exchanged the seat cover for the gel saddle at the store which cost the same.
Out the door and into the road I go, and at first I didn’t feel too much difference in my comfort level, but then again it could have been the lingering soreness from the past weeks’ rides. I went back to the criterium course where I first test rode the bike. I’m beginning to like riding there even though I just basically go around in circles, because there are hardly any cars and traffic. As the ride went along I started to feel the advantage of the new shorts and saddle. My butt didn’t feel as sore sooner than usual and actually felt quite comfortable. I only rode for an hour so it’s too early to say how it will feel on longer rides. All I can say is that the new equipment does help a lot and I could use all I can get. People who know me already know how deficient I am in the rear end department.
In the past, bike shorts were just some kind of stretchy fabric with a chamois pad in the crotch area which didn’t give any cushioning. The natural chamois pad which came from sheep hide eventually got stiffer with repeated washings. Today’s technical fabric holds up better with washings, feels more comfortable, and doesn’t require the sacrifice of animals. I sure hope the sheep are appreciative of that. I know I my tushy is. And I don’t care if people start asking me I’m wearing an adult diaper. So two thumbs up for the padded shorts and gel saddle!

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Easy Rider

Well I finally reached an hour and slightly beyond for a bike ride on a cool and overcast Tuesday morning. Since I experienced that outer left thigh pain last Saturday, I deliberately pedaled on lower gears while trying to maintain a steady cadence so as to decrease the strain on the knees and thighs. It appears to have worked pretty well because I don’t feel that I aggravated the injury ever though there was a slight pain afterwards. After a warm up circle of the Virginia Country Club area, I ventured out to the Los Angeles River bike path to find out how long it would take to reach downtown Long Beach. It didn’t take too long from where I entered the path on Willow Street. I reached the end of the bike path downtown in only about 15 minutes. I wasn’t prepared to explore further so I turned around to go back home. The bike path itself was very well paved with asphalt with brief sections of concrete underneath bridges.
I haven’t done a lot of street riding yet because I feel that I need to learn to control the bike better. I also haven’t used my Garmin GPS so I don’t know how far I have ridden or what my average speed has been. For now, just riding for elapsed time is enough.
On the butt front (huh?!), it appears like my rear end is adjusting a bit better to riding, although I have to do a few split second stand-ups to relieve pressure from the saddle. I am expecting a pair of cushioned bike shorts in the mail which I ordered online and I hope the shorts will make my rides a bit more comfortable and a better experience.
Tuesday’s ride with the lower gears felt almost too easy cardiovascularly because I never got short of breathe, so I added another half hour on the recumbent stationary bike when I got home to get my aerobic fix. I’m such a darn endorphin addict and I just got to have it whichever way I can!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Ride That Didn’t Happen And The Ride That Shouldn’t Have Happened

Last Friday, I received an impromptu lunch invitation to my Uncle and Aunt’s place. My cousin from New Jersey was visiting with her husband and kids and we haven’t seen each other for a very long time. When I got the call from my aunt, I had just taken my bike out to the street to start riding. Then I thought, why don’t I just ride my bike to their house so I can hit two birds with one stone: get my workout in plus meet my relatives. So I started riding due east down Del Amo boulevard towards Cerritos. After a block, reality set in. Because this was just my second ride, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to ride that far. Besides, if and when I got there, I still had to ride back home afterwards. So after another block, I turned around and just finished the rest of my workout in the neighborhood I rode in a couple of days prior. The good thing was that it was relatively early and I had enough time after the ride to take a shower, change, and make it in time for lunch. Besides, my cousin requested that I bring my karaoke machine, and if I rode my bike, I wouldn’t have been able to do so. I had a great visit with my relatives which lasted until the evening. If I had ridden my bike there, I would have been in trouble because I didn’t have head and tail lights. And we wouldn’t have subjected everyone else to our horrible karaoke singing.
Did you know that a bicycle license is required in California? Not to drive a bike, but to own it. In the city of Long Beach, you can get one from any fire station, but only on weekends from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. So that’s what I did Saturday morning. I wasn’t sure if I had to bring my bike along or just a proof of purchase. I first showed up at the fire station without my bike and they informed me that I needed to bring it so they can attach the tags. So I went back home to get the bike and I just rode it back to the fire station. One of the firefighters took all the necessary information: type of bike, brand, model, and serial number, after which they attached two tags on the seatpost tube. All these for a $3.00 fee.
That short ride to and from the fire station didn’t do me good though. While racing the traffic light to cross an intersection, I strained a muscle on my outer left thigh and every time I make my first couple of pedal strokes, it hurt like crazy. I am beginning to feel like Manny freaking Ramirez of the L.A. Dodgers who is frequently injured. I may even get myself some fake dreadlocks.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Has Not Running Made Me Gain Weight?

As a (former) runner, I relied too much on running to keep my weight in check. I’m sure other participants of whatever activities they enjoy do the same thing. Thus my biggest worry about having to stop running more than three weeks ago now, is the inevitable weight gain from the decrease of calorie burning activity.
But first, how much do I miss running? I miss running alone, I miss running with friends, and I miss running with the AREC club. However, in the three weeks since my last run I’m surprised that I haven’t craved it as much as I thought I might. Maybe, because my brain already knows that since I don’t have to run tomorrow or the next day, it has sort of adjusted to the idea. Or perhaps because my dreaded weight gain if I stopped running has not materialized. Instead, I’ve been surprisingly doing very well in controlling it. Maybe because I no longer have a good excuse to overeat thinking that I can run off the calories tomorrow anyway. To a certain point, it also seems like my stomach has contracted to accommodate lesser food because I feel fuller more quickly than before. In the past few years I have also accumulated some exercise machines to use as cross training tools for running. Using these machines have now become my main workouts.
From past experiences when I had to stop running every day, then had to stop for as much as two months due to injury, I have always gained weight because my food intake never changed. One reason being, when I used my exercise machines, I only did so in one constant pace. In the past two or three years, I discovered that when I increase the intensity of the workouts, I could come close to the calorie burn equivalent to running. Nowadays, I do mainly interval workouts on the elliptical machine, stationary recumbent bike, and stationary upright bike. This has helped me maintain my weight in recent weeks since I was forced to stop running (it’s not because I’m sweating more due to this heat wave, is it?). I am hoping that my new sport of cycling can become an adequate substitute to running as an outdoor activity. Although I’m not getting the runner’s high that I’m used to, I’m quite content with the amount of discipline I have managed to have so far. Not only am I a running addict, I’m also an exercise addict. Here’s looking forward to keeping it up!

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Right Size Me

More about my new bike. Remember when I was waffling and guessing about what size bike frame would fit me? My main concern was that the bike would be too high for my height, and the top tube of different brands of bikes being straight parallel to the ground or slightly slanted, it was all a guessing game for me. I thought at first I would need a 40 centimeter frame, then 47, and with further research and self measurement, maybe a 52 centimeter frame.
 When I went to the store last week and the salesperson measured me, he took my height and inseam and compared it to the factory dimensions from the bike manufacturer’s catalogue. He figured I would fit in a 54 centimeter frame. To tell you the truth I was very doubtful and thought it was too high for me, but I left it to the expert to decide, because if he was mistaken, he could always return the frame and exchange it for a smaller one. Well, I’ll be darned! When I picked up the bike last Monday and stood over the top tube, there was about an inch of clearance to spare, meaning the salesperson measured me perfectly! He happened to be the one that sold me the bike lock, pump, and spare tube last Wednesday and I complimented him for his perfect choice of bike size for me. He also mounted the pump and lock on the bike. I should have trusted the expert more when he suggested it last week. Even though he doesn’t read this blog, I wanna say: Thank you Aaron from Bellflower Bicycles for doing a great job for me. Among his additional services were 10% off the bike, 20% off the parts, and a free spare tube. A perfect example of good customer service.
I did my second ride yesterday which was a rushed workout because I had things to do, and managed 55 minutes on the sore butt I mentioned in my last post. More on how that ride turned out later. 

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why Is My Derriere Hurting?

My butt hurts! No, no, no, I didn’t switch to the other side and I hope you know what I mean. This has something more to do about getting my new bike last Monday afternoon. I also picked up a tire repair kit and some tire levers, just in case. Too bad the bike was not available last weekend when I was off from work. Since I had to work Monday evening, I didn’t get to test ride the bike very much other than to find out if I can still balance on it. After riding it a couple of minutes down a side street by the bike shop, I found out that riding a bike is indeed like - riding a bike. Your muscles and brain take over and the skill which has remained dormant all these years is still there. Remember I said in a previous post that I still have a helmet, an air pump, and steel lock from the bikes I owned in the 80’s? Well, the pump is not compatible with the new bike because it’s a Schraeder type, while the new tires have a Presta valve. Regarding the U-lock I had, I didn’t have the parts to mount it on the bike and besides it was the kind that was more susceptible to thieves using just an old Bic pen.
This new Trek 1.1 bike I have now is so much different from my old bikes. First, it is much lighter because it is made of aluminum. I can only imagine how much lighter the latest carbon fiber bikes are, but they are not in my price range. Even this Trek is a stretch on my budget. Second, the ride is stiffer compared to the touring bikes I used to ride, which seemed to have more “give”. And third, the wheels are narrower which makes it more of an entry level road racing bike. The narrower wheels and the aluminum probably contribute to the stiffness of the ride. The bike already came with toe clips and I don’t feel ready to try clipless pedals yet, so toe clips suit me just fine. Besides, I’ve never tried clipless pedals before, nor do I have the proper shoes for them. The fourth difference is the index shifting system which I had never used before either, so I had to ask the salesperson how to use it. I knew you had to twist a lever to lower the gears, but didn’t know how to make the gears to go back up. Turns out there were two levers on each side of the handlebars.
On Wednesday afternoon, I went back to the bike shop to buy a new pump , a spare inner tube, and U-lock, then I was able to test ride the bike afterwards. Thus, the sore butt. I figured I’d ride around the neighborhood for about an hour. I didn’t last quite that long, but I made it to 50 minutes on a criterium-like course. That just means I went round and round a few times. I was able to experiment on the gearing, braking, spinning, and stand ups. I don’t remember at what point my butt started hurting, but this is to be expected since I haven’t ridden a road bike so many years. Indoor stationary bikes just don’t compare because they have wider seats. Oh, I almost forgot about another difference. The bike also has a narrower saddle than a touring bike and I kept on being reminded of it as the ride went along.
The next day (today – Thursday), I went out to buy a memory foam seat cushion , a tool bag, and a water bottle cage, to complete my accessories. Darn! The expenses are starting to add up and I don’t even have proper bike shorts and a jersey yet! The only things I didn’t need were a helmet which I already have, and shoes (I’m still using my old durable Nike touring shoes with the torn parts repaired with Shoe Goo). I didn’t even dare try to ride the bike again today even with the new seat cushion. I need to have my sore butt recover first. Butt butter anyone? If you don’t know what that is, you can find out here:

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Monday, July 12, 2010

How I Used To Race

Now that I have stopped running and can’t write about it anymore, it’s time to clear the “blog ideas” vault. I wrote the draft of what follows about a month and a half ago when I was still able to run. It already seems like a distant memory.
I could never start a run by taking off and running hard from the get go. It takes about a couple of miles for my breathing to settle down and my joints to warm up before I can hit my stride. Even when I was running with my neighbors a long time ago, my warm up consisted of running from my place to their house. It was the only way I could keep up with them because they tended to have fast starts. Some bad days, I don’t even hit my stride at all nor breathe comfortably.
Way back when I was still racing a lot, I liked the long distances better because I could start slowly then get into a groove and eventually finish faster than when I started. I had a lot of negative splits back then. This technique of course was not feasible for setting PR’s (personal records) in the 5K and 10K, and even though I gradually improved my time for those distances, there really wasn’t a breakthrough moment until I experimented with a different racing strategy. I still needed long warm ups for the 5K and 10K, but I tried starting out the race hard, then settled the pace down to my usual speed, hoped to catch my second wind, then motor to the finish. So in my last few races at those distances, I finally broke through to set my final PR’s, before retiring from racing. Whatever running event I participate in nowadays, I don’t consider myself racing anymore. I’m just running to finish.
The final stats of my long gone racing years:
5K - 6:30 pace
10K – 7 minute pace
Half Marathon – 7:30 pace
Marathon – 8 minute pace
Anyhow, it doesn’t matter whether you are running at 8, 9, 10, or 11 minute pace. You are still working you butt off to achieve your goal time or distance, unless you are sandbagging it of course. Even when it takes you 10 minutes to cover a mile now when you used to be able you get there in 8, you still expend the same effort to do so while continuing to strive to get better.
                Note: The photo above was taken in the 80’s and was originally posted on the internet in my old and defunct Geocities page.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Axons and Dendrites. Say What???

My body’s axons, dendrites, neurons, and synapses are all askew, searching for something that has been missing for two weeks now. They’re wondering “Hey! Where has the running gone to?” Then my ankles remind me “Hey! No more running for you, buddy!” Actually, I'm surprised that I’m doing pretty okay mentally about not being able to run so far, other than those arguing voices in my head.
Finally, I was able to do an outdoor activity on Thursday morning consisting of a 6 mile walk with trekking poles. My workouts in the past two weeks have consisted of the recumbent and upright stationary bikes and the elliptical machine.  A couple of days ago, my rudimentary stairstepper finally broke after many years of use, so I’ve lost that machine from my exercise arsenal. I haven’t used trekking poles since last August but I felt the need to use them to decrease the load slightly off my ankles and to aid balance. Last week when I walked 5 miles, I achieved a pace of 16:03 and on Thursday I got the pace down to 15:23 per mile. It takes awhile for the muscles to get used to a different activity before they can reach optimum function. How did the walk affect my ankles? Well, the pain came and went all day and it was mostly on the left side. The more reason why I can’t run anymore, which really sucks.
I’m still waiting for the bike shop to call me for the arrival of my bike. It’s Friday evening now and since UPS doesn’t deliver on weekends, the bike won’t probably arrive till Monday. Upon checking my cabinets in the garage, I found my old helmet, Kryptonite lock, air pump, tire liners, and an old tire repair kit. For some reason my tire levers are gone. Maybe I had thrown them away inadvertently years ago.
My blogging has gotten so uninspired lately. My latest entries are constructed so poorly that I sometimes cringe when I read them a few days later. I apologize for the poorly written posts.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Which Bike To Buy?

So I’ve been surfing around the internet for road bikes and so far I’ve narrowed down my choices to the entry level bikes from KHS, Fuji, and Trek. Being a short person, I need a 46 or 47 cm. frame which is very hard to find on Craigslist, Ebay, or even the good old Pennysaver, where you can mostly find bigger ones. I’m resigned to having to buy a brand new bike and have been reading reviews of the above mentioned bikes.
The KHS Flite 220 and the Fuji Newest 4.0 are the cheapest at $549. However, the reviews I’ve read about the KHS are not so good. One complained about frequent flat tires because there is something wrong with the spokes of the wheels protruding. Also, the components are the lowest quality and frame is chromoly (chrome molybdenum), which is the heaviest. The Fuji has better reviews but doesn’t have index shifting, only the old style tube shifters. The frame is made of aluminum which is lighter. Buyers of the Trek 1.1 however are raving about the bike but it costs 110 more bucks at $659. I’m leaning towards buying the last one because of the good reviews, however I have to fit the expense around my strict budget.
This got me thinking. I can buy a computer, or treadmill, or elliptical trainer, but I hesitate on deciding to buy a bike?! This is something that I can use as a substitute to running as an outdoor activity after all. What the heck?!
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my first 2 bikes cost $100 and $150. Both had chromoly frames. Way back then, the aluminum frames just started coming out. Nowadays, the most expensive bikes are made of lightweight carbon fiber. There are so many types of bikes today that it can get confusing to shop for them especially when you are not caught up on the latest parts and components. I should be taking the plunge and buy one soon.
Update: I had myself measured for a bike and found out that I would fit in a 52 or 54 frame. The store had to order the bike and when it arrives, I’ll see which one fits better. My inseam was higher than I thought for my height. The store gave me a discount for being a previous customer a long time ago, even when the store had a different owner then. I’ll have to wait a few more days for the bike to be delivered, so more delayed gratification.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Resisting Temptation

Happy Independence Day!
Every once in a while, like Saturday morning, when I’m not feeling any pain on my left ankle, I’m tempted to lace up my running shoes, step out the door and see what happens. I even contemplated running on the treadmill and using my arms to support my weight on the machine’s side rails. This was the first Saturday in awhile that I didn’t set my alarm for 5 a.m. to go out running with the AREC club. I still woke up earlier than the 7 a.m. alarm though, and it gave me a chance to watch Serena Williams win at Wimbledon. The football match between Germany and Argentina was also going on. I watched Germany annihilate the Maradona coached Argentina team 4-0 with such pretty and unselfish passing. All the while, I was riding my upright stationary bike between glances at the newspaper I was reading. Talk about multitasking…
Do you know how much mental effort it takes to resist the temptation of running even with injuries? Like I said on Friday, it takes a rewiring of the brain to get used to idea of not being able to do a 30 year habit. To put it in a slightly different way, I have to wrap my brain around the idea, get used to it, so I can accept it. I’m still in the denial phase. I can only hope that each day that I can resist temptation equals one more day that my body can heal itself. When Dave K. posted the pictures of the runners in Saturday’s AREC run, I felt sad and began to rationalize that maybe I can still participate but slow it down. I could probably run if I wanted to but that could further endanger my left ankle, and since I’m in a self preservation mode right now, it would not be a good idea to even try.
To me, it’s not a matter of giving up but a matter of giving in to the constraints of my ankle tendons. The rest of me still works, so maintaining physical fitness will remain a daily goal. I have yet to find a sport where you can get lost in thought and still get a workout too.
Speaking of cycling, I haven’t ridden a bike since about 1991. All my cycling in recent years have been done on stationary bikes. Does one ever lose the ability to ride one? I certainly know of the expression “it’s like riding a bike” but I’m just wondering if anyone has ever forgotten how to do it. Well, I’ll find out as soon as I can purchase one.
I warned my charge nurse last night that if I show up to work crankier than usual, it’s because I am unable to run anymore.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Contemplating Life Without Running

A little bird whispered in my ear earlier this week and said "it's time".
What is the difference between my injury now and what I’ve been having the past 6 years? The PTTD on my right ankle is there forever and I have been able to go on running because my left leg supports most of my weight. As I continue to experience pain on my “good” left ankle, it may be time for me to contemplate a life without running and rewire my brain and body to the possibility of quitting my beloved sport. Not running, after all, is not the end of the world. Life without running is better than life without being able to walk, because if I keep doing what I do despite of the pain, the worsening ankle injuries would definitely affect my ability to walk. It already is. My 30 year love affair with running appears to be ending, and not by my choice.
Now is the time to explore and find a different kind of pleasurable activity, and I’m not talking about sex, ok :D? Will cycling be the answer? I’ve been looking at buying a road bike and have looked for used ones online without success, and visited three bike shops yesterday, one of which was closed. Oh my, the cost of bikes nowadays! It is also time to dig out the old helmet which I have stored in my garage cabinet. Would you believe I still also have a bike pump and tools from when I was still cycling a lot in the 80's?
 This blog may have to be retitled “Thoughts About Life And Not Running”. I haven’t been able to run since last Saturday. Yesterday, I took the first step, literally, to a life sans running and managed a 5 mile walk which took an hour and 20 minutes or 16 minutes per mile pace. My ankles were hurting when I woke up this morning. This past week, I kept on hoping from day to day that the pain would resolve itself, but it hasn’t.
Sigh… a life without running. What a concept.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

An Abnormal Night At The Asylum

This is what the staff members look like.

What has this night brought us? A fire alarm at the start of the shift, for one.  A claim for 2 lost shirts second. Third, a complaint of chest pain. And fourth, a lost or misplaced wallet. With bated breath, we awaited what more is to come, for the night is still young. It’s only midnight, and there are 7 ½ hours more to go. If ever there was an abnormal night at the asylum, this was it.
I am talking about the happenings of Tuesday night at work and how I was feeling at the stroke of midnight. There is no more live blogging for me, so I have to rely on memory.
The fire alarm sounded at approximately 7:25 p.m. just as the night shift was relieving the day shift from their duties. We had to evacuate all patients to a prearranged meeting area. After about 15 minutes of the alarm bells’ constant ringing, we were finally given the all clear signal. It turns out that the maintenance people replaced a water heater and when they tested it, there was some sort of combustion that produced smoke which triggered the fire alarm.
The second incident involved a patient claiming the loss of two t-shirts. Some staff members helped him search for the shirts in his room and laundry area, but they were nowhere to be found. The patient was asked to write the shirt descriptions so we could send it to our supervisor. The day shift later told us that the patient had already claimed the loss a couple of weeks back.
Then at about 10:45 p.m., a female patient came out of her room complaining of chest pain. Vital signs and oxygen level was taken. Blood pressure was dropping, pulse was slightly elevated, and oxygen level was within normal limits. Since we are a free standing building with the emergency room at a separate location, we had to call 911. The paramedics arrived in no time and whisked the patient out within 10 minutes. The patient was later cleared in an emergency room and returned to us at about 3:45 a.m.
At 11:30 p.m. a male patient came out of his room after discovering his wallet missing. He said he kept it in his socks earlier. After a brief search, the wallet was found in the drawer of his bedside table. He probably forgot that he put it there in the first place. Disaster averted.
Oops, 1:30 a.m. and a registered nurse had to be sent home due to a decrease in the number of patients. Now we are working with one staff member short while we have two pending admissions. Six hours left to go.
We received our two admissions at 3 and 3:30 a.m. without any further incidents and the rest of the night progressed normally. The staff had survived another night at the asylum.

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