Ridiculously short post from yesterday

Yesterday's run was a fun one. The temperature had cooled quite a bit, and there was a really nice warmth in the air. I wanted to get to the Rivanna Trail, so I headed straight up Commonwealth to Hydraulic. I enjoy the loop in Charlotte Humphris park, but today I really wanted to push further down the trail if I could. I had about an hour and a half of sunlight left.

I'm amazed now at how I can start pretty strong from the beginning. My body can get into gear pretty much with the first stride. Every single part of me falls into line pretty quick, though it takes about a quarter mile until I don't notice that I'm running. For this, Commonwealth is the perfect straight path to get warmed up.

By the time I get to Hydraulic, I'm revved up and want to keep moving. So, I get annoyed because it always takes a bit of effort to cross the road. There's not really a decent crosswalk, so it's important to be really vigilant. Same thing with the intersection of Georgetown and Hydraulic, though in that case, it would be really nice if there was a sidewalk on both sides of the road at the intersection. Granted, the intersection there goes have a sidewalk, but it's still a pain to have to stop.

Running down Georgetown is a hoot, with the narrow asphalt sidewalk that's half-way down the stretch to Barracks Road. I've taken to pretending the bumps caused by encroaching roots are hurdles.

Barracks Road is a nice treat downhill, and I appreciate the median in the middle at the point where you cross over to the Rivanna Trail. Sometimes I run straight down the median. I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to do that, but it feels so good.

Then, the trail. I'm not going to do it justice tonight, because I really want to write about what a gem it is, and how much I'm really enjoying incorporating parts of it into my runs. It's also late, and I should likely get to bed.

In all, I did 8 miles through city and country, through City and County, there and back again. And I can't wait to do it all again tomorrow.


Transportation secretary runs a race and blogs about it

So, I've only run two races so far, but I am hoping to run many more. Doing so is making me appreciate competition and the importance of training so that you can do your best when a race begins. I also like the culture of it all, and look forward to meeting people I can go running with in the future.

I'm also appreciating how this physical activity is also harnessed for charity. Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ran in the 28th Annual ACLI Capital Challenge 3-mile run. And he wrote about it on his website.


Temporarily back to the treadmill for the Gold's Gym 5K

Cars covered in yellow. The back garden's thermometer crossing into the 90's. Two factors that lead me to decide to go back to the gym to run yesterday afternoon. I'm not ready to risk a total collapse three miles into a run in the heat, not until I have a better handle on how to adjust my runs accordingly.

Thankfully, I have a membership at Gold's Gym, so I was able to just go there to run with the air conditioning. So, yesterday afternoon I went and decided to try my hand at doing a simulated 5K. After all, I had planned on running one that morning but skipped it due to factors I won't mention here.

When I began this whole thing, I was convinced I would be so uncoordinated. I was fairly certain I would go flying off the other end. I would very gingerly increase my speed on the treadmill and it would take me a while to get up to a fast pace. And, in the early days, I considered 6 miles and an hour to be fast. 6.5 seemed so dangerous. 7.0 seemed impossible.

Over time, though, that all changed as my coordination came together and as my endurance picked up. As the weather has blossomed into this glorious spring, I took more and more of my runs outside. I've been exploring Albemarle County and Charlottesville through running and have a much better sense of how the landscape meets the built environment. I've been using the Rivanna Trail quite frequently, and have come to enjoy the tranquility. I also enjoy running past the gym.

But, back on the treadmill yesterday, I ran a simulated 5K and tried to go as fast as I possibly could. I ran the fake 5K in 23:55, after failing to heed the general advice of having your first mile be the slowest. I also ran slower because there was no one cheering me on, and there was no one to compete against. Still, I ran.

Next week I am running in one of two 5Ks up north. I'm either going to Frederick, Maryland to run in a twilight 5K on Saturday night, or I'm going to DC to run another one for charity. Either way, I'm getting out of town for a weekend in part to do something active and alive.

Before exercise, I assumed I was healthy. Now I know I was not. I was carrying forty extra pounds that I didn't need, and even now, I wonder if it's possible to shed a few more. None of my clothes fit. I'm now a 32" waist when six months ago I was struggling to get into some of my 36" pants. In a few minutes, I'm going back to the gym to lift weights.

Final note for this post. I mentioned the pollen. It's pretty awful out there today. Yet, I've yet to have a single allergy attack. I am not ready to say this is because I'm in better shape, but I'm going to think it, at least.


Running as sense-making

It's going to be a stressful day. I got up at 7:00 AM to start work and I could sit here in front of my computer for the next 10 days and still not get it all done.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I'm prone to that awful habit when I'm under stress. I'm under stress at the moment as I try to balance work, my other work, and my need to run six miles or so every other day.

In 14 minutes my feet will hit the street and I'll be off. No phone. No e-mail. Just me and my feet. I'm even going to skip the iPod today so I can hear the birds, and so I can concentrate on my surroundings. I don't know where I'm going to go. I know I'll leave the condo and will turn left up Commonwealth Drive. From there? I don't know for sure, but I can guarantee you the day will become a lot less stressful.


My friend's cancer blog

A really good friend of mine is going through treatment for colon cancer. He's 33. My mother had colon cancer when she was in her 50's. I stopped eating meat in part to reduce the risk. But, it happens a lot, and my friend is documenting his experience on a new blog he created.

Life is pretty fragile. It's important to hold that thought close to us.


An idea for restaurants

Just an idea here. If I'm at a restaurant as a a one-top at a three-top table, I really don't mind if a two-top sits with me. I've paid my bill here, but I'm finishing off my drink. The couple waiting at the gate would like me to leave so they can sit. I can understand that, definitely, but I also don't want to rush my experience sitting here. After all, I have tinny jazz to listen to.

But, really, why couldn't they just sit here at my table? What would the harm be? That we have a couple of words of conversation?

That's how I ended up sitting here. Even though there was an empty three-top, a man was sitting at the table my himself and I barged in and asked if I could take up one of his empty chairs because I didn't want to short-change the business. He and I ended up having a pretty cool conversation, and I met a new friend.

To grow, humans need random interactions with other humans. We need the ability to get outside of ourselves. Simple innovations would yield tremendous results.

Charlottesville's Opening Day

Today is the first Saturday of April, and it appears that the Charlottesville we all live here for has returned in all its full glory. This blossoming has me feeling absolutely buoyant and jubilant about the decision I made to live here way back in August of 2002.

Let me set the scene. I'm sitting underneath the awning at Miller's listening to a band that's playing in front of that expensive stationary store. I say band, but it's really a teenage kid playing with a drummer. I can also hear jazz music playing through the tinny speaker above my head.

Let's go back and add one more prepositional phrase to my description of where I'm sitting: under the awning on the patio. Crowds keep milling by, and everyone's smiling in the sunshine. The music is part of one of the downtown group's celebrations of the re-opening this section of the mall, which is an odd idea considering there are orange fences blocking off the sections of the Mall where the patio for both Hamilton's and Miller's are usually located.

But, so what? I think it's appropriate to celebrate what I'd like to think of as Charlottesville's opening day.

Think about it. The Charlottesville City Market opened up today, and thousands ran in the Charlottesville Ten-Miler. All of what makes this place this place is here. Even the unfinished nature of the Mall. This place is still a canvas on which all of our futures are being drawn and sketched.

I told you I was feeling ebullient and positive. Nice change, huh?

But, seriously, I feel like we're at the beginning of the year, the real part of the year when the world comes alive. Why do we celebrate the New Year in the middle of the winter? This sets up a false hope followed by several months of dread and relative hopelessness. I want to cook the psychological books and say 2009 starts now. Who's with me?

Baseball has it right, starting the season at the most appropriate time. Think of all those teams each starting off at the same place. On opening day, there's a sense of renewal and purpose. There's a sense that it's all going to work out. You don't think about anything else other than glory on Opening Day.

Let's be honest. It's been a pretty rough time for a lot of people, for whatever reason. We need this spring more than we've needed any other for a long time. The trees have seemed particularly threadbare this winter. The temperature stayed just on the wrong side of the comfort line. For those of us in Charlottesville, our public space has been walled off and we've been channeled through narrow tunnels while walking on the Mall. We've got an unfinished building reminding us of the perils of over-extending ourselves.

Yet, I have confidence that someone is going to figure out how to turn that Tyvek Tower into something that complements our community. Will it happen this year? Maybe. Will the Cubs win the World Series? Maybe. Does it really matter?

What does matter? What matters is that we live in a space where we get to be with each other. We're all seeking out communal spaces, and we've got one of the country's best examples right here. I talked to at least a hundred people this morning at the City Market. At least two thousand people had the shared experience of running the Charlottesville Ten-Miler. Soon we'll have Fridays After Five, as well as what I'm sure will be a fantastic celebration when all of the orange fences are up.

Play ball, Charlottesville!


Thoughts on the New Facebook

The turmoil generated by Facebook's new layout seems to have died down, and people appear to be continuing to use it. I don't even remember what it looked like a few weeks ago, to be honest.

As the operator of two websites here in Charlottesville, I can definitely say that the new Facebook is a huge improvement because of the changes made to how "Pages" work. I created a page for the Charlottesville Podcasting Network about a year ago, but the idea has languished because there was no easy way to get the updates in front of people.

Now, however, pages function the same way as individuals' profiles, giving groups such as CPN and Charlottesville Tomorrow the ability to push their content in front of people who have already opted in. This pleases me, and gives us a whole new way to reach people in our community.

So, if you're on Facebook, why not become a "fan" of our sites? I've conveniently placed the links below:

Charlottesville Tomorrow on Facebook

Charlottesville Podcasting Network on Facebook

Much obliged.

More things to listen to without listening to

It has been ten years since I last sang with the late 1990's incarnation of the Hodads, the fake band that never quite got off the ground due to various factors I won't mention at the moment. One of the members of that band, Adalid Claure, is undergoing surgery today for something pretty serious today. In honor of him, I'm going to post one of the songs from March 1999.

Listen: To the Moon, Alice!

Remember, everything we did was always improvised. They would start playing, and I would start singing. The experience was one of the most cathartic I've ever experienced. However, my friend Jeffry Cudlin has told me relying on improvisation can lead to madness, and I can certainly say that I understand what he means. I would have much preferred if we'd actually sat down and prepared songs, but for whatever reason, we did not.

I have these fantasies of getting up somewhere to sing. Not because I think I'm any good, but because I just have all this energy at times, and I've got to get it out of me somehow. I'd love to learn how to write songs, and to channel all of the various views and emotions I have through a musical form. I sing to my kids all the time.

So, yeah, the above song is noise, but it represents where I was at a specific time in my life, when I believed I could do anything. I still believe I can do anything, but I appreciate that it takes work and energy to turn an inkling of talent into something that an audience would appreciate.