Friday, October 20, 2017

"You're nuts...but Alaska Paul might fall for it..."

Thursday, October 19, 2017
I began taking the steroids for my gout-swollen toe on Tuesday.  By Wednesday, the pain was almost entirely gone and I managed to again go over 20,000 steps for the day.  Kathy was going out of town to do a two-day ride in Shenandoah National Park, which meant I would have cat duty over the weekend.  I stopped by on my way to hike to get any further instructions.

“I’ve got an hour before they pick me up so I can go with you if we don’t get sweaty.  I smell good right now,” she said. 

She certainly smelled better than me.  I assured her it would be an easy 3-miler since I had to spare my toe any trauma, so we headed for Horseshoe Pond.  Once on the trail, I began my pitch for her to join me on the Minnesota hike next summer.  Having someone to share the journey…and some of the essential gear…would be a smart move. 

“Thirty days and 400 miles?  Are you stupid?  How many a day is that?” she asked.

Quick math told me 13 miles, but that’s if you don’t take a rest day anywhere.  I told her that and she looked at me like I was nuts.  She’s probably not going to get on board for the 2,650-mile trip on the Pacific Crest Trail either.  As we walked though, I received a text from Alaska Paul and wrote back telling him I had a plan that included him for the PCT.  He texted back, ‘sounds like trouble.  Let’s hear it’.

The biggest issue on through-hikes is the resupply of food.  Setting up drops, places you can leave the trail and pick up food you’ve mailed to yourself is the most common method.  I had a better plan.  Paul could drive ahead of me along the trail, hike back towards me since he likes hiking, walk with me back to his camping van where I could resupply and spend a night in relative comfort.  Works for me and now I only need to convince him.

I ended up with another 20,000 step day and very little soreness in the toe.  I think it’s time to try another run.

Hike: 70 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  80-100 bpm.
Calories burned: 575.
Bonus: 21,000 steps.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What is this feeling?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Though I haven’t posted anything in two weeks, I have been working out and writing about it…in my head.

Some other things have been crashing against the insides of my skull lately and I don’t want to blame that for not writing, but maybe.  It started two weeks ago on Thursday night…the night the Indians won the first game of the divisional playoffs against the Yankees, 4-0.  Savannah and I were in attendance, frustrated but happy at the outcome.  It could have easily been 8-0 for the missed opportunities.  The next night Justin and I drove to the Adirondacks listening to Tom Hamilton call the game from my car radio well into the mountains of upstate New York.  This may not seem like a big deal except that we could not pick up our local station to hear him sixty miles outside of Cleveland in Pa.  The Indians were playing lackluster ball again and down 8-3 with our ace, Cory Kluber, having been shelled for six runs, before they staged a late-inning comeback to win in 13 innings.  A week later, Savannah called about the fifth and final game of the series to be played that night in Cleveland.

“If I buy you a ticket, will you go with me?” she asked.

I’d already jinxed the Indians beyond recognition by telling her if they made it to the World Series I would buy her a ticket.  If you know anything about me, you know that I believe completely in my ability to negatively affect the outcome of any Cleveland sporting team, and particularly the Indians, by making such statements.  I really didn’t want to go as I was having terrible misgivings, but how do you say ‘no’ to your daughter – the one in whom you’ve instilled the kind of fanaticism now on display?

“Of course I’ll go.  I was saving money for that World Series ticket,” I said.  I always put on the positive, brave face for the Tribe.

We went, they kind of played, we lost.  Depression.  And relief.

I will admit that last year’s team and it’s run to extra innings in Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs was one of the most emotionally draining experiences of my life…maybe the most since I did sit through games 6 and 7 in Miami in 1997 with my cousin, Donnie, and watch them lose that one in the 11th inning of the seventh game, blowing a ninth inning, one-run lead.

For this season, the stress is over.  But it will be back and I will suffer again.  ‘Why?’ I have asked myself over and again.  The cliché ‘it’s only a game’ comes to mind first.  The fact (okay…maybe not a ‘fact’) that I have NO impact on the outcome is second.  How about we have Tito Francona calling the shots as manager and he’s like the best manager in the history of managers and I don’t have to second-guess anything?  But they do crawl into my skin and they do share my body and their actions do affect my emotions to a point where I’m actually shedding tears thinking about what might be if they win…and then when they don’t.  I will admit that I actually closed my eyes and tried to send some mental energy, as though I could, to the mound between pitches so that Cory Kluber would have that little something extra to help him retire the next Yankee hitter.  It didn’t work…but I REALLY thought it could.  What is wrong with that?  Where does it come from?  Am I alone?  And most importantly, will it always be that way?

So life marches on in spite of the Indians defeat.  Justin and I did some serious hiking in the Adirondacks.  I returned and continued to hike and work out including a day of the Survival Workout.  More importantly I think, I began serious research into hiking one of America’s Triple Crowns of trails – the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or the Continental Divide Trail.  I am definitely leaning towards the PCT.

I was crippled up by gout in my big toe on my right foot last Friday and have been struggling with it ever since.  It was healing by Monday so I thought a long hike was a good idea even though it was sore 400 yards into the hike.  I went three miles anyway and you can guess the outcome.

The playoffs continue and the Evil Empire Yankees lead Houston…another team that was supposed to handle them…3 games to 2.  Sounds a lot like my Tribe a year ago.  There’s always next year and I know I will remain a loyal, maniacal fan so long as I draw breath.  Go Tribe.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Miggie gets her lobster...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
A week had come and gone since the great depression of discovering Fisher’s was out of lobster.  I had accepted my fate with a measure of dignity, but Miggie was still out-of-sorts.

“We need to get there as soon as they open!  Five o’clock!!” she reminded me the night before.  I wasn’t so sure that was necessary, but I also didn’t want to be in her crosshairs if we missed out two weeks in a row.  I pledged to be there…around that time.

Justin was supposed to join us, which would be followed by a trip to Appalachian Outfitters so that he could buy himself a tent and backpack for the weekend trip.  I was waiting at home for him.  Our plan was to walk to Peninsula together, but when he did call to say he couldn’t make it until later, I realized there was no way I could get to the restaurant at the designated time if I was to walk.  I started out, but at a rapid pace, dialing Miggie as I walked.  She was sure to be late.  She never left work on time.

“I’m walking out the door now.  Be home a little before five and we can get there right on time,” she said.

Shit.  “Umm…I’m walking down…remember?  I don’t think I’ll be there right at five, though.  I was waiting for Jus…”

“WHAT?  They’ll run OUT of lobster!”

“I’m pretty sure they won’t.  It was like 6:30 last week when they did.  I’m walking fast, though,” I said.  I was sweating, too.

“HURRY!” she said and then I think she hung up.

I arrived at 5:17 and, not seeing her car, breathed a sigh of relief.  She’d likely stayed a little later or got caught in the rush hour traffic on I77.  In any event, I asked for a table and was being taken to it when I noticed her already seated in a booth.  I veered.

“You’re VERY late.  I ordered for you!” she said.  She had her game face on and was very serious about her food.  When it arrived, she gave a little sigh of relief and joy and for the next twenty minutes attacked that lobster with lust and vigor.

“You’re shooting lobster juice and butter everywhere, Miggie.  I’m going to have to hose you down before you can get back in the car,” I said as she cracked through shell and sucked for the remaining morsels.  She looked at me and smiled.  Not a word was spoken.  There simply wasn’t time.

It was an okay meal in the end.  A full lobster with a baked potato for $15.49 was a good deal, but I don’t like having to work so hard to get at my food.  I’ll stick to rib night, which is Tuesday, from now on.  At least I got in a hike and hit my step goal for the night.

Hike: 70 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  80-100 bpm.
Calories burned: 575.
Bonus: 21,000 steps.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What's it all about?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
My daughter has been struggling with problems of an existential nature.  ‘Why am I here?  What should I be doing with my life?  Why are my mom and dad mortal – they won’t be here someday and I’ll have to deal with that?’ kind of stuff.  She has always been a deep thinker; in her head and wondering about things way beyond what others might consider normal.  That, and she talks about it.

Well…I know all those feelings and I tend not to talk about them.  Instead, I soldier on figuring it will happen as it does or should and I’ll deal with it.  I guess that’s not entirely true, either.  Ever since my wife of 39 years told me she was in love with another man, I’ve chewed these questions harder than ever and the process brought me very low, indeed.  I would escape in my exercise – Tour Ohio and the Survival Workout, or a trip to the Adirondacks, but a plan for the future?  An understanding of what I was supposed to do with my life or why things happen the way they do?  Not so much.

I read the book ‘Wild’ and then saw the movie starring Reese Witherspoon and will admit that this inspired me to announce my intentions to hike the Continental Divide Trail once I’d retired.  Hike it, contemplate the meaning of life…or my life, at least, and write about it.  I said it out loud, wrote about it here many times, and thought about it now and again – but really have done nothing to start the process.  Until now.

I ordered three books on-line.  Two on the Pacific Crest Trail and one on the Continental Divide.  My thinking is changing as I do research on these two (I have decided against the Appalachian Trail for now because, in my head, I was looking for something fewer people have done) and I am now leaning towards the PCT.  The CDT is still far from complete, with many miles on roads, and not as clearly defined.  Most importantly though, it is 3,100 miles long, which is over 400 miles longer than the PCT.  For a through-hiker, someone who hopes to complete the route in one continuous hike, that could be the difference between making it or having to head home because weather conditions have made it virtually impossible. 

Time is of the essence as the hikes are typically begun in the late spring so as to avoid snow in the mountainous southern portions and/or the heat of desert travel in the summer months, and to complete the northern portions before winter socks in the peaks towards the end, which can happen in early autumn.  Five to six months of continuous hiking at more than 20 miles a day is required to accomplish this task and I have asked myself if it would be fun to push that number to 25 and have little or no days off just to handle the CDT?  That would be a ‘no’.  In fact, as I do my research about distances, resupplying, weather conditions, and my own physical health, I may decide that whatever I do needs to be done over two seasons and not all at one time.  For me, the most important reason to do this hike it not to challenge myself as to whether I can, but instead to immerse myself in my surroundings and gain as much enjoyment as is possible from walking through some of the most beautiful land this planet has to offer.

The Adirondacks are a few days away and I have been alternating between hiking with and without the pack.  My hip pain is almost completely gone and I feel ready to tackle some tougher hikes.  Much will depend on Justin’s knee.  Though he cannot go in the back country with a pack, he still wants to try hiking and climbing.  I can appreciate the foolishness of that thinking.  I do it all the time.

Hike: 70 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  80-100 bpm.
Calories burned: 575.
Bonus: 22,800 steps.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lobster night!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It was Lobster Dinner night at Fisher’s and Miggie wanted to go there desperately.  I like it, but could do without.  I have been suffering with pain in the ball of my left foot and had stopped earlier to pick up a Dr. Scholl’s insert in hopes of mitigating the pain. 

“I’ll meet you down there.  I’m going to walk.  Bring me a dry t-shirt if you don’t mind,” I said when she called.  The night before I’d gotten cold while eating dinner in a sweaty t-shirt.

I had an hour before I had to leave for the restaurant and chose to go the Deep Lock Quarry[JR1]  Metropark, which is within the boundaries of Cuyahoga Valley National Park and abuts the Towpath.  I’d driven past it many times and wondered what terrain it offered and if there was a hole filled with water where I could swim.  I was thinking I might run the trails and had put on my running shoes with one of the inserts.  Once there though, I realized this might be the place to re-create my Survival Workout.  It was loaded with heavy rocks and downed trees – two key ingredients.

I hiked the 1.5 mile loop trail stopping to lift things as I did.  There were numerous park benches where I could prop up my feet to do push-ups and to use for dips.  The quarry itself, abandoned since the early 20th century, had rocks the size of houses down to ones about the size of a toaster oven.  I lifted the latter when the former wouldn’t budge.

My shoulder is still sore from the exertion of pitching while Jack was home so I went easy on the calisthenics and rock-lifting.  Over the next hour, I performed seven sets of lifts and none to exhaustion.  I returned to the car with a mild pump, encouraged that this would become the new home of my workout.

I’ve been slipping physically over the past two years.  I haven’t written for some time because my workouts have been inconsistent.  Jack has encouraged me to write again, but I needed to be working out to write a workout blog – or so I’m told.  I’ve lost tone and flexibility – things I don’t want to lose as I age.  I have too much to do and a lot of it is physical.  Deep Lock should be getting a lot of press from now on.

I took a quick shower when I returned home.  I wanted to be clean once I started sweating on the hike to Peninsula.  Though it was only in the upper 80’s, the humidity was somewhere near what we had in the steam room of the old Cleveland Athletic Club.  I was drenched when I climbed up the road from the Towpath and into downtown Peninsula.  Miggie had brought me a dry shirt, but I didn’t want to change in the parking lot, which was packed for Lobster night.  I figured I could do it in the bathroom once we ordered.

I walked in the door and up to the hostess station for seating just as a waitress was writing the words ‘lobster sold out’ on a dry-erase board.

“Couldn’t you have walked a little faster?” Miggie said.

Well…no…I’m old and slow.

Hike: Two hours and 10 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  80-100 bpm.
Calories burned: 1,200.
Bonus: 26,300 steps.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Selfish thoughts...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
I didn’t work out over the weekend, though I did plenty of work.  I painted the side of Mimi’s garage, which gets a ton of sun throughout the day and leads to cracking and blistering paint.  It was too hot for such work, so I started early both days and finished up before noon.  Somehow, I managed to rake together a full tarp of leaves and haul them to the woods…a true workout when they get heavy in a couple of weeks.

Monday and Tuesday remained unseasonably hot as record high temperatures in the 90’s continued.  I had to finish my roof project, and did on Tuesday.  I sweat through my clothing to the point where it looked as though I’d fallen in our pond.  I had a headache and couldn’t stop sweating for an hour after and decided what I needed was to go home and hang out in an air-conditioned house.  That lasted about an hour.

I sent a message to Miggie telling her I would walk to Peninsula – a little over an hour away on the Towpath – and meet her at Fisher’s.  It was rib night and like any smart, older person, I was always hunting the deals for food.  An hour is a long time to hike alone and for me becomes a time to go deep into my head and think of the tougher things I face.  One such topic was retirement.

I will admit I consider this constantly.  I think the only thing holding me back is the uncertainty of my finances once I have.  Sure – I will have a check coming from the Social Security office and yes, I have pension money.  I think I have a handle on how much it will cost me to live in Peninsula, but I still have equity tied up in my former home and won’t have access to that until Jason gets traditional financing on it and I have the equity to invest.  There is also the question of health care and this is the biggest concern.  The last thing I want is to run out of money someday because of illness and need help from my kids.  For now, I’ll keep working and doing side jobs.  I know I can continue the side jobs after retiring, as well.

But how about what I’m SUPPOSED to do in retirement.  I want to hike, bike, kayak and travel across the continent.  I want to see all the great parks in North America and ride many of the rail to trail byways.  I want to do all these things for ME and that seems selfish.  I’ve worked hard my whole life and run the race giving it my best effort.  Won’t I just be cruising to the life’s finish line if I’m not working or doing something important to help others?  I thought about this as I walked, looking down through the trees to the waters of the Cuyahoga River flowing a short distance away.  I watched that river, the flow of water around rocks and the eddies and wondered about the course I would choose to run it.  And this train of thought continued alongside the selfishness.  I’m guessing I will strike a balance…do things I’ve always wanted to do and find something that gives me a sense of fulfilling a duty to those around me…to helping those who cannot enjoy the things I would like to do or to even have the time to ponder such things for the miseries life may have visited upon them.  Yes…balance.  I continued the hike.
Hike: 70 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  80 bpm.
Calories burned: 500.
Bonus: 20,300 steps.

Monday, September 25, 2017

On the bike...

Friday, September 22, 2017
The heat wave continued and I managed to suffer openly and for everyone to hear.  I still had some roof work to perform, but it was manageable.  I hydrated throughout the day, but never felt like it was enough.  My hips, after yesterday’s pack hike, were doing well, but I was not going to go two days in a row with the pack and re-injure them.  I got home to the air conditioning and almost succumbed to doing nothing.  That would have sucked.

I put on my cycling gear, filled both water bottles, and headed out.  There are many hills out of the valley and I take care to avoid them.  Narrow shoulders, hairpin turns, steep inclines all make them hazardous.  There is one straight shot – Major Road – so I climbed up and out on it.  The ride went on for two hours, but the terrain is not nearly as challenging as it was when I headed east into farm country from Highland Heights.  The valley is surrounded by urban areas and it makes getting to the open country tougher.  I will miss my old riding routes.
Bike: Two hours.
Training Heart Rate:  120 bpm.
Calories burned: 1,500.
Bonus:  23,800 steps.