Friday, August 31, 2007

NASCAR vs Formula One

As much as I am loathe to admit it, GI Mark is a good friend of mine. True, I wrote a man-crush post about him, but mostly that was under coercion - I was driving to NJ from OH at the time and cannot be held responsible for the byproducts of inescapable boredom.

In years past, my only exposure to motorsports was via MarioKart 64. Real-life car racing seemed boring in comparison, because there were no banana peels or turtle shells with which the racers might spice up the action.

Mark, however, showed me the light. He's been incredibly patient, patient in ways that defy human limits, but he's taught me to appreciate motorsports. He's introduced me to Top Gear, and he's described strategy in MotoGP.

Glory be and hallelujah. I have seen the light, and lord it was good. Cars going fast can actually be cool. Testify!


And so I've been reading up on strategy in Formula One as well as in NASCAR. In fact, I'm starting to get the subtleties, the pit window manipulation and brake conservation and aerodynamics. There is a great deal more drama in motorsports that initially meets the eye.

It was with this newfound perspective that I watched the last 50 miles of the NASCAR race at Bristol this past weekend. Unsurprisingly, it was really great racing, lots of passing, lots of side-by-side who's-going-to-blink-first rubbin-is-racin goodness. But there were very few crashes.

On Monday, I read a review of the race. An excerpt:
"'What you're saying is that if there's not a lot of wrecking then it's boring?' [driver Jeff Burton] said.
Well, yeah!"

I suppose I'd also need explosions and spin-outs to keep me entertained if I feared minorities and Northerners and change. If I was the sort of guy who looked at my sister and thought "hmm... how bad could a web-footed child be?" You sir, Mr. David Newton of ESPN.com, are why I still don't consider myself a fan of NASCAR.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Spent 8 Hours at Teaching Assistant Training

The oddest thing happened this morning. I was sitting in an auditorium for a TA training seminar, as is required for all new TAs. The organizers had been kind enough to provide muffins and croissants, and I was reasonably content.

There was a subtle rumble in my stomach just minutes into the Dean of Graduate Students' lengthy, broad, evenly paced, heartfelt, introduction, which I attributed to the cheep beer I'd indulged in last night.

The rumble intensified and concentrated itself just below my ribcage. It became more of a tapping as the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies flagrantly plagiarized the Dean in her own welcoming speech, and it felt as if someone or something was testing the structural integrity of my abdomen. I would have been concerned if I wasn't so engrossed in the stitching on my shoes at the time.

It was a jailbreak! Something within me was attempting to burrow its way out of my torso. Something crushed, claustrophobic, was trying to get out. My soul was trying to escape.

This simply wouldn't do. Dented and smudged though it might be, I need my soul... or at least I will the next time I cross the threshold of a church or try to sing Aretha Franklin.

I tried to use my hands to clam the abdominal wall shut, but the soul is actually rather fluid and it squeezed between my fingers. My soul had escaped, and was slithering away.

Leaping from my chair, I scattered the Italian Literature grads and knocked a Music Theorist over. My soul, now trapped between the carpeted floor and my cupped hands, bit me, taking a chunk of the flesh between the right thumb and forefinger.

I should have been embarrassed, having suffered the ignominy of being bitten by a fugitive soul. Instead, I just couldn't seem to care... about anything... at all. Nursing my bleeding hand, I watched my soul dip its taped fists in tar and broken glass.

It was at this point that I realized that it might have been better if I'd simply let the soul go, because "Chain of Fools" isn't that great a song and this was going to hurt.

My soul connected with a left hook that broke my nose. A representative of the General Counsel's Office was giving a not-so-brief history of the General Counsel's Office. My soul kicked me in the ribs; it was angry and playing for keeps. I threw myself at my soul's ankles, hoping to throw it off balance or at least interrupt the flurry of punches that were landing on my face.

All of a sudden, my soul took my arm and twisted it sharply. The world turned white hot, and the shoulder was about to be ripped from its socket. I was slipping into blissful unconsciousness but was vaguely aware that my soul's escape was inevitable, that by the end of this TA training session my soul would be gone forever.

Thank god for the coffee break between lectures. Smelling the dark-roasted percolation, my soul was happy enough to climb back in and soak in the caffeiney-goodness. With my soul firmly reattached to the heart-bone, I spent the following seven hours being informed that it is bad to have sex with one's students.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How To Cyclocross... with VIDEO!!!

I'm just testing out this new "video upload" function on blogger

Jenks shows how to clear the barriers (again)
video

Will P shows the exact opposite of correct technique
video

Coffee Review: Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice

The first sip summoned a flurry of tingling in my tastebuds, reminiscent of years past, when I would while away the lazy summer afternoons by making sewage angels and building last-week's-cheese forts. This nostalgia was quickly replaced by a new cornucopia of sensation, as the striking aftertaste introduced the sinus-clearing burn of a horseradish-and-beetle pie, just like Grandma used to make when my brother and I misbehaved.

At this point, the uncontrollable teardrops streaming down my cheeks had added a salty tinge to the coffee's flavor. While the new taste was mostly lost in the sea of despair that was the first sip, I knew that a second sip would clear the tears from my palette and ensure a fair assessment of the Pumpkin Spice coffee.

I took a second sip and swirled it around in my mouth. The Devil appeared before me, with demons at his side and a pitchfork made of swizzle-stick and then there was a ghost but it was a headless ghost and there were bats with spiral eyes and the floor heaved and curled about itself and the vortices knocked me up into the air where I fell suspended and felt nothing but the acid burn on my skin which had been ripped off and was hanging next to me on a rack in a dungeon in the thunderclouds ouijaboard soulless columbian dripping satanic zombie Stamos.

When I regained consciousness, I vowed to never again drink Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice coffee.

And neither should you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Brick

My old phone died. Hooray! RIP, piece of crap.

Having been a loyal Verizon customer for some time now, I've earned a free phone with contract extension. This resulted in an embarrassment of riches that I wasn't expecting, where I had so many options that I didn't know what to do.

To me, cell phones are meant to be simple, functional accessories, created to serve mankind... not unlike women, or socks. Anyone who claims otherwise is trying to tell you that the Emperor's clothes exist, and that your life will be empty without a matching outfit in your size. Honestly, cell phones are phones sans landline - anything more is just gratuitous.

"I can listen to music on my phone!"
Yeah, well I can draft blog posts for free.
"I can take pictures of things!"
And that photo of the beige blur against the gray background is truly artistic, believe me.
"I can play video games!"
I can pay your mother for sexual favors... also she's fat.

Still, I had a free phone coming, so why not treat myself? I'll tell you why not. Technology and I do not get along. Yes I am an engineer. No I do not like things that use electricity.

So rather than buy a paper-thin toy phone, I chose ruggedness. Let's face it, the Swedish rhythmic dance team may be easy on the eyes, but wouldn't it be smarter to hire the East German swimmers to help you move?

And so I purchased The Brick. It had every function I need (mouthpiece, earpiece, cellular communication techmology, etc) and then some. It weighs 40 lbs and can withstand head-on collisions with SUVs. The cockroaches that survive a nuclear holocaust will use my new phone for TXTing, assuming they learn English.

The Brick (bottom) is half-again as big as the old phone (top),
and thrice as mean looking


The Brick is Dirt Resistant, Water Resistant, and has a Fire-Retardant Spermicidal Coating. The Brick is Ribbed for Her Pleasure.

The Brick has the elegance of a Rolex and the eyes of an evil robot
(did you know that there is a blog dedicated to creepy robots?)

The Brick could beat up your cell phone, but won't, because The Brick is training for a Mixed Martial Arts fight against an aging yet dangerous Ken Shamrock.

The Brick is ready to go muddin' with you... it has an f'in Roll Cage

Now that I've written this post about the durability and awesomeness of my cell phone, it is surely jinxed. I give it three weeks to a month. Totally worth it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

m'kay

I'm bringing the word "m'kay" back. I don't know when it went away, or why, but by god it's time for a comeback!

"M'kay". Ostensibly a word of agreement. "M'kay". A first syllable so terse-lipped and grumbly to drown out even the most enthusiastic pests. "M'kay". It just rolls off the tongue.

It's so beautiful. By using "m'kay", you're responding in the affirmative, or you're asking for confirmation... but reading between the lines, the sarcasm shines through. "M'kay" is congenial enough for use on your friends and subtle enough to slip through the grasp of the not-so-sharp.

"M'kay". Simultaneously a friendly nudge and a sardonic cheap-shot. A hearty slap on the back and a surreptitious kick in the junk.

Advanced Use: Draw out the "m"; the longer, the more condescending.
example: Try not to take 90 minute showers in an apartment you don't live in, mmm'kay?

Pitfalls: Avoid using "m'kay" in situations where the "okay" it replaces is being used as an adjective.
example: Jenks' blog is m'kay, but could stand to be updated every so often.

There you have it. "M'kay" has been brought back. Tell your friends, m'kay?.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Flantastic

Dan rode his bicycle to Maine. Loaded with clothes and camping supplies, his bike weighed about 80 lbs. He rode between 80 and 120 miles every day.

Honestly, this isn't actually that impressive. At least, not compared to last year, when he rode from Washington (the state, not the bureaucracy) to Maine to Jersey, when he rode between 80 and 120 miles every day with an 80 lb bike.

As impressed as I am by the riding, it is the photo- and video-blogging he did along the way that won my admiration.

This video, in particular, elicits one simple word... Awesome


There is a fine line between genius, madness, and fitness. I guess it's more of a fine triangle.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now I have a moat...

... but no drawbridge.

This post is my big passive-aggressive "up yours" to Rutgers Graduate Housing, whose efforts to pretty up the Buell Apartments while completely neglecting to upgrade the infrastructure (yes, Will's closet is still leaking) are tantamount to an eviction notice... or a prison sentence.

They might as well put a letter in every mailbox, saying:

Dear Current Resident,

Please don't live here.

Sincerely,
Graduate Housing


To walk from my apartment to my lab you need hiking boots and a sherpa. For goodness' sake.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Error Message

Due to unforeseen caffeine shortages, blog awesomeness volumes have recently dropped dangerously low. We here at NinjaDon are aware of the situation, and our technicians are working around the clock to ensure that your blog reading experience stops sucking. We know that you have a choice in blog readership, and we appreciate your choosing NinjaDon.

Scent of a Totally Awesome Scene

While my favorite scenes from movies usually involve some combination of explosions, ninjas, and car chases, there are some noteworthy exceptions. Noteworthiest of all is the tango scene from Scent of a Woman.

Featuring Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, Gabrielle Anwar, and with David Lansbury as "the person Don hates most in the world", this scene is probably one of the more immortal moments in the history of filmdom... with the possible exception of the mall scene from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Remember, if you please, that Pacino's character is not as with it as this scene would have you believe. We'll soon find out (Spoiler Alert! Run for your lives!) that he's actually suicidal. Still, for these few minutes, he's possibly the badassest badass to ever be a badass.



My take on this: It's not about the dancing. Or about the ability to recognize perfume... frankly, I can't imagine that not being creepy in real life. It is about... damn, I don't even know how to verbalize it. The best I can do is say that it is about riding no-handed. Think about it.

The best things in life are free, or at least cheap

I am not a wealthy man. Life is comfortable enough, of course. Still, I don't exactly fly to Vegas in a private jet for a weekend of high-stakes poker on a regular basis. Instead, my jollies come in the form of low-budget adventures, with a strong emphasis on exploring the back-roads of NJ and consuming as much food as possible.

Saturday:
9am - Ride to and from Princeton with about a dozen Hermutgerses, stopping for coffee halfway through.
1pm - Lunch in Highland Park with Jenks, Andy, the Kassassin, and new guy Anthony. In skin-tight, brightly-colored, glorious spandex.
2pm - Catatonic stupor on the couch
5pm - BBQ at Jay #1's house. He served steak, chicken, and rabbit. Many wabbit season jokes were made. Also, there was a keg of Sierra Nevada beer.

Sunday:
9am - Ride with Todd, Angrymark, Kassassin, and Beastmaster. 70 hurty miles, aptly named the "cock and balls" loop.
2pm - Catatonic stupor on the couch
4pm - Nintendo party at Jenks' apartment, with a strong emphasis on throwing grenades at each others' faces.
10pm - The conclusion of a long game of phone tag. Totally worth the wait.
10:30pm - Blueberries. Applesauce. Last but not least, ice cream.

Total cost to me: not much at all.

Yes, this weekend has been fantastic. Wait, I can do that better. This weekend has been fantastic. Now that I've written this all out, one thing becomes very clear: With the exception of today's dessert, which was bound for greatness mostly because of the ice cream, this weekend's awesomeness was unmistakably correlated to the time I spent with my friends.

Gawd, that was sappy.

P.S. I hadn't used the word "awesome" or one of its variants in a week. A week is too long. I was starting to go through withdrawl.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Caption Contest

In honor of Charlie's engagement to the lovely Ms. O, this post is a tribute to him. Whoever best captions this photo from last weekend's Summercross race will win a beer (even if they happen to live somewhere silly like North Carolina, I will find a way!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Don's Law of Team Name Plurality or I reject your sporting squadron's name on a purely grammatical basis

When I write a rant, I generally try to limit the scope of my critical ire to subjects that affect me directly, or subjects that might someday affect the world at large. For example, I've written about the impending conflict with the Johnson and Johnson interns, my rancor for creationists, and the ubiquitous lack of portajohn etiquette. Not today.

You make think this is silly, and I may agree with you, but damn it all, this really gets under my skin:

Who decided that it was okay for sports teams to give themselves names that are singular? Miami Heat, Utah Jazz, Tampa Bay Lightning... What the crap?

Hey, Shaq circa 2003, are you proud to be part of your local sports franchise? "Yes, I'm proud to be a Laker"

Hey, Shaq circa 2005, how does it feel to be a member of your new team? "I'll tell you, it sure does feel dandy to be a Heat. Almost as good as when I was a Magic".

Goddamnit.

While we're at it, I'll delve into two more team names that are worth my delving.

Highland Park Hermes. Hermes was a greek god (not unlike AngryMark). Hermes was one greek god. Fortunately, though, this particular name ends in an 's', which allows me to work around an otherwise unforgivable transgression. For example, when speaking about Jenks, I can simply call him a Herme. Or, when talking about the team, I can append an additional 's' or two, rendering them the Hermeseses. Highland Park Hermes, you are forgiven.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks. They (the owners, not the players) are whores. That's about the long and short of it. They're an expansion team in the same league as the Rangers, the Canadiens, the Bruins. What name do they choose? The name of a team from a freaking Disney movie, because that's where the money is. Regardless of how well the team does, it is still inevitably a joke. Are you skeptical of this last statement? Well perhaps you have forgotten the like-titled animated series. No other sports team has so earned the term "franchise". You may not have violated Don's Law of Team Name Plurality, but you're still somehow worse than the Indiana Fever.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jenks Clears the Barriers

There will eventually be some report or something from Saturday's Summercross race. For now, enjoy the following photos of Jenksy doing his thang... (Jenks, who rides for Highland Park Hermes, is wearing the dayglo-green skinsuit)

Step 1: Go fast

Step 2: Swing the right leg over the saddle

Step 3: Put the right hip up against the saddle,
and begin moving the right hand off of the handlebars

Step 4: With the right hand on the top tube, unclip the left foot
(some people put this before Step 1)

Step 5: Run and lift

Step 6: Quick, like a bunny!

Step 7: Leap gracefully... it's more of a frolic, really

Step 8: Put the bike down. Gently, please.

Step 9: Remount. If you mess up, you will land on your giblets.
No pressure

Step 10: Go fast again
(making sure to follow the course, which has 180-ed in this case)

My Girl-Crush

I know you were expecting a man-crush post, but the truth is that a Y chromosome isn't a prerequisite for my respect. Indeed, there are a few women whose indomitable spirits and lack of utter vapidity more than make up for what can only be described as their gender's estrogen-induced psychosis. The very existence of these women, whose ranks include Ms. Joan of Arc, the perennially sexy Madeline Albright, and Dr. Pamela Anderson, Ph.D., suggests that there may be more to the female species than reproductive organs and a fondness for karaoke singers. They may actually have souls.

Alicia definitely has a soul. I mentioned a while back that my coach has a sugar-mama... well, Alicia's that lucky lady. She is so cool that her dissertation defense included the use of 3-D glasses. She is so badass that she races cyclocross (need I say more?).

You may wonder what has prompted this post. What has Alicia done that's so crush-worthy, since abandoning her team and absconding to another time zone in pursuit of sugar-mamahood?

She has gone to an oil rig off the coast of Africa. She has climbed to the very top of the tallest tower, hundreds of feet above shark-infested water. She has run thousands of laps on a helipad to stay in shape.

Alicia, you are my hero...
...even though your husband is trying to kill me

Monday, August 13, 2007

My White Whale

There is something awesome lurking outside my apartment. I'm not sure what this thing is, or for what purpose it is used. Is it good? Is it evil? Is it remote controlled?

It doesn't matter. I must have it.

And the winds whispered, "Ritacco"


While we're looking at pictures, here's photographic evidence that I have an artery on my Achilles tendon.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Superawesomedelicious Recipe

In the spirit of AngryMark and Jenksy, here's a recipe that I know will tickle your tastebuds and dazzle your duodenum.

Boil a bunch of water
Add 1/2 lb of dry pasta
Stir occasionally
Taste pasta for texture occasionally
Add butter


This quick and easy delicacy will turn you from a culinary klutz into a gifted gourmet, guaranteed.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why We Blog, part 2

Back in January, my first post - like everyone else's - outlined some expectations for the blog. Join me in the wayback machine as I evaluate my progres...

I wrote:
"The plan for this blog is for a wide breadth of posts [I'll say "check"]. Some will, of course, be about bike racing [definitely check], but I'll try to limit those [sure, why not... check] . Others will cover experiments that I wish I could run [not so much anymore, but check], observations about everyday stuff [check], and perhaps some making fun of Mark [check plus] "


So, on the surface, I seem to have met my goals. Clearly I neglected to warn you that I'd be writing about my Karaoke-related exploits on a weekly basis, but this staple in my life has become a staple of the blog. Cycling has been somewhat pervasive, but who're we kidding? If anything, I've been pretty good about keeping a lid on it! Regrettably few posts have been about kittycats.

This process of review has inspired a meta-blog of sorts, an exploration of what it is that keeps me blogging.

I like to write. So sue me, I like to occasionally get the creative juices flowing. My research pretty much locks me into the concrete and pragmatic, and it's nice to escape once a day. This blog is the Title IX in my Left-vs-Right Brain battle.

I am awesome, and you need to realize that. If you were as awesome as I am, you would want to share that awesomeness with everyone. Short of taking my one-man play, entitled "NinjaDon is Totally Sweet; A Play in 3 Acts", on a nation-wide tour (which would never work, logistically speaking), this blog is the best way to spread the wealth. I guess what I'm saying is that it feels good to have people read what you've created, and why not do what feels good?

I am forgetful. A few years ago, when my grandfather wrote his memoirs, I immediately decided that my life thus far had been boring, too boring for memoirs. While I'm still not planning on writing memoirs, I'm realizing more and more that interesting things have happened to me... I've just forgotten about them. This blog has helped with that. For example, the story of the UVM urine, the karaoke world championships, and of course everything that happened in Mexico are all pretty good stories that get lost in the grand scheme, like "there was a race at Rutgers", "I used to go to Karaoke", or "I went to Mexico". (NB: each of the words in the Mexico clause are different links). The blog is like a diary, only it's not a "here's what I did today", it's a "here's what 24 year old Don does, thinks, and believes" in short chapters. It's Encyclopaedia Dontannica.

Going back to that first post, notice that I mentioned that I'd tested the waters of blogging by writing Notes in Facebook. I wrote, "It would seem that my ramblings were palatable to most of the people who read them, or at least that nobody was so bored or offended as to complain to me." So far, I think I've maintained that level of excellence, and I daresay that I've got the skillz to stay here in the hypernetoblogospherotubes for a little while longer.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why We Blog, part 1

Everybody has a first post. Every first post is the same. "Well, I guess I have a blog now. I'm going to write about bicycles and politics and things that amuse me... maybe kittycats. I hope you like it."

We set out with such noble goals, but do we meet them? I suppose nobody's strayed so far from their first post that they aren't writing about training and elections and kittycats. Still, within each blog there is a subtle, traceable change over time. If you read carefully, if you really invest in that blog, you notice that trend. It's safe to say that most people don't invest that much in any blog but their own, and that's okay.

So, having written that first post just like everyone else, I'll dedicate the next post, the 159th post here at theninjadon, to trying to figure out where this blog has wound up.

That may have come across with an air of finality. Don't worry. You can't get rid of me that easily.

For now, my friends, it is time for sleep. Tomorrow morning I'll be waking up early to ride my bike. While I'd love to continue this train of thought while it's fresh, the priorities have not changed, and the blogging is still secondary to the bicycling.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Book Report

Yesterday was another one of those "I'm spending so much time with Will that if he was anybody else we'd probably stop speaking to each other" days. Along with Jenks, we rode easy to Princeton and drank coffee on Nassau St.

We debated the merits of the various Rocky movies in the afternoon... you'll be pleased to know that Rocky V was never mentioned in this conversation.

Last night, Will and I went to Barnes and Noble to get books and coffee. He got a book titled "Why God is Wrong" or "Religion is teh Sux0rz" or something blatant like that.

I had more trouble finding a book. It seems like renting a movie is easy, because you know what's out there... you watch commercials, you hear about blockbusters on the news, your friends talk about what's good and what's not. Books, on the other hand, can't be so easily parsed through. Unless you go in with a plan - which I didn't - you're basically reduced to judging a book by its cover.

Everything that caught my eye seemed to be written from a "woman coming to terms with sexuality/divorce/friendship/feminism" perspective. Which doesn't exactly speak to me. I'm sure I would've been entertained, but I wanted to read something written for me - I wasn't even sure a book like that exists, but damnit I feel entitled to literature that elicits a response of familiarity from me.

Then I found it. The Average American Male. I read it cover to cover last night.

Imagine a diary (or blog, I suppose) written by a guy who doesn't restrict his language and subject matter, a guy who is brutally honest about the thoughts running through his head, about sex and relationships and the frequency with which he thinks about them... but whose honesty is restricted to the diary/blog and makes no appearance in his interpersonal interactions. Imagine a guy who is spineless and lazy, whose decisions and discourse are guided by two questions, "what is the path of least resistance?" and "will this get me laid?"

I can't speak to whether this guy is Average or not. I won't speak to the extent to which I associated with him. I will only say that if you don't mind a little (okay, a lot of) NC-17 language and content, you should read this book.

It has a webpage.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I don't even like Harry Potter

but I totally stole this video from Cara. In general, I believe that posting a video is a cheap copout of a blog post - it affords no opportunities for cleverness, it shows no ingenuity, it basically screams 'I have no ideas, but I have the ability to recognize humor!' (no offense Cara, or anyone but Will)- but this one is funny. I recognized its humor.

Charlie's Crazyass New 'Cross Loop

I put a scouting report up on the Rutgers Cycling page. You should read it, because it took a lot of work.

It's not finalized yet, though, because Charlie and I disagree about the finale of the route. Charlie's finish would climb a long, not-too-steep hill, with a big-ring sprint at the top (and it would take us through a stop sign). Mine climbs the same hill parallel to Charlie's route, about a half a mile east, and it finishes on a rolling stretch of road with no stop signs.

I like the idea of having to push hard on flat/rolling roads after climbing... there aren't enough roads like that around here. Chaz and I will figure that out later.

The moral of this story is that Charlie came up with this great loop. Perhaps you don't realize how much creativity goes into something like this. I know that I usually take it for granted. But my friend Charlie has been coming up with hill loops like this for years. And I'm a faster rider because of it.

How can I describe Chaz? I suppose you could think of him as the mutant offspring of a mountain bike and a GPS system. Or of a Sherpa and a pickup truck. It is as easy to picture Charlie living as Magellan in a past life as it is to picture him as the Marquis de Sade.

Riding with Charlie makes you dig deep.

This is going to be a good cyclocross season.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ohm me, oh my

I went to yoga tonight. It hurts to walk now. God, I love yoga. I was one of 5 guys in a class of 30. There was a hot girl in front of me, a hot girl behind me, a hot girl to my left, and a septuagenarian to my right... but to her right was a hot girl.

Also, every muscle from my eyebrows to my toenail-flexors got a good stretch, which I sorely needed. The core workout was really good, too. In summary, this was quite the training session.

The downside, along with seeing the old lady doing downward-facing dog, was hearing the granola-worshipping, overspiritualized hippie mumbo-jumbo that inevitably accompanies an otherwise awesome yoga session...
  • Direct your breaths to your tension
  • Put your heart-print on the ceiling
  • Let the backs of the knees shine through
  • There is no ego in yoga
The last one at least makes sense, even if it's totally false. The instructor, who I've known for years, said "if you're comfortable, you can try X"... and no matter what, I would try X... at which point she would suggest Y, and subsequently Z, and so on.

When we did headstands, I whipped out the scorpion.
This is not me. I am a dude

It's been a year since I last tried yoga, and I can still pull off the scorpion. Hell yes.

The strength to go slow

Repeat after me: "I trust my coach. I trust my coach. I trust my coach"

With 'cross season coming up this fall, it's definitely time for a rebuild period. I'm okay with that, I've read all the jibbajabba about periodization and rest and whatever. You know, the whole "you have to go slow to get fast" thing. It's just that I've never been able to get myself to actually follow a plan before... but now I've got a coach.

Last week was completely off the bike. I jogged (stupid), I swam (doublestupid), I even went for an obscenely long walk (words cannot describe how stupid that was).

Now I'm back to riding, but easy. There will be no sprinting in the month of August. August is a nancyboy month. This first week in particular is a way-too-easy nancyboy week. Tuesday's ride was textbook nancyboy, 90 minutes of flat riding with 30 minutes of "easy tempo" somewhere in the middle.

When the group met up in the park to do their "Man School" hill ride, it seemed like I could try hiding from the wind and get the best of both world... the recovery of a slow solo ride plus the socialization of a big group.

When the speedometer showed 28mph halfway down River Rd, it was clear that this would not be the case. In spite of everything - the friends, the competition, the safety - I had to leave the group.

There is absolutely nothing blogworthy about the ensuing 80 minutes.

Deep breath. A week ago I was starting to display the classic signs of burnout. The legs need August to be easy, the heart and lungs neeed August to be easy. By September, the body will be ready for some good ol'-fashioned suffering, and mind will be more than happy to oblige after a month of restraint.

Restraint. Discipline. Self-denial.

I trust my coach. I trust my coach. I trust my coach.