Saturday, May 24, 2008

Done with the treadmill

I think I am done with the treadmill for the season. I went to the Y last night to run. The Girl was working so I took advantage of the Y watch. Ran 7 miles on the treadmill, including a 5K in 17:12.

The legs felt good and there is certainly something very fascinating about being able to see your exact time right in front of you the whole time. The treadmills are really nice and have a "visual lap counter" built in so I always know where on the lap I am. I have found that with the belt having to wind up, I usually run the first mile in a little less than 6 minutes (I think 5:55 last night). The next two I run in 5:20 to 5:30, depending on the legs. The last lap (or, at least, the last half lap) I run at the max speed, which is a 4:48 mile.

Most days, I feel like a badass for running so fast. If some big teddy bear can grunt and scream when he lifts x amount of pounds, I think I can run myself into oblivion, bend over and almost throw up (next to and old lady reading Better Homes and Gardens on her treadmill). I usually think doing that is fun but last night, the gym was almost empty and I got some pretty strange looks.

Anyway, I don't know how much 5K tempos really help. They certainly give me confidence in that I could crank out a low-16s 5K in competition. But, honestly, I need real speed and real distance, both of which are hard to do with the Lorax in tow.

Tomorrow, the Girl and I have a long outing planned. Maybe close to 20 miles with some tempos built in. We bring him along in the baby jogger and will take turns running on some trails. We'll probably stop by the track as well.

Changing the topic slightly, I just got off the phone with my parents in Europe who asked about the price of gas here. It seems like we may hit 4 dollars a gallon soon; isn't that nuts? I will come out and say that I love the high price of gas. I have always felt that a huge gas tax would do nothing but good for America. This way, the money goes to a bunch of dictatorships around the world, so obviously a tax would have been better.

But, man, I see signs of change every day. People riding their bikes more. I saw something that looked like a Smart car the other day (although probably not an actual Smart car). I hear patients talk about car pooling all the time. People are talking about living downtown.

There was a show on NPR a couple of weeks ago, which I found fascinating. A guy who was a supposed expert in oil supplies, had written a book about the post-oil world. Someone from Madison called in; sounded like a cool, left-wing hippioid guy. He talked about people driving Priuses instead of SUVs; basically, conventional arguments against big, inefficient cars.

But instead of congratulating the hippie on his envronmental wheels, the expert guy went on to almost scream "I have had it with all this talk of hybrids and ethanol. Listen, in three years people won't be driving cars anymore! We should be talking about bicycles and trains!" Fascinating stuff. It does make you wonder about how the world will change in the next decades.

I hope gas keeps going higher. We try to ride our bikes as much as we can, doing a lot of shopping and errands on the bikes. We have two bike trailers for that same purpose. As it is, our town is not made for bikes. At intersections, there are weight sensors, meaning we have to wait for a car to set the sensors off or run a red light.

By and large, the drivers here are nice. At 4-way stop signs, people will vawe you through. Cars seem to give me lots of space. But still, it only takes one fool to kill a cyclist. I came close to one such person last week, going through an intersection pretty close to the hospital. I was going straight and a car took a left turn straight into my path. I barely had time to brake; didn't hit the car or vice versa. The driver kept going.

Now, I don't know what the right thing to do is in those situations but I tend to get a lot of joy out of catching up to the drivers. They tend to feel really bad about it and I get to vent a little. This time, I sprinted after the car up to the next intersection. I realized I was chasing a Prius. See, that's a little atypical, not that all Prius drivers are saints. Still, the rule seems to be that most such cars are Buicks or minivans and the like (most dangerous drivers tend to be old or distracted moms, I guess).

Got up to the driver, who turned out to be a middle-aged woman. I think I have seen her at the hospital; maybe she is a nurse. I knocked on her window and she rolled it down. "I'm the guy you almost ran over back there!", I said. Her answer? "Oh, I thought you were turning". So she had obviously seen me but was aaprently, what, 80% sure I was going to turn before turning right in front of me. I didn't know what to say; I was pretty mad but couldn't come up with a good answer.

I'm rambling a little today.

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