Monday, March 26, 2007

Ozzie, Harriott and BFE

Got the 3rd (and final) BGN last Thursday morning. Didn't run until Sunday and then did a 21 miler. Bottom line: I was able to run the 21 miles but my back hurt during the run and most of the rest of the day.

It's 3 weeks to Boston and this week will be the last week of relatively high mileage. Although Boston will be treated like a long run this year, I can't wait to start the taper. Okay, enough about running and pain.

Neighborhood news.
There are two raptors (Red-tailed Hawks) living in my neigborhood. I'm guessing it's a male and female but haven't actually checked. Matt says that he's seen them in his back yard.

Anyway, several folks in the community have made comments about the raptors eating some of the song birds that live here. Well duh!!!! If you put up bird feeders, in your yard, it's like putting up an all you can eat for free sign.

Well, it turns out, the song birds are not the only thing on the raptors' menu. Just down the street is the Waugh Street bridge. This is home to the largest year-round urban bat colony in Texas (yea, I know Austin's is larger but those bats migrate). See where I'm going with this?

Friday evening, we went over to the bridge to watch the bat flight. At about 7:30pm, the raptors were circling over the bridge. Soon after the bat flight started, and the hawks would swoop down, take a bat, perch in a nearby tree, and eat the bat. Then, they'd fly back into the bat swarm and take another bat. This went on for a while until it got too dark. Then, Ozzie & Harriett (my names for the hawks) flew off.

So...if you're a raptor, come on down to the Bat Flight Eatery (BFE) from 7:30pm to 8:00pm for some good bat.

Monday, March 12, 2007

BGN - Prognosis looks good

What a fun weekend.
Saturday morning was up at 4:15am...on purpose. Got up to volunteer for the Bayou City Classic 10K. The Bayou City Classic is the Houston Area Road Runner Association's ( biggest race. Normally, I'd race this one but am in no shape to be competitive and, the BGN was last Thursday. Resting is the better part of valor...or something like that.

Elle and I worked together helping a bunch of fellow BCRR'ers set up the start of the race. We put up a couple of tents, set up some chip tables, far the most memorable, managed the starting line water table. You really do have no idea just how much water is consumed before a race. Pouring water into paper cups for almost 2 hours non-stop scars you. Since Saturday, I've had nightmares of an infinite number of tables, covered with an infinite number of paper cups, that have to be filled with an infinite number of water jugs. Off in the distance is an infinite number of port-o-cans with an infinite number of people waiting in line to use them. And then I have to use the bathroom. If there is a hell, that's it.

Later, near the end of the race, Elle and I were cornered by Eddie (Volunteer extraordinaire) and assigned to the chip detection area of last resort. Basically, it was our job to stand at the exit gate of the finishing area and watch the feet of finishing runners to determine if their timing chip had been removed at the finish line. Yep, we were the chip police. After watching several thousand feet and not catching a single chip, Elle and I abandoned our post. It was over one hour and 45 minutes into the race and the only folks coming in to the finish were walkers. I reasoned that, statistically, we weren't going nab any chips so I suggested to Elle that we leave. Whoops. Didn't think it through and forgot to notify our volunteer supervisor...poor Eddie got reamed for us being AWOL. Sorry Eddie.

Sunday morning long run
The cortizone BGN last Thursday has worked wonders. Sunday morning was the first pain free run in so long I can barely remember it. I really do think it was last April. Anyway, I managed to bribe a few running buddies (they'll do almost anything for free Gatorade) to run a bit further than the normal 12 mile run. We did over 18 miles and it was wonderful! Thanks guys!

In another week, I get the last of the series of cortizone BGNs! Am almost looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Brick cleaning

I've discovered another 'talent' to fall back on if my career in the computer technology industry doesn't pan out...brick cleaning.

Here's the story of my new found talent.
I'm walking the neighborhood with my girlfriend, Elle (what a great woman but that's another story). A couple of blocks down the street from my little bungalow, we walk by a demolition site. Seems another old bungalow bit the dust in order to make way for yet another high density townhome development. All together now, everybody say, awwwwwwwwww....

Well, my bunglow was built in 1915 and has an orangish colored brick facade. I have no idea when the facade was constructed but the bricks appear old and faded and certainly are not something you can pick up at Home Depot. Anyway, the deceased bungalow just happened to have had a similarly constructed brick facade...orangish colored bricks with three holes in each brick.

So, after chatting with the nice gentlemen with the huge dump truck and earth moving machine, I learned that these bricks were destined for the land fill...along with the rest of the walls, roof, floor, and...Tweety bird (yea, a big giant Tweety Bird was slumped over in the front yard...go figure. Anyway, I was given permission to haul off as many bricks as I wanted. Oh boy, yet another use for my little truck (have lived in Texas for over 30 years and less than two years ago, I bought my first pickup...another story for another time).

Elle helped me with the first load and we subsequently built a nice little flower holding thingy in the front yard. You know, that box, or wall, or whatever you call that little wall of bricks that go around a bunch of good dirt that's used to plant stuff in.

Anyway, before we could actually use the bricks, we....I mean I, had to clean the bricks as they had lots of old mortar on them. That's one of the downsides of free, used, bricks. But, after a few bricks, I figured out what needs to be done to clean bricks...which I am now passing on to you.

Here's the stuff needed
  • Dirty bricks...not just dirt but bricks with old mortar attached
  • work gloves
  • claw hammer
  • large screwdriver or pick
  • safety goggles
  • safety mask
  • outdoor garbage can
Here's what you do
  • Put on work gloves, safety goggles, and safety mask (there's gonna be a lot of mortar chips and dust flying everywhere)
  • hold one brick over the garbage can and use the claw of the hammer to shear off the mortar...after a while, you can get pretty good at it
  • After mortar is off brick, use screw driver to poke out the mortar in the holes of the brick
  • Stack your nice clean bricks
  • Periodically, take a break as bricks get heavy after pounding on them with a hammer.
After building the little flower bed thingy, I still have over 100 clean bricks. Although I have no idea what to do with them yet; when I need 'em, I'll have 'em!

The 2nd BGN this morning

Got the 2nd BGN this morning.

But first. Tuesday I ran with Simon and Scott from Memorial Park to Mt. Bacon. Mt. Bacon is actually one of the two parking garages that a lot of Houston runners utilize for hill training. Am still not able to keep up with Simon and Scott but my fitness is slowly coming back.

Wednesday I did a workout with Matt on the bayou. 6x1 minute thresholds with 2 minute recoveries. At the end, my lower back was killing me.

This morning, I went in for the 2nd epidural coritco-steroid injection. I told the doc that the first shot didn't seem to do much. His response was ver practical..."well, I don't want to do the same thing that didn't work." So, he changed the cortizone type and also gave me the epidural between L5 and S1 (the first injection was between L4 and L5).

Although my back is a bit sore, I can bend over quite easily right now...should be even better in a few days. Maybe...just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel.