Thursday, October 6, 2011

Portland, Maine


HR017326Ebsco Business Database Advisory Board’s meeting moved out of Massachusetts.  The meeting was held in Portland, Maine.  The board stayed at the Portland Regency, a hotel just up the street from the wharf.  I arrived late Monday afternoon catching a hotel courtesy shuttle ride with Eve and Alicia.  Sometime after 3:00 I was checked in and changed for a long run.  Having done my Google Maps reconnaissance over the past week, I found some link trails that began pretty close to the wharf.  I didn’t need to meet the group for dinner until 7:00 for Dinner at Five Fifty Five.  On the ride in from the airport, I was able to view Back Bay Cove.  With plenty of time I ran the waterfront trail until it connected to the Back Bay Cove trail.  Having mile markers on the Back Bay Cove trail allowed me to check my pace.  For two of the 3.5 miles, I was at a steady 10:05 pace and probably maintained that for the entire 8 mile run.  Even before I made it back to the hotel, my body was reminding me that I hadn’t ran more than 3 miles for the past month.

Dinner was fine after I finally made it to the Five Fifty Five.  I had hope to arrive a bit early for dinner and quickly checked the itinerary for the 3 days.  Of course I misread which restaurant we were dining.  After a fifteen minute walk to the wrong restaurant, fifteen minute fast walk back to the hotel to find the correct name of the restaurant, and a walk a block, job a block 15 minutes jaunt to the correct place I arrived only 10 minutes late.

2 beers into appetizers I began to relax.  The beers was absorbed quickly as I hadn’t eaten lunch.  Pre and post run protein bars only kept me from an absolutely empty stomach.  Unfortunately, my dinner was not very good or maybe I was crashing from the long run. 

A surprise from hotel was a workout room that allowed for a “real” weight workout.  The room included 5 or so cardio machine, an assortment of Cybex machines, and a free weight area including a Olympic bench setup.  I managed to do a full hour of chest/triceps while downing 4 cups of what I will call coffee water.

The all day meeting was engaging as normal.  During breakfast, Ken from Ebsco and I discussed Ebsco’s ebooks and what I am doing with ebrary.  Sounds like Ken and a colleague will be visiting Chicago to better understand what we are doing with ebooks and try to sway some of out business from ebrary.

During the meeting the weather has soured.  Prior to the meeting I invited Scott to go for a run during our stay in Portland.  We had decided the after the business meeting would be a good time.  I was so sore all day from overdoing the run the day before.  As the soreness increased I just wanted to go back to my room after the meeting and sleep.  But Dave got added to the discussion of running and there was no way to back out of the run.  Both were fine with backing the run down to 4.5 miles.  The temps were in the upper fifty’s with a steady rain.  My colleagues were pretty surprised that we were still going to run.  During the run I pretty much hung on right behind the 2 of them and my legs moved with the smoothness of concrete.  In spite of everything, I felt a level of achievement especially given the conditions.

Scott and I went out to eat a bit later.  Our first stop was a chowder house that seems to be filled with locals.  Nothing fancy here and I had a pumpkin ale along with a seafood chowder.  I didn’t care for the ale, but wanted to try it out since that is what Scott ordered.  Next stop was an Irish Pub that happened to have their homemade veggie burgers.  Scott has went with a vegan diet for 8 months or so (dropping 12 pounds along the way).  I decided to have a veggie burger along with Scott.  Abigail and I have veggie burgers at home pretty regularly.  The pub’s burger has a lot more flavor and was substantial in size.  Scott skipped the goat cheese staying vegan, but order 3 sides.  Given the run, he was hungry by the time we made it to the pub. 


The tourist day was just the right mix.  After Blantiff’’s for breakfast, we ride a Narrow Gauge Railroad.  When running I had ran along the tracks.  I had hoped that the train ride would include crossing the bridge.  Well that didn’t happen.  The Conductor told us that the bridge had burned 10 years ago and wasn’t going to be repair.  Anyhow, she says, the track goes from narrow gauge to standard on the other side.


After the train ride,it was off to the Shipyard Brewery.  Having been on a couple of brewery tours in the past, the bar had been set pretty high by New Holland Brewery and Sam Adams. In Shipyards case, there was little in terms of a brewery tour.  The video explaining there process, tasting a couple of blends, only seemed to ultimately end in a large gift/souvenir shop.


Capping off our tour agenda was a lunch on the restaurant boat DiMillo’s.  I had pretty reasonably, so I indulge in a bread pudding with bourbon sauce.  Osha is the master planning and made our whole time in Portland wonderful.  Osha’s bar is high and she never gives us a less than perfect experience in addition to the board meeting.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Making deliveries

This past Wednesday-Friday, I was scheduled to conduct a morning intermediate riding course in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Honestly, I hoped that there would not be enough students to run the course.  One must have at least 6 students to begin a course, otherwise it can’t run.  A full class is 12 students.  The morning class only has two people on the class roster.  Both of the people on the roster did not show up.  However 9 students got in as walkins.  The afternoon class had one person on the roster.  She did not show but 2 walkins showed up and the class was a no go.  For someone who is working full time plus full weekends, time off gets to be a treat.  I have scheduled off 3 1/2 weeks of vacation to teach motorcycle classes as well.

So what to do with myself was the first question to be answered.  Abigail, my wife, had done some major school clothes shopping for my granddaughters.  I knew that they really needed the clothes.  The forecast for Thursday was rain all day.  The morning class was overcast.  I went home after class, checked the radar and it looked like I could make it to Champaign dry (120 miles).  The ride home was questionable.  Nice thing about the Concours is that is has a great fairing and 3 hard cases. 2 were filled with the school clothes and one had what it always has, rain gear, tool kit, air compressor, etc…  The ride down was a breeze with a strong tail wind and completely overcast skies.  After dropping of the clothes at my daughters job, I dropped by the Motorcycle Rider Program Office to drop off a packet for a finished class since I was in the area.  Before leaving, the radar looked like I might get a little wet.  After leaving the office I filled up the Connie as it rain. 

HPIM7282It continued to rain the entire way home.  Just a steady rain, riding on superslab, with very little traffic.  All said, I enjoyed the ride home just as much as the ride down. 

Knowing that I would probably ride home in the rain meant I wanted to do it during daylight hours.  The only regret I have is that I didn’t stay around long enough to so see the granddaughters.  School is in session and they go straight to the daycare program.  Riding long along in the rain with little traffic allows one to reflect.  This ride I thought of how full and satisfying my like was when they lived with me for that full year.  My schedule was crazy, but I thoroughly enjoyed the daily routine with them.  Cooking breakfast and dinner with them.  They went on the long walks with the dogs (2 miles) every night.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

The 3 day weekend was the first weekend that I have had off from teaching MC classes.  It was the last weekend off until after Halloween.  According to the schedule I will have taught 37 basic classes and 2 intermediate classes.  The intermediate classes are a compressed basic class (10 hours) and the students need to come knowing how to ride along with already having a permit.  The class is designed for returning riders and riders who are looking to get legit.  There are so many riders who get without either the permit or a license.  I have taught of few of the intermediate classes over the last couple of years.  The first two exercises are meant to be screening exercises.  If the rider doesn’t demonstrate efficient shifting and stopping skills, he/she is excused from the class and encouraged to take the full basic course.

The weekend was punctuated by carpet cleaning Saturday, church and a 9.5 mile run on Sunday, and a bicycle ride with my wife on Old Plank Trail.  I had looked forward to riding beyond our normal turnaround spot in downtown Frankfort.  However, when we arrived to find a Fall Festival taking place in it’s downtown.  We parked the bikes and walked like cattle from one craft vendor to the next.  After a granola bar and a drink, we pedaled back to Matteson. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Five 20 hours motorcycle classes in 12 day

Talk about teach, eat, sleep, repeat!  I crammed in 5 class in 12 days.  3 of the days were evenings after work.  I burned a week a vacation and taught all day on the weekends around the 5 day weekday course.  I finished the last one last night.  As usually, they varied as much as human beings vary.  One class only had 4 of 10 pass while another had 11 of 11 pass.  Two of the days the students endured 96 degrees.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hearty students and brutal conditions

I taught MC classes Sat and Sun from 12-4 and 4:30-8:30.  The conditions were close to be the most miserable than I have taught in.  The high for Sat was 33 and 34  Sun.  In addition to the temperature, there was a constant wind that was 10 to 15 mph taking the wind chill down into the 20’s.  Yet in spite of the conditions, all twelve riders in each classes hung in there.  In spite of the temperatures and numb hands, all made it through to the end of the this weekend’s session.  It was cold enough that I did the long johns, jeans, and chaps (to block the wind) and I was still cold.  I am on the way to work now with a ruby colored face and a nose that is bright red front the cold wind.  The entire class is praying for a nicer forecast to allow for a more comfortable 2nd weekend of the class.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Aid and turkey time

Saturday was a morning of Red Cross First Aid  with an afternoon of CPR.  My certifications expire this summer, so I needed to get this done.   One of the MC instructors does the training for the program out of his home.  Very interesting person, Gene is.  He works for Exxon and gets month long assignments.  He recently returned from a month in Angola.  The next assignment is Saudi Arabia.  He stays home for a month in between assignments.  For lunch he grilled burgers and what do you think 10 MC instructors talked about, motorcycles.  A couple of my favorite instructors were there so it made for a good day.

Sunday was a day with periods of intense thunderstorms and showers.  The seemed to be a slight window of opportunity late in the afternoon to get outside.  I had originally planned to just right the bicycle to the library and play on the netbook for a while.  I changed into some workout clothes, clipped on my new waterproof pannier on the mt bike, tucked in the netbook along with raingear.  It was 3:30 when I left the house.  As I approached the library, I decided that I would ride along a little farther, maybe down to Old Plank Trail.  Once I made it to the trail, I arrived at a natural point to pull off and make it a nice loop home.  Well, the sun was going to be out for a couple more hours, so I kept going deciding that I would ride to Frankfort.  Around 2 miles east of Frankfort, I came across a brood of wild turkeys.  For almost a 1/4 of a mile there is wire fencing bordering the trail as there are sharp drop offs on both sides.  I slowed as I approached and took out the camera.  I straddle walked the bike right past them and they kept coming closer. 



After several nice shots, I finished riding to downtown Frankfort.  I was thirsty, didn’t have a water bottle because I hadn’t planned on a long ride, and the water fountains were turned off (will have freezing temps for awhile off and on).  Lucky for me the convenient shop was open to get a low cal sports drink.  On the return ride, I fought the urge to ride harder.  A woman on a hybrid bike slowly passed me.  She had thinner smooth tires and was riding in a higher gear.  I was treating my ride like an early season ride, leaving it in 2 on the front, 4 on the back, purposefully working on a smoother higher cadence rhythm.  I knew that I could up the gears and pass her back up.  Instead I reminded myself that I was out for a nice ride and to work on the form along the way. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Slow, but still going

My 45th birthday was Saturday.  I enjoyed a late lunch with my brother at Flossmoor Brewery.  He was up for the day from Champaign.  He and a cousin went to a memorabilia show to get a picture together with Dick Buckus.  That evening Abigail and I kept it simple going to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  This was an un-birthday. What I mean was that is truly was like any other day with the exception of seeing my brother and calls from parents and siblings.  There was a part of me that wanted to feel special, to have cake and a party.  Since that wasn’t the case I locked into it’s my birthday, a good day, living a good life, it’s all okay. Living within a budget there was nothing extravagant to plan while we focus on 3 year debt free plan or a milestone (I have 3 years to plan or at least may sure I save up for my wife’s 60th).

To occupy myself while I waited on my brother, I turned my attention to some bike maintenance.  Bike as in the pedaling kind.  In particular, I hadn’t paid an attention to the mountain bike that I have used to commute to the train all winter long.  The most that I have done is to keep the chain oiled.  The bike got a good wash and the drivetrain took a while to degrease.  There was all kinds of grit in the chain, derailleurs, and cassette.  I ended up sudsing it up and spraying off with the hole some of the debris.  Then came out a bike chain cleaner contraption that finished the job.  I still spent more time with a rag getting the stubborn stuff out of the derailleurs.  After a couple hours of drying, on went fresh lube.  The bike has many nicks, scratches, and rough spots but looks good for a 10 year old well used bike.  With the cleaning a lube, it looks solid and rides smooth.  The bike will get me to where I need to go with a smile as well as take me through a second triathlon.  I somehow am identifying with the bike.

My workouts are increasing a little.  In particular, I know that I am not a runner.  I haven’t been one (a runner) for over 20 years.  I jog a couple days a week.  For the last 2 months I have added long slow (12 minute miles) on the weekends.  I do set the stopwatch to get a sense on how slow I am running.  Being a competitive person, it’s hard to keep the “you should be running faster” monster from harassing me.  I am running 10 minute miles for the short runs.  For the longer runs, I am just enjoying the movement, the process of slogging along.  If I am able to keep up the slogging, I may consider a Tecumsah Marathon in Bloomington Indian.  The entries are around 400, the route is 90% dirt trails while 3800 ft ascending and 3500 descending through 2 state forests.   I did it 6 years ago in 5:30.  For much of the race I was simply running by myself through forests. 

Side note, I ran across a coyote on the side streets while riding the bicycle to the train this morning.  It was almost like it thought I was chasing it for a moment until it made a quick exit after running for a block in front of me.