Friday, August 28, 2009

The Eyes Have It

Over the past two years or so I have been having problems with my eyes. I have some rogue lower eyelashes that like to grow back toward my eyes rather then out and down. You wouldn't think something as benign as an eyelash could do much damage, but the pointy ends have scratched and scared the cornea of my eyes. I can usually tell when they've become a problem as my eyes get extremely light sensitive. My eye Doctor has had me come in about every 5 weeks or so to pluck the offending eyelashes. I was last in to see him on Wednesday. My eyes are feeling much better and he gave me the ok to start wearing my contacts again. He did tell me to take that part slow though as my eyes are still healing. He also recommended that I get the offending lashes permanently removed. I'm not exactly sure how that will work. It's not like they can sap them with a laser. Apparently it is an in office procedure so how bad can it be? I'm sure this will be more then a one time thing until all the offenders are identified and removed. My first appointment will be in about 5 weeks. It will be nice to get this problem resolved and perhaps be able to see like a semi-normal person. Not to mention getting to wear my killer sunglasses again. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rowing, Biking and Eating - It's What We Do

Another weekend same as the last. Lots of rowing and a morning bike ride. Friday was a day off and I was at the boathouse and out on the water by 8:15. It wasn't hot yet, but very humid. I rowed up past Ryan's Dam and turned around at the 5 1/2 mile mark from the boathouse. As i turned to return to the boathouse, I noticed two scullers coming toward me (from even further up river). On a weekday, its not that common to see others out rowing. It's even rarer to see rowers that far up river. Most turn at Fountainhead Park or at Ryan's Dam. They turned out to be two women I know. Both have previously been members of my sweep rowing club, which is where I originally know them from. Both have given up sweep rowing for sculling. We chatted for a few minutes before they continued on. I was in the middle of taking a water break and let them go. After several minutes i decided to see if I could catch up with them. They had about a 1/2 mile lead and i was never able to quite catch up with them. After about a mile, I was fairly close to them as we approached Ryan's Dam, but I slowly ran out of gas and they pulled away. Just goes to show that I need to work on my endurance. After the row, I was just soaking wet and just beat. I rowed a total of 11 miles and it felt like it. After driving home and showering, i felt a lot better. After lunch Ann and I went and did some shopping at Target and then just relaxed the rest of the day. On Fridays we usual just go out for pizza. It's the end of the week and Ann really isn't in the mood to cook. Frankly I enjoy going out to eat so it works for me too. However now that The Son is gainfully employed again and not subsisting solely on Raisin Brand, decided we shoot eat something a bit healthier then a three topping pizza. Our local Giant had ground turkey on sale this past week so I decided we would have grilled turkey burgers. To the ground turkey I added Worcester Sauce, some onion, red bell pepper and formed into patties. They came out pretty well and combined with a salad healthy as well.

Saturday consisted of rowing practice in the morning. We're concentrating on our catches and not mossing water at the catch and our ratio. Things are slowly starting to come together. We only had 9 guys and only 1 coxswain for the practice and we took out a 4+ and a Quad. Ten minutes into the practice, one of the guys in the Quad felt something go in his back and had to be swapped out. Once that happened we proceeded with the practice. Drills and slow stroke rates up to Ryan's Dam. We were rowing at 12 and 14 strokes per minute, which is incredibly slow. Hurt your back slow. I was in the 4+ and surprisingly the set of the boat was fairly good. We had a tendency to tip to port right at the catch so we need to get that corrected. After arriving at the Dam (which really isn't a Dam anymore, its been torn down for years, but parts of it on the Prince William side of the Occoquan still remain as a landmark), we took a water break , spun the boats and headed back. We leaped frogged with the Quad on the way back although still at low stroke rates to work on our ratio and rush. The rates varied based on the Coach;s whim but they were in the 16 to 18 strokes per minute area. We were able to move the 4+ well even at the low rate and it was fun leap frogging with the Quad. Keeps practice interesting. After practice, I came home showered and started in with lunch. I fired up the grill and cooked some hot dogs for Ann and I (Nathan's - great hot dog) and another turkey burger for The Son. After lunch it was off for the weekly grocery shopping. Dinner that night was grilled steaks. The grill definitely got a work out over the weekend. Speaking of the grill, I'm still pretty old school using a Weber that requires charcoal versus a gas grill. I just haven't been impressed with the gas grills I've owned in the past.

Sunday I schedule a bike ride since I had gone rowing the previous three days. I wasn't sure what condition the trail would be in as we had very heavy storms roll through the area overnight. The parking lot I use was only about half full when i arrived, which I thought was great but strange as it fills up quickly. I usually get one of the last spots even though I'm there right around 8:00 in the morning. From the Rt 28 lot, I headed east toward Vienna figuring to get in a 25 mile ride. It's a 12.5 mile ride to Vienna. As i started out, I noticed that traffic heading west was heavier then normal and moving very fast. Turns out the Reston Bike Club was holding a bike race on Sunday morning. I'm glad I was going against the grain so to speak and didn't get caught up in all that traffic. After my ride, The Son cam to the house and made some scrambled eggs and sausage with some onions and red pepper thrown in, which turned out rather tasty. For dinner, Ann turn some Boston Butt Pork Roast into some great tasting BBQ. We do love to eat. Overall I'd give the weekend and "A".

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Rowing and Biking Weekend

This past weekend was all about having fun in the mornings and obsessing about what to eat for the rest of the time. Friday was a work from home day so I had to wait until my lunch hour to run over to Sandy Run for a quick row. It was pretty hot and very humid. I just rowed up to Fountainhead Park and back for seven miles. Its about all I had time for. After making the turn around at Fountainhead, I saw two firetrucks using their water cannons on the Prince William side. I'm not exactly sure what they were doing - training maybe? But it made for quite a show seeing the large arcs of water. We stuck to our usual Friday night routine and had pizza for dinner.

Saturday I had rowing practice in the morning. The boathouse was a lot quieter than usual as the Women's side was up in Camden competing in US Rowing's Masters Nationals. Our Lightweight 4+ took a 1st place so congratulations to them. I beleive it's the first national Gold medal our club has earned. As for us, after our warm up, we did a Challenge piece, i.e., up the racecourse, did a 180 degree turn and finished back at Sandy Run. The turn went well, but you could feel the power slowly go after we made the turn. We picked it back up as we started a sprint over the last 500 meters, but it shows me that we are in no kind of shape yet for head race season. Although we were also missing two of our strongest rowers so I'm sure that contributed to the feeling of the boat slowing down. On a positive note, the boat is running much smoother these days. The check in the boat is way down especially at the higher stroke rates where we were having a problem. The run is also getting better. It was a gorgeous day to be out on the water. When we launched, the temperature was in the high 60s, no wind, the water was so flat and the sun just coming up over the trees. It definitely made you want to be out on the water. To top it off, there was coffee and donuts waiting for us back at the boathouse when we were done. Not that I'm a coffee drinker, but donuts are always welcome. After the row, Ann went and got us subs for lunch and then had a long discussion concerning the menu for this week. I think like most families, we find ourselves falling into a rut for dinner - having the same things again and again. Some want change, but can't suggest alternative and others don't. We finally managed to hammer out a menu and from that a grocery list. The Son and I left to do the grocery shopping. The grocery store we use most often if currently undergoing a renovation and they have moved everything around. It's a mess and everyone walks around in a daze unable to locate anything. We finally finished up the shopping and The Son headed back to his condo with his loot and I headed back to the house. The Son is actually working again (thank God), but doesn't get his first paycheck until Thursday so we have been supplying him with some food staples. He was back for dinner. We bbqed boneless country pork ribs (are they still ribs is they don't have actual rib bones?) and they were good. We do love some ribs.

Sunday I was up early (6:00 AM) to go for a bike ride. The forecast called for a hot and humid day (welcome to Washington in August) and I wanted to get started before it got too hot. I had already loaded my bike, helmet and bike shoes into the car the night before. I had also taken the laundry down so it was ready to be started as soon as I got up. I was out the door just after 7. I had planned to go a bit further then my usual 20 mile ride to Leesburg, so I headed east from Dulles, rather then west. I rode to Vienna and back, which was 25 miles and then continued past the parking lot for another 2.5 miles and then back to add another 5 miles for a total for 30 for the day. I went early enough that it was a comfortable ride - not hot at all. A lot of people had the same idea as me as the trail was pretty crowded in spots. Mostly with joggers more so then bikers. About 5 miles into the ride my left knee started to really hurt and I thought I would have to call short the ride, but after a few miles the pain went away. Not exactly sure what was up with that. Maybe it just needed some time to loosen up. I love riding on the W&OD Trail. It's scenic and best of all, no cars/trucks so it's safe. The only problem I have with it is the mix of people who use the trail. The trail is used by bikers of varying experience and ages, in-line skaters, joggers and walkers. When you have 4 or 5 fast bikers in tandem coming up from behind on two people walking side by side strolling along with their dogs with traffic coming from the other direction, it creates a situation ripe for disaster. I've only seen a few accidents, but you have to be vigilant and pay attention. Just outside Vienna, I was trailing a dad out with his two small sons. They were under 10 and on small bikes. Obviously they were much slower then most of the bike traffic and for the most part they weren't creating a problem as long as you took the time to pass when clear. A biker coming from the opposite direction yelled at the dad to "keep his kids under control". I thought it the guy was being a bit of a jerk. I didn't see where the kids were creating a problem, but it's the kind of thinking you run into. Although I say the trail was crowded and it was in spots, when you're traveling a stretch of trail that covers 15 miles, there was much of that time where I was utterly alone and I could enjoy the silence and the beauty of the trail. I got home just after 11:30 and The Son came over and cooked a brunch for us, which was appreciated. After eating we settled in to watch the Nationals play. Ann and I fell asleep during the games, but naps are fine on a Sunday. Ann, for dinner, prepared a rotisserie chicken (set it and forget it!), which was moist and delicious. So went my weekend.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Last Weekend

It's a bit late for a weekend recap seeing that another weekend is almost upon us and frankly I've probably forgotten most of what I did over the weekend. Will this deter me? No. So lets get right to it.

Friday was a day off so that made it good almost from the start. I got up, although not nearly as early as I should have to get in a row. I'm not exactly sure why, but my legs just felt lifeless. Dead and sore. It could have been from the rowing practice the night before and they hadn't enough time to recover. Whatever it was it made rowing a somewhat gruelling experience. It was more of forcing myself to complete the row. I did a total of 11 miles so there was a lot of forcing to do. Parts went well, but on the most part it was a grind. After my row I came home and paid bills (it was payday) and then ran to Target for some shopping. I have a hard time getting out of Target for less then $100. I lazed around for most of the afternoon. Had pizza for dinner and went to bed.

Saturday I was up at 6:00 to get to practice. We're doing a lot more drill work then in previous years and it seems to be working, although we are a stubborn group and set in our ways. We're also doing longer pieces gearing up for Head Race season, which starts in earnest in Mid-September. After practice, our fitness rowers provided breakfast for the club. I sampled a lot of everything including pancakes, donuts, scrambled egg casserole, a bagel and a few glasses of OJ. After practice it was home to get cleaned up. I beat Ann into coming up with a shopping list and once completed, I did the grocery shopping. Always a highlight of my week. Not. Saturday evening, The Son and I planned to catch a baseball game at the local minor league park just down the road a piece from us. The Nationals, while having a horrible parent club, have signed some promising talent and we thought it a good idea to go see the youngsters. The Potomac Nationals were tied for first with Wilmington, whom the Nationals just happen to be playing that night. I had put off buying tickets on line because (1) Ann was on the fence about going; and (2) tickets are always easy to get with the exception of the 4th of July, which always sells out. As it turns out, Ann decided not to go so it was just The Son and I. I tried going on line about 2 hours before game time and buying tickets, but they had already stopped selling tickets on line for the game. No problem we would just buy them at the park and off we went. It turns out it was Scout night at the stadium. Scouts of all kinds could watch the game and then camp out in the outfield over night. Sounded like fun for the kids. As we approached the ticket booths I noticed that they had signs posted that all box and reserved seating was sold out and only general admissions were left. Now I've sat in the general admission seats before and in this stadium they are a nightmare. There are no aisles for getting up and down from your seats so you have to walk around and between people already seated. Kids are running around like demons and overall not that great of an experience. We decided to bag the game and try another time. Live and learn - buy tickets earlier. Since we had counted on eating hot dogs at the game for dinner, we stopped on the way home at a Ruby Tuesday's for dinner. After dinner we went home and watched the parent club beat the Marlins on TV.

I've been sort of neglecting my bike riding this summer. Certainly compared to last summer. While I was tempted to go for another row, I decided it was time to get back on my bike.. It was suppose to get really hot, like close to 100 degrees hot, so I wanted to get out early. I was out of bed at 6:00, got the laundry started, loaded my bike in the car and left for the W&OD Trail. I was parking the car around 8:15 and I was lucky to find a parking spot. Apparently everyone had the same idea that I did. I rode out to Leesburg and after taking a break decided to continue on for a little longer and get in 25 miles. As I got into downtown Leesburg, there were police and race marshalls on the streets that cross the trail stopping traffic for a race. It turned out that the Leesburg YMCA 10K/20K Race was underway. I probably wouldn't had ridden into Leesburg if I had known the race was going on, but once there I just went on. Heading west. I was going against the runners so it wasn't a problem. In fact having people on the streets to stop traffic was actually kind of nice. After I turned around though I was in the middle of the runner, which I'm sure they appreciated having a biker in their midst. I managed not to hit anyone and vica versa. I ended up riding 25 miles and it felt good getting back on the bike. I'm planning a ride with Daughter#2 sometime soon in the very near future. The rest of the day was spent relaxing around the house and grilling some steaks for dinner. Not a bad day at all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Family Weekend

The family all got together this weekend. Daughter#2 and her husband arrived Friday evening about 6:30 traveling up from Harrisonburg. As everyone was hungry and Friday being our pizza night, we all went to the Roma restaurant to eat. Ann, The Son and I split a large Pepperoni, mushroom and onion pizza, while Daughter#2 got a baked salmon dish and The Son In Law got a sub. I think everyone pretty much enjoyed their dinners. After dinner, Daughter#2 and The Son In Law left to check on a drum set while Ann and I suffered through another Nationals loss. Daughter#1 and her husband rolled in Friday night around 11:00 after spending 8 hours on the road. Traffice was bad seeing as the trip normally talkes about 5 to 6 hours. Ann and I were already in bed because we lead an exciting life like that.

Saturday morning I had rowing practice. We have a new coach that is handling our transition to Head Race season. We're doing a lot of drill work as we have the time to do so seeing our next race isn't until mid September. The drills are good, but they are only good if the people (i.e., the rowers) take them to heart and actually correct what the drills are meant to correct. I have a feeling that we perform the drills ok but then go right back to rowing the same old mistake filled way when turned loose to row a piece. I guess it remains to be scene if our technique improves. After practice, I got home and cleaned up and we settled in for an early lunch. Daughter#1 and her husband had an evening wedding to attend in Richmond and needed to be on the road by 1:00 so we scheduled an early lunch. We had on the menu grilled Brats, BBQ, and some homemade pasta salad. It was a nice day so we ate out on the screened porch. Lo the family lunch:
(From the left: Daughter#1's Husband, Daughter#1, The Son, Ann, Daugher#2 and The Son In Law)

After lunch Daughter#1 and her Husband left for Richmond. They were followed by Daughter#2 and The Son In Law. The Son In Law plays in a band and had a gig in Stauton Saturday night and had to get back to the valley. With every one gone, Ann, I and The Son settled in front of the TV to watch Valkyrie with Tom Cruise. I wasn't sure how I would feel about his movie. I don't think anyone with an even basic knowledge of world history and WWII in particular, didn't know how the plot to assasinate Hitler turned out. However, it actually turned out to be pretty entertaining and it was able to build the suspense even knowing the ultimate outcome. As I told Ann, it was like watching the movie "Titanic", you know what happened, but somehow you were hoping that this time they didn't hit the iceburg. So we enjoyed it and I would recommend it.

Sunday was mostly spent waiting for Daughter#1 to return from Richmond. The original plan was for them to be back to the house at 9:30. Accordingly I didn't go for a row or a bike ride as there wouldn't be enough time (short of getting up at 5:30, which I tried and failed miserably). 9:30 came and went with no word. Daughter#1 finally called around 10:00 and sounded pretty rough (think bad hangover). They were still in bed and would be leaving shortly. They finally left Richmond at 11:30 and didn't get to the house until 1:00. They both looked like they had partied pretty hard the night before. They were also hungry so we had lunch at Red Robin. No Red Robin's in CT so that's where they wanted to go. During lunch they both downed large amounts of water although The Son and I did as well. I had my usual RR order of a Peppercorn Burger. I also got a Root Beer Float, something I haven't had probably since I was a kid. It was fantasic. A good lunch for sure. After lunch, Daughter#1 and The Husband came back to the house and crashed for a few hours. They finally left for home around 5:30. After they left, Ann, I and The Son had leftovers from the day before and called it a day. As always it was nice to be able to spend time with family. We don't get to spend enought time together and I always cherish the time we do have together. I expect that there will be changes afoot with everyone due to the job situations and hopefulyl that will all pan out for the good. So keeping my fingers crossed for all of them. As part of our conversation over lunch on Saturday, we were already making plans for the holidays. It's our year for Thanksgiving with the kids while the various In Laws have the Daughters and their husbands for Christmas. Looks like we might have two Christmases this year. One on Christmas Day and another the day after when the Daughters and their husbands can make it down after spending Christmas with their respective In Laws. Two Christmases doesn't sound like such a bad deal.