A fairly quick gym session today. I started out with a 2-mile run on the treadmill at 5.5 mph, and then did quite a few neutral grip pull-ups: 2 x 8, 5 x 6. For the two sets of eight and the first set at six, I used a wider set of handles, which also are turned slightly to the outside, while for the remaining ones I used a set which provide a narrower and parallel grip.
I kept having to remind myself that today was Saturday, not Sunday, and therefore the gym would be open until 9 rather than 5. Confusing holiday weekends. Anyway, I arrived at about 5:30 and had a reasonably good leg session. Squats: 6 x 135, 6 x 225, 6 x 255, 6 x 275, (wraps on) 6 x 295, (wraps off) 2 x 6 x 245. I should be ready to go up to 315 or at least 305 next time. Seated calf raises: 3 x 15 x 165. Life fitness seated leg press: 3 x 10 x 395. Standing calf raises: 2 x 10 x 300. I did these after reading that it’s better to do both standing and seated calf raises. SLDL’s: 8 x 205, 2 x 8 x 215.
Day off work today, and instead of braving the malls on Black Friday I got to the gym fairly early for a decent if weight-less session. I started out with 20 minutes on the heavy bag, using the water-filled bag as the regular heavy bag is still hanging by just two of its four chains. No, it’s probably not going to fall on me when I’m using it, if it were going to fall it would have done so by now, but it hangs at an angle that makes it harder to use. After spending 20 minutes on the water-filled bag it actually didn’t seem so bad. After doing a bit of work on the speed bag, I ran for two miles on the treadmill at 5.5 mph.
I’m not much for exercising in the morning, but today I had no choice because the gym was only open until noon, it being Thanksgiving. When I got there around 10:30 it was absolutely packed. More crowded than on a Monday evening in January, believe it or not (Monday’s the busiest day of the week, and gyms are crowded in January with New Year’s resolutions types … most of whom are gone by mid-February). I did some relatively light benching, still trying to get back into the swing of things: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 4 x 4 x 225, 3 x 3 x 225. A total of 25 reps at 225 isn’t bad. I then ran 1.5 miles on the treadmill at 5.5 mph, making a total of eleven miles for the week that ends today.
I knew, just knew, that today’s trip home on Thanksgiving Eve would be a cattle train experience, and I certainly wasn’t wrong. As I was getting out of work at 3:00 I figured it would be better to drive to Ronkonkoma rather than trying to catch one of the few Medford connections. Arriving in time to get the 7:32 to Penn, I was happy to see that it was an M-3 consist. Would I be able to snag a single seat? It turned out to be the proverbial breeze. In fact, the first car I boarded was too cold, so I went back to the platform and boarded another one, and the single seat in that car was still vacant even though by then the train had been at the platform for a few minutes. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that I spent the entire trip playing cell phone Tetris, unwilling to stop until I had at least a semi-decent game, and every single game I played was lousy. When we got to Penn, because I was sitting near the east end of the train, I decided to get the 2/3 to Fulton instead of the A/C. I waited only a couple of minutes for a 2, unfortunately it crawled its way into Chambers, had a way-too-long dwell time at that stop, and then crawled to Park Place. I was so fed up that I got off at Park Place rather than staying on for the extra stop to Fulton. Actually, the walk to my workplace from Park Place isn’t much longer than it is from the 2/3 part of Fulton.
Leaving work at 3, or a few minutes thereafter, I got to Penn fairly quickly on a way-too-crowded A. This made for a lengthy wait until the next Ronkonkoma train, at 3:55 – that train has a Medford connection, so it wasn’t necessary for me to have driven to Ronkonkoma at all. There were extra holiday eve trains on some of the lines, but naturally enough not on the Ronkonkoma line, though in fairness that may be attributable to limited track capacity rather than managerial incompetence. Not knowing what track the 3:55 uses, I had to wait near one of the track-announcement monitors in the west corridor. Given the crowding I knew that there’d be a huge rush once the announcement came. Fortunately, what with all the non-regular riders traveling today most people were waiting in the main concourse, not in the corridor where I waited. They’d also be likely to be a bit slow in heading for the stairs once the announcement came. Going by tracks currently in use I figured that the 3:55 would most likely use track 13, 15 or 16, so I watched the monitor closest to those tracks. When the announcement finally came (Track 15), after what seemed like an interminable wait, I made a beeline for the nearest stairs and got into a cows-at-the-slaughterhouse-chute half-moon. It was only because of this advance planning and fast footwork that I was able to get a seat at all. The vestibules and the aisle was chock-full of standees, a subwayish level of crowding made only worse by all the luggage people were carrying. I had a window seat, with a 50ish woman taking the seat next to me. She was a regular rider rather than a holiday eve traveler, as she had a monthly ticket, and presumably had engaged in similar tactics as mine to get a seat. The ride to Ronkonkoma seemed to take an eternity, not because of delays but because the train made all the stops. At least my games of Tetris went somewhat better.
Gym: back to deadlifting, with a decent rep count but not particularly heavy weights. 6 x 225, 4 x 255, 4 x 275, 4 x 295, 2 x 305, 4 x 275, 6 x 225. I then ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.5 mph, which is about all I could manage after deadlifting. I finished the session with neutral grip pull-ups, 4 x 6, 3 x 4.
The cleanup still isn’t done
Cleanup of Sunday’s boo-boo at Jamaica still wasn’t completed today. Of course the LIRR has issued a statement praising its workers who’ve been toiling away 24 hours a day at the site, and explaining why it’s really, really hard to fix all the damage to the tracks and third rail. Well, I guess. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that, but it still occurs to me that this incident wasn’t anywhere nearly as bad as it could have been. Yes, one car was turned perpendicular to the tracks, but it remained upright. What if several cars were on their sides? How long would that take to clean up? While I pondered these questions, I was able to take solace in the fact that like yesterday, none of my trains were delayed. The shuttle was on time at Medford, as was the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue. One odd thing that happened is that the train which approached the Ronkonkoma platforms from the yards, right after I got off the shuttle, was not the 6:56 at all, in fact it went right through the station without stopping at all. This was unusual, as all the trains on the Ronkonkoma line make their first stops at Ronkonkoma, excepting one or two that originate from a siding near Farmingdale. It must have been related somehow to the Jamaica incident. As for the 6:56, it was an easy ride, no delays, and with a reasonably small 25ish woman sitting next to me at Deer Park. She was wearing perhaps a bit more perfume than would have been ideal, but all in all she was far preferable to an elephantine SCA. I played a number of games of cell phone Tetris, and noted with some amusement that she was playing a cell phone game too, something Space Invaders-ish. Unlike yesterday, I didn’t get to see the cleanup work at Jamaica, as I was riding on the opposite side of the train and another train was blocking the view in any event. Once at Flatbush I waited a tolerable five or six minutes for a 4 express to Fulton Street, and in sharp contrast to yesterday’s sardine can it was sufficiently uncrowded for me to be able to ride with some semblance of dignity.
I decided to avoid the Eighth Avenue line after work, walking a little farther to get a 3 express from Fulton to Penn. It was in that nether world somewhere between “crowded” and “crush load,” alas perhaps a shade closer to the latter. At least it wasn’t a horror show like yesterday’s morning subway. Only a few trains at Penn were being announced as canceled or delayed, so I decided to take the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma even though it isn’t a guaranteed connection to the shuttle. It was an easy enough ride, I got an aisle seat next to a middle-aged woman who spent much of the ride on her cell phone. Between her babble and a crying baby elsewhere in the car I was very appreciative of my iPod. We got to Ronkonkoma on time, and the wait for the shuttle went quickly.
Gym: a 2.5-mile run on the treadmill at 5.5 mph, making 8.5 miles for the week so far, followed by 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.7 mph.
It wasn’t the catastrophe I feared
When I heard that there had been a derailed train at Jamaica on Sunday afternoon it didn’t really register as significant. It would be cleared up well before Monday, right? My complacency began to diminish on Sunday evening, as the LIRR began warning of delays on Monday. Clearing up the mess was going to be taking more time than anticipated. The LIRR’s site reported that several Monday morning trains would be canceled, though the only Ronkonkoma one affected was the lightly used 7:40 local to Flatbush Avenue. Still, I was prepared for a long trip into work on Monday morning. Reality turned out much less worse than feared. The shuttle was on time at Medford, as was the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue. It was a decent enough ride, marred only by a somewhat-larger-than-average older SCA who sat next to me at Mineola. He was wearing a gray hat that really annoyed me, for reasons I can’t quite articulate and don’t completely understand. But trust me that I had a strong urge to flick it right off his head. Fortunately, he got up and sat elsewhere when many people got off at Jamaica. Just east of the Jamaica platforms a M-7 sat basically sideways across three or four tracks. I was surprised it had managed to stay uprights. There of course were many workers and maintenance trucks surrounding it, and they had one end of the car jacked up clear of the tracks. I couldn’t see the third rail damage, though the reports said there had been quite a bit. This incident occurred just about the same distance east of the platforms as last week’s collision, though by tracks 6 through 8 as opposed to tracks 1 and 2 in the prior mishap. We got through the scene without delays and actually arrived at Flatbush right on schedule. I missed a 5 train by seconds, but the good news is that a 4 came along in just a few minutes; the bad news is that the 4 was horrendously crowded. I was squished between several people in much closer proximity than I would prefer.
As the day went on it became evident that the effects of the incident were ongoing. Several evening rush hour trains were canceled, according to the LIRR’s site, though none of them on the Ronkonkoma line. I got to Penn reasonably quickly on an A, which unlike the morning’s 4 was sufficiently uncrowded that I was able to avoid intimate contact with any other people. Whew. While I got to Penn in time to catch the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, I decided to wait for the 5:41 because the earlier train is not an official connecting train for the shuttle, meaning that the shuttle won’t be held if it is delayed. It worked out well, because the 5:41 was uncrowded, in fact no one sat next to me the whole way. I don’t know how much the lack of crowding reflected people adjusting their schedules to avoid delays and how much was because this is Thanksgiving week. Whatever the case, I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak. The errant M-7 was still mostly sideways at Jamaica, in fact it didn’t look as if much progress had been made in removing it, though now there were a couple of cranes on the scene. We got to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle about five or six minutes behind schedule, which is reasonable all things considered.
Gym: it was back to weights tonight after a week off, and I’d have to say it didn’t go too well. I started out with bench presses, using a barbell rather than dumbbells like last time because all three of the flat benches in the dumbbell area were in use. It almost was shocking how weak I was: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 2 x 4 x 225, 2 x 3 x 225. Yep, that’s right, only 14 total reps at 225. I’m really hoping this is just a temporary setback. At least my neutral grip pull-ups went much better: 2 x 8, 4 x 6. I was going to do cable crossovers, but what with the crowded gym I could find only one handle, so instead I used the Hammer Strength decline chest machine for extra pecs work: 2 x 8 x 270, 2 x 6 x 270.
The last day of my “weightless” week, and like the past two days I did two miles on the treadmill at 5.5 mph. This makes six total miles run in three days, what’s more I’ve fulfilled the 6-mile weekly quota, with four days left to go in my Friday-Thursday cycle.
My week-without-weights is approaching its end, and I’ve been taking advantage of the hiatus to do some serious treadmill work. After some time on the speed bag, I ran two miles on the treadmill at my usual 5.5 mph. This is a total of four miles in two days, not bad. I then did 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 19.6 mph.
Another easy day
If every day on the LIRR were as easy as today, it would be wonderful. Of course I’d have nothing to complain about either. Because complaining can be, you know, fun, maybe it’s good that every day isn’t like today. Because of an early dentist appointment I drove to Ronkonkoma to get the 9:33 to Penn. Which meant that I had to park in a dirt lot more than a quarter-mile east of the station on the north side. That’s not a long distance in most respects, though when it’s as cold as it was today it sure seems longer. While the 9:33 isn’t that long after the end of rush hour the ridership is quite different from what you get during rush hour. No SCA’s, not that many other people who seemed like they were going to work, mostly people traveling in pairs or larger groups. That also means that the noise level is higher than on most rush hour trains, though of course my iPod drowned out most of it. Lastly, it also means stopping at every station along the way, including Pinelawn Cemetery. The seat next to me stayed empty until an older woman sat next to me at Mineola, though she was not annoying at all. We got to Penn on time, and I decided to take a 2 or 3 to Fulton rather than take my chances on the Eighth Avenue line. In retrospect it wasn’t a good choice, as I missed a 3 by mere seconds and had to wait close to ten minutes until a 2 came along.
I got a C at Broadway-Nassau with less than a minute’s wait after work. When we got to Canal there was an E on the opposite track, and the conductor helpfully announced that the E would be leaving first (the C has to switch onto the E’s track just north of the station). I went to the E for the quick ride to Penn. While sitting on the E, engrossed in a game of cell phone Tetris, I noticed out of the corner of the eye that the woman sitting a ways to my left, wearing a plaid skirt, seemed to have unusually hairy legs. My curiosity piqued, I got a better look … turns out it wasn’t a woman at all, but a Scottish man. Oops. I got to Penn a few minutes before five, and I hustled quickly – no, I did not break my solemn vow never to run for trains – to Track 14 and got the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma just before its doors closed. Most trains would be way too crowded that close before departure, but the 5:01 is usually lightly traveled. Today was definitely no exception. The car in which I rode, near the east end of the consist, was not even one-third full. Needless to say, no one sat next to me the whole way to Ronkonkoma. Also needless to say, the quarter-mile walk to my car seemed like about ten times that length in the cold.
Gym: I worked for about six or seven minutes on the heavy bag. That was less than the 15 minutes I had planned, but two of the four chains holding the bag to the overhead mount had come loose and I was a bit concerned that the 100-pound bag would fall onto me. Using the nearby water-filled heavy bag wasn’t really an option because it was a little too close to a one-on-one basketball game being played on the nearby hoop. The players were two gym regulars, a relatively short but very muscular man and his girlfriend … and the girlfriend was winning, and easily. Some men might find that quite an ego-puncturing experience but this man didn’t seem to mind. She was playing very well, I suspect she might be a former college player. Anyway, I also did some work on the speed bag and the double end bag, and then ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.5 mph.