Tuesday, December 30

I can’t let myself get used to this

Sure, the half-empty trains this time of year are wonderful and all that, but I have to keep telling myself that it’s only a temporary state of affairs. Come next week it’ll be cattle train time once again. But hey, enjoy it while you can, right? I had to go in a bit earlier today than had been the case yesterday, but because I figured I might be able to leave earlier than usual I drove to Ronkonkoma rather than taking the shuttle from Medford. While I had been planning on getting the 7:32, traffic on the way to the station was lighter than usual and I ended up getting the 7:19 express. This is a train that’s always packed to the gills during “normal” times, but today in the mid-consist car where I rode all the middle seats and maybe a third to a half of the aisles seats stayed empty. The seat next to me wasn’t one of the empty ones, but it worked out okay because the woman who took it at Central Islip was of no more than average size. She spent almost all of the trip into Penn reading various religious tracts. I read the decidedly more secular Main Street and played a couple mediocre games of cell phone Tetris. We got to Penn on time, though my subway trip left a lot to be desired. For a change of pace – dumb move! – I decided to take the Eighth Avenue line, and ended up waiting nearly 10 minutes for an A. It of course was jammed.  Sometimes “change” is not desirable.

I learned my lesson and stuck with the 2/3 getting to Penn after work.  A 2 came along after just a minute’s wait at Fulton, and it was only moderately crowded.  A rather noisy and faceless skell spend much of the trip panhandling.  When I say “faceless” I don’t mean that he was just another anonymous figure in the sea of modern life, or anything metaphorical like that .  He was literally faceless, with a featureless mass of scar tissue instead of an actual face.  I got to Penn just in time to catch the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma, which just like yesterday was magnificently uncrowded.  While I didn’t count the number of people in the car, my reasoned guess is that it was substantially less than one-quarter full.  Between reading, and Tetris-ing, and some texting, the ride went by nice and quickly.

Gym: as the old expression goes, better late than never.  The leg work that I should have done Sunday, or at least yesterday?  I finally got around to doing it.  I’m really going to have to be more diligent about adhering to a more regular schedule.  As usual, I did trap bar deadlifts as the main exercise: 6 x 225, 6 x 255, 6 x 275, 4 x 285, 4 x 295, 2 x 305, 2 x 315, 6 x 225. Not too bad.  It was then time for neutral grip pull-ups, 6 x 6.  This makes 116 for the (Friday-Thursday) week so far, six over my quota of 110.  SLDL’s came next, 8 x 205, 2 x 8 x 215.  While the sore ankle that bothered me last weekend was mostly better, I decided not to tempt fate and avoided doing calf raises, as they put a lot of strain on the ankle joints.  I also did some work on the speed bag.

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Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 4:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, December 29

The emptiest train ever

Wow.  I knew that LIRR ridership would be light this week, but I sure didn’t expect this. In the afternoon, that is.  Being able to go in a little later than usual I drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:57 to Penn.  At 7:45 the south side parking lot was less busy than it would have been at 7 on a normal morning.  The 7:57 was lighter than most rush hour trains, but got moderately crowded as it made more stops.  I would say that the mid-consist car where I rode was about two-thirds full after the last pre-Jamaica stop at Mineola.  A woman who looked like  a somewhat younger version of Mariah Carey sat next to me at Deer Park and wasn’t any bother.  I spent much of the trip reading my latest book, Main Street by Sinclair Lewis.  We got to Penn on time, and I boarded a 3 train to Fulton with almost no wait at all. It was pretty empty too.

I was able to leave a bit early and got to Penn fairly quickly via a moderately crowded 2.  It got me there fast enough that I was able to get the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma with a minute or two to spare.  Now, this train follows another Ronkonkoma train by just ten minutes, so it’s usually not too crowded, but today was something else entirely.  No exaggeration, when we left Penn there were about ten other people in the car.  That is just incomprehensible for a rush hour train, in fact for any train.  It was so empty that even though I had an M-3 single seat, I switched to a more roomy regular seat after Jamaica because I knew no one would be sitting next to me … in fact, no one was within three rows of me.  Coupled with an on-time arrival at Ronkonkoma, it had to be one of the very best train rides in 11 years of LIRR commuting.

Gym: this wasn’t so wonderful, I was too worn out to do the leg work that I should have done yesterday.  Yet another day’s delay is not a good thing, trust me on that.  About all I could manage was 30 minutes on the stationary cycle, at 19.4 mph.

Published in: on December 30, 2008 at 3:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, December 28

D’oh!  Between watching TV and web surfing and generally diddling around, I totally lost track of time and didn’t end up getting to the gym until one hour before closing.  It was too late for me to do the leg work I had planned, as that’s quite time-consuming.  Pushing it off a day is not a particularly attractive option.  Still, I did some sort of decent stuff.  I began with neutral grip pull-ups, 4 x 8, 2 x 6.  That’s 44 total reps, which when added to Friday’s 36 puts me more than two-thirds of the way toward my quota of 110.  Next, I did 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.9 mph.  With the gym closing in less than 15 minutes it was too late to do any benching, as I had wanted, so instead I used the Cybex overhead press machine, 8 x 195, 8 x 200, 8 x 205, 8 x 195.

Published in: on December 29, 2008 at 3:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, December 27

My ankle was better today than it had been yesterday, but still not completely better, so it give it a rest – and for a little variety in my routine – I decided to ellipt instead of run.  And quite some ellipting it was too, a full hour, which worked out to 10,714 strides and something just over 7.1 miles (I forget exactly how much).  It also computed as 845 calories spent, though I’m not sure if those calories counters are entirely to be trusted.

Published in: on December 28, 2008 at 1:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, December 26

Well that was weird.  My right ankle was sore and a bit swollen today, even though I hadn’t been to the gym in two days.  When I got to the gym around 5:30 (having the day off from work), I decided to avoid running on the treadmill today, to avoid making my ankle any worse.  I started out with a solid 15 minutes on the heavy bag, which of course involves footwork but doesn’t have the constant pounding of the treadmill.  It went well, with some decent combinations.  I also spent a while on the speed bag, also doing well.  As an alternative to running I did 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 19.2 mph.  Next came some bench pressing, though because of all the bag work I was able to do only a fairly light session: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 1 x 235, 2 x 3 x 230, 3 x 3 x 225.  Then it was off to neutral grip pull-ups,  3 x 8, 2 x 6.  That amounted to 36 total reps, just under one-third of the way toward my weekly quota of 110 reps.  I finished with Cybex overhead presses, 8 x 190, 8 x 195, 8 x 200, 8 x 190.

Published in: on December 27, 2008 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, December 25

The gym was closed today for Christmas, so I had to get my exercise elsewhere.  So what did I do?  Does eating too much count?

Published in: on December 27, 2008 at 2:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, December 24

Oh no, it’s my stop!
It was surprising to see how light ridership was this morning.  Even though it was Christmas Eve, I figured that most people would be going into work as usual.  I had some inkling that it would be different as I was driving to Ronkonkoma station, traffic being much lighter than usual, and any doubts were settled when I pulled into the station parking lot.  Spots were available at least three rows closer to the east end of the platform than is usually the case.  The 7:32 to Penn wasn’t remotely crowded, with the mid-consist car where I rode never getting above about 50% occupancy.  Needless to say no one sat next to me the whole way.  Once we got to Penn I decided to continue my pattern of taking the 2/3 rather than the Eighth Avenue line.  The choice worked out semi-okay today, for while a 2 came along in less than a minute it traveled very slowly between 14th and Chambers, probably negating any time advantage over the A/C.

I found out in the late morning that we’d be allowed to leave work at 3.  As I was planning on being picked up in Hicksville, another ride on the 2/3 (a 3 this time, and much faster than in the morning) got me to Penn in time to catch the 3:27 to Huntington, which stops in Hicksville.  It got quite crowded, and the fact that many people had luggage didn’t help the space squeeze any.  I was in an aisle seat next to a woman in her 40’s or thereabout, and noticed with some amusement that not only did she quickly conk off, but she actually began to snore.  I hear that occasionally from men, but hardly ever from a woman.  We were stopped at Carle Place when the woman woke up and practically jumped to her feet. It was obvious that she’d woken up just in time to realize that the train was at her stop.   I immediately got out of her way and she ran down the aisle just as the door-closing alarm was sounding.  She made it off, literally by no more than a couple of seconds.  I would imagine that was a much closer call than she desired!  The rest of the trip to Hicksville passed quickly and uneventfully.

Published in: on December 25, 2008 at 3:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, December 23

As the year winds down

Only four commuting days left in 2008 after today. Of course, when you’re talking about the LIRR, four days can be an eternity, but that’s another story. Like yesterday I drove to Ronkonkoma to get the 7:32 to Penn. It was perhaps not quite as crowded as yesterday, but still quite busy. Also like yesterday, I rode fairly close to the east end of the consist. Not because it was so cold, today being slightly warmer than yesterday, but because I wanted to take the 2/3 to Fulton Street rather than deal with the Eighth Avenue line. An average-sized young man took the seat next to me at Brentwood and wasn’t too much trouble. He talked quite a bit on his cell phone, but my iPod covered up any excessive sounds. Unlike yesterday I didn’t see any standees in the car. We got to Penn on time, and I got a 3 to Fulton after a wait of about three or four minutes – longer than yesterday but still quite tolerable.

I’d been planning to get the 2/3 to Penn after work but ended up taking an A instead. Getting to the 2/3 platform at Fulton via the underground route requires walking along the A/C Broadway-Nassau platform, and while doing so an A pulled in and I decided I might as well just take it. Not only was that likely the quicker way to Penn, but it was an R-40 Slant consist, and the opportunities for riding those trains are rapidly coming to an end. I got to Penn quickly enough to get the 4:51 to Ronkonkoma. After I took a seat a woman sat next to me and almost immediately got up. Was I being “treated” to the Look of Love? It seemed unlikely, as the woman was in her 40’s at least, well past the age for doing that sort of thing. As it turned out, she sat across the aisle next to a woman she knew (they greeted each other), so it wasn’t a case of my scaring her off or anything. An older man took the seat, and while he initially tried to infringe in my space a bit a quick nudge with my left arm put and kept him in line. For a change I actually had a couple decent games of cell phone Tetris, and we got to Ronkonkoma maybe a few minutes late, no worse.

Gym: I started out with about 15 minutes on the heavy bag, maintaining a decent rhythm and hitting it pretty hard. A bit of a setback then occurred. I tried to do some deadlifts, but stopped almost right away because my lower back was a bit sore. It’s probably because I did trap bar deadlifts just two days ago. I salvaged something out of the session by doing neutral grip pull-ups, 1 x 10, 1 x 8, 4 x 6.  That makes 110 total reps for the week, which should be a decent quota amount.  I’ll use a Friday-Thursday cycle for this quota, to match what I do for running.  It works out well because Friday is the next day I’ll be able to go to the gym, what with Christmas Eve and Christmas.  I actually could use a couple days off.

Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 4:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, December 22

Cold weather doesn’t deter riders

Today was cold, very cold, but that didn’t prevent the trains from being jammed.  I’d actually thought that ridership would be lighter than usual because of people taking Christmas week off from work.  That didn’t seem to be the case, however.  I was able to go into work a little later than usual and therefore drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn.  When I arrived, at about 7:15, the 7:19 express was still at the platform, and before it left an M-3 consist came in from the yards and stopped at the other track.  That’s odd, I thought, because the 7:32 doesn’t enter the station under several minutes after the 7:19 leaves.  At least it meant that I’d be riding an M-3 consist and might have a shot at a single seat.  Think again, alas, because after less than a minute the M-3 reversed direction and went back to the yards.  I have no idea what was the story behind that.  The 7:32 arrived a couple minutes later, an M-7 consist, and I took a seat in one of the cars near the east end because I didn’t care to walk along the platform any longer than necessary in the cold.  The car filled up quickly, though it worked out okay for me because a small 40ish woman took the seat next to me at Central Islip and left me ample room.  What with the heavy coats most people were wearing, space was even more limited than usual … and believe me, it’s extremely limited in the M-7 torture seats.  The ride was uneventful except for a long stop, at least two or three minutes, at Wyandanch.  Once again, no idea why.  When we got to Penn I decided to take the 2/3 rather than the A/C because I was sitting closer to the Seventh Avenue side.  A 3 arrived after a short wait, and while it was crowded I appreciated the quicker ride as compared to the A and especially C.   Riding the 3 meant a considerably longer walk to my workplace, but I was able to walk through the underground passageways at Fulton/Broadway-Nassau, which while not sauna-like were a lot warmer than the street.

I decided to cast my fates with the 2/3 after work rather than deal with the Eighth Avenue line.  Another underground walk, another crowded 3, although this time it made a somewhat slower trip to Penn.  I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, which was yet another cattle train.  I noticed this time a few family groups, undoubtedly a result of the holiday period.  A somewhat hippie-ish young woman (two nose piercings and one on the lower lip) sat next to me, and was no bother.  I spent most of the trip playing cell phone Tetris, with one good game and a couple of decent ones.

Gym: I started out with a 1.5-mile run on the treadmill at 5.7 mph, meeting my weekly 6-mile quota.  Next came some benching, with a more or less ad-libbed set and rep count: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 2 x 235, 6 x 225, 2 x 245, 5 x 225, 2 x 235, 4 x 225, 1 x 245, 3 x 225, 2 x 235, 3 x 225, 1 x 235, 3 x 225.  I think that’s what it was.  By my count it works out to a very satisfactory 34 reps at 225 or better.  I finished with Cybex overhead presses, 8 x 195, 8 x 200, 8 x 205.

Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 4:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, December 21

Leg Day today.  I started out with a one-mile run on the treadmill at 5.7 mph. Not much in terms of distance, but after yesterday’s 2.5 miles it was enough.  I then did trap bar deadlifts, or as I like to call them, “reverse squats”: 6 x 225, 6 x 255, 6 x 275, 4 x 285, 4 x 295, 2 x 305, 2 x 315.  Thirty reps on these is doing well.  Next came seated calf raises, 3 x 15 x 165, and I finished with Life Fitness seated leg presses, 4 x 8 x 395.  The gym was about to close, so I didn’t have time for SLDL’s, and in any event doing them in the same session as trap bar deadlifts might be a bit too much.

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 1:56 am  Leave a Comment