Thursday, May 21

A real Century, plus snoring

One of the stereotypical LIRR riders is the “Century,” defined as a woman weighing no more than 100 pounds.  Centuries typically appear as pairs.  Most commonly, I’ll be squashed in a seat next to a jelly-like SCA, while in the row directly ahead two Centuries are sitting next to one another with more-than-ample room for both of them.  Today was a fortunately exception to this theme.  I got the shuttle from Medford as usual, and because the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue was once again using M-7’s (it’s getting so that the once-common M-3’s on this train are becoming distinctly rare) I waited for the 7:19 to Penn. It seemed a little less crowded than usual, and I took a window seat in my usual car, the one closest to the ticket office with its generally low proportion of SCA’s.  I was looking out the window and heard a rustling sound next to me, but felt nothing.  A few seconds later I turned around and lo and behold a 20-something Century was sitting in the aisle seat.  She was really, really small.  Had it been an SCA sitting next to me I most definitely would have felt something.  Felt a lot, to be specific.  Thanks to the reasonable amount of room the Century left, I was able to enjoy an easy ride into Penn, getting quite a bit of reading done.  Unlike yesterday, with its longish wait for a train to Fulton, today I waited literally no more than ten seconds for a 2 train.

I got a 3 from Fulton after work, a wait of only a couple minutes though the car was extremely crowded.  Pure sardine-can conditions.  What was not crowded was the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  Ridership was notably lighter than usual.  So light, in fact, that I took the extreme risk of sitting in the aisle seat on the 3-across side, in reasonable confidence that no one would take the middle. Happily, no one did, and I was able to have a reasonably pleasant ride, the only discordant note being the absurdly loud snoring of a beefy SCA a couple rows away. How not surprising.  Still, it was better than being squished next to the aforesaid beefy SCA, and combined with the fact that I have tomorrow off from work – and hence a 4-day weekend what with Memorial Day – some snoring was hardly any reason to complain.

Gym: I had to debate whether to squat tonight, as tomorrow will be one week but I won’t be able to go to the gym tomorrow.  After giving it some thought I decided to do some benching instead.  In an attempt at improving my severely lagging bench press I decided to do a variety of different things … the common theme being that none were particularly good.  Bench press: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 3 x 225, 4 x 205, 2 x 225, 2 x 4 x 205.  Dumbbell bench press: 6 x 85/85, 5 x 85/85.  Hammer Strength wide chest press: 8 x 230, 8 x 250.  We’ll have to see if this variety helps.

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Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 4:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, May 20

A better gym experience

There isn’t much to say about today’s commuting, as it was entirely uneventful.  The shuttle was on time at Medford, as it’s been almost every day for weeks, though to my slight disappointment the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue was once again using M-7’s.  At some distant date I might actually venture back onto that train when it’s using the M-7’s with their hideous torture seats.  But not anytime soon, that’s for sure.  Instead I got the 7:19 express to Penn, sitting in a window seat.  The car didn’t seem too crowded, and for a few moments I had hopes of an empty seat next to me the whole way, but just as the doors were closing a slightly chubby woman in her mid-20’s sat down in the aisle seat.  Was it the same, slightly chubby 20-something who had the Red Bull jitters yesterday?  It wasn’t, in fact they didn’t actually look much like each other.  Not to mention the fact that this one was almost entirely jitter-free.  With any luck, the woman yesterday has figured out by now that Red Bull just doesn’t agree with her.  It was a very easy ride into Penn, no delays of any sort, and I spent most of the time reading.  The wait for a 3 train to Fulton Street was, I’ll have to admit, a shade longer than optimal during rush hour, something in the nature of five minutes, but that’s still within tolerability limits and is no reason to complain.

I walked to Park Place after work and got a 2 to Penn right away.  Then came the moderately crowded 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, I sat in an aisle seat next to an older man who was watching a movie on a portable DVD player.  It was hard to tell what it was, both because the screen was blurry when viewed from an angle and what I could see didn’t look at all familiar.  I read some, but spent most of the ride playing Tetris.  No delays into Ronkonkoma, and as usual the shuttle was on time too.

Gym: Yesterday’s lack of motivation was most definitely not present today.  I had a very good run on the treadmill, 3.6 miles at 5.4 mph.  That’s over 40 minutes of nonstop running.  I then did kettlebell swings, 3 x 10 with a 50-pounder.

Published in: on May 21, 2009 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, May 19

Yet another type of train passenger to avoid

Some passengers-to-be-avoided types are easy to understand, even if not always easy to identify at first: elephantine SCA’s, loud cell phone-talkers, overprivileged women who don’t keep their elbows to themselves, eaters of smelly foodstuffs, etc.  Today I was (un)lucky enough to experience a new addition to the list.  I had gotten the shuttle from Medford as usual, and though like yesterday I wanted to get the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue, today it was using M-7’s and therefore was totally off-limits.  No big deal, I waited for the 7:19 to Penn, and took a window seat in the car nearest the ticket office.  Within a few moments of taking my seat a young woman sat in the aisle seat.  She appeared to be in her early 20’s, a shade younger than most commuters, and had that slightly chubby build that seems to have gotten really common among young women.  I didn’t pay her much attention and began reading more of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Within a few minutes I start noticing an unusual vibrating sensation.  My first thought was that it was some sort of mechanical defect with the car, quite a reasonable guess in light of the LIRR’s nonexistent maintenance standards.  It soon became apparent, however, that it was the young woman sitting next to me who was responsible.  Her legs were vibrating at a frequency I would have thought beyond the capacity of the human musculoskeletal system.  It must’ve been some sort of neurological condition, right?  Not quite.  I then noticed that she was drinking from a can of Red Bull.  Rather than giving her wings, as the ads would imply, the concoction must have been making her so hyper than she was literally vibrating.  I’ll chalk this up as yet another lesson learned the hard way: never sit next to a Red Bull drinker.  Of course I was so distracted that it was almost impossible to concentrate on reading.  After a few minutes I gave up trying and spent most of the rest of the ride just staring out the window.  We had no delays into Penn, and I waited a reasonable three or four minutes for a (crowded) 2 train to Fulton.

I walked to Park Place after work, wanting a bit of a change from Fulton, and almost immediately got a surprisingly uncrowded 3 to Penn. As is becoming my usual practice I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle.  No vibrations this time, the average-sized 40ish man sitting next to me hardly moved a muscle, at least in comparison to the morning’s vibration machine.  As was the case in the morning, the car was moderately crowded, with perhaps half of the middle seats taken.  With Memorial Day approaching, ridership is likely to be on the light side soon, what with people taking vacations.

Gym: oh, no.  I arrived with some fairly grandiose expectations – deadlifts, bench presses, maybe some kettlebell swings, and at least a 2-mile run on the treadmill.  All I ended up accomplishing were some deadlifts, and not many of them: 4 x 225, 4 x 275, 4 x 295, 4 x 315.  I abruptly stopped at that point, not because of any pain or exhaustion (which would have been understandable), but because I simply ran out of motivation.  Engaging in any further exercise all of a sudden seemed totally unpalatable.  This is very unusual for me, perhaps it was because I haven’t had many days off.

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, May 18

The most welcome sight in the world

For a variety of reasons I was in absolutely no frame of mind to deal with LIRR antics this morning.  Just the thought of dealing with elephantine SCA’s filled me with extreme horror.  It was with pure delight, therefore, that when the shuttle from Medford pulled into Ronkonkoma I saw a magnificent M-3 consist on the opposite track.  Yes, the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was an M-3 today.  I knew, just knew, that I was going to get myself a single seat – and I did.  You cannot imagine what a mood-lifter this was.  Not that Monday mornings are ever perfect, but I had as good a trip as possible.  We got into Brooklyn on time, and in a slight change from the usual pattern I got a 3 train (rather than the usual 4/5) to Fulton.  And did I mention that I had a seat the whole way?

I wasn’t so worried about LIRR antics on the way home, but as it turned out I didn’t have to face any.  The wait for a 2 train at Fulton was perhaps a shade longer than usual, about five or six minutes, but like the case in the morning I had a seat the whole way.  A skell got on at Chambers and gave the usual spiel, about how he’s trying to get his life in order (yeah, sure) and that while he’s trying to get his life in order he really needs some money for food (he sure didn’t look like he was starving).  Hardly anyone gave him any money.  He’d better come up with a new pitch.  I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, an easy enough ride, with a relatively thin man in his late 20’s sitting next to me and not being any bother.  After several games of Tetris, I actually had a couple of decent scores.  We got to Ronkonkoma on time, and the wait for the shuttle went quickly.

Gym: after yesterday’s brutal Muay Thai session I wasn’t into doing too much tonight, but I managed some decent one-arm dumbbell rows, 4 x 8 x 125/125.  I then ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.4 mph, though due to a minor muscle cramp I did something unusual, stopping after one mile, walking around for a few minutes, and then running another mile.

Published in: on May 19, 2009 at 2:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, May 17

Another MMA/Muay Thai training session.  Two and a half hours of pain.  But a good pain.

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 7:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, May 16

My bench press is still pathetic, but it may be getting a shade less pathetic than it’s been.  Tonight represented a bit of progress.  6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 10 x 2 x 225.  That’s 20 total reps at 225, more than I’ve had lately.  Of course it was just a few months ago, prior to my ill-advised machine interlude, when I could manage a 10 x 3 at 225 with no trouble.  Tonight I had to struggle a bit to finish a 10 x 2.  But progress is progress, and I shouldn’t complain.  I also did reasonably well on the Hammer Strength MTS shoulder press, namely 3 x 8 x 100/100.  In addition to the weights, I ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.4 mph.

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, May 15

A low-stress day

Today was one of those rare days when commuting was almost entirely stress-free.  It was the sort of day that makes me think that just maybe, commuting by train is not a gruesome, soul-destroying experience.  Of course this happy state of affairs is not likely to occur on any but very rare occasions.  But hey, I can enjoy it when it happens.  I got the shuttle from Medford, and then the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue – yes, the latter train was an M-3 consist, and yes, I got a single seat. The ride went by quickly, I got quite a bit of The Omnivore’s Dilemma read, and when we got to Brooklyn I waited less than 30 seconds for a not-too-crowded 4 train to Fulton.

I walked to Park Place after work, got a 3 to Penn after about a minute’s wait, and had a seat the whole way (not that it’s a long trip, but it’s still nice to have a seat).  The 5:22 to Ronkonkoma was not at all crowded, in fact no one sat next to me the whole way, and I happily read and Tetris-ed most of the way to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle.  No annoying people, unlike some of my recent experiences.  It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Gym: leg day, and after having gone heavy on squats last time for relatively low reps I did the opposite tonight, namely lower weight but high reps.  Specifically, for squats I did 8 x 135, 5 x 12 x 225.  While 225 is a light weight for squats, doing 60 total reps is nonetheless a seriously draining thing.  I then did kettlebell swings, 3 x 10 with a 50-pounder.  To finish up, SLDL’s, 2 x 10 x 195; I had wanted to do four sets of 10, continuing with the lower weight/high reps theme, but pretty much ran out of gas after the first two sets.

Published in: on May 16, 2009 at 4:21 am  Comments (1)  

Thursday, May 14

The Leaning Tower of Ronkonkoma, and taking a big risk

Some people just don’t understand geography.  Like the 30ish blonde woman on the 7:19 from Ronkonkoma to Penn. I took that train after arriving on the shuttle from Medford, and while it wasn’t crowded yesterday it was your proverbial cattle train today.  I wasn’t able to get a window seat, and ended up sitting on the aisle next to the aforementioned geographically challenged woman.  She gave me a look of great annoyance when I took the aisle seat.  Well excuse me, it was a crowded train, did she realistically expect that no one would sit next to her?  I speak of her geographical ignorance because she thought she was in Pisa and did a Leaning Tower routine.  Instead of sitting upright, she decided to make herself comfortable and sit in a sort of crooked way as she read her Stephen King novel.  This caused her upper body to lean toward me and – you guessed it! – significantly diminish the space available for me.  She probably weighed about 140 pounds yet occupied just as much space as a 250-pound SCA.  It was not a particularly pleasant ride into Penn, though fortunately there were no delays and I was able to occupy myself by reading more of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. In a bit of consolation I waited less than a minute for a 2 train to Fulton and actually got a seat.

I had another quick ride on a 2 from Fulton to Penn after work, no seats this time, and boarded the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  It wasn’t particularly crowded, and even though it was an M-7 consist I sat in the aisle seat on the 3-across side.  That is a big risk, for if someone had taken the middle seat it wouldn’t have been pleasant for me.  But I was in a particularly bold frame of mind, though not foolhardy – if the train had been any more crowded I never would have taken the risk.  It was an easy enough ride to Ronkonkoma, where I got picked up, so no shuttle tonight.

Gym: day off

Published in: on May 16, 2009 at 2:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, May 13

Two lucky breaks – actually, three

Today was definitely a day for some out-of-the-ordinary commuting.  One thing that wasn’t unusual is that I got the shuttle from Medford.  As we pulled into Ronkonkoma I saw that the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was an M-3 consist, unfortunately I really wanted to get some coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts and wasn’t able to take it.  Instead, I got the 7:19 to Penn, which to my surprise was another M-3 consist.  It’s almost always M-7’s, today was definitely a change for the better.  I was able to get a single seat, though for some reason the car in which I was riding – as usual, the one closest to the ticket office – wasn’t crowded at all.  It was maybe half-full.  Why the train would be so lightly patronized today, I haven’t a clue.  Today wasn’t a holiday or anything.

My second lucky break came as we headed through Farmingdale.  A voice came on the PA, and said, “This is Charmaine, a station agent. There is an ill passenger in the last car, could a conductor come here please?”  Oh wonderful, I thought to myself.  A “sick passenger” delay can last a half hour or more. True, it was the morning, but due to some things I had to do in the morning I really didn’t want to be late to work.  We stopped at Bethpage, on the south platform, and the conductor announced over the PA that we would be stopped temporarily awaiting the arrival of medical help.  I could see some people waiting on the north platform, for a train that originates out of Farmingdale, and I figured that if the delay were long enough I could cross over and take that train. As things turned out, after a total delay of no more than six or seven minutes we got underway, a remarkably short time for a “sick passenger” delay.  There were no further delays into Penn, and thanks to a very short wait for a 2 train to Fulton I got to work only about five minutes later than usual.

My third bit of luck occurred at Penn in the afternoon.  I got there quickly enough after a short wait for a 2 at Fulton, and decided to try the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  It didn’t pull into the platform until almost 5:20, and of course there was a huge rush of people boarding.  It was as crowded as the morning train had been empty.  I was near the outer fringe of the cows-at-the-slaughterhouse-chute half-moon, and by the time I boarded all but the middle seats were taken.  No big deal, I think, I’ll get off and take the Long Beach train across the platform, changing at Jamaica for Ronkonkoma. Just as that thought came into my mind, the door-closing beep began sounding, and I realized that several people were standing in the aisle between me and the nearest door.  It looked as if I’d be trapped on the train and, middle seats not being an option under any circumstances, would have to stand at least as far as Wyandanch.  Somehow, I was able to make my way through the crowd, without too much pushing, and got off the train just as the doors closed.  I crossed the platform and boarded the 5:23 to Long Beach just as its doors closed.  Getting to Ronkonkoma was easy, with a quick transfer at Jamaica, and no one sitting next to me on either train.  I got some reading done, and the trip went by quickly.

Gym: a quick in and out, just a 2-mile run on the treadmill at 5.4 mph.

Published in: on May 15, 2009 at 1:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, May 12

Single seat happiness

Not a bad way to start the morning.  When I arrived at Ronkonkoma on the shuttle from Medford, I saw that the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue, waiting on the opposite track, was an M-3 consist.  I decided that I’d take it even if no single seats were available.  Because the M-3 seats are slightly larger than those on the M-7’s – not that they could be any smaller – the size of the person in the next seat is not necessarily a life-or-death matter.  There turned out to be no risk at all, as indeed a single seat was available.  I had a nice easy ride into Brooklyn, mostly spent reading.  We had no delays through Hicksville even though there had been a non-fatal pedestrian accident about an hour earlier.  I just missed a 4 train at Atlantic Avenue, but a 5 came along a few minutes later for a quick ride to Fulton.

Getting home was easy too.  I waited less than a minute for a 3 train at Fulton, and got to Penn in time to get the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  It was a bit on the cattle train side, as had been the morning’s train for that matter, but I found an aisle seat next to an average-sized, 40ish woman.  I recognized her, having seen her on that train many times, but she didn’t appear to recognize me.  Whatever the case, it was another easy ride, though several attempts at playing Tetris were distinctly unsuccessful.  We got to Ronkonkoma on time, and unlike yesterday, I wasn’t thrust into the role of human information booth while waiting for the shuttle.

Gym: Some very good work. Yay.  I began with deadlifting: 6 x 225, 6 x 275, 6 x 295, 6 x 315, 6 x 275, 6 x 245. It was good to get six at 315.  I then did one-arm dumbbell rows, moving up to the 125’s: 3 x 8 x 125/125.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 3:06 am  Comments (2)