Monday, June 29

Amazing, an LIRR rider who should gain some weight

I’d been planning on driving to Ronkonkoma this morning to get the 7:32 to Penn, but that was not to be.  For a variety of reasons I was late in getting out of the house and then ran into some unexpectedly heavy traffic on the Expressway.  By the time I pulled into the parking lot it was just before 7:30, and there was no way I was going to make the 7:32 even if I ran.  Not that I would run, as running for trains is  a hopelessly SCA thing. I could have made the 7:40 to Flatbush Avenue, but not being in any particular hurry I waited for the 7:57 to Penn.  It wasn’t a bad trip at all, moderately crowded but delay-free.  A woman in her 30’s took the seat next to me at Deer Park or Wyandanch (I don’t remember which) and was no bother at all.  I waited less than a minute at Penn for a 2 train to Fulton and actually had a seat the whole way.  Even though it’s a short ride, having a seat is nice.

To my mild surprise I also had a seat the whole way after work, on a 3 from Fulton to Penn.  Must be the summertime ridership decline.  I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, which didn’t seem particularly crowded, in fact I had hopes that the seat next to me would be empty the whole way.  Just before departure, however, a blonde woman wearing a rather short dress took the seat.  Something seemed off about her.  After a few minutes it dawned on me – her legs were thinner than they should have been.  I wouldn’t say that she was anorectic, and at about 30 (as best I could tell) she was a bit old for such conditions, but she would have looked much better with another 10 to 15 pounds.  Too bad she couldn’t “borrow” some avoirdupois from an elephantine SCA.  It was another easy enough ride to Ronkonkoma – space was clearly no problem – though my repeated attempts at playing Tetris met with a distinct lack of success.

Gym: oh, no. Call me naive, but I thought that air conditioning had been invented decades ago.  Apparently no one ever told the management of Ultimate Fitness.  It had to be a good 85 degrees in the place, which is utterly ridiculous for a gym.  Somehow I managed to run 2.5 miles on the treadmill, though I had to take a break of about five minutes after the first 1.5 miles.  I did the first 1.5 miles at 5.9 mph and the remaining post-break mile at 5.8 mph.  Memo to self: wearing thick sweat pants instead of shorts is not a smart idea when the gym is a furnace.  After the treadmill, I did kettlebell swings, 3 x 10 with the 50-pounder.  While I had wanted to do some Hammer Strength MTS rows, I was just too drained to do any.

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Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 2:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, June 28

Today’s Muay Thai/MMA lesson was the most brutal of all.  Five rounds of sparring with the instructor or his assistant, the first one at about one-third speed and the last one around three-quarters speed.  When it was over I was quite sore but also quite pleased with myself.

Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 27

A pretty good Leg Day.  I began with a 2-mile run on the treadmill, the first mile at 5.9 mph and the second at 5.8 mph.  Next came some work on the Hammer Strength decline press: 6 x 345, 8 x 330, 8 x 320, 8 x 300, 2 x 6 x 300.  Getting the six at 345 is a new record.  After last week’s machine interlude I now got back to squats, albeit not going for any records: 8 x 135, 8 x 225, 8 x 255, 8 x 275.  Good depth on all the reps.  Then came SLDL’s, 8 x 215, 2 x 8 x 225. I finished the session with Precor leg extensions, 8 x 200, 8 x 205, 8 x 210, 8 x 215.

Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 1:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, June 26

Trying something new

It wasn’t that because today is my birthday that I decided to try something new.  That probably had nothing to do with it at all, and in any event I’m way past the point at which birthdays are something to be celebrated. Although I’ve heard that when people get really old, like 90 and above, they often get the sort of enjoyment out of birthdays that otherwise only children experience.  Guess that’s because making it another year when you’re over 90 is quite an accomplishment!  In any event, today began in the usual manner, with the shuttle from Medford to Ronkonkoma.  The 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was using M-7’s today, so I resigned myself to waiting for the 7:19 to Penn.  As I was waiting, however, I noticed that fewer people than usual were waiting for the 7:04 to Penn.  Generally that’s a train to avoid because it stops at Deer Park, basically a SCA-filled Ronkonkoma Junior.  The 7:19 is a safer choice because its only stops after Ronkonkoma are at Central Islip and Brentwood, two working-class, heavily Spanish-speaking communities with relatively few SCA’s.  Perhaps my birthday imbued me with a bit of recklessness, but just before the doors closed I finally made up my mind and boarded the 7:04.  I found a window seat on the 2-across side near the middle of the consist and wondered whether the SCA who would sit next to me at Deer Park would weigh under or over 250 pounds.  Over seemed like the safe bet.  Well call it a cosmic birthday gift or something, but no one at all sat next to me the entire way!  Such luck is almost unheard-of on a rush hour train.  I suppose, thinking more dispassionately, the fact that no one sat next to me is more likely attributable to the fact that ridership on Fridays in summer tends to be light.  Whatever the cause, it was a pleasant result.  I had a nice easy ride into Penn and then waited only a couple of minutes for a not-too-crowded 3 train to Penn.

I had a fairly long wait for a 2 at Fulton after work, not quite long enough to be annoying but longer than it should have been, but still got to Penn in time to get the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  It was moderately crowded when I boarded a few minutes before departure, but after some searching was able to find a vacant aisle seat on the 2-across side.  It goes without saying that except in rare cases I studiously avoid the 3-across side on M-7’s.  That’s playing with fire … okay, suffocation to be precise.  A 40ish woman was sitting in the window seat, and spent almost the entire ride to Ronkonkoma diddling around on her Blackberry.  Probably no other invention has been such a boon to the work-obsessed.  I spent most of the ride reading, except for the five minutes or so near Mineola when I was fuming, due to a delay caused by “signal problems.”  Friday afternoon delays are always annoying, today’s was especially bad because the family was taking me out to dinner after work and I didn’t want to be delayed.  We got to Ronkonkoma about six or seven minutes late, and because the other trains also were running late, the shuttle didn’t get underway until almost ten minutes behind schedule.  Which isn’t to say that I was sorry I hadn’t driven to Ronkonkoma, it was raining torrentially by the time we got there and I would have been completely soaked getting to my car.

Gym: what with the aforementioned dinner, no gym tonight.

Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 1:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, June 25

When your wishes come true …

Only rarely in my years of LIRR riding have specific wishes come true.  And the thing is, when they do come true, it’s not necessarily a good thing.  I was able to work a slightly shorter day today, and as a result drove to Ronkonkoma rather than getting the shuttle from Medford, arriving in time to get the 7:32 to Penn.  The south side parking lot was moderately crowded when I arrive around 7:25, not what I’d call empty but not full by any means.  That same moderate-crowding theme carried over to the train as well.  I rode near the east end of the consist and not even a third of the seats were taken when we left Ronkonkoma.  The car filled up gradually, with the seat next to me finally getting taken at Farmingdale by a tall but not wide man in his 30’s.  It was an uneventful ride into Penn, no delays or anything.  One rather unusual thing happened on the 3 train I took to Fulton.  There was a skell working the car, nothing odd about that, but he was playing a clarinet.  I’ve never seen a skell playing that particular instrument.  Violins, saxophones, trumpets, guitars, but never before a clarinet.  He wasn’t getting much money and got off at Chambers to try his luck in another car.

Thanks to being able to leave early, plus a very short wait for a 3 at Fulton, I got to Penn just in time to catch the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma.  It wasn’t nearly as empty as I though it would be.  A young woman took the seat next to me at Woodside and was chattering very loudly on her cell phone in a language I didn’t understand (Korean?)  Even with my iPod churning away it was impossible to drown out the sound.  I really hope she gets off at Jamaica, I thought to myself.  Maybe then I’ll get some peace and quiet.  Well, my wish came true.  She indeed got off at Jamaica, and the man who took her place was silent.  That’s the good part.  The not-so-good part is that he weighed somewhere north of 250 pounds.  I wasn’t squashed into goo like in the March 11 horror show, but that doesn’t mean it was pleasant.  I so wished the noisy woman, who must’ve weighed less than half of what this man weighed, hadn’t gotten off the train.  Cell phone babble can be ignored to some extent, especially when it’s in a foreign language, but squishy fat pressing up against me cannot be ignored.  It was a barely tolerable ride to Wyandanch, when Tubby moved to another seat, though the rest of the way to Ronkonkoma was easy enough.

Gym: Some decent deadlifting to start the session.  8 x 225, 8 x 155, 6 x 275, 4 x 295, 3 x 315, 6 x 265. I then worked on the Hammer Strength MTS row, with some progress over last time: 8 x 115/115, 8 x 110/110, 8 x 105/105, 8 x 100/100.  Dunno why I did this declining weight pattern, it’s not my usual thing, but it worked out fine.  I then did four 3-minute rounds on the heavy bag, two punching and two kicking.

Published in: on June 27, 2009 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, June 24

Cutting it too close for comfort

Sometimes it comes down to a matter of just a few pounds.  Like on the 7:19 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, which I got this morning after arriving on the shuttle from Medford.  It didn’t seem too crowded, and I actually had hopes that the seat next to me would stay empty the whole way.  Because it stops only at Central Islip and Brentwood after Ronkonkoma, I would know soon enough if that would be the case.  Needless to say, it was not the case, as a 30ish man wearing a dress shirt and tie, but no suit and therefore not an SCA, took the aisle seat next to me at Brentwood.  He just barely fit into the available space without making my life miserable.  Note the emphasis on the “just.”  Seriously, if he had weighed five more pounds, heck, if he’d had a big breakfast this morning, I would have had a wretched trip into Penn.  As it was, the ride was tolerable, but I hate cutting things so close.  There weren’t any delays into Penn, but I had to wait a bit longer than usual for a 2 train to Fulton Street, something like six or seven minutes.  When the train finally arrived, there was a faint but distinct odor of skell permeating the car.  Perhaps the delay resulted from the police having ejected a skell at an earlier stop.

I had a comparatively scent-free ride on a 3 from Fulton to Penn after work.  In an unusual thing for rush hour, I actually had a seat the whole way.  The 5:41 to Ronkonkoma was a lot more crowded than I would have expected, given the comparative non-crowding of the morning’s train.  One thing I’ve noticed is that the extent of crowding in the morning is not necessarily reflective of the what the afternoon will be like.  I don’t know why that’s the case.  Anyway, no close calls on this train, as a woman in her 50’s took the aisle seat next to me and left me with ample room, or what passes for ample room on the LIRR.  I spent most of the ride to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle reading, with some Tetris and a few minutes of texting.

Gym: I’d been planning on deadlifting tonight, once more other things intervened and I wasn’t able to go.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 7:26 pm  Comments (2)  

Tuesday, June 23

A feast of M-3’s

One of the relatively few things that makes LIRR commuting semi-tolerable is not having to deal with the M-7 torture seats.  If you happen to be a midget anorectic quadruple amputee, the seats are okay; for everyone else, they’re beyond horrible.  Today, however, I was spared such horrors.  Upon arriving at Ronkonkoma on the shuttle from Medford, I was pleased to see that the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was using M-3’s.  I would’ve been happy even if no single seats were available, but as luck would have it I was able to get one of the highly coveted seats for a very easy ride into Brooklyn. During the day I found out that there were some delays between Jamaica and Penn due to a derailed Amtrak (but of course!) train that was fouling Track 13 at Penn, which is one of the LIRR’s usual tracks.  It didn’t delay us through Jamaica and I didn’t hear any announcements.  We arrived in Brooklyn right on time, and I waited only a minute or two for a 5 train to Fulton.  The subway station adjoining the Flatbush Avenue terminal, Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street, may soon be renamed “Barclays Station” as part of a naming rights sale.  First sports arenas, now subway stations.  What’s next?

After work I had a quick ride on a 2 from Fulton to Penn.  There were some track-change announcements being made, as a result of the Amtrak problem, and a couple of trains on the Babylon line were canceled, but the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma was on its usual Track 15 and left right on time.  It was yet another M-3 consist.  While no single seats were available, I got a window seat on the 2-across side and a woman of about 50 soon took the aisle seat. True, I didn’t derive the full benefit of riding an M-3, because she wasn’t very large and would not have infringed on my space even on an M-7, but it’s still nice to have one.  There were no delays to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle, and I spent most of the time reading.

Gym: a quick visit tonight.  I began with Hammer Strength decline presses, 6 x 330, 8 x 310, 3 x 8 x 300.  I then ran just one mile on the treadmill at 5.8 mph, this being enough to meet my weekly 6-mile quota, and finished with kettlebell swings, 3 x 10 with the 50-pounder.

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 2:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 22

“You went out of the house dressed like THAT?”

Ah, the things you see on the LIRR.  Never a dull moment.  Well actually, the morning was a bit dull, with the usual Medford shuttle/7:19 from Ronkonkoma to Penn routing.  There were many cartball fans at Ronkonkoma station, on their way to the final round of the rain-delayed U.S. Open, though they weren’t on the 7:19 because it doesn’t stop at Farmingdale.  Nonetheless the 7:19 was quite crowded, more so than it has been in a couple of weeks.  I got an aisle seat next to a 40ish non-SCA man who wasn’t any trouble.  He may not have been wearing a suit, but he was as work-obsessed as the typical SCA, spending the entire trip doing work stuff on his computer.  I spent most of the trip reading and playing a couple of mediocre games of Tetris.  We got to Penn on time, and I waited less than a minute for a tolerably crowded 2 train to Fulton.

I left work somewhat later than usual and had just a couple anxious moments when the 3 train from Fulton had long dwell times at Chambers and 14th streets.  Missing the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma would not have been a good thing, as it’s the last connection for Medford and I would have had to wait at least a couple hours to get picked up at Ronkonkoma.  Fortunately I made it with a few minutes to spare and found an aisle seat next to a woman of about 25 wearing a gray dress.  Only after I sat down did I notice that the aforesaid gray dress was of a length more commonly associated with nightclubs than rush hour trains.  A couple of generations ago it probably would have been considered indecent exposure and even today, in less tolerant parts of the world, would get her imprisoned.  Strangely enough, she was doing work-type stuff with papers and a Blackberry, something marketing-related, so she probably was coming home from work.  That’s one company with a mighty relaxed dress code!  Not that I was staring, well not too much, but one thing I noticed is that the young lady didn’t really have the build for that sort of attire, her (fully exposed) legs being too skinny.  At least this distraction helped the ride to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle go by nice and quickly.

Gym: other things intervened, so it was a day off today.

Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm  Comments (3)  

Sunday, June 21

No Muay Thai lesson today, as the instructor had a match last night.  I ran three miles on the treadmill – actually 3.1 miles, or 5K – at 5.8 mph for most of the distance, decreasing to 5.6 mph at the 2.25-mile mark.  I also did Hammer Strength MTS rows, with continued progress to report: 8 x 105/105, 8 x 110/110, 8 x 100/100, 2 x 6 x 100/100.

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 20

Something about that treadmill I didn’t like yesterday left me with a rather painful left ankle.  Squatting didn’t seem like a good idea, and I didn’t want to delay Leg Day, so instead I did some better-than-nothing machine work.  Precor leg extensions: 8 x 195, 8 x 200, 8 x 205, 8 x 210, 8 x 215, 8 x 220.  Leg extensions don’t begin to compare to squats, and aren’t even comparable to leg presses, but 48 reps at decent weights isn’t bad by any means.  Life Fitness seated leg curls: 4 x 8 x 192.5.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 3:25 am  Leave a Comment