Sunday, April 18

A sort-of-decent leg session today. It started out on a good note with trap bar deadlifts: 5 x 6 x 245.  Things then took a major step downward when I tried SLDL’s but had to stop after just three reps at 195.  I got this weird pulling sensation on my right side, not painful, not exactly, but strange enough that I didn’t dare tempt fate.  SLDL’s are one of my favorite exercises, I really hope there won’t be any more trouble with them.  One thing that might help is trying them with a much-reduced weight next time, something like 145 or 155, and seeing how that goes.  For today, in the absence of SLDL’s I used Life Fitness seated leg curls, 3 x 8 x 192.5, 2 x 8 x 185.  Next came seated calf raises, 4 x 12 x 145, followed by kettlebell swings, 3 x 10 with a 50-pounder, and to end the session I did some Precor leg extensions, 3 x 8 x 205.

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Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 1:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 17

Finally.  After using the same old ratty pair of sneakers for months, I went out and bought a new pair.  They are New Balance, my favorite brand, and according to the salesman provide very good lateral support. My feet tend to splay outward when I walk or run, so lateral support is important.  When I went to the gym, I ran two miles at 5.6 mph, and after a couple minutes’ adjustment phase the new sneakers felt terrific.

On a slightly less favorable note, the sale I was supposed to make in the Bronx today got postponed a week.  It’s not really surprising, as the customer already had cautioned that he had a very busy schedule due to some training for his job.  Hopefully it’ll be on for next Saturday.

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 16

Surprisingly light traffic this morning.  I left for work about 8:30, as I had quite a bit to do in the office today, and figured that Expressway traffic would be heavy – after all, 8:30 is still well within rush hour.  To my pleasant surprise it wasn’t heavy at all.  In fact, if anything it was lighter than when I leave at 9 like I do more often.  That really makes no logical sense.  Once you get past 9 fewer and fewer people are still on their way to work, instead they’re already at work.  Or at least it would seem that way.  Whatever the explanation for today, I was scarcely about to complain.  Driving back in the early afternoon traffic was still quite light, though of course that would make sense given the time.  One thing that bemused me a bit was the use of the overhead electronic signs to caution about weekend track work delays on the LIRR.  I wouldn’t think that many people who would see the signs while driving would also be planning to ride the trains on the weekend.  Though at least some would be, and in any event it probably didn’t cost the MTA much – if anything – to put the messages on the signs.

Gym: a very uninspired session today, which probably is not surprising considering how much I got done yesterday.  I did some more neutral grip pull-ups, 2 x 4, 3 x 3, and then tried some bench presses.  Dips are my main type of chest and triceps exercise, but I figured mixing things up with some benches wouldn’t hurt.  My first benches in many weeks went okay, if not outstanding: 8 x 135, 8 x 155, 6 x 175, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 2 x 225, 1 x 225. I then tried to run on the treadmill but just couldn’t get into it, so instead I did 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.8 mph.

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 1:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 15

Didn’t have to go into the office today, which of course meant no gas spending and not having to deal with traffic.  I got some work done over the phone, and on the computer.  My gym excursion was a long one in the late afternoon.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 4 x 4, 3 x 3.  Deadlifts: 4 x 6 x 235.  Standing calf machine shrugs: 4 x 10 x 400.  One-arm dumbbell rows: 4 x 8 x 110/110.  Cable bicep curls: 3 x 10 x 140.  I had considered doing a short run on the treadmill, but all these weights were just a bit too exhausting for that to be an option.

Published in: on April 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, April 14

What I thought was going to be a full afternoon at work turned into a much shorter day, as I found out that the training session I was planning on attending was actually aimed at people who are in a different phase of the business.  I ended up staying for about two hours from noon until around 2:15, and was able to get some phone work done.  In particular, I was trying to reach a fairly interested-sounding prospect in the Bronx, figuring I could kill two birds with one stone (sort of a bad metaphor, considering this is the life insurance industry) and see him after I was done with Saturday’s closing in that borough.  No such luck, as I just got voice mail.  Just have to keep trying.  Anyway, leaving at 2:15 rather than at 5:30 as I had planned meant that there was very little traffic on the Expressway, the same as I had encountered going in at noon.  I was able to cruise along at about 65 mph the entire way. During rush hour, the only way I could go 65 mph is if the mph stands for millimeters per hour.

Gym: I went late, not having the energy to go earlier, but it was a pretty good session.  I finally got back to running, doing 1.5 miles on the treadmill at 5.6 mph.  Next came overhead presses, 5 x 8 x 100.  To finish the brief session, I did some dips, 3 x 10 x bodyweight + 25, 2 x 10 x bodyweight + 20.  Tomorrow’s Deadlift Day, that’s always a tough session.

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, April 13

Another trip into the Bronx, but this one looks as if it’ll be much more productive than last Thursday’s infamous porching.  I went into work around 12:30, in a trip made rather slow by a heavy though brief rainstorm, and left around 4:30 for the appointment in the Bronx.  That was more than ample time – or so I thought – but I would be taking a more roundabout route.  I had decided that I’d go there via Manhattan and thereby avoid a bridge toll.  Not because I couldn’t afford the $5.50, but based on the principle of the thing.  As noted in last Thursday’s entry, the toll revenues vastly exceed bridge upkeep costs and instead help subsidize the transit system’s drunken-sailor spending practices.  Besides, the appointment was in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, which is located almost due north of Manhattan.  Riverdale is generally more affluent than most other parts of the Bronx and many of its residents do not identify as being part of that borough in a cultural sense.  In fact, the real estate ads in the Times used to have (and maybe still has) separate sections for “Bronx” and “Riverdale.”

My original plans called for me to take the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan.  As a result of a combination of very heavy traffic and confusing signage, I somehow ended up on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway headed south into Brooklyn (and into some even more brutal traffic).  I took the Williamsburg Bridge across the East River; while I’ve ridden the subway (J/M/Z lines) over that bridge I don’t believe I’ve ever driven over it.  After being deposited into the tumult of the Lower East Side, amidst massive amounts of both vehicle and pedestrian traffic, I eventually ended up heading north on First Avenue.  Keep in mind that while I may have worked in Manhattan for over 15 years I very seldom drove on its streets. For good reason.  Between double-parked delivery trucks, and daredevil bicycle riders, and demented taxi drivers, and clueless pedestrians, and always-in-the-way city buses, driving at such a busy time was an absolute nightmare.   After a few minutes I was wondering if I could transfer to XYZ Insurance’s office in North Dakota.  Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I was headed north on First Avenue at a reasonable clip.  One good thing – the only good thing – about driving in Manhattan is that the red lights on the avenues are timed so that drivers should have to stop no more than once every ten blocks or so.  All went well until I got near the Willis Avenue Bridge in the 120’s.  Construction work narrowed the lanes on the bridge, which goes over the Harlem River, and lead to some significant delays.  It took me 20 minutes to travel no more than a half-mile.  Finally I got on the Major Deegan Expressway northbound in the Bronx and had smooth sailing – until I ran into a horrendous traffic jam that began about a half-mile south of Yankee Stadium.  I spent almost 30 minutes in stop-and-go traffic, more stop than go.  At least there was a nice view of the new stadium and of what little remains of the old one.  It turned out that most of the vehicles were exiting for the Cross Bronx Expressway and the George Washington Bridge.  Traffic north of that area was much lighter, and I made it to Riverdale about 15 minutes before the appointment.  I then spent several anxious minutes trying to find a parking space.  While the population density in this area was lower than in the ghetto neighborhood where I had last Thursday’s ill-fated appointment, parking was much worse.  No doubt that’s because car ownership is significantly higher.  People in Riverdale can afford cars, and combined with scarce off-street parking this makes for a very difficult street parking situation.  Eventually I found a spot and made it to the appointment right at seven.

Following the appointment, which went very well, I got back on the Deegan and took it around the southern end of the Bronx to the Bruckner Expressway and, eventually, the Throgs Neck Bridge.  No traffic delays at all.  During this trip I noticed with some bemusement the signs for the “RFK Bridge.”  A couple years ago, the city committed a true act of stupidity when it renamed the Triboro Bridge for Robert F. Kennedy.  Leave aside the fact that the new signage cost well over a million dollars.  Not only had the Triboro borne its name for decades, but it was a uniquely descriptive name – the bridge connects three boroughs, namely Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. Another thing is that Robert Kennedy had little connection with New York.  Yes, he was a Senator from New York at the time of his death, but that was basically a case of carpetbagging himself into a state where he knew he’d have a good chance of being elected (sounds sort of like a former First Lady).   He lived in Virginia, and from what I understand rented an apartment in New York to qualify for the election but never really lived there.  Besides, if the state is going to honor someone by renaming a major bridge, waiting until the person’s been dead for 40 years is a strange way of going about things.  I mused over these thoughts as I headed home, encountering remarkably little traffic along the way.  A lot of driving today, but it should pay off.

Published in: on April 14, 2010 at 5:43 am  Comments (2)  

Monday, April 12

A varied day today,  telephone work from home followed by going into the workplace for a few hours.  As part of the telephone work I had a lengthy call with this woman who was doing some relentless price haggling.  She claimed that another company had offered her a $500,000 term policy for under $30 per month.  Now, the cost of life insurance has gotten cheaper in recent years, because people are living longer, but that much insurance for that little money is just not going to happen.  We certainly can’t match that rate at XYZ Insurance.  What I suspect is that the rate quote she got from the other company is a teaser rate, which will go up after the first year or two, and also would be contingent upon meeting the very highest underwriting standards.  She said she’d contact the agent for the other company and would get back to me if their offer turned out to be less attractive than she thought.  I’m not holding my breath waiting.

The drive into work in the early afternoon was easy enough, not much traffic at all and no more of the construction work near Exit 51 that had caused such a kerfuffle last week.  I did have a rather embarrassing thing happen at work.  For a change from my usual dress shoes, I decided to wear these Sebago boat shoes.  They’re not really that informal, and seemed to go well with my dress pants and sports jacket.  Bad choice.  One of the higher-up managers said to me “Going yachting today?”  I practically wanted to shrink into the floor in my humiliation.  Needless to say, I won’t be wearing those shoes to work any longer!  I left about 5:30, which is of course the height (depth?) of rush hour.  Traffic on the Expressway looked so fearsome that I decided to take the service road most of the way.  The one exception was from exits 53 to 56, as some confusing signage had gotten me back into the Expressway by mistake.  It’s hard to say whether the service road alternative was a better choice.  There were long backups at some of the intersections, especially the ones where the cross streets seemed to have longer green light phases.  Basically, the choice was between driving at normal speeds with some dead stops (the service road) or driving steadily at a slow place (the Expressway).  I got back on the Expressway for good at Exit 60, which is about where the traffic usually gets more tolerable.

Gym: It was my first post-5K leg session, and to get back into the swing of things I kept the weights reasonably low.  Trap bar deadlifts: 5 x 6 x 225.  SLDL’s: 3 x 8 x 195.  Seated calf raises: 3 x 12 x 135.  Precor seated leg extensions: 2 x 8 x 200.  Life Fitness seated leg curls: 2 x 8 x 185.

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 4:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, April 11

I really wanted to hit the treadmill, but some muscle soreness interfered with those plans.  As far as I can tell the soreness was the result of the other day’s deadlifting rather than from the 5K last weekend.  Still, I had a decent enough session, doing 45 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.7 mph, moderate resistance.

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 4:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 10

While today wasn’t like last Saturday’s long session working at the Bronx Zoo publicity event, I nonetheless got some work done.  Or tried to get some work done; I called several prospects but got voice mail each time.  It does get a bit frustrating. For a while I was thinking that maybe they were using caller ID and voice mail to screen out sales calls, but that’s unlikely because (a) my cell phone usually shows up simply as “wireless caller” on most (all?) caller ID screens, and (b) all of the people I was calling had specifically asked to hear from an XYZ Insurance Company representative.  Apparently it’s pretty hard to catch people at home.  I’ll keep trying and should be able to make contact with most of them.  By the way, although I left a message with my number each time I will be extremely surprised if I hear back from any of the prospects.  One ironclad rule of the insurance business is that no one ever calls an agent at any point prior to the actual issuance of a policy.  It’s always vice-versa.

Gym: Some good upper-body work.  I started with dips, 4 x 10 x bodyweight + 20.  Overhead presses: 4 x 8 x 100.  Both of these represent progress from last time.  Kettlebell swings: 3 x 10 with a 50-pounder.  I had considered some treadmill running but just wasn’t in the mood today.

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 2:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 9

I didn’t have to go into work today, so no having to deal with traffic or spend money on gasoline.  Instead I did some work on the telephone from home. It actually was easier to work from home, driving notwithstanding, because some of the people I had to call were on the “Do Not Call” registry and the phone system at work automatically blocks calls from going to those numbers.  I therefore would have had to use my cell phone even if I were in work.  As the people in question already had expressed interest in being contacted the Do Not Call restrictions are not applicable, but there’s no way to override the blocking system on the work phones.

Gym: Arrived late, just over an hour until closing.  Surprisingly crowded.  It was my first time deadlifting in some weeks.  To ease back I kept the weight light, but it still went fine: 4 x 6 x 225.  Next came some neutral grip pull-ups, 2 x 5, 3 x 3, followed by shrugs on the standing calf machine, 4 x 10 x 400.  I then supplemented the pull-ups with additional back work, in the form of one-arm dumbbell rows, 4 x 8 x 110/110.  It was almost closing time, but I got in some biceps work before leaving, cable curls, 3 x 10 x 140.

Published in: on April 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment