Monday, July 29

So far so good

My new assignment began on Monday with a worksite in the far eastern part of Queens close to the Nassau County line.  I left home at 5:30, wanting to give myself ample time to get there by seven.  It turned out to be more than ample, as I was at the worksite by 6:15.  Expressway traffic wasn’t bad, and even though the electronic signs warned of delays starting at Exit 31, the exit for the Cross Island Parkway, that didn’t matter as I got off at Exit 32.

The assignment itself wasn’t too bad, after some initial adjustments.  It probably helped that this was one of the easier worksites I will be going to over the course of this project.  There’s definitely something to be said for starting out easy 🙂  I finished up around 1:30 and had an easy time getting home, not surprising for that hour.  One thing I found out is that I will not be working nights starting in mid-September,as I had thought.  Instead I’ll be working normal hours, locations to be determined but probably not excessively far.

For the first time in too long I did a leg session at the gym on Monday evening, albeit one with machines.  I started with a Hoist moveable-seat leg extension machine, 4 x 8 with a resistance of 11 out of 18.  Next came Life Fitness leg curls, 3 x 8 x 185.  To end the session I used a plate-loaded squat machine, which I must say was much easier than real squats, 8 x 270, 8 x 360, 2 x 8 x 450.


Published in: on July 31, 2013 at 3:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 27 – Sunday, July 28

Whew.  After a tough week at work I was surprised, not pleasantly, at how drained I was for most of this weekend.  It was a struggle to do much of anything.  It didn’t help that I had to do some yard work on Saturday, and even though the recent heat wave is over it still was hot sweaty work. On Saturday evening I mustered up enough energy to go to the gym, and used the rowing machine – the rowing ergometer, to be specific. Rather than do a set time I decided to row 5,000 meters, using the distance show on the machine’s screen.  It took me 27:03, probably not a fast pace, but it’ll be a baseline for future sessions.  I also did my homegrown medicine ball exercise, 3 x 10 with a 20-pound ball.

Sunday I wasn’t really in the mood for the gym, though I did make it to my Buddhist meditation session at the yoga center.

Published in: on July 31, 2013 at 3:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 26

The last of the long drives (or not)

Today marked the end of my 3-week work assignment in Mount Vernon and hopefully also the end of my long drives.  A tentative note is obligatory because things always change in my line of work.  In particular, on Monday there’s a big project starting in Port Chester, which is about 10 miles beyond Mount Vernon right before the Connecticut line.  It’s a not-at-all-unlikely possibility that from time to time I’ll be sent there for a day or two.  Which means, of course, long drives and more (obscene) tolls on the Throgs Neck Bridge.

Anyway, after three miserable trips home, the trip today was a breeze.  It was all in the timing, of course.  I finished up my work by noon and was on the road just shortly thereafter.  Even with sheeple getting off early on Friday, traffic at that hour tends not to be bad, and today was no exception.  I made it home in about 1:15, which of course would have been unthinkable had I left even just a couple of hours later.

After having missed three days (and one of yoga) in a row, you’d better believe I made sure to hit the gym on Friday evening.  I decided to do back work, and yes, I’m still in a machine phase.  While I am generally on the side of free weights vs. machines, there are no doubts that free weights are better, I’m not one of these purists who scorn the use of machines.  Also, while I don’t know if this has been scientifically proven or anything, I have a suspicion that the relatively advantages of free weights are less with respect to back exercises than with other types.  In any event, I used the Life Fitness seated row, 6 x 8 x 185, yet another 5-pound jump from my last session, and finished with the Hoist movable-seat row, 3 x 8  with a resistance level of 15 out of 18.

Published in: on July 31, 2013 at 3:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, July 24 – Thursday, July 25

It takes a lot to make me miss hot yoga

Being a creature of habit, at least to some extent, I have come to regard my Wednesday evening hot yoga as a major weekly event.  As soon as a session’s over I’m looking forward to the next one.  For me to miss a session, well that’s well-nigh unthinkable.

You can see where this is going.  After yet another easy trip into work on Wednesday, the workday itself presented one more seemingly endless task after another.  At first I wasn’t too concerned about making it to yoga.  The session is in Sayville, about ten minutes from me, and starts at 6 pm.  I had to stop home first, and like to get to the studio at least ten minutes early.  Still, as long as I left by my normal quitting time of 3 it should be no problem.

It was just after 3:30 when I finally got on the road.  I still hadn’t given up hope of making it to yoga, if traffic weren’t too bad there would be a chance.  Of course it didn’t turn out that way.  It took me two hours to get home, and while in theory I could have made it to yoga had I really hustled, that wasn’t a very appealing option.  Rushing into a yoga session is not advisable.  It’s much better to arrive a bit in advance and get physically and mentally – mostly mentally – prepared.  For a while I thought that maybe I’d go to a later session at 8, even though that would have a different instructor, but I soon lost whatever energy I still had.  So much for Wednesday’s yoga.

Thursday was just plain perplexing.  On Monday, I had left work right on schedule at 3 and had a very easy trip home.  Thursday should be the same, right?  It’s not like it was a Friday, when there’d be people getting away for the weekend.  Monday, Thursday, they’re much the same.  Of course, that’s not what happened at all.  Traffic was excruciatingly slow much of the way, with the return trip taking close to two and a half hours.  I was so worn out when I arrived that going to the gym just wasn’t an option.  This means four days in a row with no gym and no yoga, something that had better change.

Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 22 – Tuesday, July 23

Ninety minutes can make all the difference in the world

I began my last week of working in Mount Vernon with another easy drive of just over an hour.  As usual I got to the worksite a half-hour early, but I’d rather wait in my car in the parking lot than be stuck in traffic as would be the case if I left later.
After finishing up work right at 3 pm, I was in for a very pleasant surprise – a close to a traffic-free ride home as I’ve ever encountered outside midday or late-night hours.  There was no significant traffic except in a couple of spots on the Cross Island Parkway and near Exit 38 on the Expressway.  The entire trip took me about 1:15, surely a record.  While I had plenty of time to make a gym visit, I decided to take a night off and go on Tuesday.  BIG mistake.

While Tuesday morning’s trip into work was easy, the ride home most definitely was not.  This came as no surprise, however, as I didn’t leave work until 4:30 and therefore knew I’d be mired in the worst of rush hour traffic.  After making it across the Throgs Neck Bridge easily enough I had a few brief moments in which I thought that maybe everything would be okay.  While the Cross Island was a bit sluggish, things still didn’t seem too bad. Could lighter summer traffic volumes be giving me a much-desired break?

Rest assured that no breaks were to be had.  Almost as soon as I got onto the Long Island Expressway and saw an electronic sign giving an estimated travel time of 43 minutes to Route 110 I knew this was stuff of which nightmares are made.  Route 110 is right at the Nassau-Suffolk border and is less than 20 miles from the aforementioned sign’s location.  It was about right, too.  Traffic was stop-and-go most of the way with just  a brief reprieve after the infamous Exit 38.  Things were maybe a tiny bit better in Suffolk County, though we’re speaking in strictly relative terms here.  It was 6:50 by the time I finally got home, for an excruciatingly long trip of 2:20.  That’s close to two-and-a-half times as long as it took in the morning.  Needless to say, I was too physically and mentally drained to think of the gym.

On a better note, on Tuesday evening I found out via e-mail of my worksite locations for next week through mid-September.  I’ll be in a different location each day, as I had expected, but most of the locations are in Suffolk County and reasonably close-by.  There are a few in Nassau, and two in the eastern part of Queens, but there’ll be no lengthy driving and, blessedly, no (obscene) tolls.

Published in: on July 25, 2013 at 3:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 20 – Sunday, July 21

I actually made it to the gym both days this weekend.  On Saturday I used the rowing machine for 25 minutes.  It’s surprising how tough it is.  On Sunday, I did some bench presses, and after having used dumbbells and machines for the last few outings I returned to using the barbell. And it was quite productive too: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 3 x 6 x 225, 10 x 185.  On Sunday evening I went to the yoga center for another Buddhist meditation session.

Published in: on July 25, 2013 at 2:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 19

Northern Boulevard to the rescue, sort of

I was never expecting such a miserable end to the week.  When I arrived at the worksite in Mount Vernon, following an easy trip of just over an hour, it didn’t look as if the day’s workload would be too heavy.  With hard work and a bit of luck I’d be finished by 1:30 or 2, early enough to avoid the heavy summer Friday traffic on my trip home.

As you might guess, things didn’t quite turn out that way.  By 1:30 I realized that there was still a significant amount of work to be done before I could call it a day.  Two o’clock rolled around, 2:15, 2:30, I still wasn’t done.  Once it was past about 2:45 I figured it didn’t matter much what time I left, because by then I’d be dead meat.

I finally left work at 3:15, in absolute dread of the trip home.  I got across the bridge okay, but then the Cross Island Parkway was completely jammed.  After ten minutes I had covered barely a mile and to make matters worse my low fuel warning light was glowing bright.  I got off at Northern Boulevard and got gas … my, the price really has spiked in the last week or so.

It was then that I had an insight.  As horrendous as the traffic on the Cross Island had been, I knew that the Long Island Expressway and the Northern State Parkway would be even worse.  Heading east on Northern Boulevard might actually be a better option even though I’d be encountering about 500 traffic lights.  What I figured is that (a) not all of the lights would be red, and (b) especially as I got farther east traffic would move reasonably well between the lights.

Although it took me almost two hours to get home from that point, on Northern Boulevard in Queens, I believe I made the correct choice.  The Expressway would have been at least as long a trip, and would have been far more frustrating.  I encountered constant lights in Queens and through the very upscale Manhasset area of Nassau County, but once I crossed the Roslyn Viaduct in another ten miles or so the lights were further and further apart.  There were some bad spots, such as the huge intersection with Glen Cove Road, downtown Huntington, and downtown Kings Park (the last being rather surprising as it’s a very small town), but most of the time I drove along at something reasonably approaching normal speed.  More to the point, when I arrived home at 5:45, my sanity was somewhat sort of intact.  It would’ve been completely gone had I dealt with the Expressway.

Gym: despite the long day I made a trip later in the evening, albeit a short one.  I did chest work on the Hoist seated press machine, one of the movable-seat varieties, with a resistance level of 14 out of 18.  I did 6 x 8 and yes, it was pretty tough.

Published in: on July 22, 2013 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, July 17 – Thursday, July 18

Avoiding the sheeple

After Tuesday’s miserable encounter with rush hour traffic it came as a tremendous relief to be able to get out of work a bit early on Wednesday.  By leaving Mount Vernon around 2:30 I was able to be over the Throgs Neck Bridge and onto the Cross Island Parkway by 2:45 or so.  There was a broken-down truck in the right lane near the middle of the span that wasn’t causing significant delays, but if it had been an hour later there would have been a huge traffic jam. Again, timing is everything.  I was on the Long Island Expressway just before 3, which I’ve figured out is about the latest I can be without encountering heavy traffic.  Indeed, other than some slow stretches around exits 38, 49 and 57 – which are always the bad spots – I was able to drive at more or less a normal speed all the way and made the trip in about 90 minutes.

Wednesday evening was my hot yoga session, though given the horrible heat wave we’ve been having it barely felt any hotter in the studio than it was outside!  The session was quite crowded, which was a bit of a surprise given the weather, crowded to the point that I was squeezed in pretty tightly between the people on either side.  Still, it was a good session, with continued improvement in the balancing poses.  I do need to get a better mat, however, as mine ($20 at Dick’s Sporting Goods)  is way too thin.  It really hurts whenever I have to kneel.

Thursday was in many respects a clone of Wednesday.  Once again there was an easy drive of just over an hour in the morning, and once again I finished work around 2:30 and had a 90-minute trip home.  About the only real difference is that there were no delays on the bridge, no repeat of yesterday’s broken down truck, with a tradeoff of somewhat heavier traffic on the Cross Island.  For about five minutes approaching the Northern Boulevard exit there was stop-and-go traffic, enough so that I figured there must be a crash up ahead.  Yet there was nothing of the sort, and once past the exit traffic opened up nicely.  I’ll have to chalk this up to one of the inexplicable mysteries of driving.

I went to the gym to do back work on Thursday.  Like last time, I decided to use machines rather than the T-bar row or other free-weight rows.  While this is not really a good thing, free weights do have advantages over machines, I figured that given the nature of a row it wouldn’t matter quite as much as it would with chest or lower-body work.  What can I say?  I’ve just been in a machine sort of mood lately.  Anyway, I did the Life Fitness seated rows, 6 x 8 x 180, a 5-pound increase from last time, and then used the Hoist mid-row machine with its moveable seat.  I set the resistance level at 14, up a notch from last time.

Published in: on July 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, July 16

What a difference an hour makes

My normal work hours are from 7 am to 3 pm, though on most days I finish up around 2:30 or so.  Today, however, some last-minute tasks kept me at work until 4.  And believe me when I say that extra hour made a huge difference.

It took me an excruciating two and a half hours to cover the 60-mile trip from Mount Vernon. To put things into perspective, that’s almost 90 minutes longer than it took to get to the worksite in the morning.  At first I thought things would be okay, as I got over the Throgs Neck Bridge with no trouble and even the Cross Island Parkway wasn’t too bad.  Once I got on the Long Island Expressway, however, it was a complete disaster.  Traffic was stop-and-go much of the way, and I was left wondering exactly what happened to the summer’s supposedly lighter traffic volumes.  By the time I finally made it home, it goes without saying that I was too mentally and physically drained to even think of the gym.

Published in: on July 19, 2013 at 2:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 15

So much for my gym plans

Monday. Leg Day at the gym.  At least, I thought it was going to be leg day.  After an easy enough drive to Mount Vernon I found out that a family member was stranded with car trouble all the out in Montauk.  For the geographically uninitiated, that’s at the extreme eastern tip of Long Island, 60 miles east of me and over 100 miles from the Throgs Neck Bridge.

I have no desire to rehash the details, but suffice to say that the gym wasn’t an option.  I left work later than usual, enough to hit heavy traffic, so by the time I made it to Montauk after a couple stops along the way it was almost 8 pm.  Another thing I’ll add is that attempting to tow a disabled car using tow straps is much easier said than done.  I was a bit concerned because the car I was towing, a Volkswagen, was only slightly lighter than my Subaru.  Yet my car performed well, even on the surprisingly steep hills coming out of Montauk.

We actually made it about 15 miles, about to Bridgehampton, when a car pulled out in front of me, forcing me to brake quickly.  This caused the tow strap to go slack, so that it went under the tire of either my car or the disabled car, which in turn caused it to snap.  That was the end of my impromptu towing idea, at least the progress we had made reduced the cost of the regular tow that was needed.

I ended up making it home around 11:30 pm, more than 18 hours after I’d left the house in the morning.  It was a long day.

Published in: on July 18, 2013 at 3:10 am  Leave a Comment