04 March 2010

Arctic Boone And Odd Beer

A few days before I left for North Carolina, virtually the entire east coast was hammered with a winter storm that left schools closed, traffic advisories, and Hoth Stormtroopers hiding everywhere waiting to take the young Skywalker out once and for all. The first picture is of me shoveling a foot of snow off my driveway. Notice my roof rack is still on my car, just in case I want to bring my bike somewhere and get a nice ride in. This winter has been especially brutal, so I was really looking forward to my trip down to Boone, North Carolina, where I was sure to find warmer temperatures. I am down here for a conference and a concert of my music. A lot of high brow chin-wagging stuff usually done over tea and with fake condescending laughs reminiscent of the ones you would hear in bad English comedies. I will also be lecturing and working with some students in both music and dance respectively. Rock star stuff. Good times.

When I got off the plane in Charlotte I wasn't at all excited about the conditions. It was wet, cold, foggy. You know, miserable. The drive was going to be two hours, so I put on some bad talk radio and started driving. It seemed like the weather was getting progressively worse by the minute.
Slowly, the dream I had about mixing in some nice, dry, warmer weather runs were suddenly dissipating as I continued my ride to Boone. It was barely snowing when I landed, but within an hour it looked like a full scale, western New York lake effect snowstorm. So much for temperate weather. I was about ten miles from reaching my hotel when a 18-wheeler tractor-trailer jackknifed in the road right in front of me. Not good. There were a few cars in front of me  who squeaked by the trailer on the left hand side of the road, avoiding a ditch to the left of them. I was not so brave—or stupid—and seeing as how I did not purchase the optional $180 collision insurance on my rental car, I thought it better to ride out the storm, wait for the semi to get towed, and the plows to clear the roads. My father would have been very proud of my decision not to put my life at risk to get somewhere in a hurry. It seemed to be his personal mantra to me growing up. "Slow down: Your friends will wait for your/your food is not going to run away/think about what you want to say."
To make matters worse, my cell phone was going in and out of service through the mountains and it completely died while I was stranded here in the middle of the mountains, or as the Carolinians like to refer to as "the high country." Luckily, I was next to a small studio apartment complex and one of the tenants let me use his AC to recharge my phone. I also planned ahead and packed some gels and Clif Builder Bars in my suitcase because I knew I would be getting some workouts in. The Cliff Bar held me over just long enough to not think about my stomach. While I was stranded there, I met a couple of undergraduates who were coming back from a student teacher assignment where they had been placed—an hour and a half away! Whoa! When I told them I was heading to Appalachian State, they were quick to correct my pronunciation: There is no long 'A' in Appalachian, it is a soft 'A,' Mary Grace told me. My most sincere apologies. Us western New Yorkers are use to making all our 'A's' quite long. Four hours later, I was on my way once again, making the ten mile trip over the hills and to my hotel. I was kind of excited about the prospect of getting down early, having lunch and getting a workout in before I started writing. Instead, I did not even check into my hotel until 4:30 and once I got upstairs, took a shower, and changed, I was starving.

As much as I like to visit local joints and check out regional cuisine, I decided to go across the street to the Neighborhood Bar and Grill. That's right, Applebee's. Whenever I go out of town, it is really simple to eat unhealthy. So, I decided to order a side salad (with my cheeseburger and baked potato.) I started hydrating a lot too. I was going to avoid a beer completely until I saw a little pop-up on my table advertising a local beer. Now, I know I was at a big corporate food giant, but at least I could order a local beer, support the local economy, and unwind and think about my crazy day—which had started at quarter of five in the morning— over a nice cold one.
Odd though. One would think that North Carolina's local brewery would brew their beer, you know, in North Carolina. I felt like I had been duped, or perhaps I misread the little pop-up. Nope. So, I asked my server, "Doesn't the sign say Carolina's own?" "Yup she replies." "Then I break out with an impersonation of Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny that was Oscar-worthy, ".. .but how is it Carolina's own if it is brewed in Pennsylvania?" She was very surprised as well and went to ask her manager. He was clueless too. So, in need of some explanation as to whether this was false advertisement, a simple typing error, or a calculated ploy by corporate headquarters to lure defenseless, thirsty out-of-town visitors into purchasing a little piece of Carolina in a bottle, only to be learn later that we are just drinking the average northern swill, she gave me the number and email of the corporate giant to figure out just what the heck is going on here.

Upon returning from dinner, I debated getting to the gym and running last night (I did not have the energy though. I got back to my hotel and crashed.) The hotel I am staying at has vouchers for a local gym, but I would rather go to the university gym and exercise. They are usually nicer. I walked over there last night to check it out. Sure enough, the facility is three years old and it is state of the art. They keep it well staffed, clean, and the pool was amazing! One of the first things you see when you enter the Student Recreation Center on the campus of Appalachian State University is a rock climbing room. It was packed with students climbing when I walked in, and equally busy when I walked out after my swim.

The pool is the crown jewel of the facility as far as I am concerned. It is absolutely ginormous (it is a word, look it up.) It is 50 long by 25 wide. When I walked in to do my swim, there was no one in the pool, with the exception of a class taking place in the far end. So, I asked the lifeguard if it gets busy. She said it did, and sometimes people have to double up lanes when it gets really busy. Wait, what does she mean? Do you mean that there is usually only one person to a lane? Sure enough, the whole time I was in there, plenty of lanes were still available to swim. The best part? The pool is open until 11 p.m. My swim workout today:
Today's Swim:
Warmup: 400S 200K 300P
Main Set: 14X100 w/10 seconds rest
Cool Down: 200 Swim

Tomorrow's Workout:
800 Swim, Kicking every 4th length

8 x 250 (middle 50 choice) w/30 sec rest after each
- Descend 1-4 & 5-8 from 60% to 70% to 80%
6 x 50 @60% w/10 sec rest after each

RUN 0:55

10:00 warm up jog, getting up above 65% gradually

8 x 250 strides (should be about 3:15-3:30 range) on 5:00 interval

- (This means to start one repeat every 5:00, regardless of when you finished the previous one)

Lastly, I miss my family. It is approaching midnight, and I just got off the phone with my wife after talking with her for over an hour. I think about Julian all the time and am constantly asking Alaina how his throat is doing following his tonsillectomy. The little man is still a little sore. Alaina said he woke up a few times last night in pain again. I can not wait until he feels better. He has such a great spirit and it is fun watching him be so playful. Here is is showing off his new frames he picked out at the museum last month. 

How does he think of this stuff?!


Medievalist said...

Glad the pool is beautiful. Question for you - how do you get Timex and other businesses to send you stuff? I would like to do something similar, but have no idea how to get started.

Tri To Do It All said...

WOW!!! Crazy trip in. 50 yard pool and no circle swimming! I can't even imagine how awesome that must have been. I am sure you missed the water walkers.

Molly said...

What a nasty drive! My dad always says "watch out for the other guy" when we're making a trip.

I hate it when kids are sick, but your son is a cutie


And I thought we had it bad in Florida with 35F mornings... guess it's all relative.

Chhibbs said...

Hey Mark,

I have a question for you:

What do you think of Cross-Fit? I have some friends who are doing it and want me to join them, but I am somewhat turned off by the idea that people have died doing it. They've been doing it for three months, and are looking way more ripped than they were before. Thoughts?