Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Small World...

At the Kaplan Academic Summit this past weekend in Las Vegas, I discovered that Kyla H., the primary administrative contact from the LA area who helped to plan the event, is the daughter of my 11th-grade U.S. History teacher.


Buffalo & Baseball

Last weekend marked the first of 3 trips in July (Buffalo, Seattle/Portland, Las Vegas). I was in Buffalo to finalize my resignation as manager of Chandelle and complete the transition to the new manager, Miss S, who will be a fabulous addition to the troupe (though she still needs an animal...). I'd never been to Buffalo, and H was kind enough to host me and play tour guide on Sunday.

H had mentioned that he and D have a guest room with private bath as well as a pool, but that still didn't prepare me for their mansion. And I do mean "mansion" in the literal sense of the word, as the Wicks House was one of several mansions built in Buffalo in the 19th century. Wow! It was so interesting to learn about the history of the house, and although it's about five times the size of our cozy townhome here in Sacto, it still felt very warm and inviting, primarily thanks to its friendly and down-to-earth inhabitants, H and D, and their lovely puppies Emma (Samoyed) and Luca (Husky).

During our sightseeing on Sunday, H and I went to Niagara Falls, Niagara University, and downtown Buffalo. We met up with D back at home to head across the street (literally) to the Darwin Martin Complex, a Frank Lloyd Wright project. We took the in-depth 2-hour tour, which was very informative and included visits to both homes and the gardener's cottage. H and D had toured part of the site before but hadn't seen or heard everything on this tour because the site is still undergoing renovation and restoration, so more had been completed since the last tour they attended. I thought the $30 price tag was a bit much at first, but the thorough tour was worth the cost, especially since the funds will go towards continued restoration.

On the plane ride home, my seatmate was watching Sweeney Todd on his laptop, and I couldn't help glancing over every once in a while, though Mr. E and I have already seen the film (and I still don't understand why the signature song "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" wasn't included - how can you not have the lyrics "...the demon barber of Fleet Street"???). At one point, the gentleman asked if I'd like to watch as well, as he must have noticed my glances (oops!). Of course I declined, but he was quite nice about the whole situation.

Later, I pulled out my copy of the Draft Sacramento 2030 General Plan, as I've been working my way through the entire document prior to the July 31st deadline for submitting comments. My seatmate apparently tossed his own sidewise glance at that point and asked me about the document, which started a rather lengthy discussion about planning and design. I learned that his wife is from Carmichael, so they often visit the Sac area, and he's a big fan of Sacramento even though his home base is in San Diego. We shared similar views of what makes good design and why everything should have high quality, and he showed me MySketch, a great Google tool that allows you to draw/simulate objects and buildings and place them on any given map.

Eventually, the conversation subsided for awhile, and I was able to finish my review of the GP. At that point, we started to chat again, and I asked him how long he'd been in Buffalo and why. He answered that he'd been there for work for a month, and only then did I discover that he's a professional baseball player. NO WAY!!!

He currently plays 3rd base for the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. He started the season as a back-up infielder for the Yankees but was released in June. Eventually he revealed that he'd played several seasons with the Houston Astros - including a trip to the 2005 World Series! - and a couple of months for the San Diego Padres.

What struck me the most was how down-to-earth he was. No bragging, no trying to work his accomplishments into the conversation. Just a nice, friendly, grounded guy who's devoted to his wife, twin sons, and baby girl on-the-way, and who happens to play ball for a living. He had such a great attitude and perspective about everything, including what it's like to be a bench-warmer in the Majors versus getting consistent playing time in the Minors and being able to actually improve and evolve as a player.

It was only as the flight ended that we exchanged names, and of course I had to look him up on to see his history and stats. I would never have recognized him from his picture in that nasty Yankees cap, as his glasses and spiky hair made him look quite different. And only when I read over his history did I learn that he'd been tapped as an NL All-Star in 2005 when another player was unable to attend. So neat that he didn't mention that or make a big deal out of it.

Of course now I'll have to start following the Bisons to see how the rest of his season goes and to muse about the odds of his somehow being traded to the Oakland organization so that I could go watch him play at Raley Field with the River Cats!


New Toy

Mr. E, wonderful partner that he is, decided that he wanted to give me a Garmin Forerunner for my birthday. Considering the high price tag ($350 for the Garmin 405 with GPS and HRM), I managed to convince him this should cover both birthday and Christmas. So last week, he called Fleet Feet to find out if the new Garmins were in stock, and I procured my new toy:

For all of the non-runners out there, let me explain a bit. First of all, this model is much smaller than the previous versions, which is great for those of us with small wrists who don't much like to wear anything "extra" during a run. Secondly, the GPS technology has improved a great deal, so this version should be very accurate in terms of tracking the exact mileage of any route in any location. Thirdly, the "auto pause" feature is extremely useful when running in downtown Sac, since it pauses the timer when I have to stop for intersections and then automatically restarts when I'm running again. Very cool.

I'd always resisted having any sort of "real" timing device in the past, but since I've gotten more serious and intensive with my running, it makes sense to have a tool that supports my training. I haven't yet hooked up the HRM (heart rate monitor), but I'm planning to try that on Friday to start getting the hang of it.

I don't know how much I'll use some of the advanced functions, but so far I'm enjoying the basic statistics that the Garmin provides for each run: overall time, overall pace, calories burned, total mileage, mile split times (I set the "lap" feature to record each mile so I could see my split times during and/or at the end of a run).

One of my fears was that I'd discover that all of my routes are actually much shorter than I had estimated. This was proven true on Sunday for a long run, which I'd though was 14 miles but was really only 13.3 - yikes! That's quite a shortage! However, I've confirmed that my West Sac 8-mile route is accurate, and my Land Park 7-mile route (which I always sort of knew was a bit short) is about 6.6, so not too far off. And it's not like I'm going to go back and correct the distances in my workoutlog, but it'll be nice to know now that all of my distances from now on are true.

However, I am going to re-measure that long run route again this weekend, as I'm having a hard time believing that my estimate was so wrong...

In the meantime, I've been using the mile split times to motivate myself to push harder over the past two days. Yesterday, my last 2 miles of an 8-miler were 7:48 and 8:02, and today my last 3 miles of a 7-miler were 8:02, 7:50, and 7:52. Considering that I can tempo run on a treadmill at 7:18-7:24 for 4-5 miles, I should certainly be able to do sub-8s on the road. I think the obstacle is just that I tend to start out at a cruising, comfortable speed and stay there rather than kicking it up a notch after a warm-up.

Now the main challenge is not to get too obsessed with the new toy...