Friday, May 21, 2010

Struggling Athlete: Will do questionable acts for training time.

I live the life of a struggling athlete. It is a constant struggle between working enough to earn money to stay alive and finding the time outside of work to train enough to stay in shape. Both equally as important as the other because if I am not alive then obviously I am not in top physical condition, and if I am not in top physical condition then why be alive?

OK, maybe it’s not as black and white as that but seriously, when something like running and triathlons is your passion in life yet you work so much you can hardly find time in your day to enjoy it, then why work so hard? Granted, I only work 40 hours per week right now but it isn’t just the amount of hours I put in that makes it difficult, it is how the hours are distributed throughout my week.

Most of my shifts start at 3pm and end at 11:30pm. That means I am leaving my house a little after 2pm and arriving home right around midnight 5 days a week. In addition, I am not ready for bed directly when I get home from work…that’s when I feel like going out and running! Yea, at midnight in the pitch dark with no streetlights in my neighborhood!! Not the best time. So instead I stay up late eating food, writing blogs, watching hulu/youtube and generally living the life of a hermit until it is time for me to lay my head to rest, sleep in, wake up, go to work, and repeat.

What further serves to compound the problem is that I currently work in the hotel business. That means we are open and staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Weekends, holidays, overnights, national disasters, did I mention weekends? So yea, I don’t even get WEEKENDS off! Not only am I working total opposite schedules from the rest of the normal 9-5 society but I am working weekends!! However, even that wouldn’t be so bad if I regularly had 2 days in a row off each week, but my manager has decided it is better to split up our 2 off days every week so we don’t get them in one big lump and become overwhelmed with off days! After all, with 2 days off in a row I think I might forget how to get back to my workplace! That is if I remember I used to have a job after being off for 2 days...

So therein lies another problem. Anytime I want to do a race - which 99% of the time falls on a weekend and the other 1% of the time falls during the week in the evening (e.g. The Dam Mile – May, 20th 2010 @ 7pm) - I have to make sure I will be able to get off work in order to participate. Regular 9-5ers don’t have this problem. Did I mention my job required me to stand in one spot for eight hour shifts? Not walk around. No. If I get to walk around that is a treat! Much less am I able to sit down. No, I have to stand, in a suit, wearing dress shoes, for eight hours a day.

I have only been at this job for a little under 6 months now and the lack of balance in work vs. training already has me seriously considering other options ASAP. Is this what I went to college for? I know I could have gone straight into construction right out of high school and I would have had better hours than this, work weeks that would include 2 days off in a row (Saturday and Sunday), paid holidays off, probably a better hourly wage, and I wouldn’t have to stand in one spot. In fact, I would probably be encouraged NOT to stand in one spot! Can I have a redo please?

And don’t even get me started on the type of customers I have to deal with on a daily basis all while wearing a smile on my face. I will save that for another entry…

Monday, May 10, 2010

Undie Run 2010

How do you release all the pent up frustration and stress from a week or two packed with studying and finals? Well the obvious answer is clearly to run through campus in your underwear! And if you don’t agree with me then why would I be enjoying this activity with 200-300+ other UT students? I don’t know either.

The idea of the Undie Run, as it is called, is to donate the clothes off your back and run in just your underwear. It is used as a great stress reliever for many of the UT students who have just finished their finals for spring semester and want to kick off their summer with a bang. The following is my account of Undie Run 2010.

I found myself at Wal-Mart at 12:30 am the night before the big race looking for a pair of superman underwear that would fit me somewhat comfortably. Needless to say I had little success in my search and I had to settle for a boy’s size 8 underwear…in Spiderman print nonetheless. So I get home, pull my new threads out of the packaging and at first glance I think to myself, “there is no way this is gonna fit. But what the hell, I gotta give it a shot.” Now, I will spare you the details but eventually I was able to somehow squeeze myself into the too small Spiderman underwear and admire my accomplishment in the full length mirror. At the time I was still unsure as to whether or not I was going to give the general public the same pleasure of viewing the vast amount of flesh that was standing before me. I decided I had better sleep on the idea and make a game time decision the next day.

Friday brought warm temperatures and sunny skies…perfect weather for running around in one’s underwear. I donned my Spidey costume once more and after a few jumping jacks and some running in place I decided nothing was going to be unexpectedly popping out so I might as well go for it. The pre-race party was being held in a vacant parking lot with vendor tents set up around the perimeter. After donating my clothes and checking my change bag at the desk I grabbed a cheap $2 margarita and hung out in my gray "warm-up" boxers while putting out the vibe and waiting on my friends to show up.

An hour and a half later, with 1 margarita and 2 beers down to ease the tension, we all started to crowd toward the entrance of the lot. The run was about to begin. Just before everyone started to lunge forward I stripped off my gray warm-up boxers, revealing the Spiderman beneath, and gave them an exuberant toss. It just so happened that they landed on the head/shoulder of a fellow male Undie runner. He looked over on his shoulder and I can only imagine what he was thinking when he saw a pair of boxers land on him in a sea of people that were wearing nothing but underwear. The race was underway!

We took an immediate right out of the lot and I started frivolously taking pictures with my digital camera as I ran with the crowd. I was determined to document every minute of this experience for my own recollection and for the sake of sharing it with others. With so many people running we overtook the streets and drivers were forced to stop in place, most of them on their cell phones talking while hundreds of UT students ran past their cars in nothing but their underwear. Before too long we turned on to Guadalupe Street, the main drag on campus. The onlookers were hilarious! Not knowing what was going on and not expecting to see anything like this they were stunned by the sheer amount of people running by in nothing but boxer briefs, whitey tighties, panties, and the like. I did my best to capture these reactions as well as fellow runners with my moving photography.

The set course was marked at .77 miles but towards the end the crowd I was following decided to take a small detour into one of the dorm halls. Despite the extra distance this was a welcomed change of course because it lead us through a brief area of air conditioned hallways and ultimately through a lunchroom! Sadly, no one was sitting down to eat, however, there were a couple of workers cleaning the lunch room who just had to stop and stare as we came flooding through. We exited a back door that lead into a pool area with a few swimmers and sun bathers enjoying their Friday afternoon. That is until we arrived on the scene. The undie clad mob washed onto the pool deck and I even thought about jumping in before I thought better of it seeing as I was wearing mostly white underwear that was already stretched pretty thin as it was.

Our rogue race group exited the pool area at the rear and rejoined the rest of the course at a crossroads which only served to confuse other runners and cause mass hysteria with bamboozled undie runners wondering which way was up and which way was down. There were half naked people running every which direction at W 22nd ½ and Pearl St! As we turned back into the parking lot I slowed my pace and started to catch my breath, although 80% of me wanted to turn right back around and do it all over again!

Once everyone had finished, the Axe Undie Girls started throwing out free shirts to the crowd! Everybody was pushing and shoving trying to get their hands on a free Axe body cologne t-shirt. When I was finally able to snag one and escape the naked mob with my prize I was shocked to find we had been cruelly misled! What we were led to believe was free Axe schwag turned out only to be sixe XL plain white t-shirts. They were throwing them out to the crowd so we could all cover ourselves up after running around campus in our underwear! “I feel like a fool now,” I thought to myself as I used the shirt to wipe off my sweaty body then handed it to a fellow undie runner, who was still none the wiser to the complete sham that was going on all around us. “You don’t want your shirt?” the runner asked. “No, it’s not my size.” I said as I turned and walked away.

Shortly after this Undie Run buzz kill I spotted one of my fellow cross country teammates who has been living in Austin longer than I have been here yet I have only seen him once since 2003 and that was back in Cape Girardeau. I yelled out his name and he immediately recognized me. “I thought I would see you here,” he said. We shook hands and introduced our friends while reminiscing of old times. Before going our separate ways we exchanged numbers, snapped a photo together, and vowed to meet again for a couple beers or an easy run. And now that I think about it, it does make sense that of all places we would randomly meet up at the one Undie Run in Austin, TX.

With the event winding down, I threw on my change of shorts that I had brought with me and prepared to walk back to my car with my buddy Victor. Victor, however, was lazy and just remained in his boxer briefs as he threw on his backpack and started walking with me to the vehicle (sticking with the theme of being lazy, he didn't want to walk all the way to his car so I told him I would give him a ride). I was parked a few blocks away and by the time we got to my car, I had unlocked it, climbed inside, and unlocked the door for Victor he stepped inside and said, “Ya know, maybe I should have put my pants back on cause now there isn’t anyone else in their underwear and I am just getting a lot of weird looks from people.”

So there ya have it. Just another chapter in my storybook life. A chapter that I am already looking forward to adding a sequel to with Undie Run 2011…

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This is why I suck at cooking.

So once again it's like 1:45am and since I just woke up from a nap at 11:00pm I am not tired at all. I dunno if it is because I am bored or because I actually am hungry but I decided to make food at this ungodly I usually do.

On the menu tonight are 3 frozen ready-made chicken tacos that I bought at the local HEB. The packaging says they can be microwaved or oven baked and the latter is always better so I set to preheating the oven to 400 degrees.

With the oven all ready to go I lay the frozen tacos out on a baking sheet and slide them into the oven for the specified amount of time. Now what you need to bear in mind is that I am living with my Aunt right now in her house and she usually keeps somewhat normal hours of sleep which I try not to disrupt by my late night wafting smell of oven baked frozen foods. Tonight, however, is going to be an epic fail.

After seven minutes @ 400 degrees I was ready to remove my tacos from the oven, let them cool and enjoy! As I walked over to the oven I noticed a small trail of smoke rising from the corner vent. I gave it a swift blow and it disappeared for a split second then came right back in full force, trickling out of the corner of the oven and dancing up to congregate somewhere near the fluorescent lighting on the ceiling of the kitchen. I knew right then I was in trouble.

Not only was I now in danger of waking up my Aunt up with some late night, Mexican smelling, nasal induced alarm; but I knew for sure that once I opened the oven to retrieve my finished product that it would be like letting the flood gates go on all that smoke and ultimately, in turn, setting off the smoke detector just 10 feet away. But just to make sure, I grabbed the oven handle and did a quick pump with the oven door to get an idea of just how much smoke I was up against. With just that little action of my wrist it unleashed a billowing cloud and I knew I had to act fast.

So I set to work hastily opening up the screened door to the kitchen area and quietly moving a chair underneath the fire alarm so I could remove the battery. With those two prep tasks in place I was now ready to tackle the extraction of the 3 smoking amigos from the oven. With oven mitt readied in one hand and the other hand on the door I crouched like a sprinter ready for the start gun. I counted to 3 and......then I took a breath. I counted to 2 and then I started over. Finally I counted to 3 again and in one foul swoop I opened to oven door, spotted my target, placed a firm grasp on the baking sheet and yanked the catalyst of this evening's fiasco out of the oven. However, the excitement was far from over.

I proceeded to place the 400 degree baking sheet on the top of the stove and turn on the vent fan then grab another baking sheet from the cupboard and attempt to fan all the runaway smoke towards to open door; all the while trying to do this without making much noise as to not wake up my Aunt with my attempts to keep her sound asleep. That would be ironic.

Within a few minutes I had the situation under control and the tacos were ready to eat. The only problem: I was no longer hungry. I guess the idea of cooking some food did stem from my boredom rather than my stomach and with all the excitement of trying to prevent a minor world disaster my boredom had been satisfied. However, now I stand at a crossroads of whether to replace the smoke detector battery and face the inevitable chirp of the device letting me know its connected and risk waking up my Aunt anyway or to just leave it till the morning and let her see that I was obviously smoking out her kitchen the night before. In which case her imagination could be much worse than reality....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Blog Entry #1

Dear Blog,

I had a wonderful time with you tonight. Meeting you for the first time, learning so much about you, shaping and molding you into just the perfect blog for my personality! I am really looking forward to all the memories we are going to make and share for a lifetime to come! I already feel like I can blog my deepest darkest secrets to you and you wouldn't tell a soul.

Ok, but seriously, this be my blog. The blog of Alex Schneider, or Alextreme, as I am known when I am in shape. But you can call me Schneider, or Schneid if your lazy and don't like having to pronounce more than one syllable at a time. I like to think I lead, and strive to maintain, a fairly interesting life. One that people would be interested in enough to read a book about or ultimately watch on TV since WAY more people watch TV than read books, besides, TV is WAY more interesting than books anyway! If I had the money I would pay somebody to just follow me around and document my life on camera. That might also help me in answering a few long standing mysteries from weekends past when the adult beverages used to flow like water. "I never did find out how my hands got all scraped up or who those girls were in the pictures with me from the other night." But I digress.

This is not a site set up for me to gloat about my drunken debauchery and childish tomfoolery. Granted there will be some of that on here, no doubt, but those nights seem to be far and few between and nearing extinction as I grow older and mature into the man that I am destined to become. I mean I only have like 2 or 3 of those a week now! Anywho, I'm not going to do a whole meet and greet thing cause I figure anyone who is reading this will already know who I am and if you don't then you surely will soon because you are reading my blog. The one thing I will say is that I am Austin VIP and that will be covered later on. Stay tuned...