Jun 22, 2009

Off And Running....That Is

As some of you may be aware, I have been trying to get back into running. Seems I have had a rough go of it this year. I bought new shoes (were actually fitted for these) to replace my worn out ones and have just not quite gained any momentum. My legs scream in agony after a short trot, so I decided that maybe I had become extremely unfit in the past 8 months.

I began a new program and seemed to fall right into a comfortable stride. That is until I hit the 2 mile mark. Doesn't matter if it is walking or running, after two miles, my legs will no longer cooperate.

I decided maybe I should just give up on running for awhile and concentrate on becoming a little more fit. I opted for five mile walks. Once again, after only a short while, my legs were in agony. Hips, knees, ankles and muscles that I have never used before, all revolting against my wishes.

I have noticed my pace is slowing with every run, and although I am no where near breathless, I just cannot complete a good run. Grrrrrr.. I was running 6-7 miles at a time one year ago!!

Saturday, I set out on my 5 mile walk, and it was not long before I wanted to phone someone to come pick me up. I was done. It was then that I looked down and noticed my shoes. You see, I have always walked/run on the outer edges of my feet. These shoes were causing me to strike at almost a flat step. I watched in amazement as the realization hit me. These shoes (fitted specifically for me) were causing me to twist all of my joints in a way that was unnatural to me.

However, I was determined to not give up entirely. On Sunday, I had decided to check out a road I had been eyeballing in Virginia and get a few miles in for the day. I left my new (fitted specifically for me) shoes at home, but that was not going to stop me. I dug out my old shoes, laced them up and set out for 4 exhilarating miles.

Seems the little road was a perfect place for my workout. I met a group of 7 cyclists, another pair of runners, some cows, horses and 4 dogs.
Nothing but the picturesque Appalachian Mountains to my east, and several horse farms to my west. I
originally set out to walk the entire distance, but after 2 miles, I thought.....I want to run!!.....So run, I did. And there was absolutely no discomfort. It was divine. A beautiful day with lots of fluffy white clouds shading me the entire time, 78 degrees and a relaxing breeze.

There is hope for me yet!! And just for the record, I began running again on May 9th and to date have accumulated over 75 miles. Not bad considering they were 75 very painful miles!!

Jun 21, 2009

And We're Off

I know I have not had much to complain about recently as far as the truck is concerned, but that does not mean there has not been anything to fuss about. Sometimes, I just get so tired of hearing myself grumble, and truthfully, if I cannot find some humor in the situation, I prefer to not even mention it.

Last week, when preparing to leave, after loading everything back into Frankentruck, I was not surprised to find myself stomping my feet and kicking up gravel. You see, the shop had my truck for 3 weeks. During the 3 weeks, the original problem completely disappeared. That's right, no repairs were made and the problem just vanished. The new inverter was installed into the AC and this forced me to have to wait for parts ( that is the real reason I had to wait 3 weeks). But at some point during this 3 week period, it seems that perhaps someone may have drove my truck.

The reason that I believe that someone else had their grubby mitts on my steering wheel is because when I checked my tires (which I always do, no time for blowouts) I found that just about every single one of my drive tires was littered with scraps of metal, nails, and screws. Lucky for me, only one was leaking air. It was a slow leak, and with the closest mechanic living over an hour away, I opted to let it ride and check the pressure each day. Okay, when I discovered it, the tire only had 37 pounds in it. BUT, I aired it up, and after completing all tasks at hand, I checked it again after one hour and had lost only a pound. So, I managed to make my entire journey and was able to keep it pumped up. On the way home, I stopped in South Carolina to see about getting new tires. My shop only has recaps, and I wanted virgin rubber. No deal... The South Carolina shop did mention that some of our trucks were currently on a test program with new Michelin tires, and if Moe (the head Stooge) called into the main office, he could get me signed up for 8 brand new drive tires. The only stipulation was that Moe would then have to monitor the wear pattern of my tires once a month.

I knew it was a losing battle, but I polished up my sweetest voice and phoned into the shop.

"Oh Please Please Please, could you do this for me." I mentioned that ALL of my drives would have to be replaced soon because of the vast array of metal objects lodged within the tread, and also mentioned the one that was already leaking. I was told that "we will see".

Yeah...So, you can imagine how I was not surprised to find that I have a new used recap on my drive axle, and all the debris has been removed from the other 7 tires. Yep, you guessed it. Looks like there is no chance of getting those Michelins. I think the reason being is that it would be too much trouble for them to monitor my wear pattern. Come on, I already monitor my tires on a weekly basis.. It is not that hard.

I did however, end up with 8 brand new shiny valve stem caps.... Oh BOY!! Reckon what it would cost to have them polished next time I have Frankentruck bathed. After all, I now have something shiny to be proud of.....

And for the record, this week I decided to leave a little early so I could find time to squeeze a few miles (running/walking) into my initial commute. Note to self: You know better!!. I left 1.5 hours earlier than normal, and spent 1.5 hours sitting in Qwinnett County on Interstate 85, due to an overturned vehicle. Um, yeah, I never have problems when I am running late....

Did I mention this was on a Saturday!!

Jun 15, 2009

Brush With Celebrity

Could it get any better?

Seriously !!

On Sunday, whilst cruising about in a state of utter nonchalance, I found myself daydreaming while traversing the corridors of Virginia. It did not take me very long to come to my senses, when I noticed the familiar sight of flashing lights peeking out from behind my trailer.

What was I thinking !! I knew exactly where I was at, and the fact that I was in complete disregard for my location bit me in the arse. No, it was not a reduced speed zone. But, it is one that is watched with intense scrutiny. In fact, I believe the Smokey Bear who hangs out in this area has a mail box set up on the interstate ramp.

I pulled over to the side and although he gave me a warning for the speed, he did proceed to put me through a level 3 inspection. I assured him that he probably did not want to look at my log book, and he said he would be willing to take that risk. After 10-15 minutes he returned to my truck and gently reprimanded me for being negligent. I was not off by much, but enough to be required to send in some revenue. The sad part is that I was exactly where I was suppose to be, and legally able to be there. I just did not make note of it in my log book that day, or the prior day!! D'oh !! Hey, with all of this truck swapping, I am lucky if I even remember who I am.

After the initial meet and greet, reprimand and recovery from sticker shock, I asked the Officer if he knew he was indeed famous, or infamous, as the case may be.

"What do you mean?" he inquired.

" Well, Mr Smokey, YOU, SIR, are the famous burgundy wrapper that lives at the million dollar get-on ramp. All the truckers know about you!! I knew about you, but I was busy day-dreaming about fire-fighters and forgot to see if you were home" ( okay, I did not mention the firefighters) " Even I know about you, but I was waiting on my com padre to catch up and was busy day dreaming."

About that time, AA creeps by. Later, AA told me that he had never seen a Smokey Bear with such a big grin on his face.

The Smokey seemed pleased to learn of his reputation and as he puts it, " Well, I do work em over pretty hard!" He then waited for me to get ready to roll and escorted me back out onto the interstate. Of course for the next 30 miles, all I heard on the CB was how that dastardly Smokey was shaking his finger at the little girl.

HA! We know the truth, eh??

Jun 13, 2009

Double Your Pleasure

Here are a few facts that most of my loyal readers should be aware of.

I love New York!!

I love Men In Uniforms (Police, Firefighters, Servicemen)

Okay, that was fairly simple and since those are the only two facts that really pertain to this story, those are all I will be supplying.

Oh, another fact, you may not know. When at work, because I make multiple deliveries, I try to be the most efficient for everyone involved, primarily myself. You see, I get paid the same amount if I deliver the load in 2 days or 4. Therefore, I do not like delays, and am constantly rerouting myself to shorten my work day.

Last week, I had finished up with my Long Island drops and had one customer to deliver to in the Bronx. After that, I had to head back into New Jersey to catch my first scheduled delivery of the day. Why did I not deliver it first, you may ask. That is simple. The material was buried under stop number 4 AND the first customer hand unloads. Therefore, I had no choice but to work out a new strategy. After that, I would be heading up to Massachusetts. Yes, I am aware that I was back tracking, but if you can get the loaders to do any better, I will be eternally grateful.

SO.....heading into the Bronx, I made my turn into the neighborhood and was dismayed to see the road closed ahead. I hate getting off my beaten path, as there are plenty of one way streets, and although I am not above using them inappropriately under extreme circumstances, I prefer to go with the flow of traffic at all times if possible. The reason for the closure was obvious. There were 2 firetrucks sitting in the road with hoses discharging at full capacity. I made my way a few blocks south, ended up going the wrong way down a one-way and worked my way back towards the customer. The opposing street was also closed. More fire trucks. After a few more turns and illegal maneuvers, I got to the third section of the block closest to my customer, only to be halted again. This time it was as plain as the nose on my face that this delivery was going to be delayed. Three more fire trucks were parked and functioning. Only this time, they were parked in my unloading zone. Thankfully it was not my customer who was smoldering, but the empty warehouse across the street.

With my options running low, I set the brakes. Yes, I was parked in the road, but in New York, these things are often overlooked. I began the trek towards the customer, hoping to see a familiar face and get an opinion of the situation. I noticed a fireman standing close by and I sashayed up to him with a gleam in my eye.

"Excuse me, Man In Uniform, ( purr) could you tell me how long this might take, as I need to make a delivery right there?"

The Fireman looked at me, looked at the smoldering building, checked his watch, and grinned from ear to ear as he replied, " Well, now Little Lady, this might take awhile."

We spent the next few minutes chatting away. We worked out a signal, and off he went to save the day. After several minutes, he waved his hat at me signalling that they were about to wrap it up and as soon as the ladder truck was loaded, they would be out of my way.

I am such a dork. Who else do you know that would saunter up to a fireman whilst on duty (even though the flames were already extinguished) and proceed to charm the reflective strips off his gear. Leave it to me. I do not do this intentionally. I am just a friendly person. And ohhhh, how I loves me a man in uniform.

Jun 8, 2009

Dont Try This At Home

or anywhere for that matter.

What I am about to tell you is so ridiculously funny and embarrassing, but I thought it was too good to not pass along.

Last night, I decided to go running after I arrived at my destination. It was a tad bit late, and although I did not leave the immediate vicinity, I still took precautions to ensure a reasonable amount of safety. I carry certain items with me, in case of emergency type items. This includes my phone, and some sort of weapon. Sure, if I was to be attacked I might not do much damage to a big hulking man, but I do want to do some damage.

After finishing my run and cleaning up, I retrieved the weapons and was going to stow them away.

The safety latch was off.

I accidentally hit the trigger.

and shot a mist of pepper spray into the cab of my truck. Although I did not spray myself directly, the mist almost instantaneously took affect. I shut my eyes the instant I realized what I had done, thankfully!! My nasal passages and mouth were not so lucky. My mouth started to burn and my sinuses went numb and began to flow like a water tap. I made a not so successful dive for the drivers side window to allow fresh air into the truck, but managed to stumble over the gear shifter and almost do a face plant in the steering wheel. The only thing I could even remotely compare it to would be eating a spoonful of Wasabi in one bite. I have had a lot of wasabi, and this was more painful than the largest dosage of the good stuff that I have ever been brave enough to swallow.

I did get the windows down and turned the ac fans on full blast to try and extricate any remaining fumes. It was only a tiny blast and cleared out quickly, but I had a sack full of snotty rags from trying to stop the nasal drainage. My eyes were never affected as I stumbled about blindly, and I suppose that was the funniest part, or maybe it was me hanging my head as far out of the window as humanly possible, reminiscent of a dog going for a joy ride with his tongue lashing about.

Unless you take into consideration that I did this to myself!! Yep, that is pretty darn funny too!!

Local Driver: Do Not Follow

This seems to happen to me quite frequently when cruising around the streets of New York...

Several weeks ago, I was coming off of the Triborough Bridge into Queens and at the bottom of the ramp is a Truck Detour. The detour is actually just placing all trucks onto the service road for less than a mile to go around a low clearance bridge, but there is no trick to the detour. Just stay to the right....Because I have numerous stops in and around the city, I take for granted that there are some individuals who do not know the "routes" and may just happen to be following me, thinking I am taking the Truck Detour. One such fellow did just that. He got to the detour sign which pointed to the right and watched me make a right turn. So he followed. After several blocks, he asks over the CB if I am indeed taking the detour. I just felt horrible for him because I was not, and now he had no idea where he was at, and I can assure you, in New York, that is not a good feeling. Luckily, my customer was on a route that would very easily send him back to the interstate.

Today, I was cruising around the Bronx and noticed a Western Express truck sitting on the side of the road. As soon as I passed, the truck makes a dive into the street behind me. We go through several lights and just as I am preparing to turn to make my delivery, the radio comes alive.

"hey driver, are you going to the interstate?"

Oh, no, not again!! This time it was a young lady and she had been sitting patiently waiting for a truck to pass, so she could be guided back to the Big Road. She noticed ME and commenced to following. This time, it did not end so pleasantly. My customer is just about the last turn before you have no more options in a Truck. The ramp for the interstate was previously just a few blocks away, but had been closed for YEARS!! If she followed me, well, I was going to be double parked for awhile unloading and there was no room on that particular block for her to park. I gave her some quick instructions as to how she might manage to get back to New Jersey, but I don't think she understood what I was trying to tell her. I am sure she was nervous as hell, and maybe even a little scared. I know I was the first time I got lost in Queens. I feel just horrible for her!! Because I was unable to lead her out as I did with the last fellow.

But seriously, if you ever get lost....Do NOT follow the first truck that passes you. They may not be leading you to safety... I have led more than a few drivers into unfamiliar territories and at no fault of myself.

I really do feel horrible for her, because if she missed the first turn I told her about.....well, she will definitely not do it again. I hope she made it out okay.

Jun 7, 2009

Positive Influences

Sunset in The Ozarks

A few weeks ago ( or longer) I had the pleasure of running out to Texas and along the way, got to meet up with fellow blogger Gabsatrucker. We were able to spend a few hours together chatting away like two schoolgirls and seem to get along quite splendidly. Gabby is so awesome and extremely devoted to keeping fit. I told her I had lost motivation and she was able to give me a magazine that had a section directed at starting a new running program and a guideline to follow.

She also said to me that it is not important how hard you strive as long as you get moving! Essentially I believe she meant that even if you cannot go out and run long and hard, at least just get out there. ( Forgive me, as these are not direct quotes, but I am exhausted and well, you get the jest of it).

So, I began a newly modified version of this program and have been quite successful at keeping up with it. It is a slow starter, but I am apt to push to hard and burn out after a few months, so this is doing wonders for building my stamina and encouraging motivation. The only problem I seem to be having is that I cannot always find the time to run. I know, sounds like another excuse, but after a 14 hour day of non-stop deliveries along with 3 to 4 hundred miles of driving, 10pm is just not the best time to get out and run in some of my delivery neighborhoods.

Tonight I ran into that exact problem. After driving 596 miles, dusk was catching up with me very quickly. I had to get fuel before I could allow myself time for a run, and fueling could not be done until I got close to the end of my day. I expressed my dismay to a friend, and he concurred that I should be happy with the fact that the desire is so strong, but some days I will just not be able to do it. The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like an excuse! So, I got my run in tonight. I will not settle for excuses anymore. It was a boring run around a parking lot but I got it done and satisfied my need.

Anyways, I have completely digressed. My point is that Gabby has made such a positive influence upon me, and her husband is awesome too! I had the pleasure of visiting with them last week, again. This time we set out on an approximate 2.5 mile walk across the Big Dam Bridge. Such a beautiful place! Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat and chatted some more. I am really grateful I have gotten to meet these two wonderful people!! and the influence reaches even further.

Due to my enthusiasm, my niece and nephew have also been bitten by the bug. When I am at home, they often ask to tag along on my running adventures. Of course, because they are young, I take them to the local track so I can keep an eye on them. Last week, they went with me and both of them were able to complete 2 miles easily. They opted to rest while I finished up my workout, but I just think that is so awesome!!

Anywho, way past time for bed and I no longer make sense to myself, but I just felt the need to share!!

Jun 4, 2009

Chinese Fire Drill

After spending the previous week begrudging the extended stay in Maggie, I was anxious to get back to Frankentruck. I called the Three Stooges to see if any repairs had been made, and should I anticipate getting him back.

Moe (shop foreman) informed me that although he, himself had witnessed the problem, the local Volvo shop could not find anything in need of repair. Therefore it was sent back to our yard untouched. However, there were a few minor needs to be addressed, such as a slow air leak and replacing the inverter. The air leak was a simple replacement of an O ring and the new inverter had been delivered.

I allowed myself to feel elated.

The installation of the inverter did not go as planned. Instead, when mounting the box, Moe inadvertently positioned the screw so that it would pierce through the auxiliary air conditioner, therefore releasing all the freon and placing Frankentruck back on the dead line for another week. I was told the new unit was ordered and would be replaced before I returned home from my next excursion. However, this left me in a dilemma. I absolutely refuse to ever be the Master and Commander of Miss Maggie Mae, ever again. That left me moving into yet another truck for this weeks adventure. The Stooges thought I may be opposed to this idea, but after the way Maggie has treated me, I was more than happy to pack up and move.

Well, not really happy about it. I wished I had been getting back into Frankentruck, but with no auxiliary air, I was WILLING to make the swap for something drivable, as Maggie is not.

The newly acquired loaner had only one thing wrong with it. A crack in the windshield. That's it! Now why should I have been opposed to borrowing it? I am not sure why the mechanics would assume that, after all, I am just looking for a decent vehicle to drive. This one had NO PROBLEMS. I made my weekly deliveries and once again phoned into the shop to inquire about the AC repair. D'oh !! It seems that possibly someone had forgotten to order it. Part delivery could happen on Friday, and I could very well be climbing back on my trusty steed come Sunday, but I am not holding my breath.

Hmmmmm, with all this truck swapping ( 4 moves in 5 weeks ) I should be getting really good at it. In fact, I think I set a record time of less than 15 minutes with the last swap. And just so you know, I do tend to over pack!! There is bedding and clothes, food, dishes, cooler, microwave, tools, paperwork, radio, entertainment (cd's and gadgets) cleaning supplies, cases of water and basic necessities that go hand in hand with pulling a flatbed. And, yes, that it just the junk I am moving from one truck to another. I do like to be prepared, even if I am only on the road for 4 days!