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Hector Meets Lone Ranger

Assignments from the chief-of-staff, Ms. Laree, are stacked upon my desk and the heat of deadlines brings moisture to my brow: two articles by Wednesday, (this IOL newsletter and the Sentinel piece), back cover and front cover artwork for "Straight Talk" and a forward to the new "Ironline Training Log." Hurry. We have tickets for New York City and leave this Monday for five days in Manhattan. The urge to walk the streets, see the sights and smell the air ascended upon us a year ago. Like turtles, better late than never.

We plan to travel light to our hotel in the City, walking distance to Times Square. Non-stop from San Jose to JFK means carry-on only; tuna packed in vacuum-sealed bags, cheap paperbacks, our best jeans, Ts and pullovers, a sharpened stick with a non-slip duct-tape handle and a matching pair of his and her deluxe pepper spray. Life in the war zone that is America. We are compelled to visit the town that's skyscrapers stand tall in my memory, having grown up on the banks of the Hudson and Laree a frequent visitor while stationed in Maryland in the 80s.

Our fitness will be maintained by lots of walking at the speed of New York City crowds, smart eating and a climb to the top of the Empire State Building if Laree agrees and the authorities permit us. Who needs squats? Plenty of workouts at home between now and then offer ample time to overtrain and possibly injure myself. Repair in N.Y.

Someone who doesn't know me very well read last week's squat article, which also appeared in our local newspaper. He bawled me out in five stern, newspapery paragraphs for saying that "No man or woman can boast of exercise unless he or she performs the full squat." Okay, I exaggerated, maybe� shoot me. Leg presses are pretty good. In fact, when I'm not up to squats I do leg presses. If I have an injury, strain or lack ambition, leg presses slide right in there. I apply the same preparatory combination of extensions, curls and calves after the obligatory mid-section work, crunches, leg raises and hyperextensions.

Briefly, I prefer a high-rep scheme when hitting leg press work, starting with reasonably moderate poundage for twenty-five full range, mid-pace reps and incrementing in stages of 45s and 25s till I am limited to fifteen reps and ten reps. Goes like this: 25, 25, 25, 20, 15, 10.

Depending on the machine, the mood and the need, I'll begin with three or four plates and load till seven, eight or nine. Some dynamos like big John Defendis, aka The Crane, have more severe methods of operation. My purposes, knees and muscle structure agree with the high reps. Lots of heart and lung, great for gals.

Proof: Laree was on a similar leg press strategy for six weeks not long ago. She added four sets of stiff-legged deadlifts supersetted with lunges, her favorite combo for key female factors; no cardio on this day or you automatically expire. We went on a vacation up north for a short attempt to relax a couple of weeks ago. While cruising through Sonoma searching for a motel that had a vacancy, we came upon a stout fellow whose car had stalled at a light. He was with small success pushing his heap across the intersection as the inconvenienced cars and drivers swerved to his right and left. I stopped behind him and Laree instantly hopped out and grabbed the back bumper like it was an Olympic bar. That's my girl. She lifted with vehemence and the car, a Toyota from a long time ago, surged forward astonishing the guy who pushed and steered and now sprinted to catch up.

"You're looking good." I shouted to the pair as I followed closely to assist in the safety of the rescue operation. Laree was hitting her stride expecting the wheezing wheelman to take the car to the roadside and park it. Instead he got greedy, aimed for a distant gas station and flopped belly-first on the asphalt, almost succeeding in running himself over with his own broken-down, out-of-control automobile. We all watched the car pick up speed, driver's side door dangling wide open and nobody behind the wheel. There was a desperate last-second burst of speed from the disheveled owner as the ill-fated import torpedoed a telephone pole. It shook, the car sank and a lonely hubcap rolled toward on-coming traffic.

I parked in a deserted parking lot and, once out of sight, laughed real tears like a mischievous brat. We untangled Hector, who could speak no English, pushed him mightily until he resumed his journey toward the far-off Shell. Laree and I, not going there, stared as he weaved downhill in and out of traffic with horns blowing and cars halting. Hector was last seen standing with his stalled wreck twenty feet from a gas pump wondering who the muscular masked lady was and where did she learn how to push a car.

Must be those leg presses.

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