Archive for October, 2008

Please Pass the EPO

October 21, 2008

Morning shows up awful early sometimes especially when its 38 degrees with a light drizzle and you have an outdoor race to look forward to.  I told someone today, I don’t play soccer anymore, or basketball, or baseball…so I need some motivation to train.  The past two years that motivation has been a race of some sort almost every month (you’ll forgive me if I skipped January through March, but rest assured, I was out running and riding mountain bike in the snow).  Since I haven’t been in a pool, triathlons are out.  I seem to do okay in 5K races, but I’m not really much of a runner.  Okay, I’ve been working on my mile time so I really can’t use that excuse anymore.  My favorite races lately have been duathlons.  In most cases, at least in all the cases I do, this is a run and bike race.  Usually in the run, bike, run form.  They are not called biathlons because that term has been used to describe the Olympic event combining cross country skiing with target shooting.  There seem to be more triathlons available, even in the northeast than duathlons which means you don’t have to worry about burning out on an event. 

 

Today’s event was an off road event which meant a trail run (2 miles) with plenty of hills, roots, trees and fun things to dodge, and a trail bike (10 miles) with mountain bike recommended although I saw plenty of hybrids with decent tires and cyclocross.  In all honesty, most of the ride was old railroad beds that have been converted into smooth paths.  There was a total of 1.5 miles that were “off road” including a ¾ mile section of single track.  Why do I point this out?  Because my 10 year old mountain bike is the slowest of the three I own.  Could I have ridden my hybrid on this?  Most likely.  Certainly not my road bike, but at least the hybrid could have gained a few minutes I’m guessing.  Consider also that a week ago I checked my bike and found a flat front tire.  Since this was the original tube, I can’t complain, it gave me lots of life.  I had a spare thanks to a trip to Holliday Valley with a friend of mine 2 years ago.  Certainly beat changing it during the race (I passed two such unfortunate souls along with a guy with a broken chain).  I felt like I owed it to the mountain bike though that has been all but ignored since the 2 full days of riding I did in June down in Hollister, then in Bristol. 

 

38 degrees meant a few changes in clothing options.  My original plan was tri shorts, arm warmers, short sleeve jersey and a skull cap.  I put the old cage pedals on instead of the crank brothers clipless to keep my transition time short (lost too much time changing shoes for no real gain in speed last year).  I left the house in running tights with tri shorts over them (yeah, I’m just that cool), long sleeve tech top under the short sleeve jersey (number nicely pinned to lower drag), warm up pants and a jacket.  The skull cap was replaced with my winter riding hat which is a skull cap with longer sides to cover the ears.  Combine that with full gloves (a wise investment when I discovered the joy of winter riding last year) and you had quite the look.  Before you start to make fun of me, understand that this is what at least half the people were wearing when I got there.  (Check out the picture and see if you can find me)  The rest were shivering.  Parking for the event was ½ mile away.  Not bad for the participants, who doesn’t need a nice warm up ride, but rough for spectators.  Many got dropped off at the start/transition/finish area.  I parked, left a few things in the car I didn’t think I’d need, and rode down to the start area.  My front tire was rubbing the brake which would not help my time so I dropped the bike with the technicians who were giving everyone last minute fixes as needed.  So, with all that as the set up, here now are the thought patterns as I went through the course. 

 

Starting Line:  Crap, why am I standing in the front, I’d better look around to see who I recognize.  Not too many people I know, most people around me look serious, the rest look like they’re in good shape, I hope I don’t get trampled. 

Race start:  Okay, get a nice head of steam going.  There is a nice uphill here where we’ll weed people out and the faster ones will pass me.  On the road for ¼ mile then turning into a steep entrance to the wooded trail.  Why am I breathing so hard already?  I had half a bowl of oatmeal, one banana and two gel packs properly spaced.  If I was like Kohl or Shoemaker… Oh, it could be, WATCH THAT ROOT, the fact that it’s early, Saturday and 40 degrees!  Okay, I’ve done this three times now; I think there are four hills in here before the nice downhill to transition.  All I need to do is get a nice pace going, OW THAT WAS MY ANKLE, and then we can start the ride.  Man, I hope my front tire stays inflated through the entire race.

Mile 2:  They always have great people at this event, running and volunteering, the 1 mile water stop has 8 kids, or four and I’m seeing double already, cheering everyone on.  That will come in handy during the second run since I’ll know how close someone is behind me.  I’m guessing I have around 18 or 20 in front of me right now.  Ugh, here come the hills.  Okay counting the first, that’s two, only two more.  Downhill is always fun, especially since it’s a bit slippery.  Here’s hill three.  Four.  Wait, five?  Well, it has been a year.  What was my first leg time last year?  15 minutes?  Wonder if I can beat that.  Damn, the pants with these shorts makes this a pretty tight fit.  Wonder if I’ll be able to hit the high notes next time we sing take a walk on the wild side…

Transition:  Wow, 14:20ish for the first two miles?  No wonder I’m tired already.  What was I thinking?  I should have put coffee in my bike water bottle.  You know, it’s not easy to put this helmet on with gloves on.  And I’m out of transition.  That has to have been faster than last year’s 1:10 debacle. 

Ride mile 1:  Okay, get in the right gear here, get a nice rhythm going and then we’ll grab some beverage.  Check all systems…gears shifting?  Check.  Pedals working?  Check.  Shorts feel okay on this seat?  Check, for now anyway.  Wind?  Tail wind so I’ll have that to look forward to on the way back. 

Ride mile 3:  Hey, I’m actually going to pass a few people here.  This never happens on the bike.  “Passing on your left” I almost forgot what to say.  Good thing someone already passed me as a reminder.  Coming up on two 90 degree turns.  Better slow down.  Hah, look at that, some dude just went flying by on the corner, then did the same to someone else.  Wonder if he thinks there is money for 18th place.  Okay, off road stuff coming up here including a grassy area (is there a knoll?) that somehow just slows me down every time.

Ride mile 5:  I feel bad for those three guys I passed in the woods.  One looked like he broke his chain and the other two were changing flat tires.  Better to feel bad than gloat because biking karma can be vindictive.  Okay, half way through the ride, I think anyway, I have three bikes and two computers, and which one doesn’t have a computer?  Time for another system check, legs good? Seem so.  Seat still comfortable?  Sure.  Wow, the leaves look really nice.  The weather people were right, this is the peak of the fall foliage…hey, pay attention.  It gets rather lonely out here on these rides.  For some reason I tend to be in this no mans land where I can’t draft anyone, but in another sense, no one is passing me either.

Ride mile 8:  Hill coming up, short up hill, then a funky down hill with a dirt road.   I think they use that just to wake us up on this ride.  I’ll grab my last drink on the flat before the transition area.  Need all hands on handlebars for this next section. 

Ride mile 9:  Why did I grab this water bottle?  This has got to be the stiffest plastic ever.  I can barely squeeze it to get any kind of drink.  Hey, look, spectators, I’ll wave to them.  Nice of them to come out and watch this in the cold.  Oooh, they have hot coffee.

Transition:  Helmet off, rack bike.  Okay, ready to run?  Head is, legs aren’t even close.

Second run start:  Lug, lug, lug, how did I somehow gain 50 pounds during that ride.  This is not even close to the same body I was carrying around this course during the first run.  I should have checked the time when I left.  All I know is there were not many bikes in transition which means lots of people are still out on the bike course.  The winner has yet to cross the finish line and I don’t have anyone really in view in front of me.  Okay, breathe, step, step, breathe, step, step trudge up this hill.

Mile 2:  Water stop crew is still going strong.  I met a few runners coming the other way in that first mile which tells me I won’t be winning today (no chance of that anyway).  Four hills left then down hill to the end.  Think I’ll walk up the next one.  I seem to walk up faster than I run up.  Weird.  Okay, hill three, hill four; now I can look back, there is a guy about 25 yards back.  Now I have motivation to finish without someone passing. 

Finish:  Made the turn coming out of the woods and down hill on the road.  No steps behind me so at least I don’t have someone trying to pass at the end.  Good strong finish, they even announce your name as you cross the line.  Stop so they can take the tag off and we’re done.  Hey, 3 minutes faster than last year.  Must have been the transition. 

 

Now that I’ve had two days to recover, and since I somehow could not manage to set this post up properly in those, I can now say my times were fairly accurate.  Transitions were much better than last year, the bike was actually faster thanks most likely to my frequent weekly riding partners.  Yet somehow, I still manage to fit in the Clydesdale category.  If I had raced in that group, I would have been second.  As it is, I’ll have to be happy with 3rd in my age group.  Yep, I’m pretty happy about that.  Another fun race and no one failed a doping test.  Hooray!

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Texting the VP debate

October 8, 2008

Last week in the US, two candidates for Vice President of the United States met on a stage and battled it out for who could come up with the best cliche, dropped name, and nod to the common folk.  Somehow, my brother and I got into a text conversation over the course of the evening.  What follows is the direct transcript of that conversation.  For notation purposes, The M is me and the B is my brother.  I didn’t link to anything from it assuming that by now you’ve probably read enough reviews.  Don’t hold any of this against the candidates.  Opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily approved by either party.

B:  9:33 PM What the hell is she talking about!?

M:  9:38 PM We have the good fortune of being able to pause and rewind.  With that said I have no idea what she’s blabbering either. But I am taking notes.

B:  9:39 PM She reminds me of bill Clinton in that she doesn’t answer a question…

M: 9:40 PM well neither one is going out of their way to answer. Btw, who is this Joe 6 pack and is he sleeping with a hockey mom?

B:  9:42 PM That was classic! I couldn’t believe that line.

M: 9:43 PM ___ wants to know if that’s a heavy drinker or someone with nice abs

B:  9:43 PM “White flag of surrender”!? Gee, that wasn’t rehearsed.

M: 9:44 PM shhh we’re a bit behind. Don’t give away the good lines.

B:  9:44 PM I was thinking nice abs but I was thinking about hers anyway

M: 9:45 PM you like her look? Seems a bit frumpy

B:  9:49 PM It’s amazing… It’s like she’s in a completely separate conversation.

M: 9:52 PM that is a great question about the environment. I am going to answer that by talking about same sex marriage

B: 9:53 PM I can almost smell the home made cookies when she talks.  I want her to give me a bath and tuck me in.  Zzzzzzz…

B: 9:55 PM How many times has she identified herself as the gov of Alaska?

M: 9:56 PM Right on schedule she is on the same sex issue. She looks slightly uncomfortable.

B: 9:56 PM she was making out with the moderator before the debate

M: 9:58 PM stop now I’m losing focus

B: 9:59 PM don’t worry – palin lost her focus ages ago.

M: 10:00 PM I don’t think she lost focus just shifted. VP? Sure. What family?

M: 10:07 PM what does your bro in law think of the Pakistan vs. Iraq vs. Afghanistan vs. Iran as most dangerous

B: 10:09 PM I don’t like the question.  Can I just talk ideology for a minute?

B: 10:09 PM she’s off again… What the hell is she saying!?

M: 10:10 PM I’m 20 minutes behind now. Out of GC contention

M: 10:12 PM I do like how feisty the VP debate is. Less polished than president.

B: 10:13 PM Dude, get ready when she starts talking about teachers.  You’ll laugh your ass off.  Unbelievable…

M: 10:15 PM did I tell you I’m taking notes? This is a gold mine

B: 10:17 PM you’re crazy.  Why bother…I hate how she gives Christians such a poor image – people eat that crap up.  She’s kind of like a Britney Spears meets Ross Perot.

B: 10:17 PM which one do you think is wearing a thong?

M: 10:18 PM Biden is probably a boxer briefs guy and she’s sporting the control top hosiery

B: 10:20 PM I’ll bet she’s fighting a bit of razor burn, but Biden’s the one with a yeast infection.

M: 10:20 PM the notes are great for one liners in meetings.  I’ve been using thanks but no thanks for 2 weeks.

B: 10:21 PM I like Bush’s quote: “today more of our imports are coming from other countries.”

M: 10:23 PM that is an awesome quote.  Joe Biden just referred to himself in the 3rd person.

B: 10:22 PM if she says “Maverick” one more time I’m throwing my TV in the yard.  Like the neighbor does when JR loses a race.

B: 10:24 PM they’re wrapping up – there is NO way I’m listening to her closing statements…

M: 10:26 PM see it through. You can do it. We’re all in this together if we’re in it at all.  I think that was Johnny cash

B: 10:27 PM I figured she’s been repeating her closing statement 30 times in the last 90 minutes.

M: 10:27 PM now is the time to find out

B: 10:28 PM Gaaaaa!! She said “at the end of the day”. I hate that line!

M: 10:29 PM me too. I skip it when reading big red barn

B: 10:30 PM Ouch. The pain!  Her closing statement is SOOO bad!? I can almost hear Springfield in the background.  Now she’s quoting Reagan…

B: 10:32 PM Alright I made it.  It’s over.  Now I’m going to bad and having nightmares. …unless she’s naked.  Her closing statements would have been fine that way.

M: 10:32 PM how was his? Could you hear Neil Young and was he quoting Nietzsche?

B: 10:32 PM Generic.

M: 10:34 PM well good night. Nice chatting with you on this

okay, time to recharge the battery for the next debate

Pants required

October 2, 2008

If you are a Twitter follower, or Facebook user or should I say addict to either of those, then you may know I’ve been working from home the last few days.  In fact, I’ve been at my house since last Friday evening with the exception of a few trips to the store, daycare, the cobbler (that’s shoe repair for you kids out there), and the cleaner.  That may seem like a lot of trips, but it’s really all within 3 miles.  See, I’m limiting my carbon footprint.  Monday was a vacation day (except for a conference call and the hour of prep time for the call) and tomorrow is a vacation day (no conference call and hopefully no prep time) so yesterday and today were spent at my table, laptop in front of me, phone to the left, bluetooth in my ear, my local artist working away, and me going stir crazy.  Look, I’ve always had a problem sitting still.  Ironic considering my kids can’t either and it drives me crazy.  That’s part of the reason I became a drummer.  Well, part of the reason my parents suggested I take up the drums is a more accurate statement.  I have found that a daily work out (thankfully, my work place has a gym in the building) during the week allows me to focus in the morning prior to going and in the afternoon post shower.  These last few days, no such luck.  So if you have been on the phone with me on a conference call, my apologies.  In my defense, at least I was wearing pants.

Pants are the one thing essential to working at home.  Look, there are a number of advantages to working at home.  You can be there when a fence gets installed, if you need the washer repaired, or if you are having a bad hair day.  One of the things people always brag about with working remote is “I can be on a conference call in my pajamas and no one knows” which in some cases is more of a visual than anyone needed.  To use a Tim McCarver phrase, “I believe” that sometimes the clothes do make the man.  (Okay, see that?  I mixed Tim McCarver with George Michael and didn’t bat an eye.  You’re welcome.)  Think about the attitude you have walking into an interview in a fantastic looking suit versus jeans and a “who farted” t-shirt.  (Yet another side note, I am male and am writing this from the male perspective.  For the women reading this, please feel free to insert your power outfit of choice here.  Thank you.)  Now think about the frame of mind you are in when wearing dress pants versus cargo shorts.  Feel anything?  That’s the nodding of your head as you start to grasp the concept.  Now let’s not get too crazy.  I think a good pair of jeans works just fine along with a clean shirt.  In fact, today, just as a test, I went with cargo pants and a long sleeved T-shirt.  That’s when I realized I needed to get outside of my head before I find myself pontificating on a wardrobe choice for the stay at home worker what is wrong with me. 

Sorry about that, needed to regroup for a second.  My point takes me back to our dress code at the call center back in the late 90’s.  The thought was you acted more professional when you were dressed more professional.  There was a reason more complaints surfaced on Fridays (jeans day) when employees were more relaxed (never mind it was day 5 of the week getting customer service calls).  I seemed to manage to take Halloween off after the first year of bunnies, wenches, star wars people, turtles, all showing up and taking calls.  What a joke that was.  So if you’re like me, I’m sorry.  But if you’re like me, you need to wear pants to truly be working.  I may not be wearing a shirt, but that really isn’t any of your business now is it.