Friday, June 30, 2006

Fitness Tip #2

Tip #1 was "never get involved in a land war in Asia". No, wait, it was "get an archrival".

Tip #2 is "accountability". If you have a pseudo-compulsive tendency to compile stats (like my Dad and I), then it is fun to try and crank up the numbers and then tell someone. Every morning, Jim G and I report on what we did, and the speed etc.

Here's my year-to-date report. The point isn't so much the numbers themselves but the goal of beating them in the 2nd half of 2006.

1st half of 2006:

Swim: 17.6 miles (28.3 km)
Bike: ~240 miles (386 km)
Run: 137 miles (221 km)

Run/walk: 52.4 miles (2 marathons)

Calorie intake: a lot

and yet I don't feel fit because I haven't worked out in 3 days!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Vehicle Indecision 2006 (Episode 3)

In this face-off, we have Vehicle A...

It's so ugly, it's chic. A veritable Boxmobile that goes it's own way with EurAsian utilitarian style. Not a hybrid, but sips gas... and it's way popular with the kids and DIY home-owners alike (though it received a "no way" from my personal focus group). Introducing the Scion xB

Versus Vehicle B...

If anything outdoes the Miata for cuteness, this is the ride. And in the top model, it has 200+ HP. It's the Reigning Royalty of Retro-Ride Reductionism, the venerable Mini Cooper

Merging in Traffic

There is a website called Worth1000 that has some great Photoshop galleries. Some truly creative and talented people out there.

Check out this gallery, of merging cars. There is a Lamborghini station wagon and an old Ford Mustang mated with a Scion xB. (Be sure to scroll down as they get better as you go).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Way down south

If you need any tools sharpened, you may want to stop by Lord Stanley's gravesite, because he is no doubt spinning like a lathe: the Stanley Cup has gone to Carolina.

This could be a sign of The End, but at least the playoff MVP, rookie goalie Cam Ward, is from Saskatchewan.

On TV, did I hear people singing the Canadian national anthem in the Carolina rink? I thought that was very cool.... esp. if it was Americans joining in with the dozen ex-pat Canadians.

ps. The astute will note that Tampa Bay won in 2003. But that was ok because (a) all Canadians love Florida (the snowbird effect) and (b)the playoff MVP was Brad Richards, from The Island!

Vehicle Indecision 2006 (part 2)

One strategy for a new vehicle is to wait for the production of some new concept cars.

The Ford Mustang's retro look has inspired other manufacturers to go retro as well.

Check out the new Chevy Camaro

Check out the new Dodge Challenger

I'm a sucker for retro but I can't help but wonder if the designers for these cars were heavily influenced by a Muppet named Sweetums. Can you see the resemblence?

(Hint: think of headlights as eyes)

Monday, June 19, 2006

If at first you don't succeed, tri tri -- yeah yeah

Well any interested parties have read the headlines by now. After a day of introspection, I have decided the tri was fun. Everything went pretty smoothly but Jim was just faster on the bike and I wilted in the heat during the run.

Some factoids:
-- I was 13 minutes faster than last October (swam/biked faster, ran much slower)
-- Out of 51 racers, in my age group, I finished 40th. Sounds bad, but I'm pretty happy with that
-- I tend to binge on desserts for a week after a tri, but after a decadent dessert last night, I think I'm going to continue my training diet for the next one
-- the order of the "gang of 5" was: Ember, Jim, me, Mike, Robert. Ember torched us in the pool and then on the bike

Every tri has a story, and this one was no exception. People hang their bikes on racks, as shown here.

Well, while some of us "regular folks" were setting up, an elite racer came sprinting out of the pool and grabbed his bike. As he yanked on it, the A-frame bike rack came tumbling down along with about 4 bikes. Yow! Thankfully some of us were able to grab the rack and restore it (we told the elite guy to "go, go, go!" and not worry about it).

That's one thing about tri's: you can be chillin' in your transition area, warming up, chatting, etc, and then someone right next to you is changing gear frenetically. I don't know many sports where (a) changing gear is a timed event or (b) the racers and soon-to-be-racers are in such close proximity.

ps. thanks to everyone for their support!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Headline: Jim 1 Mike 0

(Reuters) Jim G won today at the Triathlon World Cup. When pressed for comment, he said that "the win felt good". A crestfallen Mike stated that, "this is a tremendous setback for me but I will be back, after taking time to reflect with friends and family".

Friday, June 16, 2006

Summer Joy

What an exceptional, splendid photo, from Fred & Stacey's blog.

You just ain't appreciatin' a new swingset unless your back is into it and you can look up at the sky....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Setting the Stage

Finally, the first "big" tri of the season is Sunday. There will be 5 in our "gang", all starting consecutively, with various strengths and weaknesses:

(a) Jim G, arch-rival, average in all 3 events
(b) me, protagonist, racing for the Forces of Good, average in all 3 events
(c) Ember, by far the strongest swimmer, weak runner
(d) Mike, by far the strongest runner, poor swimmer
(e) Robert, the unknown X factor

We start in the pool at 20 second intervals. The gang are friends of Jim G, but Priority #3 is to beat 'em all.

Priority #2 is to accrue more points towards the Fleet Feet standings.

Priority #1 has been well-documented: to avenge Jim G's victory in October 2005 (while getting fit, enjoying a friendly rivalry, and a bunch of other things which sound good but aren't really important -- ha).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Track & Field

For a few weeks in the early summer, the St Louis Track Club holds a "track series" in my neighbourhood. Last night, I set a personal best in the 1500 metres. And I didn't finish last! (I beat one guy out of 15.) Like triathlons, track runs have some extremely fit people -- it keeps one modest.

Last week, I was impressed twice:

(a) A 77-year-old man ran a mile in 8 minutes.
(b) A high-schooler ran a mile in 4:30.

Of course, the high-schooler had just stolen, and crashed, the senior's car, which might explain the situation (not really).

Monday, June 12, 2006

Operation Warmup

Our hero blindly slices through the murky water. Part man, part catfish, he partakes in a triathlon near lovely Mattoon, IL.

Rather than thrash in a mob of swimmers, he has laid back from the pack during the treacherous open-water swim leg. His strategy: use Blackbird during the bike leg to catch the pack.

Our hero emerges from the lake and sprints to the transition area, looking rather pained (pic).

He hops on Blackbird, which has been set to a very easy gear, giving sweet salvation to burning legs. His feet crank the pedals. "Hmm...", he thinks, "this gear is quite easy". Then he notices no forward movement. Alarmed, he looks down, and his fears are confirmed: the chain is off the front cog.


He fixes the chain, then bikes, then runs. He finishes 67th out of 80.

"Warmups aren't supposed to be pretty...", he rationalizes.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Swim, Bike, Run, Pray

I'm doing a tri in Illinois on Saturday. Here's a pic of the finish line from 2005

Note the subtle religious overtones... ha ha. This is actually a brilliant strategy because people are quite likely to seek salvation after a tri! Triathlons and bad hangovers are good motivators for spirituality.

Note that also along I-70 in the middle of Illinois there is a cross that stands about 200 feet tall and cost $1 million (which strikes me as being contrary to Jesus' philosophy and wishes). See it

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Plot Thickens

Two news bites:

(a) The inimitable Jim G has received an early Father's Day present: aerobars for his bike. Zounds! There goes a solid advantage of mine. However, he still is unaware of Blackbird.

(b) The showdown with Jim G is on 6/18. But I have found a very short tri on 6/10 in the middle of Illinois. This will be a great warmup. So, bootcamp comes to a close....

7 days of bootcamp:

swim: 1.56 miles
bike: ~45 miles
run: 15.8 miles
fatigue factor: moderate

Friday, June 02, 2006

One for the Road, Herbie

In a few short weeks, I will have had my car, aka Herbie ("Go-Cartus Maximus"), for 10 years. Holy schmoly.

We have been through some interesting times, let me tell you. A road-trip to PEI; a road-trip to South Carolina; countless jaunts with the top down; break-ups & make-ups; triumphant parking-lot donuts after exams, triathlons; and, yes, some mechanical difficulties. Automobile magazine listed the Miata as one of the Top Ten best cars to ever own. I concur. Weather-tight, reliable, quick, but most of all: fun. Car and Driver once said that the Miata makes you want to take out the garbage, pay your taxes, and spend time with your in-laws. Every day for 10 years, a piece of me has felt like I had won the lottery.

Herbie used to be a hit with the ladies. One last hoorah was recently in a Dairy Queen drive-thru: the girl handed me my order and then, with a railroad-track smile, beamed "I like your car!". Kinda sad, in a way, but we'll take it.

One for the road. How, oh how, can I replace Herbie with a Prius? Heaven help me.

ps. Another big hoorah is that Disney has stolen Herbie's likeness and personality (without permission, I might add) for its upcoming summer blockbuster !

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Game On

It's June. The first tri of the season is 3 Sundays away (gah!) -- a rematch of last year's autumn showdown with the dreaded Jim G.

Last year I had to "cram for finals" by doing a personal boot-camp for 2 weeks and then a week of rest, which is not the ideal. The ideal is to work hard during the period 12-to-4 weeks before the event and then taper off, feeling tanned and well-rested.

Yet somehow (by design?) here we are again, under-prepared and rather un-tanned... 'Tis stressful but exhilirating at the same time. It's actually quite fun to have a goal and feel one's body respond to a boot-camp.

Thankfully, this year there is Blackbird. Oh yes. Oh yes.

So, here we go again. Blank slate for June: 0 miles swum ; 0 miles biked ; 0 miles run.

Game on.