Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Hunter and the Hunted

As noted below, Saturday is the Big Show between Jim G and I.

My main goal is to beat his time, but wouldn't this be lovely:

The hundreds of participants start to swim in waves based on age-group. Jim G's age-group start is 20 minutes prior to mine. In the biz, this means Jim G is the rabbit.

I guess that makes me the tiger, oui? >:-)

A new goal: to actually pass him on the course. (This is one very tall order but wouldn't it be great!!).

Monday, August 28, 2006

Remembering the YMCA and 2 feet

This entry will be uncharacteristically cheesy. Ah well...

When I was very young, I was scared of water. I used to take the summer swimming lessons with my friends and sit on the edge of the pool, refusing to go in, even with a lifejacket or "floaties".

Then one day, at a beach at age 7 or so, something clicked and I decided I would give it a try. I was still timid, but I had made the mental leap of dealing with the fear. This "leap" was probably diving underwater and not-drowning for 10 seconds or so (ha!).

That winter, the local Y provided "yuletide swimming lessons" on either Christmas Day (surely not!) or Boxing Day. My parents signed me up and brought me to the Y.

I was the only one there. A nice, teenaged girl was the instructor, and did a fine job of hiding any disappointment at being one kid away from getting the holiday morning off. My parents watched through a tiny window from the reception area. (I'm not sure where my sister, C, was).

After 20-30 minutes of assessing my skills, the teacher gave me a challenge: to start at the deep end and swim all the way to the shallow-end of the pool, where she would be waiting.

I sat at the edge of the deep end, and saw her tiny form waving to me. I looked and saw my parents in the window; surely it was evident to them what was going down here. My little heart raced like a hummingbird. This was it: the bigtime. I was going to be a swimmer! If I didn't drown. With a deep breath, I pushed off and began not-drowning. I kicked like there was no tomorrow. I crawled awkwardly through the water. I sputtered, burped, and blew bubbles. With my eyes squinted shut, I blindly tore through the water in a frenzied battle for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, after 3 arduous minutes, I couldn't take it anymore. It was too much. Perhaps I drew in some water. Perhaps I was weak. I don't know, but I stopped swimming and popped up in the shallow-end, about 2 feet from the end of the pool.

I was crushed. 2 measly feet away from what would have been a miraculous achievement.

Well, next weekend, it will be almost a mile in a deep lake with no safe shallow-end. And like every swim at my current Y, I will think of that day, that teacher, my folks/family, and coming up 2 feet shy.

I'll be grateful for an active childhood and a supportive environment. And I'll make it all the way this time. All the way.


ps. Hardly a newsflash, but all kids really should be involved in something athletic. It's a big deal.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Lake St Louis: Battle Royale

Sept 2 will be a big day: 'tis the Lake St Louis Triathlon, the premier event in the St Louis area.

It is also Round 2 for Jim G vs Me, 2006.

In many of the other tri's, there have been 200 people or so. Lake StL has 750 participants; it's a big deal. They have a short course and a long. We are doing the long (aka Olympic distance): 1500 meter mile swim, 40K bike, and 10K run. It is arguably my most challenging event yet.

Some people have asked about Jim G, archrival and general nemesis. Sadly, he does not work with me any longer, so we don't get daily updates. But he is doing well and claims to be training "somewhat but not enough". He feels that I have a big advantage for Lake StL, but he always says that.

The mind games have begun.

I'm tempted to train more (but run the risk of overtraining), train less (to reverse his reverse-psychology), or stay the same (which is probably just what he wants). It's not easy to figure out his angle.

Fading in the stretch

The new standings have been posted for the FleetFeet series.

They are hard to read but here's the gist

Bob K 528
Captain Canuck 476
Nancy K 464
Brian K 442
Wade P 401

Note 1: Bob K is 71 years old. He has an advantage because scores are based on your age-group and there is only one other guy in his age-group; my age-group is killer. However, in the last tri, I only beat him by a scant 3 minutes. He is 71 years old!

Note 2: The others have 5 of 6 races -- one race in hand. This is Bad News... I certainly won't win but also may not be in the top 4 (the top 4 are deemed "elite" and get discounts at the store).

Ah well... it was a nice run while it lasted.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


At most triathlons, the organizers mark your right arm and right leg with your number, using a Sharpie or other permanent marker.

In Mattoon, IL, I saw someone who had asked for a "smiley" on the other leg.

At the recent Alligator Creek Tri in O'Fallon, I did the same. I had completely forgotten about it until during the bike, when I heard a woman's voice saying "I like your smiley. It made me smile." A rare, kind moment of banter out on the battlefield.

Then she passed me, going about 10 mph faster than I. Next time, I'm getting a "frowney".

Weekend Warrior

Our hero slices through the murky water. Right stroke, left stroke, breathe, repeat. Part man, part bass, he quickly catches up to his rival, who coyly claims that she "had held up" to give said hero "a chance" in the race to the other side of the river.

The scene is not a triathlon: it's the Bass River near Steelville, MO. The occasion is Floatus Tripicus: a charming way to enjoy Missouri's idyllic rivers with hundreds of your favorite people. Combine a Mark Twain novel with Mardi Gras, and you get the idea -- a traffic-jam of debauchery on the high seas. There are no beads (strangely), no nudity (sadly), and no litter (incredibly), but one will probably see sights that one never expected to see. For example, a dude standing on a rock face, 40 feet above the water, while an armada of canoes, kayaks, and rafts congregate to see if he will listen to the guys ("jump!") or the ladies ("are you crazy?").

And one's vessel _will_ capsize -- but all is well, since one is often in 2 feet of water (see "are you crazy?" above).

It is a curious venture for someone doing a triathlon the next day, but there are only so many weekends in a summer, n'est-ce-pas?

Hours later, the alarm goes off. It is 5:30 am, and time to roll. Our hero stands up, testing his lithe, sinewy body after a full-day paddling/swimming/boozing adventure. He creakily falls back onto the bed, feeling like he has helped someone move... a piano.

Some 2.5 wretched hours later, he again slices through water: cool, blue, and chlorinated.

And later yet, on the bike, miles from anywhere, he re-examines his training regimen while doing a body inventory. Pain? check. Bruises? check. General muscle failure? check.

Settling into the aero position on Blackbird, he smiles wryly. As summer should be: The days are just packed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

While you were sleeping...

Longtime readers will know Chicago is my feral furball friend.

I have started to feed the little waif some real cat food, instead of treats. To be honest, he hasn't been coming around more often (what, chicken liver isn't good enough for you?) but methinks Exhibit A (the top of Herbie) shows that he has associated my car with Good Times. (He likes to hang out near cars).

ps. No, I don't know for sure if it was him, but that's my wager.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Adios amigos

In local news, Software Plus is closing! How tragic...

It is a store at Olive and Fee Fee. Think of a mini-Best-Buy with lots of computer tech, great book selection, many game PCs for free play, and geek-punks on staff who seemed to know their stuff.

Big sales right now as they are liquidating.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thought of the Day

Synopsis of this documentary

Since the late 18th century American legal decision that the "corporation" is legally a person, it has become a dominant economic, political and social force around the globe. This film takes an in-depth psychological examination of the organization model through various case studies. What the study illustrates: the behaviour of this type of "person" typically acts like a dangerously destructive psychopath without conscience.

My thoughts today are with 2 dear friends who deserve better than they got.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Another Tri Article

Full article here

Quoteth (emphasis added):

We were living (and swimming, biking, running) proof. Six men of varying ages, body types, and fitness levels, active but not insanely so, easily finished our "sprint" triathlon -- a half-mile swim, 18-mile bike ride, and 4-mile run. An Ironman this was not. That's a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile ride, and full 26.2-mile marathon. That's insane.

But in everyday conversation, nobody hears the distances. They hear only "triathlon." The work-to-reward ratio was ideal. The postevent soreness, less than after a 10-mile run. The afterglow, sublime. We're all doing it again this year.

20 Reasons to do a Tri

An interesting article on doing triathlons... Note that we ain't talking Ironman here -- just tri-sports.

I thought this part was the most interesting (and surprising):

Quoteth: If your children watch you finish a triathlon, they may never look at you the same way. How do I know? My mom was a triathlete back in the formative years of the sport -- the early 1980s. At that time, people knew very little about how to train for the triathlon; trailblazers like my mom were making it up as they went along.

Bogey at 6 o'clock

Uh oh... some guy in the Fleet Feet series has a perfect 300 points in 3 races. I have 395 in 5 races.

Not good... I think I'm in his sights.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


BryGuy turned me on to a delightful documentary, Wordplay, that is currently in (independent) theatres.

It is a documentary about the New York Times crossword puzzle: its fans, its constructors, and its longtime editor, Will Shortz. Many puzzle fans are featured, including: former President Clinton, Jon Stewart, and the Indigo Girls. Also, there are profiles on some of the top competitors in the annual puzzle competition, hosted by Shortz.

If you get a chance, check it out... Highly recommended.

Some personal notes:

(a) My paternal grandmother did a crossword every day for decades. She was a dominant Scrabble player and was sharp as a tack until she passed away at 91. Though I don't think she did NYT's puzzle, she would have loved this film. These are her people.

(b) Shortz is shown in-studio for NPR; he is running a contest for some callers to his radio show. One puzzle is, given a category, provide a name for something in that category that starts with the same two letters as the category. For example, if the category is "auto manufacturers" then "Audi" is a good answer. The keen viewer will notice that his list of categories contains "Provinces of Canada". (If you need a hint with this answer then perhaps you should stop reading this blog. Thank you.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Debate Redux

A recent post explained the debate: enter a 1/3 IronMan versus improve on the FleetFeet series (and solidify my miraculous, if tenuous, lead in the standings).

BryGuy elegantly stated the case for the 1/3 IronMan. However, I have decided to cherry-pick some easier races in August.

The reasoning was pretty easy:

-- I've hardly spent any time on the bike lately, in part due to crazy heat/storms, and in part due to sloth. LOL. A competitive 40-mile bike ride ain't gonna happen for me

-- Round 2 with Jim G is in early September: the Lake St Louis triathlon. This is the most prestigious event in the area, and though it's not a 1/3 IronMan, it will be a new milestone for me (0.9 mile swim, 26 m bike, 6 m run).

-- I have recently re-discovered there is more to life than training. ha ha...

So the next events are sprint tri's in Wood River IL and O'Fallon MO