Friday, February 29, 2008


We'll miss you, Worfette.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Snow ?

I found myself driving through a snow squall up north of where I live on the way home around 9:30 tonight. There's something wrong with the weather and our climate when I see more snow in late February than the whole rest of the winter put together.

We took our son sledding for the first and second times ever Friday and Sunday. As a kid, sledding was what you did in the winter. We had the best hill in the whole neighbourhood and all the kids came over to my house- whether I was out there or not. This was the 1970s, when of course things like liability where not an issue.

We got some good sledding in and it was great to see Ian was totally psyched and didn't want to leave either day. But I have to wonder at how little sledding there is in CT. The kids on the hill didn't seem to have the basics down- that you have to groom the course to keep the run from wearing down to the dirt, that headfirst is the fastest way down, that you have to keep the line moving, and most of all, never turn your back to the run unless you want someone to cut you down at the ankles.

Still, it's too bad that the days of snow in winter in southern CT seem to be gone for good...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ironman Replay

A few hours after running the Sweetheart, I found myself on my bike in the basement, spinning out an Aero Base Builder. After all, Saturdays are for the bike, not running races, so there was no question I should do the spin after resting and recovering from the race.

I have an Apple TV with a number of Spinervals set up on it, and that and its monitor sit on top of an old TV. So when I went downstairs the ironman was on, however, I didn't turn it on right away. There was the fact I'd already seen it once. There was also the fact that, well, I have a little bit of a sore spot there.

It's an hard thing to get by. I'm really fortunate to train with, know, and even be coached by people who not only have been in the big show, but conquered it nicely. As someone who never thought about qualifying, to have qualified and then not gone is- it makes it a little difficult to watch this ninety minute celebration of other people at Kona. Which is incredibly selfish. So after refusing to turn it on during the first five minutes of my spin, I did flip the TV on.

Of course, I was glad I did. It's good to get past your own selfish hangups. There are the obligatory reminders about how good you really have it. There was the kid with the scar running the length of his chest, the blind man, the guy with zero legs.

But what really affected me was Rutger Beke. My own race at IM Arizona was brought back to me in force. I was embarrassed. I was shocked with myself, but mostly, I was just disappointed. And then I watched this man, a true professional, an accomplished athlete, the sort of guy who is looking at breaking not just 11 hours, or 10, but who is a top ten finisher, and multiple Kona finisher. And there he was, honouring the race, walking the marathon not because he wanted a finisher's medal, not because he planned to walk the marathon, but because he could no longer run.

That was something. That is something I'll take into races with me, a reminder about determination, about looking inside yourself to find something, even when nothing is left...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Good Race, but Five Seconds ???

I really went into yesterday's race with a feeling that there would not be much I could do. I didn't say anything to Margit as we'd be racing as a team, but when I haven't raced in two months, I usually don't do anything worth writing about.

It was cold and windy, not quite bitter but certainly bordering on too cold for the racing shoes I was wearing- bright orange Mizunos that stick out and draw comments. I went off on my own and warmed up, running almost two miles and feeling like I was sucking wind on a comparatively small hill. This was not the 2 hour plus bike ride which has become my Saturday staple.

The race thankfully started close to on time and I very quickly found myself set in with a group of four runners, Ryan Pancoast (congrats, Ryan) leading the way on the first downhill mile. There's something nice about racing in February. It really was a sedate first mile. I was in the lead group, so I decided to try and step outside myself and stay with this. We went through a mile at 5:38, but that's as downhill a mile as the 4th is uphill. We climbed a bit and then broke onto a straight away and I told the two college kids with me that Ryan was just waiting for them to draw up with him. Right then, Ryan looked back as he took the turn and after the race he confirmed that was just what he was doing.

We took another hill. I fell back on the opening part of the hill but then surged past everyone but Ryan as we crested. He was only holding about 50 yards, and although I know I could never beat Ryan, I made an attempt to close the gap, but it was so small. I couldn't, and that effort probably hurt me.

I spent the next mile pulling away on downhills and getting tangled up in a mix of what had become 4 runners including myself. We hit the three mile mark and I fell back to fifth. Ryan had left us behind and Fred Willis was slowly pulling away, but we went up that long hill and fell into fifth, just biding my time. As we finally crested, I tried my best to find an extra gear and on the downhill pushed into third place. I ran hard, but after the last turn onto the main road, I slowly fell back to fifth.

The clock was at 23:49 when I first saw it and I knew it would take a titanic effort to break 24:00. It didn't happen. I ran 24:03.

As soon as Margit finished we went out and ran the course backwards with Robin Passander, cutting out the upper loop and just doing about three miles. I was thinking Margit and I had a very good chance to win. I didn't know that Ian Frankel had been randomly matched up with a 15 year old girl that finished second overall and we lost our chance to be three-time champions by 5 seconds.

5 seconds ?

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Race ?

I haven't run a race since Christopher Martins last year and haven't even really considered running one either. It's been 2 hours on the mountain bike or spinning Saturdays and 90 minutes or more of running every Sunday- I got back up to 1:45 last Sunday.

When Margit suggested running the Sweetheart Run, I was taken a little off-guard. I haven't really done any speed work running. it's been slow runs in the b range, spinning, the occasional swim. Work has been unusually busy- a series of mishaps caused by people who are supposed to be helping me with me picking up the pieces- so getting in two workouts a day has been rough sledding and often if I get one workout in, it's on the bike.

The Sweetheart course is a hard course, with a big hill and usually some good competition. I'll be interested to see how I do.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Electronic Voting Machines- Burned by a Bad Idea

I want to preference this by pointing out something obvious to anyone who knows me- I'm no luddite. I'm an early adopter of technology actually- from wireless networking to the iPhone, I'm on the front edge of this kind of stuff.

But I'm also a major privacy advocate, and I have always felt that electronic voting was at best a good idea with slipshod implementation, and at worst a dangerous undermining of democracy- yes, that sounds paranoid, but Diebold is the big player, and these gentlemen shouldn't be making cash registers for elementary school lunch programs. It's interesting that their ATMs rarely make errors, but I think that's because banks aren't not very tolerant of third-party mathematical errors in consumer transaction. Of course for me the big concern is that the underlying possibility that Diebold has a political agenda.

But this isn't a Diebold rant. This is a generalised rant. I went. I voted. Only my vote wasn't counted. That's right. I filled out my 'ballot'. I walked over to the machine. I put my ballot in while watching the total count. It was at 209 before I inserted the ballot, it stayed at 209 while the ballot was inserting. It stayed at 209 after it disappeared.

I went over and got a volunteer. Astonishingly, she took a key and opened the ballot box. That's right, opened it. One person, with no one but me watching her. She confirmed that my ballot wasn't jammed. I asked what happened next.

She took my name and phone number and told me someone would 'look into it.'

The monster that ate my vote, of course, just sat there, a big, dump, fraking box. My ballot ? Gone. And here at 11 PM,
the state has been called, my vote is still gone, and who knows if this particular machine will be audited. The sheet that my exception was written on was either the 3rd or 4th exception- it was hard to read them as they were hand written. That's between a 1.4 and 1.9 (or so) margin of reported error. Over 1% ?

Not acceptable, not at all.