Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Boston Legal

My understanding- and I'm usually the last to know- is that ABC has not yet picked Boston Legal up for another season.

I know it's an expensive show, largely because of the wealth of talent on it- but it would be a shame if this wonderful show doesn't get another year. I keep thinking it's going to get boring, derivative, become a parody of itself.

And it never does. It's the one thing on television besides the Daily Show and House that actually makes me laugh.

So I'm sure they will cancel it. That's how it goes. But if they do, it's a shame.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Time to Race ?

With some of my teammates down in Florida for the St. Anthony's Triathlon this weekend serving as a reminder that the season is well and truly coming, it's time to turn back towards racing just a little bit. This has been an odd reminder of 2006, when I has a good race at Lake Placid off a very minimal amount of racing.

I've taken minimal to new heights this year with just three races since Christopher Martin's last December. In total 11.1 miles running and 10 miles biking. Compared to my time trial efforts on the bike even, not very much. Which is not to say I haven't gotten in good intensity- running, mostly on the treadmill, the time trials and high-cadence spinning, and even race simulations that have me swimming 50 yards on one minute (a big deal for me). I feel ready to race, but more importantly, I feel like I've built a serviceable base for a race that is, well, it's my A- race at the moment.

But right now, the build-up is going to be about shorter fare, starting Sunday at Greenwich. This is a race where I've done OK in the past- third last year- but always seem to not bike as well as I probably should (there's also a little drafting, but it's not a USAT sanctioned race). So it's run bike run for the second time, and the first race of the season on my road bike.

Oddly, I am not very excited about it. Hopefully that will change, but right now, my biggest concern is getting a long ride in this week, and the knowledge I'll be running long Monday. I'm trying to be more positive this year- after all, I raced well at the end of last year, took some definite lower key time and have trained with good, moderate intensity since. in general I would say that I have not historically approached races with much confidence nor given myself much credit when I do have decent races. I think of myself as kind of a plodding, grinding sort of athlete, which is, on my good days, is not really probably accurate.

I took a positive attitude into Brian's and it served me well, but Greenwich is a different kind of race. Still, I guess it's time to get psyched up and start looking forward to racing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Morning

Sometimes, everything works out the way you want. As a dad, I can no longer remember what it was like to get up in the morning and not be worried about anything other than feeding the cats in the condo and the cats outside the condo.

Don't get me wrong- I still wake up with a cat on the bed, another one staring at me from the floor, and a third one wanders into the bathroom. The day starts with a group feeding. But after that, the dynamic is different than it used to be. Pressure to get in a morning workout used to be reserved for those days when we were going to a play or had a meeting at night. Which is not to say there weren't plenty of days I wanted to get up and do that early workout. It's when you feel like you have to that it takes on a different dynamic.

I like to spin more than most people, so at 5:50 AM I found myself doing Virtual Reality 1.0 with the sound low and the baby monitor cranked up. It's 51 minutes long but my goal was just to get 30 minutes in, and I picked the workout because it's easy to get lost in the scenery and forget the clock and that gnawing certainty your son is going to wake up before having even slept 8 hours. When I hit 30 minutes, the goal was 40. When I hit forty, the goal was to finish, and random chance was totally in my favour. As I started to take my bike shoes off, Ian started to cough and cry, having woken up. Talk about perfect timing.

Of course, having a good morning is about more than whether you got your workout in. Getting lunches packed, dishes washed, getting my son dressed and out the door, that's all part of the day, along with him having some fun time after he gets up and before he goes to school. Today that included Wonder Pets, castles, and drawing butterflies on the driveway...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's really, really nice out there- don't let it get to you

On Sunday, the thing that made the most sense was for me to get up at 7:30 and run for two hours. Which is what I did. As the day went on, and it got nicer and nicer, I was itching, no, I was crawling out of my skin, to get out on the bike. Better still, Margit was taking Ian to his swim lesson at 3:45. So I had a window of an hour and an an half to get out and do some riding that would have no effect on anything else.

There's something about the good weather that begs getting out on the bike. After all, I wasn't bummed that I'd started running when it was in the 50s and it was getting close to seventy. I mean, a two hour run is a two hour run, who cares if it's 50 or 70 and in fact some people would rather have it cold. Also, I'm glad to get to 9:30 AM on a Sunday and have my workout over with. Nevertheless, I was almost determined to get out and ride.

I wasn't trashed from the run or anything. I'd done about an hour on my own, then run a hammerfest loop with Michael D'Addetta, and actually gotten in about 2:10, meaning I'd gotten in my longest ride (70 miles) and run since October of last year in a three day period. In between I'd done a 20 minute ride-50 minute run-20 minute ride at a lower effort, but this was still a good three-day output.

The point isn't to break down all my workouts. It's that after increasing my volume to its largest level in six months, I simply didn't need to go and ride for an hour. in fact, going and riding for an hour was a dumb idea. Yes, it's awesome out there, and yes, to me at least, there is nothing in the training I do more enjoyable than sweeping along these roads along the shore.

But here's the deal. It was nice Sunday. And it was nice Monday, and Tuesday, and again today. I got to ride for almost an hour yesterday. I got to go on a (small) group ride today. I have another half-day Friday. The good days are going to come- for that matter, at some point, the season will be over, the water will be too cold to swim in, and I'll be wishing it was like it right now. It doesn't matter.

Chasing every nice moment, especially to get in a workout, is like chasing butterflies. there's always going to be work, driving in your car, chores, you name it. And even when you have the time, you have to step back and say, hey, I'm all worked out. That goal in, say July, is what's really important, and sometimes rest and recovery, not a ride, is what makes a great day even better...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Thoughts

The scary thing is to me it seems like almost my entire life that people have been denying global warming was possibly a threat- it really has only been since high school, but well, that was 25 years ago now. And while the awesome early summer weather we are having in April is probably a lot more about the gulf stream or other short-term factors than global warming, it does at least finally seem that the see has sawed and people are worried.

And just when we finally start to get some buy in for really solving the problem ?

Something else comes along that's even more frightening, and way more immediate- people all over the world are going hungry because they can't afford- get this- rice. I mean, rice ? In poor countries they give rice away to keep people from starving.

Or check that- they used to. Now they can't afford to. Rice in half the rest of the world is a main staple, not something between a novelty and take-out food like it is here in the US, where rice remains very affordable, because of course you can make more money sending your rice here than selling it for pennies back home. Of course, as countries start to restrict rice exports, that could change, but it's already past the point of comfort in the places where food riots have occurred.

That's right, people all over the world have rioted because of food shortages (or affordable food shortages, or both). At least one government is on the verge of toppling.

Of all the things we need from the earth, food is pretty much at the top of the list and here, on Earth Day, it's once again time to think about providing a better, more rational stewardship of the most important resource we have...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh, Canada !

Well, the Habs did it again- for what, the 24th time ? I hate to see the Habs beat up on the Bruins, but as there is no one I'd rather see win the cup, so...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Habs

You're killing me...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Time to Back Off

The amazing weather (or it it scary) just gets better. I had half a day coming and took it today and got out and rode about 70 miles. This is by far my longest ride since- I'm not really sure, maybe since Arizona last year, but certainly since August. It wasn't quite as warm on the shoreline as it was up north, but it was nice, and I did two loops out to Madison and back and a Hammerfest loop.

Fortunately today there were no trucks in odd places, which is good as I'm running low on wheels. I'm trying to push my long rides into the week, so that Margit can get out and do her long rides without us losing an entire day. Two five hour rides plus a run for each of us doesn't seem fair to Ian, and pretty soon I'll be working half-day Fridays on the summer schedule ...

But when you're out and the weather's nice- really nice, not just almost nice like last Thursday- it's hard not to push. And it's April, and Lake Placid is in July, so while building the base is good, hammering the bike for three and a half hours is bad. I kept reminding myself that. But the bike is hard. The day after Brians I ran for 90 minutes and kept it between 120-130 for the heart rate for 83 of 90 minutes and averaged a 126. That's a long, steady, easy run.

I find it very difficult to go out and do most of a ride at that pace. EH gave me three twenty minute intervals in low c, but I know the rest of the ride was probably a little bit too intense.

They say that one workout never makes or breaks a race, and that's dead on, but I think one workout that's too hard can set you back for a week, or create a pattern that lends itself to failure. Today wasn't quite that day, but the potential was there. After racing just three times this year and starting to really feel good about where I am for the rest of the season, it's not the time to give in to the old instinct to go hard on those long-base building workouts. I keep hoping as I approach old age that I really am getting smarter, but sometimes, when I am on that bike, and I get going....

Then I remind myself- I should be trying to feel that way in the pool, and of course it all crashes back down to earth with a thud of realism...

BSG- Wow

I think tonight was one of the toughest episodes of the show in the whole series because, well, how could you enjoy that ? Which is to say, this is a series which does what it needs to do, and that is not be afraid to put itself out there and put you the viewer through an hour of just very uncomfortable, gritty work.

It's the sort of hour of a series that I honestly think could drive some less serious viewers away.

Certainly nothing like what we'll get next week, when Six beats the snot out of the Colonel, where Apollo does more than just get put in his place my least favourite character- Laura- well Dean Stockwell is certainly making a run at that title. But no Baltar, no meaningful Adama, and just the barest hint of Starbuck.

Watching Cally unravel- with a child's life at stake- was ugly, uncompromising, and not the least bit enjoyable. But it also felt gritty, realistic.

Honestly, it wasn't any more enjoyable watching the Sixes getting pummeled either. You get the sense that the entire BSG universe is slowly unraveling. If you don't think that ominous comment about running out of spare bodies doesn't spell trouble, I think you're missing something. And the count that still falling at the start of the show- the number so small, so fragile. It's going to be an amazing end that's coming,,,,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Go Habs Go !

It took OT, but the Habs look like the real deal. They haven't won the Cup since my honeymoon, but let's see what happens. Or Habiens...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Road-Bouncing

I took half-a-day Thursday to ride long in the good weather. This is the second year in a row I've taken the half day on the first good day of spring to get out, and this year, with margit gearing up for LP, I'll need many more as well.

I was having a good ride really, although I noticed something. I'll admit it, like most desk pilots, I look at our fellow triathletes who are self employed business owners and what-not and wonder whether I'd be any better an athlete were I able to train at my discretion rather than when I can fit it in. Well, training in the afternoon has its own special challenge, at least if you're on a bike. They are big, yellow and you have to stop for them, and oh yeah, if you get behind one you are kind of screwed. It's still sunny, warm and 3PM, but just a reminder nothing is perfect.

I was enjoying myself. I'd ridden about 2:45 and covered 56 miles when my trip came to an abrupt end. Coming back from Guilford in Stony Creek there's a train overpass/tunnel that is clearly a throw back to the early 20th century. It's charitably two-car widths wide, flanked at either end by 90 degree turns into the tunnel and is general a death trap. I was coming down a steep hill where my speed had peaked at over 30 mph. I had dropped to 17-18 mph, but as I rounded the turn, using a nice wide sloping turn to maximize my visibility into the tunnel, I came to the unenviable conclusion I was about to crash.

Basically blocking the tunnel was a flat bed carrying a station wagon that looked like something out a Stephen King novel. I should have smashed head on into the truck, but I managed to find some open road between where it was well over the yellow line and the tunnel wall. However, it had those big oversized rear-view mirrors and I had to decide to either take the mirror out, or take the mirror in the head. I took it out, knowing that meant a crash.

My 303 Zipp wheel crumpled, which saved my fork as I hit the truck, the road. I lifted my feet up and took the impact on my helmet and shoulders so I could get the bike up off the road and avoid any further damage to my Elite (I was wearing toe clips because it's that time of year). This lead to a sprained wrist, but at least it kept the bike safe.

I bounced right up, and found myself being yelled at, but all I could say was license and insurance, and then I pointed at the truck, which had stopped with one wheel completely over the yellow line. Of course, the guy that hit me, well, he's only working part-time hauling junk, just got laid off, so what am going to do ? Pay for Zipp to rebuild the wheel, I guess. If he can chip in 20 bucks, great...

At least he gave me a ride home, and most importantly, I made the day care pick up.

Hey, if it had been a head-on collision like it should have been, who knows ? I suppose I'll think twice headed towards that tunnel next time... riding is sure a lot of fun...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Brian's Beachside Boogie Post-Race

http://www.plattsys.com/results/res2008/brian08.htm

First, I want to thank everyone who puts on this race. Despite the fact that the weather never really fully cooperates, the race is a a nice, low-key way to start the season, and it's low-key because of all the all the people who do the hard work and make it possible for the rest of us to just show up and race.

The beginning of a duathlon, especially the season-opener, is a tough thing for me. The same thing happens every time and I swear it seems worse each race, but of course, that's my imagination. The start of a duathlon is about patience. If the beginning of the first run doesn't almost feel too easy, you might just be going too hard. But there seems to be a swarm at the start of the races now. Reflecting on this today, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not only getting older, I am actually, finally, getting smarter.

That's right, the fact that I'm not sitting off the heels of the faster runners in the pack until my ears start to ring is a good thing. But having fourteen or fifteen guys around you at the start of the race kind of gives me that same feeling I get at the start of a triathlon swim. I like then open water, and I like running in small groups. John Hirsch - read his great blog at: http://johnhirsch.org/ - brought some real talent to the race- he's a pro himself. Dom Gillen, an Xterra pro, was off the front with a guy in my age group blistering the rest of us , then there was John and one other runner, and me. Just like that it seemed, as we headed into the trees, the race started to shake out, the swarm was gone, and I could relax, almost even enjoy myself.

Although by a mile or so I was running really- really hard. After all, it's two miles. You can't take it easy, but you also are going hard at 90-95% and that feels hard, but in a good way. You could run harder- it's not that burning 5K pace that leaves you entirely depleted.

I came into transition in the 5 spot, which I'm usually satisfied with if I'm shooting for top three, which I was. I was hoping to hang with John.

The bike is an odd mix- sand out to Meigs Point, nice hard road to the back section, then mostly grass, a short wood, and more sand. Then you do it again and it really gets interesting because you're mixed in with first-loop riders. As John wrote his blog, we traded position in a futile chase of Dom. John is both strong and well-rounded and he's more patient than I am- I knew I had to bear down out on the bike. It was great having someone that good to feed off the effort of, and the two loops went by a lot more quickly than I expected they would. I hardly noticed the wind or the cold. We stormed back into transition with a decent lead over the fourth-place guy, who was nevertheless moving up through the field and having a great bike.

John and I were shoulder to shoulder for the first mile, but then I got to watch a natural athlete open a gap. I kept pushing, but John ran an awesome last mile, never let up, and was there in the chute to say a bunch of nice stuff to me I probably didn't deserve.

It's always a great day when you race, and this is a race I really love...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Brian's Beachside Boogie

Well, the first real race of the season is tomorrow. After spending about two and a half hours prepping parts of the bike course, my legs are a lot more tired than I'd like, but I'm generally ready to race. The field is supposed to be be brutally tough this year, but I'm planning to go out and give it my best, get psyched for duathlon season, and then in May just start living off my base until Lake Placid.

For those of you who know the course, quick note: in the back section of the woods, the corkscrew turn has been eliminated for this year only to avoid a tree. You'll go down a very short decline and then have to hump up over a little hill, so use an easy gear in the woods...

Good luck to everyone tomorrow.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Notes from the Treadmill

CNN: Universal Health Care Surveys
Indiana School of Medicine did a survey which indicates 59% of doctors support universal health care and 32% oppose it. Disturbing in two ways- first, apparently 9% of doctors can't answer a yes or no question yes or no, and second, 32% of doctors don't think people should have access to health care.

I know, that's a massive oversimplification, and yes, we need to end medical students getting slammed by debt before they even leave school, unreasonable malpractice, etc. But come on, everyone doesn't deserve health care ? If we can't sell the idea to doctors...