Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Third times a charm

Funny...I have written two posts already today and neither of them are up. Oh the first one was crap and though funny I couldn't get it to gel so ditched it after several minutes. The second...I thought I did something and posted it. Hmmm. Oh well.

Swimming is getting better. Coach Nick has ditched the bi-lateral breathing. Guess there is too much other stuff to fix first. I am much more comfortable with one side breathing. Progress is better with the stroke look and pacing. Rolling more with my hips instead of looking like a board in the water.

To be overtly masculine, Nick's swim client after me, who is doing IM CdA this year, was a smoking hot brunette who wore a tri bikini. She was just hanging out with us while I finished up, like a in a transition area. I mention this because now all I want to have for dinner is a salad. I suppose a BIG salad but nevertheless it takes focus like that to put a damper on poor dieting.

Any one want to join my on this carrot?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

my one and only request accepted

Okay first off, this is the first ‘tag’ I have done in two years despite repeated attempts from bloggers. The difference here is that I was ‘asked’ by IronJenny and to be brutally honest, I will do anything she asks. That’s right, Any. Thing.

  1. Describe a memory from your first triathlon ever.

My first triathlon ever was the one I watched my wife, Mistress, perform twelve years ago when we first started dating in Seattle. It was an All-Woman Danskin sprint. She started in the fourth wave and came out with the lead women in the first wave. Mistress was a four year varsity swimmer at Washington State University. Her event was the mile, and she swam on average seven miles a day, six days a week. (To finally get that little bit of vomit in your mouth all the way out…her PR for the mile is 16’41”).

  1. Describe a memory from your most recent triathlon.

Ironman Florida. Let’s see…coming out of the water with Heather Fuhr. Of course she had finished her two loops and I was just finishing my first. But really the entire week spent in Florida before, during and after the race will remain one of my most treasured memories of all time. I think if going to heaven is anything like the ending of the movie Titanic, I will find myself walking towards the beach and surrounding me will be all the friends that I had there. I will walk up to the surf and be completely at peace.

tri-mama, kahuna, me, robo-stu, iron jenny and so many more made my first ironman so blessed.

  1. What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you in a tri?

I was doing a fat tire (x-terra type) triathlon and I got the most amazing pain and spasms in my back and legs only 100 yards into the open swim and could not finish. I had to hang onto a kayak and be brought in. It happened so fast, only a few minutes into the race, the safety person was completely off guard and I thought I might pass out from the pain of kicking to stay afloat. I was dragged in as the last people were coming out of the water and I felt so lame. I had to crawl to shore and lay on my back for several minutes with spectators still milling about.

  1. What’s the most thrilling thing that’s happened to you in a tri?

Taking 2nd Place in my division at a local sprint last year. The day was cold and raining with lightening and thunder. The start was delayed twice. Not only was the race in miserable conditions, I had just got my Valdora the day before and put exactly 12 miles on it. I raced with reckless abandon and loved every minute of it. I never, EVER, thought I would podium a triathlon. I love that cheap ass medal.

5. What is something you discovered about yourself by doing triathlons?

I really have a great marriage to a wonderful and understanding woman. I don’t have to be sitting in a chair with my bible in front of me to feel the presence of God. I talk to him more on the bike than I do in any quite time during the day.

6. What is The Big Goal that you’re working towards?

To become more technically efficient at each event ultimately becoming a lighter, faster version of myself today.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lose your money but stick around for the the commercials

This weekend I am headed back to Las Vegas for the annual Super Bowl weekend (last years recap) with a bunch of guy's I work with, my partners and a couple managers mostly. I prefer Mandalay Bay but this will be our second year at Paris Las Vegas. Not a huge fan of the casino since, first and foremost, I am constantly reminded of how smelly and inferior the French are.

Seriously though, there is not much to do in the casino except gamble and eat at 4 star restaurants. I do like to walk around a bit and get my coffee and a sandwich, yet the casino is almost exclusively 2 desert bistro's with huge lines so the old bitties can have 'French' truffles that really aren't any different than any other truffle in Vegas but at least they feel that they are gay Parrie.

This year I am not planning on a 16 mile run along the strip early Saturday morning. I'll spend some hours in the gym and spa before my 11am deep tissue massage ($150 with 18% tip). Bally's has a heated lap pool so I am hoping I can get to that for some laps. I checked for road races for the weekend and nada.

I may actually go to the top of the Eiffel Tower this year to look around, depends on cost. Plus maybe a show. I would like some comedy right now.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A ride and hook up

The team had a special guest appearance this weekend for our Ironman Arizona bike course ride, non other than TriathleteB, aka Bridget. Now many of you may not know TriathleteB, but she has been around for a while and has trained with Kahuna and Robo Stu(d) while living in sunny SoCal.

She told me she had been training very hard for Arizona and had not had time to blog much. I understand that!

She brought her training partner and dad along and we followed the first group of The Machine, Andy2, Glen, Robin and John up the course from Tempe Town Lake.

The first loop to the top of the Beeline was its usual windiness and I confess my cardiovascular system was having a hard time with the false flat. After the first 30 miles my HR came down but my quads were fried and the second time going up the hill wiped me out. Coming back into Tempe Town Lake my HR was down again, my speed was up and my RPE felt better but my legs had not much else in them.

After wards Machine, Andy2 and I went to Hooters for lunch.

Later that night, Mistress and I met Machine, his wife Wendy and another friend for dinner and drinks at a great bar in the middle of nowhere and it was packed. Each outdoor table had its own firepit and it was a kid friendly place which allowed you to roast marshmallows. I did not do that. Great place we will definitely return to with Mo.

Friday, January 26, 2007

What's your average time?

Guys have you really had a good look at your Dork Rocket lately?

If really should look HERE. Go ahead ladies. Its only good for you too!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Common Sense, Man.

In another case of, "Its a common sense proposal', (read: passing laws that abridge personal freedoms regardless of how silly), New Jersey is ready to pass a law against talking on your phone while riding a bicycle.

These common sense proposals are such pap. They come across as 'penalizing universally understood actions of self abuse' but when the law finally gets enacted and then modified by courts, it becomes so wide ranging that it ultimately affects a much wider area of intent.

I am not against all, 'common sense proposals'. In Arizona we have a law called the, "Stupid Driver Law." Its states that if you are stupid enough to drive through a flooded wash zone and get your car stuck, the driver will be liable for all costs associated with the rescue and recovery operation.

In the case of CWB, Cycling While Biking, its such a stupid thing. Look, if your just an average dude/dudette coasting down a wide multi-use path or on a beach cruiser on an open road and someone calls, is it really that bad to answer the phone? I myself, very occasionally and appropriately have pedaled along and spoke to Mistress on the phone while riding. Let me be specific for those sharpshooters in the comment section- I have never done that while on a busy road, only empty ones and I am riding very slowly.

The loss of personal freedoms will not come in some over the top "Patriot Act" type program but in the legislation of small incremental severs of our freedoms.

Do carry your cell phone on you when you ride, its smart. Do use judgment in talking a call and if necessary pull over. But please stand up for your right to take a call the way you want.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Important before Irrelevant

Telling someone that you had a great training weekend and spewing out the hours you did this or that has no relevance in society. You might as well just stop now. No one cares how many yards you swam, miles you biked or kilometers you ran. You constantly get the same blank vapid expression before the conversation turns away.

Saying that you biked three hours and ran an hour has no gravitas to non athletes. That's a four hour workout. Thats more than an Olympic distance triathlon in time commitment. That's as long a some people run a marathon. Thats like one full sitting of Lord of The Rings Extended Edition. That was three seconds to comprehend.

Meanwhile my peers started watching football at 10 am and then caught the 1pm game that gets over at 4pm; thats six hours of football watching which equals six hours of ass sitting. Yet I am the weird one for doing six hour bike rides instead. And while at lunch on Monday there is plenty of back whacking and cajoling about who did better with the bookie, there are weird stares and snide remarks because I couldn't scrub my age off my calf from the race I did that weekend and wore shorts to work.

And why is it that its weird for me to buy new Shiny Things for triathlon but not weird for my peers to spend thousands on a football game with a bookie. "Oh hey man, thats just weird that you bought a $100 helmet that matches your team colors but not weird that I bet a $100 that Shaun Alexander will score the first touchdown in Sundays game. The odds are 4:1 man. I can't lose."

Really folks, its just that we can't win. Get used to fact that until Oprah or Diddy do Ironman we will continue to be without respect in the mainstream society and among our peers. Dear lord I hope we never get to the point when 'regular' Ironmans becomes the trivial and the only thing that matters is Kona. Its sort of that way with the NYC marathon. "Oh Oprah did that. Diddy did that. No big deal." No big deal? NO BIG DEAL? This is the NYC marathon were talking about here. Next to Boston there is none more hallowed except maybe Chicago. But because its been conquered by the mainstream it no longer relevant.

The world of triathlon is exploding with new finishers every year and growing exponentially. Its a beautiful supernova to observe. But will there be a time when we amatuers have to say, "Yes but I finished my Ironman before Lindsey Lohan." God forbid Paris Hilton every does a tri.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Your Paper's Please.

A reminder to all of you racing out of the country this year, myself included. Beginning today all U.S. citizens will need to have a passport or other accepted form of travel document to fly to or from any location in the western hemisphere, this does not include American territories such as Guam (booyah, lived there), Puerto Rico, Somoa, Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands (booyah, been all over that beeyotch), and last and yes least the Swain Islands.

I bet you didn't know we had that many territories did you?

This does include newborns and toddlers, etc.

If you are driving to Canada or Mexico you will not need a passport until January 2008 or 2009. But you should get one anyway.

Wait time for a passport (about $100) is normally eight weeks through normal channels and two to four weeks with an expedited fee (double that). Some agencies can get one to you in a few days but expect to pay huge cash (double that). Procrastination has a price.

In other local news you can buy a bogus social security card on the corner of Van Buren and 7th Ave. for $5 and Coyotes (people who transport illegal aliens) are now buying GPS units, loading them with topo maps with routes and waypoints on them and selling them at the border for people to make there way across and into the country illegally with the least amount of detection from the border patrol.

I suppose soon enough new GPS units will go behind the counter like my favorite cold medicines with epinephrine . If its not the meth heads and tweaker's screwing with me, its the illegals. Oh wait minimum wage just went up, and my profit check just went down. I thought this was a win/win for America.

Athlinks Response

In December I became a member of a local website with universal appeal to anyone who wishes to see their race times and history in one location. Some neat aspects to the site is that you can list 'friends' and 'rivals'.

A friend might be a team mate, a friend located in another part of the country or someone you have met at races before. A rival is someone automatically generated by the website as a person you competed in three races with, regardless if you know the person or not.

There are some growing pains that still need to occur but overall its worth the free admission. In response to some of those concerns based on my first post, I was surprised to see this morning a response from the webmaster, also in the first posts comment section.

Hey guys - to answer a few questions from above:

We (Athlinks) inherit the state that the race was run unless it is given in the official results (which is pretty rare) so that we can keep profiles segregated until you register and claim them. Although you may not think that yours is a common name, you would be amazed to see how often seemingly rare names are duplicated around the world.

As for ages, the differences in ages generally comes from the race director using age groups only as opposed to your actual age. So, if you are 20 and the RD gives only age groups, we take the oldest possible value (24) and use that.

We're working everyday adding and fixing features. We have added about 2 million individual results since your original post (Dec 8), so I'm sure that our coverage has improved significantly.
Even if there is a few bugs regarding multiple entries for the same person (there were eight of me and I have never met another person with my name-every case was a race directors error in my city or age), I appreciate that site being 'stand up' about its problems and actions to fix them.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Is This A Biblical Thing?

On Saturday after the party, I ended up staying up till about 0100 clearing out my DVR of favorite shows and re-watching Hostel. Still not a huge fan, not sure why I watched it again...oh yeah a bucket load of Kettle One vodka.

Mistress and my mom went to an antique show Sunday so Mo and I stayed in the house. My back is better but not great and with the torrents of rain that came down we played indoors. Once Mistress got back I excused myself for an hour of hydro-therapy in the jacuzzi and the sun made a splendid, if still only 39 degrees, appearance.

A few hours later we could hear the thumping on the BBQ and patio roof signaling more rain. A little later Mistress looked outside and excitedly yelled, "MO. ITS SNOWING!" Sure enough there was a deep layer of wet snow and hail covering our backyard. We grabbed our shoes and cameras and ran out to show Mo wait he had seen so many times on tv. He loved it but it was too cold. Snapped some pictures on our bridge and tossed a couple of snowballs at the wall and that was about it. He had to call grandma and tell her and was very animated.

Snow in Phoenix. Whod' a thunk that?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Blogging While Intoxicated

I had a rough day. Full of promise and expectations all dashed by a aching back. The pain pills taken liberally through the day gave me a false sense of euphoria thinking, "Yeah maybe I will go for a run or hook up the trainer." Tough talk from a little man.

I had all but bailed on my partners birthday dinner this afternoon but two vicodin and an hour to myself while Mistress and Mo picked up the babysitter got me there. Two very strong vodka/cranberry's kept me in the game. I actually had a very good time. One of my other partners was there and several employees, along with a few neighbors of the birthday boy. His wife, whom watches Mo when Grandma can't, is a certified chief and made a tremendous meal; filet mignon two inches thick was the main course protein along with sides I couldn't describe but exquisite.

After all that my back feels good for the first time in days, maybe weeks. While I am typing away, Mo is playing with E and A, similar aged boys whose parents are still at the party. They are the family that lost their 4 month old boy to SIDS last month. My partner tried to tell me a story about the father and how amazingly kind he was regarding something and his deceased child (I think), yet he broke down in literal tears and could not continue.

I was thinking of getting on the trainer around 9pm and watching a movie but I am liqueured enough to call bullshit on that idea. I am extremely happy to have a good enough buzz to not feel any pain in my back and will leave that at that.

tomorrow is another day.

PF Chang 2007 photo's

Not much in the way of photos of the race but two photo's very close to my heart.

IronBenny, Bolder, Comm's, Nytro @ PF Chang expo

Russ, Kevin, Comm's @ the VIP breakfast before assisting wheel chair athletes in the race.
Kevin is owner of Tribe Multisport, the largest triathlon store in Phoenix.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Collective Soul - Better Now

Drown before I float

2nd swim session early this morning and I got frustrated. Its the usual culprits of trying to remember six things at once while not swallowing all the water in the pool. This bi-lateral breathing thing sucks hard, mostly sucking water. I cough up water in the pool and burp it up the rest of the day from the gulps of air.

Intellectually I understand everything Nick is doing with me and I visualize perfect execution of all his instructions but reality will take some time. Part of my issues I think still stems from the fact that gliding in the water is just one step removed from drowning will stroking. Subconsciously I have a hard time gliding...well doing anything well in the water except flounder and make big splashes.

Ultimately I will become a better swimmer, a more efficient swimmer and that is the goal.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oh scary scary

The Mighty Mo watching in anticipation to what will happen to his favorite Power Ranger during a fight against an evil doer.

A Doc with the walk

I went to Urgent Care last yesterday for my back. I couldn't get into my primary and just needed something to help me comfortable when I slept. Urgent Care is actually a business here in the Valley of the Sun and is a for-profit version of the emergency room with non-life threatening injuries and illnesses. It does in a pinch.

The doctor that I saw was not only an Ironman finisher but a highly accomplished triathlete and former president of the Phoenix Tri Club. We talked a bit, he understood my training, my down time condition, my desires and goals.

My back is still killing me this morning though I was able to sleep through the night. I am hoping to get into my rehab clinic today and then again tomorrow evening. I really don't think I have it in me to workout today, crap I could barely tie my shoes this morning. I am still doing my swim session tomorrow however.

This training program for IMAZ has not gone anything like I expected.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gear Review: Endless Pool

I now have the luxury of using an endless pool for my workouts. An endless pool is made to mimic open water swimming and comes in two models, above ground and in-pool. Regardless of the medium, it is a motor that pushes water in a manner that allows the swimmer to perform their exercise while staying stationary in the water.

This pool is above ground and indoors, in fact it is inside Tribe Multisport and run by Nick Goodman, owner of Durapulse a triathlon based personal training company. This pool is 8' x 15' with a wide lip around the sides to walk around. There is a narrow bench under the water running around the pool, I guess for lounging. Its approximately 3.5 feet deep with a spongy floor. The motor is a 5hp propulsion system with a dial that adjusts the speed of water flow against the swimmer. There is a heater and I swam at a comfortable 77 degrees. There is a mirror on the floor of the pool that allows the swimmer and/or coach to watch technique and alignment.

Other models and styles include smaller hot tub models, motor kits for existing pools, additional mirrors and lighting systems, obviously custom lengths, widths, depths and exterior build ups. One option I have seen but not used is a video camera and DVD system through the mirrors.

It is a different feeling than both open swimming and lap pool swimming. The water comes straight at you and I did notice that flaws in my breathing or stroke that moved me to the side of the stream pushed me out. I really enjoyed the sensation (security) of swimming in a pool but not having to turn around against a wall every 30 seconds or so.

When mistress and I looked for our last house I did not want an existing pool. I wanted to put in an endless pool, which I could take with me if we moved again. I am not a big fan of backyard pools because of cost / labor of upkeep and lack of year round use even in Phoenix. This experience validates my next purchase will definitely not have a pool in the backyard.

Now my swim flaws. Nothing was incredibly new to me, really a validation of what I know.
  • I tend to kick too much and split my legs.
  • I tend to bring my hands in front of me when I stroke, like a catch up drill, as opposed to 10 & 2; which causes me to zig zag in the water.
  • This was exaggerated by my back problems yesterday but I don't roll from my hips, I roll from my shoulders.
  • I don't press my chest into the water, which cause my feet to fall and create drag.
  • Front quadrant strokes.
  • Bi-lateral breathing is now on the list.
The front quad swimming and 10 & 2 stuff was corrected fairly quickly as I know about that and once reminded by Nick corrected by the end of the hour for the most part. I have never tried to bi-lateral breath as a habit and swallowed a lot of water from my opposite side or my form would collapse and the stream would push me out. The bi-lat stuff increased the time I hold my breath and it was uncomfortable changing my rhythm, which caused me to cough, sputter and collapse my form after a few minutes.

By the end I felt more comfortable with bi-lat breathing and slowing down my stroke while increasing my glide. I am not looking to knock thirty minutes off my IM split, I just want to swim more efficiently with a lower HR. I think if I can overcome these obstacles and whatever else is thrown at me, my split will drop but its a long process.

One I am willing to undertake. Again.

Up and running while sitting down

Yesterday I had my first training session with my new swim coach. We used his endless pool which is interesting to say the least but its very nice to receive criticism so fast. I had to only take a breath and see him miming the correction he need me to make. I almost felt like a pitcher getting throw instructions from the coach.

Needless to say this Ironman at the end of his winter break and looking at a rocket climb to his next Ironman race, had much to work on. I could go through all the rigamarole's but lets just say, though I can swim 2.4 miles its not something you would want to watch unless your into watching train wrecks.

About an hour before the session my back started to get tight, really tight. The swimming did not help and I drove over to rehab after for an adjustment and stem. Not feeling much better through the evening I awoke this morning to stabbing pain in my lumbar and tingles in my legs. I am still very uncomfortable. I actually think I will go to Urgent Care tonight for pain killers since I can not get into my primary today.

Still lots of training planned though I will have to figure out some maneuvers around this obstacle.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fill it up again! Fill it up again! Once it hits your lips, it's so good!

I took the title from Old School after Frank the Tank funneled a beer at a party. Great scene, great line, and I used it about...oh say....twenty times last night when Mistress broke out the chocolate fondue pot half full of melted, chocolaty goodness left over from a chick party the day before.

I had not used a 'chocolate' fondue pot before and went from a good nutritional day to dunking just about every item in the kitchen in the pot. While most food tasted OH SO MUCH BETTER, the southwest bbq toasted ritz crackers...not so much. I chased it with a coconut ball so that turned around pretty quick.

If I could have found a way to dunk my diet coke in it I would have, trust me. The rest of the night I felt like I gained twenty pounds and woke up this morning feeling much the same way. Great! I give up my morning hangovers from booze and switch it over to foods dipped in chocolate.

Is there a chocolate fondue pot anonymous meeting somewhere I can go to today?

Fill it up again! Fill it up again! Once it hits your lips, it's so good!

I took the title from Old School after Frank the Tank funneled a beer at a party. Great scene, great line, and I used it about...oh say....twenty times last night when Mistress broke out the chocolate fondue pot half full of melted, chocolaty goodness left over from a chick party the day before.

I had not used a 'chocolate' fondue pot before and went from a good nutritional day to dunking just about every item in the kitchen in the pot. While most food tasted OH SO MUCH BETTER, the southwest bbq toasted ritz crackers...not so much. I chased it with a coconut ball so that turned around pretty quick.

If I could have found a way to dunk my diet coke in it I would have, trust me. The rest of the night I felt like I gained twenty pounds and woke up this morning feeling much the same way. Great! I give up my morning hangovers from booze and switch it over to foods dipped in chocolate.

Is there a chocolate fondue pot anonymous meeting somewhere I can go to today?

Monday, January 15, 2007

No date for the race

Can you believe that there were no wheel chair athletes for me to assist for the half marathon. All I did was ride about 100 yards in front of the two led runners with the timing car. I got in a great 13.1 mile, low chain ring, high cadence workout on completely cleared streets.

It was freaking cold. Below freezing at the start of the race. Luckily I was prepared this time for the cold and did pretty well staying warm.

Once I got back to the finish area I hooked up with Hardcore Mike and stashed the Valdora in his car and grabbed a cup of coffee. Then we waited for a couple hours for everyone to come in from their races. The Machine was the sole marathoner this day and while he had a hard final 10k he looks no worse for wear. John and his wife run/walked the half and came in about the same time. (The half started an hour later).

We all went to a local sandwich/bar joint and had some hot beverages while watching the end of the Bears/Hawks game.

As to the man-bag/man-purse/thing that Nytro is putting out on her blog; I haven't read yet it since she has tried to pick that scab like an itch with me the whole weekend. I don't want to get into any Rosie comparison kind of thing here. She had a great run with Benny and Bolder and I am happy for her.

Just for a clarification, I went to the expo with a canvas messenger bag from American Eagle and Nytro started in on me (the link is for this years model, the 2005 model is a little taller without the writing on the bag). Not a big deal to me because not only am I extremely confident in my masculinity I have thick skin and will laugh as heartily as anyone when the joke is on me. Plus its quite fashionable which we all know people who live in Utah are five years behind in trends.

I was going to bring my usual backpack but admit I was wearing my Ironman finishers shirt and knew wearing the backpack would hide the design, thats all. In a weird little twist the next day I used an oakley backpack for the ride and it was so cold the carrying handle unraveled and then two of the three large buckles for the top flap snapped off while I was opening and closing the pack.

Its still really cold today, maybe colder. I am going to shoot for a 10k run later on.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I am not listening

Thought I would get one last weather report before hitting the sack. The news-babe says it will be the coldest night in Phoenix in twenty years. Oh thats great! Its the night I get up at zero-four to go to the marathon. At least I will be in the VIP building until my wheel chair athlete starts. I suppose last weekends below freezing ride taught me something about my clothing options so I will be overly dressed for tomorrow...I hope.

Had a great expo experience with Bolder. Picked him up at his hotel and made our way there. I had planned a meet and great with Hardcore Mike, The Machine and his wife Wendy there at the expo and that went well. Nytro and Benny showed up outta nowhere and then we all went to get a bite to eat.

Benny and Nytro played a bit a of joke on Bolder when they met, but I will let one of them talk about that, if they get to it.

The expo was huge. So many people. It took almost two hours to walk through the thing. I of course spent lots of money on new running tights and the Asics Gel-Kensei shoe, their new flagship model. So far I am not sold on them but I will hold off feelings until after a couple of miles. Somehow I walked out of there with four pairs of Ironman logo'd running technical socks, but they were buy three get one free and they match my team colors so thats okay.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Gear Review: Compasses

Gear Review- Compasses

Inside every man is a little boy who still dreams of finding buried treasure or walking out of the wood after being missing for three days, or rescuing a child from a burning building. Having an adventure. I think the modern day version of adventuring is merely getting off the beaten trail, whether that trail is through a national park or a city park. A compass is the difference between having a plan and wandering around.

I have never repressed my desire to get off the beaten path and thus I collect maps and compasses. I love reading maps. I love looking at maps that I have marked up with my adventures but truly the compass is a Shiny Thing.

The compass to the right is my latest and favoritist compass, the Brunton 8096 Adventure Racing Compass. Geared towards Adventure races, this 'baseplate' type compass packs a tremendous amount of information on the baseplate, including tools to read and utilize almost any standard map size without having to pull out protractors and UTM grids. Its an advanced model of compass, not for the novice for some of the reasons I will list below on the best selling compass the Silva but it is a beauty.

There is also two main reasons I really enjoy this particular compass. First it uses Brunton's circle in a circle system which I find extremely accurate and it has a tool free declination adjustment.

Sidenote: In non-techy terms declination deals with the fact that there is two north poles; one where Santa Claus lives and the other is where your compass point to in the Northwest Territory in Canada. How you set your compass to read a map azimuth (or line of travel) depends on where you live. A compass in Atlanta, Georgia needs almost no adjustment; however in Arizona you need to adjust about 12 degrees east in order to stay on target.

The Silva Ranger is a much more universal and award winning model. I have one of these as well. As a back up of course. Its amazing how your mind can play crazy with you when out in the middle of nowhere and if your not sure of your heading you can use a back up to check your bearing (direction of travel). The Ranger, a 'sighting' type compass, uses a mirror as a sighting/magnification mechanism so you can fold the mirror over the compass points, look through a little hole at your target and then without moving the compass look into the mirror to see your azimuth.

The difference in a baseplate and sighting compass comes down to the accuracy of reading the target. When you use a sighting compass you hold the compass up to your cheek and can look at your target and your compass and be extremely accurate with your azimuth. With a baseplate you hold the compass level in front of you look up at the target and down at your azimuth. Its a much faster read. It is as accurate as a sighting compass, if you have confidence in your abilities.

Part of my love for compasses is not so much the fact that I know how to use one, but that I have used it. I think of the fun I had in Yosemite or Guam or Olympic National Park in Washington State or on dozens of military operations in and out of the country. I dream of the fun that I yet to have, getting myself lost and unlost in places I have never been.

Oh yes, part of the fun of land navigation is the bushwhacking to where you are supposed to be but if you don't know how to read a map you won't even know where you are. That however is about map reading and not compasses.

If you tire of the same old novels at bed side or find that you wish you were doing something more productive than just watching television, buy a compass and a How To Book, usually a book will cover both map reading and compass usage. Plus little kids love looking at maps and playing with compasses so it interactive with the family as well.

I also suggest finding a map for a local recreation area to practice your compass work on. When you do this from your kitchen table its easy to study and practice and if you're familiar with the area you can visualize what your doing in front of you since you will recognize general terrain features.

In reference to maps, you would be surprised at what that thing will show you is just beyond the trees you pass every day.

Its not going away-again

The United Nations (against democracy), I mean the UN body politic is still trying to wrestle control of the internet onto their plate.

Way back in October 2005 I wrote a little ditty about this which is eerily the same article I just read today.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Yeah...sure is a purdy day ain't it.

Today was to be the first day of rain in Phoenix, for all you PF Chang'ers out there. Yup called for overcast and rain today. So far its been a pleasant 74 degrees. The thoughts from the forecasters now are wind and rain mid day Friday through mid Saturday then a hard freeze Sunday night and a sunny but cold Sunday morning.

Reading into this as the skeptic I am; its going to be freaking cold but otherwise dry for race day. Or for Bolder...shorts and tanks, eh!

Speaking of my international brutha', we are taking our post post-way post Ironman physiques to the expo on Saturday morning then to lunch. My thoughts are Sugar Daddy's, a local hot(tie) spot. I suppose if Tyson can get busted there last week for driving while coked up, its good enough for us, to have some pasta right?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Its Amore'

Mighty Mo at almost four years old is a better cook than his father. This picture is taken at a friends house who watches him when my mom is occupied. She (aka LaLa) is a trained chef and they make most of their food from scratch and/or take from the garden. How she keeps such a fantastic garden in Phoenix (outside) is beyond me.

He he is stirring the pasta to go with the homemade tomato cream sauce, meatballs and brocolli.

Child pictures are so weird. A smile can be beautiful on film or look something like this one. Oh, he is laughing but it doesn't look like my sons face as I look at it. But you can tell he is happy. Unlike his father that is not happy in the kitchen. Posted by Picasa

PF Chang 2007 pre trip info

For those of you coming to Arizona for PF Chang's marathon or half mary; for the first time or again here is some good info from a local.

The Weather. Its all about the weather right? Historically this has always been a very good running weather race. Every year it has been cold (40's) pre race and then mid 60's during the race. It was mid 70's the first year and it was brutal for the marathoners (thank you very little).

This weekend has a long look forecast of rain or at least a cold front from the NW. Based on listening to this same forecast every Sunday and Monday night for the last two months, a 20% chance of rain means a 10% chance of that happening and its rarely overcast all day here in Phoenix. You can expect to run in shorts and a technical top and be comfortable. Bring some tights or long sleeve just in case. The current forecast is a high around 60 degrees but sunny or minimal overcast.

The Expo. This is a HUGE expo. Each year I spend close to two hours walking around the center which is downtown Phoenix. Don't get sucked into buying the cold weather stuff unless you plan on wearing it back home. The shirt you get for the race is a basic but nice cotton, in the merchandise area you can choose from about two dozen nicer shirts. If your a previous finisher you can buy a finisher shirt without the year on it.

There are lots of booths for other races and such which I generally pass by but I would recommend walking through the Scottsdale Running Company booth if they are there, they have great logo gear and Scottsdale is a upscale name to recognize on your clothing. Reebok usually has a big spot. There is also a nondescript company that has a big set up on each side of the expo. They sell all kinds of shorts and shirts and jackets on double stacked hanging racks, lots of cartoon socks and stuff. Also tables of gels, runner gear of all sorts. Spend some time in here if you recognize it. I would pick up some of their 26.2 or 13.1 running socks. I get a pair every year. Also lots of stickers.

Regardless there are lots of booths and I noticed last year most cater to women now, whom I believe make up the majority of runners. If you listen they will give you the stats right before the race starts. At the expo last year John Bingham, The Penquin, gave several talks, he is a writer for Runners World. If you get a chance sit in, he is eminently funny. I do each year.

Race morning. Traffic will suck. Leave earlier than what you currently plan on. You drive to the finish line and get on a bus to the start. 30,000 people will be on the road going to the same parking lot. Not a lot of options to get there. Be early and be patient.

Wear cold weather gear before the race, comfy jacket and sweats. You will have a gear drop courtesy of UPS. When you are ready to drop your bag just find the truck based on your last name. Its pretty easy to do. Once you get to the finish line all the trucks will be there. I have never had a problem with putting my keys in the bag...or a beer.

Find your corral number before it gets too crowded and use the porta pottys right away. There should be plenty of time to walk around but as it get fuller, its harder to find your spot. If you and a friend are in different corrals its not too difficult to switch around.

The course. The course is pretty damn flat. I'm not saying there won't be rises and dips, on the half, McDowell has a range of Red Rocks that you cross over and that about it. On the full, Indian School is a gradual incline for couple miles but not hard. Other than that its a great run.

If you have run with a iPod or MP3 in training and are comfortable with it, bring it with you. There is a lot of music on the course but its only appreciated by the fact that there is a lot of dead space along the course. For music not spectators, lots of those. The cheer squads don't really do anything for me, I appreciate the effort and thank them but I am not motivated by them.

Either race distance is a really loose affair. Lots of groups and couples running together which is a pain to maneuver around at times but the sense of camaraderie is very nice. Bring music if you want constant motivation, you can always turn it down for the bands.

The aid stations are long, so don't feel you have to get a drink at the front of it, your better off waiting a few yards before cutting over. Stay to the middle of the road to avoid runners jumping in and out of the area.

Finish Line. This is a huge place. Unless you have cell phone contact with your people, do use the family coordination area. Cross the line, get your medal, check its for the right distance, try to grab at least one bottle of water since they tend to run out fast and its hard to find in the finish area. Get your picture taken then grab your special needs bag from UPS. Pack a clean shirt and flip flops in the bag since most racers hang out there afterwards like a big party, which it is. I think Trimama, Taconite Boy and myself hung out for two hours afterwards.

Try to find some food. Keep your space blanket to sit on later if you plan to stick around. Last year they had a beer garden and you got TWO FREE BEERS. That was nice but I parked one in my UPS bag as well.

Post Race. The concert is nice later at night, but generally you just want to rest and not go out. If you plan on getting a bite right after the race, there is plenty of options just off Mill Ave which is just west of the finish line. Lots of places to choose from but within walking distance...ummm no not really, mostly based on the crowds and the race course.

Have Fun.

The Skys have parted

Once the listing came out for volunteer positions for PF Changs, some calls were made without my knowledge and I was moved from the kids race and put on the wheelchair volunteer list. I am now glad that I didn't pull the trigger on paying for the half or the full.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Volunteer status-blech

I got an email today that because 'I am the new man on the block' I get to work the kid's run for PF Chang instead of the wheel chair assistance that I was told I was going to do for the last year. Honestly had I known that I wasn't a lock on that special and prestigious assignment I would have pulled my name long ago.

Each wheel chair athlete has a cyclist whom rides with them and assists them in the event of a flat or other assistance needed through radio contact with race officials and staff. I have been assured for the last twelve months that I was on this program. It was a definitive by my contact in the organization. Politics. Humbug.

I am gritting my teeth as I write, I will be a grateful volunteer. Most of my insides tell me to drop out anyway but the twinge in my knee and the fact that they are probably short volunteers as it is, I will stick to it...for now. I am not the type to no-show so thats not an option.

So I suppose I will there for all of you who come across the line for the half. You full course types better be fast, I ain't waiten' around all day. Zipzip, comprende' amigos.

Positive and Positively

Yesterday's ride tweaked my knee. Its not inside the cap so that is positive. I think the cold just tightened up something that connects to the top of the knee cap so today I will work to loosen that up. My goal today is to run a 10k but that may switch to actual gym work (Gasp!).

Later in the day I am going to Machines clinic for some more back work and he is testing a new piece of equipment on my upper legs and glutes. He used it on my lumbar Friday and it worked better than anything I have ever had done to me. Maybe it will work on my knee. Let's be positive.

My godfather is in town visiting my dad this week. The three of us are pretty much the three stooges together so my mom left town for a trip to her parents. Smart. My dad and godfather are my true fishing buddies and camping partners. I have learned more about conservation, living with and within the environment and humor than from anywhere else in my life.

There is also a funny story involving a strip club and a parrot I would love to tell you but I POSITIVELY won't do that.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Follow the Leader and 30 degrees

Went to great birthday party yesterday for Hardcore Mikes ten year old son. I am never sure what to get a pre-teen or teen, or anyone for that matter so I tried to get something that mattered. I got him a classic edition (meaning color pictures inside and a clear dust jacket outside) of Tom Sawyer. I personally love the book Tom Sawyer and being about the same age as Tom, hope that he one day reads it and appreciates it. Among the r/c cars and Star Wars toys, it may sit awhile.

Mighty Mo, regardless of how he felt was Full On Play with all the boys there and they really dug him. Hardcore has a trampoline in his backyard (with the requisite netting) and Mo got all the boys to play with him in it and they all wanted him to be in there with them. He chased them around and growled like a dinosaur. They played dinosaur tag. He can get any group of kids to play that game. He is the dinosaur and he growls and chases the big kids around.

The rest of us old timers caught up on our training and holidays and hung out.

Sunday morning for some dumb reason, though secretly I loved it, a bunch of us met for our usual Wednesday Usery Pass ride with a 12 mile out and back set of rollers thrown in. When I left my house at 0530 it was 29 degrees. When I got back in my car when we finished, it was 37. Since we ride along a river and have measured it in the past, I know it dropped ten degrees in many stretches. It was F-ing cold.

Now I know many of you are scoffing, "Cold, come here I will show you cold." The water on top of my my aero bottle froze. Twice. Why twice? Because I was so freaking amazed the first time and pulled it all off for people to see, then it did it again.

Other than being very under dressed for such a ride, it was a...manageable training session and glad I got the mileage in.

Been taking down the holiday stuff, with Mo telling us, "It's not baby Jesus birthday anymore. We gotta put away."

Somehow, we are not sure how he did this or knew what to do, since Mistress use this function, but he stood up on the counter and pushed a button on our over the stove microwave, started the message system on it, giggled and laughed himself silly for several seconds, then saved it. No clue what cosmic scheme brought all that together but its a blessing to hear.

Friday, January 5, 2007

A recharge

I feel like I have been a whinnying little bitch lately; sick, injured, whatever.

Let me start this over...

Hi, I have a blog that journals my thoughts and actions as I train for triathlons. I think deep down I have a strong desire to just sit and read books, watch movies, drink diet cokes and eat popcorn and plain M&M's. Doing all those at once, might just be heaven for me.

Some people call that life. Some call it a break in training. I call it Common Man Syndrome.

There is another side of me though. A side that burns for triathlon and hard physical training. A side that sees all the best photographs in my mind with sweat on my back and a smile on my face. Many times my clothes and face are tinged in dirt and white with salt stains.

Why is it when I think of what is fun I have such two such totally opposite responses; relax or pound my body in exertion? Might be a question for the ages. At least its the question that puts fingers to keyboard almost every day on this blog.

I also have a beautiful wife whom I think I barely speak to but is as important to me as air itself and a precocious three year old who has taught me more about being positive and happy in the face of adversity than any other person on this earth.

This is my blog. There are many like it. Thanks for coming here.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

FTC drops the supplement bomb

The Federal Trade Commission put the hammer down on supplement companies that make false claims on products, with fines totaling $25 million dollars.

The biggest hits were on the popular products: Xenadrine EFX, One A Day Weight Smart, CortiSlim and TrimSpa.

All well known companies. All well known brands. Maybe even you have tried them based on the 'WOW' factor of the ad or commercial.

Nancy, and I and many others have long asked and educated our readers to be proactively conscious about what supplements they use. Its a jungle out there.

Do Over?

Does anyone else want to join me?

I have been off line for the last few day with the stomach flu. Not pleasant. But a great diet so far this year; lets see, two diet cokes, two Gatorade's and a handful of M&M's. I am finally back in the office and as long as I don't get up or move, I might make it a half day here. Lets just leave it at that.

Training has obviously taken a severe beating and I am reticent now to discuss doing PF Changs marathon next weekend. I was going into this completely under trained and now that my system is at a zero rating energy and stamina wise, it may not be the best choice for an Ironman that is now less than 100 days away. If ever a rocket needed extra thrust to achieve orbit it would be me right now.

As bad as it is for me, my heart is broken for Mo and once again I am humbled by his steadfast positive attitude. He went to the doctors yesterday for a much needed monthly check up (holiday delays) and we knew he was under the weather but had no idea. Sinus infection, double ear infection, bronchitis. The thing is he has no serious cough and no fever. Once again his doctors are amazed that he has been as cheerful and playful as he is with such issues going on in him. It never ceases to amaze me and then I consider if I am a completely blind and deaf parent. Mistress as well. We are not. Mighty Mo is the living embodiment of a positive, loving angel who is a teacher to others of priorities in life.

When you add up the colitis, the asthma, the allergies, all the attentive illnesses, Mo is back up to 7 or 8 med's per day, given multiple times per day.

Makes a stomach flu and Ironman training seems so small in comparison.

Monday, January 1, 2007


Mistress and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary New Years Weekend. I love the Christmas season so much I wanted to celebrate our wedding during this time too. Unfortunately the last several years I we have had a conference on this date for our year end meetings so we have not had the luxury of going out as much as she would like.

This year Mistress decided since it was a weekend that she would plan a date for us. She went all out. I was kept in the dark but the surprise was a getaway to a local 5 star resort called Royal Palms, highlighted with a couples massage and dinner at the #1 rated restaurant in Phoenix and T. Cooks. While this was a fabulous trip it also was another significant event, the first time in eight years we were not responsible for a dog or a child, it was the first time we had slept away from our Mo.

The grounds of the Royal Palms were really quite spectacular. It was unlike any resort I have visited or stayed at. It is not uncommon for Phoenicians to do weekend getaways within their own city limits because each resort is an oasis unto itself and it seems you have truly stepped into another locale. I like resorts not so much for the relaxation of it, though that is nice, but I do indulge in spa's for the whirlpools, steam rooms, sauna's, yes even the quite rooms; not to mention the massages.

The grounds were fantastic, the massage was first class but I give the actual spa rooms just a passing grade. There was no dry sauna or cold plunge, just a whirlpool and steam room. It was plenty for time I spent in them but my favorite spa for pure recovery/ relaxation is the Camelback Inn.

We had never had a couples massage and it was very nice. We chatted, we talked with our LMT's, they had great tables, almost like hospital beds that raise and lower, the legs lift up, back comes up. Very impressive over just a plan massage table. While the entire massage was top notch, it did mess up my right hip quite badly and even as I write this almost two days later, I am on codeine for the pain I am in. The massage didn't do it, my hip has been out for some time, but it did not make it better.

Dinner was fantastic. I love to eat, I have made that no secret and have enjoyed finer establishments that are highly rated. However I truly felt that this was perhaps the finest dining I had ever had. For appetizers we shared mussels and bread with pesto. The pesto was superb. Like the difference between running in a pair or Chuck Taylors all the time and then begin given a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus.

Though I can muddle through a wine menu I felt overwhelmed and defaulted to the house shiraz, had I known it was $15 a glass I would tried the plain old house red. For dinner I had a Mediterranean paella which is saffron rice and shellfish, Mistress the braised duck breast with a duck infused potato cake. It was quite good. For desert I had the almond torte with raspberry and Mistress a dish called Chocolate Strata.

One of the reasons this was such a nice place was that they really made the night special. We we arrived we were told, 'Happy anniversary.' When our waitress arrived she also greeted us this way. Our deserts were served on over sized serving dishes and in chocolate the words, 'Happy 11th Anniversary' was written on it and then frozen. Obviously this was done well before hand. It was the little things that really made this a great evening. The entire meal with tip was $230. Not cheap but I have paid much more for much less quality or quantity.

With my back being the way it is I have been unable to train the last few days, since my last run. I need to see The Machine, my training partner and chiropractor first thing in the morning and many more times this week if I am going to be able to get going again.

New Years eve was uneventful. I stayed up until 3 am playing Halo on my pc and reading. This morning Mo and I stayed home, watching Power Rangers, Peter Pan (twice) and started watching Evolution with David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, which I really like.

Happy New Year all.