So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vampires in Oz, Manatees in the Pool, and Bernie Mac!?

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses
Things are going great, and they're only getting better
I'm doing all right, getting good grades
The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades

I've got a job waiting for my graduation
Fifty thou a year -- buys a lot of beer
Things are going great, and they're only getting better
I'm doing all right, getting good grades
The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades

Well I'm heavenly blessed and worldly wise
I'm a peeping-tom techie with x-ray eyes
Things are going great, and they're only getting better
I'm doing all right, getting good grades
The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses
Things are going great, and they're only getting better
I'm doing all right, getting good grades
The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades, I gotta wear shades
(Timbuk 3, 1989)

Just a tip of the (Life Is Good, 'Lefty' embroidered bucket) hat to the kids in Australia. K-6 schoolers are now required to wear sunglasses while out of doors at school. D@mn, that's a far cry from my school days; I would have sold my stepmother to the gypsies to have a pair of Photo-Grey lenses in my Clark Kent frames to make me look the least bit more cool. Some three decades later, I can't even think of going outside without my Tifosi Slip glasses with High Speed Red Fototec lenses. That's what happens when you work in windowless offices for 25 years, children. Remember that when you interview for your first job: No window, no way.



I love Domino's...but only on Wednesday evenings. Regrettably, the results are beginning to show. Well, it's not only that, but a lack of real strenuous activity for a six-week period following the triathlon/fracture. Every time I step on the scale here in the locker room, I either misuse the subjunctive ('...d@mn, I be fat!') or launch into a full-blown attack of Tourette's Syndrome.

Are there benefits to having a few extra pounds this early in the season? Perhaps when I hit the pool...a little bit o' body fat isn't a bad thing, buoyancy-wise. Unfortunately, it does play havoc on hydrodynamics; lean-looking critters like sharks and dolphins tend to move a bit quicker in the water than chubbier, manatee-like forms. While swimming kicks me squarely in the @$$, I am stoked to be back in the pool again. I get a little tired at 75 yards of a 100 yard piece of work, but the turns are getting better and the shoulder (still a little sore and less than mobile) is a little stronger each morning. Twenty seconds of panting after a 100-yard piece notwithstanding (d@mn that cardiovascular system...but it's improving too), there's nothing like feeling the flow of water over the soles of your feet, especially when you're dragging a pool buoy. And yes, chlorine is addictive.

There ought to be a law, and if one exists, someone should go to jail: Why are stupid television programs played in the early afternoon? Yesterday, in the later half of my 'easy' 8-mile run at the YMCA, I was grooving along to the 1970's Muzak and making like Richard Simmons, yep, I was 'Sweating to the Oldies,' baby, when a young lady came in and HAD to turn on the friggin' television. At that point in the afternoon I might have put up with 25 minutes of Fox News (another oxymoron, just below 'fun run'), but noooooooo, she had the audacity (stupidity?) to put on what looked like The Bernie Mac Show. I'm depriving my brain cells of oxygen over here and you want to put that $#!+ on the television!? What are you thinking? Oops, one too many words in that sentence. Are you thinking?

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Last Sane Man In The Peloton, Using Facebook

So, what is the difference between when we hear about a black American baseball player and when we hear about European cyclists suspected of using PED? Is there a sense of injustice? Outrage? I guess it depends on whether you think the use of PED tilts the playing field. I guess where I'm so outraged on both issues, Bonds and his suspected steroid usage and the Vino/Rasmussen/Cofidis scandal at the Tour de France, is the complete 'oh, how like life, I $&#*ed up, suspend me from (the ProTour/MLB) for two years' state of arrogance that all these guys have exhibited.

David Walsh's book opened my eyes to the arrogance of the European, as well as the American cycling establishment. I still harbored a faint glimmer of hope (naivete?) that Walsh's writing was the axe-grinding of an angry, little man. Vino's bust for blood transfusion, then Rasmussen getting caught with his diaper (bike shorts?) down around his ankles (Can you hear the message from the Danish Cycling Federation? '...no, the Dolomites are not in Mexico, Mikael...') was the one-two punch of outrage that made me as cynical about cycling as my friend Christian.

How about this for a new slogan, Lance? Can we do this in Spanish for the benefit of your newest protege, Alberto Contador?


Yesterday was the first day back on the "real bike," in fact, it was the first ride on my newest acquisition, a rehabilitated Softride Powerwing 650. I hadn't dialed in all of the measurements yet, but had things as close as I possibly could get them by myself. It's still a centimeter off here and a centimeter off there, but not much different than my first rides on the Cannondale R300 on which I had my topple. The first moments of shifting with bar-end shifters and trying to get down into the pursuit/aero bars were a tad sketchy, but once you find a cadence that's comfortable things tend to fall into place. Having the aero bars are a positive thing, especially while I'm still learning to balance with one arm; I can wedge my forearm against the outside of the elbow/forearm pad to help keep the bike tracking straight. The bottle cages that are bolted to the @$$ end of my seat are going to have to go, however. They're too high, which makes mounting and dismounting almost comedic.

I'd rather have a (Profile Design) bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Sanity last, eh?

Suzanne and I talk a lot about the benefits of social networking. We don't chatter too much about the pitfalls. While I like the flexibility of Facebook, there are groups and persons I don't want/need to link with. I get more friend requests from persons who I would not be able to distinguish from Adam. My reply usually consists of: 'how do I know you?' It usually kills the friend request...oh, someone lend me a hankie so I can stanch the flow of tears from my eyes!

The biggest challenge in using a social network is trying to describe the benefits of a scalable, flexible presence on the World Wide Web. While Suzanne likes to play with different add-on functionalities, I use one or two, and only have a couple of groups with which I prefer to be affiliated. Different strokes for different folks.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Give Me That Old Time Technology

I don't consider myself to be a Luddite (for those of you who aren't familiar with that term, go here) in the purest sense. My recent KW trip had moments where I would have resorted to Luddite tactics, though. Fortunately for the woman in the commuter jet blathering on her cell phone, the flight attendant moved us up about eight rows and out of the sound of her voice. Otherwise, I think I would have said something very unkind and caused a boatload of hassle.
Why is it that electronic devices like DVD players, computers, MP3 players are limited to the individual user (ideally, although there was someone using a device on this trip without...to my amazement) and cellular telephones have to be public? I don't want to know your personal business, and if you are doing your personal business, I don't want to hear you AT OVERFULL VOLUME. I doubt the rest of the passengers nearby want to, either. It's enough to make you do bad things.
The roots of my technophobia, I think, are the result of not following what some tech-geeks would call digital agnosticism. I would love to have a Suunto or Polar heart rate monitor without having to have a Wintel platform. Don't tell me I can have it both ways by getting a dual platform Macintosh or installing software that allows me to run Windows (which, BTW, I do have). It's the same reason I loathe Google Video, YouTube, and sites that have embedded video/audio players, such as Versus, Inside Triathlon, and Triathlon.org (ITU's web site). I have perfectly good software (OEM, or legally downloaded, or purchased from Apple) that plays and edits v/a; which I use for my own purposes. Give me the material and let me watch it in the manner I wish. Half the fun is being able to manipulate, cut stuff out and make my own viewing experience that much more enjoyable.
My complaint isn't limited to just Wintel/PC, either. Apple is just as guilty at the anti-democratization of technology: Build a phone that does everything but bring you a beer and do your laundry, but limit it to a single service provider/network. Oh, and let's make the d@mned thing so friggin' expensive that only the well-off and the kids with a butt-ton of disposable income (or stupid parents) who want to make that I have the latest and greatest gadget statement will afford it. Hey, I'd love to have a cell phone that holds my music, too. Perfect for those training runs or rides where I might be in BFE; one less item to carry.
However, I will not be bludgeoned into moving all my phone service from the provider I'm with just to get an iPhone. I'll gladly wait until a) the price plummets, and b) the number of service providers expands so I truly have a choice.
High-tech, realistic video games, TiVo, movies on demand...what would my grandparents think if they were alive today? As it is, I'm frighteningly close to the point where the technological advances are outstripping my ability to adapt and keep up, personal finances (read: frugality and willingness to live in obsolescence) notwithstanding.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Take A Number


"...the stars might lie but the numbers never do." -- Mary-Chapin Carpenter

The orthopedic consultant gave me the green light of sorts about two weeks ago. I have his permission to engage in easy running or bicycling. My first guess was that he thought I was one of those people who do the bare minimum of exercise; once the sweat starts rolling it's time to quit. Ho, ho, now that's a funny one. Obviously, he's never seen me with that look like I got sprayed with a fire hose.

Then, he mentions three things: First, I have to come back and see him in six weeks.

Second, no lifting anything heavier than a can of soup. The bad news is that my left shoulder and arm strength is growing by leaps and bounds; my right shoulder muscle structure is almost nonexistent. The good news is that 12-to-16 ounces fall right within that weight range.

Third, he suspects I will be one of those patients he'll have to hold back rather than force to progress forward with rehabilitation.
So, how do you make certain not to push the envelope so much you delay achieving cardiovascular fitness, or you risk overtraining and injury, in the foundation period?
You can use the Borg scale to gauge how hard you're working. This scale ranges from 1 to 20, with 20 being the absolute maximal "oh, my goodness, my heart is going to explode any second" effort. Slowly walking is about a nine; a hard effort you can continue to hold for a while is about a 13 or 14, 17 is a very hard effort.
What's so good about the Borg scale? First, you're checking all of your body; heart, lungs, muscles, breathing, and so on, in order to determine your rate of perceived exertion. Second, it correlates quite strongly to your heart rate; multiply your Borg number times ten and you're probably going to be close to what your heart rate is at that moment. This is especially important for those persons who take drugs that affect their heart rate. Third, you don't have to depend on a heart rate monitor to help you tell when you're working too hard.
I like the heart rate monitor. It provides a relatively accurate picture of how hard I'm working. However, most folks who have heart rate monitors don't know their maximum heart rate, and therefore don't know how hard they are working.
Two, and maybe three, schools of thought persist on how to determine maximum heart rate, and the percentage of maximum heart rate a person is exercising:
First is the "220-minus-age" school. So, a 45 year-old would have a maximum heart rate of 175; his or her exercise at 50 percent of maximum would be half of that, or 87 to 88 beats per minute, which is the minimum someone coming back from injury, or just starting an exercise program would use.
The second school takes the "220-minus-age," then subtracts the heart rate you immediately after waking up, to give you the range. So the hypothetical 45 year-old who has a resting heart rate of 45 (not bad for a physically-fit individual; the average sedentary person ranges from 60 to 80) has a range of 130 beats between minimum and maximum. So, 50 percent of that "normal" range (65 beats) added to the resting rate, would give the hypothetical a target heart rate of 110 beats per minute...add another six or seven to give a window...is this getting crazy, or what?
The third school requires having a trained medical professional around to administer a maximal heart rate test. Slap a heart rate monitor or an electrocardiogram on the athlete and run them to exhaustion on a treadmill. The 1985 movie American Flyers has a guy doing this test; it's a scene I love, but my wife cannot stand to watch. The benefit of all the discomfort is obvious; you know what the maximal heart rate is, without question. All the other calculations are simple once you figure that first one out.
Whether you decide to use a perceived exertion scale, or a heart rate monitor, remember that these are tools to help you communicate to yourself and (if you have one) your coach how you are feeling and how your body is reacting to the training. I've met athletes who have set their heart rate monitor at a rate that's too low. It's not completely foolproof; some athletes can operate at higher maximum heart rates than the "220-minus-age" number, which is more of a guideline for that "three times a week, 20 minutes a day, and no more" crowd.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Something Money Cannot Buy

Fresh back from a six-day respite in Key West. It was amazing to find out how much money it would take to do anything, from the morning coffee to the evening nightcap. A house that was no larger than my 1,000-something-square foot home, with less than one-tenth the yard space, just up the block from Ernest Hemingway's home, was going for a little over three times what I purchased my place for three years ago. Was it cute? Well, yes, it was a cute little cracker cottage house...enough space between you and your neighbor to hand across a cup of coffee in the morning. So what you're paying for is the privilege of not having a yard to mow. In a neighborhood where the wealthy and the poor live cheek-by-jowl. In a place where you have a big, honking bullseye on you from June 1 to December 1, just daring the tropical storm activity to come.

Since I talked at length about the hefty, hoary, hirsute herd spending $50 a whack, contending for the right to be called Hemingway's nickname, I won't go much further there.

It's pretty simple to understand why, during vacation, tourists wallets become slimmer as their waistlines expand. Especially in a place like KW, where the daytime and evening temperatures fluctuate by only a couple of degrees, and both just this side of infernal. All you want to do is nothing. And even nothing can make you hunger and thirst, which leaves you little choice but to take care of the need. I stepped on the scale this morning after my spinning class and nearly shrieked in horror; I'm the heaviest I've been in nearly 18 months, save for a time right after my first half-marathon when I took a week off and ate like a horse.

In spite of the horror, I realize this is a temporary situation. Consistent training, and not a small amount of dietary wisdom, over the next months, will get me back closer to the weight I was when I was racing well in the spring. Much like Mark Allen's advice to Chris McCormack: 'you need to be fat in July (read: early season), you need to be lean in October, when it really counts (read: Ironman world championship).'

You cannot buy thin. All you can do is be thin when it counts - race day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Las Vegas Has Elvis Because Key West Picked First







There' nothing like going on a week's vacation...arrive in town to find two hundred portly, middle-aged-to-elderly men who all have worked very hard over the years to look like Ernest Hemingway in his later years. Each years' winner becomes local royalty. For them, it's a good thing; all they have to do is come back each year to this overpriced spit of land out in the Atlantic and judge future contests. No more political campaign-like madness for them, thank you very much.

And it does feel much like a political campaign, when you look at it from the surface. I saw screen-printed t-shirts, fans, placards; heard chants of individual supporters - usually family and close friends - more money raised and thrown about (in the general direction of the Key West High School scholarship fund) over the course of three days. Sloppy Joe's, the KW bar where 'Papa' Hemingway was reported to have written some of his greatest works, appears to be the center of the universe; Capt. Tony's, just up the block heading west, probably handles the overflow handily.

So, what would 'Papa' do?

I had the chance to talk to the preeminent, the primary, and the persistent. On Saturday morning just before a ritual "running of the bulls" finalist parade, a kindly gentleman, one of the more recent 'Papas,' took the measure of my question. He thought for a few seconds, and replied, 'I'm not certain that "Papa" would understand it.' The family member of a first-timer, fervently (and drunkenly) cheering for his Italian-accented, stumbling moment in the spotlight during the second round of 'Papa' wannabes, told me she did not think Hemingway would understand it, either.

They may be right. A man like Hemingway, who wrote much on the dignity of the individual identity...the aloneness of the man on a mission (or fool's errand), would have been confused by the number of men over the past 27 years who have tried to physically emulate him...many of them on their 20th attempt at last count; the organizers provide pins counting the number of years each participant has show up to pony up his U. S. Grant...and then some. The closest one was a local. The farthest one came from Australia.

And it's the elderly, portly 'Papa' they emulate; a young man was prohibited from competing in years past as the young Hemingway, complete with World War I-era Red Cross ambulance driver uniform.

I guess it means something. We - and by we, I mean our society - look at the decadent, white jump-suited, paunchy Elvis; to the paunchy, hard-drinking, hoary and hirsute Hemingway, as our ideal men. Perhaps this has much to do with the lives of leisure they led prior to their tragic departure from this mortal coil. Problem is, we forget how much labor and effort, the ball-busting, blood, sweat, toil and tears they shed in the development of their craft. A Hemingway short story, such as A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, or Death In The Afternoon takes much longer to write than it takes to read. It's the work, and the life experience that seeps into each word, each page, that takes so much longer. All that labor and expense paid dividend in the end, allowing both their aimless, chemical-induced life.

I have more respect for 'Papa' than for Elvis, though. At least he was still able to walk from Sloppy Joe's to his house, with a potty stop at the kapok tree on the way. Hemingway could be content with buying a drink. Elvis had to buy his friends.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Road Back

Fresh out of my second follow-up appointment/x-rays with the orthopedic consultant. While I was certain beyond a doubt he was not going to give me complete clearance (my range-of-motion is almost complete, but my strength is going to take quite some time to return), I'm pleased he considered me to be one of those rare patients he 'would have to slow down rather than speed up.' So, I have at least one more follow-up, in about six weeks time. In the meantime, I can get back on the bike and do some running; I guess that means spinning and running is good.

My doctor's counsel about the weight limitations was not too good, though...'nothing heavier than a can of soup' right now. What that means for swimming, I'm not certain. Guess it means lots of kicking drills and some gentle strokes in the meantime.

The road from injury back to fitness, and training, and competition is not a straight one. There's lots and lots of bends, vectors off the main course; sometimes you think you can see the "archway" of the finish as you're at what you feel is the hard part of the climb, but cannot see the route through the forest...where all of the twists and turns are hidden from plain view. Instead of being in the middle of base-building, I'm two weeks behind. It's all right. I think it means dropping one of the tune-up races this fall, or moving it one week further forward. I'll figure it out by Labor Day weekend.
I never thought I'd say I looked forward to going back to work. The seemingly arbitrary and capricious nature of my present employer is not conducive to workplace happiness. But at this particular time it will be better to have something meaningful to do. Telework and telecommuting would not be such a bad thing, but not when you have to have access to certain dot-whatever web sites.

My dog has been instrumental in making certain I spend no more than 90 minutes at my computer...that's not such a bad thing. I've had the Tour de France on the television over the past days...so I've been able to entertain myself. Given a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit, I could do the 'work from home' thing. This past month has given me the time to think about the positives and negatives of the whole concept.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Reading

I've always tried to take some time during the summer - vacation - to read some different books from the staples I enjoy during other times of the year. A couple of my recent acquisitions grabbed my interest from the bookshelf of the local major chain bookstore.

The first, Positively False: The Story of How I Won the Tour de France, is Floyd Landis' cycling autobiography, as well as his take on life as a member of the US Postal Service cycling team under Lance Armstrong and Phonak Hearing Systems cycling team under Tyler Hamilton, and life as a team leader while at Phonak. Landis talks in great detail about the meltdown in Stage 16 of the TdF, his evening after the meltdown, and his Stage 17, which has been heralded as the greatest one-day comeback in cycling history. After reading Positively False, I haven't changed my take on the use of performance enhancing drugs. I'm not completely certain that Floyd didn't take PED, but the procedural screw-ups on the part of the French anti-doping laboratory, WADA, UCI, USADA, and all of the individual parties involved within those organizations makes the Stage 16/17 episode, as well as the implications of PED use, a conspiracy theorist's fantasy. I began to tally in my mind the number of former associates of Armstrong who have been dinged for PED/doping: Frankie Andreu, Dr. Michele Ferrari, Tyler Hamilton, Roberto Heras, possibly Floyd Landis...is this the European cycling establishment's attack against an athlete blessed with fantastic cardiovascular gifts and the ability to literally outride all comers, or is it proof that professional cycling is dirty, through-and-through?

It's one reason I cannot speak well of a local sprinter, who happens to be an Olympic medalist and took a coach known for doping infractions after he earned his medal...later earning a two-year ban for PED. The operating question that comes to my mind isn't so much 'what the hell are you thinking!?' No, there's too many words there. 'Are you thinking!?' Yeah, that's better. Poor guy's busting his @$$ doing local public appearances and all, I think he'll be helping to coach one of the local high school athletic teams, too, while he's serving his suspension. I hope like hell he gets up in the morning and kicks himself squarely in the @$$ each day. It would beat having someone like me stand by and remind my guys/gals that they, too, are vulnerable to testing.

Athletes who take PED, and the coaches and trainers who actively or tacitly tolerate or encourage its use, are engaging in fraudulent acts. Ignorance of the law (or the conconction being taken) is no excuse.

HOWEVER:

I think the World Anti-Doping Agency and it's US counterpart, USADA, are failing on the procedural side of the issue. Let's begin to take a look at doping as a criminal act - fraud - and use some legal ground rules on evidence, guilt/innocence, right to counsel, and punishment befitting the 'crime.' I wonder if I could get away with a bumper sticker that says, 'TEST THIS, USADA?'
The second book, From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Contreversy at the Tour De France, is a follow-up (in English) to the broad-brush attack by Irish sport columnist David Walsh on Lance Armstrong. His previous book L.A. Confidentiel: Les Secrets de Lance Armstrong, was co-written with French journalist Pierre Ballester, and has not been translated into English as far as I can tell.

Walsh continues to interview the increasing circle of former Armstrong associates and teammates. I've read the first three chapters, and find the pace to be very slow. If Walsh has an argument forthcoming, he is developing it in a very cautious manner. Does he have an axe to grind against Landis? I cannot tell at this time. It's evident he has one against Armstrong.

Reading Daniel Coyle's Lance Armstrong's War, Landis' book, and even in Armstrong's two biographies, you can tell Armstrong has little time for former associates (especially whose who parted on less than friendly terms) and seems to hold a grudge against persons he feels have done him wrong. The only book - books - I've seen so far that holds Armstrong in a completely positive light would be Brad Kearns' How Lance Does It and Chris Carmichael's training books, co-authored with Jim Rutberg and Armstrong.
Is Armstrong - or any of us - an absolute saint? Not hardly. We all are subject to hard days, hard weeks, errors in judgment, slips, falls, single (or multiple) tokes over the line. The best lesson I can pass along after reading Landis, is to provide a simple, truthful story, at all times. It might not make for entertaining press, but it keeps them from coming back and saying to you: 'you said (fill in blank with lame-@$ excuse) last (fill in blank with time interval), now you're saying (fill in blank with new, improved, but still lame-@$$ excuse)...'

It's always easier to remember the truth.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Some Things Make No Sense

Working out of the house, in fact, any job where you're working out of home, seems to me to be almost more trouble than it's worth. Mind you, I'd love to be able to have the autonomy of doing as much as I want, when I want. Trouble comes when you have to remind yourself, 'hey, stupid, you're at work...'

Okay, so it's not so much me as it is the dog. I sat down yesterday morning, Tour De France playing on the television behind me, to work at the research I've been (unsuccessfully) trying to find (again!) over the past week
. Sitting in a pair of shorts. The dog, God bless him, wanted to get my attention by pawing my leg. Greyhounds have large paws and strong claws built for traction on dirt tracks and grass fields...the places they were bred to run. Rubin hasn't learned a couple of things:

1. His own strength.
2. The concept of weekdays - I've always mentioned to friends that 'every day is Saturday when you are a greyhound.'
3. Dad's legs aren't as strong as his.


The electric bill has been gawd-awful, much to do with me using more juice while working or hanging out. I don't think my employer is going to pay for the increased electric usage I'm going through. However, it would be nice. I mean, if I'm going to get heated up over trying to research here I might as well have 20 hours of my electricity per week subsidized by my boss/my company. It'd be far cheaper than what my company wants to do in a couple of weeks.

Who was the genius who thought of the idea, 'hey, let's spend $1000-1500 in salary, $150 in per diem, $500-1000 in travel expenses, for 135 persons to fly in and be harangued at for two days?' Ostensibly, the rationale is to 'celebrate our successes and get to know each other better.' Hello? Didn't the center director, his operations head, and another of his lackeys already do the "magical mystery tour" months ago?

I'm not always strongly opposed to spending money, more to the waste of money, especially when it means having to undergo the rigors of big mileage travel. We have no travel funding for projects, but $500,000 a whack for a meeting that's normally attended by one-tenth that amount is insane. I don't mind traveling for work, pleasure travel is more fun...but the operating word is 'work.' If all you're going to do is fly me some place so I can be forced to share a van/life with my co-workers, as well as sit around all day in a tie...

Fortunately for me, my wife has business to attend to at about the same time. We both don't go out of town at the same time unless we are together.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

If You Can Hear Me Shrieking, You're Too Close

Sometimes there are things in life that are more fun than sport. Not much, but they do exist. Sitting on a porch with a cup of coffee and a book, letting the breeze blow your bookmark down the block as you relax from your first real workout in a month...beat shrieking at my state of (un-)fitness, in my humble opinion.

I pulled my mountain bicycle out this morning and went down to the beach so I could participate in the Mere Mortals (triathlon) workout. I was not certain whether getting on a bike this soon, four weeks after taking that stupid topple, was a good idea. Ah, but it did feel so good to get out on the road...at least when the wind was at my back.

At the five mile mark, we could not go any further east. We knew this was going to happen. It was planned to turn at that point and come back to the parking lot, then tack on another three-to-six miles. I saw the flags whipping on the poles at the parking lot; their direction told me the return trip was going to be entertaining, at best. I pulled up for a few seconds to see how far back the rest of the fat tire group were...quite a distance back. At that point, two road bikes came by, and I heard one rider say something about getting in (drafting). I got behind the second road bike and drafted for a while, until I realized we were not going to get in the first bike's draft. I made a quick pass and tucked in behind the first rider, flipped my hands the other direction on the handlebars in order to tuck my arms close to my body. I drafted for a solid five minutes, then sat up, because I knew it was going to be a bad morning if I tried to stay on any longer.

I only got passed by one or two road bikes after that point, and rolled up another fat-tire before the three-mile tack-on. The last 2500 meters...sweet joy! Let the spinnaker loose, we're going to sail home.

Of course, after that I had to get out and run 5,000 meters. It was not pretty in the slightest, especially the first extended run after a month of no real training. I ran a solid 7:00/mile pace for the first eight or nine minutes. I walked for a minute in order to ease the fatigue, then started up again. I stopped again two minutes later, where I made the decision to continue the workout as a 2:00 run, 1:00 walk. Not a bad idea. I got in a little more than 3.5 miles in 30:00. It's enough to make a racer like me shriek obscenities at my slow, fat self.

However...

It's an inevitable part of taking time off. When you begin to train again it's inevitable that you will compare your present "fresh off transition period" self to the sharp, race-ready self you had just a month ago. Best thing you can do is keep things in perspective...wear a heart rate monitor...and resist the temptation to race for at least a month.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Why Walk When You Can('t) Fly

We managed to get past Independence Day without much trauma. In fact, the day was rather low-key...pretty much the way we like it. While we did get out to two races, the weather was good, at least when you look at typical early-July weather. The morning race in downtown Pensacola was a few degrees cooler than sweltering, light overcast, and breezy. I tried to videotape some portions of the race, but was stymied by some dirt or dust on the recording heads. So, my morning of lugging around the little camcorder was a complete bust.

We didn't stick around for the awards, partly because none of the team buys/gals didn't wear their gear, partly because the team guys/gals who did run didn't really run to their potential...well, Lisa (Fairbanks) ran a good race for the conditions. David (Harris) and Sandy (Ebanks) also ran at or above their typical (recent) performance. So, we went to B'Heads and managed to have a nice breakfast until the masses came rolling in.

Why is it that people don't have the courtesy to wait until you are COMPLETELY cleared from the table and out the door before they decide to occupy it? A woman came over and started to put her cr@p down as I'm picking ours up...and asks, "are you leaving?" Of course, all I could hear in my mind was a Bill Engvall-esque response...which I managed to stifle rather than let her have with both barrels: "no, the table was tired so my wife and I are going to let it rest a second." Here's your freakin' sign.

The evening race, in Jay, was overcast, with light intermittent drizzle. Okay, the gnats were a pain.

Makes me feel quite jealous for the folks who were able to run.

We bolted just before the skies opened up...I don't think our timing could have been any more perfect. While I'm not a fan of driving a solid hour to get from point A to point B, the village where the race was contested was reminiscent of some of the places I used to ride through when I lived in Tampa.

Had enough time once we got home to have a bowl of ice cream and talk to the d-a-w-g...then it was time for bed.

A little achy today after a full day of not being in the sling. Today's research has been entirely without success; most of the materials (I believe) are already stored on my work computer. This being a whole new meaning to my favorite phrase: 'today is a complete and utter waste of makeup.' However, instead of wasting makeup at the office, I'm doing it at home. Cool.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Sense of Normal

Since Sunday morning, I've been feeling pretty good. It's not 100-percent, and probably won't be for another three to six weeks. Sleeping is still painful, and getting up in the morning even more so. Whether this has more to do with the increased beer intake over the past week or the muscles adjusting to the increased workload is hard to say.

I actually started getting around out of the sling on Friday evening. I did not feel like having to juggle it, my cell phone, wallet, glasses, and so on. If I had to stay in it for an extended period of time a trip to Running Wild for some of those neat little Velcro-strappable add-ons would have been necessary...either that, or I'd be borrowing one of my wife's left-over chunks of cloth from her running attire modifications in order to build a lighter, more breathable sling. The Townsend is comfortable, but not when the heat index approaches triple digits.

Yesterday was my first "real" cardiovascular workout in a couple of weeks since the accident. I did some elliptical trainer the first couple of mornings after, then started to worry, especially when Roberto, one of my athletes (and a dentist) had a concerned look on his face. After that, I ditched the ET for walking. I hated that, big time. I like working out...the smell of chlorinated water in the morning, the feeling of honest fatigue as I'm sucking down that well-earned first cup of coffee (as my father would say, 'momentum...') in the office...easy days with Scott and Steve on the back side of the airport...the rare occasional set of all-out, b@lls-to-the-wall 160s with full recoveries...the sense of accomplishment at the top of the hill...

While there are aspects of training I don't care for, like having to shoehorn my bike or swim workout in between sleep and work, right now I'm not really focusing on the negative things. All I can think of is how much fun it is to be with friends and kicking butt.

I realize there's going to be a day, or a time, when the dividing slash thrown after my original descriptor, "athlete" is going to have to go away; rather than be "athlete/coach" I'll be just a coach. The past three weeks have given me a little insight on what that's going to feel like. At this point in time I'm not quite ready.

I'm ready for normal...any time now.