Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

For the past two years, Hannah and I had somehow missed out on Halloween in San Angelo. The first year, she was in an apartment complex with no kids and I was moving into a different apartment in NJ. Last year, we were prepared, but learned much too late that "Halloween" in San Angelo isn't always on Halloween. We had candy ready, but were out on the observed night. When we learned how the holiday is celebrated in town, we raced home, but the kids were done for the night.

This year, we thought we were prepared. Four-bags-of-candy prepared. Between the last two years in Texas and the previous two years in a condo complex (on the outskirts of town), we hadn't encountered many trick-or-treaters. So, four bags of candy should be fine, right?

We started by handing out two pieces to every kid. Based on our past experience, we still would have been left with a ton of candy at the end of the night. We got a little worried in the first hour when we started running low.

So we did the initial check of the pantry. We had some Dove dark chocolate individually-wrapped squares. Perfect.

Ten minutes later, we had to raid the pantry again. "Hey, we have a bunch of gum. Kids like gum! Who cares if it's sugarless."

Another 15 minutes later we started digging deeper into the cabinets. "Hershey's 100 calorie dark chocolate. Great!"

You can see where this is going.

We went through some individually-wrapped Easter candy that was in the freezer. Then some snack-sized popcorn bags. Then mixed nuts. When I had to bust out the mini-Clif Bars, we got very nervous.

Hannah found a full box of Quaker granola bars. She poured the contents into the "candy" bowl. She didn't tell me what else was in that granola bar box.

More and more kids came to the door. Some were genuinely excited about the Clif Bars and granola bars, others just thought there were getting big candy bars. Hannah just kept dropping things in their baskets.

Then she told me what else was she had slipped in... We turned the lights off after that. Hopefully those kids won't remember who gave them what.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We met somebody cool

Hannah and I went down to Austin for the Livestrong Challenge this past weekend.

Long story short, we had a great time. We got to ride our bikes. It was for a good cause. And we met some really nice people at the Team Fatty meet-up on Saturday.

Naturally, despite having our camera with us the whole time, we only took a few pictures. But boy did we take the important ones.

Are you ready to have your mind blown? Or are you ready to have your mind perplexed while you try to figure out why we're so excited to stand next to a guy wearing the same t-shirt as me? If you're the former, be excited! If you're the latter, go read some other blog.

Hannah and I got the opportunity for a quick photo with Elden Nelson, the Fat Cyclist, and the ringleader for Team Fatty. It doesn't do him justice to just say how incredibly cool and nice he was. I'm pretty sure he made the effort to talk to everyone involved with Team Fatty, either on Saturday or on the day of the ride. Truly an awesome, standup guy.

Luckily we got two pictures with him because either he or Hannah had their eyes closed. I opted to stick with the sunglasses, as I'm sure I have my eyes closed in both pictures.
I found it interesting that I'm actually bigger than someone. Despite this, Elden still looks like he could crush me if he wanted to. I need to spend some more time in the gym.

Waiting at the start. Team Fatty members got to start before almost everyone else. Nice little perk. Another bonus: I learned the little logo on my helmet is reflective.

I'm willing to bet this is also the closest I will ever be to Lance Armstrong.In case you're wondering, no, his speech was not that inspirational. I'm sure he had gotten that all of out of his system in the previous 10 speeches he made over the weekend.

So, super cool weekend. Super good people. Awesome experience. And for a really great purpose.

UPDATE: I'm prominently featured in a well-read blog. Don't believe me? Here's the picture from
What? You can't see me? Are you blind? I'm right next to him......about 20 feet back.

You can all say you knew me when.

Friday, October 23, 2009


The more I've been reading lately, I'm leaning towards the theory that my legs didn't cramp in Lake Placid because I was short on electrolytes, but because I just wasn't as fit as I needed to be.

That kind of sucks because I would have bet money that I was fitter than in 2007. My swim and bike splits would attest to that. And my recovery after the race suggest that as well. The fact that I didn't walk anywhere near as much as 2007 would make me think that I was fitter in '09 as well.

I do think that I was fitter overall. But my run fitness may not have been where I hoped it was. A little recap:

In '07 training, I:
- Ran a lot faster in training than in '09
- Did much less cycling compared to '09

While I ran much more in 2009 training, I also trained at a slower pace than in 2007. Do I think that training at a slower pace factored in my slower 2009 run time? Sure. But running slower more often also allowed me to consistently train -- something that I didn't do so well with in previous years.

More likely, my "running" legs still weren't quite back to 2007 strength levels. They were just fatigued during the race. I spent '08 breaking myself down without realizing it (leading to my injury). I'm still building back now, as evidenced by my hip still giving me a little trouble. I always knew getting to where I want to be was going to take a few years -- let's see what happens this year.

I believe my flaw in my '09 IM run was thinking that I was going to run as fast or faster as in '07, while not actually having anything to back that up. I had done no tests in '07 to compare with my '09 data. I had done no races in '09 to get a feel for my actual race speed.

So, what am I changing this year? Actually, not all that much:
- I'm not going to get injured again. That put me in a little bit of a panic. If I do get injured, I think I'm pulling the plug on CdA and getting myself 100% healthy, rather than getting myself healthy enough to train and race, but not okay for the long term. I'll talk about how I'm not going to get injured another day. Mostly it involves me turning my frail 140 pound body into a ripped, strapping 145 pound body.
- I'm going to have at least one test race in addition to all my standard training tests. I had one race in all of 2009: ironman. I might have gone a little extreme in my focus on that race. Gordo also recommends that I try to get one low-priority race in each month through the winter. I think that's mostly to keep me from going crazy. Luckily San Angelo has a ton of running races throughout the year. Hopefully I'll be able to find a masters swim meet somewhere too.

That's about it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The science

I bet you didn't think the "science" portion of our vacation recap would have any interesting photos. But you're wrong! Ha ha!

Well, technically, you're right -- the science itself is incredibly non-photogenic (unless you want to see pictures of me riding a stationary bike breathing into a tube) -- but since the science part of the trip only directly involved me, Hannah was free to wander around Boulder. I'm pretty sure the picture above is the Boulder library. I think the one below is of the other direction.

So, about the science. This is the second year I've gone out to Boulder to have the EC guys put me through some physiological testing (Alan ran the tests this time -- boy is that guy smart). I did a lactate and fuel test on the bike and a run lactate test at the track. If you're wondering what any of that means, ask your local physiologist. You can ask me, but I can't guarantee I'll tell you a factual answer.

The numbers aren't particularly interesting to look at for most folks, so I won't bother to share them here (that and I don't have the charts on this computer). The tests were worthwhile to me though. Both Alan and Gordo gave me a lot to work on to improve my fitness/overall triathlon performance, without overwhelming me.

My big takeaway is that I need to get stronger. It's been more than five years since I could clean more than my bodyweight. I doubt I'll get back to that strength level again, but a good five or so pounds of muscle will do a lot to improve my performance and reduce my now-injury-prone body (five pounds is an approximation, I'm not going to be watching the scale).

So, what does that mean? Some solid time in the gym and lots of time on my bike. Bonus for living in San Angelo: we're entering the windy season (which runs October through September) so I'm sure to get lots of resistance work in outside.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The walking

Since I think the pictures are more interesting that my narrative, I'll sum up briefly and then get to the goods. After my science stuff ended on Tuesday, Hannah and I drove up to Estes Park outside Rocky Mountain National Park. After we arrived, we went for a short walk around town. On Wednesday, we went into the park and did a shorter day hike to the top of Deer Peak. At this point, it had started snowing in the mountains, so we ended up wearing every piece of clothing we had brought. We then drove around the park, although most of Trail Ridge Road was closed due to snow and ice.

Wednesday night we went to a ranger-led talk about elk, who were in their rutting season.

On Thursday, we wore some additional clothing that we hadn't originally brought on the trip and ventured out into the snow to the top of Flat Top Mountain. While tough with a few inches of snow to push through at the top, it was a good pick since it doesn't actually have an actual peak to summit (being a "flat top" and all). That afternoon we drove up to Ft. Collins.

We saw quite a lot of elk on our trip. These guys (and gals) had moved down from the mountains to the Estes Park golf course.

I suppose there was some science involved in the walking as well. Nature, etc.

On the way up Deer Peak Trail. You'll notice the puffy clothing.

Top of Deer Peak... looking at snow.

On the way up Flat Top. Beautiful overlooks.

The snow starting to get deep. You'll notice I made Hannah break trail. I'm polite that way.

Me at the top. Had Gordo not given us the EC beanies, I'm not sure what we would have done (...actually, we probably would have just bought hats. It was cold and we're not that dumb).

We made the mistake of stopping to eat at the top, which is our usual practice when we go for hikes. Of course, we rarely hike when windy and snowy, so even though we talked about not stopping at the top, we did anyway... and proceeded to get really cold. Once we realized what was going on, we booked it down the mountain to get warm. That meant we didn't pause for many photos even when the clouds started to clear up a little.

I'll wrap this up with the stoic rodent we came across on the way up. We found a copy of Watership Down up the trail a little. I think he had just read it and was emboldened.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Vacation in reverse

Hannah's and my vacation to Colorado can basically be broken down into three categories: science, walking and beer. Quick synopsis: we flew to Denver (me from NYC, Hannah from Texas), spent a day in Denver, spent two days in Boulder (where I did my science stuff), spent two days in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (where we did the walking stuff), spent two days around Fort Collins (including a trip up to Cheyenne, WY), then flew back to Texas. Throughout the trip we did the beer stuff.

To keep everyone's interest, I'll start with the beer post, then I'll back into the walking and science stuff.

You might be surprised to learn that Colorado has quite a lot of good breweries. They also have Coors (ha. ha.).

Here's Hannah about to be crushed by a giant kettle (drum? vat?) at the Coors factory. She has a habit of standing in front of giant things that can crush her when we go on vacation. She'd probably blame the photographer for that.
This was the first part of our week-long beer tour, during which we tried to get to most of the local breweries on the Front Range. Between this trip and last year, I think we hit all of the ones north of Denver, except one in Lyons.

Not surprisingly, the beer tours didn't lend themselves to the greatest photo opportunities.
If you think that's exciting photography, you're probably going to be disappointed that we didn't take any pictures at the microbrew places. On the other hand, if you're bored (that is, normal), you'll understand why we didn't even bother bringing the camera with us to the small breweries. Everything was really interesting, just not photogenic.

While the Coors tour was neat, it would end up paling in comparison to the Budweiser tour we took at the end of the week. We were both a little disappointed in that -- since Golden is the flagship brewery for Coors ("tap the Rockies" and all), it was a bit of a let down. The sampling beers weren't all that impressive either, but it might be because Coors beers themselves aren't all that impressive. They're not bad by any means, but we were much more impressed by the Bud options. It might be because Coors doesn't have a "top end" option, while Budweiser has Michelob and a bunch of different seasonal options.

The packaging assembly at Budweiser was really amazing to see. At one point, there was this crazy articulated robotic arm that was doing something cool on the packaging floor. No, we don't have a picture of the cool thing, but we do have one of me staring intently at it.
They also have lots of vats of beer fermenting and whatnot.
Trust me, the pictures will get better when I get to the hiking.

Basically, all but a small amount of the beer we sampled was great. I assume the stuff that I thought was awful is good to someone, but I prefer my bourbon and my beer separate. By that I mean I'll drink the beer, but keep the bourbon in another room well away from me -- please don't make some super-drink. Hannah liked it though. And my brothers probably would as well. So there's clearly a market for it. Me and the sorority girls will take our wussy drinks over here.