Friday, August 31, 2007

Spilled Milk

Tonight Michael & I went up to the Olive Garden in Round Rock for Dinner. Although Round Rock is fabled to suck the soul out of you, I had an enjoyable time while I was there and made it out safely.

Colin tends bar at that Olive Garden so we go there every few months to ruffle his feathers a bit. Tonight was a fun experience, we sat down next to some of Colin's "regulars." Michael was quite amused that the Olive Garden bar has regulars. They were a fun couple and seemed to get a good laugh out of telling Colin they heard he was adopted, etc.

While we were there I noticed some traits that we both try to exhibit while working. He kept a smile on his face and worked diligently to get everything done. He made an effort to ask people how there were and was very friendly to his customers.

The most interesting part of the evening was what happened when the bar tender next to him knocked a bottle of wine onto the ground at Colin's feet. He didn't move and inch from the computer where he was entering someones order. It was amusing to me b/c last Friday I reacted exactly the same when a cup of coffee was knocked onto my feet at the bike shop.

On the ride home I contemplated why we both had this ability to act as if nothing had happened. After a bit of thought I realized that we'd both received our training as kids. When we were growing up Colin spilled his glass of milk at almost every meal. After years of getting milk spilled all over our dinner plates and splashing all over our clothes neither one of us seemed to worry about spilled milk anymore.

Ironically, Colin was a milk delivery man in high school. I believe the picture above was taken during one of his days at work.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


If you ask Michael what an Eclipse is he'll most likely tell you it's a really cool jet that he'd like to own someday.

This morning I got to see a different type of eclipse. When Meredith arrived at the pool she told us there was a lunar eclipse taking place. We looked around for a few seconds and spotted the burnt orange moon above the far corner of the pool. Throughout practice I periodically checked on it's progress. At 6:15 it was still burnt orange but by 6:30 the clouds had rolled in and we missed the opportunity to see the finale of the eclipse.

Although I was tired when that alarm went off at 4:38 I was happy I'd made my way over to the pool today. I've hardly swam during the past month so everything felt tough today but I definitely enjoyed myself. Aside from the eclipse I also got to split the lane with Karen, Mark, and Clarence. It's always fun to exercise with friends I haven't seen in a while.

Note: in the above picture you may see some strange white stuff along the airplanes. I haven't seen that stuff in years and with the warm temperatures right now I really miss it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why Can't I Vomit?

Yesterday I took part in Skeese Greets Women's Triathlon. It was a sprint tri down at the Texas Ski ranch. My goals for the race were to clock a PR on that course and to puke at the end of the race. I accomplished neither.

This whole puke thing may sound crazy but for me the idea of pushing myself that hard seems almost as illusive as getting a slot to Kona. I just can't seem to push myself past my comfort zone. At the end of yesterday's race I got the usual comments, "You looked good." ... I don't want to look good, I want to look like crud!! One of these days I want someone to come up to me after a race and say, "Wow, I could really tell you were pushing yourself to your limits."

So what's the secret? I want to know why my friend Mike T. was able to cross the line at Couple's Tri without the energy to even make it to a trash can before he lost everything in his stomach.

When will it be my turn to join the group of people who can push themselves so hard that they puke at the end? Instead I am still among the chickens... the ones who back off when they start to hurt, or when they reach loose chip seal.

Oh yes... I am also a chicken on the bike. One of the roads on the course got a nice new layer of chip seal the other day. I was scared to death when I hit that section of the course. Lucky for me, I got my first power meter the other day and I was able to look at it afterwards to see how lame I actually am. My power dropped significantly and my speed decreased by 5 mph.

What's the consensus... am I a wimp or is there some secret I haven't discovered yet? What is that token of knowledge that allows us to push past our fears and reach those superhuman states? Where is the switch that you hit to tell yourself to go harder instead of staying in your comfort zone?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


On Sunday night Lynne spoke with her boat pilot and a 'possible' departure time of 2am was set. The weather forecast was still a bit questionable so the plan was to meet at the boat and decide what to do. In reality, the decision process never happened. We arrived, hopped on the boat, and ventured over to the start location without much question of what would happen.
Those who have seen Lynne swim know she's a strong swimmer and endurance athlete. She's been preparing for this swim for years and Monday was a great reward for all the hard work. Her stroke count remained a constant 68 for about 98% of the swim. Although we knew she was working hard and exhausting her body she managed to make it look easy. Her time of 9:50 is currently the fastest solo swim of the season. It was impressive to watch the culmination of all the effort that went into Monday.
My role for the journey was nutrition. The first feed, at 15min into the swim, was a slight blunder of coordination with the boat captain. Luckily, it only took a couple of iterations to perfect our system. Between feeds I was quite busy getting the rope and bottles ready for the next feed. Each feed lead to another trip down below to refill and by the end of the swim my arms were feeling a workout from carrying the bottles all day. It's amazing how draining it is to become a Sherpa for a day. A mere 3 water bottles and some string wore me out, I can't even imagine what the Sherpas on Everest must feel like.
When I set off for England I wondered what I would feel as Lynne reached the coast of France. I wondered if it would give me the urge to try it some day or if I would feel a huge emotional response. In the end I was surprised by what happened... I was proud of Lynne for her swim and happy for her accomplishing her goal. Strangely, I did not feel the rush of emotion that I feel as I watch others finish an Ironman. It's quite odd but I realized something from this experience. Unless you have done the event or truly desire to do it also, I don't think you can fully feel the emotion related to the accomplishment. Each of us has our own goals in life and working towards your own goals is what will give you the greatest satisfaction. Too truly feel the joy of accomplishment you must achieve what is important within you.
I think the most amazing part of the swim was the look on Lynne's face when she asked for permission to look ahead and saw France for the first time. She had been sighting off the boat for over 9hrs and wasn't sure how close she was until we told her it was the last feed.
Congratulations Lynne, you worked hard and your focus and dedication was evident during your swim.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gold in the Water

After my first swim in the Dover Harbor I went to lunch with Lynne and Anne. Anne is also swimming the channel, she's in the Q after Lynne and happens to be from Dallas. At lunch they asked me, "What did you think of the green specks floating in the water?" I had no idea what they were talking about. They spoke for a few minutes about these strange green specks that look like bits of gold sparkling in the water.
I swam in the harbor again today. This time I tried out the water without a wetsuit. Maybe if I do as the locals do I too will see the specks. No luck, I still didn't manage to see the gold twinkle. Maybe there is something mystical that happens when you are a true channel swimmer which allows you to see this special gold in the water.
It's a bit windy in the area right now so it's looking like Tues is the earliest day for Lynne's swim. The timing of the swim is a bit odd to grasp. Lynne will speak with her pilot at 7pm each night and she'll find out the plans for the next day. As she says, "It's a whole lot of hurry up and wait."
Yesterday I took a day trip to London. Although I'm not a big city person I needed to be sure I got to visit. After all, I've been waiting to visit London since 1985. I took the train into London Victoria station and realized my highest level of efficiency would result from a double decker tour bus. For someone who has no map of the city and only has a few hours to see everything it was a great idea. I hopped on and off at a few locations, learned some history and took a bunch of pictures from a moving bus. My favorite thing to do was get airplanes in the background. They fly pretty close to the city and I figured Michael would appreciate my efforts.
I spoke with Michael a little while ago. We shared stories about our morning run. For me, the biggest concern was dogging cars and running on the right side of the road. For Michael & Ali the big concern was not overheating. A mere 2 fuel belt bottles got me through my 2hr run today. Back in Austin, Joe road behind Michael and Ali with water and Gu. The mid 50's in the morning are wonderful. The other night I could see my breath during my run. Although Austin is great, it's not as cool as Dover right now and I'm certainly taking advantage of that.
Somewhere above Dover is the Duke of York Military school. The theme song of today's run; "The Grand old Duke of York, he had 10,000 men... " Luckily nobody else had to hear me sing this sing over and over during my run.
I have no clue where I was running today but weaved around A-258 between Dover and Deal. I did an out and back with some extra hill climbing to hit the correct time. The best part of the run was getting within 50ft of a VOR. They look different in the UK so it took me a minute to figure out what it was. Maybe Michael can look at flight maps and tell me where I ran.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Soap Box

I apologize but I'm going to have to hop up on a soap box for a minute...

Many of us, myself included, have gone to the theatre to view the Simpson's movie. Embedded in the typical Simpson's humor are a lot of messages to us. As usual, Lisa (and her new boy Colin) have made an attempt to bring out the environmentalists within us. Lisa's character is one which I look up too for many reasons; she's intelligent, short, has blond hair, and tries her best to educate those around her.

The day after seeing the movie I arrived at the airport to board my flights to England. My lay-over in Dallas lasted 3.5hrs longer than expected so I had plenty of time to hear the daily news stories repeated on the television near the gate. One of Tuesday's key stories mentioned a possible tax on bottled water in some cities like Chicago. It gave estimates that 1 liter of water actually takes 3 liters of water to produce. When you sit and think about the filtration, the gas used to transport the bottles, and the waste they create, it is quite remarkable. We Americans are often very selfish. While thinking we're being good to our bodies, drinking filtered water, we are actually hurting ourselves by creating such waste.

When I was leaving Idaho in June I saw a girl with a water bottle inside the terminal. At first I was confused, wondering how she'd gotten it past security. I quickly realized my ignorance... empty water bottles are fine to carry through. So today I brought my empty bike bottle and filled it at the drinking fountain past security. I saved some $ and felt a whole lot better about myself when I sat in Dallas realizing how much waste each bottle creates. Of course, the gilt was reaching high levels as airplane food was served and I ate only one thing off the plate.

So... my point is this... we will all create a lot of waste in our lives but taking a quick minute to think about ways to reduce it a little can help a lot. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - the best thing I learned from elementary school.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Kid in a candy store

At 2pm on Friday Michael's phone had a picture on it... his wife was running around the shop with a new Giro Advantage 2 helmet on.

The best part of J&A is being able to play, no matter how old you are. There are many people who have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of these new aero helmets. I never really thought too much of it until they arrived, 2 in size SMALL. We sold a number of them this weekend and although I ran around the store in mine the longest, I was definitely not the only one. Sometimes it's hard to hide that inner sense of goofiness.

To justify my purchase Michael & I decided to take part in the Darndest Du on Sunday morning. It was a fun race but that duathlon stuff is harder than I thought. I imagined it would seem a bit easier since swimming is my weakness but I was wrong. I was a little concerned when my legs stared to tighten after mile 1 of the first run.

A little devil tried to tell me to DNF but I didn't listen. I think I saw him again along the course, setting fires at the side of the road. For those of you who didn't take part in this race you missed the oddest thing I've ever seen; in the middle of the bike course there were about 10 piles of burning brush on either side of the road. As I reached the turn-around a cop car was entering the course. Imagine how strange it would be to watch this event without knowing what was happening. In the middle of nowhere you see a bunch of adults riding through a tunnel of fire, being chased by a cop car and striped officials on motorcycles. Playing becomes much more elaborate with age. I wonder what Michael & I will do when we're 80...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Next week I will venture over to England to be part of Lynne's crew for her channel swim. I've been waiting to visit England since I was 7 yrs old. No, Lynne hasn't been planning the trip that long, I was originally planning to go visit my friend Josh while his family was living in England. That trip never materialized, this one is quite different.

Two years ago, as we sat outside Whole Foods for Friday night dinner, Lynne told us about her plans to swim the channel in 2007. Michael & I instantly said we'd go along as part of the crew. Later that night we wondered if that would be possible, who knows where you'll be in 2 years. Flip forward 2 years and Lynne's tide happens to fit perfectly into the break between summer and fall sessions at UT, who would've guessed.

I'm very excited about the trip but over the past few weeks I've realized I'm not alone. Last week I got a call from one of Lynne's co-workers. She asked if I could transport a banner to England. Her co-workers had a bright orange banner made with "SWIMSTRONG" screened onto it.

Over the past week her c0-workers and friends have been signing the banner. She saw it for the first time today, at a meeting up at Dell. Michael managed to attend too and said Lynne was very happy about all the support. So happy that it brought tears to her eyes. There is nothing quite as wonderful as knowing your friends are supporting you in your journey, it is quite a compliment.

Rumor has it that we should all check out the Austin American Statesman tomorrow to read more about Lynne's trip. Dell is also making effort to track her while she's over there. When Michael told me about the computer with the GPS tracking system I laughed, "I don't need to watch the online updates, I'm going to be there." Hopefully I'll get some great pictures and I'll be able to update everyone else.

BTW, the picture above was taken during Lynne's 6hr swim in Lake Travis. I joined for 1 hr, wearing a wetsuit and huge paddles on my hands. That improves my pace by ~:15/100 and I was still working hard to keep up with Lynne.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jack's Generic Tri

Sunday was Jack's Generic Triathlon. This race has become quite popular in Austin and there are good reasons why. It's well run and super fun. Of course, I am a bit bias so my opinion should come as no surprise. Although I was among the 800+ entrants in the race, my report might have a different perspective. For me, this race (like a lot of this season) has been about learning from others and enjoying their achievements. One of the greatest things I've been a part of this season was meeting so many people getting ready for their first triathlon. There are three notable people I met on Friday. Alayna, Noel, and 'super dad' - they all picked up their packets on Friday afternoon.

Alayna and I chatted for a while on Friday and I could see a lot of excitement in her. She's one of those people who seems to be genuinely happy and excited about the things she's experiencing. I saw her before the swim Sunday morning and her amazing personality made me instantly more excited about the race.

Noel was also doing Jack's as her first race. She asked me what I think about during the races and after a few minutes we decided we'd have the goal of crossing the finish line smiling. On Sunday morning she introduced me to her roommate, who was also going to do the race for the first time. We all agreed on our goal of smiling at the tape.

'Super Dad' is the third memorable new face of the weekend. He came into the shop on Friday to hunt down some tri shorts. All the while, his young daughter has hanging out with him. She seemed to truly enjoy hanging out with her dad and it was quite apparent that he was a great dad. He too was entering Jack's as his first triathlon and every time I saw him on Sunday he had a huge smile on his face.

Our friends Rich and Brent also entered Jack's for their first triathlons. I saw both of them on the run and they were doing great.

oh... so my race report...

Pre race -

Paul and Meredith were kind enough to give me a ride down. Michael had gone down sat afternoon to help with set-up but I was too far behind in school work so I arrived race morning. Michael had his glasses on so I knew the guys had been up late getting everything ready for us.

During my warm up run I saw a pit bull leave his mark on one of our cones. Ugh! Thankfully, his owner quickly came out to bring him inside. I don't think anyone else (aside from Dan) knew anything of this dog on race day

Race -

The most noteworthy part of the race occurred at the end of the bike. As I was coming around the last stretch I saw a TX Iron jersey ahead. Then I saw the black Griffen bike and realized I was about to pass Kevin. So, I started heckling him a bit and he told me he was right behind me. I should have listened... about 30 sec later, as we neared transition, Kevin came up on the right side of me, "Do you have any Grey Paupon?"

This freaked me out. I was already in the midst of getting ready to dismount and before slowing down I somehow managed to fly off my bike about 50 ft from the dismount line. I'm pretty sure the bike flew over my head. Lucky for me Michael was standing right there so I won't live that one down any time soon.

Overall, it was a fun day. I'm waiting for the pictures to come out to see if I have any foolish ones ;)

Good job to everyone who raced. Thank you to everyone who volunteered. A special bid of appreciation to all the new triathletes who made my day so much more enjoyable.