Monday, December 31, 2007

We Got a Dog

Okay, maybe this dog doesn't count. This one was abandoned in our room during our cruise. He came with a pile of chocolate so he was welcomed with open arms.

Cruise ship food isn't quite as good as it's fabled to be but that didn't stop us from eating about 10 deserts every day. It got bad when we started to preview the deserts before dinner. We'd try them at the cafeteria and order them again a few hours later. Good thing none of them was as good a chocolate bark.

There was one desert to write home about, chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick. We got that in Key West. My taste buds exploded with that, a perfect combination of fruit and chocolate. Mmmmmm !

Sunday, December 16, 2007

30th B-day

At some point this summer I decided it would be fun to get an entire sheet of dark chocolate cookies and cream bark for my 30 th B-day. Michael & Kelly said I wouldn't be able to eat the entire thing alone, thus the idea of a big party.

Whole Foods told Michael this was the first time an entire sheet of bark had been ordered... I can't believe nobody else thought of this idea before.

Thank you to everyone for coming to celebrate my birthday with me. It was a bit chilly but I guess that's to be expected mid-December, I never imagined I'd have a birthday party outside.

For those of you who didn't get to see the slide show of my childhood....

Pictures from the party:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

14 seconds

Today was the Dallas White Rock Marathon...

When we woke up yesterday morning we had an email warning us of the weather forecast. At the time it predicted a low of 65 for today with 90% humidity. During our drive up yesterday morning that forecast made a huge change. This morning it was 50 at the race start and 40 by the time we finished.

I got pretty chilly and probably didn't have enough clothing but I was very thankful when I saw Charles and he gave me the J&A gloves off his hands in return for a soaking wet pair. My hands were warm for a few more miles but I was already in a world of pain by that point.

My foot hurt with every step and I was cold but I've got no excuses. Overall, I am actually proud of my efforts. I went out there with a plan and I stuck too it as long as I could. My body didn't agree with that idea and I was hurting for the majority of that race. But I dug deep and kept insisting to push through as much pain as I could take. My plan and my PR were gone but I was determined to run the whole thing and keep my promise to Michael, even if I blow up I will do everything in my power to be sure I hit my Boston time. I did that, I pushed as hard as I could today with what I had. I crossed the line spent, felt like I was going to faint for a while, and have been shivering for most of the day.

When I saw rich I asked him where Michael was and how he'd done. In true form Michael left everything on the course and dropped at the finish line. He'd been sick this week, woke up in covered in sweat and dehydrated and went out as hard as he could today. In the end he got a 16s PR, missing his Boston Qualifier time by 14s.

We plotted out our splits. The fluctuations based on mile follow the same general pattern but Michael's even splits exhibit a much stronger race than my death march to the finish. Mile 24 cost him the race or maybe it was the cliff shot he took when he forgot he had another Carbboom in his pocket. Either was he ran with everything he had and I couldn't be prouder of my husband.

Also, a huge congratulations to Meghan. She qualified for Boston for the first time ever.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I Pea-ed on the floor

We're 36 hrs away from the start of White Rock marathon...

This week there have been a few key thoughts on my mind;
1) no matter what the pace, it'll hurt for the last 10K. --> push hard and smile
2) everyone has stress before a race and at the end of the semester. --> try to shake it off

Today's plans got a little messed up since Michael was feeling a bit under the weather. We made some adjustments and ended up heading home early.

As I was in the kitchen cooking up food I accidentally reached over and grabbed the hot lid for the rice. I quickly dropped it and opened the freezer to grab something cold. Apparently the bag of peas I found was already opened and in my zealous motion peas flew out of the bag all over the floor. The big clump is easy to see but if you look closely you can see peas all over the place. Michael quickly remarked, "you just pea-ed all over the floor."

I get clumsy when I'm stressed. Even with the best intentions it's hard not to fret about an upcoming race. Thankfully I've got a lot of friends who have called to wish me well and a husband who still has a great sense of humor when he's not feeling great.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Subjects Wanted

I'm collecting subjects for my master's thesis. Here's the text from my recruitment poster if anyone is curious...

Subjects Wanted For a Study on the Dynamic Stability of Walking

Researchers in the Nonlinear Biodynamics Laboratory in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Texas are studying how dynamic stability changes when walking if a perturbation (gait interruption) are applied.

Participants will have their movements recorded while they walk on a treadmill across a range of moderate speeds for 10 minutes at a time, for up to a total of 60 minutes.

The experiment will require each subject to complete one visit. The session will take ~3 hours to complete. Subjects will receive financial compensation for their time.

Men and women of all ethnicities are eligible and encouraged to participate.
If you are a healthy adult between the ages of 18-36, and would like to participate, please contact me

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The lost FL pictures

After returning from an air race today, Michael realized there were a few pictures from FL which had slipped through the cracks. I couldn't help but add them to the blog, with a bit of explanation.

As we can see above, Michael is preparing for old age all ready. He's all decked out in his tube socks, t-shirt, and TYR swim suit to go riding. What you can't see from this picture is that his bar end is actually the top to a soda bottle. I'm sure it must have been funny to see some girl in her stream-lined bike clothes drafting off this guy. The best part of the ride was when we got back and Michael realized his bike shoes were in the bag on the back of his bike. He'd been riding with sneakers and carried his bike shoes along for the ride.

The 2nd picture shows off my new favorite laundry detergent. How could I not like this stuff; All Small and Mighty. It's supposedly 3x as powerful as the same quantity of other detergents. I can't believe they named laundry detergent after me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I see red.... today I learned that I don't always need to catch the red ahead of me. The EAS 10-miler was today and I found myself caught up in the excitement of the first mile. A large group of J&A Jerseys all passed the 1 mile mark at ~6:50. Angie and I had said we'd go conservative and try to do the first mile closer to 7:30's. That didn't quite happen and I quickly learned why I always tell myself to start conservative.

Going to hard at the start caught up to me as soon as I hit an incline. That incline was at mile 2, just about the time Jack ran past me. For some crazy reason I'd actually thought I might be able to outrun Jack if I had a good day. I had to set my ego aside and go with how my body felt. Hopefully I'll put my head back on straight and I'll run smarter at Dallas.

Maybe I needed a day to put things into perspective... at least I didn't get passed by anyone pushing a baby jogger with 4 kids and a case of beer. In the grand scheme of things a good time at a 10 mile run is still less delightful to watch than a sunset over the ocean.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Only in Kona

Trisha told me that while she was attending school in Hawaii the tri team had a rule, you can't leave the race site with your race gear on. Apparently this guy didn't get the memo. Not only did he leave the race site with his gear on, he kept it on all the way to the airport.

BTW, Garel pictures from IMFL are up on Picasa web

Total Waffle House past on the drive from Austin to Panama City Beach = 30.

Michael, Diana and I visited one the morning after the race. It was the first visit for each of us. We encountered a rude A-type triathlete waiting for a table but our overly kind waitress made up for it.

Later that night we went out for dinner and our triathlete friend from earlier happened to be at the same place. As they were leaving his friend was taking pictures of some girl's behind, these guys seemed like real winners. It's amazing what you witness after the race.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Super Heroes

I saw something new while watching this IM, people in costume. That's usually reserved for running races but apparently it's caught on for triathlons too.

During the swim, some guy had a florescent pink wig on over his swim cap. It was funny but a little humbling too, he was swimming at a faster pace then I would've been w/o a wig.

We saw a few people dressed in costumes during the run. The most notable were the two guys featured in this picture. As they ran by I cheered, "Good job super heroes.

The guy in front replied, "Technically I'm just a beer keg, he's the super hero."

I'm not sure if that line had been used multiple times before or if it was a spontaneous response but it was quite humorous.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blogging from I-10

"It must be nice to be a Garel" -- or maybe Jackson meant to say "It must be nice to be a Geek" I am blogging as we are driving down I-10, heading over to Panama City Beach to watch our Austin friends in another race.

I just spoke to Keith. He and Jackson have about 10 min left to check in for the race on Sat. They hadn't found the host hotel yet. If that were me, I'd be spazzing out. When we were at CDA I was getting my race gear ready and realized my special needs bags weren't included. That was 1hr before registration closed and I was going nuts. I only needed to find a couple of plastic bags but it still got me worked up. I guess Ahmed wasn't joking when he said Jeff is much less worried about this Ironman.

For some reason those guys didn't seem shocked that I was looking up the hotel address while I was driving. I told Keith the computer connection is slow on I-10 and he didn't even respond. Maybe they're still tired from their drive down... it took them 15hrs. I'm hoping we make it a bit quicker.

Note: Just passed a Waffle House. My goal for the trip is to keep a tally of the mecca for Southern truck drivers. I think there are at least 5 of them in Panama City Beach.

WF_Count = 1

wait... no... WF_Count = 4 (just talked to Diana and passed 3 more in about 5 minutes)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mug Shoot from the Dentist

During lunch today I went over to TSC and Michael went to Rose Dental. I got beaten up by the strong swimmers of the Fiocca clan and Michael grown down by the dentist.

He sent me this picture from his cell phone. I don't think he'll be getting any calls from GQ as a result of this mug shot.

Bad news for Michael... the dentist put a temporary cap on his tooth. He'll have that for the next two weeks. During that time he's not supposed to be chomping on hard candy, nuts, gummy bears, etc. Last night he went to HEB and bought Halloween candy; Tootsie Rolls and Candy Corn. He got those so I wouldn't be tempted to eat any. He wasn't planning to get things he wouldn't be able to eat. I wonder how long it's going to take him to visit Target and buy up all the leftover chocolate on Nov 1st.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tigger or Eeyore

Yesterday afternoon Randy Pausch presented his last lecture on the Oprah show. The last lecture was initially presented as part of a Carnegie Mellon lecture series, but his was different because it truly was his last lecture.

I finally heard the lecture this morning. It was inspiring and gave me a great perspective. Dr Pausch commented on his childhood. Among his stories he told the audience about his parents allowing him to draw on his bedroom walls. Later in the lecture he made the comment that you need to decide early on if you are going to be a Tigger or an Eeyore.

These two comments sparked my idea for this blog entry... while we were in high school Colin and I decided to draw on his wall. Ironically, the first cartoon I drew was a Tigger. My brother and I had decided to be Tiggers many years before that. And yes, our mother also let us deface the walls too :)

Although I did not know Dr Pausch he was the undergraduate advisor for one of my good friends at CMU, Kate. Dr Pausch was her advisor for her trip to the KC-135 (vomit comet) , she knew him well.

The lecture is archived at

If you have 10 minutes to spare it's definetely worth listening too.

Pictured above:
(1) Colin standing next to the wall of his bedroom - 1995
(2) Kate & I goofing around - 1997

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gadget Boy got a new toy

For some reason Michael's old camera wasn't good enough anymore. While I was at J&A core practice Michael was meeting up with someone to purchase a new camera.

After a stop at my favorite restaurant (Whole Foods) we came home and decided to test out the new toy. Low light action shots... we'll need to keep practicing this. Michael will need to perfect his quick finger reflexes and I'll need to work on getting my legs into a full split mid-air. After all, I am the J&A cheerleader and need to keep up with my training.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Someone call NBC, they should add me to their staff...
They say Kona is the Hardest Ironman. After all it's the world championship, nothing less is to be expected.

Until you are there you can not truly understand what they mean. Until you feel the wind and the heat you can not understand the true energy of the Island. The race has made champions and broken them down but all of them come away with something larger than the race itself.

Somewhere along the way everyone is challenged and something inside them takes over.

PRIDE. It's what makes you start running the hill on Palani when you are in pain. Your back hurts, you've been sick before the race, you've been sick during the race, you have cramps, your body is in utter pain, and you are not feeling as well as you'd hoped. But along side the rode your friends are cheering and you muster up everything you have to run past them. If they're lucky they'll see you smile and they'll know you appreciate them being out there to cheer you on.

Congratulations to Ali, Jen, Chris, Juli, Fish, Danny, Des, Terra, Jim, Stephan, Lisa, Mark, and Chad

IBM 10K - PR*

Until a few weeks ago the only 10K races I'd done were a hand full of Cap 10K and 10K runs at the end of Oly distance triathlons. Michael had never done a 10K and we decided it would be fun to join up with some of the Dell teams. It was a hot day and a long course so neither of us hit our goal times.

I decided that wasn't good enough and entered the IBM 10K to see what I could do. Jet lag seems to have hit us a bitter harder than usual after our trip to Kona but I figured it was worth it. My PR from Cap 10K '03 was 43:56 and I was pretty sure I could crush it.

I did crush it but the time gets a huge * next to it. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, I was near the front of the pack. There were about 50-100 of us who turned the wrong way in the Domain. I had no idea until we started to see the guys coming back in the other direction, "Turn around...There's no turn.... It's all messed up."

A bit of mass confusion then set in and people started turning at random points in the road. I picked some arbitrary spray paint mark in the road and turned myself. Nobody seemed to know what was going on and all of the sudden it seemed like I was back in a huge group of runners. People were complaining and questioning each other. Nobody seemed to know what happened and I thought, "Darn it, another long course."

We soon realized the course was going to be short but how short was unknown, everyone was turning at different spots. I was feeling the frustration and pain from running hard but managed to regain my focus when I heard loud female breathing from behind. Tiff had made a huge effort to catch me and that was just enough to spur me back into race mode. I muscled my way to the finish but it was certainly tough.

My first mile was 6:30, a bit too fast. 2nd was 6:35 after backing off. I think I slowed a bit and Michael reported a 1:50 time difference between the last person who went the wrong way and the 1st person who was on course. So, I'm going to estimate ~ 42:00-42:10 if I'd done the entire course, not the 40:16 reported for my chip time.

What did I learn...

This race gave me an interesting perspective. After the finish there were a lot of frustrated people, complaining, asking for their money back, etc. I had felt a loss of motivation when the pain hit and I knew the distance was off. Then I sat back and thought about it. I did this race to push myself and see what I could do. I did that, I got out there and pushed past the lactic acid and the pain and definitely had the speed to get a PR. I don't know what that time would have been but why does that really matter. After all, we were just a bunch of crazy adults who were running loops in North Austin.

Setting up a race is tough. Logistics take months to plan and sometimes a few less porta potties and a lack of turn marshalls can leave people feeling disgruntled. Chill out guys, this is all for fun and there are a lot of people who put in hours of their time so you could race today. Personally I don't see a reason to complain. I pushed myself, got a $25 gift certificate to Betty Sport, and the race provided T-shirts in size Youth L. Life is good!

Friday, October 19, 2007

I like Nutz

Over the years many of my fellow CMP engineers made their way to Hawaii for vacations. It had become a tradition to bring gifts back from vacation. When returning for Hawaii everyone seemed to return with a bag of Mauna Loa chocolate covered macadamia nuts. If you've had them before its easy to understand why they were so popular, they are quite tasty!

During the middle of Ironman watching I decided I needed a snack, so I walked to the store to buy myself some chocolate covered mac nuts. The lady at the counter warned me not to eat them all at once. I asked why and she replied, "They're very rich."

I wasn't quite sure what that meant and proceeded to eat them all to find out. Apparently the evil effects of eating too much chocolate covered nuts does not effect me because I felt fine. All these years of building up my chocolate eating endurance really paid off during the ironman trip, I showed no signs of slowing. By the end of the trip I was eating a bag of chocolate covered mac nuts a day.

After returning from Hawaii I've had a lot of trouble getting up in the mornings. I'm not sure if it's a result of jet leg or a residual level of caffeine in my system.

As I walked through the Dallas airport I overheard part of a conversation. The first girl asked her friend how many cigarette's she'd had during the past week. The friend replied with a question, "How much chocolate have you had this week?"

Makes me wonder... maybe I am addicted. I'll start to worry when I get invited to the Chocolate Eaters Anonymous group meeting.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

MG back from Kona

To celebrate our 6 yr anniversary Michael & I went to Kona to watch our friends race. Deanna told me that it sounds like a weird thing to do for an aniversary but not so strange for Michael and I. She's correct, it was a perfect Garel trip.

My "Race Report" will come out in the next couple of days, along with some pictures. Right now I'm still trying to get caught up with some laundary and sleep.

For now I'll just congratulate everyone who was out there this weekend. Actually, I'm going to go ahead and congratulate anyone who's ever done the race. That course is tough, I'm hoping I'll get to cross the finish line someday. Michael says the course is insane, he thinks it's crazy that people keep going back.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Crocks match my Bike

There are plenty of females out there who select shoes because they match a particular clothing item. My crocks don't match my shirt or shorts, they match my bike, my wheel bags, my transition bag, and almost match my car. Jean Anne has the same troubling tendencies as I do, I'm waiting for the day when she shows up to practice with a bright orange car.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A tough day but a good one

In Feb of 2001 Meghan and I ran our first marathon together. The metal was big and heavy and because it was the first it means a lot. Until today that race was Meghan's marathon PR. Today she ran the Twin Cities marathon and got a 15 min PR, finishing a few minutes short of Boston Qualification.

This is a huge deal and we Garels are VERY PROUD of Meghan. When she started her intense training for Twin Cities her goal was to break 4 hours again. This summer she's put in a lot of miles and it has really paid off. The temps were in the mid 70's for the entire marathon today. Even with all the training in the hot Texas summer, mid 70's is not ideal. But Meghan did great and pushed herself to a great time.

For now it's time for her to get a few weeks of well deserved rest. I'm crossing my fingers that she'll get in some good recovery and decide to head to Dallas with us in December.

Meghan's marathon wasn't the only race of the day. Back home in Austin we had the inaugural Lonestar half Ironman, the first half iron distance race in Austin. It was the last race of the TX tri series and I decided I needed to do it, since I've done all the other races. The only trouble was my lack of swimming and riding since CDA. I've done some shorter races but hadn't ridden over 1.5hrs all summer.

A few weeks ago I decided it would be a good idea to ride the course to see how doable this idea really was. I was hoping to convince Michelle L. to do the race too so she and I made plans to ride the course. We got through it and decided the 1/2 would be fine to do, just wing it for fun.

We both finished the race but it was mighty tough. The swim seemed okay and I was cruising past people for the first 20 miles of the bike but by mile 30 my power was going down and my quads were starting to cramp. This was not good. I got in all the salt and electrolytes I could but I'd be fighting some severe cramping the rest of the day. I was hoping to have a great run but instead I was doomed to my slowest half run to date. Quads, hamstrings, calfs; everything was cramping and it felt horrid.

But, for some crazy reason I told myself I couldn't quit, and I trudged my way through that thing. Along the way I saw lots of friends cheering me on while they volunteered at water stops, spectated, or ran there own race. It's so nice to have so many people cheer for me, even when I'm struggling too much to give them much acknowledgement.

The best part of the day was seeing Michelle L. out there, being such a good sport even though she was getting sick on the run. She struggled a ton and finished the race with a huge smile on her face. As a reward to ourselves we went to EZ's to get burger and milkshakes :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Marketing Ploy?

After Michael returned from HEB I reached for my new shower gel to replace the one I finished up today. As I looked at the container I couldn't help but laugh... doesn't quite look like 50% more to me.

Marketing strategies tend to make me laugh quite often. I think my all-time favorite is when people try to convince you the t-shirts they are selling are "one size fits all." XL might fit on me but it looks pretty funny when some 5' girl is wearing a t-shirt that hangs down to her ankles.

At one point Samsung decided all the CMP engineers had to wear froks when we were behind our tools (due to all those nasty CMP particles). When they first showed up all the froks were L, XL, and XXL. The froks were essentially long white lab coats. I think Maurice and Kelly laughed all afternoon the first time I had one on, I looked like an umpa lumpa.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No A/C

It seems like all the guys I've been riding with have lost the air conditioning in their cars.

I've never quite understood the lure of a convertible. I'm much happier feeling the wind in my face while riding under my own power. Without A/C in the car it just makes a huge mess of your hair, especially when you have fine hair that easily blows all over the place. Even in a pony-tail my hair goes crazy with the windows open. Slower speeds with a bike helmet on are much more enjoyable.

Both Michael and Colin are now driving vehicles without A/C. I guess it's not too bad if you don't want to have a conversation. My brother and I were practically having a screaming match on the way home on Friday. Of course, I was happy to hang out with him and he got me home 2hrs before the bus so I shouldn't complain too much.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Burnet Weekend

Over the past couple of years a lot of TX Iron folks have flocked to Burnet the 2nd weekend in September. Saturday is the Burnet Century Ride and Sunday is the Burnet Tri Hard Triathlon.

Although Michael and I weren't part of Saturday's ride I couldn't help but add this picture to my blog. As the story goes... a squirrel lay dead on the side of the road during the ride yesterday. He was spotted with a beer can in hand, surrounded by a number of TX Iron cyclists who apparently felt the need to honor this squirrel. Apparently Jamie was putting up shelves back home (as all good preying mantis must do) and was not around to remind his athletes that ride time = saddle time, not clock time.

Burnet Tri was today. This was the 6th consecutive year for the Garel Tri Hard Challenge. Burnet was Michael's "First" real triathlon (Trilogy 2000 is a story in itself). We have done the race every year since then and it has become a source of healthy competition. For the past few years Michael has managed to take home the household win but I regained my title today. Some of you may note that he has been volunteering more than training and others may even give him some wiggle room b/c he was on his road bike. This is all true but I got myself a PR, hit my goal time, and had fun so I'll take it all in as a win.

Lastly, I'd like to wish my mom a Happy Birthday.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Keep Austin Weird

One of Michael's co-workers spotted this dog at Braker & I-35 the other day. Apparently the panhandler and his dog are working together at that corner.

Although I've never quite understood the fascination of dressing up your animal, I commend this panhandler for creativity. I'm sure there has been more than one occasion when someone has parted with money or goods purely due to amusement from this dog. Creativity and humor are admirable characteristics, life wouldn't be as enjoyable if we were all bland.

Goal of the day: make someone laugh :)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Death to Electronics

For those of you with Motorola Razor cell phones, be aware that they can't get wet. For years I've been very careful to place my cell phone in a Ziploc when I ride with it. I keep it in a dry pocket of my bag when I walk around. Unfortunately, I got a bit careless last week and killed the thing.

"How?" you might be asking... It met it's match with a container of sliced tomato (my lunch). Apparently, any little bit of liquid which seeps into the back of the phone will cause an indicator tab to turn red. After that your phone is dead and your warranty is void.

Bummer Dude!

The phone was not my only victim. On Thursday I took part in a research study. As I finished up with the data collection I was given a pedometer to wear for the next week. I was instructed to wear it whenever I was awake, except during a swim.

"It's okay to run with it?" I asked.


Ha Ha, a new challenge is born.

I wonder what type of run testing was done by the pedometer manufacturer. After trying my best to keep pace with Ali, Joe, and Michael for over 2hrs on Sat morning my pedometer was not happy. I opened it up to see what the current step count was. The LCD was fading out and it read 29000+ steps. After cleaning up we all went to Kirby Lane for breakfast. As we sat down to wait I opened it again just in time to see the 29,994 and the screen went blank.

I'm not sure what killed it; the temperatures, my sweat, or the fact that some crazy American would actually have taken 30,000 steps before eating breakfast.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Party Like a Rock Star

After checking out the Austin Tri race course Sunday morning I drove over to Milago to begin my "rock star" weekend. I was greeted at the gate by the rock star herself, Meghan.

Some of you may be questioning why I'd call a semiconductor engineer a rock star but compared to Scofield Farms, those people in Milago definitely live like rock stars. You'll have to believe me on this, I've been sworn to secrecy.

I think that rock star persona was contagious because I certainly felt like one during the race yesterday. There were people all over the course and it seemed like someone knew my name on every street corner. I'm not in prime shape right now and that gave me just the incentive I needed too goof off a bit and ham up the crowd. It was like one big party... well... after the swim that is.

I will admit, I did have to take a quick break from rock star persona near the end of the race. Amy A. accused me of not pushing myself so I was sure to put on my game face when I passed her again. After all, no rock star wants to let the crowd down.

To all of you who were out there cheering, volunteering, and racing; thank you for making the race so enjoyable.

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.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Last night Kelly and I were mentioning the comments our respective mothers had made about Ironman. After my last bike crash my mother suggested I take up something less dangerous... she suggested Tennis. Aside from my inability to play tennis she also seemed to be unaware of the injuries that sport causes. Kelly's mother compared Ironman to going into space. I wonder if she's a Dilbert fan. Apparently there are others who seem to think endurance runs and triathlons are just as outlandish as orbiting the earth.
The cartoon above appeared on my desk, years ago, at Samsung. At the time, I was the only one in the building who'd done anything longer than a sprint triathlon and I think many people I worked with thought I was crazy. That has changed and there are now quite a few Samsung'ers who have taken part.
At some point, many years ago, I recall being in a meeting with the Facilities guys. One of them asked me if I'd ever do an Ironman. "Those people are crazy," was my reply. I think back to that story a lot. It's good to keep changing your perspective towards life and it's adventures.
On Tuesday I was feeling very stressed by my lack to time to get everything done. I walked into dynamics class and one of the guys asked how I was doing. I said I was feeling stressed at which point another guy asked point blank, "Have you ever had a gun pointed at your head?"
"No, have you?" I replied in a half confused, half curious manner.
"Yes. It puts everything into much better perspective."
Although the thought of having a gun pointed at your head is grim he definitely proved a point. It's astonishing to me how much I've learned this summer. In a mere 30 sec conversation you can learn a great deal from someone. The important thing is to keep your eyes and ears open so you don't miss those lessons. That guy in my class shared something very profound with me. He reminded me how amazing my experiences are and how lucky I am to have them, even though he doesn't know much about me at all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cricket Lounge

The rainy summer in Austin seems to have caused and early, and overwhelming, cricket mating season. Some of you may have noticed a few extra crickets chirping or you might have encountered a few in your path.

For those of you who have been in Bellmont hall (aka the stadium) lately, you will surely understand what I am about to write. It appears the crickets have become quite fond of Bellmont. There is now a severe infestation in the building. I had to abandon the stairwell next to the elevators about a month ago due to the number of crickets inhabiting the area. Aside from the necessitated balet footing, the smell become too much to handle. The cricket life cycle has a very distinct smell and it is not pleasant. This repulsive organic oder has engulfed almost every inch of the building. Some areas are worse than others. Overall, the entire building gives me the he-be-ge-bees. I think I'm starting to miss the fab, I want my clean room back.

As I was sitting in my office yesterday, watching a cricket run by my feet, I recalled something from Pittsburgh; the Cricket Lounge. As far as I can remember it was some male club in Pittsburgh with a cartoon cricket hanging off the outside of the building. I couldn't help but wonder, did that place get its name from the smell inside? I can only imagine how seedy that place must be now that I have come in contact with so many crickets.

... Yup, it appears there is a picture of the building on the Internet. (see above)
----- The following email message was sent out to the UT d-list on 7/25. It made me laugh so I felt the need to add it into my blog. ------
As some of you may have noticed, there is a cricket infestation oncampus particularly affecting the area of the Main Building and UTTower. In an effort to control this cricket infestation, the universitywill not light the tower each night in the traditional manner. Brightlylit buildings are most likely to attract the largest numbers of cricketsat night, so we hope to attract fewer crickets and control the cricketpopulation by darkening the tower. Two lighting interruptions arescheduled to take place in the early evening on Friday, July 27 throughSunday, July 29, and Friday, August 3 through Sunday, August 5. Pleasenote that this is only a temporary measure to keep the cricketpopulation under control and cleanup at a minimum.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Popularity of M-dot

IM Lake Placid took place yesterday and registration for next year opened today. I had assumed it would fill quickly and my intuition was correct.

It's quite amazing how popular the M-dot races have become, especially the North America ones. $475 to sign up for 10-17 hours of exercise and test of human will. But for so many of us, this idea seems quite logical and we don't think twice about rearranging our schedule to be on-line during the sign up period.

Last November one of our friends was in Korea during the 20min time period when IM FL was opened for online registration. I sat in the house with two computers, ready to go as soon as the clock struck 9am. I got him in but it filled up so quickly that my idea of signing myself up was a lost cause.

In hindsight I am thankful for that because I know I need a bit of a break. Over the past few weeks I've had the chance to take a step back and really think about my plans for Ironman. I'd given some thought to signing up for LP today but realized I would be signing up b/c it's what I do; not because I wanted to do that race next year. People have asked me when the next Ironman will be. I know there will be others but for now I'm not positive what the next one will be. I'll just have to wait until I am truly excited about the idea of doing it again, then I'll sign up for another.

Somewhat related to that is today's picture of the day, which comes direct to us from Osh Kosh WI...