Thursday, June 30, 2011

Juneathon Day 30 - Liberty Sandwich with a Side of Juneathon

It's over.

Let's be honest.

Juneathon cannot compare with Janathon.
Sure, you might have a warm day here or there.
You might be tired.
Unwilling to sacrifice precious daylight for precocious blogging.
But, that's it.

No freezing temps.
Ice storms.
Snow storms.

That said, Juneathon was still a good test.
Logged 105 miles this month which is about half of what I should have done.
But that's because I had to focus on biking and swimming as well.

So to wrap up quickly.

Within the past week, I have now consumed a Liberty Sandwich.

Liberty Island swim.
My first visit to the Liberty Bell.
And today, another encounter with Lady Liberty.

What's up with that?
Um, not my fault.

Last week, I had a race in New York Harbor and another in Philly.
This week, we entertain out-of-state relatives with their anticipated visits to, oh, uh, New York Harbor and Philly.
Thank you, sweet Irony.

Today was my first sightseeing trip to NYC.
I fell in love.
Need to go back.
Need to run 26.2 miles there.
Need to get a real personal picture with this guy.

He was a little too busy today.

Meanwhile in Juneathon land, I ran twice.
1 mile at home to start the day.
Another mile at Liberty State Park (Jersey City, NJ) to retrieve our extra camera battery and memory card before the ferry departed.

Juneathon was fun.
I did not participate in the blogging as much as preferred.
Still, props to Erin and Hennie.
Committed Juneathoners, and great storytellers. A fun blog post every day. And inspiring runs in the face of adversity.

And while my carpal tunnel would advise me to never blog again, I have a few races throughout the summer, so I'll pop back up.

Thanks to all of the fellow Juneathoners for putting in the time and effort.
And thanks to You. For reading and some of you for persisting in a personal Commentathon.
You know it helps.

And finally.
The kids had a sleepover tonight, so no bedtime.
But had we a bedtime, here was the intended post-NYC lullaby.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Juneathon Day 29 - Liberty Island Swim Race Report

The Liberty Island Swim was held at about 6PM on Friday, June 24th, 2011.

The timing of the event, I thought might have to do with the tide, but more importantly, the island is closed.
All of those Statue of Liberty tourists head on to their next patriotic adventure.

This Race Report will cover how I got to and through this race.

I was researching the English Channel swim, because, ya know, some day.
And I found this Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. 28.5 mile swim in NYC.
Part of the NYC Swim series.
They organize swims in the waters of New York to promote awareness that the water is safe.

I saw the Liberty Island Swim on their website and immediately fell in love.
For the distance, .7 miles, it looked kinda expensive at about $100.
No matter. How cool would that swim be?

You needed to qualify with fairly strict requirements last year.
My attempt, a Did-Not-Start for their Great Hudson River swim, left me swimming with disappointment.

But, they relaxed the qualification standard this year and as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I easily qualified with an indoor pool 1-mile time trial.
It was all set.

To the Island
I live about 2 hours from the Statue of Liberty.
My little brother, my kiddos and I left at about 8:30AM on Friday.
Arrived on the New Jersey side, Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey at about 11AM.

I had pre-purchased tickets for the Statue Ferry.

The tickets can also include a walk up the Statue's Pedestal which is the big, stone base.
If you're really special, and you book far in advance, you can also get tickets to walk up to her crown.

When I was a kid, that's what you did.
You went and you walked all the way up.

But, at a minimum, 9/11 terrorist threats and I'm sure other reasons have limited the lucky people that can take that trek.
In our case, we could not enter the actual statue. I only had ferry tickets.
That was OK. Sometimes, upon arriving at the island, you have to wait in line for over an hour to go into the statue. Would rather avoid that. Kids get restless.

If you were participating in the swim and leaving from the New Jersey side, you needed to take the official Statue Ferry.
From the New York side, you could take that same type of ferry, or a private charter boat hired by the NYC Swim group. Many people did just that.

Once on the Ferry, we first visited Ellis Island.
Along the way we saw a pirate ship.

I'll note that on both Ellis Island and Liberty Island, a small pizza and fries can feed 3 people and costs less than $10. We brought our own drinks, but they do have water fountains, also.

Ellis Island could be your entire day.

You can research relatives that arrived on a boat.
The Immigration Station, a really big building, on Ellis Island is a wealth of information within its exhibits.

We had to cruise through it because the kids don't like to stand around and read stuff.
Like stuff about the first immigrant to pass through, 14 year old Annie Moore of Ireland.

There's also an open field on Ellis Island, so we brought and played frisbee.
The wind onto the island kills a frisbee game.

We watched a 20 minute movie about immigrants.
You should watch it.

People so desperate for freedom.
Left their home with $5 and the clothes on their back.
Minimal possessions.
Traveled great distances just to get to a port.
Then to board a steamboat.
Packed on the boat like cattle.
The trip across the Atlantic took 1 week to 1 month.
With little food and drink. And sanitation.

All of that to escape the injustices in your home country.
To go to the new world.
To find fortune.
To find freedom.

If the entire state of Arizona today could just understand what America means to people throughout the world, maybe they wouldn't be such pricks to immigrants.
It's not like we "chose" to be born here.
It just kinda worked out that way.
And most of us Like the USA. Like it enough. (Note: I love the USA, best country on Earth.)

Something like 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island.
But as you may know, Just Arriving on the island didn't mean you would stay.
They could send you back. Or quarantine you.
Because you were sick. Because you were disabled. Because you were crazy.
Even back at Ellis Island, they really only wanted people that could make America better.
Probably not fair. Probably heart breaking. But still worth the risk.

Wow, enough of that.

2 hours later, we caught the ferry to Liberty Island.

You approach the island and everyone is in awe.
To see the Statue.

For the first 10 years. That statue was just glowing copper.
No green oxidation.
Imagine seeing that as you arrived in America.
Gives me chills.

Our arrival was slightly less symbolic.

First I checked in for the swim at the NYC Swim tables right in the main square.

They even had a big container of Vaseline sitting next to the sign-in sheets.
For those annoying, chafing armpits.

Then, we played catch.
Played tag.
Tried to look at Manhattan through those big binoculars that cost a quarter.

Took a ton of pictures of the Statue.

Her name by the way, as I told some swimmers as we waded for the start:
"Liberty Enlightening the World"

So what do you know about the statue?
She was made in France.
A symbol of the freedom that France desired. A political expression.

Her right arm and torch were the first parts to touch American soil.
Sent to Philadelphia for the Centennial Exhibition.
To drum up interest.
To drum up funding.

The Statue was originally raised in France.
But she was headed to America once we got money together to build that Pedestal.

So then she was dismantled, boxed up, and shipped over to America.
Reassembled and there she stands.

There's much more to that story, read about it some time.

About 1 hour before the swim, I changed into my tri shorts.
I still cannot believe they fit me again. Well, fit OK.

Of course every other guy swimmer on the island had the same idea.
And wanted to use the same bathroom stall. Just outside the gift shop. The handicap stall.
Took a while.

Normal visitors were leaving the island by about 5PM as the swimmers went to a pre-race meeting.
Goodles observed that the guy swimmers were wearing "little bathing suits." 

That was funny.
I could not hear a word said during the meeting but it probably had something to do with swimming.

Then, they herded us over to the dock.
There was the private ferry in the dock.

We lined up single-file by number. Do you believe we successfully did that?
I think there were 275 registered swimmers and maybe 250 showed up.

In line, we were issued timing chips, then we gradually filled the boat.
That was unexpected. I figured we would jump right into the water.
Being on the boat was nice as it had started to rain.
The sky looked worse than it really was, but the word "lightning" was spoken many times in fear.

Somebody gave the all clear and we started jumping/being-pushed off the boat into the water.

That took a while.
We treaded water for a bit.

I don't remember a countdown or gun, but we were off.

I got knocked in the face by legs. By arms. By waves.
It was great.

I managed 2 strokes per breath.
I was swallowing alot of water due to the waves.

I got hit in the left eye by a body or a wave.
My goggle flooded.
The water, unlike the pool or ocean, did not burn.
I quickly emptied the left goggle on the fly and pushed ahead.

My goggles flooded again so I pushed them on extra tight. Like suction cups.

Now as you expect.
I'm gonna recommend you do this race. It is heaven.
But be warned.
Every breath.
Every breath tasted like fuel. Like boat fuel and exhaust. Diesel.
I'm blaming all of the idling safety boats around the island.

That taste.
That was gross.
You could not escape it.
And there were 2 flavors. 1 flavor on the first half. A different flavor on the second half. Yuck.
You got used to it.

We swam counter clockwise.
First half of the race keep the buoys to your left.
Second half of the race keep the buoys to your right.

While swimming, you had a decent amount of space to yourself.
I was not being passed by many people. I was drafting and passing.
I try to be careful not to thwap other swimmers as I pass.

Cornering each buoy did get crowded.
I stayed near the buoy.

There was alot of support in the water.
This swim felt very safe.

This swim was difficult.
I was doing alot of work because of the tide.
1/4 of the way, my right foot cramped up. Thanks.
Not sure what that was about.

After each buoy, I'd pause and look up at the Statue. What a sight.
Next time I promise to swim with my camera.

At the halfway point you have to swim around a dock that extends far into the water.

I was way too close to the dock for my comfort because I stayed inside.
It worked out.

Ah, the second half of the swim.
Keep the buoys to your right.
Which meant, keep the island to your left.

I swam close to the island.
It was very well spread out now
At times, I had trouble finding other swimmers to make sure I was on course.
Well. You couldn't exactly get lost, but I do like to follow the pack.

Around the final turn.
This is nice.
My left arm, the inside arm, my hand keeps hitting seaweed.

Why am I hitting sea weed?

I hit the island.
The sea wall must extend out a little bit.
Too funny.
Just a little scratch.

So this is the final turn. The finish is ahead.
You are going to exit up a small staircase onto the dock.

I notice.
I notice my wedding ring slipping off my finger.
What a story that would have been. 
And my obituary.
Slipped the ring back over my knuckle. Whew.

My entire right leg cramps up.
It is now a club.
Thanks again.
I drag it toward the finish and give one final push.
It gets crowded again.

Out of the water.

Up the stairs.


We get a beautiful finisher's medal.

I find my kiddos.
We watch the remaining swimmers on the backside of the island.
HoneyBunny sprays me off with a hose.
Half of it goes in my mouth.

There is a BBQ on the island, but at $25/ticket, we pass.
Wait for the private ferry off the island.
First stop, New York.
We look out the window.

On to New Jersey.
The kids shred up the boat's dance floor. Nice touch.

New Jersey, we are back.

To the car.
Stop for dinner.
Home before midnight.
Long Day.

I'll be back next year.
My little brother won't. He hated the whole trip.
The kids will.
So many people asking HoneyBunny if she'll be swimming the island one day.
She just might. She's got a great backstroke at the moment. It is magical to watch her swim.

My arms, around my shoulders, they hurt the following day.
They had cramped up after the race. Very unusual.
I blame it on the effort to overcome the tide.

So this was a race report.
I was more than pleased with my time.

Finished in the top 50%. And I'm a triathlete. I don't kick. One day I would love to kick.

But for me this was not a race.

This Liberty Island Swim, not a race, was a dream fulfilled.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity.

I'm also thankful to have Juneathoned today.
1 mile in the dark.

1 day left. Let's go.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Juneathon Day 28 - Just a Filler Post

I know I know.
Today I was supposed to publish my Liberty Island race report.
Tomorrow. I promise.

Today was instead spent in Philly.
Beautiful day to be out.

I mean, if it helps, I am wearing the shirt we got at the swim.

So while I could have been typing up a nice long post, I was playing Dad all day.
Normal Dad things like comforting your son while urban wildlife look on.

We learned a lesson in that picture.
When you ask your kiddo, "Want to bring your sunglasses?" and he says, "No."
We learned that you should bring the sunglasses anyway.
Lest he be blinded by sun glare.

Did I Juneathon?

Did I have a choice?

Woke up, sprung out of bed for 2.5 strong miles.

On the unstrong side of things, I'm having a little bit of exercise-induced asthma. Or at least, restricted airway.
That hasn't happened since I first started seriously running back in 20 aught 4.

My IT Bands are also really sore from the Philly Tri.
I've been sticking them, but just barely keeping them in check.

So that's the deal.
Maybe I'll have a tad more time to bloggify tomorrow.
If not, I'll just produce the compressed report and go about life.
My dozen faithful blog readers probably don't care one way or another.

End the day with lullabies.
After citying all day, the kids were exhausted, so bedtime was succinct.

Classic Tuesday night song

To which Goodles replied with his final sleepy thoughts, "Why do you always sing the same songs?"
Because you kids don't seem to respond well to new lullabies.

But to answer his question as desired.

2 more days of Juneathoning.
We can do it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Juneathon Day 27 - Who Swims? Who Bikes?

Who Hoots?

The kids and I loved reading that book.
It's the type of baby book I can slip in every now and then because we like to entertain independent reading.

This is one of my favorite training times of the year.
But, I'll fess up. (I'm also not sure that "fess" is a word.)
No, I confess that I have so many favorite days and times of year that the whole concept is diluted.

So the current favorite of the day of the week of the year:
No more triathlon training.
Just ultramarathon training.

What a relief.
Burden off my shoulders.

And what Juneathoner wouldn't enjoy this?

One of my guardian angels asked me to sleep more.
Here you have it.

I'm trying to average 8 hours of sleep per day, at least for a straight week.
And if that means I have to take a nap, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to commit.

So, how was Juneathon Day 27?

A hard 5 miler effort on tired legs of a tired body with a tired mind.
But, I pushed through it, with all the effort I had.

Gotta go Stick my legs now, then off to bed.
Tomorrow is another Libertastic day in the life, so I should have some pretty pictures and an overdue race report.

For now, two fresh lullabies, proven successes by my two sleeping kids.

New Eminem Video

I do intend to raise well-adjusted kids.
They only get a few edited/polished lines from the song plus the chorus and they sure as hell aren't watching that video.

Tonight's other song is just chill.
I was reading KRS-One lyrics earlier and this song seemed fitting.

KRS-One is a rapper, his name means Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone.

Wow, 3 days of Juneathon left.
I'll have to figure out how to celebrate.

Juneathon Day 26 - 2011 Philly Tri Olympic Race Report

This was a great race weekend.

Wrapped it up with my 6th time racing the Philly Tri Olympic distance.
.9mi swim, 24.8mi bike, 6.2mi run. In that order.

You can see the first two legs of the race from my eyes here (apologies if you're prone to motion sickness):

This year was so easy.
Slept in (relatively) due to the assigned bike locations in the transition area, which is where you secure your bike and running gear for those parts of the race.
Years past, you had to wake up and arrive early to secure a good bike location near the runway through the transition area.

Took our time getting to the race.
Arrived and heard an immediate announcement: "Water temperature is 78.5 degrees. Wetsuits are not permitted."
Great for me. I don't wear a wetsuit. I still think they are cheating.

Kissed my wife goodbye and took a bus to the swim start.
Waited around for an hour.

Brought a drop bag with some food and toilet paper.
Had another racer approach me and she asked, "I'm sorry. Can you spare a square?" I could.

Lined up for the start with the other red caps.

Jumped in the water. Assessed a minimal current assist in the Schuylkill River.

The horn sounded and we were off.

It was crowded and I think triathletes like to hit you for fun. I know I do.
As I mentioned,  my age group was wearing red caps. The previous wave had on green caps.

I swam a straight course to the final buoy. Two strokes per breath.
It went by fast.

It wasn't long before we caught the green caps.
In fact, I exited the water in a sea of green caps. I didn't see any red.

I had a very good swim.
Not my best. 3 minutes slower than my best.
But that "Year of My Best Swim" featured a thunderstorm the night before the race and a resultant wicked current.

To the transition area. I struggled to put socks on my wet feet.
I used my favorite, thin running socks. Should've used my favorite triathlon socks.
Pulled on my bike jersey, helmet, and off I went out of transition. Running with my bike.

Hit the road for the bike and my legs felt great.
My bike felt great.

2 loop bike course.
First loop, there was little traffic.

I got passed by what seemed like everyone I passed in the swim.
Lost a water bottle due to a Bump on the same hill I lost a water bottle last year. My bad.

Second loop, it was crowded with many more riders on the course. Riders on the course.
Took 2 new water bottles from the water bottle exchange station. You grab water bottles from the volunteers on the fly.

I will add here that I failed to pass a 68 year old racer on this loop. He better have won his age group.

To the run. My Juneathon Day 26 run.
Dropped off my bike and ran through the grassy beginning of the run course.
I felt great, handheld water bottle in hand. Full of PowerAde Zero

Stepped on the pavement and my run nosedived.
Lower left leg completely cramped. Hamstring, calf, tibialis anterior, and nearly my foot.

Took 2 miles to shake that out.
Oh, but a glorious 2 miles. In the shade. Thanks to the run course modifications this year.
The first half of the run, 3.1 miles, felt so good despite the early adversity.

Here I am, drafting.

The second half of the run was outstanding.
I kept a 44 year old woman (our ages are Sharpied onto the back of our right calf) in sight for most of the run, as she had a good pace. She beat me, but.
But I had a strong final mile, and a strong finish.

I did not get a Personal Record (PR) this time around.
A few minutes slower than my PR from 2009.

And the difference was my run.
Because of those legs cramps, I ended up with a great swim, a nearly great bike (didn't break 20MPH pace like I expected) but a run that was 1min/mile slower than I needed.

Normally here, I'd say, "Next time."
I'm not sure there will be a Next Philly Tri.

I love the course. It is a first class race. Very well organized and orchestrated.
However, it is big. And the athletes and their equipment bring more to the table than I ever will.

It may be time to move on.
I'll make that decision in a few days.

For now, this weekend of 3 races (including the Kids Fun Run yesterday) went exactly how I hoped.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Juneathon Day 25 - For the Kids

The kids and I woke from our coma this morning with a busy little day ahead of us.
With a busy little day behind us.

Since we were out until nearly midnight, I carefully OK'd the plans with them, but when the plans involve the Philly Tri Kids Fun Run, all you get is an emphatic, "Yes!"

Off we went.

Hit the Philly Tri expo.
I don't do expos.

Signed the kids up for the Fun Run.
Made some cheerleader signs.

Did the packet pickup. Got my free t-shirt.

Then we had time to kill so we hit the Please Touch Museum.
I limited the kids to just a few exhibits. Difficult.
I promised we'd go back, briefly, after the run.

First there was a kids duathlon (children ages 7 and up) in progress as we walked over to the race course.
It cleared out and the young kids were lined up in age groups for their respective dashes.

I set up as cheerleader.

They both had a great race, collected their finisher medals, a soft pretzel and water.

We walked back over to the Please Touch Museum and played some more.
Then we were off quickly to fulfill the remainder of the day's family obligations.

No lullabies tonight. The kids are staying at my in-laws.
Which means they won't be at the race tomorrow.
Guess how I feel about that?

HoneyBunny and I just sang a little song to cheer her up as she said goodbye.

You can choreograph that song pretty well.
Pretend to drop your kid half a dozen times.
Always generates a smile.

But, you're not interested in today's lullaby.

And, you still probably don't care to hear about the Liberty Island Swim.
Like how we got into the water and what the starting line looked like.

You just want to hear about Juneathon Day 25.


This evening, I got my gear together for tomorrow's triathlon.
Properly inflated my bike tires and took it for a spin around the block.

Stowed the bike in our truck and then hit the road for a nice 1 mile run.
During that run, I told my legs how fast I need them to run tomorrow.
And asked them to hold it for 10K.

It should be fun to see how it works out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Juneathon Day 24 - Perfect Day

Since today is technically tomorrow now, I'll talk briefly about the Philly Tri Olympic distance race this Sunday.

They made a few awesome changes:

  • Race starts 30 minutes earlier than usual
  • Thus the transition area, where you store your bike and anything you need for the run, is open 30 minutes earlier - 4:30AM
  • The bike racks are labeled with your race number in an assigned location
    • In the past, the early bird got the worm
  • So, we'd be driving to the race at like 3:30 or 4AM just so I could get a good position for my bike. Ya know, to save me like 4 seconds in the race.
  • The run course has been modified to keep us in the shade more. Last year in particular got way to hot and at least 3 miles of the run had you baking in the sun while running on the pavement
These changes should allow a participate to wake up Later than usual, be less stressed, and stay cool during the concluding Run leg of the race. Thank you Philly Tri team.

I made one further suggestion that we'll see about.
I asked that they put a port-a-potty mid-way in the run course.
That way we can hydrate sufficiently and have a place to relieve ourselves, short of a tree.
I usually drink too little just so I don't need that public potty break.

As today's title suggests, Juneathon Day 24 was Perfect.

And sure. I swam the best course in America.
And it went great.
Even if Goodles had trouble focusing and framing the camera.

But you don't care about that.

You want to know about the Juneathon running.
So here it is.

I woke up early, ran 1 mile in the light ran, showered and went about my day.
On to Juneathon Day 25, hoping to roll into a Perfect weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Juneathon Day 23 - I'm Not Running at 2AM

How was your day?
Looking forward to the weekend?


Oh. OK. Juneathon Day 23.
Finally some decent post-informal-marathon mileage.

Ran 5 miles to dinner.
Arrived a sweaty heap.

My wife brought along a towel and change of shirt.
Fellow dinner patrons must have been glad we were segregated into a private room.
Seeing me shirtless for a spell in the parking lot, trying to sop up the unrelenting perspiration.

Wings were on special at dinner tonight.
I only ate 4. Had a salad instead.
Because there's a race tomorrow.
And I fear it is gonna be tough.

This is my first Open Water Swim (as opposed to Triathlons with a swim leg).
I picked a doozy. For the circular course. Not for the distance. Point Seven miles should be cake.
Tonight, I was reading the kids a book about the Statue of Liberty that we bought at the Statue of Liberty.
It had an illustration of the island. I'm gonna swim around that? :-)

I am not nervous. Yet.
By race time, I will be.
But then, I'll get kicked in the face a few times, reciprocate, and life will be great.

Back to the title:
I'm Not Running at 2AM

Did you read about my inaugural Father's Day Disjointed Marathon?
I was supposed to run up to 40 miles that day, and leave the house at 2AM to do so.

But I stayed in bed a little longer because:

  • Running at 2AM along major roads might be dangerous. Bars let out at 2AM. Drunk drivers and such.
I had no specific reason to think along those lines.
But I left the house at 3:15AM anyway, thinking at that point the drunks had plenty of time to get home.

And since I'm typing this, I probably didn't get hit by a drunk driver.
And that's a damn good thing.

However, 24 hours later, just a few miles away.
A generally nice guy as attested by friends and family, he decides to be an asshole, get drunk, drive 130+ miles per hour and wipe out, destroying his car, his life, and his friend's life.

Let me tell you right now.
Running at night, and I've said it several times, I feel quite safe because drivers can see you from so far away.
You can see drivers from very far away. At least half a mile away.
Thus you both have time to position yourself to accommodate the other's presence.

Do some quick math.
That's 2 miles per minute.
1 mile per 30 seconds.
Half a mile in 15 seconds.

Now toss in a BAC of .20%

That's right.
You're don't stand a chance.

The exact thought in my head that morning when I made the choice of self-preservation:
"I'm doing this because I'd like to be alive for Father's Day."

Probably a little dramatic.

But I promise you this.
I won't be running at 2AM anymore.

Not sharing the road with kamikazes.
Sorry for the loss of life, but that type of behavior is really not fair to the rest of us either. 
We all lose a bit of freedom.

I am not without criticism.
Have I ever driven drunk? Absolutely. I was a stupid kid.
Recently? Nope, haven't drank alcohol in 4 years. Since training for my first marathon.

Have I ever driven 130MPH?
No, probably not much more than 100MPH.

Have I ever been in a similar situation?
I guess I just got lucky.

People get away with DUI all the time.

I've been to 2 funerals for guys who were killed because they, or a friend, were driving drunk.
2 caskets was enough for me.
Point taken.

2 caskets was not enough for other people I know.

While there's a lot of anger and denial about this recent tragedy, I do hope everyone familiar with the story takes something away.
Maybe they don't drink and drive.
Maybe they offer to be Designated and drive a friend.

But let's not have a repeat.
It's not worth it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Juneathon Day 22 - Almost Wasn't

This post will be short and semi-sweet
Because I am tired and semi-asleep

Started the day with a swim.
Mostly freestyle.

Honestly, my primary reason for being at the pool was to talk with a girl at the gym who promised she'd bring in a 25% off Saucony coupon. My ProGrid Ride 3's are starting to hurt my feet.
Good, we swam next to each other and the coupon was received. It is actually 15% off but I'll see how far it will go for me.

We were the only two swimmers in the pool. Normally there are 6.
Turns out there were thunderstorms last night during my 4 intense hours of sleep.

Everyone figured the pool would be closed due to lightning.
It is an indoor pool, but that's an electrocution precaution.

Like my mom didn't let us take baths/showers during thunderstorms. That's normal, right?
I don't think I enforce that rule with my kids.

After work, I was expecting to change the oil in my car, then hit a casual bike and a short run.
Oh, but instead we went to a local carnival (we were supposed to go tomorrow).

Backup. Before the carnival, I took the kids to a local restaurant to fulfill today's promotion:
Bring your kid dressed up to satisfy their "Under the Sea" theme and they get a free meal.

Honeybunny was Ariel of The Little Mermaid.
Goodles does not have an "Under the Sea" costume. He was gonna wear HoneyBunny's standby Ariel dress.
But then he said people would think he is weird.
Where did that come from? We care what other people think?

After a little bit of moping, we had a resolution.
His Finding Nemo costume. From when he was about 2 years old.
He squeezed in and we rolled up to dinner. I've never seen him happier.

So how did the carnival affect my Juneathon?
Well, we were out the door 20 minutes after I got home and we stayed at the carnival until 10PM.

That left only 2 hours to find some Juneathoning.
But my wife also had to babysit, predicting until 11:30PM.
I almost just went to bed and called Juneathon quits. Believe that?

My wife popped in the door just as I finished bedtime stories.

I got to run out for yet another quick Mile. Juneathon Day 22. Done.

Here's your lullabies of the day.

Ben Folds - You Don't Know Me

HoneyBunny started singing along to this song at age 3. She quickly decided we would make it a duet.
She still gets mad when I sing the Regina Spektor parts by accident.
And yes, I do obfuscate the F-bomb every single time we listen to it.
Lovely song. Weird, weird video.

Oasis - Champagne Supernova

One of my favorite memories is walking in the door from work one afternoon a few years ago.
Unprompted, HoneyBunny is just in the middle of the chorus. I was so proud.
There's a better version of the video on YouTube but they don't allow embedding.

So Juneathon almost wasn't, but it was.
With 2 races this weekend, I'm taking it easy again tomorrow.
And getting a good night's rest tonight.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Juneathon Day 21 - It's a Swim Thing

Juneathon was nearly an afterthought today.
Or maybe it was a forethought.

Woke up. Flipped out of bed. Ran a mile in the rain.
Call it a Rest Day.

My legs did feel heavy.
I left the afternoon free of training. Almost.

The kids and I did put in 45 minutes of training wheel-less biking.
Pushed them down the hill about 30 times each.

It is amazing:
  • How much progress they have made in just 2 days
  • How much fun they are having
Last summer, I tried several times to get them biking without training wheels.
They hated it. Screamed it away.

And now I realize that learning to ride a bike is a lot like trying baby food.
They say, if your baby doesn't like a particular type of baby food like carrots, you need to feed it to him something like 17 times.
Don't give up. Eventually he will eat it.

That's what we've learned with the bike.
You're gonna fall off, you're gonna crash, it's not gonna be fun, but keep at it.

I would love to apply this strategy at work.
But, the target of this training method would probably stab me with a pair of scissors.

Speaking of keeping at it, I have finally done it.
I have identified and completed the logistical requirements for the Liberty Island Swim on Friday.
Here's a sample of the path to the swim:
  • Register for swim back on Christmas Day. $95
  • Hang out
  • Complete qualifying pool swim a few weeks ago
  • Scan pool swim certification and upload to NYC Swim website
  • Receive acceptance notification
  • Purchase 8AM ferry tickets for myself, my brother and the kids to get to Liberty Island
  • Realize that 8AM on the ferry means like 4:30AM departure from home. No good. Need to leave later
  • Chat with online ferry representative who tells me to go to Hell. In so many words.
  • Call ferry representative who gladly lets me bump departure time to Noon. But we have to give up the actual tickets for Inside the Statue of Liberty. Fine.
  • Confirm with my little brother that he is indeed going
  • Find out that he isn't
  • Figure out who can go with me on a few days notice on a Friday and can capably watch the kids during the 20 minute race. Aka nobody.
  • Ask my brother one final time and he decides he will go
  • Calculate that I will need 3 Guest passes for my brother and the kids to take a specially chartered ferry off of the island after the race
  • You only get 2 Guest passes
  • Post a sob story to the NYC Swim Facebook page
  • Have a girl offer me one of her guest passes
  • She registers my brother as her guest. Perfect
  • As instructed, send an email to NYC Swim requesting the "special" instructions for registering my kids for guest passes, as they are "minors"
  • Get the instructions which involves requiring unique email addresses for the kids
  • Set up email addresses for the kids
  • Send a test email back-and-forth with my kids' email addresses
  • Why does that bring a tear to my eye?
  • Successfully register the kids as guests
  • Breathe
It is VERY hard for me to do that kind of stuff. Very hard for me to follow through with all of those little details.
Fortunately, most of the people I have dealt with throughout the process have been nice and helpful.

If I do this race again in the future, I will be much better prepared.

Now just a few little things remain.

Do I buy new goggles before the race? My goggles usually spontaneously explode this time of year, costing me $20.
I need to make a checklist both of supplies like food, drink and sunblock to get us through the day as well as racing gear. I need to figure out how to carry a camera during the swim.

As for the actually swimming, it will be short but tough.
It is only .7 miles.
The current and tide will probably knock me around.
It's also my first open water swim of the year. With water temperature in the 70's it will be very inviting.

One final practice swim tomorrow in preparation.

Did I mention this is my favorite day of the year?
Longest day of the year.
Which also makes it kinda sad.
Every subsequent day for 6 months will be shorter. Damn.

We've made the most of each day so far.
And maybe I've celebrated by staying up way too late.
Or maybe that's because some stuff at work exploded tossing a 2-hour interlude into my night.

Still got to put the kids to bed.
Let's wrap this up with the lullabies.

This one was pretty random.

And I heard this song on the radio today. Takes me back.

I hope you enjoyed the first day of summer, too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Juneathon Day 20 - Biking Reality

Tired today. Should be fine by tomorrow.

I've had this song in my head for two full days.

It's OK. Because is there anything more beautiful than the sweet voice of Bruno Mars juxtaposed with the anger and aggression of Eminem? No, there is not.

Hit the gym in the AM for a varied-stroke swim workout.
Backstroke continues to kick my ass due to its high frequency kicking.

In the evening, I decided that I am done with the bike training for Sunday's Philly Tri.
I've hit the point of diminishing returns. I might just go out for a couple easy miles on Wednesday.

Abandoning my biking, what better way to fill the evening than teaching the kids to ride without training wheels?
Training wheels. That's a 4-letter word in our household. Poor kids.

After announcing our cold turkey training wheel cessation and dealing with the rivers of tears, we went to our gently downhill-sloped back yard.
As a young lad, I was taught to ride my bike by being pushed down a hill.
Time to pass that along.

Goodles was up first, hating every moment of it.
But after 10 pushes down, 10 crashes, 10 climbs back up, and 13 seconds of unassisted biking, he was hooked.

HoneyBunny would typically be the harder sell, but she also has seriously good balance.
She did great.

And then I wrapped up my Juneathon Day 20 with a 1.5 mile run. My legs/body feel fine after yesterday's long run.

Back to a post from a few days ago. My friend Matt had asked for Biking Rules of the Road.
Matt has since responded to those rules with his personal experiences living in a hot bed of cyclists.

We here at Failure to Detect Sarcasm proudly present our first Guest Blog Post.
Please give Matt some love and give any feedback on his awesome post.

Take it away, Matt.


Sorry I'm late, busy week (which I am sure we can all relate to) 

couple of points 

1 – I had a friend in High School (23 years ago! OMG) who was an avid bicyclist. After High School he and his father rode across the United States over the summer before he went to College. Anyway, for many reasons his example always stuck in my head about the cooperation between cars and bicycles. I always kept that in mind when encountering bicycles on the road and tired to give them the respect they deserve. 

2 – I’ve been a motorcyclist since I was 17 (24 years ago! OMG) and I can relate to bicyclist from that perspective. And YES it ticks me off when I see some idiot doing a wheelie or a stopie in the middle of traffic, because it REALLY does give bikers a bad name! (However, I love watching guys and gals do it in the relative safety of a parking lot or back road, THAT is at least trying to be responsible) 

3 – Hard life lessons, experience, and knowledge have taught me to try and see things from as many perspectives before passing judgment (don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect, I’m still Human and get upset from time to time) 

However, when I moved to the house I am in now in 2004, I started to become increasingly frustrated with the bicyclists in my area. Thankfully I was able to remind myself that HEY!, one of these bicyclists could be Mike! And maybe more importantly there might be some “understandable” reasons for some of the behavior I observed. 

I wanted to understand the difference between, as Mike said, the RULES of the road and the REALITY of the road. As with all conflict in life, obtaining a better understanding helps people with opposing views better cooperate. 

You’ll have to trust me when I say I fully understand the difference between the RULES and REALITY. For example, when I come to a stop sign I DO NOT stop fully if I am able to determine there is no one around. Now, I assure I don’t take that decision lightly if there is any doubt in my mind that I can’t determine that, I will stop (and stop completely). 

I break this type of rule because I am indignant and stubborn about WHY a rule was created. Rules are often created to “mandate” something obvious, something that most people do naturally but others willingly screw up and mess up life for all the rest of us. So, I feel if the condition doesn’t exist which requires the rule (some obstruction or right of way issue at a stop sign for example) I don’t follow it. Yes, I’ve gotten nailed by that and that’s the consequence. I am NOT indignant about the consequence, I broke the rule and I have to pay the price. 

That is all very logical and works for me, action and reaction, balance, etc. 

You also have to understand that the road I live on is wonderfully windy, tree lined and shady, has some banking that makes an amateur racer like me drool, and was recently repaved. It’s hard to resist myself even when I’m driving my truck! (it did break me a few times early in the morning and late at night when I still had my Miata) But I do resist because I’m not the only one who lives on that road (although it is somewhat sparsely populated). All of this makes it VERY tempting to treat it like a private road for everyone from motorcyclist to pedestrians. 

It also bears mentioning that this road is barely 2 lanes. There is a steep uphill bank on one side and a guardrail in most places on the other side which prevents you from sliding down the bank into the creek! There are also several bridges along the way. One that is a single lane and another that should be! And lastly many commuters treat it like a shortcut from one major road to another which causes all kinds of ridiculous traffic at various times. 

So when I passed a group of bicyclists on my road who were driving 3 abreast (one literally riding on the double yellow line) I was careful to wait behind them for quite a distance until I could see beyond them far enough to safely pass. When I did so, as quickly as I could because that window of safety was quickly dwindling as we approached the next curve, and the bikers “indicated that they didn’t approve of my methodology”. I became… let’s say… disappointed with their behavior… yeah let’s leave it at that! However, don’t be too concerned I was in no mood for conflict that day and I eventually was able to calm down. 

Yes, that was an extreme example, I admit! I could site many other less extreme but no less annoying examples (not taking your feet out of your toes clips at a stop light and ending up 1/4 of the way out into the intersection for example OR cutting across a busy intersection as a GROUP… ok gotta stop!) 

So back to the issue, my desire to better understand bicyclists. Before I simply write it off as simply a situation of a few giving a bad name to the many, I would like to know if there is a “logic” that I am missing. What is the mindset of a bicyclist, I ride bikes every so often, but I head off to a park as a recreational rider not as part of a “rigorous” pursuit. I also acknowledge that when I see someone biking or running it reminds me how inadequate I have been to the task of improving my health (I’m working on that). 

The basic human psychology of THAT guilt is well demonstrated by groups like the KKK, the Nazi’s, etc. ad naseum! And I like to think  I’ve been successful at recognizing it before it causes me a problem. All the more reason I want to understand if there is more there than I might realize. 

I’ve really tried to whittle the issue down to the ultimate frustration and I think I’ve found it. 
It’s the fact that there seems to be no consequence to this behavior! I’m not saying we should begin a “Judge Dread” style of rule enforcement, but If I have to bear the consequences of breaking the rules, so should bicyclists. 

So there you go, that’s a summary of my thinking on the subject. 

Please feel free to comment on any aspect. 

In the meantime, I’m going to do the best I can to safely avoid bicyclists… AND pedestrians, joggers, runners, kids playing “ball”, turtles, frogs, squirrels, dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, furniture, tire treads, deer, garbage, road-kill (because bones can give you a flat, it happened to me, I know!), potholes, nails, oil slicks from spies, smoke screens, people on their cell phone, drunks, cops :-), construction workers, trees, road signs, lawns, puddles that you don’t know how deep they are, etc. 

Whilst simultaneously maintaining a safe distance, braking early, coming to a complete stop, using caution at a yellow light, using my turn signals, looking for an “out” at all times, wearing my seatbelt, holding the wheel with both hands (at 10 and 2), obeying the speed limit, yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk, making way for emergency vehicles, passing with caution on a single white line, compensating for weather conditions, avoiding stray cones or barrels, assessing traffic behind me, not letting my mind drift to the stresses of my day, not playing the radio too loud or obstructing my hearing with ear-buds, changing the radio station or CD, resisting the need to pee desperately, etc. 

God help us all 


Thanks Matt!