Monday, October 28, 2013

City of Mesa Olympic Tri

The Olympic distance is still stacked against me. I put it out there as best I could and finished 3rd in my age group. Truth is, without a fairly fast bike leg ... I would have been out of the medals.

Pre-race, I was focused. I chatted with some folks I hadn't seen in about a year or so. They all thought I had moved away. Funny. I got there pretty early, but transition was already crowded, so I did not like my rack position. Oh well.

The swim. It was about 1700 meters of swimming mixed with 100 meters of running. I started out pretty well. The first 400m went 9 minutes. I did 800 in 19 minutes. Yeah, that is slow, but it was crowded and I am me. Now that I think about it, I guess I stayed pretty consistent - just slow. 40 minutes for the 1700m + 100 meters of running back and hopping into the pool four times. My friend Scott had a PR in the swim with a 30:25 for the same 1700 meters. He was finished when I was at 1200 meters. Sheesh. I was 40th out of 50 in the swim. Typical.

The transitions plus the bike. I say this because these races always put the transitions on to the bike time. My water to bike transition was shaky at best. It was my first triathlon since Thanksgiving of last year, so I hadn't done this transition in a while. As a true newbie who had already gone really slow getting ready ... I forgot my helmet. So I had to run myself and the bike back from the start line to fetch the helmet and then run back. I lost some time there. Conversely, I felt surprisingly strong on the bike the entire 24 miles. I actually did the 24 in 1:04:20. That's about a 22.5 mile per hour average on a course that appears "flat" but it is annoying. It has about 420 feet of climbing in the 24 miles. Not flat. Not challenging, just not flat. I cooled the engines on lap 6 to rest up a bit for the run. The bike to run transistion was not as bad, but I did fumble a bit with my laces. Total bike time with both transitions 1:09. I was 8th out of 50 on the bike.

I've run a bunch this year. I have not raced much. Racing shape is different than fitness shape. There's something about adrenaline management there that I'd like to study. I literally felt sluggish until mile 5 of the run. Then my legs perked up. It was hot (91), but I was hammering the salt tablets and keeping hydrated. I am good with managing the system while competing. I ran a 52 minute 10K. I was 23rd out of 50 on the run and 23rd out of 50 overall. That's an 8:19 pace. The last mile was a 7 something pace. It was odd. I was ready for another 6 miles. Proof that it really is all about the run?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Have you ever been stabbed in the forearm?

Have you ever been stabbed in the forearm?

I have. I remember my first time like it was yesterday. It was actually Saturday.

In the storm of self-centered hubris during the past two + years, this is the last thing I thought I'd do that would hurt.

"Where was I during the stabbing?" In the back yard.

So, if you have seen the following criminal, please contact me as soon as possible.

'Pinky the Oleander'

This scum bucket ran into the back yard - grabbed the dog by the tail and said "Give me all your nutrients or the dog gets it!" I was still amazed that a talking oleander was in the back yard when I realized I should have been more impressed with the fact that he was running that fast with a bucket around his waist.

What really happened?

I was using a Milwaukee Box Blade knife to cut the plastic buckets off the oleanders. We'd already planted three of them but not without a discussion about the box blade deal was a bit spooky considering the thickness of the plastic on the buckets. Yes, I was trying to "cut away" from myself {thanks dad}. Yes, we had used the tin snips on the thicker rim-area plastic. I was cutting up the side of the fourth bucket. I think a root from the plant actually caught the blade, so I applied more pressure.

Then it felt like I had been struck by lightning. Not that I have been struck by lightning, but there was a white flash and then I felt like I was 1000 degrees. The box blade was buried in my arm. I pulled it out and my arm wrinkled up and bubbled prior to blood spurting just like it does in gory horror movies. I'm not one for panic - so I tried to stay as calm as I could. Carrie was yelling some things but I wasn't really paying attention. I rushed to the sink and started washing dirt out of the wound. So, it's about the size of a box blade only MUCH wider where the skin was opening. For some reason my first reaction was to flex my forearm. Good move chief!

After finding the roughest and most unsanitary towel in our collection and grabbing the insurance information we headed off to urgent care. It was bad enough that I knew instantly that it needed to be sewed up.

"Would have been cheaper to pay somebody to plant them now." Carrie joked.

"It's not funny." I said.

She was laughing.

The truck revs in the garage ... but we aren't moving. I tell her that I believe the truck is in drive rather than reverse. It was actually in neutral. Then I began telling her how to drive. She did not like that. Then I began to get hot and light-headed. I am famous for passing out at times that don't really call for it. Although, I had lost a fair amount of blood in a short time.

At the same exit on the freeway there is an Emergency Room and an Urgent Care. I opted for the Urgent Care. It turned out to be a good decision. Virlana Johnson-Silva was the PA-C that did my care. She was informative, professional and entertaining.

Within thirty minutes of the stabbing I was sewn up. One internal stitch and three of those fancy horizontal mattress stitches on the outside. I am on a course of antibiotics AND I can still do the rowing race on the 26th and the surprise Olympic triathlon I chose to make up for Bartlett being permanently cancelled.

Tune in later to find out how much the stabbing costs after the "insurance" pitches in ... sheesh. Yes, it could be MUCH worse. I am lucky. Another eighth of an inch and I would have sunk into the main artery in my arm. That would have been an entirely different and less entertaining story.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bartlett Lake Olympic -

The race is postponed until October 20th.


The government "shutdown" closed the National Forest ... which is where the race is located.

What good is this shutdown doing anyone? Really?

I am not downplaying the importance of the health care legislation - but is it worth sending the country back into a recession by shutting things down? There has to be a better way. Stop being greedy. Stop being big babies. Woman/Man up and do your jobs congress. Apply some damn logic. Listen to your constituents that make sense. Throw out of the opinions of the whack jobs at the extremes of the bell curve and do what's logical and right for the majority. Throw out the opinion of the giant lobby that is called "insurance" - which generally speaking is the cause of all this crap anyway. This posturing crap just hurts the good people that are trying to make an honest life and stay out of people's business.

I generally do NOT talk politics ... but if I hear one more jerk face comment from either faction I may just have to speak my mind. If you are picking sides in this "battle" then my fear is that you too have it all wrong. Neither side is correct. The real solutions are available. Smarter people than me KNOW what needs to be done. Get them in place and put their ideas into action.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Hunt for Red October

In a departure from my normal self-centeredness, I decided to do a bit of research on one of my LEAST favorite topics.

Politics. The Government "shutdown".

In the hours before the United States faces a government shutdown, many people wonder what that will mean for individuals in this country. A government shutdown is defined as a situation in which the government stops providing all but essential services. This does not include our emergency responders, National Weather Service, postal service, armed forces or air traffic control. Also, groups that do not require government appropriations, like Medicare and Social Security, will continue to stay open. What this does mean, however, is that many federal employees will be furloughed or not paid on time. It is estimated that some 800,000 federal civilian workers will be furloughed for the length of the impending shutdown; this does not include any of the players in Congress, however. They are protected.

Any other federal agencies that will be closed during a government shutdown are not known until the Office of Management and Budget reviews and determines the course. In the past, passport offices, national parks, museums, and Washington D.C. Municipal District were shut down, the latter causing the public schools and many utilities to be closed.

Since 1976, the United States Government has been shutdown 17 times, the longest consecutive days was September 30 to October 18, 1978, when it stayed closed for 18 days. Based on the statistics, however, if the government does close, it is estimated to be very short-lived. Congress has the task of raising the debt ceiling so that this country can thrive. This task has been done since 1917 with a mere 17 closures, so it shouldn’t really be such a daunting task.

Political Party?

I don't really have a political party. It does not mean I do not care. I was raised in a Democrat household and for that I believe I am thankful. For the most part, my parents are very open-minded. Again, for that I am thankful. Dad was in a union. I think there were times in our young country's history that the labor union landscape was necessary to protect workers from RIDICULOUS working conditions.

Just like many great ideas across time ... the stalwart of the Democratic party (the good of the people) has been abused, bastardized and finally morphed into something unrecognizable. Is it communism? No. If you have any people around you spewing bile about communism ... look up the history of communism and you will see for yourself that there are very little resemblance between our current state and "mother Russia". Get a grip on reality people.

From a person that grew up in Lithuania during the height of communism:

- Even though jobs were easy to find, but buying power of the most people was very low. There were not enough goods to buy at the stores. Some areas of the U.S.S.R. experienced food shortages.
- One could not just go and buy a car. Permits to buy a personal vehicle were distributed by the government.
- Housing was an issue for many people. Some families were forced to share apartments/houses with several other families.

etc. etc.

I would vote for a party called the Logic Party. There are ways to make decisions. There are whole disciplines dedicated to decision tree 'construction and travel'.

The Power Bandwagon

We, as a country, have become FAR too reliant on emotion when it comes to "band-wagoning". We choose the exact WRONG things on which to build a platform. Gun control, abortion, social security and welfare are certainly sexy topics that illicit a guttural response ... but these are questions/concerns that don't really have satisfying answers. I believe this is just our basal brains longing for competition and drama. All for the sake of what? Power? Control? Come on. How has that much power wielding ever ended well? Do the research. Too much power in one place is generally the beginning of the end of that place. Are we truly doomed to repeat history? I suppose so. At this rate the United States might just be a blip on the radar of human history.

Less Government - but within reason

If we decentralized the Federal Government and KEPT capitalism as the economical "soup de jour"; the majority of the people would be S C R E W E D. I cannot seriously believe that a capitalistic society could rely on "donations" from those with wealth to rebuild roads, pay for schools, pay for hospitals ... and forget about open-spaces and recreation. That National Park thing would be history VERY quickly. The earthy-crunchy in me shutters to think about a world without ANY of our National Parks and National Recreation Areas.

On the flip side - the current Government is absolutely bloated. It has been bloated for years. I am thinking the bloat started in the post WWII era - on the heels of the Great Depression. Sure, it has gotten super-bloated over the past 10 years or so - but this is a result of poor, short-sighted decisions made by a group of individuals that cannot possibly understand and analyze the data presented to them AND what that data and their decisions mean for the country ten or twenty years into the future. Our "Now!, Now!, Now!" attitude is getting us into trouble.

Think about this: (Triathlon geek analogy)

So let's pretend I am doing a "Double Ironman" These exist. A 4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike, 52.4 mile run. You might think, short-sightedly, that I can go out and do that distance in 23 hours. You just take your 140.6 time and double it, right? This does not compute. There are so many variables to consider. 1) How am I possibly going to replenish the calories expended. A Bento-Box full of Hammer Gel is NOT going to suffice for this distance. I must see the entire race and plan for what will probably be a 40+ hour event. Running 53 miles after 224 miles on the bike will probably be less running and more walking. What about blisters? What about sleep? What about equipment failure? What about race support? You see my point? I do have to be able to think on my feet and react to unforeseen events - but if I go into this race with ZERO forethought and just "seize the day" I am much less likely to succeed.

My Final Rambling Thoughts

A country means we have some semblance of centralized unity. I like being able to say that I am American. I also like saying that I am a Kentuckian (banjo jokes go here). If we are part of the same country and we like that identity - then shouldn't we work to preserve that ideal? Should government control everything? No. Should we have only "state-level" government? No. Should we have ZERO government? Heavens to Betsy ... no way would this ever work. I have met people. Some of them would really frighten me in the absence of rules and prisons.

We should use government to provide a framework. We should use government to upkeep the infrastructure (yes, this does mean taxes in my head ... because the "donation" model will not work - pretend as we might). We should then put targeted and growth-controlled programs into place that contain people that are passionate about causes ... and use the governmental framework AND LOGIC to make change. There is no room in these causes for special interest. There is no room in these causes for big business. We have the concept of "church or state" ... which doesn't really work ... but the concept is admirable. It's like a security system that has "exceptions". The minute you introduce an exception to the security system you no longer have TRUE security. The minute you introduce a controlling variable (usually power or money (which is just paper-based power)) to influence a program decision ... that program then only works for that controlling variable.

Good thing I am not a politician. I don't play politics very well at all.