Monday, November 3, 2014

Random thoughts on voting, public office and respect

Respect is color blind. Respect cares not about money. Respect rejects the notion of power. Respect is at the end of the pursuit of equality.

Bryan M. Howell, 2014

On the eve of the November 4, 2014 election, I am reminded of several posts I have made during the last four years of my own personal journey to discover myself. I am not an ageist. I really try to avoid overgeneralizations. It’s time to remind myself of one of the important things in life. Respect.


At the end of the day, I am embarrassed of blind hatred, stereotyping and the newest tumor on society … entitlement. Here’s a list I’d like to put out there for folks to see my angle on voting and the importance of honest public officials.

For Voters:


  • Don’t blindly vote down the list. The truth is this: If you do not take the time to educate yourself and truly consider the angles that a candidate introduces … you are sort of wasting your time. That vote is for YOUR opinion and it deserves you understanding what those choices on that ballot mean.
  • Don’t vote straight party. On a rare occasion, there is a better alternative. Some candidates do a good job of staying out of party politics. Pay attention to those folks. They are the game changers.
  • Don’t vote because of what your daddy voted. If you are truly an “individual” voting the way someone else voted is contradictory.
  • Don’t take a selfie in the booth. It’s stupid and could be a felony.
  • It’s not too late. Even tonight. Go out and learn about the people on the ballot. The “Google Machine” holds the key to many political mysteries … but remember, not everything on the ‘Interwebs’ is true.

For Politicians:


  • Do the job because you WANT TO HELP PEOPLE.
  • Don’t vote in absurd pay raises for your office and then go vote against pay raises for others.
  • In fact, do your best not to contradict yourself.
  • Speaking of self … please be yourself at all times.
  • Respect the opponents, the office and the duty of public service. Run a better campaign. Your voting public is tired of your poorly edited half-truth smear campaign. Be the bigger candidate.
  • Respect the people you pledged to serve. If you wouldn’t say it to the preacher or sweet older lady down the street, then you ought not to say it anywhere – because it will end up on the web somewhere.
  • Don’t use any elected office (or person) merely as a stepping stone. Get in and get your hands dirty doing that job before moving up the chain.

I started with my quote for a reason. I’m no genius, but unless we make our way back to a more respectful world … the ship will sink. With the power of information, the ship will sink more readily when respect is absent.

And to clarify, I do not mean this “fake” respect that we see all over the media nowadays. I mean genuine respect. When you put aside your preconceived notions and truly get as objective as possible it is a bit easier to see other’s point of view … or at least where their point of view originates. If you begin respecting others it will surprise you how much more readily understanding is reached.

Respect is a song by Aretha and it sure is catchy. She captured a wonderful concept. Now, think about respect beyond her lyrics and see where the road leads.






Monday, September 22, 2014

A vacation can add perspective

Last week, we visited the following cities in Kentucky - where possible - I have also listed their population.

Hopkinsville - 31,577
Elkton - 1,984
Russellville - 6,947
Auburn - 1,444
South Union Shaker Village
Bowling Green - 60,600
Glasgow - 14,028
Edmonton- 1,586
Columbia - 4,452
Russell Springs - 2,400
Junction City - 2,241
Danville - 16,218
Harrodsburg - 8,340
Springfield - 2,519
Perryville - 751
Bardstown - 11,700
Cecelia - part of Elizabethtown
Big Clifty -
Clarkson - 794
Leitchfield - 6,699
Beaver Dam - 3,515

Many of these towns are only two or three hours away from where we live / grew up but we've never visited.

What a beautiful area! We had fun looking around and learning about a history that is much closer to where we originate.

There are two things I have learned in the last couple of weeks.

1)

An organized set of political "standards" will not work in our current country's set up. Since we are MUCH less United than the forefathers designed, our two party system is doomed to fail. The "failure evidence" has been in front of us for years now. I am now resigned, even more than before, to abstain from political conversation as much as possible. It's a waste of time. People fiercely aligned with either political party are usually filled with either short-sighted hatred, personal slanderous attacks, disrespect and a convenient omission of the FULL meaning of morals, laws and the general concept of human-equitable relationships.

What brought this on? We did a walking tour of the Civil War battlefield at Perryville, KY. Look it up. It is fascinating and like it or not it is part of our 'not that distant' history. It was amazing, sad, inspiring and gut-wrenching all at the same time.  I have family members that fought in the Civil War as do most of us here in America. I could not help but think of them during this tour. Not only were these folks tough, but they were dedicated to their cause. (In my family's case, it is highly likely that they just liked shooting guns and rough-housing.)

Either way, these were all folks that were fighting for a cause. The confederacy was fighting to retain their way of life. Although I can't fathom how one human can think it is their "right" to own another human I can see these folks panicking when they think about maintaining thousands of acres of farmland without the help. The union was fighting to disband slave ownership and to curb the 'control' of agriculture production that the southern states created.

So here's my point - less than 100 years after our country became official, we broke our bond and became "divided" and we've never really been "united" since. Until we get re-united our political system will be stagnant and ineffective.

2)

Some triathlon training is better than NO triathlon training.

We biked over to Murray, grabbed a burrito and cycled back home. It was not a speed event, but it was a fun safe 40 mile journey. The good news is we made it and we have no ill effects from the trip.

It's time to get back to it.

Let's get re-united as a country and stop being hateful and disrespectful. It doesn't do anyone any good to be snippy and short-sighted. No one is going to take your guns away. No one likes to "kill babies". You need to work to earn money - it's not fair to expect hand outs if you are capable of working.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Lost Loon Triathlon - Nashville, TN


This is a fun and family oriented event. It is chocked full of costumes, singing, and fun-loving outdoorsy types.

This was also the site of my first ever multisport event back in 2010.

It was fun coming back after all the training and racing I've done since. I remember the bike was fairly easy for me back in 2010 - but I still worked up quite a sweat. This time the bike was laid back and enjoyable - even with all the beginners and congestion on the course. I remember the canoe portion of tow 2010 event making my heart feel like it was going to leap out of my mouth and swim back to shore. It was vastly different this year. I am no longer scared of the water AND we've been through 3 months of rowing courses. We cruised that portion - passing several canoes and taking it easy. It was fun. Carrie and I did the run together, so we briskly walked it to protect her knee.

Good times. Fun event. All the proceeds go to the Long Hunter State Park. It is a nice park and not too far from downtown Nashville.

Rumors of a 200 mile bike day for Bryonman have started to swirl. It may happen this fall. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I've taken a couple of weeks off to move ... time to get back on the horse


So we moved back to our origins. I am now based in Western Kentucky. The move has gone very well. I have been "cross-training" over the past couple of weeks. Moving furniture, cutting timber, digging holes, installing flooring and general moving-related tasks.

We are not moved in yet, but it is time to get some cardio going again.

I suppose it was time for a mini-break. I have been training very consistently for over three years. I think it has been healthy for me to break the cycle a bit. The good news is, the fitness is now 100% part of my lifestyle. Yet another positive effect of triathlon training.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mesa Olympic Relay - The debut of The Wayward Farmers


Sharky and I were 1st place in the Mesa Olympic relay on Sunday. Of course we were the only male-based relay team.

He did the swim and the bike and I did the run portion.

He swam a 32 ... which is a quick swim for an Olympic pool-based swim. That's about 8 minutes better than I would have done.

Then the race went on pause.

During the swim, a couple of uncaught thugs decided to jimmy open the door of my Silverado. My wallet and cellphone were gone and my console and door were wide open when I went to the truck to sit down for a minute. Panic ensued. I found a passerby that was willing to lend me a phone. I called Carrie to cancel the debit cards. The guy I borrowed the phone from said that there was a Cop patrolling the parking lot earlier. So I went out to where the race course meets the road ... and I see something lying in the rocks next to the school hosting the triathlon. It was my wallet ... with everything in it - except for a 50 dollar bill. Then, about another 100 feet away, I saw something else. It was my cell phone. I can only speculate, but I suppose the Cop rolled up on these punks and they ditched my stuff. How do I know? He spotted them and noticed they were just trolling around the parking lot rather than racing or spectating. I asked the Cop how they were dressed and he said "Just like the rest of you folks." I filed a police report. I doubt anything will ever be done. I am out 50 bucks, but I am 100% lucky to just be out that.

He biked a 1:14 for the 24 miles. I was happy with his time considering he hadn't ridden much since Ironman in the fall.

Oh yeah, now I have to run a 10K. My heart rate never dropped below 160 during the whole run. I was so adrenalized that it probably hindered my run. Couple that with the fact that while passing another runner at a little under a mile, I stepped on the edge of the sidewalk and turned my ankle. My pace slowed from a 6:45 to a 7:15 and then to an 8:15. I settled in there and hobbled my way to the finish. I ran a 49:40.

Click this link to check out my mile splits:

We did a 2:36.

It's good that I did the run for him since his broken foot is still on the mend. It was fun - even with all the added drama.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Whatcha been doin' Bryonman?


I have been busy. Work is fast-paced nowadays and having a full-time and two part-time jobs can put a wee bit of strain on a feeble brain and a crazy schedule.

We've bought a property in Western Kentucky, which is where we both grew up. We will have updates on that project over the next couple of months.

This weekend I am doing the run portion of an Olympic relay with my amigo Sharky. He's gone and gotten a broken foot and is not cleared to run. (That's a long story.) For my part, I am going to shoot for a PR in the 10K distance. I am afraid if I underperform 'the Shark' will be disappointed with me. Good luck to us in dealing with the wind we've had here in the valley over the past few weeks. We'll see what happens.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Personal Best at Bartlett Lake Olympic


The Bartlett Lake Olympic Triathlon is fun. It's challenging. It's scenic. It's more intimate than the larger races. If you ever get the hankering for a triathlon course that will beat you to death and make you enjoy it - this is your course. It compares very well to the Mountain Man 70.3 in Flagstaff. It actually may be a little tougher than the 70.3 in Flagstaff ... which is amazing considering it is only an Olympic.

In October 2011, I did Bartlett as my first ever Olympic triathlon. I wrote up a race report for that day. Upon re-reading that post, I could not be more pleased with my performance from yesterday. It was like two different triathletes. In fairness, the last time I did this course I had much less experience in the sport.

Race Report ++++++++++++

I slept about an hour the night before the race. I have a huge web project with a compressed timeline ... and Carrie and I worked all weekend on that beast. I admit I was not as "jazzed" about racing until about an hour before the start. The energy consumed me. I hadn't raced since October 2013 and I guess it was time to get back out there.

The water temperature was perfect for me. I have a little extra insulation than some of these 5% body fat racers. I think it was about 60 degrees. The water would have been just like the pre-race water at St. George in 2012 if it were a little cleaner. The swim is tough at Bartlett because you swim right into the 8am desert sun. Just as I was calculating my turn to get the second buoy, I ran ashore on some sharp desert granite. I was 25 feet from the shore - but this rock was only about 6 inches submerged. I hopped up on it and dove out into the water and kept swimming. I did the same thing on lap 3, because I liked the extra momentum it gave me. I swam the short 1500m in 31:01 - which includes a barefoot and 6% incline run up sharp and weathered pavement. My previous best swim on this course was 39:05. My transition went pretty well considering this was the first wetsuit race I have done since Ironman Arizona in 2012.

On the bike, my first lap was really quite good. The last time I did Bartlett, I struggled for a long while on the bike calming down my legs from the swim. I kept the pace around 9 or 10 mph on the uphill. Speaking of uphill - here's the course. The course is either up or down. There is literally no flat ground after you leave the beach. It's pretty rad!


On the second lap of the bike, I was torn between ripping it up OR conserving some for the run. I settled in right between those two and raced a very smart race. I hydrated. I kept nutrition flowing. At times all I could hear was my breathing and the wind. It was a bit windy and dangerous on the downhill of the bike. I did reach 52.7 MPH on the down on each lap. At one point I passed a truck pulling a boat. That's always fun to pass a vehicle on a bike. I was consistent all day. My bike has been mechanically sound and reliable for over a year now. Yesterday was no exception. I biked the 24.6 miles in 1:44:00. In 2011, I had much more cycling in my training - and I was still faster this year. I think that is about a 14.4 mph average. On this course, that is very acceptable.

Time for the run. I knew the run would go better this year than it did in 2011. I have much more running experience now. After Pikes Peak, no uphill run frightens me. I conserved on the first uphill out of transition. It is serious. I think it goes 10% in places. At mile 1.3 it becomes a downhill course. I blasted those two miles time-wise without killing myself for the return uphill trip. At the finish, I ran down a fellow and almost ran down another. I still had gas in the tank. Last time around I was gassed at the beginning of the run. I ran a 59:20 for the 6.4 miles. In 2011, I ran it in 1:17. I am thrilled about that improvement.

Did I race this time? I guess I did. Or at least my heart thought I was racing.



This course is my favorite course ... which is a big deal considering it is an Olympic and it is stacked against me.


2011 Time : 3:43
2014 Time : 3:16


Run splits

10:47 - best pace 7:19
9:22 - best pace 6:32
7:32 - best pace 6:25
10:32 - best pace 6:34
10:40 - best pace 8:17
7:57 - best pace 6:11
2:53 - best pace 3:51


Cheers!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Foot issues resolved?


For you two that read my stuff - you may remember me whining at times about my feet. Especially my right foot. The dull pain was always on the ball of my foot. The foot doctor once told me it was sesamoiditis. While I believe that is the result of the issue, I was forever in search of the fix. I am a problem solver by nature. On this one, I was neither fast or efficient but I think I may have gotten on track to correct the issue(s).

Let me describe the issue: It feels like a giant blister is appearing during both the bike and the run. I've had real "hot spots" before and this sesamoid stuff feels just like that. Yes, my right big toe is not as limber as it once was - and is drastically less limber than my left big toe. During the process, I did get some relief from yoga. I have tried different shoes, different socks, no socks, extra socks, tape, chamois butter, time off from running, extra time running, sprints, slow jogs, metatarsal pads (which do help some), rigorous foam rolling and most recently ultrasound therapy (which helped quite a bit too).

About two weeks back I read an article somewhere about this issue and the author recommended a simple solution to my 2+ year dilemma.

"Your shoes could be tied too tight. Loosen them up, put some lube on the balls of your feet, wear thin socks and run pain-free."

I've run four or five times and ridden quite a bit since the adjustment. So far, that seems to have been my problem.

Still learning!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bartlett Lake Olympic on Sunday. I completed this course as my first ever Olympic. That was back in the fall of 2011. I was much younger then and had much lower miles - but I am hoping the 2+ years of racing since then will factor into some improvement.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Rock Climbing - really?


Hatfield contacted me last week and said he was looking for a climbing partner to scout out some climbs he could do as graduation climbs for the Arizona Mountaineering Club. Carrie and I were active in the AMC from 2000 until 2004. We haven't climbed much at all since 2005. The last time I was on a rope was in 2008 with Hatfield in Durango, CO.

At 7:00am we arrived at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The destination was Sven's Slab. We were in search of some solitude and Sven's seemed like the perfect place.

Jeff led a 100 foot face climb called Quaker Oats. It is rated a 5.5 and has only a couple of "interesting" moves for the leader. He set up an anchor and left a directional in place so that the rope would stay oriented for me.

This was my first climb in six years. I could tell. In reality, the first 20 feet of Sven's Slab is "tricky" climbing. The rest is very doable, even for someone out of practice. I goofed around on the harder start before moving up the face and into the much more climbable granite.

Not much time passed after Jeff lowered me from my first climb when two guys showed up talking non-stop. Great. This is exactly why we came to Sven's ... to avoid the noise. Low and behold we get the two most monologue-driven conversationalists in the rock climbing community. They saw we were set up on Sven's and they could have moved down the wall a bit. Instead, they decided to climb right beneath Jeff on a diagonal route that crosses the entire 100 foot wide face of Sven's. Really fellows? Really?

Blah blah blah blah blah blah ... wow dudes ... take a breath.

We were very patient with them and even though we were annoyed they did turn out to be nice guys. They cleaned (removed) our anchors for us since I hadn't done that since say 2005 or so. Not that cleaning anchors is difficult. I probably could have managed - but it would have taken me forever.

We hopped and scrambled about a half mile through Volkswagen-sized boulders to scout out some remote climbs on the other side of Sven's. One of the climbs looks fun. You have to REALLY want to climb that route to lug your gear over there.

We ended up climbing 3 routes. The 5.5, a 5.8 and a 5.7. It was fun. Here's more information on Sven's Slab.



Our Grand Canyon Excursion for 2014

He's back.

He never really left.

On February 1st, we headed down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This was roughly our 15th or 16th trip to the bottom. It really doesn't get old. In fact, this year I learned and saw more new things than I have in previous trips.

On day one the crew headed down the Bright Angel trail. It's a ten mile walk. At mile 1.5, I shed my pack and ran back up the hill to check on one of our more leisurely hikers. He was doing fine, but I inherited most of his gear and food to lighten his pack. Just above Indian Gardens, Carrie released me from the pack so that I could go check the group in at Phantom. Her challenge was for me to get to Phantom and get back to them before they got to Indian Gardens. She's funny. I had to explain the distances.

I did make it 3 miles back up the Bright Angel from Phantom Ranch on my return trip to shuttle packs. I would walk / run back and forth checking on hikers. I turned the 10 mile walk into 19 miles. That was fun. My feet were beat down ... but as a show of respect to my Nike's from IMAZ ... I wore them to the bottom of the canyon. They are likely ready to be retired.

We walked around the bottom of the canyon on the off day. I think we did about six miles of walking that day. We were just exploring.

This year I hiked more leisurely than ever coming out of the canyon. I hung back with the Borg crew + CareBear and we talked the whole way up. It is a much different hike doing the Kaibab in five or six hours rather than three.

If you've never been to the Grand Canyon - you should maybe consider a trip.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy 2014

It's 2014 ... Do you know where your talents and passions lie?

Funny enough, many of my passions are concepts with which I have very little talent or experience. Even more ironic ... my talents are not always things for which I have passion.

So this is the year where I weave the passions and talents into a bridge or basket or whatever I want. I will continue to teach, design, develop, train and learn. I will partner with those that want to get healthy ... and surround myself with those that are happy and healthier than I.

The things I have learned on the endurance journey are still revealing themselves. Most recently I have learned that growing older is inevitable, but aging with power and zeal is very possible.

So what's on tap? Right now, I have no racing scheduled. I may sneak in a few 5Ks as I am forever chasing my perfect race at that distance. Rest assured I will be training. I enjoy the training so much that it's difficult to take time away. Carrie and I are headed to the bottom of the Grand Canyon again in February - so we need to be ready for that.

In a new opportunity - I will occasionally be cycling to work. My new - old job is about 10 miles from the house.

We have signed up to take a 4 month course in welding. We are excited to learn a new skill. I was a decent welder in high school - but I have not welded anything since 1996 or so ... stay tuned.


Happy New Year!

Bryonman