…and the weather issues seem to be resolving.

kingsbeachThe ten-day reads the same – every day sunny and high 70s, lows in the 50s. Warmer than Park City.

The water is still going to be bone-chilling cold, but we drove up to Bear Lake last weekend and swam in 66 F-ish water, and with the neoprene hood (and with a lot of open water experience) I was able to stave off the terrors.

So now comes everything else.

For almost the last year I’ve been training for this, and the whole time, I’ve been getting slower. I probably traded speed for endurance up until maybe April, but then I started losing endurance, as well. No, it doesn’t make sense that somebody training that much would get into worse shape, but it is what has been happening.

However, not training, to just stop training and somehow hope that that would get me into better shape, is just plain dumb. Maybe what I’ve been doing is simply slowing what would have been a much more rapid decline in my general fitness.

At any rate, the training is just about in the books. I want to get out there and do a longer run or two, but now I’m sick. I’ve had an on-and-off sore throat all week long; today I simply feel fluey, although I have no fever. So there’s no eleventh hour redemption to be had; I’m gonna have to go into this over-trained, unready, and sick.

I suspect that, had I been able to push through the swim at St George, I would probably have been in the mid-7s, maybe 7:45. But now, at Tahoe, I hope to finish. And that’s all. I’m not even sure about “finish within the cut-offs” – confidence is low. But I suspect that I’ll be able to complete the distance.

I’m not asking “what then” yet. I’m aware that that question is out there. I have learned many things in this journey, however. One is this; I enjoy biking and swimming much more than I expected to; I thought I might learn to bike okay, and that I’d learn to not drown, but that’s not been the case. I actually enjoy both activities.

I’m not fast on a bike, but I can climb anything, it seems. When I’m in a long climb, I sort of go into a zone; if I were sitting at home feeling that uncomfortable, I’d be rebelling against my environment, but somehow being on the back of a back in that sort of pain while going uphill doesn’t bother me at all.

And while I’m one of the slowest swimmers you are liable to meet, I can swim long distances, once I get warmed up. And there is much peace for me in swimming (as long as I’m not hyperventilating from the cold) - when I get three or four thousand yards into a workout, I really don’t want to stop; I just want to keep swimming. Slow and steady and quite content.

Looking back over my running log over the last few years, it’s amazing how much I’ve slowed down. And adding triathlon training only slowed me down more. So, when this silliness in Tahoe is over, I’ll have to ask myself some pretty tough questions. Do I want to keep doing triathlons, even though it makes me even slower as a runner, because I enjoy the biking and swimming? Or should I cut my losses in terms of time and effort and go back to just running?

After Tahoe, those questions will have to be addressed. But not until then. Until then, there’s only one thing I have to answer – will I finish? Not “can I finish” or “should I finish” but WILL I FINISH?

I’ll know in ten days.

Good bye, Unit 129, Cascade Village, Purgatory, CO…


sniffIn two days, we close on the sale of our second Purgatory condo. This first one sold this last spring; as this one changes hands, our Colorado days are officially over.

It’s not easy to let go of this place; the problems that we had with it had nothing to do with the condo itself, or its proximity to the ski hill, or the views, or the price or the HOA. It was all about a stick of butter; no matter what, we were 27 miles from a stick of butter. And where the “stick of butter” lay, so lay the doctor’s office, and the dentist, and the pharmacy – and meetings. And church.

We found ways to mitigate this – we’d drive down on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, make the 5:30 meeting, then go out to eat, get groceries, and run our errands, then make the 8:00 meeting and drive back up; this got almost everything we needed in just two trips per week. I was okay with this, myself.

But once Ethel needed a prescription, and I tried to head down to Durango to pick it up, and I had to turn around halfway there – traffic and poor snow removal kept me from making it down the mountain. (N.B. – this was in an all-wheel drive car with Blizzaks; we’re not talking rear-wheel drive here). And it seems to me, in retrospect, that that event – which happened in the first week that we had moved into the second condo – was the death knoll. From that point on, Ethel was not comfortable with the distance from town.

I agreed with her stance, but I was always willing to live with it. Heck, I was living at 9000 feet in the Rocky Moutains, 1.5 miles from the chairlift. I’d’a put up with ground-glass hemorrhoids.

Then we moved to Utah, and it didn’t make sense to have ski condos in both states; here recently, it has seemed that it would be just as easy to live in Colorado as in Utah, as I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with working remotely on this job, but Ethel has remained adamant – 27 miles from a stick of butter. And I couldn’t disagree.

And now we’re about 2.8 miles from a stick of butter, and the dentist, and a bunch of restaurants – including reasonably good, reasonably priced sushi, as long as we’re there in time for happy hour. We have plenty of bandwidth, we’re two minutes from the freeway, twenty-five minutes from a real airport, and there is a lot more skiing available in Park City than there ever will be at Purgatory. Being where we are is smart and practical; being where we were was difficult and impractical. And I have always loved Park City, and always will.

But it’s still hard to let go of that little condo. At some point, I’m going to cry.

This morning I didn’t do Ironman Lake Tahoe 70.3 about ten times.

Here’s the swim map:

imlt swimThey are saying that the water will be down near 60 F by race day – two weeks and two days from now. The water at Sand Hollow Reservoir in Sts George was 67 F, and that sent me into cold shock, hyperventilating and panicking. I can’t imagine what 60 F water will do to me – probably make my eyebrow hair stand on end and change my gender.

I don’t WANT to find out what 60 F water will do to me. It terrifies me. I still remember that feeling of being unable to breathe – even though I was breathing, it didn’t feel like I was taking in enough air. I remember turning back towards shore and trying to swim in measured strokes, and then going crazily into a full-tilt sprint because I had to get to shore because I couldn’t breathe.

That was no fun.

Since then, I’ve swum quite a bit in open water, but it hasn’t been in that cold open water that sent me into shock and hyperventilation. Maybe I’ll be all right, but I don’t know anybody else who reacted as badly to St George’s water temperature as I did. I can climb rocks. I can ski off of (small) cliffs. I can jump out of airplanes. But I’m not sure that I can swim back into cold open water.

The internet tells me that the hyperventilation will be over shortly; that the shock will pass, and I will be able to calm down. Well, at St. George, I came back in to shore, and swam back out into that water three more times, and the hyperventilation never stopped. I couldn’t beat it. It beat me, and I came home with my tail between my legs.

I look at the map, above, and I imagine having to swim six-tenths of a mile out into a lake where the water is 60 F; feeling that terror grip me, and then I imagine living in that terror for most of an hour. I’m afraid of the fear; I’m terrified of the terror. FDR said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”. But FDR was talking about fear as an abstract; of being afraid of something “out there”. Fear like that is where a threat is perceived, and the brain, having perceived a threat, generates adrenaline to deal with the threat, and the adrenals themselves cause the “flight or fight” reaction. This can be mitigated by perceiving the situation differently; by deciding that there is no threat, or that it can be dealt with without the fear.

The fear that I am afraid of is actually being generated by the body itself as a reaction to an environmental trigger, the cold water hitting the nerves on the face; there’s no consciousness involved. There is no place in the mind where the perception can be intercepted and overridden; it’s happening down at the reflex arch level, where consciousness has no power at all. It’s as though I were getting a shot of adrenaline while deciding to remain calm – too bad. Church is out. I’m going to be scared, and I’m going to stay scared, and there is nothing that I can do to stop it.

Prayer won’t help – prayer is powerful stuff, but prayer can only change my mind; it can’t directly affect what’s going on at a cellular level. I’m a big proponent of asking God to remove my fear, and directing my attention to what He would have me be, but I can’t see that helping in this situation.

So this morning, while swimming 200 yard repeats, I decided to do Tahoe, and to not do Tahoe, and to do Tahoe, and to not do Tahoe…I think I ended up deciding to do Tahoe, but when I look at this calmly and rationally, I can’t imagine doing Tahoe at all. I can wait until next year, and find some nice IM/2 where the water doesn’t cause hyperventilation.

If this were a character building thing, I think I’d be all over it; again, “jumping out of airplanes”. But this isn’t anything that my character can overcome; I do believe that my character could force me to do the swim. Even if I couldn’t breathe, I could find a way to swim from buoy to buoy, and then I could stop in the water, hold on to a buoy, and squeal like a girl for ten minutes, and then make it to the next buoy. And then, when I finished, I could tell myself that I’d done it.

But then I would still have to bike 56 miles of mountains and run a half marathon, after an ordeal that makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

I really need a smarter hobby. Or a warmer one.



We need an FWD for the bedroom. I’m thinking this 50″ Visio will do just fine:


The problem, like most problems in the real world, involves college football; living in the Mountain time zone, we can pretty much watch college football on Saturdays from can ’till cain’t, and “cain’t” is defined as “when we fall asleep watching football”.

However, it’s much more difficult to fall asleep watching football on the couch than it is in bed, because the awareness that one will have to wake up and walk up the stairs to one’s bedroom is never far from one’s consciousness. So it’s better to have an FWD (Football Watching Device) in the bedroom, so that one can nod off to one’s heart’s content during that all-important Oregon State@Hawaii game that started at 10PM local.

However, the size and shape of our bedroom is not conducive to putting a reasonably-sized FWD anywhere near the bed, so we’re going to have to put one on a side wall, on an articulating mount such that it can be extended out into the room on football-watching days. And the framed walls in our condo use metal studs, not wood, so there are complications to putting a mount with that much moment-arm on the wall.

So now I’m waiting to hear from my installer, to insure that we can, indeed, use this TV (based on weight) before I order it; I suppose he’ll bring the mount and suchlike equipment. So we won’t have it on the wall in time for Saturday’s viewing – and, as it happens, OSU@Hawaii this year is this Saturday, at 8:30 local time, which would be fine in bed but not worth a hoot in the living room. So the Warriors and Beavers will have to do without our support, for one more year.


College Football Season is here.


It’s rather strange – after waiting all this time, I find I’m underwhelmed. Not that I’m not enjoying college football; it’s more that triathlon training is taking all of the time and energy, so even watching the games is anticlimactic.

With almost all of the games this weekend, I was purely an observer, with no emotional stake whatever. Usually I have a complex “rootology” worked out – who I’ll root for against whom, for what reasons, and how intensely. There are long and involved rules about this: they start with “Team, State, Conference” (Alabama, then Auburn, then the Western Division of the SEC, then the SEC as a whole) and go down a long and involved flow chart, ending with “…and root against Notre Dame, USC, Oregon, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State”.

But this weekend, none of that mattered; even the Alabama game didn’t generate much in the way of passion (not that it was necessary; that game was never in doubt) and the rest of the slate left me flat as fizzed coke. I generally do not watch football games leaning backwards; this weekend, I barely got vertical.

That’s a bad thing. And it probably feels worse right now, since I’m so tired. When I’m this tired, it seems like I’ve ALWAYS been this tired, that I’ve never felt better and I’ll never feel better. Things become sort of fuzzy; I find I don’t care as much. I don’t like it, and I don’t like not liking it.

Now, this is the first weekend, and we’ve played West Virginia, and we haven’t settled on a quarterback yet, and the next two weeks are cupcakes; three Saturdays from now, we play Florida, who shouldn’t be any threat, and that weekend I’ll be in Tahoe getting ready for the Big Race(tm), so I might not be worked up yet.

After that, who knows? Maybe when SEC play sets in, and this triathlon is over, it will feel like football season. I sure hope so.

(editor’s note: two paragraphs above, I almost typed “I’m supposed to be in Tahoe”. My training has worn me down; I’m in worse shape now than I was three, or six, or nine, months ago. I can swim farther, but that’s the only real improvement. And indications are that the water is going to be even colder than it was in St. George, when cold shock sent me into hyperventilation, so even though I’m “committed’ to completing Tahoe, I wake up at night worrying about it; sometimes I am dreaming about it and the anxiety wakes me up. My sponsor once said “when something stops being fun, then it stops being recreation”. We’ll see.)

Yesterday we ordered a Garmin Feenix 2 for Ethel’s triathatraining -

Feenix 2It’s a pretty cool gadget – not only does it do run, bike and swim modes, but there’s also a ski mode that tracks vertical, distance and number of runs (not that that’s necessary, since our local ski hill tracks that using our passes anyway, but maybe we’ll go skiing someplace that doesn’t have that). But, of course, the important thing is the triathalon modes.

She’s been using my old Garmin 405, but it wasn’t cutting it, so we just jumped on Amazon and got what she needed to get the job done.

Now here’s a funny thing – we are fairly careful with our money, except when it comes to triathlon expenditures. We’ll spend money on this silliness that we simply wouldn’t spend otherwise. For instance, we were talking this morning about a) getting a television for the bedroom (it’s college football season, which means that games will last longer than we will, so if we’re even going to attempt to finish the late games, we’ll have to do it in bed)  and we also kicked around b) going to San Diego in late October for the Oceanside triathlon.

For the TV, we discussed hitting Walmart and seeing if we could find something in an open box; for the trip to San Diego, we figured (loosely) a thousand bucks.

We’ve NEVER spent money like this. (editor’s note: I have friends, people of means, who spend more on a bike than I’ve spent on this entire effort. But that’s not what we’re talking about here – we’re talking about a guy who looks at two jars of peanut butter to figure out which one costs less per ounce, but  who will then just go online, do the research, and then walk up to the bike shop and say “That one.”).

The morning that Ethel decided that she wanted to do one of these silly things, we simply drove to the bike shop, found what made sense and fit her, and bought it. Today she’ll go by the running store and get some triathapants and running bras, and by the pool store and get a training suit (she’ll swim in tri pants and jersey, under her wetsuit, but she needs something tighter-fitting to train in). And I might wind up picking up a road bike to go with my tri bike, now that I don’t have a road bike.

That’s the total lack of proportion that baffles me, that seems to me completely senseless, even while I am indulging it. We spend more on this than we spend on skiing (editor’s note: that’s not counting the actual ski homes that we live in. I suppose that, by itself, may outdo the triathathing. But those generally appreciate : )

Wait – that’s not entirely true. There is one way in which this all makes sense….they say that people who are aerobically and anaerobically fit life longer, healthier lives.

And anything that gets me one more healthy, happy day with my beloved is cheap at the price.

And besides, she’s so CUTE! :) She was on the treadmill this morning, and was supposed to run for a set period of time, but she went well past that because she wanted to get to a particular distance. Watching her direct her efforts like that – she’s sweating and huffing but still going- is so much fun. She decided to do something, and now she’s doing it. I think it’s WONDERFUL!

She said she wants to go down to the Mountain Dell area this weekend, and try to do the climb from the creek at the bottom to the road up above Little Dell on her bike. That’s not a trivial effort. She also wants to go over to East Canyon with her wetsuit and get in a little open-water swimming, since she saw what happened to me at St George.

She’s just cute as a collie pup. And so EARNEST.

And it’s time spent TOGETHER.

So never mind. It’s cheap at the price : )





Wow – it’s been over a month since I’ve posted:?…well, I’ve been busy, busy, busy!

I’d like to introduce you to my new bike, the Cannondale Slice-3 Ultegra tri bike:

slice3Now, if you happened to read this blog last November, you will have seen that I bought my first-ever GOOD bicycle after signing up for my first-ever triathlon. Well, things have gotten weird since then. Wierder than I could have imagined.

First off – SpudMan went well. I had a blast. But I tried to race again the next weekend, and it went terribly – so bad that I didn’t even bother to finish the run. As we drove home, I told Ethel that I was through; wasn’t going to be doing any more triathlons. It was Just One More Thing I Wasn’t Good At (TM).  Ethel was encouraging me to keep trying,though.

The next morning, Ethel said “Let’s go jogging”. Huh. She hasn’t run with me since Tucson (at least 17 years ago). I didn’t know what was up, but we jogged a couple of miles. Then she sat me down and said this:

“I’m afraid to say this, because once it is said, it can’t be unsaid….I have gone with you to several triathlons now, and I have noticed that there are many lardasses who are actually able to complete these things. And I can’t help but tell myself – if those lardasses can do a triathlon, well, why can’t I? So, I think I want to try one – just a sprint, of course….but that means that you can’t quit, because you have to do this with me.”

Well, how about that?!?  What do you say to that?
What I said was pretty simple – “Okay”. Then we immediately went online to find a late-season sprint for her to do – the Lake Powell Triathlon, in October. Then we found her a training schedule, “Couch to Sprint Triathlon”. Then we got into the car and drove to Performance Bikes in Salt Lake, where I had bought my Noble Steed, and we bought her a shiny new crimson Fuji Gran Fondo.

She started her training schedule the next week, and then she found a swim coach. She’s not missed a day of training yet – she’s into her fourth week. She’s just cute as a collie pup doing this thing, and I’m so proud of her that I could just burst.

But this left me obligated to continue my training, as well. Which is what I’ve been doing. Rode a hundred miles on Saturday.

However, since she has a new bike, we’ve been making a lot of trips back to the bike shop to get her completely outfitted. And the last few trips, I’ve noticed this really cool road bike, full carbon and digital electroni shifting, and Ethel’s been telling me that I could buy it, if I wanted to – but, of course, I HAD a bike, a nice one, and I wasn’t willing to make the move.

But on Sunday, I finally really thought about it, but decided that it didn’t make sense for me to have TWO bikes; however, while I was looking at the other road bike, a guy standing next to me heard me tell Ethel that, and he asked “So, would you be selling the other bike, then?” I allowed as to how, yes, if I bought a new bike, I’d be selling mine. He took my phone number, just in case.

I sort of decided that, if I did indeed sell my bike that easily, I would go get the new road bike. And a few hours later, this fellow drove up to my house, looked at the bike, and gave me cash.


NOW what? I don’t have a bicycle.

My coach and friends were adamant on one point – I should NOT get that fancy new road bike; I should get a triathlon/time-trial bike instead. They pretty much beat me about the head and shoulders on this. We passed some ideas back and forth, and coach wound up recommending the bike you see in the photo, above. I found some local bike shops that had this bike, and one of them was one that my friend Scott, the local tri coach, had recommended.

So the next morning, I called that bike shop, and they said “The Cannondale Slice-3 with Ultegra components? Yeah, we have that in that size – in fact, we’ve just marked it down four hundred bucks”.

Huh :)

We arranged for me to take the bike for a spin at lunchtime, and by the time I had left, I had bought the bike – with upgraded pedals, upgraded rear cassette (we have a lot of hills to climb in Park City, and there is that thing in Tahoe) and even a power meter, which everybody else tells me that I really, really need – all for less than I would have paid for that fancy road bike with the DI shifters.

Of course, right now I’m bikeless – they won’t have the Cannondale built out until Thursday morning – and so I’m doing trainer rides on Ethel’s bike, which feels very, very strange indeed :)

And I have to say that I actually miss my Noble Steed; those who know me well know that I can get animalistic about possessions, and it somehow feels like I may have hurt my bike’s feelings by selling it. Ethel even said, after the buyer left, that the bike was saying “But…but…but I’m supposed to be on top of the Audi!” …I allowed as to how the bike left in a Lexus, and she thought that may have eased its pain somewhat. But I still look over at the trainer and don’t see my bike, and it makes me a little sad.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.