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.



Back in 2005, I registered for the Spudman Olympic distance triathlon in Burley, ID.

I had a used Trek hybrid bike, and I swam very infrequently, but somebody at Fidelity had sold me on the idea of trying it (“It’s a downriver swim!”) so I signed up.

However, long before the event, I moved to Phoenix, and the whole thing went away.

But now I’ve swum some 180,000 yards in the last nine months, and I have a nice bike that I’ve ridden a few thousand miles, and I’m going to Burley this afternoon.

spudmanI don’t think that the logo has changed at all in the intervening years, except for the date and the color : )

I’m working from home today, while waiting on Fed-Ex to deliver my new Synergy Adrenaline wetsuit (my current wetsuit is about torn to bits) and every so often grabbing something and throwing it in the car. It’s a three hour drive to Burley, and we’re staying with Team Fast Lane at a house in Declo, about fourteen minutes away. Got to get to Burley tonight to set up T1 (the swim-to-bike transition) although I’ll set up T2 (bike-to-run) tomorrow morning; that’s much simpler, and it’s also very close to the start of the swim.

I am no longer on the hook to do the full at Ironman Lake Tahoe; I have paid my money and made the transfer to the half (which means that I paid money to lose a lot of money – the half cost less than half as much as the full, but there was no refund, and there was a change fee). The idea of doing the full woke me up many nights; losing sleep is not a good triathlon training strategy, and finally I just caved in. I still have notions of doing a full, possibly next year – ask me after – and if – I finish the Lake Tahoe half.

Earlier this week, my friend Dr Janet, the exercise physiology professor, pronounced me “overtrained”. So I haven’t done ANYTHING this week except swimming for forty minutes. That’s sort of a crazy taper; I have no idea what tomorrow will be like. For all I know, I won’t be able to move. Or who knows? Maybe I’ll be super-strong and fast and finish the race feeling great. We’ll see : )

There are many things in my life that are uncomfortable right now. But it would be nice to have a good race. That won’t straighten out my worries about my job or my kids or my health, but it would be nice : )

I…am back in the office.

In addition to the normal “back in the office” stresses, I have the additional issues of having been gone since Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth (24 June), and coming back in to a brand-new project about which I understand nothing. <SGT_SHULTZ> NOTHING! </SGT_SHULTZ>

Fortunately, my WorkMates were ready with an inflatable stress reliever.

inflatable_hammerThey waited until I had reached the breaking point, and then pulled out this little gem (they had it pre-inflated and waiting for me) so that I could hammer on the laptop and monitor and keyboard and mouse and even any paper copies of documentation that I might have laying around the cubicle. And I have to admit that it helped!…at least briefly, to get my stress level back down to the point that I could think again about domains, and domain groups,  and domain security policies, and security groups, and security group types, and inherent permissions, and  security segments, and segment-based security groups, and segment-based security group assignments to domain policies, and assignable customer roles, and role-based security, and…and…and BAM! BAM BAM BAM! BAM! BAM!

I need to get one of these to take home. Next time Lucy poops on the carpet…BAM! BAM BAM! BAM!


Well, we’ve been here in San Jose del Cabo, in Baja California Sur, for three weeks now, and I am tired.

Here I am, in Bahia de Santa Maria, on the boat between dives in the Corridor:

santa maria

We’ve been diving every few days since we got here, and I’ve been working my training schedule around that (or, more accurately, Ethel has been scheduling the diving around my training schedule). But now we’re in the last week here, and we had one day each left that we’d pay for dives, so I gave my last day to Ethel so that she could have two days of diving. Ethel is a more avid diver than I am; to me, after a while, it’s just more fish, and I’m pretty darn tired from training.

And from the heat, and from the humidity. The southern tip of Baja California is a desert drier than Phoenix ever imagined, but we’ve had some rain while here, and there’s something about the winds that causes this coast to be very humid in the summer months. My runs have been sweatfests; even in the gym, which is “air conditioned”, I’ve been leaving puddles under the spinning bikes and treadmills. So I’m pretty tired after three weeks of that, and when I get this tired, I don’t have much enthusiasm for anything, so it’s best if Ethel goes and enjoys the dives and leaves me here with a paperback and a bottle of Pinafiel.

When I’m in Mexico, I drink Pinafiel and Be soft drinks. Beats trying to find decaf iced tea at the Mega, and the Wal-Mart down here doesn’t carry the Clear brand. When you sweat as much as I’ve been sweating, you have to put SOMETHING in, and, of course, I don’t drink the water ; )

Training has been going poorly. Most of my swimming has been in the surf and swells, so it feels like doing laps in a washing machine for two hours. And the outdoor runs have been on hills, in this heat and humidity and desert sun, leaving me with no energy for the rest of the day – even though the washing-machine swims have been coming in the afternoons after the longer runs. Cycling hasn’t been much fun, either on the spinner bike at Cabo Fitness or on the StarTrac bike here at the condo gym.

I realized after two weeks that I missed Park City, and Salt Lake, and my condo with the little brook and the aspens, and my car. I didn’t miss Lucy, though. And, even though I scheduled this vacation many months ago, I don’t like taking three weeks and two days off when I still don’t feel competent at my job.  But it’s been a very difficult year (Ethel details this in ) and a vacation, even a tiring one, was probably a good idea.

One thing that Ethel doesn’t mention in her year-in-review is that within a few months of all this craziness happening last summer, I picked up the gauntlet of training for a half Ironman, which turned into a full before long. I now wish that I hadn’t done that, as it has turned into a stressor rather than a stress reliever. But the thing about gauntlets is that it is very hard to put them back down after one has picked them up; NOT putting them back down, actually, is the whole point, right?

So now it’ 8:30 AM, Ethel is in Cabo for her day of diving, and I have to put on my shorts and go out there and waddle for four miles on hills in heat and humidity in the desert sun. My gumption tank is empty. I have no enthusiasm at all. And that’s not how I like to live my life.

I picked the wrong -Man type of triathlon. I should not have attempted an IronMan. I should have chosen a PuttyMan.

silly-putty-packageSilly Putty is soft and infinitely malleable. It cannot hold its form – any stress at all causes it to deform. It has no true, defined shape, so it’s always OUT of shape. Nobody thinks of Silly Putty when they think of “hard” or “strong” or “persistent”.

And Silly Putty, if pressed against an image, will retain a mirror impression of that image – but only briefly, and any application of stress wlll distort the retained image completely out of recognition.

I suppose that one aspect of doing something like this (i.e. training for a distance event) is the attempt to get a different perspective on one’s self – to find out one’s “inner nature”. i’m finding out that my “inner nature” is Silly Putty. I’m much more Silly Putty than I am Iron.

My training continues, if we can call it “training”. I’m doing (mostly) the volume, but I’m getting slower as my training volume increases – this is backwards. In my experience, as my training volumes increase, I tend to slowly get faster; as my friend Mr Jim says, “jes mo’ miles”. Then, usually, after some period of time, I suddenly “turn a corner” and I am bounding where before I was trudging.

in this case, my trudging is turning into sludging; I’m getting slower the more work that i do. I am not used to getting into WORSE shape as a result of increased training; even when I’ve had to spend months in the Valley of Fatigue, I’ve felt a building confidence in my building of a training base. I’ve felt like I was improving in fitness. But that’s not the case this time.

And, while I have “sort of” decided not to do the full at Tahoe, I haven’t yet turned in the paperwork for that, and I still seem to be aiming my training at attempting the full; I think I’m still waiting for a miracle to happen, such that I “turn the corner” and suddenly feel like I’m in better shape than I was, so that I feel confident in attempting the full. But right now I don’t even want to do SpudMan in two weeks; I don’t see any point in it.

This morning’s 16 miles turned into 8.5 – after I hit 8 miles, suddenly I didn’t feel like finishing. After last week’s “hard” 18.5 hours of training, I wasn’t sure what I should do this week. Now I know. I should go to bed.

The problem with looking for a PuttyMan event is that nobody would put one on, because nobody is interested in competing, because there’s no competition. Putty just sorta sits there. And, right now, that’s what I’m planning on doing. Just sitting here. Like a lump of Silly Putt.

Saturday was the Daybreak Triathlon, at which event I completed the Olympic distance.

This is me, swimming in Oquirrh Lake:


That’s a still shot from a video Ethel took. In the video, it looks like I’m swimming strong and smooth. What you DON’T see is the eight or ten breaks that I took during the just-under-a-mile swim – grabbing onto a kayak, pulling over to the side of the lake, and even one place where I saw a rock coming up from the bottom and I precariously perched upon it : )

This was a 1500 meter swim (plus, of course, the additional distance added by my inability to swim straight). The day before, I had gone to the Park City Aquatic Center and jumped into the water, push the button on my watch, and swum an easy and strong 1500 yards in 34 minutes. No problem, no fuss, no heavy breathing.

But when I did my short warmup swim in the lake, I was hyperventilating at the end. And every few hundred meters, I had to stop for a minute or two to catch my breath. Why? I do not know. I really have no idea. I really, really do not know. Is it possible to do that for 1.2 miles in a half IM? I suppose so. Is it possible to do that for 2.4 miles in a full IronMan?

Is it?

At any rate, I finished the swim, along with about five other Olympic distance folks and a bunch of the Sprint people who jumped into the lake halfway. Now, the nice thing about doing the swim this slowly is that the athletes getting out of the water when you do are the slowest, most out-of-shape competitors, so I spent the entire bike and run passing people. One person passed me during the run; the rest of the last two hours of the triathlon was me passing folks. That’s more fun that hanging off the side of a kayak, gasping for air.

Now what? I’m going to Slumber Falls, in Texas, to do a retreat this weekend. Next weekend I have nothing planned; then there are three weeks in Cabo during which no doubt I will train myself into insensibility, rather than “vacation”.

I am supposed to do SpudMan in Burley, Idaho on the 27th (I think) of July.  I’ve signed up for a half IM distance (but not put on by the WTC) in late August in Provo.

Then there’s that business in Tahoe on 21 September.

When I think about Tahoe, it seems impossible. But when I consider the option of doing what I did on Saturday – for 2.5 times the distance – then maybe I’ll still try it.

I’ve really been taking by the little goat who Gives It All He’s Got. I’d like to be that goat. But he’s only Giving It All He’s Got for about a second and a half, and he’s in no danger of drowning. That does change things a bit.


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