This is a Diamondback Andean. This is currently my desktop wallpaper.

Andean

The Salt Lake Track Club gets a discount on these puppies. So far, my inquiries as to just how much of a discount seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

But I’ve stopped asking now. I was dropping weight; the idea was that when I got down to race weight, I’d buy a new tri bike (or maybe not, but that’s another story).

But now I’m not dropping weight – I got stuck at 181 lbs, and nothing I tried would push the needle any farther down.

And then the bottom fell out – my knee started hurting again. And I kept getting tireder (surprisingly, my editor didn’t mark “tireder” as a misspelling; I would assume that it should be corrected to “more tired”. But, since I’m so tired, I’m not going to worry about it).

Yesterday, I went to the pool once again to try to swim 45 minutes while doing flip turns, and it still wasn’t working; so then I just tried to swim for the full time while just doing plain old open turns, but I couldn’t seem to keep going at all.

I’ve not been sleeping well, either.

So Coach Carrie just suggested not working out at all, and – while normally I would simply refuse to hear any such suggestion – I jumped on it.

I’m not going to do the workouts that are currently in Training Peaks unless my coach says “Hey Jim – do the workouts”. I’m just so tired. I was looking at the above bike and thinking “Hey, it won’t be long now!”…and now I see it and I think “what in the heck would I do with that thing?”

Now, what experience has shown me is that I always pass through these periods and wind up working out again harder than before. But another thing that even longer experience has taught me is that “the thing that you always did will eventually change”.

There’s a saying that is attributed to Einstein – “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result”. Of course, Einstein never said it – and anybody who actually thinks about it knows that it is patently false. Many things ONLY change after you have done them over and over – if you swing a sledgehammer at a boulder, the boulder won’t crack. Swing it again, and it won’t crack. You’ll have to swing it a hundred times or so – and THEN, suddenly, surprisingly, the boulder breaks into ten pieces.

In fact, there’s another aphorism that blatantly flies in the false of that whole “insanity is doing the same thing over and over” idea, and that’s Murphy’s Law, which states that “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Now, Murphy was a computer engineer, and the real implementation of this idea is that “If there is a bug in the code, it will show up, given enough iterations”. In other words, some things CAN’T show up until you’ve done the same thing over and over again.

So now that I’m on the couch, exhausted and injured, I can’t help but wonder if this is the time that I’m going to take time off from working out, and then not go back.

Eventually that will happen.

I just hope it’s not now, because I’ve already signed up for Ironman Arizona 2018.

But I’m also grateful that I bought the insurance for Ironman Arizona, so I can get my money back if necessary 🙂

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This morning, I was Riding Like an Egyptian.

Here’s the ride – in TrainerRoad, it’s called “Givens”, and it’s a VO2Max workout with six 3 minute intervals at 110/120/130% of FTP – although, since this is the first intensity workout I’ve done since My Last Stupid Thing(tm), I ran it at 90% intensity.

Givens

There were several problems with this workout – the first, of course, being that everything I’ve done since about three weeks before Ironman Arizona has been aerobic. This…is not aerobic. This hurts. And it always hurts whenever I return to it. And it wasn’t just the pain or the effort – I couldn’t get my heart rate down! I kept going up into the 160s during each interval – way higher than I ought to be.

The second thing was that I was using a new laptop to run TrainerRoad and send the display to my 42″ TV on the wall; the new laptop is Windows 10, and it doesn’t speak 720p – I can’t get it to do so, so I had to keep playing with the resolutions. In addition, I kept setting the Power Options and the “What to do when the lid closes” – but it wasn’t paying any attention, and kept ignoring what I was setting. (This is because I was setting them for “when the computer is plugged in”, but I wasn’t plugged in. I wasted a lot of time that way, and getting mad just wore me out BEFORE I started the above ride).

But lastly, I’ve also got a new phone, and my new phone is not behaving in several ways – but, also, I have yet to get my MP3 library loaded onto it. And when I do the Givens workout, I always do it to the tune of “Walk Like An Egyptian” by the Bangles, because that’s right at 204 beats per minute, which works out to 102 RPM, which is the best cadence for me to do this workout.

But since I did’t have my music loaded, I had to find a way to listen to Walk Like An Egyptian in the interim – and so I played it in You Tube.

Well, surprise – I’d never actually seen the video. It’s a good video – and, at least as far as the video evidence, shows, three of the Bangles sang – they got one verse apiece – and the blond one did the whistling. (Yes, to me, they all sounded the same, but I’ll trust that they each sang their peace – although, to be honest, they looked so much alike that they all could have been the same woman, with different hair).

But I couldn’t help but notice that Ethel never wears that outfit for me!…two of them (ostensibly, if the video is accurate, the lead and bass guitarists) looked a lot alike, and they were both wearing what seemed to be the same LBD (“Little Black Dress”)

Bangles

Ethel HAS that dress, and she looks – quite literally – knock-down gorgeous in it. (Yes, I said “literally”. When Ethel was in the changing room and was trying it on, she called me in to look at it, and I took one look and slammed backward into the wall and slid down onto the floor).

But, for some reason, I can’t get her to wear that dress around the house.

Maybe if I got her a white Fender electric guitar, I could get her to play it and flounce around the next time I’m doing this workout. Some hoop earrings would complete the ensemble.

Although that wouldn’t help me get my heart rate down….

Last week I did pretty well with regards to discipline and commitment.

I didn’t buy a bicycle.

Here’s my Noble Steed, hanging on the wall of the garage:

PuppyEyedBike.jpg

I had a pretty good bike segment at Ironman Arizona, so of course I immediately started thinking about how I could improve it next time; the first thing that a triathlete always thinks about is upgrading his bike (either getting a new bike, or doing something to improve his current bike).

I saw a lot of really nice bikes at the booths in the Ironman Village, but I’m aware that my bike is better than I am right now; before I should really consider getting a new bike, I should at least lose some weight, as that would make a bigger difference than a frame or components. So I set a goal weight and said, out loud for everyone to hear, “I won’t be getting a new bike until I get to race weight”.

Immediately the Devil, in various guises, decided to tempt me away from my conviction 🙂

Bikes just started coming out of the walls; bike ads showed up in the sidebar of every web site I would visit. And another guy in the Facebook Ironman Arizona training group posted his bike for sale. God forgive me, I actually looked at it, and brought it up for discussion.

My wife said “Why are we talking about this? Buy it.” My friend Allen offered to buy my bike if I wanted to buy that one. My coach gave it his OK. It seemed to make sense, and I decided to buy the other bike.

Then, of course, I went to bed (because you pretty much have to do that every day). And going to bed meant waking up at 3 AM with buzzards on the bedpost, asking me why I was doing things. (The bedpost buzzards always have plenty of questions around 3 AM).

In this case, the buzzards wanted to know why I thought that I was going to go out and buy a bike when I said that I wouldn’t do that until I reached race weight. Now, there is no good answer for this, but I was able to rationalize and justify pretty well, so even if I didn’t shut the buzzards up, at least I made them change the subject.

But then the buzzards wanted to know what was wrong with my current bike?

And, right after that, the buzzards themselves went away, and they were replaced by my bike, and my bike wanted to know “WHY YOU WANT TO LEAVE ME?”

While lying there in bed, I could see my bike hanging on the garage wall – but it was making big puppy-dog eyes at me. It wanted to know what had it done wrong? Hadn’t it gotten me through two Coeur D’Alene halves, IMCdA, and then hadn’t it done well at Ironman Arizona? Was there something wrong with it?

It finally went into full pout and said “When you peed on me during races, did I say anything? Did I complain? No! I just tried all the harder to help you have a good race! Why you want to leave me?”

And I couldn’t come up with a good answer.

So I’m still losing weight, and working towards getting down to race weight.

But I don’t really know what I’m going to do when I get there.

swimstart

This is the start of the swim for this year’s Ironman Arizona.

Yes, we started swimming in the dark. Made it difficult to sight the route once the sun came up.

But I still had a better swim than I could have imagined – which was followed by a bike segment that was also much better than expected – which was followed by a run which was 15 minutes faster than last year.

All that SOUNDS good. But, in reality – not so much. But, then, maybe so…

“Lemme ‘splain. No, is too much. Lemme sum up.” – Inigo Montoya

For what seemed to be good reasons, I was particularly freaked out about this race; I knew that my training had not gone as well. I hadn’t had as much volume, it had been slower, I had done very few 100+ mile rides. I had also gotten overtrained in late summer, which made me slower; and I had to recover from being overtrained, so that made me slower. I was fat and had been sick.

In addition, the strange injury which had crippled my previous IM had returned. This was a weird something in my calf such that, when I started running, it would seize up, and it wouldn’t even let me walk freely for a few days. I kept testing it in the weeks leading up to the race, and it always showed up. This injury had caused me to walk the 26 miles of IMCdA, only daring to run the last two tenths down the chute.

So I wasn’t really looking forward to this race. I mentioned several times in the weeks leading up to IMAZ that perhaps we should just go ahead and sell out and move to Cozumel; this is my default response to anything I don’t like.

I was actually walking around scared for days before flying down to PHX, and then for the days before the race; on Saturday, I was well-nigh paralyzed. (My friend Tia decided to rub some lavender under my nose, as she thought this would calm me down. I had mixed emotions about that 🙂 I was doing a lot of praying and going through Step 10 over and over again. Ethel was remarkably consistent throughout this period; she just kept telling me that I was going to do the race, even though I kept asking her to take me back to the airport.

So when I woke up on Sunday morning, I could barely move; I thought for a while that fear had actually paralyzed me, or made me comatose. But I got in the car and Ethel drove me to the transition area and I went through the motions and eventually realized that, no, I wasn’t actually scared any more – I was calm. As has happened with so many things in my life, the purpose of the fear was to stop me from acting; once I realized that I was going to go ahead, the fear gave up and went back to wherever it comes from.

I made some mistakes in setting up transition that would haunt me later, but as scattered as I was, that’s to be expected. I said my prayers and got my last set of hugs and kisses and got into the line to go into the water.

Unlike previous Ironman events, I found myself looking forward to getting into the water; Corch Ian had given me his old Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit, and that darn thing was shaving 10-15 seconds/100y of my swim times. I’d done the practice swim the day before and knew that the water felt just the right temperature, so in I went! Wheee!

Corch had told me to stay to the right, out of the craziness, so I did that, and encountered none of the normal panic or shortness of breath that usually attends big swim starts. From the get-go I felt like this was something I knew how to do; the only real issue occurred when the sun came up, and it became more difficult to sight staring directly into the dawn. It cost me about 150 yards worth of wasted distance on the way out, but once I made the turn, that was over. Time to swim!

It seemed like I was passing folks the whole way, and I came out of the water in 1:25:58 – according to my Garmin, the 4224 yards turned into 4331 (due to my wandering) at 1:59/100y.  Sub-2 pace for an Ironman! Woo-hoo!

…While I love the way that the Helix lets me swim, it is a tight fit, so I lost a good bit of time in transition while two volunteers tried to get my rather corpulent self out of the wetsuit. But even though I lost minutes, I was still so excited about my swim that nothing could affect my spirits, and I went through transition in 12-something and was on the bike and heading down the road.

And that’s when the trouble started.

For one thing, I had put my BAT tracking beacon in the wrong bag, so I didn’t have it with me on the bike. And I was going through transition in a hurry, so I forgot to get my FOOD! So I started the bike without having eaten anything yet.

The bike course is a triple out-and-back – surface streets through Tempe, then out the Beeline Highway to the eastern edge of Fountain Hills. It’s a mild uphill on the way out – no real hills for somebody who’s been doing St. George and Coeur D’Alene. I figured it would go great.

The forecast had said “High of 78, calm wind”, but everybody who’d done this race had said beforehand that “There will be a headwind on the Beeline Highway”. I need to remember to listen to folks.

As soon as I came out of the built-up area around the race start, I felt the headwind. The further out I went, the worse the wind got. I watched my speed drop and drop even though I was putting out the same number of Watts, and started to get discouraged.

But I told myself that “winds are usually at their highest in the early morning and late evening, when the temperature changes are greatest” (note: I have no idea if this is true, but it sounded good, and it got me through the first loop).

I stopped on the way back down the Beeline at Special Needs and went ahead and got my bag of goodies, since I hadn’t had anything to eat, and ate my first burrito by holding it between the aero bars. Came back down to Tempe and made the turnaround.

Uh-oh – if anything, the wind has picked up for the second loop! NOOOO!!!!

All the way back out to Fountain Hills, I got more and more discouraged; I finally told God that, if He would get me out of this, I wouldn’t do another Ironman until He told me to do so. Made the turn and ate my second burrito, and really picked up some speed on the way back to town; but as I got near Tempe, I realized that I was about to learn something about my character; would I actually have the will to turn around and head back into that uphill headwind a third time? Or would I just wave at Ethel and head on into the chute and say “Well, it wasn’t my day!” ?

It seems, though, that when I got back to Tempe I was so busy looking for Ethel on the way into town that I forgot to quit, and I headed back out – and Glory be! …the wind had died down!

At this point, something clicked, and I just started pushing hard – all during the third loop, the only folks who passed me were half my age, half my weight, and were on bikes that cost three times as much as my Noble Steed. I was flying, and having a ball! For the second time – wheeee!

Came off the bike in 6:09 – a 59 minute improvement over IMCdA – and came out of the second transition under 8 hours; so if I could maintain the 15 minute pace walking that I did the previous year, I was assured of at least an hour PR. Wheeee!

But the first two walking miles, I wasn’t maintaining that pace; I was more along 16:00 or 16:30 for some reason. I reckon it was pushing the bike so hard that was keeping me from being able to walk with the same stride and cadence as last year.

Well, as Shepard Book told Jayne, “If you can’t do something smart, do something right.”

I decided that, even if I had to limp, I’d still be able to finish under the cutoff, so I might as well try to run. I started running 400 steps and walking 400 steps, and that got my pace down around 12 minutes.

When I came through the transition area after four miles, Ethel saw me running and freaked out. I said “Well, might as well try it”. And I kept going.

The “run” (read: run/walk) went up and down both sides of the river – first a 4 mile east/west, then a 9 mile loop that went west, crossed the river, went east to the turnaround, and back. So from the four mile mark all the way to the half marathon, I didn’t see Ethel. But I kept going – 400 run, 400 walk – and was still doing that at the halfway point, at which point Ethel seemed amazed. Made it around the second 4 mile loop (Ethel was still amazed, but I was starting to hurt) and kept going until the mile 18 sign.

At this point, Church was Out 🙂

The run/walk was now over; the death march began.

It HURT – EVERYTHING hurt. And it kept hurting worse and worse. I just kept walking. I watched my pace get slower and slower, but it didn’t seem to matter – I knew that I could fall down and roll the rest of the way, and I’d still have a PR.

My friends Tia and Chad came out to meet me around mile 24, by which time I was actually whimpering with every step – “hmmpp! hmmpp! hmmpp! hmmpp!” They thought that this was hilarious (I hate my friends Tia and Chad 🙂 and they accompanied me almost all the way to the chute.

I was in more pain than I could recall ever being in before, but I picked up my feet and managed to “jog” through the chute. I was delirious and stupid with fatigue; I did not hear Mike Reilly say that I was an Ironman. But I did see Kim as I came through the chute – in addition, our friends Bob and Caroyl, whom I had understood were in Cozumel, seemed to be with her, and so now I knew delirium had set it.

I crossed the line in 14:22, an hour and twenty-eight minute PR.

Turns out that Bob and Caroyl were really there – they had flown back to PHX, and had decided to come see me finish before going to their house. Corch Ian was waiting for me at the finish as well, and there was my sweetie girl, all smiles and encouragement.

I was in more pain than I would have believed, and I was hungry, and I was tight – gave high-fives all around, and then went into the massage tent.

(The after-race events were rather peculiar, and will be discussed under separate cover).

I was very pleased with the race, and wound up signing up for next year just three days later (I’m assuming that God told me to, but sometimes God sounds like Ethel). I’d’a thought that a 14:22 would be a good place to quit, but the fact that I still wasn’t able to maintain a run/walk through the whole marathon left me determined to do a full Ironman right, at least once.

I had an easy week, and then started winter training. I’ve decided to (maybe) get a new tri bike, but not until I get down to race weight. I’m going to do everything I can to have at least ONE complete race next year.

 

 

Well, currently, my job is no fun 😦

It’s a peculiarity of my life that, at any given point, some aspect of my existence will be a squeaky wheel – job, training, health, family, finances, recreation, church or the Fellowship; one of them will seem out of kilter.

It’s more likely that I simply have a magic magnifying mind that casts about to find the one thing that it wants to focus on as being cause for unhappiness. Right now, my training is going as well as can be expected, the wife and I are living like kittens, meetings and church are a blast, we’re getting close to ski season, I’ve got more money than I ever expected to have – and, oh yeah, the Crimson Tide are 6-0.

And I live in Whitefish, Montana, so – there’s that 🙂

slider_mainst_summer

So it must be the job that’s out of whack 🙂

Now, let’s be clear – I work for a great company – just how great cannot be overstated. And I work with great folks – there’s no dead weight or grumpiness at Workday, unless it’s me.

When I say the “job” is out of whack, I mean my job, specifically – and the way that I am doing, and HOW I am doing, at that job. I got myself into a project that is painful and slow. It was my own nosiness that brought the project about; I happened to notice some technical debt, some refactoring that seemed necessary, and I created a Jira to point it out.  “When you’re warm and happy in a pile of poop, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT“. Then my overconfidence caused me to agree to take the project on.

Hubris, ate, nemesis.

Now, to be sure, I was already the dumbest guy in the room before I took this project on; Workday is full of extremely smart, happy, productive people.

(I’ve been thinking about when I took this job – when I cleared away the stuff I wasn’t interested in, there were still three offers on the table. In one of them, I would walk in as a star; I not only aced the interview, but I showed them that there were things in their interview materials that they weren’t aware of. In another, I would have come in as a guy who would have been a good, average contributor once I came up to speed.

Instead, I took the job with the wildest bleeding-edge technology and the most hyped-up, hardworking, happiest workforce – shoulda known I’d wind up in the back of the pack 🙂

So being the dumbest guy in the room, I should have said “Gee, that’s a problem” and let somebody else take the lead. Did I do that? Noooooo!…and ever since, my life has been an increasingly miserable mess. And I’ve become acutely aware that I am not earning my salary at my present rate of productivity; that really eats my lunch.

So MY plan for fixing this problem is simple – quit. I should quit, and lay around the house and be a househusband, and take care of everything else in our lives, leaving Ethel nothing to do but her job (which is going swimmingly, by the way).  We’ve got plenty of money – sure, as long as I’m working, we have MORE money, which no doubt gives us a better lifestyle long-term, but let’s tell the truth and shame the Devil – I’m not going to alive much longer. My telomeres are a mess; my chromosomes are out to kill me. Plus, the Yellowstone volcano is gonna blow any minute, and where will my IRA be THEN?

But Ethel says no – she’s so mean and selfish.

So I’ll try to get the current changeset pushed into our codebase, and then maybe get the next-to-the-last (of some fifteen) Jiras out of the way, and hope that the next thing that comes down the pike doesn’t leave me frustrated and helpless to the point of despair.

Who knows? Maybe my job will take a big upswing, and I’ll be on top of things, and feel productive again!

…just in time to get injured and miss the Ironman. Or have my church go crazy (it happened in the early 2000s). Or we won’t get any snow 🙂 “Rozanne Rozanna Danna, it’s always sumpthin’…” 🙂

wedding

I was living – serving God my own way
And calling life sufficient my alone way
‘Till Someone thought that I’d be better serving
With another – one much more deserving.

That Someone brought you to me, cold, defenseless,
Knowing the sight of you would knock me senseless
(I must admit – your spirit was inspiring,
But ’twas other things that started me perspiring)
We kept fighting, and re-fighting, till I woke up
To the fact – we’d break up, but could not stay broke up.

Someone that I’d gladly run away with,
Someone that I’d cry and laugh and play with,
Someone that I’d always want to stay with –
And someone that I’m honored now to pray with.

Happy Anniversary, my love!

Okay, here we are in August of 2017.

Dow5Year

The Dow, S&P, NASDAQ, and my company’s stock are all at or near record highs. From the looks of things, I have plenty of money (or quick, liquid equivalents) in the bank.

At the same time, my job isn’t going great – I’m the dumbest guy in the room, and the other folks are all about half of my age and seem to do nothing but work and sit in traffic (they are Californians). So any day they are going to fire me, and I’ll be sitting on the sidewalk selling pencils in a jar.

At the same time, I’m 58 years old. Males in my family don’t live long – they fall over dead.

So I would think to myself (and I do, several times a day) “Self, this would be a great time to cash out and head to Mexico; with what I have now, I could get a nice little condo on Cozumel – just a few blocks from the beach, from the meeting house, and from the square – and I could put up a hammock on the back porch and nap. I’d be able to run and bike, I could swim at the Alberca Municipal, go to meetings and dive.” (I’ve got a pretty good connection for reasonably-priced scuba). “Ethel’s enjoying her job and is at the top of her game, so I could just be a househusband and dog daddy”.

That’s what I think to myself, several times a day – and Self, unsurprisingly, always agrees with me.

However – and equally unsurprisingly – Ethel does not agree with me. She just flat won’t do it.

She’s so mean and selfish!

The Big Book says “Selfishness – self-centeredness. That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” And it’s correct – obviously, Ethel’s selfishness is the root of my troubles 🙂

Okay, okay – no, that’s not what it means. But it’s amazing how quickly I can see selfishness in somebody else without seeing my own.

But the important thing is this – I have no idea whether or not Ethel’s refusal to sell everything and go to Mexico is actually selfish or not. But I do know this – I can never see selfishness in anyone else unless their actions or attitudes are somehow interfering with my own selfishness. My ego can only bump into other egos.

So I have three simple rules –

1) If I spot it, I got it.

2) If it makes me mad, I’ve got it bad.

3) Just because I think I see it, doesn’t mean you have to be it.

To amplify:

  1. I can spot a lot of things, often fairly accurately – say, active alcoholism, or binge eating, or grandiosity or laziness. I can spot them, because I’ve got them.
  2. Active alcoholism and binge eating, though, don’t bother me when I spot them. I’ve got those issues, but the have been dealt with and solutions found years ago. But grandiosity and laziness? Those I still suffer from – and I can be very short-tempered and unforgiving when dealing with folks who I believe to have the same defects. It’s only the things that still trouble me in me, that trouble me in you.
  3. However, I can spot these things in others even when they don’t suffer from them– but since I do have these problems, and feel guilty about them, I want to see them in other people so as to make other folks guiltier than I am, and thus see myself as ‘better than’ they are.

So Ethel may, indeed, be working at a much higher level than I am – she may be working with God Himself to save me from myself; she may be holding out for a better life that we might have together, later, instead of bailing on all responsibility now and heading to Mexico.

Maybe.

But one thing is for sure – since I see her as causing me a problem, that means that I have a problem, and if I have a problem, that means that I’m not seeing things correctly. So as long as I’m irritated that Ethel won’t run off to Mexico with me, I shouldn’t be trying to run off to Mexico, because the irritation itself shows me that it’s my selfishness at work – and my selfishness never does me any good at all, but only causes me (and all those around me) troubles!

So now my path is clear – I need to reach a place where I want to go to Mexico, but I’m not upset that Ethel won’t go. Then we’ll be free to go.

However, I’m not sure that I can get there while I still want to go to Mexico, because my ‘wanter’ is the problem, after all. So now I’ve got to stop wanting to go to Mexico, so that Ethel can then decide that we should go.

Whew. I’ve worn myself out 😉