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Monthly Archives: October 2019

I’ve lived some interesting places.

With interesting climates, and temperature ranges. I’ve seen -35F in Vermont on New Year’s Day, and 118F in Phoenix.

I’ve lived at 7000 feet elevation in the Wasatch, and at 9000 in the San Juans.

But I ain’t never seen me no Negative One Degrees in October.

negativeone

That’s a first.

Ethel calls this “Indian Winter”. We got a couple of inches of snow yesterday, and it felt like blizzard conditions when I went out to (briefly) throw the ball for Juneau in the back yard.  But winter’s not here yet.

Unlike Park City, where often Silas went Trick-Or-Treating in his snow pants, and the snow stayed in the yard until June, this snow will go away. We’ll probably have some mildly warm days – in fact, it should be near 50 on Sunday.

The ski hill doesn’t open until December 6th. No, winter isn’t here yet.

But it was – officially – below zero this morning when I left to go to the gym. And that’s just plain weird, in October.

(…to the tune of White and Nerdy, with apologies to Weird Al Yankovic. I understand that the original is something called Riding Dirty, but I have no interest in listening to that in order to parody the original).

ridinpurty

I’m on my trainer, and low down
Gee, I sure hope that I am
Ridin’ purty

Yeah, I hope I’m ridin’ purty
Wonder if I’m ridin’ purty?
Think they’ll think I’m ridin’ purty?
Look at me, I’m ridin’ purty

I wanna ride with the big dogs
But to do that, I gotta be
Ridin’ purty

Yeah, they all are ridin’ purty
Just like them, I’m ridin’ purty
I sure hope I’m ridin’ purty
On my bike, I’m ridin’ purty

I may be slow and I’m heavy, too
And there ain’t a whole lot that I can do
About my phenotype or follow through
None of that stuff’s under my purview
Mesomorphic is not idyllic
In fact, to try this is imbecilic
But here I am, in this prose dactylic
With all these cells, all so oxyphilic

My tri bike frame is totally pimped out
Got carbon fiber in my components
I sure could do with a few less donuts
For all my sins, there ain’t no atonements
Suffer through these moments

I’m working hard on my ride form,
Wanting my friends to think I’m
Ridin’ purty

Yeah, I gotta be ridin’ purty
Hunkered down and ridin’ purty
Aero slim and ridin’ purty
Look at me, I’m ridin’ purty

I got my gut in, and head down,
Doin’ my best to just be
Ridin’ purty

Heads up, and ridin’ purty
Eyes ahead, and ridin’ purty
Like all my friends, I’m ridin’ purty
I’ll just keep ridin’ purty

So here’s the graph of my last 15 months of training. The main body of the graph is showing my fitness number.

graph

This starts a year ago July, when I was coming back from yet another knee injury. I held out pretty well until the first circled area – I always take a dip during ski season – which was early June; that’s when I decided that I was going to have to dial back my training a good bit, if I was going to continue working.

The second circled area was when I got my pellets in my butt, and then went to Iceland the next week.

The third circle is when I moved into the Dog House.

Were it not for those events, I’d be in much better shape than I am now.

See, here’s the thing – those sharp inclines after those circles? Those aren’t increases in training – those are when I went back to doing the exact same thing every week. But doing the same sorts of things every week, or maintaining a consistent training load, is essential to increasing fitness.

Not increasing the load – just sticking with it, week in, week out.

“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” — Anthony Trollope

I know somebody who took up endurance athletics a couple of years ago. He started running and got a bike, and also started lifting. He’s made a good bit of progress.

What I find interesting, though, is how much his progress looks like this graph. And it’s not because he gets injured. He just…well, he stops. Takes a break. Takes it easy. Wants to do other stuff.

This may mean that he is actually better balanced than I am. Probably indicates more maturity and suchlike.

But it probably won’t get him where he says he wants to be with respect to times and distances.

Lately, I’ve been really tired from time to time. But I haven’t let it interfere with my training volume. I’ve let intensity slip, but not volume. I don’t care how fast or hard teh workout is – but I just want to finish it.

My mantra has been “The pace is not the point. To finish is the point.” I swim breathing bilaterally – so I use this as a cadence, with the three beats being my three strokes between breaths.

I run with a four-breath cadence, so I use the same mantra, but add a one-breath rest after each sentence.

Over and over again, in my life – not just in training, but is so many things – I find that consistency is more important than level of effort. Now, this may be my lesson in this life, because, before the fourth of May, 1985, I never did the right thing for two weeks, in anything.

One benefit of retirement is that it is allowing me to go ahead and do the &*^%$#@! workouts, even when I don’t want to – knowing that I can go home and take a nap, if necessary, afterwards.

Of course, I’m not sure how well that freedom compares to, say, being ridiculously overpaid. But it’s still a benefit 🙂

 

 

This is a Lucifer:

lucifer

No, that’s not the demon associated with Pride, the first of the Deadly Sins, although it is named after him. Lucifer means “light-bringer”, and this gadget is the tool we use in the Episcopal Church to light the candles before the service – and then, afterwards, we use the bell-shaped thingie on the curved stem to extinguish those same candles.

I’ve been using the Lucifer for three years without knowing its name; I found out on Sunday, because when I lit the wick to do the candles, I found it was almost gone, and so I needed to make sure that it got replaced, but I couldn’t even talk about the gadget without finding out the name, so I got the bonus of a little learning.

Once upon a time, I was an LEM in Utah – and, there, an LEM (Licensed Eucharistic Minister) meant “chalice bearer”, and that’s ALL it meant. All of the work of preparing the Eucharistic host and blood was done by the priest and the deacons; my job was just to follow the priest around and give the chalice to those taking communion.

In Bozeman, the job description broadened a little, but only in terms of where I stood while the Eucharist was being prepared, and bowing when the priest bowed and suchlike.

But here in Whitefish, we don’t have any deacons, so my role is greatly expanded. Some days I’m just the chalice bearer, and some days I’m “server”, which means that it’s my job to work with the priest in preparing the Eucharist. Also, since we don’t have deacons, I’ll also be carrying the cross or the gospel, and/or lighting and extinguishing the candles.

And, lastly – since we don’t have deacons – I get to be the Eucharistic Visitor, and take communion to the homebound in Whitefish and Columbia Falls.

Some days, I wind up doing pretty much all of the above 🙂

I very much like belonging to the Episcopal Church, and really enjoy and get much benefit from the service. But I suspect that part of that has to do with being involved in the whole deal; even when I’m just a pew potato, I’m aware of all that’s going on.

They say in AA that newcomers should wash the coffee cups after meetings – and that they should keep doing this until those coffee cups feel like their coffee cups. The act of participation brings ownership.

Well, I reckon I’ve got that feeling of ownership. But, some days, it almost wears me out 🙂 It’s a good thing that I’m retired, so that I can rest on Mondays!

 

 

 

In Park City and Purgatory, we had a lot of aspen.

Here in Whitefish, not so much – we’ve planted aspen here in the yard, but they’re still smallish, and one of the clumps may not be doing too well. But we do have tamaracks.

tamarack

 

The gold you see in this photo are tamaracks that are turning.

Tamarack, also known as Western Larch, are deciduous conifers – this means that you think that they are pine trees, but they aren’t. They have cones and needles, but the needles turn gold in the autumn, and then they fall off.

They are big fuzzy gold things 🙂

They have the same heart-warming effect on my psyche as the maples in Vermont or the oaks in Sedona; there’s this new color, and it’s beautiful, and it means that the season is changing.

There’s also a sense of urgency – of “better look quick before it’s gone”.

My whole life is getting more of that sense of urgency.

While retirement is not what I expected – and I have to admit that it was a mistake on my part – it’s still quite enjoyable (so far) and I am acutely aware of just how fast time is now passing. Unlike my previous life, which seemed to involve a lot of waiting even while I was fully occupied with the present, now there is no waiting.

I wake up in the morning and do my Eleventh Step, and I look at my Franklin Planner and I ask to be shown how to plan my day for Friday, October 18th – but the voice in my head sees the whole date, which includes the “2019”, and I am quickly reminded that I just do not have that many October 18ths in the pantry. I’ve almost certainly got several; I’m pretty sure that I’ll get more than Dad did (he died at 67) and since Uncle Harry passed at 81, I’m willing to believe I might make it that far – but that just ain’t that many October 18ths.

That’s 20 more October 18ths. 20 years ago, right now, I was already living in Summit Park, in Park City – and that seems like just the other day.

“I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments, as they pass….” — Counting Crows, “Long December”

Now it’s late afternoon on the current October 18th. I’ve been to two AA meetings, and I’ve done a good bit of dance practice with Ethel (and she’s downstairs, now, waiting for me to come and do some more). I’ve run a good many errands and chopped some firewood and stacked it. I’ve done the marketing and taken care of a good bit of our financial affairs. I had a possible workout on the schedule, but decided that since I’ve got two long hard days ahead of me, I’d pass on that.

But right now, I don’t feel like I got that much out of this October 18th. As the Sanskrit poem says, “… But today well lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

I ain’t living my todays well.

And I’d better fix that. In a hurry. With a sense of urgency. Because it’s passing and I’d better look quick before it’s gone.

…then I can learn the Thriller Dance.

thriller

At the Wave, they’re setting up for Halloween by organizing a “flash mob” Thriller thingie.

Ethel and I have come late to the party; apparently, they’ve already had quite a few practices. But better late than never – sometimes – so we went today for our first practice.

I have to admit, this is MUCH harder than I expected. I’ve always been a pretty good dancer, but learning moves choreographed exactly, and doing this in tight quarters with other people, is very, very difficult.

Ethel is better at this sort of thing, I reckon – she used to have to learn a new marching band routine every week.

So it’s hard to do – and, dadgummit, it was also tiring. Now, it may have had something to do with my having already done an hour long hard ride with two climbs, and a forty minute run with on-offs, and lifting – but still, how hard can it be?…the answer is “dang hard” 🙂

So now I’m doing home study, at http://www.thrilltheworld.com – they have the dance broken down into about 10 sections. I’m learning the counts –

“bootie bounce, bootie bounce,
swim, together, swim – jump! swim, together, swim – jump!”

If I actually learn it, then we’ll be doing this routine ten times, a week from tomorrow night, all over Whitefish.

I really, really need smarter hobbies 🙂

I just finished the Hyperion Cantos a little bit ago.

Hyperion_cover

It’s sort of difficult to say that anything is “best”; in any given category, “best” has so many variables that may have different weights at different times, even to the same person making the judgement.

But I’ll say that this book series is as good as it gets. There ain’t nothing better.

Like many things that are “best”, Hyperion just gets better every time I experience it. I think that’s a hallmark of “best” – familiarity does not breed contempt. “Age cannot wither, nor custom stale, her infinite variety…”

The Cantos is like the Grand Canyon – walking away from it, one tends to keep a respectful silence for a bit. Yes, there’s an underlying urge to just grab random folks and say “Read this! It’s fantastic!!” – but the fact is that the Cantos is probably not for everybody.

I’m not ready to jump into reading anything else right now. Most things would be a disappointment. I just want to sit for a while, and reflect.

 

This is Tuesday – a day I’m supposed to ride, and run, and do core, and then knock out a few easy laps.

I didn’t.

Didnt

(you don’t see the core – that I didn’t do – in this workout schedule, because I stopped putting in into Training Peaks. Just decided that I didn’t trust the TSS that it was assigning for the workouts).

I woke up at 2:30 – more precisely, Ethel woke me up at 2:30, to tell me that I was snoring. She’s supposed to do that. When I’m snoring, I need to put my CPAP on.

However, by the time I went to the bathroom, and then got my infernal contraption going, I was fully awake. I stayed awake until 6:30, when I then got some fitful sleep, hitting 15-20 minutes of naps for two and a half hours.

Then I did my ride; I’ve been doing reduced volume for my VO2Max and Sweet Spot rides, taking them from 1 hour and 65-70 TSS efforts down to 45 minutes and 45-50 TSS. This week I was going back to an hour on both.

After the hour, I didn’t have time to get my run in before leaving for a noon meeting in Kalispell, and then I had to go to Costco. By the time I got home, I had no gumption to do the run and core.

So I didn’t.

Now, full disclosure – I pray about this stuff. I don’t just do or don’t do – I keep asking for knowledge of His Will and the power to carry it out. Today, what I got was “don’t do that”. So I didn’t.

I was also moving my run from 30 minutes to 40; but instead, today it went to 0 minutes.

Now, it would be nice to report that having reduced volume today has left me with a spring in my step and a song in my heart; with extra energy left over. Sadly, I can’t say that’s the case.

Tomorrow I have another swim. (sigh). I hope it goes better than yesterday’s swim. But, at least, I hope it goes.

Because today didn’t.

Sometimes, I have a swim workout that makes me go “Wow – that was fast, and smooth, and easy!”

wavelap

Sometimes, it’s like “That was a good workout.” Sometimes it’s more “Well, at least I finished”. And sometimes, it’s just “well, at least I spent an hour an a half in cold water building character”.

Today’s workout had me questioning my intrinsic worth as a human being.

I had an interesting weekend, which left me happy but strangely tired; I extended my ride on Saturday by a half hour, and my run on Sunday by fifteen minutes, but I just don’t think that those efforts should have left me tired.

Today I got up and went to a morning meeting, and came home – and got on the couch. I’m currently in The Rise of Endymion, and that’s about as good as books get; I didn’t have any reading time over the weekend, and I reckon I wanted to catch up. But I soon found myself napping.

I got up and went to a noon meeting, but I spent the whole time dreading going to the pool; after the meeting, the dread kicked up a notch, and when I finally got to the pool, I didn’t want to be there.

It took me three sets to finish my warmup. I knew I was in trouble.

I did finish the workout, and I averaged the same speed as last week, but it just felt awful.

I didn’t want to do the workout; I’m not sure why I finished it. It might have been prayer; I did keep praying for His Will to be done, but it would have been okay if His Will had involved me getting in the hot tub and sitting the whole time.

I’m afraid that what kept me going was fear – fear of my own laziness. If so, that’s not a valid reason to do the workout; but it’s also not a valid reason to quit.

I’m not doing the things in retirement that I thought I was going to do, and I’m not getting into shape – in fact, I think I’m getting weaker and slower. And I’m not producing anything or earning any money.

So the only thing that kept me going today – I suspect – was my mortal fear of my own laziness. I should have asked to have that fear removed, but I think I forgot.

When one can only swim because of the fear of one’s own complete lack of worth otherwise – and when the only thing being produced by that fear is empty, meaningless laps in a meaningless swim workout in which a back-of-the-pack triathlete just barely avoids not getting slower than last week – it really makes one question one’s intrinsic worth as a human being.

(You probably thought I was joking earlier 🙂

There’s not much left to add to the Dog House, now that the Table So Nice We Bought It Twice is in place:

IMG_20191011_141224

And I just got a call from the firewood guy – I’ve got a cord and a half of dark wood heading my way, so we can have all the fires we want 🙂

Tomorrow we’ve got a bunch of folks over to watch football (N.B. – if you’re reading this, you’re invited too 🙂 and now they’ll have a pool table to play – on? with? – during those periods when the game that is on doesn’t matter to them.

And, over there in the corner, we have Aphrodite, on a barstool, by my side 🙂

aphrodite

…which makes plenty of sense, since the Dog House is on “a hillside, in shadow, between the people, and the stars” 🙂

I’m sorry. Those lyrics have meant so much to me, for so long, I beg your forgiveness for my maudlin sentimentality. For a long time, the hillside in shadow was in Summit Park, in Park City, but Park City changed enough that we just didn’t fit anymore – and I thought that the hillside in shadow was gone forever.

But it isn’t. It’s right here, in unutterably gorgeous Whitefish.

And it has a pool table 🙂