Monday, February 26, 2007

Fyr on Ice

Wow, well we definitely got a storm this weekend. Something like 14" in my neck of the woods before it was all said and done. It started much later than they thought - late Saturday afternoon, around 4:30 in the afternoon - before then it was just some sputtering sleet and some meaningless snow now and then. When it finally hit, though, it hit for real.

In my experience, there's something about weather phenomena specifically that tends to bring out the neighbor in people. When I was in college I lived in Grand Forks, ND, when the entire city was evacuated because of a flood. I'd never seen people (before or since) - complete strangers - come together in the desperate days before the city was sunk, trying to save one another's houses. The college even cancelled classes so the students could be added to the force of volunteers doing the sandbagging efforts, and I can tell you that, among the people I know, not a single person looked at that as "time off", but instead just got to work. A snow storm is nothing like a flood, of course, but yesterday when I woke up my neighborhood was already buzzing. Our neighbor-boy (what a strange phrase, "neighbor-boy") Luke, who Amy tutors in reading twice or three times a week and who really is just a kind, gentle 10 year old who kind of gives you hope that all is not lost - was out with his Dad and younger brother already snow plowing our driveway (for which he earns a bit of spending money, and I appreciate both his entreprenurial spirit and that his Dad "oversees" Luke's efforts; a good thing for father and son, I think), and our neighbor across the street had attached a plow to his ATV and was cruising around the neighborhood digging out driveways. As the morning went on others dug out of their homes and with snowblowers or shovels in hand, got to work clearing out not just each others' driveways, but even our street, which was a mess before afternoon when the city plows finally showed up. All day (as I made several trips to Home Depot - I put in a new kitchen sink and faucet, thanks very much) - the city was flashing with plow sirens, back-up beeping noises, and people helping each other with stuck cars (myself and another guy helping two teenagers who plowed their front end into a snowbank having some reckless parking lot fun). It felt...I dunno. Like a community. And it doesn't, always. One thing about Minnesotans - we're sometimes pretty damn proud of ourselves for living in a climate of extremes. All morning on Saturday, before the storm hit, I overheard countless cell phone conversations about "the biggest storm in 10 years" and "coming any time" and "supposed to be really bad - we're at Target buying some water and snacks" blah blah blah. We like to talk about how big and bad things can be living here sometimes. But then, just as much, I guess we enjoy the challenge of putting it back together. We don't tend to wait for somebody to organize the efforts, or the city resources to step in and get it done - we just start doing. Pick up a shovel and give me that guy a hand. It's nice.

Anyway, I digress - I had no real intention of sharing a storm story with you. What I DID want to tell you about was my amazing ride on Saturday, just as the storm was hitting. I went out about 2:30pm, and with the snow and rain we'd had the roads were slushy and messy, but not icy. I avoided idiot winter drivers and headed to some trails at a nature reserve/park about a mile from my house. The whole storm was really windy, but protected by woods as I was, and with temps in the low 30's, it was just about perfect. I had a two hour ride on the agenda, but decided to throw out "fitness" and just ride for the fun of it - and man, it was fun. The snow got increasingly heavy as I was out there, and by the time I finished, around 4:30, I was in the middle of a bonafied snowstorm. But this was one of those rare experiences in life where a person feels a little awestruck. It was so amazing, so beautiful - peaceful and calm, snow gently falling. A creek running by the trail, dotted with ducks who, once in awhile uncomfortable with your proximity, would bound out of the creek, pounding the air with their wings, sudden and magnificent. A train even came by over the bridge I rode under. There was just enough snow to make for some creative riding, but not enough to make it too cumbersome or difficult. Cold enough to make my Gatorade slushy, but not frozen. I just had a blast.

And I was thinking out there - normal people right now are at the grocery store stocking up, or heading home to get off the roads, or sitting comfy in front of their televisions. I, instead, am out here on my bike, in the beginnings of a snowstorm. And were I not, I'd be missing out on this amazing thing. These gentle ducks, this peace and quiet, this meandering stream - all of which is made more by the snow that continues to fall right here, right now. I don't meant to get all gooey here, but it's like how sometimes riding in a thunderstorm, or running in the rain, creates some of the coolest and most memorable experiences. Experiences which transcend triathlon or fitness or training, and become singular. And had a person stayed warm and dry, like most of the world, he would never have had the experience. I wonder sometimes if we, our society, or civilization, are missing some of that nowadays. The reward of engaging with nature on its terms. Seems we're always diverting it, or hiding from it, or escaping it. I know you know what I mean, even if I'm not expressing it well here - you know what it's like to choose to be out in the rain, and you know how exhilarating it can be. That guy in that cubicle over there, he hasn't been out in the rain by choice since he was a kid. And therein lies the difference. "Normal" people certainly aren't worse in any way, they just don't make these kinds of choices. And I think in that they are missing something profound, and even made of magic.

When I finally finished and loaded up my bike, throwing my truck back into 4WD and headed out of the park, it was like entering a totally other world. The roads were a brown and mushy mess, cars sliding around everwhere, wind blowing the snow horizontal. It was kind of a letdown. Like coming back to the real world or something.

So yeah. I felt like a kid. And it was awesome.

I brought my camera, actually, and shot a lot of pics and some video, too. I'm swamped this week at work, but I'll see if I can get that video posted soon so you can share the experience a little more tangibly. It was one worth sharing.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I've had a very decent week of training - my first week of triathlon training for the season. I've been in the pool twice this week - and again tomorrow - and while I'm slow as hell my technique hasn't gone out the window too terribly, so I'm happy about that. Tuesday I was out for an inaugural ride on Fyr - about 17 miles with that typical nasty Minnesota headwind, only this time it was coming from the south, when it usually comes from the north. Anyway, I cannot tell you how great it felt to be back on a bike. Any bike. The bike especially does something for my soul. I love being out there, and am glad that the weather's been decent enough this week where I was able to enjoy the ride (in fact, yesterday after my swim I ran in shorts! Crazy!). I'm due for 2 hours on the bike on Sunday, but we're apparently destined for some kind of impressive storm, so we'll see. I think it would be pleasing to ride around in a storm. That would be dope.

Then today, I had a 12 mile run - moving my long runs now from the weekend to mid-week. Recap - just 11 days ago I had an 11 miler that was UG. LY. I finished with a 10:02 pace, but I had to work really, really hard for it, and walked twice - as a matter of survival, not of strategy. Today's 12 Miler? Awesome. I felt great all day, and finished with a sub-10:00 pace, at 9:53. I walked once to eat - strategy - and had no drama. And I stayed consistent all day, hovering right around a 10:00 pace, which is right where I wanted to be. Felt good to feel good. For the first time all season I felt like an athlete, and not some out-of-shape hack. Add to it that my nutrition is locking in, and just like that I'm feeling like I want to be feeling. Not that I don't have a long way to go, I'm just saying that at this early point in the season, life is good.

I'll keep you posted on the weekend - it's not supposed to be too cold, but windy, maybe rainy, and then probably snowy. Which might be a hella good time. Or, maybe not. We shall see.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Can you hear me now?

So. Today I began triathlon training, finally. Half Ironman distance, specifically. It means I shed one day a week of running, and have at least 2 disciplines a few other days. Long runs move to Thursdays, long bike on Sunday. 'Bout time - I was starting to feel like a runner out there, and a crappy one at that.

Anyhoo, returned to the pool today. The first time in the water since Ironman. Sheesh. And it showed. But here's something new - dude was there talking on his cellphone. No no, you aren't envisioning it. I mean, in the water. On his phone, in the water. Yup. Youngish dude, twenty-something. At first hanging on the side, and then water walking. With his phone. In the freaking pool.

Now, as you know, I'm an incredibly important person. I'm in very high demand, what with the little round basset hound pestering me all day for one thing or another and everybody's favorite yellow lab Jackie awaiting anxiously the slightest breath of adventure. I must get several emails an hour when I'm at work. An hour! Sometimes, when ichat is open, I have all kinds of colleagues needing my attention. Yes, the world does indeed revolve around me. Why, just today my wife called, "Babe?! Can you help me with something?!" and had I not been there to come to her rescue ("I bought a new rug at Target. It's in my car, can you get it?") well, I hate to consider how things may have gone. I shiver just thinking of it. Indeed the world has an axis and it is me.

And even I, in all of my importance, am clearly no more remarkable than Britney Spears' hairdresser (an easy gig, if you can get it!) in comparison to the twentysomethingish dude who had to talk on his phone while walking in a swimming pool. At a gym. This dude has some serious shit going on in his life. Like, National Security shit. Like, you me and the basset hound better thank Tom Cruise and his witchcraft that dude is here to take this call right now - "This is Galactica Actual. Fire on my mark, dammit!" - because had he not taken that call, had he shut the phone down or maybe considered taking the call in a few minutes just after being in the pool - well. All I can assume is that something of profound magnitude, for which the world at large was requiring of his assistance, forced him to his cellphone. While walking. In a pool. And I for one am indebted.

Because for you or me, it would have simply meant turning the thing off, or hearing it ring and letting it go to voicemail because now was swimming time, and phone time can come after swimming time. That's because we lack the importance which requires dude to be on call, all the time, cell phone in hand. No no, for dude it had to have gone something like - "Hello? What?!?! Sweet Josephine this is serious. Just a minute, I'm taking off my pants. What? No of course I don't want to hang up, I require the details. Yes. Yes. Tell the President we're moving to Defon 1. Tell Picard we need more power. Mmm hmm, yes. No, right now I'm naked among other naked men, many of them not terribly handsome, none as important as me. Yes. Yes. Ouch! What? No, sorry, I tripped. Yes, still in the locker room. Tell Neo that we think there's been a breach. I've put on my swimming suit though now, so I'm prepared to continue this conversation as we must. Right. Leaving the locker room now, heading to the pool. No. Can we conference the Prime Minister in? Do it now, dammit, don't you understand time is of the essence?!? Yes. Ooooh! Sorry, no, startled. Water's a bit chilly! (away from phone - Hey! Watch the splashing dammit can't you see I'm on the damn phone!?!) Sorry, okay, go ahead. No we can't talk after I'm done swimming! Alert Lord Vader that the plans to the Death Star have been stolen and that his son may or may not have made out with his daughter if given the opportunity. This instant! This needs to happen NOW! NOW I tell you! Find out if it's the green wire or the red wire. Do you hear ticking? Do you feel anything? Dammit I can't do your job for you! No I'm water walking. Right, good exercise. My grandmother taught me how. Yes. Okay, I'll walk you through it, but whatever you do don't. fall. asleep."

Something like that.

Thank you twentysomethingish dude. For thwarting the invasion, or stopping the oil spill, or maneuvering us away from the explosion, or helping Kiefer Sutherland or helping that chick on that medical drama that everybody watches or saving Kate and Sawyer or whatever thing it was that made all the difference between then, and now. On your cell phone. In a pool. Next to me. In a pool. On your cell phone. On behalf of all of us, thank you.

Either A., I'm becoming this curmudgeony old man who no longer sees the irony in anything at all, who lacks complete amusement and lives in poor humor and who simply cannot keep up with the latest in anything and resents careless youth (ah, the days when one could talk carefree on his cell phone whilst in a public swimming pool), or B., the world is going to hell in a handkerchief. At least I'll be in the next lane to watch the show.

Friday, February 16, 2007

On Fyr

Everybody, this is Fyr. Fyr, this is everybody.

Fyr is a Specialized Rockhopper. In the picture Fyr has disc brakes - my Fyr does not, he has V-brakes. Otherwise, pretty much the same bike. It's a hardtail - which means no suspension in the rear - with Rockshox suspension in the front fork that I can also "turn off" so that it's a stiffer fork, for road riding, for instance.

I didn't know what any of that meant a week ago, but I've since learned. Cuz that's the kind of guy I am.

I haven't heard Fyr speak yet, if he does speak, so he has no words of his own just yet. In fact, I don't even know if the machine is a he. Could be he's a she. That would be interesting.

As you see, Fyr is bright red, pretty much the polar opposite color of Ol' Blue. I don't think I've owned much of anything that was bright red, in my whole life. Except my Chaser, when I was a kid. Though it was white, with red trim. It did have gaudy red handlebars, the Chaser. Which I spraypainted even gaudier redder. But I digress.

I wonder what this machine will be. I'm looking forward to it. When I have everything organized with it, I'll reintroduce you properly. Presently I have a 3 mile run to get to. And then perhaps an inaugural ride of Fyr.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Podfast : week of Feb. 18th

I think we all agreed that last week's race was a lot of fun, and for me at least some extra motivation to push it. Cool!

This week I have a 30 mile total distance goal charted - rather than a "race" about speed, I want to focus more on consistency and mileage for the next few weeks after the crappy last couple of weeks. If anybody's interested in joining in, head over to to discuss more about it. We also have a 12 mile total mileage challenge in the works if that's more your pace right now, and you are, as always, welcome to set up your own challenges, races, whatever. As always, more info and details over at transition3. See you there!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Brain Playlist: Shuffle

I sure had fun playing basketball this evening. Usually there are way too many people there, everybody signs their name on a list, and the next 5 on the list play the winners. Sometimes your team is 2, 3 teams down the list. You can seriously wait 45 minutes just to play, and if your team sucks, you're done in 10 minutes. Add to that that way too many people thing they're trying out for the friggin' Bulls, and nobody ever just misses a shot, or commits a turnover, it's always a foul. Anyway, tonight I got with a solid group of 3 guys and a girl, and we had the right mix of height, shooters, and ball handlers. Nobody tried to be Michael Jordan, people were friendly to one another, and we had a great time. Held court for 3 games before I had to leave. And I didn't play half bad. Nice.

15 years later and I still wear an aircast on my right ankle when I play ball. Maybe I'm just afraid to play without it. The way my ankle feels right now, though, I doubt it. I'm a wuss.

Do Germans say "Owie"? These two kids were running around when I was leaving the gym - very cute - and they fell down. The girl, very small, screeched "owie!" before the mom came over and said, "zich en un einbritsen!" or something like it. Huh.

I don't follow this sort of thing, except for what a person can't help but see in the papers (which I generally read online), and I think America's obsession with celebrity is the hallmark of a bored civilization, but - is Britney Spears trying to whore herself up as much as she can when she leaves the house? Or trailer-trash herself up on opposite days? It's like this girl has nobody around her saying, "Honey, you can't wear that." Doesn't this girl have a mother? I wonder if, when you reach a certain level of celebrity and thusly lose your damn mind, you either attract the wrong people or repel the right people so nobody around you is the kind of friend that can say, "Dude. You look like hell. I love you, but clean it up."

I'm thinking seriously of getting a low-budget mountain bike for some winter riding, so I don't have to do all my rides for the next 2 months on a trainer. Plus I'd like to mountain bike a little more, I think. It would be fun to learn a whole new sport, I think. I was in the shop today asking dude the most basic of questions, just trying to educate myself about the mountain bike. I think next year I'll update Ol' Blue with a new incarnation as well. I'll keep you posted on that. If anybody has any insights or advice, I'm interested.

I sure do love my job.

Amy and I are re-watching The Sopranos before the final episodes in April. We just started Season 4. You have to be kidding me with how good this show is. That and Deadwood. I don't think they've ever made such entertaining television.

I wonder if Floyd's guilty or not. And Tyler Hamilton. He's off suspension now, Tyler. He's with some tiny little pro team that may or may not get invited to some of the larger races, certainly not the Tour de France. You want to hope these guys are just getting a raw deal. And if so, how utterly, criminally sad. And if not, if they did dope up, well. How utterly and criminally sad.

My dog Jack rules. I know you know this. Never hurts to say it.


Wow, that was a tough, tough run. Eleven miles yesterday, and as I said earlier - I just haven't had the mileage in lately to make 11 miles easy. I averaged a 10:02 pace, and had to work really hard for it. The last mile was just a killer. And I stopped twice during the run to walk for a tenth of a mile and regroup. Add to that wearing spanking new shoes, and I fought a couple of blisters near the end as well. I felt pretty shot afterwards.

We also had our first Podfast race, and that really added a lot of fun for me. In fact, a few runners had run on Saturday, so I had some time goals to chase. And were it not for those, I wouldn't have pushed myself nearly as hard as I did. I'm not in position yet to chase time goals, but in a few weeks as my fitness improves, I think that'll really be a useful training motivator. As it is, I placed 3rd/4th in the 5-person field in a tie with Chip, who's doing IMFL this year. How crazy is that - a perfect tie in an 11 mile race? To the second? Crazy. I was shooting for 2nd place (Ben, who's apparently lightning, blazed in 1:19:12, though he thinks 1:25 might be more accuate with some technical difficulties...was no way in hell I was catching that!), but Txskatemom flew in under the radar during my run with a strong 1:47:48.

Anyway, I think the next two weeks, maybe three, I'll not think about speed and focus more on the distance I have each week. This week again is STILL supposed to be cold as hell - seriously, it's like in Narnia, where we've been cursed with winter forever - but next week we have highs in the mid-30's. Heatwave, baby!

It's also my last week in runner's world - starting next Monday I'm officially in Half Ironman training. I'm excited for the return of the triathlete!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Once, and Still

We're in day...geez, I dunno, feels like one hundred or so, of cold incarceration here. I cannot believe how cold it is. It's been silly, dangerous cold for going on 10 day or something, and we won't break into the teens until this weekend. Allegedly. So cold that this morning when I let the dogs out, through our back sunroom, which is uninsulated and if the fireplace isn't on is pretty damn cold, I smelled the pungent aroma of red wine. Some bottles on a rack in there had frozen and pushed their corks out and left this weird slushy, winey glob on the carpet. So that's good times.

I have to admit - this cold has totally derailed my training. I've just not been willing to go out there, and I'm not the kind of guy who looks for excuses or is unafraid to face some discomfort. It's, like, dangerous out there. So that leaves the treadmill, and seriously. The treadmill sucks all the fun right out of the game. But, what do you do? So today I had 6 miles on tap, but hell if I'm running in place that long. So I ran 3. I haven't had the mileage I've been supposed to these last 2 weeks, and my base training is suffering for it. I'm 3 months away from my first triathlon of the year, and 3 months and change from my first marathon. This weekend I have an 11 miler, and I don't know how it'll go but I can tell you I'm pushing it just going 11 miles, and that it probably won't be pretty. I'm behind schedule, friends. Next week I begin to phase in triathlon training, rather than exclusively running.

I gotta tell you that the whole state of affairs has really depressed me a bit lately. I've felt untrue. Like a chump. One of those guys who has one sensible reason or another not to be out there, getting dirty. And I'm not that guy - seriously, I'm not - but if I have to say that out loud too much, then it's because somebody needs to hear it and I need some kind of affirmation. Which is bullshit in my book. If your actions can't speak for themselves, well then you're just another one of those who talk a lot but don't bring it on game day. I don't want to be that guy. It's been hard feeling like this, all cooped up and falling further behind and all due to the cold. Other people have been putting in their time on the treadmill, I think. Why aren't I?

Then tonight, somebody commented on one of my Becoming Ironman videos on YouTube, a guy training for IMFL '07. It was thoughtful and nice, about how much he enjoyed the series, which I think is great, and kind of him to say so. And while I was there, checking his comment, on a whim I hit the link for the first part of the run. I watched as we ran through puddles, as my friends and family huddled together under umbrellas and blankets waiting for me, as I ran past and hugged them. Amy came in and we both just sat and watched for a moment, the way you look at pictures of a good vacation. You're not watching yourself, you're just re-engaged, for the moment, in the experience you had. It was like that. It all kind of came back, in whatever way it does. I said to Amy, "That was a good day." "A cold day!" she laughed. "Look at us!" And then we sat quiet a few more moments and just watched, each in our own memories of it. Finally she said, "G'night babe" and headed upstairs.

And just then I thought - you know, s'okay. Just enjoy the ride - isn't that what I said? So I'm a bit behind where I'd like to be just now. It's okay, it'll come around. I don't need to prove things to myself for the sake of having something proven. I don't always need to be Sysephus. I know what I know now. I'll always expect more of myself than is probably rational, and I'll never be complacent. I'm just not wired for "good enough". But that doesn't mean I can't do a better job of accepting some things that, in the grand scheme, won't matter come July, nevermind the rest of my days. I hate the treadmill. I'd rather not run sometimes than be on one. So why subject myself to things I don't enjoy? S'okay. I'm not getting paid to do this. There are more important things, believe it or not, than if I get my mileage in this week. Meanwhile I've been able to spend some evenings at home, get some important work done, and work on my Half Ironman training plan. Important things that are valuable to me, part of me. Things that also require attention and dedication. I'm bummed I've missed some workouts. But it ain't the end of the world.

It's the attitude I think I need to have this year. This isn't my year for 6 hour bike rides. To obsess over ever calorie, every mile, every watt, every second, every heart beat. That time will come again, and having the right attitude now will make that time more valuable, more useful, and better experienced. This is my aid station, as it were. It's okay if I walk through it, or at least slow down.

Important to say that this isn't my way of allowing myself some kind of laziness. It's not about that. I'll be out there braving the cold soon. I'll be back on the treadmill when it's practical. I'm still the same old me, sprinting the last hundred yards if I can. It's not about what I'm doing, it's about how I'm doing it. Joyfully. Like swimming at the Harmon Park Swimming Pool with my brother. Like racing down 9th street on my red and white Chaser. Like jogging with my Dad, when he was on a jogging kick for a summer and even borrowed my walkman to do it, or those perfect summer evenings when we'd toss the football around or play a game of HORSE. Or when I got old enough to join him on the church softball team. Why else play this game if we can't recapture the simple joy of playing. It's only a game, after all. It doesn't always need to be this scientific, elaborate, difficult thing I often make it. Not always this metaphor on personal growth and strength. Just a game. Easy breezy. I'll choose to enjoy just having the privilege to play.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Whoomp! There it is!

(The title alludes to the song back in the day by Tag Team, which alludes to the "Tag" that - ah nevermind.)

I guess the cool kids have all been passing around these survey thingies, and I was tagged by Steve S. So, in case you didn't know:

1. Describe a memory from your first triathlon ever.
Two things:
A. It was in an indoor pool, and there were these high school girls couting lengths for each swimmer so we didn't have to do it on our own. My high school girls informed me one length too late that I was finished. Thanks girls.

B. Afterwards, when I said to my friend Mike, "Well, I'm a triathlete now."

2. Describe a memory from your most recent triathlon.
Again, two things:
A. It's surreal to actually arrive at the day of Ironman, because it's been so elusive for so long. Anyway, that morning (after 2 hours of sleep) I went out to my car in the dark and cold, and Amy had put a card on my windshield (inside a zip-loc) that had a Fox on the front of it. Inside she said many things, among them, "I'm so proud of you. You are an amazing man & this is just one of your many accomplishments. You will finish strong, as you are so prepared. You honor your Dad, your grandparents & your family name. I am so happy for you today!" Tell me a better way to begin Becoming Ironman.

B. Actually, in November, when my grandpa was still wearing around the Ironman baseball cap I gave him.

3. What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you in a triathlon?
I don't know that I've done anything terribly embarrassing, but I've done silly and stupid things. Such as, in my very first triathlon ever (a Sprint, and short for that) I loaded up 4 cages - 2 on my frame and 2 behind my saddle - with Gatorade. I guess in case I got really thirsty in those 45 minutes. I also started out of T1 in that race in my 53, my biggest, hardest gear. Because I didn't know any better. Also this last year, at the same race (now my 3rd time), I forgot my race number belt, so my friends and I stopped at Wal-Mart and I bought some underwear with an elastic waistband and cut the underwear part off so I would just wear the elastic part with my number clipped to it. That's pretty funny when I stop to think about it. We were perusing the male undergarments section of Wal-Mart, me and my three friends, looking for the "perfect" pair with a thick enough waist band. Good times.

4. What’s the most thrilling thing that has ever happened to you in a triathlon?
Of course the finish chute at Ironman changed my world, but I'll share this instead: In a Half IM last summer, when I looked up in the middle of a pretty bad race and saw a fox staring me down, then escourting me briefly down the road. The first of several foxes I'd see during rides or races last summer, when I'd never seen a real fox before that in my life.

5. What is something that you discovered about yourself by doing triathlons?
I have a level of obsessive compulsion that might honestly qualify me for medication or something when it comes to this game. Also I've learned a great deal about patience and discipline that I've taken with me into the real world. Oh, and I've become a friggin' nutritionist. I bore my friends for hours at dinner parties with the evils of HFCS. A wonder I have any friends left.

6. What is “The Big Goal” that you are working towards?
Good question. Probably learning better to be not such a "big goal" kind of person with triathlon. Life is short. I want to just enjoy the ride.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Geek, Four Blue Polos, and An Elusive Cable

This story is almost appropro of nothing, but I'll tie it to my world of triathlon by saying that it was affecting my ability to charge up my Garmin GPS watch, my Nano, and my SwiMP3 player. Which could introduce an entire other conversation about me and my adherence to gadgetry, but we won't go there. If you have better things to do than read this post, I encourage you to go do them, as you will be no more improved by reading it.

So I have a million things hanging off of my Mac, from video cameras to watches to iPods to printers to scanners to audio stuff to backup drives, whatever. Lots and lots of stuff. And because the computer itself only has so many ports to plug all that stuff in, I had little knobs and adapters everywhere, attached to other knobs and adapters, so that some parts of my computer look like how Clark Griswald had all his Christmas lights plugged into the wall. Anyway, it was starting to affect how some of my things worked, so I took everything apart last night to try and reorganize.

Along the way, I decided that it would really help if I had some Firewire 800 cables. No matter what those are specifically, just a certain kind of cable. They aren't as common as other cables, but nor are they some kind of obscure technology that nobody's ever heard of.

So, I run to a certain store that houses many teenagers wearing blue polo shirts and khakis. Lest I offend anybody who works there, or has cousins who work there, or who own stock in the joint, let's change the name of the store to something like, oh. I dunno. Jest Guy. Jest Guy is a typically useless kind of store in my life, where they seem to employ people who don't know a damn thing, and when one is forced to seek them for assistance, the kind they offer involves reading the little pricetag thing in front of the product, same as I did before I was forced to seek assistance. I knew this going in, I've experienced it a thousand times, and it speaks to my inability to find Zen in the world that it still pisses me off.

So I'm standing directly in front of the cables section at Jest Guy and this polite young woman comes up to me and asks if I need any help. I don't want to bore anybody with geekiness here, but bear with me.

"Can I help you?"
"Firewire 800." I've found my humor drips out of me the longer I spend in the store, and so yes, I didn't even offer this young woman a simple hello. Not very nice, that. She says, "right here," and grabs a cable right in front of me.

For a moment I'm elated and a bit embarrassed to have missed something so directly in front of me, until I look at what she's holding.

"No, that's USB." To confuse USB and Firewire 800 is like going into a bike store and asking to look at their wheels, and they hand you a bunch of tires. To not know the difference, at a technology store, is friggin' absurd.

"Oh!" she giggles, then puts it away as she flits around the rest of the cables. Which are right in front of me. And which I have already been perusing. Again, this is their patented kind of help - let me tread the ground you already have, for I know nothing more than you. Sigh.

"You know what, let me ask somebody over here. It may be in home theatre."
"No, it won't be in home theatre." Firewire 800 has nothing to do with home theatre. Like how you won't find the aero bars in the mountain bike section.

She ignores that remark from me, which is appropriate for the tone I took, and I wait for awhile. I should have just left, because clearly they didn't have my Firewire 800 cable, and I should just move on with my life. But I don't.

Another lovely young woman approaches, she apparently In The Know, and says, "What are you looking for?"

"Firewire 800."

She cocks her head, confused. "Like, the series?"

I don't even understand what that means - the 800 represents how much data can transfer over the cable, and also its unique shape. I don't know what kind of "series" exist in the land of Firewire cables. It's like asking to see the Continental Road Tires and they asking, "like, the series?"

I cock my head in response and say, "What does that mean?"

She ignores me and - because clearly I must be incapable, as must have been the last blue polo shirt girl - begins perusing the wall o' cables like I just had. And she just had. Thank you for mowing the lawn after the two of us already have. Very helpful.

"You know, hold on one second." She leaves to seek reinforcement, and I have now spent 15 minutes that I'll never get back. It's okay, I have nobody to blame but myself. I knew going in the potential for fun.

Finally a third young woman approaches and she says, "Sir? Yeeeeah (this was said like that guy in Office Space). We don't have Firewire 800 cables in the store, but we can order them for you?"

Who orders things from stores anymore? If I wanted to wait 3 days, wouldn't I just go the hell online? I mean, I get that that's the appropriate response - sorry we can't help you in this way, but can I offer my help in that way - but that's just dumb. "No thanks," says I, "I'll just have a look around somewhere else."

So do I go running out of the store like I should? Of course not, because I'm a moron. Instead I lolligag around the computers and start to play with one with the new Microsoft operating system. Again, please do forgive me for geekiness. I intended just to spend a minute, maybe two, having a look. Then I'm approached by Nice Young Man in a blue polo.

"Can I help you with anything?"
"No thanks, I'm just having a look at Vista."
"Pretty cool, huh?"
I bite my tongue. "Sure is different for Microsoft."
"Nothing else you're looking for today?"
"No, you didn't have what I needed, so I'm just heading out." Why did I say that? Maybe I wanted him to know that I didn't have a truly useful experience here at Jest Guy, but what was the point of telling him that? It's like when the person at the checkout asks, "did you find everything today?" What are they really going to do if you say, "No. You guys suck."
"Oh, what were you looking for."
Crap. "Just Firewire 800 cables."
"Yeah. We don't carry those in the store. We can order them though."
"Right. So I've heard."
Then, "What do you need Firewire 800 for?" I suppose this is also an appropriate tactic. If he can assess my needs, maybe he can offer an alternative. And maybe for somebody less...geeky than me, that's just the thing. For me, it felt invasive, and a further waste of my time. What do you care what I need it for? So I can hang flower pots from my ceiling. I just do. He must see my annoyance and follows up, "You have a Mac?"
"Yeah." Let's leave it at that. Firewire 800 is more common on the Mac.
"You doing video?" I seriously want to Ninja kick this dude. What, you want the story of my life! The walls in my office are painted blue, too, is that relevant to you!? I was born in Colorado Springs, there what does that mean for you in it!? YOU STILL DON'T HAVE MY DAMN CABLE, so leave me alone! But instead I actually start telling him what I need it for. I actually start detailing that this peripheral is doing this, and that is doing that, so I thought I'd do this and move that over there and why the hell am I talking to you about this?????
"That's pretty cool," he finishes, and finally I just turn the hell around before subjecting myself to anything more in this department, head over to the DVDs and buy Donnie Brasco ("fuhgeddaboutit") and head to checkout.

And when the nice young woman says, "Did you find everything okay today?" I pause for only a moment before saying, "Yes I did."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Welcome to the Podfast!

Game on! We've got a group of about 6 of us that are going to start training together using the Nike+iPod system for our running. Should be lots of fun - we have an inaugural 11 mile race slated for next weekend (the 10th and 11th, for which I am so not in racing form yet...) that so far has 3 of us going head to head. The more the merrier - if you want in on the 11 mile race or any of the challenges we'll be doing together (including group distance goals, mileage goals, more long-term challenges, all kinds of stuff), then please join the Podfast. All are welcome, regardless of your speed or experience or distance or anything. A great way to have some fun and join a supportive group of athletes in training.

Here's how to join the Podfast:

• First, you'll need an iPod Nano, and the Nike+iPod kit. Check out for more details, if you need them.

• We'll be using the website as our homebase for the Podfast. Specifically, a special Podfast forum. The lowdown on Transition3 - it's a website that I set up last fall that I think is exciting, but haven't had the time to really get out there. S'okay, for now it'll be the perfect clubhouse for Podfast. Anyway, you just need to register by choosing a username and password. I own the site, so rest assured I won't do anything shady with your info.

• There's a whole lot of stuff you can do at T3, so feel free, but you'll want to hit the big blue "Podfast Training" button on the homepage, or hit the Forums link and find your way to the Podfast forum. You can also see the last several forum discussions on the homepage. That's where we're discussing all things Podfast, so make your way there and join in.

Easy breezy baby. I'm really looking forward to it - think it'll add a whole new flavor to my run-training. Please feel free to spread the word, even if you yourself maybe aren't training with the Nike+iPod system - this is the kind of thing that, the more people we have involved, the more it can be for everybody.

Now if I could only get my ass out the door today for 5 miles in this forsaken cold...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Heat Index

It is so cold outside.

Some days, it seems impossible that we'll ever again thaw out. And running in this. Ack. Stops being fun.

Until then, I'll keep hoping summertime isn't just a rumor.