Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! Loved the prose, the language, just as much as the story. I wish I'd read it long ago but then again I probably wouldn't have been able to appreciate it as much as I did. So many interesting themes in this book and lots of references to historical places and people. I"m adding "The Three Muskateers" to my list. Just like the Count, this Dumas guy is excellent.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just listening to the radio yesterday. I heard this

a letter from a 14 year old...

"...called herself ugly and I'd have to come in and tell her she's not ugly, she's beautiful. A beautiful woman. And sometimes she'd cry and I'd have to cry with her..."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bah Humbug

Maybe I'm just being selfish but I'm really not into this whole Christmas thing. It's really just a reason to spend crazy money on stuff people don't really need. I just want to go sit somewhere and read a few good books.

Anywho... I love reading articles or blogs and then the comments people make, down at the bottom, usually. The comments can really be insightful and FUNNY. Let you know what people are really thinking. Or what certain types of people are really thinking. I mean the general population is probably not reading gawker. Here's one which you may not get unless you read the blog entry or article or whatever it is, first...

"Dating is not the same as choosing to marry and procreate and then being like "heeeey, this dude explodes into rooms, I need to destroy all my commitments to be with him!"

by someone named kimsama commenting on this

I thought that was hilarious. But maybe because I started at the beginning and read the whole thing.

Merry Christmas! :-I

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The American Dream

“The American dream radically differs from the call of Jesus and the essence of the Gospel,” he argues. The American dream emphasizes self-development and personal growth. Our own abilities are our greatest assets.

But the Gospel rejects the focus on self: “God actually delights in exalting our inability.” The American dream emphasizes upward mobility, but “success in the kingdom of God involves moving down, not up.”

Excerpt from the book "“Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.” by David Platt

Discussed in this article by David Brooks.

Do we understand even the simplest thing about Jesus?????

Monday, September 13, 2010


Darkness may fall, murmuring softly
Or crash like a bolt from the blue
But I'm living in grace
If night finds me in a place
Where I'm still loving life
And loving you.

My dreams of the morning may shatter
My best plans of noon may fall through
Still frustration never binds me
If every evening finds me
Still loving life and loving you.
Maya Angelou, 1995


I love this poem! I've had it in my collection for a few years and have been unable to determine much about it. I believe it's from the CD(album) Cover of the Quincy Jones CD "Q's Jook Joint" but I have not confirmed this. I can't find that it's been published anywhere else.

Timberman 2010

Timberman(Gilford, Tilton, Laconia??? New Hampshire) was my fifth Half Iron distance race. I’d done Eagleman twice and Kinetic twice with what I consider disappointing results. In fact, if you search the Eagleman 2010 results, you won’t see my name. I exceeded the swim cut-off time and was Disqualified(DQ). I didn’t know about the DQ until after I’d completed the entire course. I think I ended up five minutes faster than the debacle at Eagleman in 2008. And things had only gone marginally better at my Kinetic races. Those are stories for another day. The common denominator at all those races was that I had basically no ability to run after the ride. But, I’d also forgotten why I thought I could do HIM(and IM) with any sort of personal satisfaction while still having fun.

So with two months between Eman and Tman, I hired a coach(Denise Wood - All that futility at previous races was actually not totally a bad thing. It all got me to the point of understanding that I needed help and to the point of actually listening to that help.

I bet I have 5 pair of swim goggles in my car. So at the Tman expo, after a practice swim in Lake Winnipasaukee, I bought another pair. Standing at the start in my wetsuit, 10 minutes before the start I had both pair of goggles in my hand. I want to wear the new ones but *nothing new on race day* is a rule of triathlon racing. Five minutes before my wave goes off I decide on the new ones. So I tuck the old ones into my wetsuit, position myself to the outside rear of my swim wave and off we go. Swim was pretty uneventful, lots of zigzagging and there was some chop and big rolling waves on the leg farthest from shore. If I hadn’t had bay swimming experience that might have been somewhat (more) unnerving. Lake Winnipesaukee is really clean and clear and tastes good. A great place to swim. No problems with the new goggles but somewhere I lost my spare(older) pair. :-( They served me well! Swim time: 46:55. Slow but well under the swim cutoff time. The wetsuit strippers probably saved me at least a minute.

I’m always elated to be running out of the water, even if 5 later waves have passed me in the water. The thinking goes, I was expecting to die and I made it, so everything after this is a bonus. No different here but I don’t think I felt that good coming out of the water at any previous race. Coach Denise had basically been drilling it into my head, since our very first meeting, that I needed to fuel consistently on the bike to be able to have any chance of running strong later. The other major part of the plan was to ride conservatively. Don’t forget there’s a 13 mile run after the bike ride. Save something for that. After I got about half way, riding along, sipping “Sustained Energy”, singing a song and eating pretzels I started thinking, even though I’m being conservative I could still ride under 3 hours. It Started raining pretty heavily as I approached T2. Not quite under 3 hours but still well under the 3:10 I’d planning and feeling really good. Loved this bike course. It’s challenging with hills in the first and last 10 miles but relatively flat in the middle. It can potentially be ridden very fast. Lots of great support out on the bike course. Even the devil was there. Just like at the Tour. Still not quite sure why she was looking directly at me both times I passed her. I did see a couple of big packs go by me. That’s one way to ride it fast.

OK, raining pretty hard in T2, everythings wet but I’m feeling pretty good. This is what I’ve been waiting for. This is what triathlon is all about, in my mind. Who can run after swim and bike. How well can you run after swim and bike? How well can I run after swim and bike? And the answer without further delay is... quite well indeed! Long training runs had been to run the first half around 9 minute miles and then decrease from there down to around 8:20, 8:15. The race turned out similar. First 8 miles were between 8:58 and 8:42 and decreasing to a last mile of 8:03. I know those are not fast numbers for some of you but they’re pretty much exactly where I(we) had planned to be. And I felt great all the way. Have I repeated that enough? The two loop run course had a few hills but I loved being able to see and encourage other members of team Timberman. Maybe I’m getting use to this distance because the out and back didn’t seem anywhere near as long as the out and back at Kinetic. And definitely not the DNF inducer of Eagleman. Maybe that it didn’t seem so far is testament to how well my nutrition went and my state of mind because of it. Maybe it was the fact that it wasn’t 100 degrees and high humidity. Maybe it was my training and fitness level but this was the first time I’ve felt like I was actually racing in my short career in triathlon. I did carry a bottle of the same nutrition I use on the bike, through the first run loop. This allowed me to bypass all of the aid stations. But by the end of that first loop, I just couldn’t stand that stuff any more so I just took in water on the second loop. The run course was pretty crowded the whole way. Lots of relatively happy people. Unlike Kinetic and especially Eman. Run 1:55

Great Race!, Great Venue, Great people! As always I’m happy to be able to participate, much less meet a few of my goals. I can’t say enough good about Denise and Red Hammer Racing. I thought I’d hate having structured workouts. But I really enjoyed it. Thanks Denise! The whole experience was fun. The race AND the training. Also, thanks to Team Timberman. I love doing these races with a large group. Y’all are so awesome.

Also, cant forget my peeps, Krystal, Madia and my mom. Thanks for putting up with rain, heat and days worth of my slow driving and neurotic behavior.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Alleghany Gran Fondo

When I first heard about this event, I thought, hmmm, that’s a weird name. Alleghany Gran Fondo. I knew what Alleghany meant but who the heck is Fondo? Over the next few months I called it everything from Gran Frodo, Frito, Tito. The website said there were 88(gran fondo), 62 (medio fondo) and 30(piccolo fondo) mile options. The first two clearly delineated as *MOUNTAINOUS*. I figured I’d do the 62 miler as part of my preparation for The Timberman Half in August.

The ride was situated in and around two small towns in Alleghany county VA, Clifton Forge (start) and Covington (finish). This area is known as the Alleghany Highlands and is located at the opposite end of the Virginia section of I64 bordering West Virginia. Four and a half hours from Virginia Beach. Not as far as Mountains of Misery or Blood Sweat and Gears. The plan was to drive out on Friday night, do the ride on Saturday morning, and then return home Saturday afternoon so as to be ready and able to run long on Sunday morning. Also, a part of the plan was to park at the finish, the morning of the race and bike over to the start. A distance of 12 miles. There was some other vague option where you could stage your bike near the start and then, the morning of the ride, park at the finish and ride a shuttle bus to the start. I was never quite clear on how all that was supposed to work. Our plan changed slightly on ride morning. Since our hotel was between the start and the finish we’d leave the cars at the hotel, bike the 9 miles to the start, do the ride and then bike the 3 miles back to the cars, after the race. No problem right? Wrong! On the ride to the start our little group(Kevin Burns, Steve and Missy Patterson and myself) took a wrong turn somewhere and found ourselves climbing the steepest hill of the day, which went on for about 1/3 of a mile. As soon as we got to the top we realized our mistake and turned around. Point being that we’d already ridden 11 miles when we got to the start. Nice little warm up, if anybody needed that.

After a few delays, with the organizers giving instructions and a few thanks we were all headed down main street, as all 3 fondos started together and split off at various points. I have to admit that at the start I was a bit concerned about how well the course was marked. Didn’t want to end up doing the 88 miler. I hadn’t prepared mentally for that. The first few miles I was in with a little group, trying to decide if I wanted to paceline it or just do all the work myself. One guy was talking the whole time, to noone in particular he was giving directions, nice but seemed strange at the time. At about mile 15 we encounter our first big climb which goes on for about 3 or 4 miles and got pretty steep in some places. I rolled over this cat 3 climb pretty easily and started thinking that maybe I’ve been wasting my time with all this swimming and running. Maybe my real talent is in climbing... Of course climbing means descending and there was a really fun and long downhill after this climb that seemed to carry us all the way to a very nice little aid station at about mile 28. The downhill also came to a point where the 88 miler split off from the 62 miler and if you were not paying close attention it was easy to make the wrong turn. Leaving the aid station I got in with another group and we rolled on until around mile 33 where the road starts going unrelentingly uphill. Sure enough this is the start of the cat 1 climb. I was pretty confident, planning to just keep moving all the way to the top. Things were going well until at about 35 the road gets very bumpy... that’s what I initially thought, I realize quickly that it’s not the road it’s a flat rear tire. I jump off and fix the tire quickly as a few folks pass by offering assistance. None needed and after maybe 5 minutes it’s back to climbing. I pass almost everyone who passed me while I was fixing the flat and then it’s just me and the road uphill, which seems to go on forever. Every switchback has me thinking the top is right around the bend, only to discover that it just keeps going up and up. Speedometer says I’m moving at between 4 and 6 mph, quads are screaming, lungs are screaming, back is hurting... so much for having a talent for climbing. At some point I’m walking, pushing the bike uphill. Yes I admit it. Not riding the bike, pushing the bike, uphill... in bike shoes. Try it sometime, it’s not easy. At one point I was pushing the bike looking down at the road, I look up and a bear, a large bear runs across the road and down into the woods in front of me... As I see this, I look to my right and see what looks like a fox(or was that a mountain lion?) also run down into the woods. I’m sure there is some cosmic significance to this which is so far completely lost on me. I finally made it to the top and I’m not ashamed to say that I walked part of it. I also note that noone passed me while I was walking. :-)

As I look to start what is sure to be a fast descent, I notice that my back tire is low again. To make a long story short I’ll just say that I decided to use the rest of the CO2 from the previous tire change to pump up the tire and see if I could make it in. So I press on trying to just be easy on the tire and not kill myself on the downhill. At about mile 50 I stop to check the tire and my right cleat breaks. So for the rest of the ride every time I start spinning hard my right foot slips off the pedal. A pretty miserable existence those last 12 miles. I guess I learned a couple of lessons from all this. 1) replace the tube a second(or third) time if you have to. If you run out of tubes or co2 somebody will give you one. This ride actually had a support vehicle. 2) carry a spare cleat. Especially during mountain rides in which you may do some walking.

Through it all I did enjoy this ride. The scenery was beautiful, people were very nice and friendly(mostly) and the ride was a good way to challenge myself. I really loved the long fast descents. That cat 1 climb rivals, and might be more difficult than the final MoMis climb. There was some sort of festival right near the finish and showers are available at the public pool, down the street. So it’s possible to relax a while before driving back home. Oh and I didn’t have to ride the 3 miles back from the finish to my car, I got a ride from the man in the Final Kick Jersey, Mike Borza. Still not sure if the bear and fox(??) were real or were just figments of my imagination.

Garmin data