12
Oct 15

In praise of Cheez-Its

I don’t eat these things. You could put boxes of them in our cabinets and I’d move them all out of the way on the off chance that there’s something else behind them that I’d actually like to enjoy.

Four miles into my run this weekend, some 61 miles into my day, I had a handful at an aid station.

crackers

And they were easily the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

We walked a few miles yesterday, just to move around. I remain a little stiff, but in good shape. Just completely tired. This will last another day or two. But I was thinking about those Cheez-Its when I saw that box in the cabinet this morning.

You eat a light, nutritious breakfast before a race if you can. You eat what you’re accustomed to, really. I had some toast and fruit and jelly and honey. You don’t have anything in the swim, obviously. Somewhere along the way in your training you realize that really the entire experience is about fuel and water. So you have to regularly keep yourself in good shape with both. So you drink a lot of water on the bike and you start eating there, too. There were two or three water stops on the cycling loop and I started eating Shot Bloks and various energy gels. I do those about every 45 minutes, meaning I had … quite a few. (Because I’m slow. Have I mentioned that?)

That goes on through the 56 mile ride and throughout the half marathon, as well. So by mile four I was tired of lukewarm water and gels and bloks. At the little tent at the four mile mark they had a giant bowl of Cheez-Its. Just for variety at that point, because I’m hours into this by then, I had the best cracker snack ever.

Reminded me of the Eddie Murphy bit: If you’re starving and someone throws you a cracker you’ll be like “That’s the best cracker I ever ate in my life! That ain’t no regular cracker was it? What was that a Saltine? That was delicious. That wasn’t no Saltine, that was a Ritz! That wasn’t a Ritz?”

Everything tastes like that after a big workout, though.


12
Oct 15

We did a half Ironman this weekend

In Macon, Georgia it rained. We’d traveled over Friday night, stayed in a hotel and woke up early to get rained on. That wouldn’t be a problem. There was to be a fair amount of swimming on Saturday. Then there was lightning and big shuddering clumps of thunder. It rained and rained, everything was cold and wet and the lightning stayed around long enough to drive away the darkness.

For a time it seemed there would be no race. I talked to the race director who spelled out his options. The best option was that we’d have the full race. The longer the storm hovered over us, the less of the race we’d have. And it all came down to the formal start time. So I went back to the car and shivered from the cold rain and waited. I shivered and waited long enough that I started to hope the storm canceled the swim. The swim is my weakest segment of the triathlon. The rest of them aren’t particularly strong, mind you.

The storm pushed on through. And the race started just a few minutes late, which seemed an impressive feat while standing on the beach. Nothing else seemed impressive at the moment, though. I didn’t have enough time to finish my setup in transition, I was tripping over myself trying to put my wetsuit on while hustling down to the beach. I hadn’t had enough time to fill up the water bottles for my bike. It was a bad way to start.

But then the race itself started. It was a wave start. You go in with others in your age group. My age group launched second, so I didn’t have to wait around and get more anxious about it at least. I spent my time trying to count the buoys, make sure the wetsuit was fitting right and was in the water before I knew it.

There are two things about the swim everyone must consider. First, the cliche is that the race isn’t won in the swim, but it can be lost there. Well. I am no danger to the guys who were going to win the race. The second thing is that you have to try to not get your heart rate too elevated in the swim. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Well, a half marathon, but that’s a few hours away.

I’m swimming about 3,000 yards per workout in the pool right now. So I know I can cover the distance, which is 2,100 yards, or 1.2 miles. I know from experience that the first 300 yards of my swim are the worst. It takes that long to get my arms warmed up. I just wanted to keep my group in site for that long. I was pleased when my arms came around early in the swim and I was still surrounded by swim caps. And then I managed to hang on to the back of the pack throughout the rest of the swim, despite getting completely turned around in the lake twice. And by completely, I mean, facing the wrong direction.

Out of the water, off the beach, up the hill and into transition. I finished my prep, because I missed out early in the rainy setup period. Ran my bike over to the nearest barely-working water fountain and then started pedaling out of Macon’s Sandy Beach Park.

road

For 56 miles I pedaled. The course was described in such a way that led you to believe it was moderately flat. It was a little more hilly than that. More problematic was that the hills are a different kind of climb than what we’re accustomed to at home. That probably makes more sense if you spend a lot of time struggling to get up a hill. But it was a nice course; the roads were quiet, the route was pretty. The only real civilization was Roberta, a town of about 1,000 people, that served as the turnaround point.

I had to stop a few times, once for an apparel problem, once to refill water bottles and so on, and I was rather disappointed in my overall ride. I blame the hills. Around mile 53 I was ready to be done. Around mile 40 was when I let out my first harsh exclamation of the day. We drove the course the night before and I predicted when that would happen and I was right.

Before that I saw the cool Georgia Post building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

I also saw a really great old store sign that I wanted to go back and snap a picture. I didn’t stop on my ride, though, and we didn’t go back. This was about 17 miles into the course:

Which brings us to the run. After swimming 1.2 miles and riding 56 miles up and down the hills of central Georgia, I had to run 13.1 miles through the shadeless subdivisions of a few neighborhoods.

Remember, I said at mile 53 I was done? I found I was done again after the first mile of the run. And then at the fourth mile. This problem recurred pretty much on cue between miles eight through 12. But I got that emotional, finisher’s bit of steam after that.

triathlon

I finished within four minutes of my worst-case scenario time. (Which was very slow, because I am quite slow.) We got our pictures taken at the finish line and, what do you know, we got the car loaded up just as another round of rain came through.

Saturday, we conquered 70.3.

I do not know what is happening.


09
Oct 15

Proof: Usain Bolt is slow

I saw this truck on the road today. Honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me. But you wonder how many times the truck drivers were flagged down by other drivers and authorities and what not before painting this on the back.

peanuts

Of course venting is a relative term. How much is enough? At what point should we once again be alarmed? And what does it mean if it isn’t venting? Should I be concerned about that? How far back is safe enough to protect the car’s paint? Is this going to obscure my vision? Are there venting warnings on the other three sides of the tank? A venting tank could be a distraction to other motorists, which endanger us all. And then what happens —

Some red lights are red too long.

Work hard. No weakness. Run fast. This guy is the best:

So now we have our weekend motivation.


08
Oct 15

Somehow I made this all about cameras

The park, the crack of the bat, umps making bad calls, managers doing their best to make the umpires look good. (Seriously, you don’t make the last out at third.) Ahh, baseball. It is a communal sport to me at this point. I’ve long since stopped watching it on television. I don’t follow standings or stats or side stories of any league at any level. But I will go to the park to watch a game. And I’m always pleased to do it if there are people around I know a little bit.

Mostly, though, I go for the peanuts. Peanuts are usually a springtime food for me. But I had a few today, and that seemed like something to take a picture with.

peanuts

This is the other side of having a camera in your phone. It sometimes creates the opportunity for an uninspired pic. I would have never brought my Canon to my eye, let alone changed the aperture or adjusted the shutter speed for that snapshot. But, it allowed me to get a few sentences on sport and legumes, so there’s that.

Here’s the podcast I recorded yesterday. This is with one of my students, and the features editor of the Crimson. He’s my first student guest on this program. Hopefully the first of many. Jimmy did a great job and this episode shows how easy it could be for others interested in such a conversation. If you like movies, you’ll find this a very interesting chat. And, he said, his mother was proud to hear it. Hi, Jimmy’s mom! Check it out.

It occurs to me now that I should have pulled out the phone to take a picture of him in action. I bet his mom would have liked that even more. Except the background would have been pretty flat. So I could dress up the room. At which point I would be inclined to take that shot with my DSLR …

In a mostly-unrelated story, this is at least the third television outlet to give this a try:


It is in play at a Scandinavian station. It underwhelmed in an American news shop. But I’m sure it’ll be tried again. We already have the technology to do this sort of thing from our homes on the cheap. I’m shopping for green screens right now. Someone, in their den or an extra bedroom or basement, is going to resurrect the phrase “When news breaks, we fix it!”

It’ll be all downhill from there.


07
Oct 15

The perfect cuisine idea

Over the weekend we met friends for brunch. I had the chicken and waffle. It looks pretty good, don’t you think?

chicken

I remember when I was young and was introduced to the concept of breakfast-for-dinner, an altogether too rare event. But that’s a different complaint. The thing I’m wondering about today is ‘Why isn’t brunch a meal we have at other times of day?’

I’m creating a petition.

Today there was class. And I did a podcast. I shot some video.

I got in an casual 1,300 yards in the pool. I feel like I’m at a pretty good spot in the pool just now. Then I took a deep breath and jogged out an easy two miles on the indoor track.

That last paragraph reads a lot more awesome than it really is. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am fairly slow.

After all of that there was a critique meeting. Wednesday nights never stop impressing me. Here are a group of people who were in the newsroom into the wee hours this morning and they are spending their free time looking at work they’ve already done in the hopes of doing it even better the next time around.

You have to respect that. I just wish I knew more jokes to entertain them with as it was going on. They deserve the respect and good humor.