Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Brother is a Weirdo

The day after Dad died we were just talking about random things in the afternoon. One of my sisters was in the room with Patrick and I. I randomly talked about how in Medieval times sometimes the bones of various Saints were stolen or saved and kept for luck or for some other weird reason. I am not really sure how common this was, it was just something I read I think. I stated that and then Patrick, my brother said, "Oh no, I don't like where you are going with this!" He sort of had a smirk on his face, but I didn't think what I was saying was totally weird.

I then said that I was just glad it was not the norm to carry around a finger bone of something of Dad's. Then he said something like, "Oh, I thought that your were going to talk about the place or the tribe where the sons eat part of their father."

I said, "what like the heart for strength or something?"

He said, "Um, no."

I took another guess at some other body part.

Then he gave me a weird look. And I knew what part it was. I was aghast.


He nodded his head that this was indeed the body part that the sons of the father ate.

"That is disgusting!" I said. "Why did you even bring that up?"

"You are the one that started it!" He claimed.

"Well, that is like saying that being shot by a rubber band warrants a nuclear response--that story was totally uncalled for. There is no way that my story about keeping a saint's knuckle bone is akin to eating Dad's junk. That is just wrong dude!"

He laughed and so did I for some sick reason. My sister kept quite the whole time and only shook her head.

Despite the crudeness of the conversation, I think that in our family and many others, tragedy is often best dealt with with humor, even sick humor.

Anyone need some glasses?

It seems that my Dad would buy reading glasses at the drop of a hat. We found at least a dozen of them laying around. Also, he had about 30 Lands End long sleeved t-shirts of various colors. The same style cotton shirt, just in different colors. We think it was so he didn't have to do laundry but once a month. There were also some very strange herbal remedies in bottles. I didn't want to mess with them so they all went into the trash. Obviously they didn't do much for him...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It is Over

My Dad passed on to a better place this evening. It was peaceful and all of his children, his sisters and my Mom all gathered around his bedside.

I don't feel like writing an obituary here though.

There is so much to do. He left us a lot of stuff to go through.

Update: We are all doing well. We started the process of transfering personal items and letting those that need to know that he has died. I ordered 8 death certificates, but I will probably need a few more. I have a long list of things to accomplish and I am sure there are more things to do than I am aware of.

Bridget and my boys arrive on Thursday, and I am excited to see them.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Morning Ride in the Inland Empire

What a great morning it was to go for a ride. I left at about 6:45 and it was about 68 degrees. The sky was clear since the smog had not yet moved in. The early morning sun was welcoming as I rode out of the sleepy town of Grand Terrace and out towards Redlands.

There were a few other riders out. I was going at a decent pace, but nothing that really pushed me hard. I stopped to make a saddle adjustment and I saw a couple of other guys a bit behind me. The lead rider was obviously a rider in great condition. The other rider...well, not so much. Mr. Fast was obviously doing some pro bono work with the underprivileged...wait, I mean under conditioned. Sort of like me but heftier by about 75 pounds. By the time I was done fixing the saddle they had just passed me and I decided to chase them down and see where they were heading.

They turned up a road called Mountain View that I was somewhat familiar with. I followed and passed the slower of the two riders. At the end of the road I turned left on an unfamiliar road named Beaumont. The rider ahead of me circled back to ride with the slower rider. I rode on just to see where this street would take me. The road ended at San Timoteo Canyon Road. I paused. They came up and I asked Mr. Fast where a good way to go from here would be. He asked how far I wanted to go and I responded that another 5 to 10 miles before I turned around to head home would be good. He then asked if I wanted to do any hills, I said "Heck yeah!" I needed to suffer a little bit. He told me to ride along with them.

We rode and we picked up another rider for a couple of miles. Don't know her name but she was on a carbon TT bike and she could hold an amazingly low position on the bike and still maintain great power. I couldn't believe how low here torso was. Anyway, she was going to continue on towards Beaumont and we were turning off into the hills.

The hills. Mmm...yeah they were there, but I still have the twin days of riding with Brianero too fresh in my head. These hills sort steep, but not as bad as I was expecting. I should have known because there is no way that Mr. Slow could have done the hills that I had done with Brianero. Basically, there was one good hill and then several moderate hills that didn't make me too uncomfortable.

But, it was fun to ride with these guys. We talked a bit and I was told of another variation that will be fun and hurt a bit more. After talking with Mr. Fast as we waited on Mr. Slow, I could tell that this wasn't really testing him much either, but he enjoyed Mr. Slow's company and wanted to keep him riding. I can relate to that. I am been the slow guy more times that I can count.

We split off as they were heading back to Redlands to the east and I was heading back to Mom's house to the west. I only did 24 miles today. It was enjoyable. If I didn't feel so guilty about even riding that much I would have been game for double that. I felt great.

The Specialized is a great bike. It is so darn comfortable. Man, my Fuji has a totally different ride. Both bikes are carbon, but they don't feel at all the same. Both are great though and I would like to keep them both.

Oh, and I got on the Specialized S-Works Epic carbon bike that I am the new owner of too. I didn't ride it much, but I think I can make it work. It has a 23" top tube. I like 23.75 top tubes. So it feels a bit short. I am going to put on a longer stem and a wider riser bar and see that helps. But the bike is so decked out that I have a hard time wanting to sell it even though it is a bit small. The bike's frame is full carbon of course, but it is also loaded with SRAM X.0 and Shimano XTR. A DT 240 wheelset too. Geesh. Even if the wheels aren't 29ers the bike is so darn sweet. The suspension feels great. Not too much, but just enough. The Reba is even the version with the carbon crown. Again...geesh.

I still need to order the rest of the frame parts for the frame Neil is building for me. Being here has for some reason distracted me a bit. I wanted to call him and clarify a couple of things but I haven't remember to call when Neil is at the shop. And frankly it is not that high on the priority list despite that fact that I am way pumped about it.

Ah, and one last thing. I have to sell a bike. So it is going to be the Voodoo frameset. Bridget said there is no room in the inn for three new bikes (the two Specialized bikes and the Neil Cernitz bike).

Here will be the stable in a few months after the Voodoo is gone and the Neil is finished:

Curtlo Cross bike--True Temper S3 and OX Plat. Mostly Campy Record and Chorus.
Fuji Aloha CF2--Carbon frameset with SRAM Red
Cernitz--a gourmet mix of tubing and lugs to form a singlespeed cyclocross bike.
Specialized S-Works Roubaix: full Dura Ace
Specialized S-Works Epic: Rim brake version, no disc. XTR/X.0 mix.

Not too shabby.

By the way, they up'd my Dad's medication so he is resting more peacefully than yesterday. He is resting much better. And because of this we are all much more at ease here at the house.

Ok, seriously last thing. After the ride and attending to some Dad related stuff I finally got to eat at In N Out Burger.

Behold! A crappy picture of a Double Double--easy sauce, no onions!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dad Update and Other Non-cycling Thoughts.

The end game is here. I doubt it will be long now.

My Dad is non-communicative for the most part. He moans and grunts with discomfort sometimes. He will make his displeasure with regard to having the oxygen tube on or a blanket on him by removing the offending items, sometimes recklessly. Therefore he has been sedated most of the time since yesterday afternoon. I talked with him briefly this morning, and he said a couple or words, but that has been it for about 20 hours.

Patrick watched him this afternoon while I handle some of his affairs and he was much the same. It may be funny later, but he will not tolerate any clothing on. Nor will he keep a blanket or sheet on him either unless he is sleeping somewhat deeply. Oh, and he is in the front room of my mom's house because it is the largest and easiest for nurses to take take of him. All of the other bedrooms are upstairs and to have put him up there would have been very difficult. Obviously if someone where to walk into the house from the front door they would have a naked man about 20 feet away from them on a bed. This might be disconcerting. For this reason when the doorbell rings we step out and walk with them to the rear of the house. Not that Dad notices at this point.

It has been such a rapid decline. He was diagnosed with Cancer on May 20th. It is now June 26th. Cancer is a cruel disease. In some respects we, including Dad, are lucky is is moving so quickly. It is painful for him. Thank goodness for the pain medication and some of the other things we have that prevent him from feeling the full brunt of what is happening.

I am not sure how much longer he will be with us. Each day has brought him further down the spiral. He is markedly more jaundiced that he was a couple of days ago. His liver must not be doing much of anything.

Yesterday he drank a decent amount. Today, hardly anything at all. This is normal we have been told in the final stages.

Patrick and I went to one of 4 storage units that our Dad has filled with all manner of personal belongs, tools, furniture and even a car. One storage unit is filled with stuff from his parents. This needs to finally be sorted as well. There is so much to do. Ugh.

Tomorrow morning I gotta go for a ride. I need some perspective that often comes from being out there solo. I am not exactly sad or in mourning yet. That may come later. I am still sort of in crisis mode and most of my feelings have been shut to the side. I am pretty adept at doing this in my life. I am doing that now knowing that I will probably have to pay the piper a bit later. That is fine.

Last night I had to tell my Dad that I would not go get him a gun or a knife so that he could end his life. He pleaded with me a couple of times to end it for him. I told him "No." each time. Then a bit later he wanted to sit up on the side of his medical bed. There is no way that this would work, he doesn't have the strength to get up or to balance. Yet, he was struggling to do so and wanting me and the nurse to help. I told him no. He called me a wuss. Said that wusses didn't get far in life because they don't take the chances necessary to go far. I just shook my head at him and then tried to reason with him.

I told him the doctor didn't want him out of bed. He didn't have the strength to get up and then if he did even with help there is a high likelihood that he would fall and possibly break something. I spoke some other things to in a firm manner, but calmly without talking down to him. He said he "could understand that concern." But then he stated that I couldn't understand what it was like to be where he was at. To be able to do something so small like sit up would be such a big thing for him. He needed to be able to do something, to work toward something. I pondered this briefly and said that I saw no reason we couldn't do some physical therapy as long as he remained laying down. He nodded his head and said that this would be good. I called my mother-in-law who happens to be a physical therapist and my Dad respects her. She gave me a list of simple exercises that Dad could do. He really appreciated that and we worked him for about 10 minutes or so.

He also asked me what the doctor, who had visited earlier that day had thought about his condition. For an instant I thought about lying to him. Maybe I could tell him that he might have a chance of getting out of bed again. But instead I shot stright with him. That is how he was in life, I thought I should be in to him now. I old him the doctor thought that he had somewhere near a couple of weeks left possibly. I did say that the doctor knew he was stubborn and thought that given his stubborn disposition that it could also be two months. He smiled. Soon after he was asleep.

But like I wrote earlier, Dad is worse to day. I don't think it will even be a week now.

I have up till now tried to keep this blog religion-free. Please forgive me now as I relate a couple of things that my Dad said to me when we had our last father-son talk a few days ago on Monday.

"It would be quite nice to be quoted once in awhile" (said with a slight smirk.)

"I count on all things being known in the end"

"I get to meet Him. And I hope it is quite joyful."

"I can feel Heavenly Father's love and compassion so much." And as he said that I knew that it was true. I could feel it too.

He told me that it would be rough to be the one in charge of his estate and his stuff because I would have to say no to my siblings when they disagreed with me. I told him I doubted that this would be the case. None of us are as worried about the disposition of his stuff as he is really. We just want to be free of the burden of it. And he felt bad about that, that he was leaving this world with too much unfinished business. I told him that it was OK. I wouldn't charge him too much (stated with a smirk). My sister Stephanie was in the room and she was told by my Dad that she was a witness to my charge to take charge of his estate and that I was to do it in righteousness, to do what was right. She nodded.

Not that I needed this charge from him. I felt it already. But having it reaffirmed was appropriate and nice in a way. I felt a bit of the torch being passed, some authority being passed on to me as the oldest son. I felt a bit of a burden being put on me for sure.

Dad is not comfortable now, I am going to sit by him...perhaps I will update this more tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Life with Dad

Sorry, nothing about cycling today. This is just a way for me to vent today. And I need to vent. Not that I am angry or mad. Maybe frustrated, but that is about it. I Planned on riding this morning, but life intervened, which is understandable and OK.

Today is my Dad's first full day at home. Well, at my Mom's home. My parents divorced 3 or 4 years ago. My mom kept the family home that we grew up in, and my dad moved elsewhere. He can't live where he had been at for reason I won't get into here. It came down to either him staying in a nursing facility of some sort or him coming back to Mom's house where we could help care for him.

My Dad is difficult. He wants things done a certain way and if you don't do them that way, even at this stage of his cancer where he is bedridden, he lectures you on why what you have done is inappropriate or just wrong. That even goes for pain medication. He won't take them unless it is absolutely necessary. Which means it is uncomfortable most of the time. Which then means that all of us are similarly uncomfortable because we can't really relax much.

He can't get up to use the restroom so we will have to help him use a bedpan. He complains about suffering indignity because of the way that he has to live currently. He goes through periods of time where he just wants to die with dignity and he wants us to help him do that--how that is to be accomplished is not always clear. Other times he wants to do alternative medicine so that he can beat the cancer. I feel like he is fooling himself. But who am I to take his hope away. He feels it is his duty to do everything he can to get better. But it means that there is a difference between his goals and our goals. He wants to get better, and we just want him to be comfortable. We have given up hope of him getting better. I wonder if that is bad. Is that a lack of faith? I don't have an answer.

He is a diabetic, which means that his diet has to be watched and blood sugar checked frequently. More work and I am not familiar with what his specific diet needs are yet. Foods have to be either pudding-like or soup-like. Nutritional shakes are OK

We currently have help from 4pm at night until 8am in the morning. Then for 8 hours we are on our own. With all four of us siblings here the workload is spread out pretty well. But that will change. Patrick is only here for a week, he lives in Michigan. Sunny will be here off and on for the next couple of weeks, she lives in Arizona. Stephanie lives here with my Mom and cannot get away. I will be here only for a few weeks, unless my family comes out and then I will be here longer if necessary.

Here is the bad part. I really hope my Dad goes fast. It sort of hurts to say that and write that, but it is true. The longer he hangs on in the condition he is in right now the worse it is on us for sure, but I think him as well. He is frustrated. We are frustrated. We feel unsure of what to do and where to put boundaries with regard to what he wants from us and what we can give.

Some of us want to pay for nursing care around the clock to help. I am not willing to do that yet. This is mainly because I don't have a grasp on the extent of his financial position yet. And, I just don't know what will come up in the future so I am reluctant to spend money on things that aren't critical. Not that I am a miser, I just hate to spend money now and not have it for later when things get worse. And I suspect that they will and we will really need help later.

Personally, I am on edge. I am the oldest and my Dad has chosen me to be his agent in financial matters, the decision maker with regard to medical matters that he can't make, and the executor of his estate when he passes on. I feel the burden. I don't really like it. I feel the need to do what he wants and to lighten the load on my siblings, especially Stephanie. But, I often don't really know what the hell to do. Which adds to my edginess on occasion. Perhaps it is better that my family is not here to many respects because I am able to focus on what is going on here instead of what my boys are doing. Which sucks because I would really like to have them around. But even when my niece and nephew are around, the sound of them running around and yelling sets me on edge too. Not that they are being bad. They are just being kids. If I could have it, the place would be as quite as my law school library. I found comfort in the quite back then. I could focus. I feel like I need that now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Staying Positive

So here is sit in Hot and Smoggy Southern California. Lots of stuff to do and things weighing on my mind.


Gotta stay positive.

Here I sit in sunny California. Not a cloud in the sky and lots of family around.

And I have a new bike to ride. It is a 2006 or 2007 Specialized S-Works Roubaix. When I first laid eyes on it, it screamed "I am an old man's bike."

It had the seat too low for the rider, flat pedals instead of clipless ones, and stem that was quite tall. In fact, that way it was set up for my Dad, the handlebars were higher than the saddle position.

Well, late last night I set up for me. I raised the saddle up for my leg length. I swapped the pedals out to some clipless ones I had laying around. I flipped the stem upside down so that I had the approximate bar height that I prefer.

Then this morning I took it for a little ride. I needed to go to where my Dad lived and so I decided that I would do it via the Specialized. It has a very nice ride to it. I have never owned any Dura Ace shifters before. I was amazed at how effortlessly they shifted. The carbon frame has some funky elastomers in it that are supposed to damp the ride a bit. I think they actually work. The ride was a bit more muted than my carbon Fuji frameset. I think both are great frames, the Fuji a bit more aggressive in the set up than the Specialized. The Specialized will be a great long ride bike. It is quite comfortable. And just like I thought after my initial look at it, it fits like a glove.

I am sure in the days to come I will put on some more miles and have more to say. Today I only got in 14 miles. But it was nice to be outside and be doing something physical. The town where I am at has a nice hill to climb in order to cross into it when coming from the north end. I climbed in the big ring standing up and felt great doing it. I have had enough time off since the Half Ironman that I don't have any lagging pains. I would have liked to have ridden much more, but I didn't have the time.

I think the riding is really going to help me vent. Now that my Dad is here out of the hospital it will be a bit rougher. He is on hospice with 24 hour care for the next few days. That will be great for us. If his condition stabilizes, the care will be on us. I worry about that. For lots of reasons that I won't go into details about. But, for now all four of us kids are here from all over the country and the burdens is lessened because of it. We have a great family. No losers in the family here. Maybe a little bit odd in ways, but all of us are dependable and easy to be around. It is nice.

Tomorrow is a new day and I try to get the most important things worked on for a bit everyday. There is just so much to do. And, of course I miss the family.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Can't sleep

It is late here in California. I arrived almost 3 hours ago. I haven't laid down to sleep yet though. Not sure why.

In between all the stuff that has to be done here--most of it depressing possibly, there is some stuff that I need to do for fun. I chose to focus temporarily on the fun stuff. I am going to check on Dad's bikes sometime tomorrow if possible. I am going to eat some good mexican food. And it is going to be HOT Mexican food, too. I am going to go for a run with my sister. She will run like a rabbit and I will be the turtle. However, I confident that similar to the storybook, if the run is long enough I can definately outlast her. So maybe that is what I will try to do. Afterall, I am the older brother here, I have to assert my will on my younger siblings. It is tradition after all.

Oh, and I will be sure to take pictures of that food unlike any other....the Burelleno from El Torero in Corona, Ca.

By the way, to the my wife and boys--I miss you guys.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Headin' Down South

I am heading to help my father out for a few weeks. At least two. No more than four. I am not taking a bike. My Dad has a couple of bikes. Hopefully the sizing is close enough. Otherwise I am going to have Bridget get my bike boxed up and send down one of mine.

It is not a play vacation, but I need to keep riding. In fact the trip will most likely suck from an emotional standpoint. But, the eldest son has got to do his duty.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Run

Ironman 70.3 Boise has a great run course. It is flat. It runs along side a river and there are lots of trees. Had it been hot, it would have been great. It was definitely not hot. A little bit of rain, but not too bad.

I started running miles between 10:15 and 10:45 which was my goal. I think I ran mile 8 in 11:00 or close to it. I was starting to feel it. No cramping though, which was great. But I was starting to hit the wall. My times drifted a little over 11 minutes until Dave caught me near mile 10. It thought he was done and was just being a jerk. I figured he had been done and was just trying to be encouraging for us slow pokes. And really I wasn't in the mood for someone being encouraging. But as it turned out, he had a rotten swim, and had entered the run about a 3/4 of a mile behind me. Dave ran with me for a bit and then I sent him on to bug Fish. Fish was about a hundred yards in front of me.

Dave quickly caught up to Fish, who then just decided to start walking. Having Dave catch him totally demotivated. They walked until I caught up. Then I made them run. We ran at a slower pace for a mile or so until we saw the mile 12 sign. Then I guess I was feeling better because I was running about a 10:30 pace with Dave, who was still bitching that I was too slow. Fish told us to dial it down or the pounding on the pavement was going to kill him. So we did.

Near the finish line the path splits. One lane is the turn around to do the second lap and the other heads to the finish line. Dave tried to push me to the side that heads back to an additional lap. I was in no mood to be messed with so I slugged. We finished together and got our medals and a finisher's hat. Cool.

I was way glad it was done. I felt much better at the end than I did last year after Vikingman. After Vikingman, I could barely do anything other than breathe. I was very sore, but my mood was great and I could walk around without too much trouble. Getting up and down wasn't fun, but other than that it was ok.

I will probably do Boise again. Probably next year. I need to have a better race before I punt on these things.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Intermission: ????

This is a cryptic shopping list for something coming down the pipe:

SRL OS 1.1mm x 200
Zona 16mm taper
HS3TTR .5/.4/.5 590mm x 31.8(Qty 2)
OX PLAT09 .7/.4//7 690mm x 35mm
1oz Silver Brazing Wire


The bike

I am a bit tired tonight, so I will make this shorter than I might other times.

After the swim I got on the bike and headed down a fun 4 or 5 mile downhill run. Top speed was in the mid-40's. It was dry at this point. Lots of ominous clouds though.

I believe at around the 10 mile mark is started raining. And raining. And it rained so hard the it just plain stung my skin. It was hard to see at times. This made it difficult a few times on some downhills.

I consistently traded places with a woman named Trish. All of our numbers had our first names on it. She would get ahead of me on some of the uphills and I would blast back by on the downhills. We did this off an on for all 56 miles. Of course on the run she blasted by me.

Somewhere along the way I passed Fish, who had a couple of flats. He caught up to me at a time when I was trying to nurse my legs. I was a little demotivated too. When I tried to put a little more effort into the pedals, everything would cramp up. I tried stretching, occasionally I would try to kneed my thumbs into my calves as well. That started around mile 35 and lasted pretty much the rest of the bike. It was frustrating. My theory is the cooler air and the pouring rain had an adverse affect on me. It was a little chilly, but not too bad. If not that, I don't know what the deal was.

My bike time was 3:09 and change. I don't remember right now and I am too lazy to look it up. I expected it to be closer to exactly 3 hours, but whatever. After Fish caught me I let him set the pace. It was my goal to basically just run with him during the run. And since he has done more of these triathlon things I decided to let him set the pace during the bike. I figured that if he had enough gas in the tank at a whatever pace he was going so would I. And that was pretty much correct. So I would guess that my last 15 miles were at about the same pace as my first 15 miles and that in the middle I was lollygagging a bit too much.

Also, I need a better way to take my in-race supplements than in ziplocs. The good thing is that the Endurolytes and other pills stayed dry. But, open the ziplocs while trying to pedal is a pain. I have to slow a bit and I lose momentum. It probably takes a full minute for me to get all the pills down on some of the hourly dosages. I was taking something or another every hour. Even hours I took about double what I took on the odd hours.

Doing a gel at least every 10 miles was a good thing. I think that the Cramp-Buster Shot Bloks may have helped get me through the crampy phase. I didn't cramp up much after I took the second pack of those or during the run.

My position was pretty comfortable, but my back started hurting off and on after mile 15. Not sure what the deal was.

Anyway, tomorrow a quick finish about the run.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Intermission: Jackass Tri-Guy

I am taking a break from relating what went on at the Boise Ironman 70.3 to relate a quick story from today. I didn't have a competitive time last Saturday. I get it. I sucked during the swim. I didn't have a good bike, and my run was not superfast, although I did take it sort of easy for 2 of the last 3 miles. In all, the more I have thought about the race, the more bugged I have become.

Anyway, this guy comes in who is obviously in great shape, even if his results are not as good as he seems to think they are. He placed 100th in a sprint triathlon he did over the weekend. He asked how I did in the swim and when I told him he rolled his eyes at me. "You need to spend some time in the pool." I said, "No, I need to spend some time in the lake." I can swim at a decent speed, it is swimming in open water that freaks me out.

"How was your run?" he asked. A little slower than I planned but better than the year before I told him.

What was your total time? I told him it was over 6 hours. He looked at me as if I am was a total loser. Well, my time sucked but geesh, it is not like everyone can even finish one of these.

Perhaps it is just my insecurity that blew things a little out of proportion. Maybe. But he is still a dork. These type of Tri geeks are ridiculous. He was around 100th out of 600 at rinky-dink Blue Lake Triathlon. Sprint distance. 1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike and 5K run. A pansy triathlon. Whoo-hoo. I was 937th out of 1188 in a triathlon with pros from all over the world and went roughly 4 times the distance. I suck, but at least I was out of the kiddie pool, so to speak. Anyway, that is what I have told myself to sooth my injured pride.

So, yes this guy got to me. Before it he happened along I had already called Fish to say that I needed to try it again next year. I didn't feel like I could walk away from this yet. I don't want to do it again really, but I feel I must. I need to have a good race. If I can chop about 20 minutes to 30 minutes off my time I would feel much better.

I told Bridget on Sunday on the drive back home that I was done with these things for a couple of years. This afternoon, before I called Fish, I called Bridget and told here I had bad news. When she asked what it was, I told her that I had to do this all over again next year. She didn't give me too much trouble. At least I will have another year where I won't be getting fatter.

The Swim

Rather than have a long post relating the Half Ironman Boise 70.3, I thought I would break it up to aid digestion.

The swim was in Lucky Peak Resevior. It is fed from snow pack and this time of year it is rather chilly. 64 degrees was what they announced over the loudspeaker immediately before the race. That sounded pretty OK to me.

Last year at the Vikingman 70.3 the river temp was 55 or so. That was truly horrible when combined with the chop caused by 30 to 35 mph winds. But, and it a BIG but, I could swim near the shore and stand up when I got slapped by a white cap and could get a good breathe occasionally on the majority of the swim course

This year is different, no training wheels. No touching the shore. 1.2 miles in the middle of a lake. And I haven't done even one open water swim since last August. Totally my bad on that. I should have. I should have learned and gotten my brain used to what my body goes through when the water is cold.

I panicked. I almost quit after 100 yards. I just could not get my heart rate to slow. I had barely even began the swim and my HR was well over 170 beats per minute. Not good. I was hyperventilating a bit too. That made it difficult to maintain a regular swim/breathing pattern. The water was just so dang cold. 64 degrees didn't seem bad on paper, but believe me it was freezing. There was one other guy out there with me lagging with the same color wave cap, and I believe it was Dave (formerly known as DTP). Apparently, he had an even worse swim than I. He was wearing a sleeveless wet suit. And he paid the price.

My swim time was over 57 minutes--1100th place out of about 1250 swimmers. Dave's time was over 1:07, around 1200th place. His legs cramped up and he said he thought he was close to drowning a couple of times. By the way, this is a guy who had been swimming between a couple of miles and 5000 yards at a time at the indoor pool. It just goes to show you that open water swimming is a different deal all together.

After the start I swam/paddled over to the first kayaker and rested. Then I swam to the second buoy 50 yards away or so. That wasn't really a swim stroke I performed over there. I would take a stroke or two and have to doggy paddle a bit because I could not get my breathing slowed enough to swim. Plus, I was still panicked. I was really close at that second buoy to calling it a day.

I swam from the buoy to another kayaker close by. I rested by holding on to the nose of the kayak. I checked my heart rate on my watch. 174 and I haven't even done hardly anything yet. At that heart rate I can't really swim because heavy breathing that seems to go along with that heart rate doesn't go well with my swim style. I basically feel like I can't get enough air. But I continue on, feeling defeated and generally like I just wasted all my training because I can't get my head straight.

The swim course was like a rectangle. I finally made it to the first corner and started to feel a little better. That was one of the short sides of the rectangle though. I started around the turn with people from 2 waves after me passing by. The waves started every 5 minutes. I swam out to the wrong buoy at one point along with some others and another kayaker told us we we supposed to have stayed along side some yellow color buoys. That would have been nice to know. That basically added an extra couple hundred yards to my swim. It didn't really piss me off too much, for me I still felt like my race was totally screwed up as swimmers from a fourth wave started to pass.

Then something nice happened. I found my stroke. A very slow controlled stroke. It was perfect for being out there. I breathing was fine. I was moving at a decent pace. Not many people were passing me. At least they weren't passing me quite as quickly. Other than a slight kink on the right side of my neck for a few hundred yards, I felt fine.

Oh, having to stop momentum to sight sucks. I don't swim straight and I also breathe to the left. When the swim is going in a clockwise fashion that is sort of a pain since I am always looking to the outside of the rotation. I would swim about 5 stroke or so and then stall just a bit to look up.

Anyway, I finally turned the last corner and could see the end. It just took forever to get there seemingly. But no freak outs, and I swam in and jogged to where they have people standing by tho help get you out of your wetsuit. That is cool. They help get them off quick.

My swim time was 57:37. 1059th in the swim portion out of 1186 official finishers.

Really at this point I was feeling deflated. I figured that Fish was around 20 minutes ahead at that point (10 from the swim and 10 because he started in an earlier wave. Dave I thought would have had an even faster swim than Fish. I had no idea that he was still 10 minutes away from finishing even after I got out of the water.

Overall, at this point I just wanted this day over with.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The drive out to Boise wasn't particularly eventful. Dave and I stopped a couple of times to eat. Dave believes that every off-ramp is his bathroom. Not that he finds a bathroom or anything. No, the off-ramp itself is his bathroom. Dave is from a small town out in a somewhat remote area of Utah. And my theory is that this resulted in a belief that all the outdoors is his bathroom. He doesn't even bother to find a tree or a bush. He would make somewhat of an attempt to conceal himself, but if some oncoming traffic could see deed, so be it. He must have a small or overactive bladder, because probably stopped every 5th exit or so for him to take care of business. Maybe he is just an exhibitionist. Anyway, it took us awhile to get to Boise.

Once there it was a cluster. We arrived later than planned by over an hour and so we rushed to check in at the hotel and drop off the bikes, rushed to check in with the Ironman people, rushed back to the hotel to get the bikes again and drop them off at T1 at the lake. Then we rushed back to meet Fish and his family for dinner at Outback.

My iPhone gave me the wrong directions to the Outback. I thought it was the iPhone's fault, but it turns out that I typed in the wrong street name, "Overlook" instead of "Overland". We ended up at a retirement home instead of the Outback steakhouse. Not exactly what we had in mind. We finally arrived at Outback where Fish had ordered for us. The food came out just as we sat down. During the meal, I ate Dave's a la carte baked potato accidentally, but other than that all was well. I had a great time catching up with Fish and his family. But my mind was really elsewhere.

I was feeling really weighed down by life at that particular time. The triathlon really felt like something I shouldn't have done. I was feeling like I had been selfish training for this thing and spending the money associated with it.

I also received some other business related news while I was out there which also totally had me tubed. And Bridget was short with me on the phone when we were talking about the aforementioned news, too. Pile that on with trying to sort out issues dealing my Dad's cancer, mainly helping him handle his estate, finding time arranging things so I can go out and help... I just was not feeling at all in the zone mentally. In fact I really felt like bailing on the race. The stress I was feeling did not feel at all worth the payoff of finishing the race. It felt like the universe was conspiring against me. Well, maybe that is overly dramatic. Basically, I just didn't feel like bothering with a stupid race that was going to be so damn hard. And it was not like I was going to even be in the top half of the finishers either. "What the hell was I doing out here?" I thought.

But, after another conversation with Bridget who was dealing with our 3 boys at home, I felt better. She apologized for the earlier phone call, I apologized for being an idiot, and all was well again. She put me more at ease and I recommitted to the race again. Or at least to trying to finish.

The reason for doing this, even though I suck, even though I am slow in the swim and the run and mediocre at best in the bike is because it is about the journey. At least that is what I told myself. It is about pushing yourself to do uncomfortable things. It is about trying to stay somewhat fit so that I don't get diabetes like others in my family have gotten. It is about trying to stay healthy so that I don't become like still others in in my family that have had heart attacks or heart disease. Yeah, I have great genes. Nor do I want to be fat again. And these sorts of events motivate me to stay healthy. It is probably worth it when viewed in that perspective. It is worth it assuming I don't drown during the swim.

Speaking of the swim, I stuck my hand in the water when we dropped off the bikes at T1. It was cold. But not as cold as the Snake River last year. The water looked peaceful too. I am thinking that the swim will be fine. My mind is set at ease a bit about the swim. I tell Dave there is nothing to worry about. We both should have been worried. Below are the only pictures I took on the trip, that of Lucky Peak the night before race day. Looks pleasant...

Anyway, Dave and I were in the same hotel room. Neither of us could sleep much that night. We ate oatmeal for breakfast and made ourselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

We drove to the lake and found that we couldn't park in the area adjacent to the lake. Instead, we had to park below the dam. We had to hoof it about a mile to bring the rest of our gear. Oh, and the dirt road we walked up climbed about 300 feet in elevation. That sucked. Oh, and we had to do it twice. Once to bring up gear and once to take pumps and stuff back down to the car and then to get back up to the start. Fun. They neglected to bring that up in the info packet. The smart people took the shuttle to the race and avoided all that extra work.

Since we were there pretty early, Dave tried to nap, and I read a book. That helped pass about an hour pleasantly. I wished I had made more PB&J sandwiches. Then immediately before the start I was glad I didn't. I was feeling a bit anxious.

Fish, Dave and I chatted a little bit before the start. I was nervous. My heart rate was holding steady between 140 and 150 beats per minute during the 30 to 45 minutes before start. That swim course sure looked awfully long right then. But, at least at that point all of my other mental baggage was forgotten. I had taken my race supplements, a couple of ibuprofen and Imodium (you never know when that urge will come, and it has come during longer distance event before--not a fun thing)

Tomorrow I will relate the horror of the swim. Well, maybe not horror...but it wasn't fun.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Quick recap

My time: 6hrs 43min 03 sec

Swim sucked. I almost quit within first 100 yards.

Dave almost drowned he said.

Bike course was great, but the heavy thunderstorm actually stung. It was difficult to see the road at times.

My legs started to cramp up on the bike, probably becuase it was cold. I wasn't able to put out the power I should have been able to do. But other than losing about 5 minutes because of that the bike went as well as could be expected.

Run went ok. I was averaging 10:30/ mile until mile 8. I slowed to about 11:00/ mile after that. Eventually I caught up with Dave and Fish and shut it down to just a slow jog as we all stayed together and crossed the finish line at the same time.

I consumed 12 gels, 2 shot bloks packs, about 200 ounces of various fluids, lots of endurolytes, anti-fatigue pills, sportlegs, and ibuprofen.

I am done with these things for a bit. I am kind of amazed that I swam 1.2 miles, biked 56, and then ran 13.1 without my body shutting down.

Friday, June 12, 2009


we are off to Idaho. We, as in Dave (formerly known as DTP) and I.

I am a little more nervous than the day before. I am not especially looking forward to that swim still. Other than that, all will be well. At least it should be.

I didn't get enough sleep last night though. My goal was to get 8 hours, and I only got about 6. 6 to about 6.5 hours is about all I seem to get lately. I will try and sleep on the way out. Last year for the Half Ironman I did I only had about 3 hours sleep. Tonight I hope to do better. Last year there was just so much stress, this year should be better.

Well. Tah tah for now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I am not lazy. Seriously. I am tapering!

I haven't done anything since last Wednesday when I swam. Oh well. The day before that I rode for an hour at lunch. Meh. I have had Life get in the way, and I don't have the energy to fight it. It is what it is and I haven't been able to do a proper taper. So be it.

The big race is this Saturday. 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running. I have come to a point that I am very familiar with, but has only happened recently in law school. The feeling is hard for me to describe, so bear with me.

In law school, when it came close to finals there began a marathon of studying. I would schedule out pretty much about 5 or 6 weeks of my life, kiss the family goodbye and I would maniacally adhere to the schedule in order to be as prepared as possible for each of my finals. The load and my ability to study would increase as I got closer to the 10 to 12 day period that my finals usually occurred. I would get into a zone and at some point--usually, if things went well--I came to a point where I was resigned to my fate. This sounds negative, but it usually wasn't. I just knew that mentally the tank was full and it was time to go and see if I had studied the right stuff well enough. There was little hope that I could learn everything, there was not enough allotted for perfection. I did all I could and "ding", I knew it was time to get in there and get it over with. If I bombed so be it. It was zen-like.

Only once did I really bomb badly and in that case I still felt the same even though I actually knew it was going to be ugly. In that case I felt like I was going be fore a firing squad blindfolded with a cigarette in my mouth. I was resigned to me fate. That was Securities Law. It was my last final of my 4th semester at law school. That was an ugly final. I stuck to my plan in studying for that exam, but stuff was just not sinking in. Securities law has its own legal lingo, even worse from normal legal lingo. And for whatever reason it was just not sinking in despite the fact that for the most part I had kept up with the reading during the semester. The exam questions had page line limits. On one of the questions with the longest line limits I got maybe about 25% of the way to the limit and found I had nothing left to say. I started to panic, but eventually I decided that I wasn't going to fail, I was probably going to dip down into "C" territory though for the first time. I finished the last question of the exam and circled back the that truly ugly question and stated something like, "And in addition to Z above, X comes to mind, and possibly Y but how they relate to this situation is beyond me. Luckily, if this question ever comes up in my practice in the real world I will know just do: Call a Securities Lawyer." I don't know if she laughed or not, but I did. I knew I was never going to practice Securities Law, but I knew that I had learned enough from the class to recognize issues and keep myself out of trouble. I did what I could and took the punch and tried to roll with it as best I could. I ended up with a C+ I think in that class. And I was grateful.

I have a similar feeling now. Sort of peaceful, with some underlying butterflies. I have done all I can do. If it sucks, it sucks. I won't drown though, my usual fear. If I can swim 2500 yards without getting tired in the pool, I can swim around 2000 yards in a reservoir even with a freak out or two in the middle of it. If I puncture a tire in the bike section, so be it. I have a repair kit for tubular tires and if that doesn't work, I will take my DNF. Whatever, I can deal with it. If I cramp up and have to walk part of the run, so be it. I have done longer runs this year than last year and I have more knowledge of how much water and nutrition my body needs. Hopefully, that will be enough. If not, so be it. I will roll with it. There is just nothing more I can do. Just like in a final exam or even the state bar exam, there are only so many things that can happen and many of them are unlikely. I hopefully have prepared enough for the most likely things that I can get a passing grade/finish the race and do it in a good time (for me). You can't be prepared for everything so you play the odds. If worst comes to worst, so be it. I am at peace with that.

At least right now. 2 hours before start it might be different.