February 29, 2008

The pursuit of happyness

There is a lot of back and forth today on happiness and joy here, here and here. Coincidentally I saw this on a Runners World discussion group today. The topic was "Little things that happen during runs that make your day". LA Runner's response was:

"I like seeing the unfriendly paper lady. Every morning I smile and wave and she has NEVER returned it. This sounds weird, but it makes me appreciate the fact that I AM happy enough to wave and smile at others. One day... "

Not sure that this is right on point of the original post, but it seems in the neighborhood. I certainly do my best to have an attitude that spreads more positive than negative during the day. And I think it does make a difference out there in the world. Whether it is an obligation or not, I suppose it is up to you to decide.

February 28, 2008

And what would the lady like?

The wife and I went out to dinner tonight at The Keg. We had a postcard for a free prime rib dinner for the wife's birthday earlier this month. They were kind enough to let her use it as credit toward whatever entree she wanted. When the waiter came back to take our order, she drew a blank as to what she had picked. I started to tell the waiter what she wanted, but then turned toward my wife to remind her instead. When I waited tables, I found it kind of annoying when the man ordered for the woman. I suppose it is some throwback to some chivalrous intention, but now it just seems patronizing. There is always a couple of questions with every order, so I would end up asking the woman what she wanted anyway. Even though the man began the order, there was no way I could ask him how she wanted her steak without feeling silly. As our memories continue to decline, the wife and I will hopefully be able to prod each other to remember. I have a deal with her though - if we're ever in a restaurant and she needs to tell me "no, you don't like that" as I'm ordering, I'm not allowed out in public anymore...

February 27, 2008

Negative Ghost Rider

A 777 pilot was fired for buzzing the airport with a celebratory flyby. The Cathay Pacific Airlines captain buzzed Everett's Paine Airfield, flying within about 30 feet of the runway with his landing gear stowed.

Full story in the Seattle Times.

He may have seen Top Gun a few too many times.

February 26, 2008

Marathon still reeling from charity gaffe

The University of Washington Medical Center is no longer the title sponsor of the Seattle Marathon. They will continue to sponsor the marathon, but at a much lower level. This is fallout from the story in November that none of the race fees went to the charity listed on their website, only payments over and above the entry fee.

As it turns out, the designated charity, the UW Patient & Family Housing Fund, received a check for $8,346. The revenue for the marathon is over $1 million. Previous charities have left as well, saying they were expected to provide an unreasonable number of volunteers for rather small returns.

The marathon association will also undergo an audit, at the request of the UW, and hopes the results will help clear its name after the recent bad publicity.

The one bit of good news is that the UW Medical Center will continue to provide medical support for the marathon. In 2007, they treated 100 people, including one runner that had a heart attack near the finish line.

Full story.

First signs of Spring?

Poking through in our front yard.

Quote of the day

"Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you."
- Aldous Huxley

February 25, 2008

Ripping on white people and bicyclists

A tip o' the hat to The Dawg Run for passing this site along. It is called "Stuff White People Like". There are 75 posts so far, and the few I have read so far are pretty funny. Below is the post on bicycles.

White People Like Bicycles.

Chilly Hilly

Another good ride with some great friends.

I ended up riding with a group of seven, including four friends from the Big Ride (we missed you Scott). The weather ended up being great, cool in the morning but the sun came out in the afternoon. We caught the 8:45 ferry which was jammed with bicycles.

As I mentioned previously, the Chilly Hilly ride is aptly named. The route has very little flat road, so it is a kick in the keester early in the season to get you motivated to train. Or for those that actually trained over the winter, confirmation that all those spinning classes were worth it.

There were more people on the side of the road cheering us on this year, and several kids selling cookies, water and Gatorade. I even had one person hand me a cup of water as I rode by, just like in a marathon.

I spoke to the lady below:

She said she wanted to let us know that not everyone on the island hates this ride. She said she actually went to to the city council to make sure they allowed us back. We do kinda take over the roads for the day.

Hopefully most of the bicyclists behaved well. This early in the season, some people are a little out of practice riding in traffic. You would think that this difficult of a ride would keep the rookies away, but there were a few clueless bikers on the road. Fortunately the roads were pretty quiet. Hopefully enough bikers notice what a great area it is and come back later and pump some money into the local economy.

Another great start to the biking season.

Weigh in

I am back where I started two weeks ago- 180.5.

Tami made a comment that I shouldn't be weighing in Mondays, since weekends are likely when you put on the most weight. I kinda picked Mondays for that reason. Hopefully the larger numbers will push me to put in the work.

February 23, 2008

Northern Exposure

Our local ABC affiliate has been playing old episodes of Northern Exposure the past couple of months. I really enjoyed the series when it was on, and seeing the repeats has been great. For those that haven't seen it, a brief synopsis of the show is a New York doctor's education is sponsored by the state of Alaska. Instead of in Anchorage, he repays the debt (unwillingly) by serving as the doctor for the small town of Cicley for five years.

The strength of the show is the great cast and writing. Each character has his or her own quirks and take turns as the main subject of episodes. The exterior Alaska town shots were filmed in the mountain town of Roslyn, Washington which we used to travel through every year on our way to our yearly camping trip.

Below is an clip from an episode from season five. Ed Chigliak is hit by lightning early in the episode while walking in the woods with Chris, and he begins to wonder "why me". He poses the question to both Chris (the new agey DJ) and his Leonard his shaman trainer, but isn't satisfied with their answers. While at the laundramat with Marilyn, he poses his question to her. Marilyn is a very quiet Indian character in the show. She says very little, and often doesn't answer questions directly, but what she does say seems to help both the introspective Ed or her neurotic boss Joel Fleischman.

Here is a great fan site. Another quote from the episode is from Joel referring to Adam (played by Adam Arkin) "I know Adam is a walking pathology, but the guy's never hurt anybody, not that I know of. I mean, threats of imminent danger are just his way of saying 'good morning'"

February 22, 2008

Heard on the radio today

While I was listening to NPR on the way home tonight, I heard a couple of phrases that clicked.

The first was a discussion with Rachel Louise Snyder about the 55 billion dollar a year global denim industry. I came in late, but she was talking about her time investigating plants overseas. The moderator asked the question about how we can become more conscious consumers (reading labels, finding out where your clothes were made, etc.) She said the first thing to think about is whether how we are living can be sustained. Cotton is a plant that apparently takes a toll on the soil. She mentioned that the average American woman owns eight pairs of jeans. Before you worry about where it came from, start with "do you need another pair of jeans?"

The next one was an interview with a local documentary film maker Ethan Delavan . He has made a film on the difficult (and personal) subject of sexual abuse. He interviewed other victims and was of course asked why he was making the film. He compared his documentary to a poem. He said that in a poem, the format implies that some healing has occurred. I thought that was a great description of poetry.

February 21, 2008

Back in the saddle

For a blog that has a name and picture dedicated to bicycling, I sure haven't done much biking or blogging about it. Other than Gerry's memorial, my bike hasn't really seen the light of day since September 23rd when I did the High Pass Challenge.

Sunday is the Chilly Hilly bike ride. It is aptly named as it is still February (chilly), and the course covers Bainbridge Island climbing 2,675 feet (hilly). So being the procrastinator/last-minute-crammer that I am, I went for my first ride today. It was just a 12 mile out and back trip with about 500 feet of climbing. I felt pretty rusty, but it wasn't too painful. Hopefully I have some leftover fitness from the marathon build up.

This will be my second Chilly Hilly ride. Last year we had the additional challenge of rain. As of now, there is a 30% chance of rain. Hopefully our luck will be a bit better this year. I am meeting a couple of friends that I met on the Big Ride Pacific Coast, so it will be a good day in any case.

The Tour of California bike race is going on right now. It is being covered by the VS (Versus) channel with an hour or so of coverage each day. The seven day tour covers some beautiful countryside along the California coast, and does a fair bit of climbing in the hills. Stage 4 is on the TV right now and the riders are heading over Bixby Bridge in the Big Sur area. Beautiful.

We spent time on Highway 1 on our Pacific Coast ride, but didn't make it far enough south to get to the Big Sur area. Friends were married there, and it is a beautiful area I'd love to see again. I am looking forward to running across this bridge some day for the Big Sur Marathon, and riding down more of Highway 1 on my bike. It is the best way to see the country.

February 20, 2008

My Oh My!

The Seattle Mariners play-by-play announcer since the franchise started in 1977, Dave Niehaus will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He called 18 seasons worth of losing games before the Mariners finally made it into the playoffs in 1995.

Congratulations Dave. Its grand salami time!

February 19, 2008

Don't come between me and my McD's

Not surprisingly, this Mississippi bill died in committee.


Full text

Some family news

My cousin was in town this past weekend. As she lives several states away, we don't get to see each other often. It was great seeing her and the rest of the local family.

She mentioned her daughter has written a couple songs. They are on her MySpace Music page. She sings and play the piano, and her brother did the production on the songs so it is kind of a family affair. Check her out.

In other news, my parents have adopted an 8 year old lab mix dog. He is the pepper to our salt.

February 18, 2008

One step back

Monday morning is weigh in time. Unfortunately I am up a pound to 181.5. Whoops!

If you think the electoral college is stupid...

Our state primary is tomorrow. Unfortunately it is kinda meaningless.

The state of Washington has both a caucus and a primary. We have had a caucus for some time, but a few years ago an initiative was passed to have a primary. The primary was supposed to bring more voters into the process. Not everyone is available to meet in the local gym to hash out the delegate count with his neighbor. Unfortunately the primary didn't actually replace the caucus, so now we have both.

The caucus was held February 9th. I was out of town, so I wasn't able to attend. It sounds by all accounts that the caucuses were very well attended. However, the well-attended 2004 caucus represented about 3% of the voters, while a well-attended primary represents 40-50%. Snohomish County has now gone to all mail-in ballots for general elections anyway. Why hang on to caucus anymore?

So in this weird hybrid system, the delegates for the Republican party are split between the caucus and primary about 50/50. For the Democratic party, all of delegates were already allocated in the caucus. As someone who is primarily a Democrat, it seems pointless to vote in the primary. Even as a Republican, McCain is pretty much the nominee. Except...

There are the super delegates to think about. After all the states allocate their delegates, there are 795 super delegates that may ultimately decide the Democratic nomination. These 795 people represent about 20% of the total delegates. There are 17 from Washington state, and it has been suggested that the primary may sway some of their votes. They certainly have no responsibility to follow the will of the people, (at this point they are running in the opposite direction) but if the primary results match the caucus, it could send a message.

If the primary doesn't match the caucus, it will highlight how messed up Washington's system is.

February 15, 2008

Valentines Day

From The Writer's Almanac.

The romantic overtone of the holiday is in commemoration of St. Valentine, a Roman priest who was martyred on February 14 in 269 A.D. ... The tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine's Day originates from the martyr Valentine himself. The legend maintains that due to a shortage of enlistments, Emperor Claudius II forbade single men to get married in an effort to bolster his struggling army. Seeing this act as a grave injustice, Valentine performed clandestine wedding rituals in defiance of the emperor. Valentine was discovered, imprisoned, and sentenced to death by beheading. While awaiting his fate in his cell, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with the daughter of a prison guard, who would come and visit him. On the day of his death, Valentine left a note for the young woman professing his undying devotion signed "Love from your Valentine."

February 14, 2008

More motivation

NBC is replaying their coverage of the Ironman championships this Saturday 11am Pacific. I missed it when it first aired. The coverage of the 2006 championships was quite good. I still have it stored on my Tivo. It did a great job covering the pros and telling the stories of lots of other inspirational everyman competitors. I like to watch it before my marathons to get pumped up.

2007 Ironman Championship Coverage

Just don't call her Britney

Last night Alyssa went in for a little haircut. Her first chemo treatment was a week ago, and her hair was starting to fall out. Rather than put it off, she decided to cut to the chase (cut, ha!) and get a buzz cut. This way she could donate it to Locks of Love rather than have it go down the drain. She decided to make it a party, so there were 10 or 12 of us around her chair snapping pictures and cheering her on. Here is a slideshow of the "party". Full size slideshow can be found here.

She was very positive and had a lot of fun with it.

Alyssa has started a blog (who hasn't) to document her journey. She already has a few posts up including wig and breast shopping. You can find it here, and I have added a link to the right. Check it out.

Comfort food

I received an e-mail today that pointed out that "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts".

Step away from the double chocolate fudge cake...

Highlighting stupidity

A man in Woodinville had a court date for his drunken driving charge. The hearing was put off when he showed up to court drunk. The judge ordered a breath test after the defendent's attorney informed the court that he thought his client was drunk. The defendent recorded a .32, four times the legal limit of .08. Rather than be taken to jail, he was taken to the hospital for possible alcohol poisoning. Full Story

In another story, a Washington State Senator is sponsoring a bill that would require convicted drunk drivers to have fluorescent-yellow license plates on their cars for one year — once their driving privileges have been restored. Full Story

There was a kinda funny letter to the editor this morning as a response:

I am simultaneously hysterical and terribly frightened regarding Sen. Mike Carrell's plan to require that convicted DUI drivers put bright-yellow license plates on their vehicles, to help law enforcement officials and to alert drivers to give them a wider berth.

Let us take this brilliant idea to the next level. Here are some additional indicators to help our great citizens who are in obvious peril behind the wheel:

Neon-blinking plates: Elderly people with poor vision and slower response times;

Flashing red plates: Young teens who have recently obtained a driver's license;

White with red-striped plates: Adults who have not had a good night's sleep and appear overtired;

Plate numbers with only "1"s and "0"s: People who like to text message or speak on cellphones while driving;

And to ensure the bill is totally comprehensive, we must include the dreaded textured "waffle" plate, for anyone who has held public office who promised one thing but did another. "Those who live in glass houses ... "

— Kevin Tefft, Seattle

February 13, 2008

A matter of perspective

Coming home after an absence can often lift the cloud I sometimes operate under. Things I walk by on a day to day basis now leap out for my attention. I live a rather cluttered life, and the piles of things to read and do seem to be ready to tumble over and bury me.

I am now beginning to dig out my office. The phone jack that leads my office computer to the internet has been broken for some time now, so the computer has been collecting dust. My desk has become simply a place to pile all the paperwork I need to go through and file. I have taken over the dining room table for my new laptop office, much to the irritation of the wife. I have dreaded diving into this task, but the approaching tax season means I need to get things in order.

After spending some time with friends in their home last week, I now come home to see all that needs to be done with our home. Projects I haven't made the time for, or had the funds to begin scream for my attention. Seeing someone's nearly finished project makes me dream of what could (should) be. By the time I clear away all the debris, hopefully we will have some time and money to begin tackling the home improvements.

Another odd bit of perspective I didn't anticipate concerns our pooch. After spending a week with a tall, slender young pup, I was surprised how short and squat our own dog looked as she ran to greet us. Not a fair comparison, but the wife noticed it too.

I will try to keep this clear headed feeling as long as I can, before the crap just fades into the background again. That's the reason the flowery wallpaper is still on our closet door. I just don't see it anymore.

February 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary Darrin & Lianne

Losing it

This is probably the only time I have come back from a vacation without gaining weight. I actually lost a pound or so. Though I have been doing a bunch of running and biking, I weigh about the same as I did a year ago and about 5 pounds more than two years ago. Unfortunately my fat percentage is about the same, so it isn't 5 pounds of muscle.

I haven't made losing weight a priority. I have been more concerned with what my body can do, rather than what my body looks like. I have been relatively disciplined about getting in the exercise, but not about eating right. I eat and drink too many empty calories, particularly late at night.

I plan to focus on losing some weight over the next couple of months. I'd like to be 10 or 15 pounds lighter standing at the start line of my next marathon. I know it will help me improve my time, and of course my overall health. Current weight is 180.5.

Maybe I can trade one six pack for another.

February 11, 2008

Back in town

We are. The wife and I spent a great week away in southern California. The excuse that took us there was the marathon and to attend a wedding. Really it is any excuse to get down there to see friends. Whenever we can, our vacations are about doing very little but sitting around with friends. Mission accomplished once again.

Coming home to the real world of bills, work and e-mail is always a drag. I'm sure there is a syndrome to be named and a pill for it on the horizon. I certainly had plenty of time to post while we were gone, but outside of my marathon report, I just didn't feel like sitting in front of the computer. Like many other things it is part of my routine at home. Vacation is about breaking routine.

Thanks for checking back.

February 5, 2008

Surf City marathon report

Marathon number three was quite an adventure. I didn't have a whole lot going for me this time around. I was sick for most of the week leading up to the marathon. This meant no running and 4-5 hours of sleep each night. This trip would turn out to be a lesson in what not to do.

We flew down to California Saturday after another short night of sleep. We met some friends at the expo then went over to their house for a great dinner and to stay the night. Up again at 4:00am to get to the start line before the sunrise start at 6:50am. We were running late so Sean and I were dropped off at the start line while the wives found parking.

The weather forecast for the past 10 days highlighted only one day of rain - marathon day. I checked it every few days, but that one day of rain never budged. For once (unfortunately) the weathermen had it dead on. This was our drive in:

Sean and I hopped out of the car with our trash bags ponchos on. We only had time to find a bathroom before queuing up at the start. No real time to stretch or warm up. The marathon route spends much of the time within view of the ocean, but with the wind blowing rain in from the west, I didn't spend much time looking at the surf. Sean and I ran together for the first 8 or 9 miles. I had hopes of a 4:30 finish and he was looking at a 4:20. Our pace was slow for him and a bit fast for me. Not really fast, but not taking it easy early on like I normally would. Since there were many things pointing to a messed up day, I thought I'd experiment and try to build up a little time cushion for the eventual slow down later.

My right knee started hurting around mile 6. I have had IT band issues for quite a while, but my 20 mile run two weeks ago went well enough that I thought I'd be O.K. I waived Sean on as it looked like I would be doing quite a bit of walking. I had to start the "run 'til it hurts, walk 'til it subsides" rhythm much too early. It was going to be a long day.

After mile 9 or 10 the route runs along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) or the path along the beach. We were back in the full force of the wind. The poor volunteers were trying desperately to get us water while preventing everything from blowing away. I am always thankful for volunteers, but these really earned a place in my heart. The route had several out and backs, so the wind was always at your shoulder, sometimes in your face, other at your back. We were soaked to the bone by that point, making dodging the large puddles almost pointless.

By mile 16, the time cushion I had built up disappeared. A 4:30 finish time was out. By mile 20, it was clear I wasn't going to beat my last marathon time of 4:39. I tried making small changes in my stride to see if I could find a sweet spot with less pain, but couldn't find it. The walk breaks became more frequent and I even stopped to use the restroom a couple of times.

The rain and layout of the course meant I wouldn't be seeing the wife in the crowd cheering me on. There actually weren't that many spectators overall. Couldn't blame them. The field of marathoners was also smaller (about 1700), so once we were on the path away from the half marathoners it was pretty lonely. I traded leads with a couple other walking wounded, but no one was talking much.

After one more frustrating out and back near the end, we were back on PCH with a half mile to go. On my last walk break I figured I'd walk to the next traffic signal then try to run in to the finish line. There at the intersection was the wife, friends and fellow runners cheering me on. That boost got me running again and I made it to the finish at a jog.

Sean had a good run and cut 15 minutes off his goal by finishing in 4:05. My final time was 4:48:55, about 9 1/2 minutes slower than San Diego and 19 minutes more than my initial goal. Disappointing, but not too surprising with the day we had. I just wish my knee hadn't fallen apart so early. My 20 mile run two weeks ago went pretty well, so I still had some hopes at the start line, but you really never know what the day will bring. After changing into some dry clothes Sean, Marci and I had a couple of complementary beers under cover of a tent. The chilly wind prevented us from lingering too long though.

Lessons learned:

  • Do whatever it takes to get some quality sleep leading up to the marathon. We may need to take a day off of work and get into town a day early next time.
  • Always get to the start line early so I can warm up and stretch.
  • Run the way you have trained. I have always tried to take it easy at the beginning of my long runs so I don't run out of energy at the end. If I want to start more quickly and get progressively slower, I need to train that way.
  • Always pack for every weather possibility (I was prepared this time, but it is tempting to pack lighter).
  • Train better.
  • Aggressively work to prevent injuries. This is my fourth marathon (third finish), and I have had IT issues each time. I need to get past this before I will ever find out what kind of time I can run, and the marathon becomes something other than just surviving to the finish line.

At least the medal is cool.