December 19, 2007

Tree and House

Sunday the kids and I made a Christmas tree from plywood... Yesterday Emma made a Gingerbread house (with yummy yummy candy attached!) at school...

I love this time of year!

December 18, 2007


It's 0415 in the morning and I should be getting toasty warm in bed but I have a kind of nervous energy for some reason, and I'm not sure what it is.

Yea, Christmas is just a week away, and it is my FAVorite holiday. Plus I managed to get at least a few gifts purchased yesterday, so I'm mayb 30 or 40% done with holiday shopping. I know, I know... I ALWAYS wait to the last minute...

But it's not Christmas that has me excited...

My trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado is just 8 days away, and I'm super-stoked about it. It'll be the troupe's first ski trip, Aidan's first every flight, and my first time on skis in 10 years. We almost have everything together for it, with just a few more coats to find and kids' ski lessons to book.

But it's not skiing that has me excited...

I'm running stronger and faster now than ever before, which I'm attributing to a concentration on hip/thigh strengthening over the last couple months and an emphasis on speed and less on distance (for now).

But it's not the running that has me excited...

I'm just not sure exactly what it is... There certainly will be more to this story to come...

Until then, thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

December 13, 2007

Run or Tri?

So I'm looking ahead at the 2008 multisport season and I'm not sure what to do.

I want at least 1 long distance event as my A race.

The two options are 1. Comrades and 2. Ironman France.

Comrades marathon is the oldest (and many say toughest) ultramarathon in the world, a 50+ mile road race over the hills/mountains of South Africa. The race attracts dozens of thousands of runners each year, making it also the biggest ultramarathon. It alternates courses each year, with odd years being a "down year" and even years being a "up year." The up years add many thousands of feet elevation gain to the challenge of the 50+ miles.

I want to do Comrades, I really do. This race is legendary, and I want to be a part of it. 12 hours after the start, the race director walks to the finish line and fires a gun into the air marking the finish. Cross the line at 12:01 and you have not officially finished the race. The stories of people who slip in immediately before or after the 12 hour mark have become legend, and the first person each year to finish after the 12 hour mark is a national 5 minute celebrity.

Now 12 hours to cover 50 miles seems pretty damn easy. barely over 4 minute miles? Piece of cake. Of course I wouldn't want to finish in 12 hours, I'd want to finish in 11 or 10 or faster. So my goal would be to run, if not all then most, of it. And therein lies the issue - I haven't done an ultra yet, and quite frankly I'm nowhere near sure that my body will hold up to the necessary training to do the miles needed. I struggle to get in the prep miles for 26.2 - how will I get the miles for a 50 miler?

But it's Comrades...

The other option still under consideration (and no, I couldn't do them both) is Ironman France. It's amazing to me how quickly and consistently IM races sell out. I mean, last year IM Switz didn't sell out and this year sold out 6 months ahead of the race. Well IM France as of today still has spots.

Since my inaugural IM in June I've wanted to do another. I was trained and signed up for Wisconsin, but had to cancel because of a required court appearance the day after the race a thousand miles away (that - yes I'm bitter - was cancelled 2 days prior to the race...). And I'd like to do one this year, but I'm not deadset on it - I could wait until next year.

One of the advantages of doing the IM instead of Comrades would be the familiarity. I know what it takes to IM train, and I know I can do it. I honestly don't know if I can stay healthy and consistent enough to train for Comrades. If I'm injured Comrades training and can't do either, I'm doubly screwed... But on the flip side, I've already done an IM and, although I do want to race IM again, I also like new experiences.

Decisions decisions...

What do you think? Should I do Comrades or IM France?

December 11, 2007


Sometimes no matter how hard you try to understand them, things just won't make sense.

It's funny the difference in machines and humans. A machine will perform a function based on a strict algorithm and set of capabilities programmed and (hopefully) never veer from its expected function and outcome. A human, on the other hand, will perform a function based on an infinite number of variables that can never - I believe - be completely and accurately predicted.

And sometimes those variable won't be tangible, and sometimes they just won't be understood.

Like now. I don't understand.

I know, this doesn't make sense. Yea, I'm being vague.

Sometimes just putting letters on paper makes concrete to me even the most vague assertions, and when what is thrown at you all seems to disappear when you grab it sometimes something firm is exactly what you need. What I need.

Then again, maybe this is what I need. Or not.

Who knows...

December 7, 2007

To Live Long

Overheard at the gym this morning from one of our fittest octagenarians:

"To live long, eat lots of fish and rice and try not to ever think..."

Fish and rice - check.

Now if I could just cut out all the thinking...

December 4, 2007



The new computer is up and running and I am officially reconnected to the outside world! Kinda cool actually 'cuz I'm using a 42" plasma for the monitor so I feel super techno-savvy when really I'm anything but.

Lots of stuff has been happening, both with family and with training/racing.

The troupe and I spent the weekend Christmas decorating. I love Christmas! We went Saturday to the tree farm an hour north of home where we've gone for the last few years and the kids picked their favorite tree. My mom, who was in town to watch the kids for me while I ran the Jinglebell 5k that morning, got to go with us to the tree farm. It was the first time she had gone with me to get a tree, and I think she was enjoying the novelty.

Anyway, Saturday was spent decorating the tree and house, and Sunday we set up our Polar Express train and Christmas village scenes in the breakfast room, which has yet to be used for breakfast despite 3 months in the new house. The kids love to make the whistle blow. OK, I admit it, I love to make the whistle blow too.

So the Jinglebell Run marked the 3rd race I've done in the last month - 2 10ks and a 5k. I continue to have occasional pains in my left lateral knee that seem to come randomly. I initially thought the IT was flaring but I've pretty much ditched that theory. Sometimes it will happen 4 miles in, sometimes 10 miles into a run. I've religiously stretched and strengthened my IT over the last year and NEVER have pain with stretching or lifting exercises.

Anyway, since I've been getting the occasional pains that I cannot run through, I have backed off the long runs and done more frequent shorter runs. I think this next multisport season will consist of mostly shorter to medium distance duathlons and maybe a couple tris. I've grown to love swimming, but for now it is such an impediment to me actually having any competitive results. So to satisfy my need for competitive results I'm concentrating this year on the du.

Back to the Jinglebell - I cannot get to 20 minutes for 5k. I wanted so badly to do it Saturday, but the Highland Avenue hills had other plans for me. I finished in 20:57, good enough for 3/30 or 40 in my age group and 26/500ish racers. The 2 10 ks this month were consistent if nothing else - 44:14 in the Vulcan Run and 44:21 (44:15 by my watch) in the JCC Montclair Run.

This weekend is the Village to Village 8k. Although it's hilly I'm going to try hard to get close to a 36 minute race.

Well, that's enough for now. I'm excited to finally be back in the blogging saddle, and thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

November 18, 2007

Almost Back...

I needed to take a blogging vacation because of some unwanted discoveries. When my home computer decided to irreversibly crash, the vacation turned much longer than expected. I'm at my parents for the weekend so took advantage of their machine to at least post a couple of pics to dispel any rumors of my demise. I'm here, alive and well... More soon!

October 8, 2007


Today was the first day in a couple of months when I felt like I was really training again. And damn if it didn't feel good...

I set the alarm for 10 and was out the door by 1030 driving to Oak Mtn with my Stumpjumper loaded in the truck. By 1130 I was on the trail, there were blue skies and temps in the high 80s. It was perfect.

I rode the double oak trail, a 17 +/- mile loop of mostly rocky/rootsy singletrack with 4 miles of fire road, in 1:33, about 15 minutes faster than the same loop last week. I saw only one hiker and one other biker the entire ride. I couldn't begin to count how many squirrels I scared off.

By the time the ride was over it was 91 (who ever heard of 90 + degrees in October??? this global warming thing is gettin' serious dude!) and my legs were tapped.

I drove home, ate a PB&J and rehydrated, and then went for a run.

This was going to be my first real "long run" since the injury, and I had 10 miles to cover. I decided I would run 45 minutes out and turn around to give me 10 ish miles at an easy pace. Unfortunately I forgot that I needed to run an easy pace. After 20 minutes and about 3 miles I realized that 10 miles wasn't going to happen. Too hot, legs already tired, too fast a pace...

So I broke off the planned run and made it a loop that ended with about 6 miles in 50 minutes over rather hilly terrain. Not what I wanted, but I'll take it.

Any destination worth reaching has setbacks along the way. Whether it's my broken foot, an unexpected heart condition, or perhaps an even more threatening illness, the setbacks are painful and sometimes leave you questioning "why me?"

Perhaps the better question might be "why not me?" I see every day people devastated by disease and injury. These people are absolutely no different than me and you. They have families, kids, jobs, homes, hobbies. It's easy to look at someone crippled from a car wreck or hairless from cancer and feel sorry for them. But feeling sorry for them is almost feeling sorry for yourself, because that could be, can be, and very possibly will be you at some point. Noone is immune...

So today I didn't get what I wanted, but I got just enough. Enough to let me know that I'm healthy. Enough to make me thankful for what I have while I have it.

And that's plenty enough for me...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

October 3, 2007

The Target

I read the waiver,

I clicked the box,

I gave them my card,

And now it's official...

I'm in!

September 28, 2007

Almond Extract

If you like almonds but have no teeth, then read closely and BEWARE!

Do not, I repeat - DO NOT - swallow the almonds whole. I understand, this seems like a reasonable option for the tooth-challenged person to indulge in his, or her, favorite nut and acquire the benefits of said nuts. But, and it's a big but -

I recently discovered, in the way that only the staff in your local emergency department can discover, that almonds swallowed whole aren't digested by the body. AT ALL.

So, the health conscious toothless person who likes to indulge on a few dozen, or perhaps more likely several hundred almonds, may be in for a big surprise.

Ah, what kind of surprise, you ask? Because I know you want to know...

First of all, a few hundred whole almonds have a hard time making their way through the twists and turns of the GI system, potentially causing a rather severe constipation.

Second, to remove said constipation, it may require the administration of an enema, or two or three.

Third, when that enema is done in the local ER where toothless person might have to present for his constipation-induced abdominal pain without telling the ER staff about his recent almond-fetish, the ER staff might be a little shocked when not one - not two - but several hundreds of whole almonds are expelled from toothless person after enema administration.

Enough said.

September 24, 2007


It grows slowly
This seed,

Burdened upon me
By debauchery
and dreams of purpose.
Red clay and dry days
Punish me
Starve me
Beat me
Until I break free
The earth and the world
Sees me,
a young sapling.
Roots grow deep,
Leaves become many
I am mighty and strong
But not as strong as the
Storm winds and Snow
That pummels me and
Fights to keep me from
My Dreams.
I fall.
But like all else
This too will pass,
Storms move on,
winter colds turn warm.
And I, I will
Grow again, Rising
More sturdy with
Deeper roots knowing
That I have walked this road,
I have felt the winds and hard times,
And I have survived.
And I will survive,
Become the mighty oak.
And that dream, whichever dream,
Will be mine with persistence
And patience
And courage
And strength.

It grows slowly
This seed.

September 9, 2007

Missing Monona

My first thought when I woke this morning was I should be getting out of the water in Lake Monona right now.

But a lady who has filed a half dozen or more other lawsuits in the last 10 years was suing me for malpractice and I was supposed to be in court tomorrow at 9 am.

At least that was the plan until Thursday about 530 when I got a call from my attorney to tell me that the trial prep meeting the next morning would now be a mediation session in which we try to reach a settlement.

By 430 the next afternoon there was a settlement, and I had been dropped completely from the case. No court.

Unfortunately, race packets had to be picked up in Madison no later than Friday afternoon at 4pm. What - no day before the race packet pick-up? Nope, not for North American Ironman events...

True, I have a healing foot, and it probably wouldn't have been a great idea to run a marathon on it. But I would have done it. After all, I have about 700 hours of training and more than a 1000 dollar entry fee (through, thus the price-hike) committed to this race.

Instead I woke at 830 this morning, lounged, played with the kids, packed in preparation for moving to the new house, and then painted.

I much rather would have been pushing my limits for 12 or 13 hours...

Oh well, there's always another race...

Unfortunately, there's always another crazy lady to file irresponsible lawsuits too...

September 3, 2007

24 HOT Race Report

I should start by declaring that I love this race. The concept of completing as many swim/bike/run segments as you can or desire to in a fixed amount of time offers something for all triathletes.

If you want to race to win, you have your choice of 8 or 24 hour races. 24 hours of racing easily gives you more distance than any IM contest, and maybe close to a double iron contest. Or you could just be participating as part of your routine training, and you can go whatever distance you want and then just stop. If you need practice with transitions, what better place than a sprint triathlon repeated 5 or 6 times over the course of 8 hours? If you just want some sweet schwag, could it get better than a tech tee AND a pair of $155 running shoes? I think not...

So I arrived in Denver about 7 Friday night and was greeted by a hailstorm with lightning that necessitated a 30 minute sit-and-wait in the jet on the tarmac. Finally they freed us and I found Stronger and we found a carb-loading meal at Macaroni Grill. Lasagna - yummy!! I assembled my bike and organized my gear and made it to sleep shortly after midnight.

545 am arrived and I seriously did not want to get out of bed. After starting to feel guilty about no-showing for the 615 meetup with Bold, I finally got up and made the 5 minute trip to registration, only about 10 minutes late. We picked up our packets and Newtons, then started to assemble our transition area.

Then Stronger's bike pump ate my valve. Seriously. Ya know the piece of the presta valve that you loosen to inflate the tire? Well I loosened it, then started inflating. Nothing was happening so I unhooked the pump from the valve and the little screw on thing was gone. MIA. Not in the pump, not on the ground, not on the valve. Gone.

Luckily I had another tube, of course. So I changed the tube out and inflated, then went to hear the last 30 seconds of the mandatory meeting. I returned and - an effing flat tire. The new one. I removed it and found a huge hole in the brand new tube. So I used my last spare tube and changed it out for the 2nd time before the race even started. Thankfully I would have no more tire issues during the race.

We all assembled about a 100 yards from the water, and then it started. Bold and I walked to the water as if we were going for a mid January swim in 35 degree water. I think Stronger was already at the 2nd buoy before our feet were wet. Hey, we had 8 hours to finish this thing - no rush, right?

The swim was horribly marked and people were swimming opposite directions in the same line. Powerboats and jetskis were everywhere up to about 50 yards from the swim course. I would swim about 3 or 4 strokes, then pause to pull the seaweed off my head and goggles. Ugh... As I was getting out of the water after that 1st swim, I hit my (broken) foot on a boulder in the water and was left to hobble to the transition close to tears. It hurt.

But the bike got me feeling better. It was flat and fast with only 2 or 3 turns including the turnaround. It wasn't well marked and anyone who so desired could probably have cheated without anyone knowing. Of course I didn't. But I'm just saying, it wouldn't have been difficult to.

Now even up to race morning, I wasn't sure about my strategy. I was planning on walking the run, because I'm not supposed to run until October 1. But it's hard to walk when everyone around you is running. So... I ran. Jogged actually - slowly. As in about 9 or 10 minute pace slowly. As in so slow that it was hurting me mentally probably much more than it would have hurt my foot physically. But it felt good and I had little or no pain, so I kept running for 4 loops of the 2.6 mile course.

And then I biked a couple more times, and then I caught back up with Stronger and Bold who had just finished a couple of swim legs. At that point I had no more desire to swim, especially when I heard about Bold's head-on collision with another swimmer. Uhm, no thanks...

It was then that I changed my role from racer to supporter and cheerleader. I rode along with Stronger for a few more rides, ran a loop with her, made a little lunch for us, and watched her suffer for her final mile (of 3) swimming.

Finally 8 hours arrived, and I was done. Spent. We kicked back in the shade and waited on the awards. And waited... And waited... The awards finally started 3 hours after the race ended. How about a chic named Mader tied a dude for the most laps completed? I totally should have swapped to the duathlon, because I would have cashed in for 1st place in that division.

All in all, this race was a blast. Next year, I'm thinking a relay team for the whole 24 hours... Any takers?

Thanks for reading My Daily Spin...

August 31, 2007

24 Hours of Triathlon

My initial plan was to go to the 24 hours of triathlon to serve as support crew.

Then, my arm was twisted into competing in the 8 hour of triathlon version.

I realized that IM MOO was the following weekend, so I changed to an 8 hour relay team to split the effort 3 ways.

But I discovered I would have to be in court the day after IM, so I had to cancel. I needed something more epic than an 8 hour relay, so I changed to the full 24 hour race as a solo.

And then I broke my foot, and I can't run until October.

So now I'm doing a sort of aquathon. For the 24 HOT and its 8 HOT sibling, you have to complete the 1st swim bike run in that order, and then you can do any discipline in any order for the duration of the 8 hours.

I'll do the swim, then bike, then walk the 1st run leg. After that, I'll swim and ride my bike for the duration of the 8 hours.

Should I swim for 3 hours and then bike for the remaining 3 1/2? Or should I swim bike swim bike swim bike in even proportions? Or should I do a couple of swims then a couple of bikes and alternate in that manner?

Each swim is 0.5 miles, and each bike is just under 10 miles.

Or maybe I should just swim the entire time...

Decisions Decisions...

August 27, 2007

Back in the Saddle

A week of basic inactivity has let my broken foot become essentially painfree again so I was back on the bike and at the pool today.

You know that saying - miss a day and no one notices, miss 2 or 3 days and only you notice, miss a week and everyone notices. Well, today, I think anyone could have noticed.

I trudged along on the computtrainer for a measly 30 minutes at 150W, then went to the gym and swam a couple thousand yards. When I jumped in the pool Matt asked me how far I was swimming, and I felt like a real wuss when I had to respond probably not very far. There was a time when I would have shot back 2 miles, or maybe even 2 1/2 miles. But today, not very far was all I could muster.

After the swim, I grabbed a couple of those dumbell foam floatie things and went to the deep water and aqua-ran for about 35 minutes until thunder struck and they shut down the pool. It was my first experience with aqua running, and I didn't feel like it did much. Maybe I need to aqua sprint, or at least aqua run for longer.

Then I went inside and rowed 5000 meters on the Concept 2, my new best friend. I had played around with it when I was doing Crossfit more regularly, but the last few weeks since I hurt my foot I've spent some serious QT with rowing across my imaginary endless lake.

Then I did a little lifting and core exercises and stretching, and then I finished off with 30 minutes of climbing stairs.

Total time 3 1/2 hours...

It's funny how when you can't do something you miss it more than you ever thought you would. I haven't run in more than a week now, and I can't run until October 1. That would give me only about 9 weeks to prepare for the Marathon of the Palm Beaches in December, where I had hoped to have a shot at a BQ time. I think I'll drop to the half marathon for that race, if I do it at all, and focus my sights on the Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon in mid January.

If my foot complies, that is...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

August 23, 2007

the latest tag

TJ tagged me last week, so here goes:

Jobs I've Held: newspaper boy, hammock maker, shipping clerk, customer service manager, pizza deliverer, Kmart garden shop worker (for 1 day), telemarketer, door-to-door cleaning supply sales (for 1 day), collector, medical records clerk, iq test administerer, newspaper columnist, congressional campaign staffer, DC lobbyist, breast cancer genetics researcher, flight physician, emergency physician

Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:

Stripes, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, Caddyshack

Places I Have Lived:

Alabama, Washington DC, Michigan

Shows I Enjoy:

Dog the Bounty Hunter (ok, the secret is out...)

Vacation Spots:

47/50 US states, Caribbean, Switzerland... current favorite remains SanDestin...

Favorite Foods:
scallops, raw oysters with tobasco on saltine crackers, buffalo steak, beef strouganoff...

Websites I Visit Daily:,,,, and of course - google!

Body Parts I Have Injured:

Right knee, Broken left leg, 2 broken toes, 1 broken foot, broken nose, broken thumb...

Nicknames I've Been Called:


August 21, 2007

Muddy Buddy Recap

Sunday I did my first MuddyBuddy race in Boulder, and it was undoubtedly unlike anything I've ever done. If you get the chance to do a race in this series - do it. There is a carnival atmosphere, you get to play in the mud, it's a big race but without a competitive feel, and it's just a rockin' good time...

I hung with Stronger and fam...

I saw Bolder's playground, the Boulder Res...

I was entertained by 2 of the most adorable kids ever!

I crawled through a giant mud pit - twice!

Mud Mud Everywhere!

But the race did come at a price - my maybe stress-fractured foot that I decided to race on anyway wasn't able to be walked on when I woke yesterday morning. So, I'm on crutches for a stint and out of running for a few weeks. Despite probably making the injury a little worse, I'd do it again in a heartbeat given the chance.
I owe an extra special thanks to my super muddybuddy for running a lot faster than I did and keeping us reasonably competitive. You're the best C!
Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

August 16, 2007


It's Muddy Buddy week!

Today I leave for Colorado for some high altitude racing muddybuddy style. For anyone not in the know, muddybuddy is a nationwide series of races that have teams of two biking, running, and completing obstacles over the muddiest course the designers can create.

It's wet and gooey and sticky and slippery and slimy and dirty AND it's racing! Woohoo!!!!

My muddybuddy has used her high fashion superfly designin' skills to create us a sure-to-win costume so we can snag the $500 prize for the costume contest judged by no other than Ryan of Bachelorette fame. No costume hints from me, but lets just say the judges will be going nuts over us...
In other news, my stress fracture in my foot maybe isn't a true fracture after all. It's starting to feel much better with just ibuprofen and occasional icing - and rest. This week I've been doing a lot of swimming and rowing to replace the biking and running that the foot issue is keeping me from. I'll give it a good test on Sunday and see how it holds up - cross your fingers for me! If it bothers me then I'll likely be out of running for a few weeks to let it really heal... :(
Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

August 13, 2007


Saturday I took Emma for her first shooting adventure. She had been asking to shoot a "real gun" for a few months, and I kept promising her I would someday. Well, someday finally got here so we took my guns and went to our friend P's farm to target shoot.

Now I'm not a gun guy by any means, but I used to try to be when I was a teenager. My parents gave me a shotgun and a .22 rifle when I was a kid, and the guns have stayed at their house in their safe ever since.

The .22 is perfect for a kid's first shooting experience. There is no kick; and it's small and lightweight.

Emma had never been around a gun being fired, so she was unsure at first. She wanted me to shoot first, so I did. She got scared and said she didn't want to shoot. After a couple of minutes of talking, she and I realized it was the sound - even though it was no louder than a cabinet door slamming - that she was afraid of. So we put on her headphones and she was golden!

For the next 2 hours she shot up paper plate after paper plate with 2 different rifles. She was beaming with pride, and so was her daddy.

You know, it isn't always the specifics of the what that you teach them, it's just that you teach them. New things... New experiences... New sights... That you show them how to live...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

August 10, 2007


sometimes they ask what
if but my answer
might not be
that but

sometimes I play games
dangerous games
pushing edges
of insanity
just to

sometimes I succeed
triumphant atop
pinnacles. bold.
looking back
at how far
I've come.

but sometime I won't.
the edge will prove
strong - fatally
strong. Yet
still I will

August 7, 2007

David Andretta, 1976-2007

[David's birthday is soon - April 6! Please consider a birthday gift to the David F. Andretta Explorer Fund. This scholarship will be awarded annually to a Georgetown University undergraduate student seeking to explore the world through an academic research project. See for more details.]

The first time I met David I was interviewing him for a resident physician position at our hospital. He told me that when he finished his med school classes the next month he was going to Australia to play for a few months.

Honestly, it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I thought it was a bit out of line for him to be asking for a job while boasting about his upcoming several-month vacation. And I think I was a little jealous too... But overall, we liked and were impressed by David, so he got the job.

David has worked with us for just over 2 years in the ER. And I must say he's more than a little different than anyone I've ever known.

David easily is one of the smartest people I've ever met. So smart in fact that his speech rarely can keep up with his mind. He will ask me a question and, in the process of asking, answer his own question in 3 different ways while unknowingly actually cite the sources that he at some point read to formulate the answers.

Sometimes David had trouble communicating with patients. Its hard to take the superior mind and bring it down to the conversation level of most of my patients. His speech was quick and free of southern drawl; a rarity among the lazy words most commonly spoken in Alabama.

David had a zest for life that few can match. He had travelled the world so extensively that he could mesmerize you with stories about his travels. He married his longtime girlfriend Melissa, who works for IcelandAir, last September. He climbed regularly - mountains, boulders, walls. He was passionate about climbing, and more than once he had promised to get me on a wall and show me the ropes.

David and Melissa were travelling in Africa this week when he decided to climb Table Mountain in South Africa. Melissa waited at the top while David ascended.

But he never made it.

Yesterday morning rescuers retrieved his body from a ridge after he apparently had fallen to his death.

I'll miss you David... Happy travels, my friend.

Read more about David here, or about the fall and rescue attempt here.

From Melissa, 8-12-07: We keep telling "Dave" stories and thinking about David's zest for life and unique way of living. I would like for others to do the same and was hoping you might be able to post a few photos of our trip on your site. The first was taken as we drove along the Blyde River Canyon the day after we arrived in South Africa. The one with the rainbow was taken on the evening of August 3 as we were hiking down from Lion's Head mountain where the sun was setting.

Up until his death, David was truly happy and I want others to know that and remember him not only for the way he died, but lived. We had been in South Africa for over a week and had been on a safari that can only be described as magical. From spotting all Big 5 to loving every minute of a four day hiking safari where we had extremely close encounters with a rhino, elephants and even two lions, we felt truly blessed and just had the biggest smiles on our faces. We had been in Cape Town for a few days and the day before his death, David was able to fufill a long time dream of cage diving with the Great White sharks off the coast of Gansbaai. He was truly living and loving life.

August 5, 2007

The Longest Ride

I needed a longish ride this weekend, and I didn't feel like riding the same local roads that I always travel.

You see, this post was supposed to be a Steelhead Half Ironman race report. But noone but me to take care of the kids on Friday made it impossible to be on Lake Michigan to pick up my race packet by Friday evening.

S0, I decided early in the week to drive to Madison and ride the IM MOO bike course. Then, I discovered that a required court appearance the morning after IM MOO was going to make me a DNS, so there was really no need to do a recon ride on a course I wasn't racing.

I needed SOMEWHERE - ANYWHERE - not local to ride!

After a Friday night spent researching possible rides, I left at 6am Saturday for northwest Georgia to ride the Chattooga Century 125 mile course (the actual organized ride is next weekend, but I needed a ride this weekend! So, anyone in the southeast looking for a fun ride Aug 11, check this one out!). Yep, you read that right - a century that offers a 125 mile option (which turned out to be 128.5 mile option - which turned into a 130 mile ride for me when you consider my -oops- missed turn).

I rarely am awake for sunrise, so I was in awe as I drove east and watched the sun creep over the horizon.

It took me just over 2 hours to reach Chattooga High School, then I parked the truck and got the gear ready.

Less than 3 miles into the ride I learned that the cue sheet wasn't accurate when I missed a turn and had to double back for nearly a mile. But, there were arrows pointing the right direction at EVERY turn, making this an easy to follow ride.

There was a nice mix of long flat stretches mixed in with some rolling hills and a (torturous) climb up Lookout Mountain.

The dogs weren't bad until about mile 75; but from then on I was rather occupied with trying to get an early start to sprinting away from the various chasing dogs. Why is it that dogs on country roads feel the need to chase me? Ever hear of leashes? Or chains? Makes me want to put a pocket .22 in my bento box for such an occasion... The only thing I saw more of than chasing dogs was confederate flags... EVERY.WHERE.

When I finally made it back to the truck I had logged 130 miles, easily my longest ride ever. I started on a transition run but a cramping stomach cut that to just 10 minutes, and then I headed home.
Today, a 5 mile run (at noon in 95 degrees with way-too-high humidity) and 3000 yard straight swim. Yep, it's all starting to come back together. And 24 hours of triathlon is less than a month away!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

August 3, 2007

Out of Ironman Wisconsin?

Sometimes life throws you a wild pitch that hits you when you least expect it.

I found out earlier this week I have to be in court for a medical case (that's been dragging along now for 4 years) that I'm personally involved in but hasn't really personally affected me.

September 10 at 9am.

I called the attourney.

He confirmed.

There's absolutely no way around it, and I have to appear.

Ironman Wisconsin starts September 9 at 0700.

It will take me about 12 hours to finish, putting me at 1900.

The last flight out of Madison that will put me in Birmingham by 0900 September 10 leaves at 1921.

It takes 12 hours 41 minutes per Google Map to drive from Madison to Birmingham.

Prior to court, I would need to shower and have on court clothes.

Cutting it close...

I think I'm out of Ironman Wisconsin.

I think I may be changing my 8 hours of triathlon entry to the full 24 hours of triathlon on September 1-2.

It's a wild pitch, and it hit me square in the shoulder. But it's not going to knock me out... Not going to put me out of the game. I'll still get on base... I'll still get another turn at bat.

I'll still win this game... Just not this time.

July 31, 2007

Ea Venit, Ea Vidit, Ea Vicit

Sometimes the weekend turns out great, but when it's over, you feel so bummed that it's over, you just don't want to recap it.

And that's kind of how I feel... Bummed it's over...

She came...

When we picked her up from the airport Friday afternoon, we couldn't make Stronger have 3 more hands so that each of the kids and I had one to hold... So we hugged her en masse, probably smothering her a bit in the process. Needless to say we we happy to see her, I was happy to see her.

She saw...

Since the last time she visited we drove 1000 miles across the southeast over a 2 day stretch, I wanted to let her see a little of Birmingham without a ton of driving this time. We went to see Vulcan for Momo, who I hear has always dreamt of seeing him and who has now placed the experience on her list of must-do's... Ha! So we went over to the helipad on the 16th floor of the hospital for an unobstructed view of him, and the rest of Birmingham. We then drove over and looked up his skirt - dude has balls of iron... Anyway, we scooted here and there over the weekend with a little sightseeing along the way.

She conquered...

We decided to do a little twilight Retro 5k Saturday night. We, being of the most cutting edge race couture type persuasion, had no real retro items to race in, so we just raced. And pointed and laughed at the 2 foot high afro wigs and leisure suits and knee high tube socks. We just made it to the start line after an brief - but highly effective - warm up before "3 - 2 - 1 - GO!" I had forgotten how small local races like this start so nonchalantly. No guns.... No cannons... No trumpets... Just Go.

And Go we went! I had hoped for under 20 minutes and thought I was on pace to do it, but I always forget about the last point something in a race when I'm figuring pace. I work on the 3 mile pace for a 5 k but forget about that extra 0.1 miles. So I finished in 20:26, which was good for 6th/40 in the 30-34 group.

After finishing I walked back to the last turn before the finishing stretch just in time to see Stronger rounding the corner. I shouted "Go Carrie" and then jogged along to see her finish in 23:22, good for 2nd (out of 30!) in her age group! Way to go Carrie!!!

After the finished we hurried over to the nearby playground where the kids we playing and hustled them back for the start of the half mile kids race. This was Emma and Tess's 2nd race in 3 weeks, and they were excited about the shorter distance this time. The race started with a big downhill, and Emma face planted after about 50 yards. The girl is tough... She popped up so quickly I barely had time to ask if she was ok.

Emma and Tess both ran strong and fast, and had fun! After the race Emma was shocked to realize that she was bleeding from both knees and an elbow from the fall. Her 7 year old runners high had kept her from realizing she was injured during the race.

After the race we took the kids home to the babysitter and then met Matt and Lauren for some good food and great conversation. Matt is just as funny and friendly as his blog suggests, and his wife is great... It always impresses me to see a couple who seems so genuinely in awe of and in love with each other... They're the real deal.

And finally the weekend had to end... Stronger back to Colorado. Kids to their mom. Me to work. Sigh...

On the Horizon...

This weekend Steelhead Half Ironman is on the schedule. Unfortunately, I'm bagging the race for several reasons, including a broken foot (on my unfortunate mom who was going to watch the kids for me on Friday) and my uninspired feeling about this race. Instead I'm going over to Madison to do a reconnaissance ride on the IM MOO course on Saturday and a recon run on Sunday. My own little WIBA, I suppose...

Muddy Buddy in Boulder is less than 3 weeks away, and 8 hours of triathlon is just a month away. And then comes the big show at IM MOO...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin...

July 26, 2007

Shifting Focus

I've always had a hard time focusing. My mind drifts and wanders, thinking ahead to the next day or week or the next big adventure or the next patient that might stagger through my ER door squirting blood from a dozen bulletholes.

Lack of focus makes Ironman training hard for me. It was hard for Switzerland, and it's getting harder for Wisconsin.

Right now, I can't stop thinking ahead to Comrades. For those not in the know - which I wasn't until Momo wrote about this race a few months ago - Comrades is the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon. It is a road race, 55 miles long, held each year in June in South Africa. The racecourse alternates directions each year, so on even years it is UP and odd years it is DOWN.

Ultramarathons typically have no more than 100 or so entrants. Last year Comrades had over 12,000 starters, and 10,000 finishers. How huge is that?!! Check out this article from Runners World about this race.

So I'm committing myself to Comrades, now just 11 months away. To get there, and to survive, I'll need to shift my focus to a run-dominant training plan after Wisconsin.

I'm looking at either Marathon of the Palm Beaches in early December, or the Rock-n-Roll marathon in Phoenix in January. I'd like to be prepared for a near BQ time for either of those, although actually BQing isn't a primary goal. I'll need a 50k race in February or March, and any suggestions are welcome. I think one more 50k, or maybe a 50 miler, in April would have me ready to tackle the bigun in South Africa.

I've dreamt of running ultramarathons since I was a little boy, but until now its never been a realistic goal. This is something I want, and it's something I will have. I will finish Comrades... I WILL finish Comrades.

Now if I can just keep my focus on Wisconsin for another couple of months...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

July 23, 2007

Lost in the Forest

I never imagined I would be spending my birthday lost overnight in the middle of an isolated forest. But as night crept in I found myself clueless how to escape...

Yesterday I drove to the Talladega National Forest to run on the Pinhoti Trail system. The Pinhoti stretches for dozens of miles and (supposedly) will eventually meet and join the Appalachian Trail.

My training plan called for a 2 hour run, and of course I wanted to do it on the trail. I started the run about 445 pm on Cave Creek Trail and planned to run to Nubbin Trail, then turn back when I reached Odum Trail. To Odum would be around 7.5 miles, so I wasn't sure I would make it all the way there by my 1 hour turnaround cutoff.

The run out was great, although it seemed like I was running forever. I hit my hour mark 15 minutes past a 2 miles to Odum sign, so I turned back there after an estimated 7 miles.

Coming back was passing much quicker than going out, and I was cruising. Felt great! I took the long gradual climbs a little slower and flew down the descents.

I reached my last landmark on the trail, a cliff with a steep drop a long way down into the canyon, and I knew I only had about 2 miles left. It was 630. It took me several minutes to find the trail connector at this point, and when I did it didn't really look familiar. But - it was the only trail I saw after about 5 minutes of looking, so I assumed it was the right one and blamed the lack of recognition on being tired (and the fact that my memory absolutely SUCKS!). And so I ran...

I ran for about 10 minutes when I was convinced that I was on the wrong trail. This one looked like an ATV trail, not a hiking trail. ATVs aren't allowed on the Pinhoti or its side trails. But I knew that landmark was right, and I had spent a lot of time looking for the trail and this was the only one I saw. So I kept running, assuming that this trail probably exited the forest soon.

WRONG!! I ran for another 10 minutes or so, and then started to get a little concerned. This trail had lots of diversions and intersections with other trails, all of which looked like ATV trails. I made a couple of left turns, then veered right. Then realized I was lost. It was 720.

At this point I had been running for 2 1/2 hours and had been out of my Gatorade Endurance for about 30 minutes. I had brought 2 Clif Bars with me, 1 of which I ate at the 1 hour turnaround. Man, it seemed like forever since that 1 hour turnaround...

The light in the forest was disappearing quickly. I veered left at the next trail split, thinking I was headed west back toward the road I had driven in on. I was sprinting now, concerned that I was lost and running out of light.

I started thinking about the very real possibility that I would be sleeping in the middle of the forest tonight. Would anyone come looking for me? The only person that knew where I was going was 1500 miles away in Colorado. And all she knew was that I was running on a trail an hour and a half from my house and that it might someday connect to the Appalachian. I have this week off, so noone at work would get concerned that I didn't show up. The kids were with their mom.

After about 10 minutes, I lost the trail. It apparently just terminated in the middle of nowhere... It was about 740, and I'd been running for 3 hours.

I decided that I should try to get back to the cliff, the last landmark I felt comfortable that I recognized. I turned back and ran as fast as my body would allow.

I'd been without any drink for an hour now, running the whole time, and I was feeling parched. My legs were aching from being anaerobic and without any fuel for 2 hours now.

I crossed a creek when I was trying to get back to the cliff, so I filled up my bottle and downed it. I then filled it again so I would have water through the night. At this point I was nearly certain I would be staying in the forest...

I tripped over more roots and rocks than I ever care to again. Between my aching legs and the impending darkness, the roots seemingly jumped up to trip me whenever I got close.

I finally recognized the first ATV trail that I had been on and ran until I was back at the cliff. I climbed out onto the open ledge of rock and peered out, hoping to see the road down below. Nothing. No road. No sound of cars. No human lights. Nothing. I stood on the cliff for a couple minutes trying to decide whether to hunker down here for the night, or to try to find my way somewhere else. It was a few minutes after 8. It was basically dark beneath the canopy of the forest, although the sky was still light grey.

I decided to search one more time for the right trail. I stepped off the cliff and then I saw it - my trail! There was overgrown foliage blocking direct sight of it, but I caught a glimpse of it through the greenery. I was so excited I started sprinting again.

Until I face planted again. With about a half mile to go, I could no longer see the ground and gave up on running. And of course, it was now that it started raining buckets... I gingerly marched through that last half mile until I finally got back to the trailhead and my car.

I've been humbled many times along this journey to Ironman. I've relied on total strangers for a ride home when I flatted with no extra tube. I've lost way too much skin trying to ride faster on downhills than I had any business riding. I've been lapped in the pool by a 200 # granny.

And now I've been lost in the forest. What an adventure!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

July 19, 2007

The Troupe Goes Racing

For me, the next best thing to racing is watching my kids race. I saw an ad this morning for a local 5 k with some short distance (100y, 400y) kid races and a 1 mile fun run. I asked the kids about it and they were super-excited! My kids love to go racin'!

Prior to the start, they scoped the courses...
For the 1 mile run, I pushed the little ones in the stroller...
Tess cruises...

Emma makes the pass!
Hooray for kid medals!If she strains hard enough, maybe the muscles will show...

Discussing race strategy with her pal in Colorado...

Post-race pizza caps off another fun day!

July 16, 2007

The Waterfall Adventure

Saturday morning I woke to the kids climbing into my bed saying "Daddy we want to go on an adventure!"

Daddy didn't have any ready-made plans, so I had to come up with something to capture the imagination of my 4 kids, ages 2-7.

After a little thinking and a quick internet search, I came up with an idea: a waterfall tour and backcountry camping.

We gathered up some supplies and extra clothes then headed out by noon. We drove about 50 miles northeast to Noccalula Falls, our first stop on the Waterfall Adventure.

Long ago a native american named Noccalula was in love with a boy from a rival tribe. When their love was forbidden, she leapt to her death over the 90 foot waterfall, which later was named in her honor. There's a statue at the edge of her falls dramatizing the moment.

Noccalula Falls today has been commercialized with an animal park and children's train ride, which made this first stop the kids' favorite of the day. We walked around the park, climbed boulders, made the treacherous (for daddy at least!) descent into the gorge, ate yummy peaches off the tree, and rode the train around until they kicked us off. It was a great first stop on the adventure!

Next we drove about 50 miles further northeast to Desota Falls. This usually raging falls was reduced to a slightly-more-than trickle by the summer drought. We just missed a local cave rescue team practicing rapels and zip lines across the canyon. We sat for a few minutes on the edge of the 100 foot cliff and admired God's beautiful creation.

Then we drove a little further to Little River Falls. Like Desota and Noccalula, the Little River Falls showed the effects of the drought with water flow probably only 30-40% of what I remembered from last time I was there 10 years ago. The low water allowed us to walk across the rocky river bed and dangle our feet into the cool water just a dozen meters above the falls.

I made the kids hold my hand to stand in the water since the rocks were incredibly slippery. Of course my brave 7 year old ripped her hand away, said "I can do it Daddy," and then immediately fell back into the water. Sometimes I get way too much pleasure from I-told-you-so moments...

Then it was time to find a campsite. Little River Canyon National Preserve only has backcountry camping, and they only allow it at 3 specific single-group sites. Two of the site descriptions stated specifically they were along the banks of the river, but after some serious 4-wheel-drive mudfest boulder-hopping to get to the sites, they were nonexistent. Luckily, I found the 3rd site after a little nerve-racking deep rut narrow steep descents in the truck.

The campsite was the best! We were completely isolated from everything, and were directly on the river. A cleared path led 100 yards upriver to a perfect swimming spot. We pitched the tent, made dinner on the camp stove, and then went for a swim as darkness crept in. That night as we layed in the tent Emma said "Daddy I can't go to sleep because all the crickets are too loud..."

The next morning we woke, ate leftover dinner from the night prior, and then went swimming again before we started back home. The kids were exhausted and slept the whole way! Daddy was exhausted too, but he didn't get to sleep before his 2 hour prescribed run and then his overnight shift in the ER. Finally I crawled into bed early this morning!

What an adventure!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.