Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday is a new day

It is totally clear and sunny out. Still cold, but the sun really helps. I still have that lingering cold. I am on cup five of green tea for the day. I figure this would be better than coffee for helping get over my cold. 

The kids let me have over an hour to ride the trainer. It was nothing spectacular, but I was riding for over an hour, so I will take it right now. The kids didn't complain too much as they were allowed to watch something like their third hour of cartoons. That is what happens when they get up at 6:00 AM. We have to drag them out of bed at 7:00 on a school day - I don't get it. 

F had his final basketball camp. Now, that probably sounds impressive - like my kid is some sort of basketball phenom or is obsessed with basketball. Nothing could be further from the truth. If I may toot my own horn for a moment - I am horrible at ball sports - at least ball sports that require hands. (All together now - insert obvious joke involving "hands" and/or "balls" - "balls" is funny though.) Thus my affinity for individual sports with no balls required (see above parenthetical note.) No, this is a camp put on by community ed, but it is very well run. He went from not being able to get the ball up to the rim to making a good number of shots and his dribbling has improved immensely. I am very impressed. I promised E if she hung out with no complaints we would go out for lunch. After a litany of options, all shot down by F because he is a jerk, they surprisingly and enthusiastically agreed to go to the Turtle Bread Company. 

This is a great little spot in Minneapolis, about a mile from our house. (Of course we drove - please add this to my gigantic carbon footprint.) They serve giant pieces of homemade quiche that the kids love (ie: will eat) and good pastries. It has kind of a funky, down-homey vibe and it is kid friendly. On the way home F says to E, "When I get home I am going to change my clothes and hop on the Wii." E replies, "I thought we were going to cuddle." F said, "Oh, yeah. And then we can play Wii." Priorities kids, priorities.  

We are heading over to my brother-in-laws for dinner tonight. We will bring the dog and see how that interaction goes. E has let me know her feelings about this scenario - "They will all be WILD and I am NOT OK with that." I am, so that's all that really matters.

The house is a disaster area right now. I really need my wife back. (I will pick it all up before she gets home, I was just seeing if anyone was paying attention.)

Can you say "Temptation Island?" We need to get these things delivered soon.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kind of a bust

That is how I feel about today. I didn't get up and swim (had the alarm set and turned it off.) I didn't get on my bike (I said I would after the kids went to bed, honestly, that will never EVER happen.) I didn't walk the dog (he did, however, go everywhere with me in the car.) I shoveled the driveway - AGAIN! (I really dislike shoveling the driveway and there wasn't really enough snow to use the snow blower.) I took my wife, sister and a mutual friend to the airport so they could catch a flight to Florida for four days (I have mixed feelings on this one. I am no fan of FLA - sorry friendly FLA natives - too many blue-hairs and gummers and not enough for me to keep busy. Plus, we stay with my in-laws when we go. However, I don't mind FLA in small bites and especially if there are no kids involved and we are in the middle of the longest winter EVER. I would have loved to go, but my wife chose the company of my sister instead, damn it.) I went looking for Cadbury Mini Eggs (not the vomitimous Cream Eggs) and couldn't find any at the three stores I looked in. (I have - actually had - I ate them all - a bag of these seasonal delicacies, but I can not for the life of me remember where I got them - this was like a week ago. When I find them I am buying five bags.) Now I am sitting on the couch with the dog snoring next to me. I guess if I really break it down the day wasn't a total bust. 

I have this incredibly minor cold that I have decided to use as a crutch to get me out of just about anything good for me, so I used it as an excuse not to swim - that and the snow and bitter temperature. Now, with my wife gone, I won't be able to run tomorrow or swim on Monday. That leaves only trainer time. I need time in the saddle so it is a blessing in disguise. I just need to actually get my butt on the saddle. I think I will keep my goals simple - at least an hour, even if it's easy spinning. Something to get the heart rate up some and sweat out all the toxins.

The driveway did need to be shoveled and the snow is heavy so there was some benefit there - what I have taken to calling the Minnesota Core Workout. 

My wife and sister needed a break. They have both been working their asses off. The mutual friend? I guess she deserves a break, too.

Those damn Mini Eggs. They are so good, but that must mean they have like 20 times the fat of M & Ms. So, that too is probably a blessing in disguise that I can't have any. (But I will find them and they will be mine.)

As a total aside - when I decided the title of this post, I had a different image in mind. I Googled; "bust," "busts," "cleavage," "decolletage," and I came up with some images but I just couldn't use them. Then I decided I couldn't let that hard work go to waste so here they are.
(Hey, I'm a guy. What can I say?)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Damn You, Winter!

Winter came back with a vengeance in the form of 6" of blowing and drifting snow in about 5 hours. It is still coming down and still blowing, but I decided I would rather move 6" of snow and then 3" rather than 9". So, I did workout number three for the day - ran this morning, biked this afternoon and did my core workout (AKA shoveling) this evening. Right now however, my kids and their friends are "un-shoveling" all the snow I already moved. Dig a hole, then dig it again. I did not shovel ALL the snow. I used my little snow blower to move the majority, but there was still a lot of shoveling involved. Here are a couple of pictures. 
This is my neighbor's driveway, only for comparison. 

This is my driveway.  

It took a little longer than expected because the dog had issues with the snowblower.
Before I went out I threw together a little Belgian Beef Stew. Anything with beef, beer and brandy can't be too bad. I will load up with a hearty meal tonight and then shovel again tomorrow morning - grrrrr.

Share a cold...

with your dog. That is what I am doing right now. We were both "sneezey" yesterday and both of us were very "snorey" last night. A was worried about getting a good night's sleep as she was getting our snores in stereo - apparently the dog snores as loud as I do. Impressive! (I actually don't snore as loud or often as I used to, that is how I can tell I have a little bit of a cold.) I think I may have gotten my cold from the dog who has shown quite a knack for getting his tongue in my open mouth - ugh. I also may have gotten it from F, who has been spraying coughs all over the house (followed by me yelling, "Cover!")

The run this morning was good. We tried out race pace for a mile in the middle and it went pretty well. Our training pace is really not that far off. I personally think we are all in better shape than we were last year, just from our ability to chat while we maintain a nice quick little pace. It was kind of a sad run however. We really enjoyed the clear paths and mostly ice-free conditions, but we are going to get 4" - 7" of heavy, blowing snow over the next 24 hours - welcome back to winter. We also really enjoyed running the last 30 minutes or so in daylight. That all comes to a screeching halt as we are plunged back into darkness with Daylight Savings time in a couple of weeks. Three steps forward - two steps back. (Notice my optimism - that is a net of one step forward. It is so unlike me.)

Today's goal: drink as many cups of blueberry breeze green tea as possible and try not to eat ALL the Trefoils. (Some people have said I am cheating for Lent by giving up Oreos specifically, but not all cookies - yeah, well, I am already piloting a rocket ship to hell, so I might as well fuel it with some Girl Scout sinner cookies.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Gave Up Oreos, But Not These

It is a grand day at the Olson home. Just when I was having Oreo withdrawal symptoms, what arrives at our door? GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! E is a Brownie and A is her troop leader so we got a ton of cookies. Now, many of these need to be delivered to the people who ordered them, but we get to open our order right now. My favorite? Trefoils and a huge glass of milk. You know what they say - when a door closes, a window opens. I am not sure who "they" are or whether that cliche applies, but I am eating Trefoils and a great big glass of milk - so who really cares? Now, if I was watching the Biggest Loser instead of American Idol my night would be complete.

Wet and Wild Wednesday

I made it to the pool today. A good night's sleep really changes your perspective at 5:30 in the morning when you are supposed to go out and do something physical. Initially, I could tell it had been a few days since I had been in the water, but I got the feel back pretty quickly. Wednesday is always IM day, which is nice since mixing it up makes the session go quicker. Made the intervals, only took one extra bit of rest (15 seconds -like that even counts) and finished strong. I would like to up the yardage a little, but I feel pretty good about 3200 yards in about 50 minutes. I have to remind myself that it's only February and I don't have a race until June. I have plenty of time to up the yardage.

In other news - it's 36 degrees and sunny and we seem to have been spared from one round of wintery weather. Happy, happy, joy, joy. Tomorrow is another day, however.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another one?

Yes, I have started another blog. This new blog is about all the gear and services associated with my athletic endeavors so as to not bore the life out of people who don't care about my thoughts on the Stuff I Use (shameless plug.) I set up the blog about my three-legged dog for the same reason. Now, if you want to read about gear and stuff - you can go to one blog. If you want to read about my dog - you can go to another. If you just want to catch up with my life - which may, at times, include my dog and, sometimes, gear - keep coming back here. Idle hands are the devil's playthings - I am just trying to keep mine busy.

The Light at the End of the Dark, Cold, Slippery, Angry Tunnel

Today's run gives me hope. Hope that spring is on it's way. Hope that the snow and ice will eventually be gone (but only after any number of March dumps and melts.) Hope that we will start seeing the sun rise on our runs. 

Some people had school and spousal conflicts so we went a bit shorter than planned, but at a good clip. I ran to and from the lake and it felt so good to run on clear roads and relatively clear sidewalks. It also felt really good to push it on the way home. My lower legs are feeling good and have been for a few runs, so that also gives me hope. Increased biking and swimming probably helps a ton (two twenty-minute speedy walks with the pooch probably doesn't hurt either.) I got a better night's sleep last night - much quieter mind. The running group's demeanor is improving. We had all been a little on the crabby, unmotivated side. The witty banter is back and I think we are starting to feel good about where we are. The long winters here can be such a buzz-kill. 

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday - the start of Lent. I have decided to give up Oreos and ice cream. Which means I will have to start smoking and gambling - one vice always replaces another. This is going to be a daunting task because there is nothing more satisfying than eating a huge stack or Oreos with a giant glass of milk. While watching The Biggest Loser.

Update: I polished off the Oreos with a giant glass of milk as planned. And, yes, I was watching The Biggest Loser. Ready for Lent!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Me: "Don't let the bedbugs bite."
F: "'Bedbugs bite,' that's acliteration."
Me: "Don't you mean 'alliteration'?"
F: "B-B-B - When there are three, I call it 'acliteration.'"

So I have been saying it wrong all these years?

Bad Sleep, No Swim and Game On

I had a terrible night's sleep last night. It has been happening more often lately, I really don't know why. I wake up about 1 or 2 in the morning and roll around and watch the clock. It's not uncommon for me to wake up at 4 or 4:30 if I have a run or swim, and I can deal with that without being wiped out for the day, but nights like last night kill me - especially if I go out and train. I have a very busy mind right now. No major stuff or worrying, just lots of things to think about. So, I didn't swim - after I told A I was going to and she changed her workout schedule. Hopefully, she won't punish me too bad. I hope to get in the pool Wednesday and Friday this week, so I can redeem myself. Now, I have to try to cram in some bike time somewhere today. (Hey, the sun is coming up - I love daylight. How tangential and ADHD was that?)

CS and I have been making moves to get to IM WI in 2010. We have been scheming to increase our chances of getting a slot - road tripping to the race to cheer and then signing up. We found out that apparently, if you volunteer for the race, you can sign up even earlier. LET'S VOLUNTEER! Even better. We have been trying to convince MS to join us for the volunteer effort and the 2010 race. She was on the fence. This I don't get, because she is extremely good and trains diligently - through kid commitments, dog issues, bunions, event planning, etc. She turns 40 next year and I am pacing her to a Boston qualifier this spring so she can check that off her list. (Notice my confidence and bravado - Mary's comment here explains why.) Well, she just committed to IM volunteer 2009/IM WI 2010. GAME ON, BEYOTCH! You only turn 40 once, might as well try to do every major event in one year just in case you don't make it to 41. (The only thing that could derail these plans is a long shot I've got cooking on side.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Motivated Child

F joined the Cub Scouts for one reason and one reason only - to work the pancake breakfast. The big day finally came today and he couldn't have done better. 
First, we fueled up with pancakes and sausage.

Then, we commenced to clearing dishes.

Followed by quickly and efficiently wisking the garbage out of sight.

He did a great job asking people if they needed more juice and carrying drinks for folks with full hands. He also did a great job getting people to the event, selling 25 tickets by basically never taking "No" for an answer. 

Sunday workout?

Does walking the dog twice count as a workout? I felt pretty good about last week and the volume of training I was able to do and I wanted to keep it going with a trainer ride sometime today, but it never happened. I did take the dog for a jaunty walk twice and then did sprints back and forth in the driveway with him when we got back. So does that count as a workout of some sort? No? Maybe? All right, swim tomorrow and get back on schedule.

Next Winter I Will Use These

Came across an article in Outside Magazine about hobnails to give you better traction on the ice and snow. La Sportiva sells a kit with removable hobnails and a "hobnailing tool." I will be trying these next winter seeing as this winter is nearly over (although I complain like it will never end) and I have already put screws in the bottom of an old pair of trainers. Why go with the fancy versus DIY version? Well, as I have reported, the sheet metal screws I currently have installed have a limited range of usability. On very smooth ice, like we are encountering now, they are only marginally helpful and in heavy snow they are again don't help a whole lot. I think ideally you would install the screws with the points down, like track spikes, but that is unrealistic as you would feel the heads in the your shoes. What's nice about the hobnails is they twist securely into the lugs on the soles and have enough of a point to grip in snow or glare ice. Apparently, these are the same spikes they use to hand-spike rally-car tires, so they are tough and secure. They aren't inexpensive, but they are removable so I am planning to use them on my everyday trainers and remove them when the weather turns nice again. I almost can't wait for next winter now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I am not always pretty

This has to be the single worst picture I have had taken of me. See, even I have not so pretty days. Actually, I can't wait for the family portrait that we had taken for the parish directory to show up. Those are some BAD photos. I was fully against this rite of Catholic humiliation, but A insisted. More on that when the photos come in. Back to the disaster at hand - first of all, I look like I have "man-boobs" in that shirt. Trust me, it's just the way it's wrinkling and some shadows and you know the way a camera distorts things. Right? And the look on my face - what the hell is that? Hey, did you see the cool lamp? I love that lamp. It is very mod and cool. (Anyone catch the way I was trying to distract you? No? Fine.) Anyway, A got a roaring laugh out of this picture as did the photographer, E. I am glad my pain can bring such pleasure to others.

Not So Bad After All

I unexpectedly woke up to this:

I thought, "This is going to be worse than I anticipated." So, I threw my expectations out into the 5" of snow and just got on with it. As you know, I was planning on doing 12 miles - the first two miles are the run from my house to the lakes we run around. With the snow, the dog needing to go out, me pissing around and the fact F had an 8:00 AM basketball game (who schedules that on a Saturday morning?) I decided to drive. None of the roads were plowed yet and it was a little on the treacherous side, even by my standards. I parked at our usual meeting place and waited for the rest of the group. Everyone was late - only because they couldn't get up this one, damn hill. My route brings me down the hill to where we park, their route brings them up the hill. MS backed her car onto the trail at the base of the hill, completely off the road, and gunned it up the hill. LF struggled a little more. She was angry at her car and wasn't in her right mind. MS hopped in, backed it onto the trail, again, and gunned it up the hill. An inauspicious start to a run for which I was trying to have no expectations. We ended up starting about a half hour later than usual, but we got to run a good portion in daylight. It is refreshing to be finishing our runs now with at least a little sun in our faces. And the whole thing wasn't so bad after all. Our pace was good and the trails were in good shape with not much "secret ice" (glare ice hidden by the snow) so no enraging "startle effect". It always amazes us that at 5:30 AM the running/bike trails are neatly plowed, while all the streets are still choked with snow. I think the Minneapolis Parks Dept. should perhaps run the Minneapolis Transportation Dept. as well. Total 10.34 miles. Right on our training schedule. We all felt good about our time, although we might not feel good about our hips, knees and calves, but that is what ibuprofen is for - or Vicodin.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Good bike - Crappy run

I know the bike was good because I completed it earlier today - in my basement - while watching the 2006 Hawaii Ironman (thanks CS.) I am only guessing the run will be crappy because I have to do it tomorrow morning - through new fallen snow - hiding glare ice. 12 miles in this misery should do a number on the hips, knees and calves. The tension should shoot right up my back.

I am ramping up the bike time a little more. 75 minutes at 17+ mph average for 21.64 miles. More than I have done in the past so I am happy with that. I just need to do that more often during the week. I am feeling more motivated to get on the bike and feeling more confident that my biking will improve greatly this season. 

Now, about that run. I just got back from walking the dog and the new snow was hiding so much glare ice the dog and I almost went down ten times. The worst part of the whole situation is the "startle effect." I HATE the "startle effect." It's why I swim with my eyes closed in the lake (seeing stuff move underneath me in the water - weeds or fish - freaks me out.) It's why I hate balloons (you never know when those suckers will pop.) So, I am not looking forward to this run tomorrow. Twelve miles in these conditions is tough, even with my screwed shoes. Unfortunately, we are on a training schedule that doesn't allow us to screw around, so we will run. The treadmill, you say? I HATE the treadmill and after reading this, it kind of creeps me out a little. Needless to say, the treadmill is not an option. I will just run and complain to myself and curse the weather, which, I realize, is a total waste of time, but it keeps me warm.

My Dog, Houdini

I just got back from a nice lunch with some old friends from work. Prior to leaving I had to trick the damn dog into his kennel by using the tried-and-true "bread crumb trail method." He totally knew what was going on but he couldn't help himself - he loves treats. I got him into the laundry room and right up to the door of the kennel and threw the last tasty morsel in the corner. And he walked right in. I donned my jacket and left the house to his yelps and barks. In the past he quiets down and I return to dog sitting quietly in his kennel. As I was driving off, I thought, "Wow, except for the trail of goodies it took to get him here, he went in rather easily." Turns out, he had a plan.

About an hour and half later I return. Put the key in the lock and am greeted by a dog bouncing up and wagging his tail like a maniac. "WTF!? Dude! I know I put you in the kennel before I left and I know I double checked the locks." I called out to see if the painter had come back and possibly let him out. No one was around. I ventured down to inspect his kennel. IT WAS UPSIDE DOWN!

Somehow the dog jammed his cement truck-sized head through one of the seams (or something) and he wriggled himself through. The fricking dog only has three legs! I can only imagine what he would be like with four. Apparently it was a tight squeeze because as I was petting his ears he was a little sensitive. Sore ears - that's all he got from cramming his melon through some impossibly small opening. 

As it should be (with dog in it, of course.)

As I found it.

Googleing - "High security dog kennel" - I wonder if they can guarantee ease of entrance and no break outs.


Me: "Geeze! You are so loud! I am going to start calling you 'forte'."
E: "Then I am going to start calling you 'fart-issimo'."

Those piano lessons are really helping with her sense of humor.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things the dog will eat

Pencils - 

Found one totally destroyed after he wouldn't go into his kennel and he was roaming the house alone for an hour. I think he sees it as a stick - he loves sticks - so I can understand that.

Upright Vacuum Cleaner - 

Had both the canister vac going and the upright and he attacked (not viciously) the upright with great gusto. To the extent that he tore the little rubber bumper right off. This, I do not understand.

I Have Had ENOUGH!

I know no one is holding a gun to my head and saying I have to live in Minnesota. And I know I should not let the weather bother me (can't control it, right?) I have lived in Minnesota my entire life, nothing weather related should surprise me or set me off, especially winter weather. However, this morning's run was maddening. We had such a nice dry spell for a couple of weeks and it warmed up enough to melt a lot of snow, but now it's back in the single digits with negative wind chill temps. It makes all that loverly, melty snow turn back into boilerplate, ankle-breaking ice. My calves were feeling good and loose again and we could run without face masks. Now, I am back to self-waterboarding durning hill workouts and feeling tense from trying to stay warm and upright. To make matters worse, I continue to read blogs from people in San Diego, Hawaii and other warm locations. Apparently, it is too cold for people to blog in the upper midwest! (OK, that was unfair. I blog in the upper midwest and there are several others in the metro area who are very entertaining that I read regularly along with some Canadian bloggers who, frankly, have it worse than me.) I just wanted to be a baby for a few minutes. One of the likely problems is that our spring marathon is month sooner than the one we ran last year, so structured training puts us out on the ice and snow. Oh, well - spring will come. I just wish it would come sooner.

(As I read this post, I realize I am starting to sound like a broken record about the weather. But, hey, it's what Minnesotans do - they talk A LOT about the weather. And taxes.) 


F: "Apollo, you smell -- like "love."

Whew! Right now he smells like the exact opposite. What did we feed him?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waiting for the other fin to drop

Swim day number three and feeling unbelievably good. So, I am waiting for something to go bad. It doesn't always, but I usually don't feel this good this early on. It's Wednesday so it's IM day. There were more people in the pool today after the long weekend. I hit the vast majority of the intervals and even shortened some because they just seemed too long. Total yards of about 2,700 in about 50 minutes. I really LOVE being back in the water. For a long time I couldn't even be near a pool, I was so burned out by years of training. I love the meditative quiet time that is only interrupted by my gasping for breath and occasional dry-heaving. I really can't wait for summer when we are in the 50 meter outdoor pool and doing regular open water swims. (Although, right now that seems further away as we just got more snow, ugh.) 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What the?

Walking the dog in the neighborhood this morning I came across this:
What the hell is this? There are so many things wrong with this I don't know where to begin. Let's start with the obvious. This is in someone's front yard. "Hey kids, why don't you build a fort out of every piece of crap you can find in the neighbors trash and put it in the front yard so they can see that their detritus has gone to a worthy cause. Oh, and here is the trunk from the Christmas tree, put that right in the middle." I am sure the neighbors love having this on their street. Manicured lawns are almost a prerequisite for residency. (BTW - I do not live on this street, manicured lawns are not a prerequisite on my street. I am unable to effectively manicure my Creeping Charlie, crab grass and dandelions.) The city probably wants its cone back. There is a lot of construction in this area right now. Public safety might take precedent over anchoring some pee-stained carpeting in your front yard. If you thought the Christmas tree was a fire hazard in the living room, someone is bound to light that somabitch to clear the block of this eyesore. But the worst part of this monstrosity can be seen if you zoom in and look really carefully. In the lower left corner. Yeah, there it is. Lying slightly apart. A poster. 24 x 36 inches. Nicely framed at - I would guess - Deck the Walls. But what is that poster depicting? Are's hard to I think they are - POMERANIANS with BOWS! Because those dogs aren't irritating enough in real life, let's hang a larger than life poster of them on our walls. No, wait, let's get rid of that, it's faded from the sun. Oh, this "fort" isn't new. It's been around for at least five days. Winter really causes people to make poor decisions in this state. I need a nap.

Marathon Training - For Real!

Today was an actual training day, with a specified pace and some strides at the end. I was to be pacer as it will be my job at the marathon. (I am pacing a couple of the women in the group to a Boston qualifying time.) Also, I am the geek with the Garmin so I can keep track of the pace. Uh, not quite. Ran into some technical difficulties, possibly due to operating temps and too much touchy touch on the bezel and who knows. So we took what info we could from my watch, some info from a couple other watches, some old info from my training log, put it in a meat grinder, pressed puree, extruded it into an ice cube tray, covered it with Saran Wrap, stuck toothpicks in it, separated our paper from our glass and plastic, said our prayers, recited the Pledge of Allegiance - what was I talking about? Oh, yeah - we ran pretty close to the pace we were shooting for, so I did my job for the day. Then I ran two miles home from the lake and knocked that out in a little over 14 minutes so I felt good about my run. It is so nice to have large stretches of dry pavement (with some big blotches of rock hard ice to keep it interesting) and to run with the sun coming up at the end. Hurry up spring!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eliseism + Finnism = Dancing with the Star Wars

F and E were upstairs playing nicely together. A came down to report the conversation they were having.
E (with "glammed up" Princess Leia): "Time for the Star Wars prom. Leia, you dance with R2D2."
F: (with Anakin Skywalker): "Check out my new 'force-leap' dance move!"
I hope no one spiked the punch, or whatever they drink in Star Wars.


F, eating dessert last night.
F: "Mmm, no evil in that cupcake."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It Must Have Been Good If She Asked Me To Do It Twice

And then she asked me to do it for the neighbors. 

"Do" as in "cook." "It" as in "pork tenderloin."

A couple of days ago I made a pork tenderloin recipe that includes dried cherries, coarse mustard, wrapped in bacon and a currant jelly glaze. There can be nothing better than pork-on-pork action. The presentation left a little to be desired because I laid the bacon on lengthwise so it curled up and it was too close to the heat on top so it got a little dark. (Note to self: carefully read directions.) This time I know better and will wrap the bacon around the pork and move the rack in the oven down a couple of notches. 

We have some neighbors who recently had twins. They are a few years older than A and I and have two kids the same ages as ours (they are in school together.) A put together the dinner schedule and circulated it to all our friends - then she told me we needed to provide dinner, tonight. She requested I make the pork and said, "Why don't you make two and we can eat it again." What can I say, the girl loves her pork.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Balentime's Day!

I try to get my kids to talk wrong but, they are way too smart. "Dad! It's not 'Balentime's', it's 'Val-en-tine's Day!" "Dad! It's not 'punkin', it's 'pump-kin pie!" "Dad! It's not 'samich', it's 'sand-wich!" FINE, whatever, you little ingrates. 

My day started out with a leisurely 10 1/2 miler. I was going to add 2 more, but discretion prevailed and it was a good decision. My calves are finally feeling normal (I think it was from tensing/clenching on the glare ice that was everywhere) and it was best not to push it. I will add a couple miles next Saturday instead. 

I came home to my kids eating a breakfast of - what? - giant, heart shaped -- no, not pancakes or omelets or french toast with a heart-shaped hole punched in the middle and a fried egg in the hole (thanks MS) -- thickly frosted sugar cookies. Really!? Really! Aghast, I inquired to my lovely wife what the hell is going on here. A's response, "Oh, honey, it's OK. I said they could and they also have some cheddar cheese and milk." Breakfast of champions?

Apparently F has recovered fully from the barfy stomach bug he woke up with yesterday. We were awoken at 5 AM by F - "Mom, I'm hungry." "Go downstairs, Dad will be right down to get you something." I head downstairs to find F with his head in the toilet, heaving. I yell back up the stairs, "Honey, F isn't hungry. He's puking." I come back to the bathroom and he is standing there peeing and then suddenly he is back with his head in the toilet. "Geeze, kid. Flush one of those things down. Now, go wash and sanitize your hands."

Friday, February 13, 2009

So funny...

I had to comment right away. (I don't even like circuses and I rarely eat lunch.)

Rubbery Arms

Swimming: day two, was slightly less enjoyable than day one.  3,100 yards and lots of sprinting. I now have rubbery arms and I was going to lift weights today. We will have to see how I feel this afternoon. It does feel good to be back in the water again, although I am not a fan of the chlorine smell, but nothing is perfect.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I do what I am told - immediately!

I didn't want to overwhelm with all the recipes I have made in the past couple of weeks, but I got a special request. Here is a lamb chop recipe that my family loved. I passed it on to one of my friends in my running group and her family concurred. One piece of advice - buy your lamb chops at Costco (yes a shameless plug, but I am only a fan, not an employee.) Don't buy them at the local, convenient, high-priced supermarket, like I did.
(I bet this would be very good with a smokey paprika if you have it. I used regular sweet paprika, as did my friend. I also used more olives than called for because I love them and I used small, vine-on tomatoes instead of the plumb tomatoes called for.)


At the behest of my one regular reader (see picture) I am including some recipes that I have successfully made recently. 

They are from Real Simple (there, I provided my source - no copyright infringement lawsuits please.) Try 'em out. I do have a couple of vegetarian recipes that look really yummy and will be trying those soon. I'll let you know how those turn out.

Had this one last night:

(I used 12oz. of mushroom, more wine than was called for and chopped white onions instead of the pearl onions called for. Only thing I would do differently is the pearl onions, but that is more for appearance than taste.)

Had this one a couple of nights ago:

(Added twice as many mushrooms, added more wine than called for and a little more garlic. I will probably add 3 or 4 medium sized chopped potatoes next time, just to make it a little more hearty.) 

Had this one last week:
(I added more lemon juice and I used un-unflavored couscous. I will probably use an herb or garlic flavored couscous next time.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More time in the kitchen and lovin' it!

I am watching Top Chef and trying not to eat everything that isn't tied down. This is strange, since I made a kick-ass dinner tonight (kind of a country style slo-cooker coq au vin.) Now, it's no secret to anyone who has read this blog that I am currently "between jobs" and since the prospects are bleak right now, I have decided, after consultation with my wife, to take the pressure off myself and not feel like I have to "pound the pavement." My wife agreed, with conditions. I do the laundry (includes folding, but not ironing - thank god), keep the house picked up and take care of dinner. Well, I initially resisted the dinner thing - "I don't think that way, planning meals, etc. Tell me what to cook with a recipe and I will do it, but plan a meal - no way." (Laundry and picking up around the house - no problem.) In the past couple of weeks things have changed. I looked at the calendar to see what activities we had this week, then I made a list of the dinners I wanted to make, then I shopped to those meals. Suddenly, I feel like I have become a decent cook. Of course, my recipes come from Real Simple and are real simple, but they taste good and I make them with really fresh ingredients. All of this has really helped the old self esteem. Men (me) so often define themselves by the job they do - that is how they contribute to the family. My contribution is different now, it feels more important, it feels more real and it feels more fulfilling. (Plus, I get to train whenever I want or need to - nice bonus.)


I spent the whole day with Apollo and it was wonderful. He is a great distraction and a total sweetheart. That being said, I will not be posting about him here - he warrants his own blog. If you are interested in checking on his adventures on three legs he can be found here. (Also, at the top of my "Also Interesting" list.)

On My Way

As I mentioned yesterday, today was the official first day of triathlon training. True, I have been running and yes, I have been getting on my bike, but I consider this the first day because I got back in the pool and paid my dues to the Masters Swim Club. I have felt way worse on the first day in the pool. We did a total of 1,800 yards in about 50 minutes. It was a good day to start because it was IM day. I hit all the fast intervals and didn't blow up. I am sure my arms will feel it tomorrow. Later on today I will hit the trainer for a nice spin. We will see what the new dog thinks about me pedaling in place with sweat pouring off my face. I really can't wait for the weather to warm up and the roads to clear so I can ride outside. I am looking forward to Friday's swim - sprints. Should be a killer for Mr. Out-of-Swimming-Shape. At least I have a good start on everything.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome To the Family, Apollo

We have a new member of the family - Apollo "I am not a Pit Bull" Olson. He has taken to the kids (in a good affectionate way.) He LOVES A. In fact he is lying here curled up next to A, snoring away. Whew, apparently he is tooting in his sleep. Dog toots are awesomely smelly. We have some obedience to work on. He will sit and stay, but not consistently. He hops up a little to check out the counter and is a little too interested in the dinner table. As we get to know each other better I am sure other issues may arise, but so far he has been a dream. No barking (none), no nipping, no charging at the door. He is super sweet and we love him very much. Welcome to the family, boy.

We are NOT getting a Pit Bull

Please stop saying I am adopting a Pit Bull! The dog we are considering is an American Staffordshire Terrier mix. He falls into the general category of bull-type dogs that includes American Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Boxers, Bull Mastiffs, Boston Terriers, Bull Terriers (Spuds Makenzie), French Bulldogs and, yes, American Pit Bull Terriers. We have done our research on the breed and this particular dog. Overall, the breed is a loving, loyal, affectionate family dog. This dog is very well socialized with people and other dogs and has never had a biting incident. We are also not naive, first time dog owners. This dog will be taken to obedience class which our children will attend and, as with any dog, he will not be left alone with children - ours or anyone else's. Our children will understand and live by the rules we have regarding taking care of, playing with and disciplining the dog. All dogs have the potential to "snap" and maul a person or another animal, but responsible, loving ownership has been shown to minimize this considerably. Come on, this dog only has three legs and just wants a good home - don't we get credit for that. I am including the link to a blog post that makes a case for the misplaced dislike of these dogs. The kids meet him tonight and we will see how the visit goes. I have realistic expectations that we will keep him, but we have continued to point out to the kids there are some deal breakers, surprisingly, they understand and agree. 

For the last time - we are not getting a Pit Bull - and so what if we were!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Marathon Training Starts Tomorrow

Our de facto coach laid down the law and we are officially starting marathon training tomorrow! We have the calendar set, except for one more 20+ miler. Let's hope my calves hold up. The "Stick" seems to be helping as does spinning on the trainer (30 very easy minutes last night, 45 higher intensity minutes this morning.) This week also starts triathlon training. I will be starting with the masters swim club on Wednesday - that will be an adventure since I haven't been in the water in six months. I seem to be able to tough it out, but I hate the first few weeks. More hours on the trainer until the roads clear will be hellish, but I am over the hump and feeling better being in the saddle.

I was looking back at posts from the end of last season and I really want to be faster, so I have to train faster. I am pretty sure I am in better shape overall than last year (although I have some weight to lose.) Now, to just stay healthy and injury free and hope for a mild spring. Ready, set, go!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Money, Money, Money

Last night at dinner with my sister, brother-in-law and a couple of mutual friends, we got to talking about how I waste my time - also known as writing in my blog. Everyone encouraged me to write for a living. (My wife rolled her eyes.) Granted, a bottle of wine had been consumed (mostly by my wife), so there was much excitement about this idea. (Sober, I took it with a grain of salt.) I would love to do that! I have a writing degree that has never been put to good use. I know when to use a period and I sometime string some words together that make people laugh. Or cry. Or wince uncomfortably. Anyone want to pay me to write something for them? I work cheap. Just thought I'd throw it out there. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hittin' The Stick

This morning my calves were so sore and so tight that I cut my run short. That never happens. I usually warm up and loosen up within the first couple of miles - five at the absolute longest, but this morning they were not having it. Off to coffee. Later, I stopped by my local running store and picked up "The Stick." 

Hopefully some time with this fella will work out those kinks. I am also going to have my gait analyzed in a few weeks to make sure nothing has changed since I had it analyzed about a week after I started running. At that time I thought, "Oh, I hate to run. I just want to be able to do a 10K." Fool! Now, I have run more half marathons and marathons than 10Ks. Here we go - Mr. "The Stick" come to daddy. Ahhhhh!

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Parts-Missing" Dog

We went and visited with our potential new family member - Apollo, the "parts-missing" dog. I know, lots of dogs have "parts" missing, but he is missing an important part. It reminds me of the Thanksgiving dinner when dear, misguided Grandma Olson decided to save a little money and buy a "parts-missing" turkey. Her thought, as well as ours when she announced her find to us, was that the giblets would be missing or a wing or something innocuous like those parts. Ah, weren't we all surprised when the "parts" that were missing were, in fact, some of the best parts - the fricking drumsticks! What a good laugh we have to this day. Ha, ha, ha, ahem. What does this trip down memory lane have to do with a dog? Well, see for yourself. 
Apollo is one drumstick short himself. He's a damn fine pooch though. He has the biggest head I have ever seen on a dog his size. Stuck his tongue in my mouth not once, but twice. A really liked him, too. She walked him and he never pulled (I know, how could he with three legs?) He doesn't jump up. We never heard him bark once and by the time we left he was on his back with each of us rubbing his belly. We have the home visit next Tuesday and after that, if the kids are cool with it, we will be the proud owners of our own "parts-missing" dog.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

See, this is what I mean

This morning's run was a little "eh." Running on sheer ice doesn't help, but I felt kind of pokey and then I got hungry about half way through and my lower legs were sore. (Is it possible to run too slow? I feel like my legs feel better if I run faster.)* I am going to continue to chalk this up-and-down feeling to the up-and-down weather, but I really wish I could get my workouts to even out a little more.

*The speed of my runs in no way is a reflection on my running group. It was just an observation and I know I shouldn't be running all out every time anyway.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I have TWO kids

From my posts it would seem that I have only one kid, but the fact of the matter is I have two beautiful and incredibly fun and funny kids. It is just that E (#1 kid) is not quite as chatty as F (#2 kid) whose mouth is a stream of consciousness from the moment he wakes until he goes to bed. E is a little more goofy and if I had a video camera strapped to my head all the time I would have video of her more than F. Just to be fair, here are pictures of my lovely family. (And yes that is my typical bewildered expression.) 


Me: "What kind of moon is it tonight?"
F: "A wakthing gibbouth."

(The boy has a little bit of a lisp, but damn is it cute.)


Me: "Geeze, I have like three pairs of gloves in my pockets.  How did those get in there?"
F: "Maybe Hippies put them there. Or Hobos."



Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I wish I knew my body better

For the last couple of weeks my training has been up and down. Running has been consistent in frequency, but less so in intensity. Lifting has been fairly consistent and better in intensity. Biking has been less consistent in frequency and intensity. For instance, yesterday morning I did the usual easy eight miles in the freezing cold after doing an intense nine-plus miles in Chicago two days before. Then I decided to hop on my bike rather than lift and I hammered for over an hour at close to 18 mph and felt great. I thought for sure that I would last like 20 minutes at 14 mph and bail. I wish I could figure out what triggers my body to feel good enough to run and then hop on my bike so I could replicate it on a daily basis. Maybe it's nutrition or sleep (although sleep is pretty consistent). Maybe it's the weather and as it gets warmer I will feel better. I don't know, I just wish I could figure it out soon.


A has been wanting to get a dog lately. This, from the woman who couldn't imagine having a dog six months ago. I was resistant for a long time because of the added expense (Hello, no job here,) added hassle when we want to do stuff and the fact that I would be responsible for training it as I am home all the time. Well, I have caved. I really like dogs and I love to get down and pet and play with them whenever I see them. We talked about what we want in a dog and settled on an adolescent to young-adult dog - no puppies - who is house trained and preferably kennel trained, medium sized with short hair or that doesn't shed, minimal drooling and loves kids. Unfortunately for both of us limbs intact was not a prerequisite. I provided a bunch of potential options with my number one pick stuck in the middle. A reviewed them and lo and behold selected my number one pick - Apollo!

The first thing you will notice about Apollo is that he is wearing a pink, silk, asian-style shirt (which is really unfortunate and would never happen at our house.) The next thing you might notice is that he only has three legs. According to his profile he is really sweet and can do everything a four-legged dog can, just not quite as fast or for as long and there is a picture of a little girl "mugging" him on a sofa and he looks totally unbothered. I have submitted our application and if we get a chance to meet him I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bad company name

While waiting for our plane to board in Chicago last night I was struck by the very unfortunate company name of the baggage train manufacturer - Menzies. Now, I know it is spelled totally differently, but I would not want to tell my friends that I work for Menzies. (In case some of you out there are not quite getting it - Menzies = menses - it's a homophone.)

Fly the empty skies

Both flights we took over the weekend were half full. The route to and from Chicago from Minneapolis is usually pretty busy, but on both flights all the exit row seats were empty along with half the rest of the plane. Of course, I took advantage of free extra leg room, so my flights weren't the usual hell rides I have come to expect from Northworst.

I run faster when it's warmer?

Who knew? I spent the weekend in Chicago with my lovely wife, staying at my brother in law's new place, sans kids. It was a nice break, but there was work to be done. The BIL is not married so needs a little interior design/decorating help, so I got the call. His place is really nice (much better then the hell hole he lived in in DC - sorry but true.) We got in Friday night and planned to shop and pick paint colors, etc. all day Saturday. I wanted to run Saturday, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. Something about sleeping in without kids was more appealing. Sunday morning I did run. It was beautiful! 35 degrees and partly cloudy with some wind. Virtually tropical compared to what had been running in. The BIL's place is about a half mile from the lake front so I ran to the trails there and headed south towards downtown. 

We go to Chi-town fairly often and I usually eke out a run along the lake. In the past the conditions have been OK, but not great. I was just so happy to be able to run without a facemask, gloves and four layers this time. And I was fast. 9.3 miles in about 1:13 with a massive negative split for all nine miles. There is just something to be said for running toward the Hancock Tower and watching it grow as you get closer. Big city running is fun! Now back to the tundra training I am used to. Ugh!