Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Dichotomy of Milan

This is one of my favorite pictures from Milan. The table is made of a rough sawn wood top and twisted up garden hose for the base. There is a matching floor lamp in back. And the two old guys are sitting on a bench made with the same method.

What the F***!?

How would you read this post card?

(Obviously, I have no idea.)

Italy is strange.

Bike Porn

In Milan for Design Week I came across the Biomega bike showroom. These bikes are high-design concept commuter bikes typically with shaft drive. And they are SUPER cool. These are from left to right - the Amsterdam, the Copenhagen, and the Boston.

The really cool stuff was inside. 

This is a concept bike from Ross Lovegrove (a superstar designer.) Carbon fiber with a shaft drive.

This one was the most exciting.

It is a bamboo bike. Fully production ready after five years of development. The tubes are real bamboo and there is no reinforcement running from the aluminum joints/lugs. It is like a work of art! And they know it, so they included some features to make it easier to hang on your wall. The pedals "butterfly" so you don't poke a hole in your sheetrock and the handlebars have a keyed quick-release on the stem that allows you to rotate the bars independently of the front wheel. It also works as a security feature - making the bike very difficult to ride.

I think the Amsterdam model is available from Design Within Reach for like $1,600. By no means cheap, but great to look at.

Masters Morning

I am not much for detailing my workouts, especially swim workouts (kind of boring), but this morning we rocked a fun one. Wednesday is IM day. Here is our main set:

8 x 250 on 4:00

1,5 - 150 fly, 100 free
2,6 - 150 back, 100 breast
3,7 - 150 breast, 100 back
4,8 - 150 free, 100 fly

I made every one, but the breast stroke ones were about 2 seconds rest. I am glad I don't have to breast stroke any races (feel free to insert middle school jokes here.) Oh, and to be honest, I drilled half the fly, because I am old and hey, ever do fly in a triathlon? - didn't think so.

Now I have get back on the bike. fun.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quick Milan Post

I need to get some paid writing done, but I wanted to write a little more about Milan. I am going to cheat and give you the bullet-pointed version. The more detailed posts will come later.

Things I like about Milan
  • Big, old buildings - even though most of the city was flattened in WWII many of the buildings were rebuilt in an authentic style.
  • High-density housing - everyone lives in apartments and the buildings are eclectic and a little stereotypical Italian (laundry hanging out on a line outside the window.)
  • Narrow, cobblestone streets
  • Scooters, bikes, motorcycles and micro-cars - what a great way to get around
  • Attractive women on scooters wearing stilettos.
  • Attractive women on bikes wearing stilettos.
  • COFFEE! Any variety. It is the absolute best.
  • Lots of design.
  • Cool, attractive scooter helmets.
  • Coke and/or Coke Light - the are in these great .33 l cans. Tall, skinny, sexy and both varieties taste WAAAY better than in the US.
  • Really good food - if you are lucky.
  • The Metro - not the cleanest, but really easy to get around (even though we did get lost once.)
  • Mass at the Duomo. I lucked into this one, but there is something about being a Catholic boy (even an admittedly bad one) and going to church at the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. It was impressive all the way around.
  • The Ferrari store - who doesn't like Ferraris?
  • The street sweepers. After the most trash ridden street party night after night, the streets are cleaned by about 8 AM.
  • Anti-government rally at Palazzo del Duomo. The large square in front of the Duomo was crowded with an anti-government rally. It was pretty entertaining - they were selling t-shirts, refreshments, had DJ's and video screens. Italians are crazy.
Things I Don't Like About Milan
  • Solid metal security gates. Every night the shop keepers pull down these solid metal security gates and it makes the streets feel a little like a war zone.
  • Graffiti - it is everywhere. And it's not the kind of cool stuff that takes some time and talent. It's just endless tagging on any vertical surface. 
  • My language barrier - I need to learn some Italian before I go back.
  • Lack of Internet. At least in the apartments we were in.
  • Anxiety about my phone bill. Data transmission is super expensive. I can only imagine what my bill is going to be.
  • Staying out way later than I am used to. I will definitely try to get to bed earlier next time. Those late nights just destroy me for the next day.
  • Eating too little and too far between. I need to eat more regular meals - it made for really long days.
  • Not drinking enough water. Goes hand in hand with the eating issue - good thing I don't drink or I would have been in a world of hurt.
  • Bad food - much easier to find than you would imagine. And not just because it's not "American Italian" it would be considered bad food here, too.
  • Difficulty finding cabs - it was really hit and miss.
  • The Italian propensity to litter. The streets were a mess with beer bottles and crap during the crazy street parties. It was kind of disgusting.
There is the down and dirty list of what I liked and what I didn't in Milan.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Milan Report

What a fast and crazy trip. I guess I will start at the beginning and leave out all the businessy stuff for a separate post. ("Businessy" refers to the really cool modern furniture design I saw.) I am traveling with a friend/rep/furniture importer who only lives about a block away. I have known him and his wife for a few years so when he invited me I jumped at the chance. He goes to this shoes every year so he has most of the details down.

We left Thursday afternoon for the marathon flight to Milan. As ranted before, I hate air travel. Well, due to karmic payback for all the complaining I have been doing, I got one of the worst seats on the plane. On a Delta Airbus 330 they have video monitors in the back of the seats - that's good. I requested a window seat thinking I could then have something to lean against to sleep (who am I kidding, I NEVER sleep on a plane.) Turns out that they stick the hardware for the video monitors under the window seats, cutting your foot room in half. I couldn't stretch out which made me miserable and crabby.

Here - let me do this in a bullet pointed format and then I will get to the good stuff.

Things I hate about air travel (I actually wrote a list to keep from going insane or on a murderous rampage at 60,000 feet):
  • A330 window seat has video hardware under seat = no leg room
  • The guy in the seat in front of me eating beef jerky (maybe this would have been worse)
  • US security measures getting out of Amsterdam are ridiculous and redundant
  • Sitting next to huge people who hog the armrest
  • Terrible Food! (That I eat anyway and then feel horrible, gross, sick, bloated and gassy)
  • The stupid Delta preflight video
  • The world's most dis-gusting bathrooms (I am afraid to touch any surface in one of those stand up petri dishes)
  • Surly flight attendants (Northworst and Delta) and the fact that the KLM flight attendants are more attractive and friendly
  • Drunk Germans
  • The woman behind me who sprayed hairspray ("Lady, this is an enclosed aluminum tube with no air circulation!")
So that is that.

On to Milan.

We grabbed the train into the city from Malpensa Airport. It was cheap and easy and took us right where we needed to go. Why couldn't things be this easy in the US? We were meeting a couple of other designers who had flown in from Doha, Qatar and we were staying in two different apartments. The original apartment we were supposed to be staying at was right in the middle of a satellite design fair - we gave that one to these folks out of courtesy. Our apartment was "further away." That is the only way I can describe it because I really have no idea where it was. Their apartment was kick ass - our apartment was ass.

Their apartment:

Our apartment:

Their view:

Our view:

Thursday night the four of us wandered around the Zona Tortona - the design fair in the neighborhood we stayed in. There are so many great pictures I will post a few here and provide a link to a web album after them. 

One of my favorite things about Milan - great coffee! I never had a bad cup. Here is a very pretty cup that I had just down the street from the KAA (Kick Ass Apartment.)

People watching was also very fun. There were lots of them around. 

These next pics are a cool party we crashed. 
This was the entry.

This was a three story wall of plates.

Many, many more cool pictures here.

We decided to find a place for dinner and ended up having about a three hour meal with lots and lots of laughs. Bed time by the time we got back to Apt. A (Apartment Ass) was about 12:30 AM. I never stay out that late, especially with jet lag, but endless cups of coffee certainly help. 

Friday was show day. I had 10 buildings and 250,000 square meters of contemporary furniture to see. I had my walking shoes on. 

We ate dinner at MIDNIGHT. But it was a FANTASTIC meal. We totally stumbled upon this steak house in the middle of Milan. I couldn't have been happier as I had eaten only one small meal the entire day. 

We had to get home. We walked the Doha designers to their KAA and then walked up a few blocks to catch a cab. Apparently, at 2:30 AM in a particular neighborhood in Milan, if you you stand on a certain street corner and try to hale a cab and you look, oh, pretty much like ME, you get propositioned by male prostitutes. Like three times. Needless to say, I was a little freaked out, not because men find me attractive (who doesn't, right?) but because macho Italian guys aren't huge fans of gay men. Combine that with the high-vis white shirt I made the mistake of wearing and a large number or extremely drunk and rowdy men milling around and I wanted out of there in the worst way. My traveling companion - who apparently is not at all attractive to male prostitutes - found all this incredibly hilarious, like laugh until he cried hilarious, which made me want to kill him. 

We started walking in the direction of Apt. A and after about a half hour or 45 minutes we finally got a cab. Bedtime 3:30 AM. One hell of a long day. 

Saturday was my day on my own. I will report on that next.

Holy Crap! I Have A Race on Sunday

I was just looking at my calendar and I have to run a half-marathon on Sunday. This is the tune up for the Minneapolis Marathon in about five weeks. We ran this race last year and I have a goal time in mind, but we will make that determination on race day. I hope my lack of running and extreme amount of sitting will not adversely affect anything. I did walk a ton in Italy - and I mean A TON. My legs actually feel pretty good, but we will see after tomorrow morning's run.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Buona Sera

I am too tired to post anything in great detail right now. So here is a Twitterfied post with subjects I will expand on over the coming days. I also have tons of pictures. It was a good trip.

"I'm back & exhausted. Here's what I learned/saw: I hate air travel, I love & hate Milan, the furniture show was great, went to mass at Duomo"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

For Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I am offering another line shamelessly stolen from a t-shirt. 

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Pretty sure I'll be back again. 

I rocked a 3k swim workout today - the only one I'll get this week. Now, it's just rush around like crazy until it's time to head to the airport. Flight leaves at about 3:00. I will post again as soon as I get time. For mostly constant and inane updates, keep an eye on the Tweets on the right side. 

(TinyTwitter is my new best Blackberry friend - I'll let you know how long that lasts.)

Ciao! (For now.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I have a touch of anxiety right now. I leave for Milan tomorrow afternoon and, while on one hand I am excited, on the other I am a little anxious. I guess I get like that when I don't know what to expect and that is where I am right now. I really have just one thing I want to do while there and that is go for a run. Hey, how many times am I going to get the chance to run in Milan? Also, if I don't I will be missing two runs this week and I have a half-marathon the following weekend. A race I would like to push, but not an "A" race, so I don't really want to taper. Even inadvertently. 

So I am trying to get stuff packed, trying to get some last minute stuff done around the house and trying to figure out where I am going.

Now that I write this it seems like I don't have much to worry about, but I feel like I should worry a little about something. Damn, I am a mess. I should really just show up and let it all happen. Riiiight.

OK this post really kind of sucks, because I am so scatter brained. Let's read about this morning's run then.

After the "miserable 21" from Saturday, I think our expectations for today's run were rather low. We had 7 miles on the schedule - 4 "easy" and the last 3 at threshold pace including the hillier route around the lake. That first mile was torture. I was still feeling Saturday's run and it didn't help one bit that I sat on my butt Sunday and Monday. (I blew off swimming again and just could not get on my bike although I did bring it in and put it on the trainer.) We settled into a nice quick pace. I was watching the pace but not sharing until MS asked how slow we were going, "9:30s, right?" Nope, we were going 8:45s. You have got to love it when a quick pace seems slow. Now we were a little more encouraged. My achy stiffness had abated and we were all feeling pretty good as we finished up mile 4. 

You can see on my pace and HR charts when we downshifted to threshold pace. Actually, we ended up being 15 to 20 seconds faster than our prescribed pace and we held it even up and down the hills. All in all it was a fantastic run. 

Now if the wind would let up I could maybe fit in a ride today. (Not holding my breath.)

Next post should be from somewhere in Europe!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Did Anyone Catch the License Number of the Truck That Just Ran Me Over

I think it had a 21 in it. As in 21 brutal and unhappy miles. I really feel like a truck ran me over. Our goal today was to run 21 miles along the Minneapolis Marathon Course. We were doing alright as we wound our way down streets and parkways, but then the course goes into the Fort Snelling State Park and loops around the fort and doubles back on itself. When we got into the state park it felt a little like the Blair Witch. The trail followed along the bluffs and through the woods. I honestly don't know how they are going to run a race down this narrow trail. 

When we got to the base of the fort we were very confused by the directions. We had already stopped a couple of times to get our bearings and this stop just put us over the edge. We figured out where we were supposed to go and followed the directions and trail to a DIRT PATH. We are really hoping we made a mistake but highly doubt it. We are not at all excited about the prospect of running along, basically an uneven dirt path. We were despondent, dejected and damn far away from our cars. 

At some point my watch stopped working reliably and I realized I was still on the bike setting. I tried changing the settings on the fly and accidently stopped the timer and cleared the damn thing. I was so mad! I got it working again, but then our pace just wasn't adding up so I thought is was still screwed up. When we stopped for what seemed like the 20th time I completely reset it. From then on it worked fine.

We soldiered on, complaining bitterly for awhile and then retreating into our own private hells. It was just not a good time. I tried to lift the mood by recycling stories I told hours before when we first started out and were happy - they failed miserably. 

We did eventually finish. The amazing thing - our average pace was about 10 seconds faster then our pace from our first 20 miler a few weeks ago. And for a long while there we were 15 to 20 seconds faster per mile. Although miserable from a psychological perspective, it is very encouraging from a fitness perspective. 

Immediately upon finishing I had to meet A and the kids at the "health club" for swimming lessons. A had missed the class she likes to take, I scratched myself and was bleeding like a stuck pig and I had nothing to eat - happy times. F did his lesson and then A came to relieve me for E's lesson because F and I had to get to the Pinewood Derby set up and I was still in my running stuff. 

We get to the Pinewood Derby setup (I had showered and changed and put on some compression socks - thank goodness for those) in time. I then spent the next three hours on my feet. I downed a giant bag of peanut M & Ms for "lunch" and chased them with a room temp bottle of flavored water - BARF!

F did OK at the race. He was a middle-of-the-packer but was a very generous loser. I am very proud. This was his first year and I learned some tricks that we can implement next year. Then it was back home where I finally got to eat something. I also got to lay down for a short nap before going with F to get our hairs cut. Then home to make dinner - burgers and chicken breasts on the grill - and now I sit here exhausted. 

I really hope they find the driver of that truck soon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Busy Saturday

Wow, what a busy Saturday we have on tap. We have a 21 mile run scheduled along the Minneapolis Marathon course. Then I have to get home to take the kids to swimming lessons. Then F and I have to go to the Pinewood Derby. Followed by haircuts. Then I will need to take a nap or have a breakdown. 

I think the Pinewood Derby car turned out great. I have no idea how much it weighs (5 oz. max) and we have no idea if it's fast. 

Here is the concept:

Here is the finished product:

(Truth be told, I had more fun building it than F.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009


(To be said with a little sing-song tone in your voice.) That is the only way I can describe my bike ride with MS this afternoon. Let me back up to yesterday.

Yesterday I was a slug. 

I didn't do a damn thing. Oh, wait, I did some core work late in the evening and even cut that short because I wasn't into it. To make up for my slug-itude I was determined to do my usual run and bike outside for the first time. 

Done and done! The run this morning was mile repeats. We rocked 'em. They were about 20 seconds faster than we anticipated and we were very consistent. It felt great and we are feeling much more confident about our training. 

This afternoon I met MS at her house and we hopped on the Three Rivers Trail (or at least I think that's what it's called) and headed west. We had a little headwind, but we also had 65 degrees and sun. It was was GLORIOUS! We were totally cruising along - I was holding about 20 mph with little effort and it felt so good to be actually going somewhere rather than peddling in place. We got to the end of our loop where we do hills. We decided to just do one set as it was our first time out. I actually felt good. I am super excited about biking this year. 

On our way back we caught up with a bike cop who was riding our trail. We started chatting and ended up cruising back with him. He was really nice and entertaining and I think he was happy to ride with somewhat normal people. 

(Not actually the guy we rode with.)

So the ride didn't end up super fast, but that really doesn't matter. It was so nice to be out and spinning the wheels. Just a really fantastic time. 

I have to say this as well. I LOVE my bike setup this year. The new seat and the adjustments I made to my aero bars make it heaven to ride. I really felt like I could ride forever. It really helps that I spent way more time in the saddle this off season than last, so I am sure that has a lot to do with it. I hope this is a good omen for the rest of the season. I am excited for my next ride. Whee!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Have You Seen My Wagon?

Because I seem to have fallen off of it. It shouldn't be too far away though. I didn't work out today. I was going to go on a ride OUTSIDE for the first time this spring but couldn't find anyone to go with me and then I had to meet the painter at my in-laws to pick a paint color for their new garage door and then A was coming home early so she wanted to do some yard work. So, after a couple of weeks of "6-for-7" I am off the wagon. However, tomorrow we have our usual run - mile repeats at the track - and MS and I are going to go for a bike ride. It is about fricking time. So, missing a workout today but doubling up tomorrow makes everything even out, right? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lamb Cake Redux

The women I run with got such a kick out of the lamb cake that I offered more photos.

Anticipating the reveal.

My brother-in-law's face is classic. Notice my wife's disgust and the kids' fascination.

This is the original uncropped pic from the previous post - now you can really see how unimpressed my wife is.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Go to the Front of the Class

My reader left such a funny comment on one of my posts that I moved it here, to the main page. I am posting it anonymously just in case but you could probably easily find out the author.

"For Easter this year I got sick. Maybe that's God's way of telling me that being a non-believer is bad."

(I thought it was funny.)

This Is The Day the Lord Has Made, Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad!

That song has been going through my head for the whole of Holy Week. Easter has finally come and gone and I couldn't save myself - from myself. I'll get to that later.

Good Friday the kids were off of school and A took the day off. A and I decided that we would all go to Good Friday mass and the veneration of the cross at 7:30 PM. A was pretty adamant that this would be a short mass and if the kids were good we would all go out for ice cream, but then I said I couldn't have ice cream because I gave it up for Lent and then A said we could go out for pie and I LOVE pie but F said he "hates pie" and A said we would go someplace where they have pie and ice cream but F only wanted DQ so this already wasn't going well. The kids asked A numerous times how long mass would be and she said numerous times, "Oh, about 50 minutes. Not even an hour."

As established early last week, I am not a particularly good Catholic. But I am a very good skeptic. Now, last Sunday was Palm Sunday which includes a long reading of the Passion of the Christ. I knew this. A was again, pretty sure that it was not done on Palm Sunday, but I was fairly certain. (I always doubt my knowledge of Catholic tradition because A's dad spent some time in a Jesuit seminary and her mom has a masters in theology.) Weren't we all surprised when they asked us to sit for the gospel reading (you usually stand) and they launched into the Passion? Well, I wasn't surprised. Why is this so horrible? It just makes mass very long and a 7 and 9 year old and their father do not sit still for very long.

So, back to Good Friday. I really had no idea what to think about Good Friday mass because we never went as kids and obviously we have never gone as a family. "50 minutes." I was skeptical. I knew we were in trouble when they stared chanting the intentions and then we would kneel, then stand, then they would chant and we would kneel, then stand. The big moment finally arrived - the veneration of the cross at about an hour and ten minutes in. The kids were getting tired as was I and they knew it was lasting more than "50 minutes." All right, up to venerate the cross, couple of more prayers, a song and outta here. Nope - Time for communion. A looked at me as we were kneeling and mouthed, "When we stand - we leave." Her idea, not mine. We stood. I walked. I walked right onto my rocket ship to hell and held the hatch open so my family could accompany me. We are terrible! 

Sorry kids, no ice cream/pie. Unhappy campers!

Saturday was a beautiful spring day and we had a great time outside. Believe me, we had no intention of going to the Easter Vigil Saturday night - we both knew for sure that was a two-hour marathon.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Happy Easter! The kids found their weak-ass baskets with one chocolate bunny and a small handful of little chocolate somethings. I am so sick of all the candy the kids get. Luckily they lose interest real quick. We should just throw it away. A was disappointed that they didn't get new Crocs in their baskets. I rolled my eyes. Moving on.

Easter mass. No drama. Everything as planned/expected.

For Easter dinner we invited my sister and her family and another family of mutual friends. We keep it simple - ham, cheesy potatoes, green beans, salad and lamb cake. I love ham. It will be my downfall, like Mama Cass. And this is where I failed to save myself. I ate ham while I sliced it and then I had two helpings of ham and potatoes and beans. Plus lamb cake. And I wonder why I don't lose any weight. Look in the mirror, jerk-wad and stop putting stuff in your mouth. Jeeze!

Wait, what is the deal with the "lamb cake," you ask? (OK, at this point only D has asked, but she is speaking for the silent majority of my readers out there - or she might be the silent majority. Is one a majority of two? Ugh, math - never mind.)

My wife's family celebrates with cake. It seems like every holiday has a cake component. A didn't grow up with this tradition. It seems to have been born along with the grandkids - my kids. For years we have had the lamb cake (you know "Lamb of God") and for years my brother in law (my sister's husband - they always join us for Easter) and I have secretly joked about cutting into the lamb cake and having strawberry jelly ooze out. Ha, ha, ha! Ahem. Well, there is no joking with my mother in law (MIL) about the lamb cake. Frowns all around. This year my MIL is still in FLA so I decided to have a little fun with the lamb cake. Out of reverence to the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior and my MIL and A and the fact we are having twice as many people for dinner, I suggested two cakes - a traditional reverential one and a slightly more realistic/humorous one - created by moi. 

First off, my cake turned out way better than A's. It didn't stick to the mold and it stood up on its own without having to have its base "sculpted." Secondly, it was marvelously gory. "Gory" is really too strong a word here. For it to be truly gory we would have taken my brother in law's suggestion and pumped it full of strawberry jelly and we would have taken A's suggestion to put bones in it. (One suggestion, funny. One suggestion, gross. A, stick to the reverential cake baking.) Without further ado - the "Lamb Cakes."


A quality reaction - A (in black) is unimpressed.

Anyone see "Silence of the Lambs?"

My second piece.

Just wait until tomorrow. 

Easter is in the books and there are no more Catholic high holidays until the end of the year, my gut is relieved. Now to have a ham sandwich. Where are the directions for doing a Heimlich on yourself? You can never be too careful around ham.

(The dog got in on the Easter spirit as well. Check out his blog for pictures of his humiliation.)

The Horror

(Title said like Marlon Brando's character, Col. Kurtz, at the end of Apocalypse Now! - the greatest movie ever made.)

Saturday is swim lessons for the kids at Lifetime Fitness. In case anyone has forgotten, I hate the "health club." It's nothing against Lifetime, it's "health clubs" in general. Too sweaty, flexi, overpriced, loud and stinky. So...

Reason #852 why I hate "health clubs" - coming from the pool entrance in the men's locker room you make a turn and walk down a long-ish hall. The end of the hall is directly across from the entrance to the sauna. The sauna has a glass door. Sitting in the sauna in front of the glass door is Mr. No-Towel with his junk hanging off the bench. DUDE! Wear a F***ING towel. No one wants to see that! Of course the guy was so fat that he probably hadn't seen his own junk except in a mirror in decades. Here is a hint - the sauna does not melt fat away, it just makes you sweat!

Reason #945 why I hate "health clubs" - this did not happen to me - it was described to me at Easter dinner, but it qualifies as yet another reason for me. A friend of ours was describing how she was running on the treadmill at the "health club" and there was a guy running who was making every imaginable bodily sound. Coughing, snorting, "hawking up a lung," moaning, groaning, more coughing and snorting. Do you NOT realize there are other people in the vicinity and that S**T is disgusting? It's like he was raised by wolves.

At A Loss

I am at a loss as to what to title this post. It has been busy since I posted last. Probably too busy to put in one mammoth and potentially tedious post, so I will break it up. First up, training.

Training has been going pretty well. We did our first track workout last Thursday - 800's. Since this was our first real speed day we played the number of reps by ear. Our first one started out too quick and we all felt like we were going to be in for a brutal morning of trying to not projectile vomit on each other. By the second 400 hundred of number 1 we had settled down a bit and came in only slightly quicker than our goal time. We decided to do four reps and reps 2 - 4 were way better. We were within a few seconds on each rep and once we got into the groove we felt pretty good. I would have liked to go a little faster - because I am dumb, but we agreed to stay together - after all I am "pace-boy" for the marathon. In order to work it a little harder I ran in lane 3. It wouldn't seem like much, but those extra feet or yards make a difference. Overall, we ran all four reps about 10 seconds faster than we originally planned and figured we could hold that in the future. The runs to and from the track were kind of poky, but then all they were supposed to be was warm up and warm down, right?

Friday, I blew off masters swimming. Was that awesome Wednesday workout a fluke? We will never know now, will we? I skipped it for no other reason than, I did not want to drag my butt out of bed - lame, lame, lame. To make up for it I determined I would ride my bike. Yet another trainer ride because I am a lazy wimp. I procrastinated it most of the day until I had about an hour and a half before dinner to do it. Well, it was "now or never" and I didn't want to lose a whole day of training. One problem, A and the kids were home. It was Good Friday so the kids had school off and A took the day off. If you weren't already aware of it, I hate to train when my family is around. I told A earlier in the day I would need the time to ride and in hind-site I should have gone earlier, but here I was. Now, the weather is beautiful here (finally) so the kids had been outside for a lot of the day, but they were starting to get squirrely. A decided to take them to Caribou. I think she needed the coffee and just wanted the kids to settle down some, so she stuck her head down the basement stairs to let me know her plan. 

There I am, about half way through my ride, watching Hogan's Heros, sweating like a whore in church, peddling my little bike to nowhere and she gives me the "eye-roll." Ugh! I just hate that. They leave, I finish. I have been grinding a big gear at a moderate cadence to build some leg strength, especially since I haven't been lifting. It went pretty well, but I really need to hike up my bike skirt and get on the road. There is nothing good on TV anymore. 

Saturday was our long run day. We did our first 20 miler the Saturday before so we were down to 16 or 18. There were family Easter obligations so we decided to go shorter, but we decided to run the middle 6 miles at marathon pace. MS was not feeling well at the start. There were mentions of contraception and poor food choices, but I tuned out at "contraception" and never made the connection. MS has also been having some anxiety about our race pace. It seems daunting, but I keep trying to assure that by race day it won't be at all. We worked our way through the first five miles at what we thought was our typical LSD pace and made a pit stop before we launched into "race pace." MS used the porta-loo and I stood near by making loud fart sounds with my hands because I am really a 12 year old boy at heart. But everyone else laughed, so. (It may have been embarrassed, uncomfortable laughter, I have a hard time discerning - not that it would necessarily stop me.) The six miles at race pace flew by. We were actually able to talk pretty well through the whole thing and our average pace for each mile was about 10 seconds faster then our goal. We were feeling pretty good about it. The last five miles seemed poky in comparison, but they were actually faster than they felt. Over all our average pace was 30 seconds per mile faster than our goal and our slowest mile (the first mile) was the only one right on pace. It felt great! And MS has much more confidence. (And her stomach actually felt better the longer we went - thank goodness for that.)

Sunday is my rest day and in what has become typical fashion for me on every major holiday, I overindulged, but I love ham. And lamb cake.

Which brings us to today and masters swimming. It was not my best day. I did get in about 2,200 yards in about 45 minutes, but it sucked. Or more accurately, I sucked. We got into the main set and the wheels came completely off the bus causing said bus to sink to the bottom of the pool and grind away on the brake hubs while the water slowly filled the passenger compartment and drowned my will to continue. I didn't realize it, but my legs were very tired from Saturday. I have never felt them when I kick like I did this morning. Flip turns were terrible. I was either jammed in the wall or floating back to get a toe on it. My head was not in the water. The ham and potatoes and lamb cake and ham and potatoes and lamb cake were taking their collective toll. So, I made an excuse and cut it short - and this is really the workout I should have ground out. Distance and more distance. Now I feel shame. 

But what's done is done. I would like to get on the bike to make up for my miserable performance this morning, but I still have a lot of Easter dishes to do. Hmmm, dishes or bike? It's a toss up at this point. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Wouldn't that be a great product? Just rub a little on those trouble areas - spare tire, love handles, saddle bags, what have you - and the squishy areas become firm and toned. Wait, that stuff is all over the drug store and packing my spam in-box. Well, I have developed my own Pudge-be-Gone program to combat the issues outlined in my previous post.

The Cadbury Mini-eggs are gone! Ate the last few last night after dinner. And if I recall correctly, the Starburst Jelly Beans are also gone. I was in the grocery store last night (I spend A LOT of time in the grocery store) and they were totally out of Mini-eggs and Starburst Jelly Beans. Good - temptation averted. I am still off Oreos and ice cream and, like booze, I think I will just continue to say, "No," because if I get started it will not end pretty (Think the end of "Dodgeball.") Easter dinner will come and go soon enough.

I missed Masters practice on Monday when my alarm didn't go off, so I made up for it by hopping on my bike. I wanted to go an hour or more grinding a big gear for some strength work, but because of the combination of Rachel Ray and only three cups of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal for fuel, I stuck a fork in it at 45 minutes. I did do some core work later in the day, so, I'll log it. 

Tuesday was scheduled to be a 7 mile easy run at the lakes. We had busted out our first 20 miler on Saturday and this was supposed to be recovery. We decided to run the roads around Lake Harriet instead of the trails to add in some hills. Starting out we were cruising and about half a mile in I had already used my breakfast - I was fricking STARVING (I really hate that.) My legs were protesting from Sunday and my grind the day before, but then something strange happened. I started speeding up - and everyone came with me. I just wanted to be done and the only way to be done sooner was to run faster. We were all still chatting, so I don't think we realized what was going on until we were back to the second lake, but by that time I was having such a good time going fast that I didn't back off and no one called me out on it. We added the hills and finished strong adding a loop around the parking lot to get to 7.00 miles, exactly. 

When I got home and downloaded the data, we had, again, massively negative split the run with the last mile the fastest. And it didn't even feel that tough. I LOVE that!

Last night I did my core work while watching The Biggest Loser. A HUGE improvement over eating a dozen Oreos while watching The Biggest Loser. 

I made it to Masters this morning. I had only one short, but tough, open water swim last week, so I didn't have high expectations for this morning's IM workout. Then I rocked it! I usually drill/loaf the fly part of the IM - hey, I don't need to do fly in a triathlon, so who cares - but this morning I was feeling really strong and loose, so although I still drilled some of it, I swam a lot more of it and held really good, strong form. I hit the fast intervals and really worked through the lactic acid build-up. Log another good one.

Tomorrow is our first track work out - 800's. I really like these workouts and inevitably do them too fast - but they are evenly paced. So that will help get the metabolism going, right? Then swimming or biking or both on Friday and 16 miles on Saturday. I might go 6 for 7 again this week. How cool would that be?

See ya pudge!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ Can't Come Soon Enough

All you Christians out there please do not waste your time saying a prayer for my soul. I am Catholic and I am already piloting the fastest rocket ship to hell so that post title will only make my descent that much quicker. 

Why do I need Easter to come so soon? (The title was referring to Easter - in case you are not Christian or you just don't pay attention.) Because I can't lose any weight. I am no lard-ass and some would say I am actually rather trim, but I need to lose some weight because I am lazy and don't want to drag all this excess adipose tissue up and down hill and dale for miles and miles. The fact of the matter is, all holidays kill me. 

Thanksgiving was the biggest week of gluttony I have experienced. What makes it worse is, I don't even drink anymore. It's all food. (Who makes two turkeys!? Me.) A month later is Christmas. After that food debacle I was at my heaviest in a long time. I vowed to be better with my nutrition and that worked for awhile. I was bumping up (or "down" as the case may be) against 190 and feeling pretty good. Then Easter comes along. 

As you may or may not know, I am a terrible Catholic. Yes, my kids go to Catholic school. Yes, my father-in-law was in the Jesuit seminary for over ten years - then he left - then he met my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law has a masters in theology. Her parents - A's grandparents and my kids' great-grandparents - were off-the-boat Irish Catholics. F is named after an Irish saint. So I probably have a lot of people pulling for me. They will have to do a lot of negotiating to get me through those pearly gates.

As Catholics we do the whole Lent thing (I just included a Wiki link if you don't know what this all entails - it is very complicated James Bond-type stuff that even I don't fully understand as illustrated by my lackadaisical follow through) which basically includes giving up some "vice" and not eating meat on Fridays for 40 days before Easter. Well, this year I decided to give up Oreos and ice cream. Now, in the true spirit of the sacrifice Jesus made for my soul, I should have given up all sweets/desserts, but in the spirit of making my life easier and increasing my odds of success, I decided to be very specific. (As of today I have not had any Oreos - I will get to the ice cream later.)

What does any of this have to do with not losing weight? In order to satisfy my sweet tooth (teeth) I have substituted Oreos and ice cream with multiple bags of these:

And to a lesser extent - these:
And when I say multiple, I mean many multiple. I bet I have gone through eight bags of Mini Eggs and about three bags of jelly beans. To rationalize/justify/make myself feel better, I do chase the fist-fulls of Mini Eggs with giant glasses of milk. Inevitably, I still have milk left after I eat the chocolate so I have to get more chocolate to go with the milk and then that doesn't work out so I have to get more milk to chase the chocolate and on and on until a quarter of the bag of Mini Eggs is gone and half a gallon of milk. But hey, milk's healthy, right?

While I try not to break one arm patting myself on the back for resisting Oreos, I have to come clean about ice cream. I have been pretty good, but I have had a couple of slips that I need to rationalize/justify/make myself feel better about. My kids both requested ice cream cakes for their birthdays. Now, how can I not partake in my children's birthday celebrations - I am not some inhuman monster after all. Besides, it really is kind of a gray area. It is technically "cake" and I did not give up cake. Granted, it is made with ice cream, but, again cake is in the description so I will file it under "cake." (In the larger scheme of things, Jesus might just give me a pass on this one. He certainly has bigger fish of mine to fry.) My second "slip" is also negotiable. When in Florida I went to an ice cream shop with my mother-in-law and E. When I got there I remembered, "Hey, I gave up ice cream for Lent." Now, I just couldn't disappoint my darling daughter and Grandma was buying (free stuff trumps Lent in my book) so I was all set to dive right into some creamy goodness. Then I saw it - my way out. Actually, my mother-in-law pointed it out to me. The ice cream shop also served gelato - not technically ice cream - ask any Italian, they will concur. I'll get some of that then. I had a bit of a guilty conscience (yes, I feel guilt and yes, I have a conscience - really people) because I knew this was the knife's edge of legitimacy. Then I found the Windex for my clouded conscience - SORBETTO! Frozen fruit. "I will have a scoop of each of those please." 

I did do a little penance for my ice cream/gelato/sorbetto transgression. It kind of sucked. Whoa, not enough to not eat the whole thing, but not good enough to go back. 

And that whole "no meat on Friday" thing. Long story short, it didn't happen. More fuel for the rocket. 

To make matters worse - I have Easter dinner staring me in the face (figuratively, but soon literally.) Candied spiral-cut ham, cheesy potatoes, green beans and lamb cake. Not to mention the appetizers that will precede all that gluttony. And for whatever reason, I am just a boy who can't say "no." Luckily, when I was in the grocery store this morning I saw that half the packages of Mini Eggs were gone and I wouldn't imagine they will be restocking them this late - at least I hope not. And "No," I didn't buy another bag before they were gone, I still have two bags at home. A man has got to know his limits. Maybe one of these days I will know mine.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Something to Cleanse The Palette

I am posting this only because I can't stand to look at my own blistered foot anymore. Here are some puppies, mountain prairie flowers and beach sunsets to cleanse your visual and psychological palettes.