Monday, December 31, 2007

My PR list

After months of being unable to log in to my personal website, thanks to Comcast "improvements", I finally dug and clawed my way in. My list of personal records is now finally updated.

Watch that space, because I'm hoping they'll change in 2008!!

Happy new year

to all!

Special congratulations to our friend Stronger, who received the best possible New Year's gift anyone could imagine. I'm so delighted! I want to re-read your saga in book form one day with this wonderful happy ending!

I'm in

I just heard about this special medal for the combined May/October Frederick and Baltimore marathon and half marathon.

I'm a sucker for an extra medal. They got me.

I only signed up for the two half marathons, though. Maybe I'll upgrade if I'm feeling especially fit - or not. I really prefer half marathons, quite frankly! Marathons hurt too much!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

More vacation

Our second Christmas tree. . . .

Fort Necessity, site of a dismal failure and ignominious surrender by George Washington:

A little local zoo with lots of friendly (i.e., hungry) animals:

Afternoon from the balcony, no zebras in sight in their pen:

Catherine's favorite part of the day. Elisabeth kept talking and talking about the elephant, but when directly in front of it was backing away in terror. And then talking about it again as soon as we left.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

This blog on vacation

Still getting Christmas presents. . . .

Here's the main lodge where we're staying in SW Pennsylvania:

The view out the back of our townhouse with a zebra enclosure and the Alleghenies in the far distance.

One of the restaurants with a colossal fishtank in the center.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to all!

Santa came a day early to our house this year. How kind of him! Fortunately the girls can't read a calendar yet, and the reindeer can't either so they ate their carrots and drank most of a bucket of water we set out on the deck for them. It's important for them to stay well-hydrated when pulling that sleigh.

Yes, Catherine remembered that she asked Santa for an airplane (too), but she got lots of play time today out of the helicopter. Did you know that helicopters have countdowns in preparation for blastoff?

Elisabeth is trying out her new headset in preparation for rides in the real airplane:

She's also getting started on multitasking, viewing Elmo on her new mini-DVD player and the LeapPad Disney Princess book simultaneously. This practice is probably strongly recommended against by pediatricians nationwide, I'm sure.

Catherine enjoyed the nice weather today by some practice on her new bike (yeah, the seat's too low, but she still needs to stand up fairly frequently).

We only had one minor throw-up incident, which was a great improvement over the previous night when I was sitting up most of it with Catherine, barking like a seal with a nasty bout of croup.

Today was a great day.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Marathon running is safer than you think

What is already known on this topic:
Running a marathon can lead to sudden death, as documented 2500 years ago
Such fatalities at sporting events attract broad attention in modern media

What this study adds:
The absolute risk is much lower than estimated by small studies provoked by signal events
The relative risk is smaller than the risk of a motor vehicle fatality on the same roads during the same time intervals
The final 1.6 km of the marathon represents less than 5% of the total distance yet accounts for almost 50% of the sudden cardiac deaths

Happy winter solstice!

The precise moment of the 2007 solstice was Sat., Dec. 22, 1:08 A.M. EST. So the days are ALREADY getting longer!* Hooray! Shout a cheer, we've beaten back the darkness once again!

Thank goodness! I'm heading out this morning to meet my training buddy and another local guy at the Y for a run starting at 11 minutes after sunrise (which will be at 7:19 AM).

The best part of this time of year for me is that my girls occasionally sleep until past 8AM, which also gives me another hour or so of sleep.

But not this morning! I'm going to run like a cheetah! Or gazelle! Or sloth! Or something. . . .

*Unless, of course, you're one of our friends in Australia or New Zealand, in which case you're in the middle of summer and you don't care that days are getting shorter for you because life is good.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The pie chart

I love this chart from 1913. I just don't have a post to go with it today. Maybe I should have saved it to illustrate my next trip to the DMV. Or maybe I should apply it to the fine folks who are taking over 6 weeks to transfer a set of my girls' medical records to a new pediatrician.

To Santa's Workshop

. . . with the pre-K class. First we had a book exchange in the classroom. . . .

. . . then bundled up to walk into town to the church hall to see Santa. (Elisabeth wanted nothing to do with that evil man in red.)

I couldn't hear what Catherine asked for, but she said later she asked for an airplane. (Jeez, what about the helicopter!?) I'm surprised she didn't specify a Cessna and specific model number. They were also able to pick out some nice presents for Daddy and wrap them with MUCH help. And eat cupcakes and Cheetohs.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The helicopter

The present that Catherine is convinced that she's getting from Santa this year is a helicopter (since one of her TV characters, Max of the child-neglect cartoon Max and Ruby has a toy one).

The babysitter today brought over two presents for the girls (book-sized) which I put under the tree. I told them Santa wouldn't bring them more if they opened these. It's KILLING the girls not to be able to open them.

Catherine proclaimed that one was her helicopter. I said it didn't look like a helicopter shape to me. Then she decided it must be the CONTROLLER for the helicopter. Sheesh!! Where does she learn these things??

(Of course, since she's been going on about it consistently for a few weeks, I had to find her a helicopter - I found this one at Amazon which is a toy replica of the "Dinoco helicopter" from the animated movie Cars. They haven't seen the movie, but I think this will do. . . . although it does have the obnoxious voice of that hick character Mater, so we may have to forcibly remove the batteries very quickly and permanently).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fifth place!

Thanks for your votes, folks, for the Fifth Best Sports Endurance Blog of 2007! I appreciate it! I may not have finished on the podium, but I really won because I HAD THE MOST FUN.

Pssssst! Let me tell you a little secret! Those other blogs are, actually, better than mine. Many congratulations to them!! But I'll go up against them toe-to-toe any day of the week for the Smartass Awards.

But yeah, it's a damn shame about "Punkin".

Four-year-old logic

I was just having one of those critical, sensitive conversations with Catherine. Today the topic was wheelchairs.

I explained: "Well, Catherine, some people walk, and some people can't walk, and the people who can't walk use wheelchairs."

She considered this briefly, and responded matter-of-factly: "You can't sit in a wheelchair because your butt's too big."

Cold water swimming

Nope, I'm not doing it! Nosirree!

I just came across an online brochure published by a local club, the Chesapeake Paddlers Association. It addresses the dangers inherent in the body's responses to immersion in cold water. One part that caught my eye said:

"Exposure of the head and chest to cold water causes sudden increases in heart rate and blood pressure, which may result in cardiac arrest. Uncontrolled rapid breathing (hyperventilation) follows the initial gasping response and may also lead to unconsciousness. The victim must attempt to recover a normal breathing rhythm as rapidly as possible."

Hey, I've experienced that even while swimming in a nice warm wetsuit when starting out in cold water!!

It also states: "Strong swimmers, without thermal protection, have died before swimming 100 yards in cold water."

Yikes! I suppose my decision not to do any more ocean-swim events in cold water without a wetsuit makes perfect sense after all!

Present to myself

This is what I just ordered for my Christmas present to myself. I've been wearing a big clunky Timex Ironman 100-lap watch for years and years now, but it looks a little ungainly when we're going out to dinner and I'm dressed in something other than workout clothes.

So this will look slightly less clunky for dinners out. . . . and it still has similar functions for workouts as well. And it's inexpensive enough that when I break it or smash it, or the buttons come off, as they eventually seem to do, it won't bother me.

Are you buying yourself a Christmas present this year?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Swim lessons

No, not for me, although I could always use some technique tips.

I've committed my 4-year-old Catherine to being at the Y at 10AM every Saturday for 8 weeks for swimming lessons starting in January ($35, what a bargain!), so that means that I'll have to be there too. What I think I'll do is go early and put her in child care and try to get in a swim every week before her lesson - and then I can finish it off with some more laps or hit the sauna or spectate during her lesson.

I can always run on the treadmill or do weights, I suppose, but I'll end up getting wet anyway so I might as well swim!!

Elisabeth isn't quite ready yet, but maybe she will become envious enough that seeing Catherine go off to her lessons every week will be enough to push her over the "readiness edge".

It's done

Well, it was something like two years this time, but (following Linae's and Jeanne's good examples but unfortunately without having the ten inches of undamaged hair to send to Locks of Love) I just got about 8 inches cut off my hair so now it will take fewer than 2 hours to dry after a swim. Hurrah!

Freedom! No more ugly ponytail for a while, now it's short and layered. The stylist kindly reminded me that they do coloring too. Uh, yeah, I KNOW IT HAS GRAY ROOTS.

Actually the stylist was very nice - she has a son in Catherine and Elisabeth's class! Catherine got her hair trimmed too and was as good as gold. I cut Elisabeth's hair because she turns into a screaming banshee for it - and it doesn't have to be so perfectly even with her curly top.

Yeah, photos some day when I have a good one to post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's your last chance

Vote for me or "Punkin" gets it.

I rode today!

I received this photo today in an email hawking cycling and triathlon products. The, uh, "product placement" (so to speak) cracked me up.

Anyway, we were favored with an unusually warm December day today and I was able to get out for ten miles on the bike. Not much distance to speak of, but it was wonderful just being able to wear a light vest and be quite comfortable out there.

I forgot to even think about my leg issue until I was out there about 20 minutes, so that must mean it's fine for cycling. Probably fine for everything from here on out, thankfully.

When do they stop making messes?


My daughter Elisabeth has apparently reached an important developmental milestone: she's now climbing on the counters and taking everything out of the cabinets (especially in the bathroom) and leaving it in a jumbled heap in the counter or in the sink. That used to be Catherine's job, but she's moved beyond that stage.

Catherine is now interested in cooking. She just made "hot cocoa" out of water, milk, cherry jam, and salt. She pronounced it "yucky". So then she was on her way to mix up a new and improved batch. . . .

I'm afraid the answer to the titular question is "never". Please say it's not so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Whew! Missed that bullet!

My leg is about 98% fine today. I'm amazed, considering on Sunday I thought it might be a fairly severe long-term injury.

I was surprised when I walked the girls to school this morning it felt nearly normal. So later I went out for a test jog of about 1.5 miles and did a little over 2 miles of other walking, and while it wasn't perfect (it felt a little achy after a couple of miles) it wasn't too far off.

I'm very relieved! I guess it just was an unusual muscle-cramp incident after all. I think in another day or two I'll be right as rain.

Monday, December 10, 2007

How do they think of these things?

Catherine thought that she could make a nice train track for her wooden train out of an entire box of wet-wipes.

Knee update

I don't think it's as bad as I had feared yesterday during that initial walk when I could barely put weight on it. The muscle is still is slightly painful today and the joint feels a bit unstable, but I don't think it's severe. I'll give it a few days rest and then take a test-jog.

But you know what would really make it feel better? If you went here now and voted for me. Thanks!

Carry on. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My last race this year

Preface: Yesterday my right quad was feeling crampy for a few moments while we were walking around town, and it made me limp for half a block, but it quickly subsided and I thought no more of it. Silly me.

Today I went to the 29th Anniversary 15K, a race put on by the Annapolis Striders at the beautiful Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Maryland. I had never been there before, though I had often been in the area, and I've missed a lovely gem! I definitely plan to return to make use of the 6 miles of jogging/biking paths that wind through the woods, along with the nice-looking playground!

My running buddy Dave carpooled over with me - it was nice to have the company and the navigational assistance.

I had been hoping to finally break the 1:00 10K barrier in this race. However, the Race Gods had other plans for me.

It started well - cool (~38*F) and no winds made for good running weather through the woods. However, the terrain was considerably hillier than I am accustomed to and there were slippery wet leaves on the trails - which brought my pace down slower than I had hoped.

First three miles:
1: 10:17 (okay, maybe I'm too slow for a 10K PR today, let's keep running and see how it goes - ouch, stop and remove a stone from shoe, don't slip on the wet leaves!).
2: 10:14 (that's better, but maybe we'll work on a 15K PR today instead of 10K. Walk to get in some water at the aid station).
3. 9:58 (let's see, 3 miles in 30:31 - I'll have to have a huge negative split to go sub-1:00 in the 10K, but I'm game to keep trying, I'm feeling good).

At Mile 3.5 things ground to a halt.

It felt like my right lower quad cramped and then suddently it was too painful to fully straighten my knee. I could only limp along slowly, in considerable pain. Several runners were nice enough to ask me if I needed help, but no, there was nothing they could help with. Fortunately the course looped around close to the car and the finish line at 4.0 miles so I pulled out of the race.

I was able to see Dave make his excellent finish under 1:20, however! Well done! It was a really great event and we're planning to go back and train on those hilly trails later this winter, since there are no nice rolling hills like that anywhere around home in our county.

But first I have to fix this little lameness issue I have. I'm thinking it was some type of quadriceps cramping and tear. While the muscle was cramping it would have pulled on the patellar tendon enough to make it acutely painful at first. That pain subsided after about 20-30 minutes enough to walk fairly comfortably, and now it's just a low-level ache.

A quadriceps muscle pull is a lot better option than any kind of major muscle or tendon damage or tearing, so I'm going to work under that assumption for a few days and see how it goes. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

If you've got any other diagnoses or advice for me, I'm all ears! Naturally I'd like to resolve this quickly and without further incident!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum afternoon

It turned into such a beautiful afternoon we strolled over to enjoy the grounds at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum a few blocks away from our house.

It's that time of year again

Old cars pulling boats are always popular in our local town Christmas parade.

Some nice-looking local Friesians:

And a local riding club carrying the Maryland and US flags:

Llamas bearing gifts!

Log canoes
are one of the local indigenous types which are raced in local waters in the summer:

Poor Elisabeth still cries when the ambulances and fire trucks turn on their sirens. And they hardly gave out any candy at all. But the girls still didn't want the parade to end.