Not-So Speed(y) work


First real week of travel this month, and man, can I feel it.

Work’s been great, but travel schedule throws me for a loop. Even though I can pretty much eliminate the commute part of the day by staying close to my colleagues, the additional cruft of eating out and the soul-sucking nature of airports and motels makes it tough to get into and out of bed.

Actually, the motel’s mostly tough due to having comfy beds.

Anyhoo, I made Tuesday’s 3 miler, skipped speed on Wednesday, and tried speed this afternoon before heading to another airport for another town.

And the workout STANK.

I ended up doing only 3 out of the 5 total miles. I’ll probably do another 2 when I get to the hotel this evening, and make up the last distance run tomorrow morning.

But – I got it done. BLEH.

Status Update

Been Working (Day job and on the house), Running (As if it were a priority), and Sleeping (instead of blogging or wasting time).

Largely in that order.

Though I did watch It Might Get Loud. And can am left only with the thoughts of the Beastie Boys:

If I played guitar I’d be Jimmy Page.

The girlies I like are underage

Wait… forget that last bit…

Now, to find a track on which to run in the AM.

Does that count, Hip?

Running Reboot

Missy CRUSHED the Houston marathon. I’m so completely proud to be married to her.

At the same time, it’s painfully apparent why she makes things work and I don’t – consistency. I’ve got none; she lets Amtrak know when the trains are off schedule every time she heads through downtown on a run.

So, more than anything, my goal for the Vermont City workup is to hit my workouts. Actionable things to accomplish this:

  • Get to bed before 11. Ideally before 10, but that’s just not going to happen.
  • Get up by 5:30 on workdays, ideally by 5. If I’m up by 5, I can get almost any run up to 6 or 7 miles done before I need to be on the road to the office.
  • Simplify my gear setup. By this, I think I need to get in the habit of wearing my Nike+ watch as a watch, so I’m ready to go every morning. Also, I think I’m going to quit the alternating shoes thing during the week – maybe i’ll have a pair of “long run” shoes for the weekends.
  • Set out gear before I go to bed. I’ve been doing this, but not getting to sleep on time tends to negate this.

So, I’m good for two days this week. Let’s see if tomorrow happens.

Beast-ly Boys

Or, Why I love New England, Edition #419

Missy’s out of town for the weekend (Houston Marathon tomorrow morning, bib #3291), so the boys and I are trying our best not to burn down the house.

Figuring out that it’s probably easiest NOT to burn down the house if we’re not in it, we headed up IH-91 to Berkshire East for a little bit of sliding downhill. Y’know, the “Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn” type. And to FINALLY get the boys into ski school so I can stop feeling guilty about their not skiing as small kids.

When we got up to the hill, I told the boys that they may never have a nicer day on which to learn. Temps were in the mid-30’s, sunny, no wind, absolutely great packed powder, without the solid ice base that New England packed powder usually entails. Man, it was nice.

I dropped them off for an AM class, and jumped on the lift. Hadn’t skied in about 10 years (Don’t think I went the year Jake was born, and haven’t been downhill since), and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the muscle memory came back. I did a couple of runs on the big, wide green slope, and then a couple of runs down some intermediate blues.

Berkshire East really strikes me as a skier’s mountain. The last time I was up there, probably 11 years ago, there wasn’t a green trail from the top of the chair lift all the way to the bottom of the mountain. At some point, you ended up on a trail that was rated blue. It was a mild blue, but a blue nontheless. This time, without removing or taming any of the existing blues, they’d added a great winding trail along the back side of the mountain.

They’d also added a double chair on the bunny slope, doing away with the rope tow, an even easier bunny hill with a moving carpet lift, and a whole new side of the mountain with a quad lift. The added area was great – the only lift we really had to wait for on the Saturday of a holiday weekend was the bunny lift.

After the kids’ lesson was over, we grabbed lunch, and I got to ski with them the rest of the day. What a treat to watch them learning. The instruction must have been pretty good – after the lesson they could both pretty reliably snowplow and get on and off the lift. Nate (age 5) had a tough time getting on the lift, mostly because it was hitting him in the middle of the back. But he could get off like a champ.

And the boys really surprised me. Jake’s usually a little wilder and rambunctious, and Nate’s usually thoughtful and reserved, so I figured those personalities would come out on the slopes. Turns out my expectations were inverted. Nate turns out to have my addiction to speed – all he wanted to do was point his skis downhill and let ‘er rip. Jake, on the other hand, was initially paralyzed the first time he was faced with a lip off of a jeep trail onto a slope. After a little pep talk and a couple of falls, though, he made up his mind that he was going to be in control, and started being very deliberate, and ended up figuring the control bit out really well by the end of the day.

I cannot wait to head back up, probably in February if I either a) Get the taxes done, or b) get much better about taking my lunch to work, saving $6/day on food. I’m pretty confident that the boys will be decent skiers, and they’re both pretty eager to get back. And, man, was it fun.

Dad Scouts of America

File this one under “Why on earth doesn’t this already exist?”

Tonight was a Cub Scout planning meeting. A bunch of us dads were talking after the meeting, and someone started wondering why there’s not a “Dad Scouts of America” or something along those lines.

You could have merit badges in stuff like:

  • Brewing Beer
  • Cooking over open flame
  • Miter cuts
  • Spackling
  • Lawn Mower Repair
  • Cursing under one’s breath
  • Not strangling naughty children
  • Stoic silence

One of the other dads at the meeting suggested a “MILF badge”, but I don’t know what the exercise for that would be.

Other than the curriculum, the activities would be pretty similar to Cub Scouts, except with beer. We’d get together a couple of times a month to hang out in someone’s basement or out in a field, go camping a few times a year, not shower for a week while at camp. There could be sports, or sports pools depending on the time of year.

We could even keep the trappings of the Cub Scouts. The promise is pretty good as is:

I promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my Country, to help other people, and to obey the Law of the pack.

I like it, ’cause it’s pretty ecumenical, acknowledges that there’s responsibility to being a Dad, and is short.

The Law of the Pack needs to be established very distinctly from that in place for the Cub Scouts. There’s not anything in there right now about picking up empties. It needs to acknowledge that everyone needs to pick up the tab at some point, at the very minimum. And “Akela” could probably be replaced by “the designated driver”.

No motto yet, either. “Be Prepared” doesn’t really work. “Semper Gumby” is taken and not cynical enough. Suggestions?

There’s a pretty natural rank structure that falls out of fatherhood:

Expecting: First kid on the way, etc. Mascot could be a lamb, or other naive critter

Sleepy: First kid here, less than 2 years old. I’m thinking these are “Sloths”, ’cause they don’t move unless you poke them with a stick.

Crumbly: Kid between 2 and 4; named after the goldfish and graham cracker residue in the backseat, under chairs in the kitchen, and in pants cuffs. Maybe a Pig for a mascot?

Sickos: Kid in pre-school or kindergarten; haven’t fully developed the group immunity, so they get absolutely every bug that comes through. These are the Rats, since they’re disease vectors.

Happy: Kid in 2 – 6. The kids still think Dad hung the moon but are self-sufficient enough to be fun to hang out with. Naturally, they’re the Monkeys.

Driver: Kid in middle-ish school (6th to 9th grade). Dad’s pretty much irrelevant for much except for transportation. Kids still somewhat under paternal control. Either the “Camels” or the “Mules”

Pocketbook: Kid in High School. The kid’s got friends who drive, so the only thing that dad needs to provide is cash. These dad scouts are constantly worried that their kid is acting just like the dad and his idiot friends did in high school.

Cheapskate: Paying for a kid in college.

Scoutmaster: Have successfully transitioned the kids out of the house and off the budget.

So, whaddya think? Should we print up manuals and start saving up to buy a camp?

2010 Continued

Man, I’m loving life.

First, the Twitter (via William Gibson of Neuromancer fame) spits out this link about neo-cavemen (cave people?) in NYC. Absolutely fascinating, and Nassim Taleb makes an appearance (You have read Fooled by Randomness, right?). So, in one 5 minute diversion, I’ve got:

  • Meat.
  • Exercise
  • Math
  • Stickin’ it to the Man
  • References to squirrel hunting
  • Making fun of Vegans
  • Frenchies.
  • Ex-Navy guys about my age

Fascinating article, but I’m afraid it’d ask me to give up beer.

In other news, I had two great runs this weekend. The first was Saturday afternoon – I went long-ish from NAVSTA Newport to downtown after drill. Was just really, really nice to be out, and in the zone. Highlight was when a pre-family co-worker flagged me down across the street from the post office and introduced me to his girlfriend. She was nice, but the best part was being a decent enough person to work with to be flagged down socially.

Sunday afternoon, I went for a short run to blow out the carbon after the long run. The first half-mile was tough, but I stuck with it for 30 minutes, and felt GRATE! by the end of the run, and woke up feeling great this morning.

Tonite, I made it back to the Y pool for the first swim of 2010. Seems like the Mystic Y raised the pool temp about 5 degrees – it wasn’t painful to get in. I actually broke down and did about 600 yards of drills that I remembered from last winter’s swimming for dummies (Triathletes) class in addition to the standard warm-up/cooldown.

Let’s see about other stuff:

  • One of my running partners for the VT City Marathon training is on DailyMile with me. Very much like the RBF works to motivate me, knowing that there’s someone else out there getting fitter and faster than me is a huge motivator.
  • Similarly, I’m determined to figure out how some of the new “New Media” works. Want a Google Wave invite? Leave a comment.
  • Likewise, I’m all about the MIT Opencourseware Project. I set up a $99 monitor with an Apple TV and a VGA jack for my laptop, plopped my bike trainer in front of it, and I’m reviewing linear algebra and its application to computer science. All for the price of nothing (I’d bought the monitor for something else)
  • Found out that a high school classmate of mine is going to retire from the Army this year. Odd to think that I’m old enough to have retired friends. Happier to think that I can retire from the reserves in about 4 years. And thankful that there’s men and women in this (and other) countries who are willing to dedicate themselves to making the world safe for democracy.
  • Did the final cleaning on the old house. Scrubbed all the applicable floors with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and had a trip down memory lane to scrubbing the floors at the fraternity house on Sunday mornings (morning being loosely translated as noon-ish) after parties.

OK, that’s probably close to enough. Things I still owe:

  • Resolutions
  • Training plan for VT City
  • Pictures of the new house

ENOUGH! Go run.

EDIT: Two more quick things –

  • I’ve got a current intellectual crush on Karen Armstrong. Her book on The Bible is a great and short read. (And it’s out of the same Atlantic series that spawned PJ O’Rourke’s brilliant book on “On The Wealth of Nations”, so it uses small words). God is good, and expects us to be good to each other
  • Bag Balm. I’ve been suffering from some excema on my foot for about 9 months. Peeling, cracking, itching. I’d tried steroids from the doc, and some fancy stuff that Melissa recommended, and it just kept getting worse. Then, as we’re moving, I come across this tin of Bag Balm that we’ve had for a decade or more, since we treated a dog who’d had a run-in with a pricker bush. I figured “What the heck?” and smeared it on, and about 2 weeks later, I’m close to convinced that I’m finally going to get better. Just further proof that everything good comes from Vermont.


So, “Billy Off” seems to have worked somewhat, but not nearly so well as 2 weeks of not eating crap, playing with the kids, and spending all day moving stuff around the house or doing building. I’m within spitting distance of 170, and feeling great.

I squeezed in two “Massive” (for current training volumes) long runs – an 11 miler the Saturday after Christmas with the group from the church (which CRUSHED me – I hadn’t run much in December, and hadn’t gone more than 5 or so since October and the pre-NYC flu); and did my 10 for 2010 on New Year’s day, which was a lovely run from the new house, around River Road, and back.

Did I mention we moved? Not far, but into a (very slightly) bigger house, with a slightly more manageable yard, more kids in the neighborhood, and half a mile of freaking uphill on the return from any bike or run. I’ve been telling the kids that if they learn to run from this house, they’ll be stars at cross country. I’ll post pictures from our upstairs windows – there’s even a view!

I’ll go into it a bit more later, but I’m not too sure I met too many of my 2009 goals. There’s always 2010 though. The short version for 2010 is:

  1. Colchester Half Marathon – 27 February
  2. Vermont City Marathon – 30 May
  3. Bluff Point Twilight Trail Run – 4 June! (Seems really, really late)
  4. At least 1 Olympic Triathlon during the summer
  5. Terramuggus race series, or other weekday tri series
  6. New Haven 20K – Labor Day
  7. Mystic YMCA Turkey Trot

Maybes include:

  • Blessing of the Fleet 10 miler – 24 July
  • Mystic Triathlon (depending on drill schedule)
  • Newport Naval Station Triathlon
  • An off-road tri
  • And jack and squat after New Haven

Major goals for the year:

  • Back under 160 lbs by New Haven
  • 4 hours at Vermont City
  • An unofficial Century on the bike in August
  • Two rides up to Smuggler’s Notch during our Stowe week in June/July.

We’ll hammer out the rest later this week. Hope everyone had Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas (as applicable), and an exceptional 2010.