Monday, April 30, 2007

reality check!

just got a phone call from my sister who just got back from SF. she asked if i had ever been to SF before and i said no and she said, "well, let me tell you i have never seen hills like this before in my life! i don't know how you expect to run or bike on these hills! they were insane! i was dying walking up and down them!!" i said, thanks, but i'm training so i should be ok. to which she followed up with, "whatever you are doing, you really need to start doing twice that because you are going to die on this course!" i said, thanks for the encouragement and that i'm not worried about it (even though in reality i'm scare shitless). then she said, "oh and that bay area, so wavy, really that is just dumb to swim in it, i don't know how you are going to do this?" i told her that i wasn't scared about the swim (hello, obviously i am if you even just glance at my previous posts!). then she said, "i seriously think that you should reconsider this race and just take a vacation instead!" i said, thanks, but i've been training and i'm looking forward to the race. hung up the phone with her and thought "OH SH*#!" So, I guess that was a bit of a reality check for me and my training. i've been training, but been slacking here and there, no more of that from here on out!!!!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

1000 Hail Mary's

Yes, 1000 Hail Mary's.

That's what I'll be saying as I swim the bay hoping to survive. My swim training is going THAT well...

AT least I have my bike now.

God help me.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

61 days ... GOSH !!!! We need to work on our swimming skills

Believe it or not, I just saw Napoleon Dynamite over the weekend. Jon Heder is brilliant.

Napoleon: what are your skills?
Pedro: my skills?
Napoleon: You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Free at Last... and waaaaaay behind!

Holy crap! Sorry you guys haven't heard from me in a while. The triborgs had captured me and made me one of there own.... forever doomed to a life of watching the Slow Twich web space, searching for solutions to improved aerodynamics and recalculating over and over the times savings in 1/100th of a second the weight to power ratio of a guy who could stand to lose 15 pounds, but buys a $5,000 carbon bike to save on weight. This... is the triborg collective. Ugh. But I was able to regain conciousness and in a daring escape whipped up a batch of fluffernutter sandwiches to use as a distraction. Fuffernutters, by the way, seem to be the only triborg weakness that I am aware of. Who knew?!

That being said... out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Work has me up to my chin and sinking fast, and this during a week where I will have my kids most of the time. So here I am taking a break from work on a beautiful Sunday. I was able to get in an hour run and some weights... but have I mentioned I don't have my bike yet? I know! I know! I gotta get in the shop to pay off the last couple of bucks on layaway, get it set up and start riding! You don't have to tell me I'm an idiot... I know! (Tasha, this is not where you take the opportunity to remind me, either...)

Swimming is going well and I'm improving my technique. I can thank the triborgs for that. Just have to put in the distance.

We'll see. This first race and preparation for it is going to be down to the wire. Oh, yeah, gotta get a wetsuit yet too. CRAP!

Alcatraz Escape news footage

old news footage of the Morris/Anglin escape (the one from the Clint Eastwood movie). Click on "law and order" and then "off the rock". Site here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

saying damn ham is fun!

damn ham, damn ham. Boy, I love saying that. It just has a ring that is so pleasing and makes me tee hee hee every time.
So, I've been adding to my gadgets/clothing collection, in preparation for this season. I recently (finally!) got a heart rate monitor, which has been fun to play with. I find myself now wondering what my heart rate is at completely random moments when I'm not wearing it. The bus just jerked to the right and I almost fell down and my heart rate spiked - I wonder what it is? Eating lunch; writing e-mails; saying damn ham to myself and laughing - wonder what % of my max I'm at now? good times.
I also got a neoprene cap, which I'm feeling extra glad about given Carolyn's last posting of her difficulty tolerating 70 degree water. It's also a good thing to have in case I ever feel like getting looks from people or getting a laugh (or maybe just also looks) from friends - just show up wearing that thing.
This sport, if nothing else, does make for a varied and interesting cache of things laying around one's house.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Damn Ham

I would love to respond to your post, Chuck, but right now I'm trotting off to the store to buy some frozen hams. In bulk.

I don't understand ...

... the water temps this year. This website shows the lake at 42-43 degrees. When I did Alcatraz in 2000, we were getting in the water in early to mid April for a May 29 race, and the coldest it was was 50-51 degrees. I guess there's no global warming after all!! [ducks to avoid objects thrown by Tasha]

Damn Hot Water

I'll admit, I've been MIA, but there' s a good reason for that, I'm busy! I'm currently in week two of not staying in any one location for more than two nights at a time, which I have to admit, makes scheduling workouts not the easiest thing.

Anyway, back to the topic du jour. On Sunday I decide to track down a pool whilst in Michigan so I can get in a few laps and up my number of times in the pool per week (currently averaging just one). I find a local health club that only charges $8 and has an olympic pool, perfect. I walk in the front door of the place an immediately smell chlorine in the air, not good I think. I walk out of the locker room into a dingy, half lit pool area, with walls painted white and the steel roof supports a combo of baby blue and rust. The air is warm, this does not bode well.

Not surprisingly, the water is warm as well, bath water. I tell myself to tough it out and stick to the practice. After my warm up, I go to take a drink out of my water bottle, it's almost empty, apparently I've already chugged 20oz of water. Using this a good opportunity to cool off, I refill it and get out of the pool for 2 minutes to bring down my core temperature. I repeat this a couple more times, downing a half gallon of water in less than 1.5 hours, and still feel dehydrated. To make matters even more unpleasant, I can feel the skin on my hands cracking from being dryed out by the chlorine in the water.

Last night's swim practice, the water was refreshing when I got in, but after a thousand yards, I was plenty warm again.

I can't wait until open water swimming begins so I can swim without overheating.

Damn Cold Water

Well, I skipped out of town last Thursday and headed to lovely Cabo San Lucas. We had enough of the weather here and decided to go for a long weekend to Cabo. Upon getting there, first thing we did was head to the pool and grab a margarita! You have to love the pools with the swim-up bars in them, however it makes me wonder how much urine is in the pool because you see people sit there and drink and drink all day, yet never leave the pool. Now, unless these people are freaks of nature and are unlike me who has to pee every 5 minutes while drinking, I think I might venture to say that the pools with swim-up bars aren't the cleanest. Oh well, after a few margaritas I wasn't thinking about it. So, we get to the pool and I jump in. My husband looks at me and says, now why can you just get right in this pool and not the one at the gym. I told him that I was getting braver and that I was not hating the cold water as much, he believed that until he got into the pool himself and realized the pool was about 90 degrees!!!

So, after spending some time in the pool, I start asking Alex, the pool bartender, why no one swims at the beach. He informed me that the currents were very bad and that the water was cold. I asked how cold and he said around 67 degrees. Well, I decide that although I think I could probably battle those currents, after a few margaritas this is probably not the best idea. Instead I decide that we should walk down to the beach (which is about 80 stairs down) and walk the beach and I could feel the water to see how cold it is. Well, people, 67 degrees is DAMN COLD!!!!! And yes, I said DAMN THIS WATER IS COLD upon a wave hitting me. Then I tell myself to suck it up and I need to get in 55 degree water at the end of June. So, I stood there with the waves hitting my legs for all of about 5 minutes and then I thought to hell with this, I need another margarita and a warm pool. I walked back up all those steps thinking to myself, well at least this is good sandladder training!

Each day I would go to the beach and try to suck it up for a little longer letting the waves hit my legs and contrary to popular belief that you get used to it, I don't. Don't let anyone tell you different, 67 degrees is cold, even with multiple margaritas in you!!! After coming to this conclusion and after some deep thoughts about this over margaritas, I proceed to ask my husband how the hell am I going to swim in water that is 55 degrees if I can't even suck it up at 67 degrees? He just laughed and told me that I don't have much choice now and that one of you guys will probably be more than happy to shove me off the boat and once that happens there isn't much you can do besides swim!!! Great, no way out!!!

On our last day there, we decided to go snorkeling. They took us to a couple of bays in the Sea of Cortez that were calm and swimmable. We get there and the guide asks me if I would like a wetsuit. I asked him the temperature of the water and he said 70 degrees in these bays. I said, no, I should be able to handle that. Once again, wrong!!! I put my pinky toe in the water and went running back to the van to get a wetsuit. So, I get in the wetsuit and get all ready to get in the water. The guide gets in, my husband gets in, they both are waiting for me. I stand there staring at the water thinking of the coldness and then I start to go. I get up to my knees and I think, I'm doing ok, I can handle this. Then, being the clutz that I am, I proceed to take another step and trip over my own fins and flop into the water. This was not the nice slow getting into the water that I had planned!!! Yes, feel free to laugh at this point, because I will admit, I was the girl that shrieked upon falling into 70 degree water with a wetsuit on!!! Then I proceeded to say cold, cold, cold, etc. through my snorkel for about 5 minutes until I felt like I could move. After awhile, I settled down and moved about. We were in the water for about 20 minutes and I thought I was going to freeze, so I got out. As I sat there on the beach trying to warm up, all I could think was, WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO AND HOW AM I GOING TO MAKE IT IN 55 DEGREE WATER?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will post pictures later of the trip.


For something a bit different, a few reviews, for your elucidatory pleasure:

Earbudphones: The ones that Max recommended below, and yes they come in that funky green color, are splendid. No more earbud kerplupping out of one ear, driving one mad. Thank you jesus.

Socks for my delicate feet: Ultimax Ultra-Lite socks by Wigwam. So far, so good.

White tea, supposedly has little caffeine, hence will NOT keep Tasha up all night: Liars.

Road bike mirror: I got this little doohickey, the Italian road bike mirror that attaches to your handlebar end and is made by some little old Italian man named Mario in his tiny workshop in Italy. Or so they claim. What’s most important is that it’s of course ubercool, unlike the gizmos that strap to your sunglasses or helmet and look like you’ve got a mini-reflecting dish attached to help you try to contact your own species on a far-off galaxy.

As to how it actually works, I’d say for the $10-$20, it’s worth it. It’s very easy to attach, even for a mechanically-challenged person such as myself, and it’s easily adjustable. I road-tested it out myself for you, gentle reader, and these were my findings:

1) Once you get used to it and get the positioning right, it does a good job of letting you know exactly what’s coming up behind you, thus letting you scootch over just a few inches more so that you can put 5 inches instead of 3 between you and the cement truck about to blow past you.

2) While some might look at it constantly, I found it more useful to look when I heard a car or truck coming, so that I could see if they were paying attention or harbored thoughts of running me down.

3) It’s also useful when you’re about to execute some particularly tricky maneuver that might induce a little wobbly riding. You know, like taking a drink from your water bottle.

4) Maybe it’s just me, but I almost crashed while attempt to look at it while in the aerobars. Umm, that’s probably just me.

5) Finally, for those of us who wear iPods while cycling, I like to know if anyone’s anywhere near me before I start singing along to some especially catchy tune. God forbid I should cause some cute unsuspecting cyclist to crash after succumbing to helpless laughter from hearing me sing “I got friends in low places…..”

Stupid people who insist on 7,000 sq. foot McMansions out in NowhereLand, aka Where Tasha Likes to Ride her Bike: a) Those houses are butt-ugly, and b) Please don’t humiliate yourselves by moaning about the fact that a coyote came along and snatched Fifi the poodle. In case you haven’t noticed, you live in the boonies. No, it’s not a suburb of Chicago; don’t kid yourselves. You’re practically in Iowa, for god’s sake.

The developers of McMansions, above: Calling your butt-ugly subdivisions the SwallowCreek Farms Estates only calls attention to the fact that you’ve cut down all the birds’ trees, you’ve bulldozed and filled in any creeks or bodies of water that were once there, ditto for the farms. I hate you all.

Morons who mention the fact that February and March were cold and that it’s snowing in April, and then proclaim in all seriousness “ha, where’s all their global warming NOW?!”: You are all idiots. Please do not bother me. If you insist on parroting such inanities in spite of all scientific evidence to the contrary, I personally will hunt you down and beat you with a frozen ham.

That is all.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

All hail Hot Doug’s Leafs………….those bastards

While it was a good night of hockey last night in that I felt that I Did Not Suck, what I’m not so keen on regarding playing on Fridays is that the Elite/A tier plays immediately afterwards. Sure, it’s fun to watch good hockey; the problem is that when I head to the bar upstairs after playing for an hour and a half and looking like a sweat-bedraggled ragamuffin, I’m always confronted with the specter of The Debbies. You know. The gaggle of womanhood that is perfection in and of itself, with the high heels, the straight hair, the $200 jeans, the makeup that would make Boticelli weep. Angels who have deigned to grace us with their presence. Hallelujah. Apparently it’s some kind of ManLaw that the better the hockey player, the more Debbie-ish the wife.

Now, before I have a bunch of pissed off hockey players deciding to beat the crap out of me, I’d like to note that I’m sure your significant others are perfectly lovely women, who are all unique in their own special ways - but really, it somehow seems unfair that I go traipsing upstairs after hockey looking like a hairball that a cat just coughed up, and they’re all perfectly coiffed and Trixified, not a hair out of place. Well, let’s be honest here, while I have many charms, being perfectly coiffed, ever, is not one of them, hockey notwithstanding. Fine. But, I’d just like to know, why did I not at least get the memo about blow drying my hair perfectly straight? I tried to compensate by perching my sunglasses on top of my head, at 10:30 at night, since this seems to be the look these days, and that did make me feel slightly better. Still, I was only a pale shadow of what I could have been, dammit.

Anyway, I spent some time chatting with my new pals, Kelly and Tyson, both HDLs, and both very charming even as I was interrogating them as to how the hell they got Hot Doug’s to sponsor them, when he wouldn’t even give me the time of day. Hmph. When I told them I’d write a scathing and condemnatory expose about this travesty of good sense and justice on this very blog, and that I wouldn’t rest until some kind of Action Was Taken, they both started to look a bit nervous. Glancing around the bar, and I heard mumbling about “the river” and “cement shoes” and something like “no one……wi……find her……bod….”

Naturally, this kind of light, free-flowing conversation around me helped me remember all the great times I’ve had hanging out with the HDLs at Johnny’s, yes sirree. What a fine, upstanding bunch of guys! Yep. And me, why, I don’t even EAT hot dogs, so the fact that they’re sponsored by HD, I just have the utmost admiration for their negotiating skills, but no jealousy whatsoever. Oh, and I just have to add, that was a great game last night, winning the championship as they did – those guys played brilliantly. Pure genius.

Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I, umm, need to make some plane reservations. I hear Fiji is just lovely at this time of year. Oh, one last thing – Tyson, I so totally agree with you that “damnthiswateriscold” IS just way too long, and it was SO selfish of me to foist that on all of you, our dear readers. We’ll try to change it to “damnwater” or “damncold” with all due speed, my good man. THANK you for the input – you are a true gem among us!

(shit.....passport, where is that stupid passport...and wig....)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mullet fever, catch it !!

In the spirit of the NHL playoffs and following up on Tasha's post from a while back commenting on Chicago Wolves fans stuck in the 80's re hair style and clothing, here are some classics (note that they are hockey-related):

Jaromir Jagr

The Great One

Note that Janet Jones, Wayne's wife, was also a fixture of 80's style and fashion. Here she is, sporting the latest in 80's health club-wear, known as the "80's sweaty, layered, arched-back look"

... not to be confused with the "80's lycra, high-cut aerobics look"


150 days to IMMOO, according to my trusty Polar SD678576x, which I’m beginning to think of as The Watch of Doom. Robyn asked me the other day how I was feeling about my impending IM, and I described it as I’m sure most people would: “Well, if you picture a Venn diagram, with one circle labeled Happy Happy Joy Joy and the other as Complete and Total Blithering Meltdown, I’m starting to veer into that shaded overlapping territory.”

Blimey. Whose idiot idea was this anyway? I blame the Swedes - they've skated by on their good looks and charm long enough. It's time people knew about their darker side....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Boy, I gotta tell ya, I feel about 20 pounds lighter.

I mean, she was a fun girl and all, when she was straight, but
I'm glad that mess is all cleared up and I can go back to my life.
Believe it or not, I get the feeling that he's a decent guy, or at
least the most decent of the bunch. I'm just glad it turned out not
to be me or Prince Whatshisname. Phew! I have 3 kids already!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern Smith

The paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's kid has been determined, much to everyone's relief.

"I hate to be the one who told you this, but I told you so," Birkhead jubilantly declared as a crowd in front of the courthouse erupted in cheers. "My baby's going to be coming home pretty soon."

This photo (seriously, this is a real photo from the courthouse steps) means (a) my baby's coming home or (b) my new roommate is inheriting millions from the estate of J. Howard Marshall. You choose.

triathlon humor

my training....

Hey everyone, decided to finally share some of my Hardcord Russian training with my team. Maybe you can all join in....

Well i decided to go swimming today, the pool opens at 5:30 so i wake up at 4:30, get some caffeine in my system then wait around watching "that show with the whistling in the beg" i can remember the name, until its time to head out. Then i head out at 5:10, warm up the car, defrost the windows, so sick of this cold weather, and head to the pool. people not like sleep, packed...the pool was!!!!

Now the difficult part of this training consists of actually not knowing if the pool is ok to swim in. Let me explain....last thursday we were all kicked out of the pool, thank god it happened right as i finished my work out, because some kid did something bad around the pool area or maybe even in the pool, i dont remember cause i was coming in from the last lap after about 2000 meter swim and i had ear plugs when the lifeguard was trying to explain what was going on. I just jumped out of the pool and headed for the shower.

Well to make a long story short, today was fine, i swam, feel pretty good, need more coffee,

Have a great day everyone!!!

Thanks for listening :)

Monday, April 9, 2007

swim the Amazon !!

"Mr Strel formally completed his epic achievement four days ahead of schedule, averaging 52 miles a day. ... It is home to piranhas, crocodiles, bull sharks and anaconda snakes, while other dangers included whirlpools, tidal waves and armed bandits."

Armed bandits?!?!? Jeez, and we thought Alcatraz was tough.


from slowtwitch

"Last week at Masters practice a guy in my lane told me he hopes we're not doing any backstroke because 'he has a boner'"

from Strange Denizens of the Pool thread

Well. A fine how-do-you-do.

Some of you may recall my sincere efforts to get our plucky little team a sponsorship from Hot Doug’s, the self-proclaimed purveyor of encased meats. It seemed a natural choice, given that I myself have been frequenting his establishment since I was a tot, back when he was still on Roscoe and no one gave a rat’s ass about his fancy-schmancy hot dogs or much else. Well, except for those of us in the know – those of us who made him who he is today, really.

Receiving no response to my email was devastating indeed, but I managed somehow to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and move on, with the help and support of my closest friends and a steady supply of Amaretto Stone Sours.

I had almost managed to push the dark memories of this whole incident entirely to the back of my mind, siloing it to where we cordon off all the things that scream “don’t ask – don’t tell!” So you can just imagine how my innocent little world was shattered forever the other day, as I was brutally and unexpectedly confronted with my fiercest demons. There I was at the rink, walking out of the locker room all innocent and na├»ve, happily ensconced in TashaLand and replaying in my head my usual dazzling display of hockey skill and talent.

And lo, what did I see? Well, other than a bunch of cute, hunky hockey guys, that is. (mind wanders) Wait, what the hell was I talking about? Oh yeah, the trauma. The Logo. THE Hot Doug’s logo, on a team called the Chicago Leafs, for god’s sake. Here I am, offering Mr. Doug the fame and glory of having his logo on our blog, where it’ll be seen by at least several people each day, and instead he goes with slapping the wiener onto the jerseys of a bunch of beer-swilling hockey players, where it’ll be seen by the same 12 people each week (i.e. other team members), and then will be stuffed into a stinky hockey bag where mold will grow on it. And I’m the one who didn’t even get a response to my email??? Oh, the humanity!

(scene reenactment)

Me, walking out of locker room, whistling a cheery “I Am Pretty”, then stopping abruptly: What? What fresh hell is this? You guys have the Hot Doug’s logo on your jerseys?!!
Cute hockey player guy: Yeah, our goalie has connections.
Me, sputtering: But….but… friends and I are doing this crazy, dangerous, insane Alcatraz triathlon in San Fran, but when I contacted him, I didn’t even get a response to my email!

CHPG, grinning charmingly and looking amused, or perhaps bemused: You need to have the inside track, like us.
Me, blathering: I live less than a mile from his damn hot dog emporium! I live on hot dogs! What more is there?! How much more inside track can one get?
Another CHPG: You should have gotten in on the ground floor……
Me, practically foaming at the mouth: Ground floor?! I was going there when he was in that little shack on Roscoe! Why, I’ll take that ground floor and shove it up his a……
First CHPG, looking even cuter: Yeah, I think most of us probably have never even been there – our goalie just knows a guy who knows a guy….
Me, muttering in a decidedly non-cute way: I’m so jealous I can’t stand it……

And I then stalk off down the hall, with my big hockey bag slung over my shoulder, whacking these poor CHPGs left and right – I’m all for leaving a trail of men in my wake, but not quite like this.

So not only did this little bit of manna from heaven just effortlessly fall into their laps, but note that they remain “The Leafs”. Hmph. It’s not as if they offered to change their name to Chicago Encased Meats, or the LeberkaseLeafs, or even, say, Hot Doug’s Honeys. That I could understand. But this..…this…..complete disregard of my own humble entreaty while heaping schwag and logos and god knows what else on some cute but random hockey guys, well, it’s a mockery of everything our little blog stands for. Whatever that is. Free stuff, I think.

And just as bad, not only do I get the proverbial “you’re not good enough” kick-in-the-teeth from Hot Doug’s, but I also come across as a crazed, screeching loon in front of a veritable sea of hunky men.

Great, just great. Chalk up yet another little episode in the long-running series called “Why Tasha’s Still Single: my so-called Schleprockian life.”

Needless to say, so-called “Hot” Doug, you are now dead to me. The next time I go into your little hot dog emporium, I will be forced to shun you, going Amish as I refer to it. So, instead of speaking to you directly, I’ll tell my dining companion what deliciously tasty encased meat I’d like, with nary a word to you, my good man. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it has to be. I have very exacting principles, you know.

Friday, April 6, 2007


So the Great First Annual Paintballpalooza went as planned: Team Chornij Smehrt unrelentingly and resoundingly smoked Team Happy Bunny. While our team had a well-thought out strategic plan, honed through many days of crazy ideas thrown about drunkenly, Team Happy Bunny seemed to be going with the theory that if you shoot enough bullets into a forest, eventually a deer will walk in front of one of them. Unfortunately for them, the Black Death Squad was too wily to fall for that old chestnut.

Besides, as you can see in this picture, MadMax was successful in temporarily infiltrating THB and learning their plan for world domination. Which in large part seemed based on some cockamamie notion of modeling themselves after The Tick and his wimpy little sidekick Arthur the bunny; this involved cowering at our approach and yelling “not in the face!” - thinking that this would somehow lead us to feel sorry for them and not shoot. They certainly miscalculated on that one!

Their appropriating the Tick battle cry of “Spoooon!!” didn’t work that well either on the whole intimidation front.

But a word of caution: don’t be fooled by Carolyn’s sweet and innocent appearance, whereby she looks like she's about to embark on an Easter egg hunt or something equally sanguine; the girl’s a pro marksman. Had her compatriot not gotten pelted in the neck with a paintball early on, I have no doubt that Carolyn would have helped tilt the balance more in favor of the Fuzzy Bunnies. Alas, maybe next time…..if the Bunnies have the guts for a rematch, that is.

New Movie

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Skinny Legs and All

Day 7 - my last day

My brother is clearly slipping in his efforts, as I follow him to drop off my rental car and then go with him to the airport, and we do NOT get lost. Odd.

I’m finally at my 4th and final Mecca: the airport, and subsequent airplanes. Why? Well, clearly it’s because now my diet is governed by the well-known axiom that food calories consumed in transit don’t count. So the rest of the day, I can consume cinnamon buns and cheesesteaks and ice cream with abandon. Maybe someday I’ll be rich enough to just live at the airport. To dream……

This of course only applies to interstate travel. Some have asked me if this rule can be applied anytime, such as in the car to work. Umm, no, that would just be silly.

The day starts out balmy and 70 degrees in Chicago – by the time I arrive in the evening, it’s dropped to about 40. I expected no less. A temperature check comparing LA and Chicago shows that they’re inversely proportional, contingent on my arrival/departure. So during my stay we have LA/Chi as 65/45…..62/50……60/78 (!!)….and then when I leave, it’s 61/75……62/41 (later that same day)……66/45….70/40….75/32. My powers are truly amazing.

I leave you with a picture of that beautiful yellow rose vine that I came across while searching for my way. Many thanks to the random California gardeners for presenting such beauty to the world.

Not all who wander are lost.

The Promised Land

(my travelogue resumes)

Day 3

Time to hit the beach, frigid weather be damned. My brother is obviously following the principles of Sun Tzu by lulling me into a false sense of security, because his directions to Zuma Beach do not get me lost. Hmm. I immediately notice the heavy shark activity in the water: but no matter – I’m on a mission. I looked up the water temp at several beaches, including this one, and it’s supposed to be between 51-54 degrees. Ha, I scoff at such balminess! I laugh! I walk up to the water’s edge, and wait with anticipation as the waves come crashing towards me…..

(2 minutes later)

(cell phone rings)

My brother, Andrew: Hey, what’s up? The whole office from out here in Burbank, 45 miles away, heard your shriek of horror.
Me: Oh, it’s nothing, the water’s a bit chilly, that’s all. I have little electric blankets over my feet; I’m sure they’ll thaw out eventually. Someone just went to look for a chisel since they’re encased in blocks of ice.
A: You mean you actually found the beach?
Me: Yeah, it was surprisingly easy. - Hey! Hey! Mister! My blocks-of-ice feet are not for keeping your iced latte cool, sir! – Sorry about that. People have no manners these days.
A: Hmm. That’s interesting, that you found the beach…..Well, gotta run, I’m mapping out your run route for tomorrow!

So the whole experience was a bit akin to torture, to put it bluntly. I wonder if anyone will notice that I’ll be using a jetski for my Alcatraz swim??

Day 4

So many Meccas, so little time. Who knew? Today dawned cold and gloomy (again), but my soul was shiny and happy nevertheless. The pictures tell the tale: a tale of two Meccas. First, Tomatomania. Then, as if life could get any better than a huge inflatable tomato hovering in the sky, like a big rosy Sputnik, we went to Big Boy, the oldest remaining one in the U.S. Where they serve real burgers, all while one is ensconced in an old-timey diner-like setting (but better), under the protective eye of Mr. Happy himself, Big Boy.

And in case the cops show up at my door sometime soon, the answer is YES, I admit it, I DID take the Big Boy “special seasoning” shaker from our table – but it was fated to be, I swear! I looked around at the other tables and none of them had the coveted shaker. And they didn’t sell them up front. So what choice did I have? The Big Boy establishment forces people to become criminals, fugitives running from the law. But I did leave extra money on the table to make up for it, so maybe I won’t totally burn in hell. Only partially. That’s a comfort.

Day 5

Discussion with my brother after my Grapes-of-Wrath-esque run the other day:

Me: So how did I get lost? I went zig-zagging to the end of your street, then went left down that little alley-like road….
Andrew: Left? Oops. You were supposed to go right.
Me: Right?? You definitely said left!
A: No, go right, and then just keep going left and right until you get to the national forest.
Me: Aha. Okay, I can handle that.

So today I dither over whether I should tackle the scenic mountain path again, or try the zig-zaggy route, even though I hate doing the same old routine. I almost go with the mountain, but my stubborn nature refuses to let go of the ignominy of not finding the forest the other day. And I’m still puzzled as to how I could have not found it. Off I go.

(After following the same route as before to the end of my brother’s street.)

What the hell? I can’t go right – there’s a driveway that ends in a tall fence. I gaze at the fence with steely determination, calculating how high it is and how much precious glycogen stores it would take to scale it. I see a vision of myself being beaten with truncheons by LA Police. I go left down the alley, again, then decide to give my brother a jingle.

Me: So what’s the deal? I can’t go right – there’s no alley!
A: Are you sure you went the right way? Where are you at? What kind of house is at the end of my street?
Me: I don’t know, some….. square house with, umm, a tree of some sort. You know.
A: (proceeds to describe some obscure architectural style, and various tropical trees that grow only in California) Is that where you are?
Me: I HAVE NO IDEA! They’re all just houses and trees to me – you know I don’t notice the minutiae of buildings unless they have interesting flowers in front of them. I’m… the house with the star jasmine plants. Yeah, that’s it!
A: (overcome by silence) … Okay then. So let’s just assume you’re at the end of my street. You went left, yes?
A: No, of course you can’t go right. You go left.
Me: Last night! Don’t you remember our discussion?! I said I went left last time, you told me I should have gone right! Here I am, trying to go right! Who’s on first?! ARRRGHHHH! (my HRM has spiked alarmingly at this point)
A: Oops, sorry. No, see, you need to go left, and THEN go right.
Me: And then what? I did that the other day and got nowhere!
A: Oh, well, to get to the national forest is really complicated – you have to make a lot of turns, then ford a stream, rappel over a canyon – what, I didn’t mention this the first time? I think there’s a portage point too that you have to climb over. It’s really better to just run around the neighborhoods. Hello? Hello……??

Day 6

Running along the coast seems like a splendid idea, no? Just long stretches of beach, no turns, no zigzagging, just……sand. Beach. A straight path. So I head to the beaches again, where my brother has given me directions to get to a nice, off-the-beaten-path beach called “El Toro.” According to him. You can probably see where THIS is going.

I’m driving along Highway 101, enjoying the view, and I see the small beach sign he told me to look out for signifying several beaches up ahead. One of them is……El Matador? Hmm. Either Andrew meant El Matador and told me the wrong end of the red hankie, so to speak, or there’s also an El Toro Beach, which seems realistic given the Matador moniker. I keep driving.

(1 hour later)

So after a scenic drive up and down the coast, I’m now back at El Matador Beach, where I discover that the good people of California assume I’m going to park my lazy self here all day, and so they’re insisting I put $7 in a tiny envelope and put it in a box, to pay for my car. My frugal Midwestern sensibilities are offended by the notion that I should pay for more than I need to, since I’ll probably only be here an hour or so. What to do. Yet again, the state of CA forces me to go into fugitive-on-the-lam mode, as I take the little envelope with me to ponder my options.

As I head down to the beach, I encounter one obstacle after another: a sandy ladder. Hills. Sand bunkers.

I’ve posted a little pictorial here so that you can all be amazed at the physical trials I put myself through. Where there was no obstacle or other exercise tool, I created one. Behold the log: I must have stepped up on this puppy at least 10 or 12 times. Whew! Thus exhausted, I never actually got around to running on the beach, but you can’t have everything. Besides, I had to dash back to my car before my criminal ways caught up with me in the form of a ticket. I can see as I'm coming up a hill to the parking lot that there's a guy in an official-looking uniform lollygagging industriously near the cars, so I pick up my pace to look like I'm jogging rather than bolting back to the car to avoid The Law. FYI, trying to look nonchalant while gasping for air is not an easy look to pull off.

I then head back to Burbank to meet my brother at Nickelodeon, his workplace. Whereupon I discover that Andrew works in WillyWonkaLand. Making this the third Mecca of my trip – a place where Spongebob reigns supreme, and even “the suits” are smiley happy people. Life is just not fair sometimes. It’s all very laidback, people have all kinds of toys decorating their offices, and the talented folks who work on Avatar, the show my brother works on, have cute little doodles and character sketches on their office doors that I wouldn’t be able to create if Michelangelo himself were guiding my hand. Sigh. Here's my brother hard at work, thinking up diabolical plots designed to have me hopelessly lost, day after day:

And the people Andrew works with are beyond nice and cool. Hey, can’t you guys hire me to do….something? I regularly draw tens of readers here – my writing must be worth something. Maybe? At the very least, I hope Miken, the lovely woman I met who’s doing the Bay to Breakers Race in SF in May, finds some useful training tips here in our little blog. To sum:

Hill running: Sucks. To be avoided.
Biking: Hills suck. Avoid.
Swim: Eek! Are you people nuts? That water is too damn cold! Avoid.
Nutrition: Swedish Fish and LemonHeads – then transition to Sharkies and Clif Bloks as race day approaches.

I think that pretty well sums it up. Oh, and the MOST important thing: look the part. If you look good, i.e. all tricked out in fancy gear and/or clothes, it doesn’t matter how you do. People will be tripping over themselves to hand you ready-made excuses: “Oh, you wound up last. You must have had what, 3 flats? Attacked by rabid turtles? That’s terrible, to have such calamities befall a finely honed athlete such as yourself.” Your response should of course be noncommittal but applicable, since you certainly wouldn’t want to lie: “Oh yeah, well, you know how it goes. Things happen.” And shrug modestly as if to say, "the world’s against me, but I soldier on" – the little people always like those kinds of touches.

Unable to pull myself away from this little slice of fun-ness, I decide that it would be just peachy to take the huge Leggo Spongebob from the lobby on a little roadtrip with me. No one will notice, right? Here I am right before I make my totally unobtrusive escape with the big yellow sea sponge himself. Spongebob and me – ah, the memories. And best of all, we get to ride in the carpool lane. Sweet!

Tomorrow: my last day in CA, aka Schleprock Returns.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Christ Getting in Shape for Second Coming

The Onion.

"The determined Savior has also forsworn His favorite high-calorie, high-carb foods such as fatted calf, loaves, and even His own body and blood, instead embracing muscle-building high-protein shakes and electrolyte-replacing sports drinks"

My Training Progress

Just thought I'd chime in real quick since I've been MIA up in MSP (That's Minneapolis, for the lay person). By the way, it was beautiful here last Monday, 80 degrees, this morning, it was in the low 20's with a dusting of snow and a stinging wind when I went for a little run, gotta love the great white north.

So what have I been doing compared to everyone else, let's see:

Swimming - Check
Biking - Check (only on weekends though)
Running - Check
Strength Training - Check
Stupidly Entertaining the Idea of Swimming in Lake Michigan in April - Um, Hell No!! Last I remembered, you get points for showing up at the race for having trained, not for being dumb (and/or numb). Seriously, the lake will barely be 50 degrees by June 1, what the hell are you people smoking (it must be some good stuff, btw). I think I'm planning on two open water swims before Alcatraz, both are races. Have fun at Ohio Street Beach, see you there in July!

Monday, April 2, 2007


My rule is that the water has to be 50+ and the air temp not bad. So I'm out too. Next possible date is prob 4/20 since may still be too cold 4/13.

high of 38 on friday = no swim for me!

Chuck, Max, and whomever else was crazy enough to think jumping in the lake this friday was a good idea (i know, i thought it was as well), i'm sorry to say that i'm bailing out on you guys. jumping in the lake when the air temperature is supposed to be a high of 38 does not sound remotely appealing to me and you couldn't pay me to get in that water. so, this friday is out, next friday i will be in mexico and yes, i will jump in the water there, so it is looking like the following friday is the next available for me! sorry guys, good luck to whomever decides to still do this!