Sunday, July 30, 2006

MTV Turns 25: Where Were You?

In honor of MTV's 25th birthday (Gawd I feel old), VH-1 Classic will be airing "Day 1"--a recreation of MTV's first day, August 1, 1981. All 6 videos shown on the first day (kidding) will be seen in all of their underdeveloped glory! I look forward to seeing .38 Special's "Hold On Loosely". Gawd that man's mane was sexy, eh?

I was one of the few fortunate to have Cablevision in my house in 1981 and so I watched MTV nonstop in it's fledgling years (yep, even during those silly "breaks" when they played instrumental music with a backdrop of space or other psychedelic images). I dug Martha Quinn's mini skirts, black tights and Converse high tops (you mean she went to Colgate?) along with Alan Hunter's wannabe Chevy Chase antics (can you believe he was in David Bowie's "Fashion" video?) and Mark Goodman's REO Speedwagon-esque 'fro. It was, in my opinion, the greatest time for MTV because it brought the likes of Adam and the Ants, Simple Minds, Split Enz, The Specials (and Fun Boy Three AND Bananarama) and, of course, Duran Duran into my living room.

Set your TiVo!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Race Report: Seafair Triathlon

Normally when I know I have a race in the morning, I have a hard time getting to sleep and sleeping through the night before. It's one of those things where I'm so keyed-up, and I know I need to get up so damn early, I can never give myself a moment's peace and wind up tossing and turning until it's time to get up.

On Sunday, however, I lucked out. I don't know what it was, but I slept from 10:00 p.m. until 4:10 a.m. and got up without any problems. I hope that's the beginning of a new trend!

It was still dark outside except for a fissure of light in the east. I knocked on the den door to make sure Mary was awake and headed for the shower. Two of the greatest things known to mankind: morning showers and double-tall lattes were at the top of my to-do list before we left the house.

Mount Rainier came out for us in all of her glory Sunday morning! You know, ten years living here in Seattle and I still never get tired of her majesty. She stood tall like a beacon as we made our way down I-5 to Seward Park.

Anyone who was on the road at 5:50 a.m. had bicycles racked on their cars. We were driving in formation on the freeway, then on to Rainier Avenue South, adding more cars to the flock the closer we got to the event. Of course, none of us could park at the actual park--and so we unloaded the truck about a mile away from the event. Sort of like a pre-tri warm-up, I guess, since our bags were loaded with our gear and we had our bikes in tow.

The sun hadn't quite made it over the ridgeline, so I was quick to put on my wetsuit the moment we set up in the transition area. The air outside was a cool 56 degrees and, in fact, when we made our way down to the beach, we found the temperature of the water to be warmer than the air, and kept our feet warm as we waited for our wave (the last one of the whole race) to be called.

The race announcer was a dead-on Principal Skinner from The Simpsons. So there were a few chuckles from the crowd as we hoped he would say, "BART SIMPSON, the school dress code specifically forbids the wearing of earings unless you're of gypsy extraction". But no such luck!

It was a lot of fun watching the brightly-colored capped swimmers make their way counter-clockwise around the lake and the extra time we had, waiting for our wave, allowed me time to see the mistakes a few made. A lot of people on the edge of the pack seemed to stray farther away from the buoys which basically meant they wound up swimming farther in the long run, and taking extra time getting back on track.

Finally, our wave was called into the water and I found a spot on the outer edge so that I wouldn't get too clobbered by feet or arms. The horn sounded and we ran (as much as one could run on silt and waist-deep) until we felt comfortable enough to dive in and swim.

During the first few strokes I heard a few voices around me shout for help and I thought "My gosh, so soon?" But honestly, if you're not used to swimming in open water or in a pack, it can feel overwhelming and it takes a long time (if you can at all) to catch your breath. I was really glad I had done a few open water swims prior to the tri and participated in a competition, so I knew what to expect. Otherwise, I might have been one of the participants clinging on to a surfboard!

No matter how much I wanted to stay on course, I still felt like I was also swimming on a diagonal and straying too far. Halfway around, I looked at my watch and saw I was in the water already for 12 minutes. I felt I wasn't going to make my time. But rounding the third buoy, I managed to pick up a little more speed and I actually relaxed a little until I hit the milfoil. The closer I swam to the beach, the thicker it got until it began covering my face when I came up to breathe! I felt like the creature from the Black Lagoon!

When I hit a sandbar, I got up and walked briskly out of the water. Padding on the timing mat, my watch read 20:57 and I didn't feel too bad. This was, after all, my first tri and I suck at swimming!

There was no way I was going to run to my bike, but I did manage to walk fast and unzip my wetsuit along the way so that by the time I got to it, I was already taking it off. I stepped on my towel to dry my feet and used another towel to dry off my body. I had already pinned my race number on to my cycling jersey but as I tried putting it on, I popped one of the pins and ripped the bib, so I spent some time re-pinning it. It was also tough putting on socks and my running shoes with my feet still wet. I stashed a Gu into one of the pockets on the back of my cycling jersey and donned my helmet and bike gloves. As I reached for my bike, I saw Mary come up from the beach. We traded "good lucks" and I wheeled my bike out of the transition area. The mat beeped and I looked at my watch. I had spent 6:40 in the transition area. What a waste of time!

I started out pretty strong on my bike since the road was flat a wide open. We followed Lake Washington and headed toward I-90 and although my bike shorts were still wet (I wore them under my wetsuit) I wasn't as cold as I had been prior to the start of the race. I passed a few people and switched gears in anticipation of the hill going onto the express lanes of the freeway and made my way on to the top and out of the chute. I rode anywhere between 13.5 MPH to 20 MPH depending on the road. Going across Lake Washington was breathtaking with Mount Rainier to the South and the 520 bridge to the North.

The course was like a bowl with one big steep hill before the turnaround. At the hill, my speed was quickly reduced to about 8 MPH and I just pushed my way through to the turnaround. I had made the halfway mark (6 miles) in 27 minutes. Coming back, I spotted Mary in the opposite direction and shouted "YOIKES AND AWAY!!!!!!!!!" and she smiled and gave me the thumbs up.

I was flying at 23 MPH until we got to the bowl before the end of the freeway. I passed a guy on his left, giving him plenty of notice but as soon as we got off the freeway, I could tell his little ego was bruised that I passed him because the a**hole shortly thereafter decided to pass me ON MY RIGHT without saying a word. I quickly schooled him and passed him again, leaving him in a trail of dust! Ah, I love sweet revenge.

I passed a few more women but there was one woman who seemed to be a lot closer than three bicycle lengths behind me. I never looked back but I could sense she was close especially when the course volunteers were saying "great job you two" as if we were together. She never passed me either and in hindsight, I'm thinking the bitch was drafting me! As we approached the entrance to the park, I slowed down and she flew right past me, having drained me from my last little energy reserves. Curse you, L.V. from Seattle Washington. Nevertheless, we had the same bike time: 48:12.

I dismounted and got to my rack only to find that my original spot for my bike had been taken, and so I hung my bike farther away from my bag, praying that no one had stomped on my stuff and smashed my cellphone and camera. I took off my helmet and gloves and broke into a jog as I made my way through the chute and onto the running course. My legs felt like rubber. At least my transition time was a lot shorter this time: 2:26.

I felt there was no way I could pick up my pace. And despite all of the brick work I had done beginning in June, I still felt pain in my shins and I figured if I could just run the course at a 10 minute mile, I'd be ok, which worked out fine until I hit the hill in the second mile. I was spent. I need to do ALL of my brickwork outside instead of doing ANY in the gym. The hill really knocked me out and I reached for my Gu. Someone coming down the hill called out that there was water at the top and I was thankful--otherwise, the Gu would've gone down a lot harder!

I tried to make up for my slow down as we headed back down the hill--and did so for a bit, but I realized I wasn't going to finish in under 30. We rounded the lake and I saw the finish line, imploring my quads to work harder, but finished in 32:13. Curse you hill from hell!

I felt great, though, despite my lagged time in running. Usually when I'm done with races, I'm pretty winded and I need some time to settle down. But after I finished, I grabbed a bagel, a Jamba Juice smoothie, my finisher's medal, and a water and headed back over to the finish line to cheer Mary in. I was thinking about when I could do another one though I'm planning on running the Seattle Marathon in November and I need to start training for that this week! But what a great experience! And it's definitely one I won't soon forget!

So, overall, my time was 1:50:29. My splits are as follows:
Swim: 20:57
Bike Transition: 6:40
Bike: 48:12
Run Transition: 2:26
Run: 32:13

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Those Crazy Days of Summer

We just returned from a whirlwind road trip to San Francisco--first time we actually took a "family road trip" and you know what? It wasn't so bad! Sure, I think having invested in a portable DVD player for the car made all the difference, but whatever works!

Anyway, San Francisco was lovely. San Jose was hotter than hell (Pa had a few meetings in Silcon Valley), Santa Rosa had the awesome Charles M. Schulz Museum, and Ashland had Shakespeare!

We got home just in time for me to clean the house from top to bottom in anticipation of Mary's arrival tomorrow. I don't even have time to stress out about the triathlon this Sunday...but I did diddly squat last week as far as training. Too late now to freak out about it!

Enjoy our pictures for now. I hope to come up for air sometime in August!