Friday, July 31, 2015

But it's a DRY heat

Poor me. I had not known the Purple Perk had such awesome treats! I was dithering there, that's for sure.

I got in a bit of a swim first. They were about to move the bulkhead so I didn't want to start a timed swim or anything. I'm getting my pool stroke back, so that's good. Water ran a bit. Hot tub.

Then over to the Perk to meet Katie for coffee. As some of you might remember, Katie coached me to Ironman in 2010, and we've been buddies ever since. I live vicariously through her, what with all her various adventures. Other than saying hello at the pool in passing, we haven't chatted for a little while, so it was good to get caught up.

Treats. Yum!

Over to Strides. The Mizuno shoes I got a couple weeks ago were not comfortable to run in. They were very good about trading them in. The new ones are Brooks. I took them for an easy 3 K run, 20:30, in 31 C, and I have happy feet. My lower quads are still a bit stiff and sore, but they relaxed a bit during the run. Where my knees actually hurt during the last run, on this one my legs felt just a bit unstable and niggelly. I'm hoping in a couple runs they will settle down.

Linda had got us two garden boxes. I assembled it and dug out what passed for grass there. There will be some Irises going in there.

Today is a full month of blogging every day. I hope you're not getting tired of me. (What's that you say? You can send your complaints to keith.cartmell@bitemybutt.com.) It's been fun. So far no writers block. I sit, I start writing. Grumble about Photostream sometimes. Try to fend off the cats so I can type. There are days I'm positive Curtis wants to demonstrate his literary talents.

Keep your eyes peeled for a new feature. I might get rid of the top 10 by readership, and substitute different ones chosen by a sophisticated algorithm to appeal to my readers. Which translates to the ones I think are interesting, or you might have missed.

Lastly, Harper is about to, or just has called an election. Longest and most expensive in recent Canadian history. How like him. I can't help myself, there are likely to be rants about the whole darned thing. So stay tuned. I'll try to make it clear in the title, so if you don't want to read, you can give them a miss. But why would you want to miss my trenchant commentary?

We are sitting outside, enjoying the dry heat, eating Rocky Road ice cream, drinking wine, and chatting. So nice.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Choices. Dithering.

Some days I like a good dither, savouring the delicious choices available. Generally I'm a decision making kind of guy. Give me my choices, and I'll give you a decision. It just kills Linda when I take the first of offered choices. I think it baffles her that I can make a decision without hearing all the choices, and agonizing over them to pick the best one. When it's her food, it's all good. There is a time to gather choices, and time to get on with it.

There's a simple way to get through a bunch of choices. Say you're looking at menu in a restaurant. Assume you didn't come here because you've been dying for their Lamb Gosht. You are looking things over and don't yet know what you want, and have been through the menu with nothing leaping out at you.

Rather than comparing everything to everything, start with the first entree listed. Compare it to the second thing, and pick one of them. Compare that to the third thing, and pick one of them. Compare that to the 4th thing, and pick one. Do that till you run out of menu items. It shouldn't take more than a minute. Once the entree is selected think about desert, and save room for that. Then decide if you want anything else from the salad, or soup, or appetizer, or sides menu. Done. Time is money for the wait staff, make it march!

A similar process works for buying things where there is a clearly defined set of choices and it doesn't matter if it's toothpaste or computers. (Hint, buy more memory.) Life is a bit harder when the choices are not so clearly defined, or the outcome of the choices is uncertain or life altering. As long as it doesn't make you sick, does it really matter if you pick the steak or the fish? But when to pull the pin on retirement, that's a biggie.

We are in the fortunate position where the question is usually not "can we afford it?" but rather "do we want to afford it?". Those are quite different things. I've been making a deliberate effort to take time off work to do other things. I can afford to not work any random day, assuming there isn't some deliverable I've promised for then that isn't done. Several weeks of vacation are fine. But when it comes to several months, things get a bit different, and work tends to get a bit twitchier about it.

There is the old saying, you have to make hay when the sun shines. Well, the sun is shining for me now. It isn't for lots of other people, and that's too bad. It makes a bit tougher to not work, when you have the choice to. But eventually you come to that place whether you want to or not.

The secret to improvement in fitness activities is that you stop before you have to stop. Because eventually, if you don't, your body will make you stop. Same with work. Eventually, you will stop. If you get to the point where you have to stop, it's likely you have to stop everything else too. Not much of a retirement.

So.
Choices.
Do I want to sign up for any more races this year? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. I loved doing the race last weekend, and wouldn't trade the experience for the world. But I'm not up for doing it on my own any time soon. Rather than push it, I'm going to enjoy swimming, and biking, and running, and other things just for the enjoyment of doing them. Not because I have the stress of a race coming up.

Traditional, or self-published. Still working my way through that one. I'm looking forward to the writers conference in a couple weeks.

Working. At this point I don't know if I'm going to be offered an extension of my contract. Last several times a renewal was a no brainer. I'm going to have to think about it, if that choice is offered to me. At the least I think I'm going to take some time off in January, and after that we'll see.

Cars. My strategy is to buy new, take care of it, and drive it till the wheels fall off. Towards the end of the car's life, you start running into more expensive repair bills. Knowing when to draw the line and get rid of it can be tricky.

Do I have another glass of wine? Probably not. Go to bed early? Maybe. Aggressively cuddle the cat who is doing much better, thank you very much? Almost certainly.

You get a picture of cat cuddling from a few days ago, just because everybody loves pictures of cats.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

You'd think I'd done the whole race!

Did you miss it? Best finisher photo EVER!

This has been a creaky week. Monday I was in the pool for a nice relaxing swim, trying to stretch out and get my pool stroke back.

Who am I kidding? It was all about the hot tub.

Yes, I know you love my honesty. It's why I haven't risen to the top of the corporate hierarchy. Oh well. Though I did swim a K or so and mostly it felt pretty good.

Chatted with Madi, Jordan, and Rose, which was nice, I haven't seen Rose in a while.

The rest of the day was wandering around like a half slaughtered sheep, starting to do something, forgetting what it was part way through, starting something else, then reverting. At least there was some nice cuddle time with Curtis and Celina.

Curtis ended up having a big day, going to the vet, them having a hole in their schedule to do a biopsy of the paw that has some sort of infection happening. His front paws have had it, and we could understand how they could get a sliver or something, since he is always putting his paws into something. But his back paw? We tried the same antibiotic that worked before, and it didn't this time. The various suggested further treatments were all guesswork, and one of the shots has the possibility of causing diabetes. Not in our cat! The biopsy should tell us what we are dealing with, and what the actual treatment is.

He's had a woozy couple of days, but seems to be perking up. As long as he isn't licking or chewing at the stitches in his paw, there will be no cone of shame.

Tuesday I was walking like a crippled man. My calves were killing me! I went to bed early. I'd planned on swimming Wednesday and bailed on it. My legs got better throughout the day, and so I decided to head out for a short easy run.

Holy crap, that was awful. Even running really slowly I couldn't breath. My knees hurt, not in a warming up or niggle sort of way, but almost actual pain. I slowed down even more, played with my stride, stretched a bit more on a bus stop bench, and none of it did any good. My hips were hurting and the shirt I was wearing felt too tight. My shorts were riding up. I ended up taking off my new shoes and walking home in sock feet. That felt better. Even afterward I've been feeling funny twinges in my feet. I'll go back to the store and see if they can swap them out or something.

Here is an example of how good Linda is at gardening things. We bought a raised bed. Yes, I realize they're simple to make. Well, they are if you have the tools, and I don't. Not really.

I cleared out the worst of the grass. Linda did the fine tuning so it was to her liking, and I helped drag the bed back. I popped the level on it. Can you see how good she is?


Maybe not. Look more closely. Level. First time.

Here's the end result.

I'd drawn a little diagram on my wall at work to explain the difficulties of the swim, and have been asked to post it here. I'm so good to you guys. And yes, the note about data is out front where everybody passing by can read it. This helps them understand some of my behaviour at work. Big sighs. Head scratches. Staring thoughtfully at the computer screen. Scribbling little diagrams on my whiteboard. Muttering, which descends to cursing.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

YYC70.3, part 2, the famous Michelle

And here's what you've all been waiting for! Michelle's last guest blog was enormously popular, and I'm expecting lots from this one too. Take it away Michelle!


Keith has been a run buddy for a few years now and more recently a swim buddy planting thoughts of triathlon in my head.  I’m grateful for Keith’s patience and encouragement as I evolve from hot tub soaker to front crawl swimmer.

This was a three-day gig!

FRIDAY

I got off work early to attend a team briefing session which ended up being cancelled via Twitter/Facebook.  I had found the information online to be conflicting and had my doubts anyway.  Keith picked me up after work and we drove to the Grey Eagle Resort for the solo athlete briefing, to pick up our packages, hand in our signed waivers, pay our $20 ATA insurance fee, and check out the Ironman gear for sale at the expo.  The volunteers were lovely and helpful.  We reviewed how to bag our gear in the appropriately colour coded bags.  Next we viewed the course maps and asked some questions.  The printed swim course map at the briefing differed from the map online but we thought we understood the route.

Keith got the Delft blue swim cap with our team number on it and I was banded like a chicken with a little red plastic hospital band used for claiming my bike after the race.

We all piled into the crowded briefing room for the athlete briefing. There were lots of questions, many of which were covered in the information online but since there was some inconsistency in the information, I was grateful for another opportunity to clarify the directions.  The best part was learning I could keep my iPhone with me so Keith and my family could track me as long as I didn’t use it for music, or as a phone or camera.

SATURDAY

One last gear check against my OCD lists on Saturday morning, then we dropped off my bike at Auburn Bay and ogled the pro bikes.  We noticed ribbons and flowers on the metal fence surrounding the community in memory of Caleb, a boy who drowned the day before.


SUNDAY - Race morning

PRE-RACE

I was up at 4:30 a.m. Keith picked me up at 5:10 and and finished eating my breakfast in the car.  At body marking, our team numbers and age were written on our arms and legs with a felt pen and we wore blue bands in memory of Caleb.  We headed over to the bike racks to fill my bento box with food, put water bottles and bike computer on my bike, and drop off my bike shoes and helmet.  Next we ran into Leana and checked out her gorgeous bike setup, chatting briefly.  Keith pulled on his wetsuit and headed down for a warmup swim. I chatted with Saskia about pre-race jitters in the porta lineup.

I remember quaking in my boots at my first few races but I was surprisingly not nervous this morning.  I was just grateful to be there, excited because this was another first for me, happy to be part of a team and looking forward to the events unfolding as they may.  I had told Keith the day before that it would be all good, no matter what.  I knew we would both do our best.  We were prepared, trained, organized, focussed and there is no point in worrying about things out of our control.  Anything can happen on race day.  Accepting this helps calm my nerves. Butterflies in your stomach are just your body’s way of anticipating that you are about to do something awesome!

Three was a minute of silence followed by the release of 100 blue balloons for Caleb, then I found Keith.  Good thing he is tall and has that distinctive moustache.

SWIM

Keith launched into the water with the teams at 6:49 a.m. just after the pros.  I stayed just long enough to see the first age groupers head off.  The swim story belongs to Keith. (Here, if you missed it.)

T1

Back at the bike racks in T1, I pulled off my running shoes to get my bike shoes and helmet on and wait for Keith.  I did NOT want to be lollygagging.  Keith is a good, strong swimmer and has been working scientifically with the precision of an engineer on his speed and technique all winter.  The pool clock is a borg-like extension of him and he is as regular as the tick tock of a clock.  He knew he could do this swim in 35-40 minutes for sure.

Another relay team swimmer recognized me from Twitter and told me the course was long.  She said Keith was a faster swimmer than her so he must have been directed on a longer route as had happened to many other swimmers.  Just then, around the corner he came! He got a big relieved hug. Keith presented me his ankle and I ripped the velcro chip strap off, stuck it on my leg, un-racked my bike, dinged my little bell and was off running alongside my bike through the bike racks in T2, across the grass to the mount line in the intersection.

BIKE

I was off on the bike with the sun low in the horizon, feeling strong.  Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw my parents but wasn’t expecting them.  Later I learned they had actually been there and I was so disappointed to have not waved. They got the gist of the event from the part they saw and watched my progress using the Find My Friends app on our iPhones, texting and calling me later.

Quite a few people (men and women) complimented my jersey.  (Teehee!  It’s a Primal Wear jersey from Value Village).  I climbed a few hills standing up and a few gals complimented me on my climbing skills.  It’s always nicer to be complimented on what you can do rather than how you look.  My taper had been good and my stored up energy came in handy.  The best compliment came later on the run.

Along the way, many people passed me but that was OK.  Everyone was courteous calling out “on the left” when they were passing me so I could move a bit to the right to let them safely pass.  Only once did a guy pass and immediately cut in front of me so I had to brake.  Drafting wasn’t an issue in the race although I’m happy we practiced it in training so I knew what it was.  It’s when you ride in line behind another rider… um what do you call it?  “breaking wind for you?”  Ha!  That doesn’t sound right.  Anyway, when you ride in the slipstream of another rider it takes less effort for you to pedal.  You get good at watching for small cues of where the rider in front of you is going to steer.  

In the race, you can’t draft.  To ensure this, racers must leave 5 bike lengths between bikes.  If someone passes you, you have to slow down to create that gap or risk getting a 5 minute penalty if an official sees you.  A couple of times I saw an official with a camera making a gap sign to someone drafting behind me, warning them to pass quickly or back off.  I only passed a couple of people going up the hills and and ended up coasting past a guy on the big downhill, where I learned my top speed was 75 km/hr.  (I remember how scared and thrilled I was the first time I hit 60 km/hr.  I’d like to hit 80 km/hr some day to keep up with Keith.)

The bike route was familiar up to Bragg Creek as I had ridden that route with Keith before.  I knew the ups and downs as we had ridden it a few times and it was like he was right there with me.  After Bragg Creek, it was all new to me on the bike although Keith and I had driven it before the race.  I wouldn’t feel safe riding there normally because of high volumes of traffic and narrow shoulders on the road.  I was sure glad for the police, RCMP, and marshals in the intersections.  There weren’t as many hills to climb so the second half of the race was faster - a negative split.  I finished 20 minutes faster than I anticipated.

My strategy was to eat before I was hungry, working my way from solids to gels at 30K & 60K.  In the first 20K I wanted to be strong and not burn out from the adrenaline rush, using my granny gear on the hills and plodding along  constantly.  For the 20-50K range, I wanted to keep a constant cadence and continuous effort shifting gears often to accomplish this.  In the 50-90K range I wanted to pedal hard and never waste a good downhill.  In the last 10K I wanted to GIVE ‘ER and spin up to a higher cadence / lower gear in the last 200m.  I accomplished these goals (mostly).

I stayed well hydrated with my Gatorade Ultima electrolyte mix.  I started with solid nutrition but quickly my usual gluten-free bars became too heavy at race pace so I switched to sesame snaps, then Honey Stinger chews.  I took a gel at 30K and 60K without stopping at all on the 90 km bike course.  (For Amy:  No pyro. ;)

T2


At T2, I dismounted my bike as directed before the stop line and ran alongside it into the bike cage in T2, where I racked it, removed my helmet, bike gloves and bike shoes.  Next I pulled on my running shoes and grabbed my empty water bottle to fill at the water stations.  Keith was there taking pics!


RUN

I started running (hobbling really) on legs that felt like rubber for the first kilometre.  The first two port-o-lets were occupied but I found a thirsty grove of spruce trees.  By 5K my legs had recovered enough that I didn’t feel like I was doing the chicken dance anymore.  A nice guy from Saskatchewan ran with me for a bit chatting.  It turns out my SIL’s mom was his school teacher in Fort Qu’Appelle.

Out to the canoe club and back, then down the Weaselhead hill we ran.  I walked up the big hill, grabbed a Gu, then ran toward Glenmore Landing where some friends from the Running Room were cheering on a friend.  I high-fived them then saw hubby who got a great big hug for coming out.  What a nice surprise!  Just before the turnaround I saw Sue and Kev cheering.  Sue issued the nicest compliment I heard all day.  She said I looked EFFING AMAZING!  Somehow her Scottish accent made the actual expletitive cuss word sound even more amazing and credible than usual.  :)  Maybe it was just to get my rear in gear.  Then I saw Ron, then Leana, and Saskia.

I found my running cruise control pace by then, ran back down the Weaselhead hill, walking back up again, where there was a huge crowd cheering at the top.  I high-fived Keith again and headed to the canoe club and back.  There were some fantastic motivational signs, especially the one with the rainbow unicorn on it.  I wish I remember what it said.

The support for this race was phenomenal.  There were lots of spectators all along the bike course and vehicles driving by with cowbells jangling!  I have never seen such well-stocked water stations with eager volunteers reaching out identifying the beverage as water, Gatorade or Coke.  It was so easy.  I just kept filling my water bottle so I could sip at my own pace along the way.  I don’t trust those sponges but there was lots of cold water to dump on my head to keep cool.

My plan was to seek shade, dump water on my head and tuck sponges or ice in my clothes to keep cool.  I wanted to try to keep my cadence up and constant while running by effort and monitoring my breathing.  Music was not allowed.  I wanted to give it everything I had in the last 3K.  I actually found my cadence and pace drop significantly in the second half of the run but I still gave it all I had in the last 3K.  The crowd support really helped.

I finished within the timeframe I anticipated.  Keith met me incoming to the finish line and we ran across it together while Amy called us in. (Keep reading to see photo.) She sounded so excited for us.  I’m sure I was grinning and I think I did a jump across the line through the banner while holding Keith’s hand up high in team celebration.  I can’t wait to see THAT finisher’s photo. (Keep reading.) Jenn was there too and hugged us and snapped some photos.  She trained so hard but sadly broke her shoulder before the race so I brought her along like a little birdie on my shoulder during my bike ride.   (Photo courtesy of Jenn.)

Keith asked me how I felt and I yelled “Freaking AMAZING” or something like that, perhaps using less sanitized terminology I shouldn’t post and publish.  I was so relieved to learn I could stitch a half marathon on top of a 90K bike ride and not bonk!  It was such fun to be part of this triathlon with Keith’s help as I’m not ready to do it all myself yet.  Keith has done a FULL Ironman. THAT takes a lot of training, fuelling and fitness and merits a lot of respect.  Granted.  :)

There was just enough time for a quick hello with Amy as she was busy at work…


We sat with Jenn, Gord, Ron etc, and I devoured many (most?) of Linda’s legendary gluten-free chocolate chip cookies that Keith willingly supplied to me at a constant rate.  We stayed afterward for all the awards and the bike giveaway from the photo contest we entered.  Apparently you didn’t have to be present to win the bike.  (photo courtesy of Jenn.)



A fantastic way to wrap up the day and properly celebrate, hubby and I enjoyed some fine hospitality and Keith’s legendary BBQ of rack of lamb encrusted with Herbes de Provence, Linda’s homemade guacamole with my little contribution (signature piece utilizing my only culinary skills “mise en place”) garden salad.  All of this was followed by fresh raspberries with cardamom raspberry ice cream and Linda’s gluten-free date squares, then tea in the garden lodge.  Then the 4:30 a.m. wakeup caught up with us and it was time to call it a night.

So, here’s what I wore to the post-race celebration BBQ.  Over the top?  Every Michelle should have a shirt and belt buckle with her initial on it, don’t you think?

What an amazing day.  I am so happy and grateful to have been able to do this and cognizant that it would not have been possible without Keith rocking the swim for our team.  This event and the days and weeks leading up to it were much more fun as a team.

Keith, thanks for the gift of your time and for being a such a great team partner leading up to and on race day!

A year ago, I didn’t know if the bike, swim or run was first in a triathlon, didn’t know the terms T1, T2, or which was further: an Oly, sprint, standard or half.  I couldn’t swim.  A year later, I can actually say I LIKE swimming (although I have a LONG way to go to improve my technique, speed and endurance).  I’m hooked now and am already looking forward to taking more swim lessons this fall and winter and am contemplating a solo Olympic tri next summer.

And really, this finisher photo says it all!


Just for fun… here’s a timeline for you.

ONE YEAR FROM ZERO TO TRI
July 12 - Bought a chlorine resistant swimsuit & goggles.  Went to a pool, got in, looked around, felt intimidated, got out right away, ran to the hot tub.  #fail.
July 27 - Volunteered to hold the banner for finishers at the finish line of IMYYC 70.3.  Met fun people. Saw very fit and regular Joe male and female athletes. #Ironstruck.
Aug 8 - Bought a road bike (second hand).  Love her.
August 15 - Swam my first swim with Keith.  Shy, embarrassed but determined to learn to swim
Aug 17 - My friend Deb asked me to bike and run for her while she swam so my first team relay was the Strathmore Women’s Triathlon.  Keith cheered us on!
Sept 3 - Bought bike shoes (Kijiji) & clip-in pedals
Sept 20 - Rode MEC Fall Century Ride 100K
October 14 - Took my first adult learn to swim lesson at a city pool
Nov 23 - Bought a bike trainer to keep riding in the winter (Amazon)
Nov 30 - registered for IMYYC 70.3 relay with Keith
Jan 12 - Tried on a friend’s wetsuit (too short)
Jan 14 - Jumped in the Polar dip - Jump in an icy lake
Feb 1 - Took a bike maintenance course at MEC
Feb 21 - Bought new swimsuits
Mar 5 - Bought tri shorts
Mar 12 - Last swim lesson at a city pool (5 months)
Mar 15 - Completed my first indoor triathlon (10 mile super sprint at Talisman Center)
Mar 17 - Started alternating commuting to work on my bike and running home
Apr 19 - Rode to Canmore with Saskia & Keith
May 23 - Rode MEC Spring Century Ride 100K
May 31 - Ran Calgary Half marathon
June 4 - Got my first professional bike fit
June 11 - Hubby gave me a bike maintenance book
June 14 - Ran and Biked Footstock Duathlon
July 2 - Rode 90K in 3:44, top speed 70 km/hr
July 8 - Rented a wetsuit for a week
July 9 - Swam my first open water swim in Lake Boavista
July 10 - Swam another Open water swim in a wetsuit in Quarry Lake, followed by a bike ride to Lake Minnewanka and a run in Canmore with Keith & Antje
July 26 - Team relay IMYYC 70.3 with Keith
July 27 - Planning swim lessons and next triathlon

Monday, July 27, 2015

YYC70.3 part 1, the famous swim

Or infamous. I've heard a lot of swearing about it.

So first the day from my perspective, with some contextual preparatory remarks. My last triathlon was the Chinook half iron in 2012. Let's just say there's been some difficulties. I'd sort of mused about doing the swim leg of a relay, and Michelle jumped all over that. She is already a strong runner, and has been working on bike, but she just learned to swim last winter, so it seemed like a good combination. Even late last year I knew I wouldn't be able to do a half this year.

Over the winter I tried to get really regular with swimming, and mostly succeeded. Going into this race, to do 1.9 K, I was thinking no more than 40 minutes, and that 35 to 37 minutes was what I expected. I had faint but plausible hopes of going under 35 minutes.

We were not out to set any records, or even aim for the podium. This was to give Michelle a taste of a big race and to see how it feels to race pace 90K, then race pace a half marathon.

We got there and through body marking in good time. Michelle got stuff set up in our transition area, but that was much easier than usual because she could wear all her bike stuff as she waited for me.



In T1 we saw our buddy Leana with her usual big smile. She had an awesome day!

Waiting on the beach. It's a nice beach.

The lake is sort of heart shaped.

We were to swim from the south to the lobe in the top left, around the little headland, into the right hand lob, back along the right side of the lake. The map at the athlete briefing had a bit of dog leg out to the middle of the lake, then back to the beach at the bottom right of the lake. I don't know how many people saw it.

I got a very good start with the wave just after the female pros. Straight down the lake was fine, getting settled in, but not really finding my groove. There were two distinct cycles of washing machine along the way as people converged on me, and I got kicked in the side pretty good once. I went through a mental checklist, thinking about the various things that make for a fast swim. It didn't seem to make any difference.

Around the big orange buoy, around the headland. Into the sun and I couldn't see squat. I followed the splashes and they got me to another orange buoy. Around that and I could start to hear people talking, wondering where they were going. I followed splashes that led towards a big white pyramidal buoy.

And then we floundered. Supposedly there was some blue buoys, but I never saw any of them. Straight ahead and off to the right was a yellow buoy.  I knew that was the dogleg so I headed for it. Along the say, I heard a paddle boarder telling people to go to the far yellow buoy. I could barely see it. I looked to be almost down at the other end of the lake. I turned right and headed towards it, with hardly anyone around me. A few of us went around that buoy and headed back. Now I was feeling the swim groove.

Here's what Strava thinks happened. Picture a lot of people in the middle of the mess yelling at each, and you'll have a good idea of what was happening. Some of the people looped around the north most buoy. Some stopped and turned around figuring that couldn't possibly be the course.



When we got back to the middle yellow buoy, we were suddenly in lots of traffic again. Lots. I suspect that many people unintentionally cut the course in a major way, since that's what it was last year. I'd heard people collided with each other, which really ought not to happen.

I coasted into the really shallow water till it was about knee deep, then thrashed around standing up. Across the timing mat, 43 minutes and change. I didn't know that till quite a bit later. The little bit of trot and lots of brisk walk into T1 was an exercise in focus. There were lots of curbs to trip over and I didn't want to.  Michelle stripped off the chip and headed out.

As I walked into the relay area, I thought there were 5 to 10 bikes gone out of the 50 on the rack and Michelle said not many relay swimmers had come in, so I was pleased. The results later said I was the 18th relay swimmer out of the water, but not that many bikes were gone, and there was nobody else exchanging chip with us. Maybe they all went for a coffee to recover, I don't know. I sure don't pass anyone between the swim exit and the bike. 18 out of 50 is about one third, which is about the slowest I've been in a triathlon swim. I'll be the first to say I wasn't feeling fast in the water, but there is no way I swam only 1.9 K. On Facebook I saw some comments that indicated the course was 2.1 to 2.4 K. I can believe that latter number.

It was nice to take my time taking off my wetsuit. Both my calves were feeling very pre-crampy. I'm sure glad I didn't have to get on a bike and ride anywhere. I zoomed up to T2, and strolled around, chatting with a few people I knew.

The rest of the day belongs to Michelle, and she's promised to send some text for a guest blog. As another teaser, here's how she felt about finishing.


The finisher medal is actually a belt buckle, and it's huge. Here, left to right is my belt buckle medal from the very first Calgary 70.3, Ironman Canada, the half marathon medal which had been the biggest one till this weekend. And now this. I can't wait to get some leather on it and wear it to the office. I feel surprisingly honest about wearing it, the same as the many other people that did the whole race. We ran down the finish line together feeling great! Can't wait to see those photos.




Sunday, July 26, 2015

So that race today, this is not that report, not yet

Hold your horses.

Yes, we finished! Yes we got our honking big belt buckle medals.
No, I didn't have the swim I wanted, and will talk more about that later. There are a lot of upset people about the swim.
Yes, Michelle was awesome out there turning in her fastest 90 K bike by far, ever! Followed up by a respectable half marathon. For those that care about such things, I think our time was 6:23.

We hung out a while, hoping to win a super sexy Argon 18 tri bike (rats), and watched the award presentation. Then home and had BBQ rack of lamb, salad, and two kinds of dessert. And wine, of course as we chatted about lots of stuff.

Now I'm tired, and iPhoto is pissing me off by not transferring the bazillion photos I took to the laptop so I can share them with you. OK, you get one photo. Come back tomorrow for more.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

I'm ready

The days leading up to a big race are always a bit different. This one is a bit different than even those different days.

People that do more than one race over the summer divide them up for training purposes. The A races   (1 or 2 at most) are the important ones you build your training around, and plan to peak for. B races are ones you hope you do well on, but they could be at the 'wrong' part of your training cycle, or you might be trying to execute some specific race plan. C races are what is left, done for the experience, or treated as a supported training day.

Races are exciting, wondering how you'll do, hoping for good weather, hoping your buddies have a good day, hoping that nothing goes wrong along the way. There are so many things that could go wrong, both in the training buildup to the race, and on race day itself. Most racers try to do as little as possible the day before.

Most triathletes are compulsive list makers and detail checkers. You need all the gear for three sports while taking into account the weather, plus clothes for before and after the race for a potential variety of weather conditions, plus water and nutrition, plus extra gear in case of a flat, plus remembering all the details of 3 different courses, and the transition areas between them.

I'm only doing the one race this year, at least so I think now, so by definition it's my A race. But my part of it will be over in no time at all, and it doesn't take much prep. It's supposed to be 1.9 K swim, but who knows how far it will really be. Open water swims are notorious for being a bit short, or a bit long. I'm looking forward to getting in, and getting'er done. The race plan as laid out in yesterdays blog is still good, though I'll try to avoid the messy part of it.

Today at bike check in we scoped it all out. It's a pity that the team bike rack is as far from the entrance to T1 as it is possible to be, but it is what it is. All of us team swimmers are in the same boat. It's a long way for me to run after the swim, but once I'm standing I should be ok. As long as I don't trip over any of the curbs along the way I'll be fine. Then I'm done, except for cheering. I will have bells.

The hard part of the day belongs to Michelle, biking 90 K, then running 21.1 K. She will have gluten free cookies waiting for her at the finish line. I hope that if the going gets tough, they will call to her, and keep her moving. At least the weather is looking good. Some of my buddies are in the race, and I certainly hope they have good days.

I can look at all the race prep, and do everything in my power to help Michelle have a good day, but I'm not feeling the wish that I was doing it myself. The bike is better since the bike fit, and the run has been good lately. The swim is probably better than it's ever been, but you'd think so with the training focus there. None the less, I'm not in shape to do a half iron. I might get 90 K done on the bike, but I don't think I'd be very happy at the end, and it's been a long time since I've run a half marathon. Even an Oly might be pushing it.

After the race I'll try to get out on the bike more while we still have summer, and work on the run, while maintaining swim fitness. I'm hoping to have a really good winter on the bike trainer. Once I see how that goes, I'll start thinking about next year's races.

Here's my list for first thing in the morning. Early. Really early. My swim wave is 6:45, and lots to be done before that.

Here's T1, looking from where we will be running in. I go down along the fence forever, then turn right.

We spent a bit of time indulging our bike porn habit. So many pretty bikes!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Drunk blogging

A close relative of drunk texting. This is done without any editing whatsoever. The major difference is that I'm not annoying one person. Anybody that clicks on this can go somewhere else on a second's notice. Look! Shiny! Gotta go. Except you are consumed with curiousity about whatI might say. As my book character Ronnie says, "let the cow chips land where the splatter takes them"

But, you are captured for reader stats. Yay me! As Celina says whenever she darts into the bedroom or outside past our feet, points for me!

So there was these series of meetings at work I don't want to talk about, involving this semi-cryptic diagram. BUT WHO CARES! (Channeling Rhuby Rhod.)

Here's the view while I was drinking. Kind of darker than it appears, but I'm too lazy to brighten it up.


And here's what I was drinking.

After escaping work, I picked up Michelle and we headed over to Gray Eagles Hotel to pick up our race package, attend the athlete briefing, and scope out the expo. We saw our buddy Leana and chatted.

This was all good. Well, except where it wasn't. This is not intended as a slight against the many volunteers. Not at all. I've volunteered myself many times at races, and in fact, Linda just found the Chinook race crew shirt from last year, which has been buried in the heap on our chaise lounge in the bedroom. But enough of that. We discussed it at length during our drinking.

Part of my problem is that I'm inexorably process driven. I follow where the data takes me. If I know I have 1500 people signed up for a race, to me it's dumb to book a room that holds about 120 people for the athlete briefing. But that's just me. Other than that, the actual package pickup process was great. Unlike during my Ironman race. Read process rant here, which includes a generalized rant. In general. Just go read, it's one of my better ones.

I'm of several minds about this whole darned Calgary 70.3 thing. Firstly, I'm on a team with Michelle, and what's important is to be a good team member. Being signed up for this has been good, as there have been several swims I'd have probably bailed on if she hadn't been expecting me to pick her up. This is good. (Best run buddy ever! and best relay team member ever!)

But I'm a bit pissed at the WTC in general. The whole 50 women to Kona thing annoys me. Pros are pros. If it's a world championship, build a set of rules, and apply them equally. I don't really care if it's the top 10 pros, or the top 100 per gender. Sure there is limited spot on the pier. Give them away to lottery winners, or to the pros that are the a big part of the lifeblood that supports the sport. Hmmm, let me think about that.

Then there is the local race organization. I once told a boss of mine, the one that in fact owned the company, that if he was going to do swag, don't do the cheap shit. When you do it, do quality. The finisher shirt I got out of finishing the first Calgary 70.3 was a travesty. It looked like, and might have been, a 70's iron on transfer on a cheap cotton T shirt. I wouldn't wear it in public. Even today, most of the T shirts didn't feel like good quality cotton. But that's just me and my picky fingers. Let's not even go into design. That's a personal choice.

More importantly, is the lack of consistent messaging. For a while we were told there was a team briefing at Talisman at 4pm. We didn't think it was real, but we're a team, and we planned our work schedules around that. A couple hours beforehand we learned it was cancelled. FAIL! Get your shit together. All messaging should be coordinated, regardless of channel. All materials should agree with each other. I've seen several different swim maps, all subtly different. Bah!

Something we noticed today, and were appalled by, is the sale of finisher shirts and medals from last year. Somebody must have goofed big time. There were lots. Why would anyone buy finisher merchandise for a a race they have not finished? If for some reason a box of stuff didn't make it to the finish line, and finishers did without, then mail it to them. There might be a limited market for finisher shirts after the fact, but the medals? I don't get it. They know exactly how many people have entered the race. A few left over I understand. Oh well. But there were many. Boxes worth. Something isn't right there.

I digress. We had a nice time at the expo, other than standing in a room too small by half, listening to a guy mostly talking about stuff in the published documents, answering questions from people that have not read the published documents. Grr. Just like there is a swim nazi in me, I want a huge crook to come out of nowhere, grabbing people by the neck, asking a question that is answered in the published documentation. Automatic disqualification. I don't blame the guy. He's probably running on much less sleep than he needs the last few days. There are enormous challenges to putting on one of these events. Don't get me started on question and answer sessions.

As a side note, during our swim today there was someone that just didn't understand. She wandered into our lane, oblivious. I mentioned we were swimming circles clockwise (up that half of the lane, back this half) and she was welcome to join us. She said she didn't swim well, and wandered off to what she thought was an empty lane. The swim club promptly kicked her out of it. Then she came back and swam the wrong way. I came within one stroke of running over her. I told her the dive tank was open and might be better for her because the water was warmer. That did it, she left.

In the end, it (race prep, keep up) all worked out. We know what we have to do. We know where we have to be at various times. We have scoped out the all important chip transfer. We have trained. There will be fun had, whether it wants to be had or not.

Once home, after stupid traffic on 14th St, there was BBQ. But first the traffic. There was one massive demonstration of driver incompetence on northbound 14 St just south of Glenmore that required several cop cars. One the other side of the road  just south of that was another massive demonstration of driver incompetence almost certainly caused by rubber-necking at the first one. I don't know which was first. It doesn't matter. All the people involved ought not to be allowed to drive anymore, for the safety of the rest of us. A giant hook should appear out of nowhere the next time they get into the driver's seat, yanking them off to somewhere unpleasant.

The BBQ. We found a jar of Ancho Molasses Chipolte sauce in the cupboard. We nibbled a bit of it as dip on chips the other day and found it wonderful. Today Linda marinaded some chicken in it, and I BBQ it. Amazing! We munched the chicken burgers, and drank wine, and drank more wine. Enjoyed the garden. Scroll back up and look at that one photo again.

We talked of many things, and drank more wine. Life is good. Retirement is sort of soon, depending on options.

I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, waking up in a slow way, and getting coffee and breakfast on my schedule. This is becoming more important to me, and I'm getting less willing to rush out to get to 'work'. We will deliver Michelle's bike to T1 and stroll around some more getting ourselves totally in the mind to race. Our wave start is right after the pros. I can't catch them. The wave of middle aged guys (30 to 44) starts a few minutes after me. I'd like to stay ahead of them. My thought is that since I don't have to bike, I'm going to swim my brains out. The sequence of events will be to finish swim, run to Michelle and bike, hand over the chip, puke and collapse in a heap for a while, then travel to T2 and cheer on people till Michelle arrives, whereupon I go crazy.  It should be good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

peanut butter chocolate cups

I keep meaning to try this, but haven't yet. It looks like a perfect post workout snack. No, this isn't a Linda recipe. I got it somewhere along the way, and I've forgotten where now.

Although I don't think I'd store them in the freezer. That would make them too hard. The fridge is probably perfect.

I'd be a rebel and use crunchy peanut butter. And dark chocolate.

What's with the cupcake papers? If I'm making this I'm going to see if I can get those papers that Costco muffins come in.

Ingredients:
16 oz semi-sweet or milk chocolate, chopped (or use chips)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Directions:
In a small glass bowl, heat half of the chocolate in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. Remove from the microwave once the chips begin to slightly melt. Use a fork to stir until smooth, using the heat of the chocolate to melt the remaining chips entirely. If needed, re-heat in 10 second intervals until smooth. DO NOT over heat the chocolate, as it will burn and seize. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. Spoon a small amount (about 2 teaspoons) of chocolate into the bottom of each paper. Tap the pan on your counter top to help smooth and spread the chocolate. Place the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden the chocolate. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut butter. In a small bowl, beat together peanut butter, butter and confectioners sugar until smooth and fluffy. Remove the pan from the freezer, and spoon a small amount of peanut butter on to the chocolate layer. Again, tap on counter top to level and spread the peanut butter. Return the pan to the freezer and allow to harden for about 15 minutes. Repeat the first step and melt the remaining chocolate in the same manner. Spoon the top chocolate layer over the peanut butter and return to freezer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Places I remember living

Cultis Lake

We start at kindergarten, or so. I have hazy memories of previous places, but here is the first place I actually remember well enough that I found that same house decades later. I'm not sure it's there now. Cultis Lake has turned into jet boat heaven. The biggest thing I ever put in the lake was some wind up pontoon airplanes. During my childhood we sometimes went out to a beach at the lake when visiting grandparents. My cousin and I once spent part of an afternoon diving off a dock into the very deep water, trying to find the bottom. Not.

East Mall

The plane flight from BC to Toronto was lovely. My brother and I thought it was an amusement ride arranged for us. One side of the plane had sunshine, and the other was pitch black. Lots of people barfed. Airports have sure changed. This flight ended at Terminal 1, which is no longer there. You got off the plane (it was a DC-8, high tech then) walked down the stairs to the tarmac, outside, and there was a bin for umbrellas.

The apartment at East Mall is still there, though the surrounding area has changed a bit. There used to be a creek at the bottom of a big ditch One day there was a small bridge over it and I ran down the hill to jump on the bridge as I had done many times before. Except that someone turned it upside down, and there were a bunch of nails poking up. Ouch. This is the first medical issue I recall, though getting my front teeth removed at the dentist happened about the same time. I somehow ripped much of my thumbnail off once, and the doctor had to finish the job. He dipped my thumb into something that hurt even more than the original incident.

The house that burned down

This was out in the country about an hour's drive north, south and a bit west of Orangeville. This was a small old farmhouse. I loved exploring the barn, and it's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves. We had 75 acres of land which included a small bush, a pond, and lots of fields. I first drove a tractor there, and that's how we found out I was terribly short sighted with one eye so lazy it was essentially not used. At least it was a tricycle destroyed, and not a car or the house.

Getting glasses was a blinding flash of illumination to me, and I mean that literally. Now I could read, and I loved it. There was a Grade 3 reader with a yellow cover, filled with science fiction, fantasy, and real life stories. There was an Arthur C Clarke, and one about the real nuclear submarine the Nautilis. I became a voracious reader. I learned who the Jetson's were.

The major medical adventure here was stepping on a wasp's nest, and getting stung half to death. There was a fast trip into town and getting hustled into the doctor's office.

I was going into grade 5, on vacation at our Grandparent's when we were told about the house burning down. I saw it later before it was bulldozed. Nothing but a hole in the ground with the chimney my dad built left standing.

Grandma and Grandad's

We spent part of that school year in Chilliwack. My cousin Ron in 6th grade, me in 5th, and my brother in 4th. We walked to school together, but for some reason I don't remember any of my other cousins with us. Ron's two sisters would have been grade 7 and grade 3. Maybe they went to a different school. We tormented the soccer coach because he referred to people by their last name, and there were 3 of us Cartmell's.

That house is still there, though another of my cousin's owns it now. At one time my family owned 4 houses in a row along there. There is now an extra one that didn't use to be there. Back in the day it was active dairy farm, when milk was put into large metal jugs, and left on a wooden stand by the road, to be collected by truck. My uncle owns the original house, looking much upgraded on Google earth. It used to be that plaster with the glass chips blasted into it.

I loved living in BC, the stint in grade 5 and summer vacations. I helped with hay and tried not to get in the way of farm machinery. As long as we showed up for lunch and supper, we could do what we wanted. Once, much later, I was ferrying my granny around Chilliwack for a variety of errands on the occasion of my Grandpas death. We were going into a bank for her to shuffle money around, and I introduced myself to the bank official as her grandson. Her attention was arrested. "What is your name again? Are you related to the local Cartmell's?" I told her, and it turns out her and my dad had dated in high school. Granny did a slow burn as she reminisced.

The house with the pool

We moved back to Ontario as dad built the house on the hill. It wasn't complete yet, but either our grandparents were sick of us, or they wanted us back in our regular school. Our neighbour across the road lent us (rented? I don't know) their house for a while. He had a big family, and there were lots of bedrooms. For some reason my brother and I shared. Technically, we were still going to the wrong school, as it was across the county line. My first ever crush was a girl from this family, we shared the exact same birthday. I have often wondered where life has taken her.

The house on the hill

This house is still here. It was recently sold, and my mom and brother toured it. They said it seemed a lot smaller than they remembered. It was a big house to me, with stunning views. I had seen the plans for it, though they didn't mean much to me. I liked the elevation drawings. I instantly realized this was a representation of the house, and how it would look. Turns out they built a wall wrong, and my bedroom ended up a fraction smaller than planned. This was just enough that my bed prevented the door closing. That room is a laundry room now, I'm told.

There was another really small room too, the kitchen. Unworkably small, taking the term galley kitchen to new depths. I watched the first moon landing in that house. We had huge Christmas trees because there was a place for a circular stairway that never got installed. I once saw a cat more than 10 feet off the floor in the tree.

The house in Orangeville

I don't know what prompted the move here. My brother and I shared a big bedroom throughout part of grade 8 and all high school for me. We got cars, and in the winter I struggled with a cantankerous snowblower. It's a wonder I didn't lose any body parts in it, and if I'd been wearing a ring I would have lost a finger to a snowmobile clutch. I got into my first fight, though it was more of a scuffle. The other boy was pissed at me for something, but he was much smaller, and I didn't want to pound on him.

Not much later, when I started drinking in the local bar, (way underage) my size was a good thing. Just standing up ended some truculent discussions, even though I was a skinny drink of water. High school was not a fun time for me. I'd never liked school at the best of times, and much of this was a brutal experience. Drafting and English were about the only classes I liked. Somewhere I have the litany of shame that passes for a high school transcript. I was incredulous when I was nearly 30, and the University I wanted to go to as an adult student, wanted to see it.

The apartment in Streetsville

I wasn't there long. I lived in apartment 508, and drove a Pontiac LeMans license NOP 632. I parked on the top level of the parkade, and it made my year when I terrified my dad driving into it one day. I knew exactly where that pillar was, and he didn't.

Vic and I met working nearby on a light manufacturing assembly line. I suppose it's the first real job I had, and it sandwiched flunking out of Air Traffic Control school. From there I learned I have a trick memory. I swotted up airport names, mnemonics, numbered routes, and it stood me in good stead when I memorized the Nova Gas Transmission lines in no time flat. Pity I didn't grasp meteorology, but then maybe I'd have ended up a burned out drunk stress case.

I met some of my cousins that lived nearby. One of them started at the plant I worked in, and she made a big impact on the guys there. I was really popular for a while, once people realized I was her cousin, and could introduce them.

Living in Streetsville was fun. It was the first time I'd lived on my own, and could keep my own hours. I played hockey with work buddies, went for a beer after work sometimes. Back then it was still a nice little town, but now it's been absorbed into Mississauga. I discovered Pink FLoyd. I saw Supertramp in concert. I got half way through Being There before I realized it was funny and nearly peed myself laughing. Me and one other person got it, and nobody else. I learned I had to trim the mustache regularly or it was very difficult to eat a big sandwich. Don't ask.

The shared apartment in Calgary

Vic moved to Calgary, and convinced me to go halves on a two bedroom place, and I got a job at the same place he worked. The job was fixing forklift and truck tires. To this day there is a patch of bald skin on my right wrist where it got shaved daily by tire beads. I came THAT close to getting killed by an exploding tire. I have always regretted that they decided at the last minute I couldn't go along as a swamper on a big convoy to Tuktoyaktuk.

I drove out with the car full of everything I owned, and totally completely loved the trip. LOVED IT! Ontario was boring, but I loved the prairies. The wide open sky was calling me home. I sang along to cheesy music on scratchy cassette tapes and drove forever. I discovered Pense, Saskatchewan.

The apartment was 806, quite new. I met up with the SCA and science fiction fandom. One of the guys I first met lived in apartment 608, and I thought the computer generated list was wrong. This was back when a computer generated name and address list was hot stuff. I met my first really serious girlfriend in that building. Her family didn't like me and we broke it off about the time we were thinking of renting a house together.

Since then the building has gone condo at exorbitant prices. I was really involved with the SCA for a long time, and science fiction for less time. It was a surprise to run into some of those same people again at the When Words Collide writer's conference.

The basement dungeon

The less said the better. It was an illegal basement suite at a time when the vacancy rate was a negative number. I learned you can't fill a water bed with cold water and sleep on it that night. Or the next one. I had the best nightmares ever there, when I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed. Good drugs.

The flooded apartment

Once I could get a real place I settled in, until the heating system broke and soaked the rugs. I lost some furniture and a few books. It had smelled musty before, and was worse after. About then I started working shiftwork for the city. To get my bedroom dark I carefully taped tinfoil to the windows. Later, I heard they had to replace the windows because the stick from duct tape doesn't come out of glass very easily after it's been baked in the sun.

Linda was horrified at the state of my fridge and cupboards. I think that's why she took pity on me and decided I was a lifetime project. I had no say in the matter. She executed a classic BDD maneuver.

The townhouse

Linda wouldn't stay at the flooded apartment, barely even to visit, so I started spending more time at her place. She had a really nice apartment, but there wasn't room for the two of us. We somehow ended up in a townhouse just down the street, and stayed there a year or so. Sebastian the best cat ever came into our lives, along with a succession of other cats who are just as much the best cat ever. Moving is fun when you can't get the car into third gear.

The current house

During our relationship we were looking at all the wealthy (looking) people in Calgary. They were buying big houses, big cars, boats, RV's, all the toys. Then the market crashed in the wake of the NEP, and we found out all those people had been borrowing the money. Houses got cheap. We discovered we could afford (just barely) to have one built. We did. For a while we had no money at all after paying the bills, but that gradually changed.

The house is more than 30 years old now, looking better than ever. We still look good too, or so we think. I periodically muse about moving around a lot as a kid, then spending most of my life in one place. I never would have guessed that would happen.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The real true meaning of all the cat videos

A few days ago, here, I put in a teaser about the real reason for the explosion of cat videos on the internet.

A couple preliminary points:

  • The ancient Egyptians treated cats as gods. They have never forgotten.
  • During the middle ages cats were often blamed for bringing the plague, and were sometimes cruelly killed. They have never forgiven.
One thing is certain, they are like Cylons; they aren't what they seem to be, and they have a plan. They've been watching us for many generations, awaiting their moment. Soon.

The first step was to control the rat and mouse populations near farm buildings. The more astute farmers rewarded them. They've been playing us ever since. Now many of them do nothing more than purr in exchanged for food and vet care. Some of the more enterprising of them take on lap warming duties, if it doesn't interfere with their naps.

We only think that the US military created the internet. Bah! It's a notoriously secretive organization. The idea of them creating a mechanism to share information, and then letting other people use it is ludicrous. No, there is something more.

What else happened about then? Human birth rates in North America dropped, and people started taking better care of their pets. Used to be that the only animal around humans that would get attention from a vet was draft horses. Maybe cows or lambs with birthing problems. Now vets can do more for their cat and dog clients, on shorter notice, than human doctors can or will do. One of the staff in our vet's office a while ago was bemoaning the difficulty of getting a family doctor to replace one that treated her badly. "If anyone here treated a pet as badly as he treated me, they'd be fired on the spot!" she said. Now some people consider their cats as their "fur children", rather than breeding their own human children.

So, cats are getting better care and living longer. It wasn't so long ago that a cat that made a decade was doing well. Most of them now get well into their second decade, and I've heard of cats more than 20 years old. This just gives them more time to observe and think. They are watching us, taking notes. Influencing us.

Considering their furry features are not especially mobile, one seldom has much doubt how a cat feels. They have a way of making their wishes plain. The noise and being underfoot is the least of it. All this time they are experimenting on us, learning to insert thoughts directly into our brains. Cats have always had a place in books and films, but that was just a starter. The cats wanted more, and pushed the idea of the internet into our brains. A medium better suited to cat requirements.

One of the tools is cat videos. This is subliminal advertising at it's finest. When I was young, it was widely assumed to be nearly impossible to teach a cat to do tricks. There was much discussion if the cat wouldn't, or couldn't. There is a big difference between those two.

Now it seems like every cat in the world is a video star. How did that happen? Think about the calm, dignified, aloof demeanor, then compare it to when the camera is on. There is a reason. They only pretend they don't know the camera is on. They are distracting us, amusing us, entertaining us while they prepare the ground to take over. They are figuring out which of the staff are best to keep around.

Many people wonder if there are aliens out there. I think that question is late. They might still be out there, but they planted their spies a long time ago, and are waiting. Little furry spies, ones who are considered cute and entertaining. Spies that, as they nap, are using all that energy to send information back to the great cat mother-ship. There other cats collate, cross check, and enter it all into databases. They send ideas back for the local cats to try, to see how the humans react.

All those "UFO's?" Many of them are delusions, or Venus, or perfectly explainable  in various ways. But some of them are the cats coming down to check in person, and disseminate detailed instructions. Maybe new technology. These are just the tiny ships, with a few cats on them. Somewhere, there is the great mothership. Perhaps one of what we think is an asteroid is it. Or maybe a base on the moon, just on the edge of what our telescopes can see. Or one of the moons around Jupiter, or part of Saturn's rings. Somewhere. Waiting.

I also think it ties in with the environmentalism movement. Cats want warm dry places to live, so they pushed humans to invent modern homes. The problem is the side effects. Pollution from creating plastics and refining metals. So they've been pushing the idea that we need to be neater about our waste products. Bury it away properly, and not leave it out in the open where it can poison anyone that comes along. Sound familiar?

Once upon a time I held a full grown great horned owl on my fist. It was a wildlife protection agency raising funds. This bird was surprisingly heavy. It looked at me, and it was completely clear to both of us that it could eat any part of me it wanted, if only it hadn't just eaten and wasn't hungry. I've caught my cats looking at me like that. They are predators, you know. Is it a coincidence that humans have been getting fatter and less active? Watching cat videos on the internet, among other things. I'm sure they are waiting for a tipping point, till we are the right balance between so big and fat and unhealthy we aren't good sport or eating anymore, and still able to fend them off.

I know it's coming, and am trying to get in good with them so I become cat staff, rather than cat plaything. I, for one, will welcome our new overlords. Yes, I'm sure they will do a better job of running things. They could hardly do worse.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Wetsuit butt shot

Never let it be said that I only post flattering shots of me and other people. Nope. In triathlon there are very few flattering photos. Somewhere on the IMYYC70.3 page there is a photo of of people in wetsuits. I was joking they found the only photo of a woman who's butt looks good in a wetsuit.

Today I was out to Auburn Bay, site of the Calgary 70.3 swim next Sunday, for a practice swim. Here's some shots for your delight and edification. I was told my butt looks good in wetsuit.

The promised butt shot. Does it?

Maybe I should make this my LinkedIn shot.

This is about as a good a photo as possible of me in a wetsuit.

The water wasn't cold at all, and reasonably clear, as these things go. No algae or seaweed. We swim clockwise around a heart shaped lake. I was mainly looking for sighting landmarks. Lots of big expensive looking houses to look at along the way.

I just started swimming nice and easy. It felt a little bit clunky at first. Then I settled in. Just as I got to the north end of the lake I belched so much I wondered if there were solid chunks bouncing off of wetsuit. Then I felt myself go into a higher gear and swim felt awesome from then on. Swam straight, though there isn't much for sighting. I hope they put big buoys in.

Part of the swim was to tweak my stroke, looking to keep my elbows up and out a bit, and getting a good pull. My wave starts just after the pros, and just before the 30 to 44 age group men. I'm not going to catch any pros, and I'd like to stay ahead of the kids. If any pass me, you can be assured I will latch onto their feet and draft like mad!

On the way home we were devastated to learn that Olson's High Country bison no longer has an outlet in the Calgary Farmer's market. Devastated! Now we have to find another source of bison. The struggles we have.

We had some guests over yesterday, and this is what they walked into.


Unusually Curtis was not on hand to greet the guests, though he livened up a little later. Even though his eyes are open, they weren't tracking anything. He was sound asleep letting out wheezy little grunts.



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