Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2013

Reflections on turning 34

Saturday is my birthday. I'll be spending it on an early morning bike ride then picking apples at an orchard with my family. If my luck stays high, I may get a German chocolate cake. And this birthday comes on the heels of my son's first full week of preschool.

Next year is the big one. 35. The year I can no longer round down to be 30 in my head. Mid-30's. Official. I realized last night at a town hall when a 22 year old stood up to speak that when he referred to "young people" he wasn't talking about me anymore. In my heart and head, I still hope I'll be celebrating next year by either having just completed--or be just about to complete--an iron-distance triathlon. That's just been my goal for how to celebrate. Make no little plans. What better way to mark a milestone than by doing something so miserable that you can't help but feel alive?

But this birthday is different.

I'd planned to do a full write-up about the First Day of School but just…

Chicago Triathlon Spectator Report

Grabbed my coffee at 5:45am on Sunday in order to make the first train of the morning to downtown. Compared to, say, the Chicago Marathon it was very strange getting off the L. It felt like a boring, dead work morning when I used to have to wait for the bus to the museum. No crowds of people like there will be on race morning for the marathon. Granted, that's 45,000 people plus spectators. But 9,000 athletes on the lakefront is nothing to sneeze at.

By the time I got over to Columbus, I could at least see a few people with wetsuits draped over their shoulders. And there was the random woman standing on Adams doing yoga with her race tattoo obviously displayed. But it wasn't until you got right up to the lakefront path that you noticed anything out of the ordinary going on compared to any other summer morning.

As usual after coffee, I needed to find a bathroom. So the first inner debate I had was "head to transition" or "head to the Swim Start." I ended up h…

Catching up

Those of you looking for the First Day of School post, it's coming. But I'm about 3 behind. A lot can happen in just a few days. And it was a jam-packed weekend for this family.

Friday I had pumped up the bike tires and we'd discussed switching our usual Sunday morning family ride at the gardens to Saturday...since I was getting up early to watch the Chicago Triathlon on the lakefront. (That will be another post.) But when we woke up Saturday morning, Kelly wanted to do something different and spontaneous. Which is exactly what happened. And it was wonderful.

We ended up--who knows why--in Glenview at Wagner Farm. Which is one of the last (the only?) remaining farms in Cook County. It's run by the Glenview Park District and there is even a farmers market on Saturday mornings. So it was crowded and finding a place to park was a little difficult, but we decided to check that out first. Cole saw some blackberries he wanted and we ate them while walking around. The whole b…

Running does weird things...

I ran 8 miles last night. Normally, that's not worth blogging about. But it is when--without injury--it was the first time you'd gone over 6 miles in nearly a year.

Usually, I take a month off after a marathon with very little exercise. So we're talking November for a fall race. And, by then, the holidays are here. And it's dark and cold. So it turns into a winter hibernation with me ready to climb back on the horse come February or March.

This season, my one and only commitment was a triathlon in June so I needed to hit the pool early and often. And I've been in love with cycling lately so that my time in running shoes was very minimal--even for a minimalist like me--getting in only a few 10k before race day. Mostly just to work on getting my speed faster than my default marathon pace. Which was silly considering I raced on an 80 degree day with no shade after swimming a mile and biking in the hot sun first.

I know better now. That's the nature of endurance sp…

Meet the Teacher

The good news about my son starting early in the public school system is that it will give me plenty of material for the blog. And last night was no exception. 
We live in one of the best school districts in the nation. But--as residents here love to tell you and anybody who listens--we also pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Combine that with simultaneously living in an era when people love to dump on teachers and our educational system and you have an interesting recipe if you want to sit back and observe what it's really like. 
We left impressed. 
It was an evening for new students to that elementary (not our "real" school where Cole will go for Kindergarten, mind you) to take tours, meet staff, see their classrooms, etc.. So lots of preschoolers and Kindergarten, lots of people new to the village in general, and then I was happy to see that a couple "veteran" preschoolers came back to visit. We even got a report from a mom who was in our …

How to not ruin your kid

The bad news, if you're clicking on this to hear about my magic solution for raising children, is that it doesn't exist. The good news is that they're nearly impossible to ruin. So why do we so frequently, as parents, fall prey to the dual ideas that at some moment (or several moments) we've done something awful that will throw off their growth and development? Or that if just ____ then everything will be ok? Now they'll never end up as a responsible adult!

Which isn't to say that parents are never to blame. My theme here today is that it's much more likely to be the little, daily, insignificant things piling up to bring your kids down or lift them up. Your kids are more likely to pick up your bad habit of tracking dirt into the house or seeing you wash your hands before meals. Not whether you breastfeed or formula feed. Not whether they get no screen time or a computer. Not whether you feed them organic lettuce or conventional. Public school or homeschooli…

Triathlon doors and windows

Sometimes it's just not in the cards. That goes for knowing how hard to push during workouts. And how to fit your sport into daily life.

My plan had been to celebrate turning 35 next season with an Ironman. Specifically, Ironman Wisconsin. But at some point this summer it just became crystal clear that it's not going to happen. Financially, it's not in the cards to spend the money for a weekend away volunteering to secure my spot. Where you pay for your next year's registration immediately, mind you. Cole is starting school and needs supplies. We're trying to take our weekend away without the kids in October. It's just the absolute worst time for a variety of reasons.

I still can't bring myself to cancel the hotel reservation and e-mail my coordinator that I won't be able to make it. But I'm nearly there.

Because when I step back to the bigger picture, I realize I've never had to learn the harsh lessons of being injured during training. At least…

Pet peeves of a science geek

A few things that annoy me about the generally low scientific literacy of the public. In no particular order...

--Science only tells you how things happen. It doesn't tell you why. If you want that, turn to religion, philosophy, ethics, Monty Python. Science is just a system of testable predictions. There's more to human knowledge than science.

--People who are obsessed with poking holes in the validity of science research. By itself, this is a great thing. Science is meant to have holes poked in it. The entire point of the scientific method is that you can go out, do the same experiment, see how your results compare, then make adjustments to future predictions. But just because research has methodology flaws doesn't mean the result is invalid. It might be suspect. All science is in the end. Gravity is just a "theory." I wouldn't advise jumping off any buildings.


--People who expect a study to be wheeled out as evidence…

Getting ready for the 1st First Day of School

The first unit of the year is going to be dinosaurs! Cole was very excited to learn that info this morning. There should be a dino coloring page coming in the mail for him to do before the first day, too. He's been anxiously awaiting a letter from his teacher for the last few mail pickups. The letter's not here. But, thanks to the magic of modernity, I've already been e-mailing his teacher so I got an early preview via pdf. Points to her, she replied to my e-mail within hours, has a blog, and is deftly handling nervous parents sending their baby to her classroom for the first time.

When we found out Cole would be entering daily preschool , the district told use we'd be hearing from both the teacher and the bus company about his transportation arrangements. We were wanting a bit of a heads up on the school supplies and getting worried about the ticking countdown to the First Day of School so I happened across the program's webpage and saw that Cole's teacher had…

A stellar, splashy birthday party

Friday evening I said goodbye to my friend Scott--who is now going to be studying a river in CA--by grabbing some food and beer in Logan Square. He should be well on his way now with the moving van packed. But didn't stay out too late because we had a birthday party at the planetarium to attend on Saturday morning.
We were fairly hesitant about how it would go. To start, it would require someone driving because of Cole's hatred of riding trains lately. (Yes, to those of you not from the big city, parking is $22 in Chicago, people pay it, and that's average. Some is more, some is less.) So, even though Leda was technically invited, we couldn't decide whether it would be just dad/son or the girls would stick around and pay admission. But, it turned out, extra adults were welcome so keeping the family together ended up a no-brainer. 
The party started at 10am and then the group had seating at the 10:30am show in one of the theaters. This was a wraparound Big Bird and Elmo…

The mysterious land of Ohio

What happened to my lazy summer? All of the sudden it's filled with saying goodbye to old friends starting new jobs in far off places, birthday parties at the planetarium, and impromptu road trips to my native state.

Ohio is a strange place. We all decide to wear red and worship in the same 100,000 seat stadium several Saturdays in the fall. It's a great time to go to the mall because everyone else will be at home watching the Buckeyes on tv. For some reason, we're the most important state in every Presidential election. We have more astronauts and Presidents from our state than almost any other.

But we can't seem to learn about traffic light timing. Really, Dublin? Every red light? Come on!

We left bright dark and early Tuesday morning so we could arrive in Columbus in time for Kelly to work a half day. Cole is always mesmerized by the night. He's never out in it so before sunrise actually prompts him to be awake and ask questions about it rather than settle right…

County Fair Kids

Even more than his birthday, perhaps, Cole has been excited for the last two weeks about going to the fair. And it turned out to be one of the few things that seemed to live up to the hype in the mind of a preschooler. Actually, both kids loved it. The adults, too. It exists somewhere between cheesy and authentic that makes it hard not to smile. Saturday morning I did my usual 25 mile ride, came home to get ready, we ran some errands, then headed to the McHenry County Fair....

Stuck right there in the middle of the fast food and strip malls along Highway 47 is the McHenry County Fairgrounds. The animal barns are across the fence from a Panera. Very amusing. We parked our car early enough that few of the booths weren't open yet, but a steady stream of people was entering. The parking was free and we'd printed off an online coupon for $2 off each admission...the kids were free. The entrance area is a grassy field that is where the carnival section is--games, most of the fair foo…