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Showing posts from June, 2014

Some ITU Chicago thoughts...

My alarm was supposed to go off at 4:30am yesterday morning so I could be on the 5am first train to the Loop. The plan was to get in my 4 mile run along the river downtown, the lakefront, then double back to the site of the ITU Chicago race. But a round of our recently-frequent thunderstorms was pounding my window at 4:30 so I hit snooze and got up an hour later. By that time, the sun was poking out of the clouds. I got a humid, muggy run in from the Loop to Oak Street Beach then ran back down to Buckingham Fountain where the race was going on. 
Aside from the inability to get enough training time in for these early-season races, I knew from the first announcement that I wouldn't race at ITU. Much like the Chicago Triathlon later in the summer...big city, crowded, expensive races do not appeal to me so much. (Neither do I want to do an unorganized, small, local race...happy medium is the way to go if you ask me.) They're a spectacle--which can be fun--but especially for triath…

The dark history of "Yankee Doodle"

I admit, my ongoing "dark history" posts have been surprisingly popular (to me). Chronicling the unknown, weird, and twisted sides of popular folk songs is not a hobby for me...more like a curious bit of history I have mild interest in. 
So when a friend suggested I do a little on "The Star Spangled Banner," I told her there was too much there to tackle. Though I love the story...the boat, the harbor, the poem, putting it to old music, not having a National Anthem and the debate over what it should be. But I did begin to think about what my next post should be. 
Given all the hoopla over the Washington Redskins NFL controversy lately, I thought this might be a good time--Independence Day--to remind Americans that one of our most beloved nicknames for ourselves is actually mocking us. (Though don't tell a Southerner that "Yankee" is a beloved nickname. They mostly mutter it under their breath at Northerners.) Yes, the New York Yankees are a big joke. N…

Throwing a (my 1st) workout out the window

When I left the house last night, I'd applied sunscreen, put on my prescription sunglasses, and appropriately chilled my Fuel Belt bottles because it was sticky humid with a hot sun beating down. It was the first workout of my being back to focusing on running. Not quite yet "on plan" with marathon training, but close since that starts next week. I'd decided I was doing 8 miles though I was debating in my head about that at mile 2 when it ended up being hotter than I expected and I'd already gone through my Nuun.

At about Mile 3, where I usually turn around if I'm doing a 10k run, it got cloudy and the thunder started quietly rumbling. So I was debating in my head what to do. Because of the route I take, if I continued onto Mile 4, I'd be 2 miles from home...or I could turn around and make it and "out and back" to get the full 8 miles if it wasn't raining. At my current location, it would be 3 miles to home. In essence, I was at exactly the …

Endurance sports joint custody

The Mama mocks me all the time for my decision making because it is both a strength and a weakness. I'm not one to simply choose out of thin air. Whether it's what phone I'm buying or what race I'm doing, I'm more the type to make a "pros" and "cons" chart, research completely...and, rest assured, it will take some time. But I usually enjoy the process. It's not uncommon for her to include in whatever gift she wants to give me some built-in planning time that she knows I'll need/want. It's like enjoying the vacation planning almost as much as laying on the beach. 51 weeks of dreaming about sunshine almost outweighs the one week of sunburn, insect bites, and dehydration in the real sun.

As some of you may recall from previous posts, I've struggled again with my race calendar this season. Last summer was supposed to be a relaxing, light, race-free schedule of one first-time triathlon before I tackled Ironman Wisconsin this Septembe…

Social commentary over nectarines

Very well-meaning guy at the grocery today. A bit older. Maybe he was lonely and just wanted someone to talk to? Maybe he was just trying to be friendly. (Hey, hey we're the Monkees!) Maybe he was trying to comment on the kids more than me. Starts to give me the "looks like you've got your little helpers today" speech.

But it had...that tone. The tone where you've tried to be subtle and open up a dialogue about the ongoing situation. I know it's partly generational. What is it about my generation that makes us refrain from speaking to strangers in public places? We don't strike up small talk in line at the checkout the same way others do.

Standing there trapped in the produce aisle trying to pick nectarines. I wanted to reply "they kinda never leave my side so today's not that special." But I just did the smile and nod. A little resentful that a man with 2 preschoolers in a shopping cart looks noteworthy though.

Maybe he would have said the …

Lake Michigan swim report

There's something about walking into our bathroom (or, in the case of some triathletes, opening your car trunk) and seeing a wetsuit there drying. It's a very specific--to me, pleasant--unnatural neoprene smell. It smells like summer and activity. I love how the sand looks if you haven't washed it out like you're supposed to...like the suit "went somewhere." The Mama saw the wetsuit hanging there post-swim and said it made her happy to see it getting some use. We often talk about how things are meant to be put to intended function. Cars are meant to be driven. Toys are meant to be played. Bicycles are meant for riding.

I was one of only a couple people in our group wearing a sleeveless. Everybody else had on full sleeves. It's currently all I own as I'm in the market for sleeves, as it were. For those who think this whole idea sounds crazy, Lake Michigan is already up to 62.6 degrees around downtown Chicago. I definitely wanted those sleeves at first.…

Ugh...race canceled!

It's my blog and I'll post if I want to. Today's double-post is going to mostly now take the form of a triathlon geek complaint about race scheduling. At least it's lighter fare than my earlier, profound thoughts on fatherhood.

Not that I had even signed up the race yet. Not that it was even going to be my goal race. But I didn't realize how much I was looking forward to this little sprint triathlon until I found out I wouldn't be doing it. Something about permits being pulled. It was a first-year race anyway. And everybody knows to be wary about an inaugural, untested event.

I was going to give it a try...it was cheap, it fit perfectly mid-summer on my calendar, it wasn't far away, it was small. It was my one nod to triathlon this season. Not a huge, monumental thing to train for and achieve. Not anything overly difficult. Nothing to get too nervous about. Just a sprint.

It was going to be a nice way for me to get my fix of swim-bike-run to stay connected …

Dads go off the map

First of all, happy Father's Day!

I've been intrigued by two things this week as I've watched the volume of information leading up to our special day. The obvious is the rise of modern dads, Stay At Home Dads, dads who change diapers, do hair, cut the crusts off sandwiches. We're everywhere. The culture shift that has taken place to allow us to be "in" is kind of cool to be a part of. I obviously didn't do this job for the social prominence that comes with it. But being a part of a movement that has caught on the way it has is fun.

Just under the radar, however, has been the dad counter-current to us. Blink and you'd miss it. But I've caught a few posts and articles out there about the previous generation. A lot of it from people wondering about their own dads who lived in a time when being a dad meant something very different. And how they loved in the way they could for the times.

It's no coincidence that my Twitter photo is from the black a…

The dark history of "She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain"

So, I guess this is Part II in my "series" on the dark, twisted past of children's songs. Last time I covered "I've Been Working On The Railroad" if you want to search for that. Something along the lines of how adult-oriented fairy tales generally are. Nursery rhymes with inappropriate-for-kids origins, the like. I didn't really intend to start researching song lyrics until I got curious and here we are.

Today's feature is that yeehaw, folksy tune "She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain." You know it...six white horses. We'll all go out to greet her. Annoying for its simplicity yet kids love it. Mine came home from our Minnesota visit having heard it on a kid's dvd.

Like many of these songs, it's actually a mixture of a few incarnations. It wasn't until I started reading for this post that I came across versions with "ey ey yippee yippee ey." That version is at least popular enough to have a few well-made vi…

Tour de Pepin report & Target Field review

First of all, I apologize for the quality of the photos. But riding in a driving rainstorm will do that to your phone's camera. Even if said phone was inside a plastic baggie and in a jersey pocket or in a saddle bag. 
Almost 800 riders turned out for the 7th annual Tour de Pepin. This was our first time, but we plan on being back next year--hopefully under better weather conditions! 
For those of you not familiar with my previous posts on this beautiful part of our nation, Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake that the Mississippi River forms at its widest point. It's about 60 miles from Twin Cities, surrounded by high tree-covered bluffs, and is an amazing mix of recreational areas, small towns, wildlife preservation districts, and historic sites. There are boats out on the water, bald eagles, people fishing, gorgeous views, great local shops, and mosquitoes that will take up your entire knuckle if they land on your hand. Did I mention it's the birthplace of water sk…

When dads don't attack

With all the uproar lately over what it means to be a feminist, gender issues, misogyny, male culture, the War On Women, mommy wars, it hit me that it is a blessing on the other side. The Stay At Home Dad community doesn't have to deal with this crap.

Oh, we deal with crap for sure. Lot's of it. It's just not our crap. It's external. We don't bring it on ourselves. (A recent blowup about bad behavior was really the exception that proves the rule.) And we generally don't play victim when we're on the receiving end of it. We're generally supportive of each other. Not always the case in other groups and it's something I'm growing to love about being a SAHD. And, even more, being a dude generally. Granted, we may be dealing with a small sample size of men who are embracing a great deal of non-traditional stuff. Our demographic is probably slanted towards not being unfriendly. As our numbers grow, we'll pull in some undesirables. But for right no…

Bedtime: Epic, Tedious, Predictable

I'm alone with the kids this week while The Mama is out of town for work. Which is fine. My day is actually great either way because of routine. Kids get up, have coffee, they drink milk and eat cereal, get dressed, bus comes, mid-morning activity for Leda and myself, Cole comes home from school, snack, 30 min of cartoons, nap.

Then it all goes south.

Depending on who gets up first, when, and their moods, it can be a relaxing snack on the couch together. Or it can be several hours of hitting, screaming, and crying until bedtime. Getting out of the house generally solves this problem so it's a great time to catch them well-rested for a playdate, the playground, etc.. Other days it can be a long wait until 7pm when Cole's bedtime starts.

I'm not going to complain...much. Because we're not one of those families with kids crawling into bed with us in the middle of the night. There are no repeated requests for a glass of water. No waking up scared of the dark. Once they…

Getting dropped on a no-drop ride

For those of you not familiar with the landscape of the Chicago area, south of the city there is vast, treeless, pancaked terrain as far as the eye can see in many places (we are the Prairie State, after all). So Chicagoans tend to think of our region as...contoured? We know that others scoff at our flatness. But there are a few places you can go to find an incline. Chicago itself has several ridges from what used to be the shores of lakes even larger than current-day Lake Michigan.

So I jumped at the chance to ride in the rolling hills to the northwest on Saturday with the tri club. About the only time I get to use all the gears on my bike is if we're at the arboretum. Open road without stopping and starting can be hard to come by as well. It was an "all skill levels welcome" ride to learn the route. A handful of us gathered at the meeting point and headed west for just under 40 miles. The group leader who organized the ride said at the start there would be a bathroom b…