Thursday, October 25, 2012

Had a TRIing day Yesterday

Yesterday I was able to to do all three events of a very short triathlon before, during and after some business meetings.  I went to the gym early and increased my swim distance from 100 to 200 yards.  Just 4,024 yards to go for an Ironman!

After that I drove to NYC and went to a business meeting that ended on time and gave me the chance to ride 18miles before dinner--from 29th St up to the base of the George Washington Bridge and back.  Just 94 more miles for the Ironman bike.

After dinner the night was beautiful so I ran 4 miles along the Hudson.  Just 22.2 more and I am done with the Ironman run.

So I do have more training to get done.  But it's a start!  Over time, I hope to do a standard distance triathlon in a day, then all at once:  1k, 40k, 10k.

Same with the half Ironman maybe a year from now, or more.  Then the Ironman.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Every Time I Put My Helmet On. . .

. . . Shit Could Happen.

Yesterday, I rode in the morning with Bruce and Lois.  It was a beautiful morning, 45 degrees, clear sunny.  What could go wrong.

We rode the route that EVERYONE in Lancaster calls the 'Stick ride except the guy who has been riding it for 30+ years.  

The seventh mile of that ride drops steeply down from a ridge about a quarter mile to a 14-foot wide steel bridge that is 270 feet long.  From the stop sign at the top, I usually hit 35 mph going into the S-turn that leads onto the bridge.  When the road is dry I zip across the bridge at 50 feet per second then slow as I approach the stop sign at the other end.  When the road is wet, I slow to 10 to 12 mph and pedal gingerly across the bridge.  At full speed I cross the bridge in six seconds.  In the wet, the crossing takes a very long 12 - 15 seconds.

The type of bridge I am talking about is pictured below.  As you can imagine, falling on this kind of bridge can be horrible.  I knew a guy who broke all the fingers on his right hand on one of these and had some nasty gashes on the rest of his body.

Open steel span

Up close looking through the steel span at the water.

So yesterday I descended to the bridge braking lightly at the bottom going 30 mph when I rolled onto the span.

The road to the bridge was dry, but the night was cold and the bridge was WET.

As soon as I was on the bridge my tires started squirming on the steel squares.  The rear wheel wobbled under my seat and slid left.  I stayed as still as I could and just touched the brakes as the bike squirmed more and seemed to lose no speed.

Both sides of the bridge are steel beams.  I hoped I could get to the end of bridge before I slid into the side of the bridge, but I knew if a car came on the bridge I would hit it because I could not steer or stop.

At the end of the bridge the road drops away steeply down to a stop sign 20 feet away.  I went off the bridge in the air and landed with my rear tire skidding and sliding left.

There were no cars on Conestoga Boulevard, so I swerved into the road and sat up.  Lois and Bruce crossed the bridge slowly so I had 30 seconds to calm down before they caught up to me.  Bruce said, "You flew over the bridge."  If he only knew.

I changed the subject.

But it reminded me that experience gives us a store of info to avoid big mistakes like this.  I haven't ridden on a steel bridge on a cold morning for years.  The road was dry so I rode fast.

The reason I wear a helmet on the bike and wore one in Iraq was for that moment when a small mistake, or a big one, means my head is going to suffer a big hit.

My wife decided to train for an Ironman.  She a good runner, a great swimmer and almost never rides.  She has a lot of training to do before she can ride 112 miles at speed after a 2.4-mile swim and before a marathon.  I know she can do it.  But I do worry about the many hazards that bicycling puts in the way of every rider.  Experience really helps, but the only way to get experience is to ride without until you have it.

So now we can worry about each other on the bike.

And the first thing we are buying for her together is a good helmet.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ironman August 2015

Two weeks ago my wife announced she was going to do the Ironman in Kentucky in 2015
She swam on her college team, she ran a half marathon at the beginning of the month so she is good on two of three.  I am not sure of the exact number, but we think she has ridden more than ten but less than 20 miles last year.  So she will have to train a lot to look like the woman in the photo above.

BTW:  An Ironman is a 2.4-mile open water swim, followed by a 112-mile bike, then a marathon.

Naturally, I would like to do the event with her.  But she is way ahead of me.  I ran a bunch of half marathons last year.  I could ride 112 miles tomorrow, but I swim 50 meters in the pool and think I am going to die!

Yesterday, my wife started the day with a 6-mile hilly run.  I rode 32 miles.  In late afternoon we ran 5k together.  

Today, she rode 5 miles with my son Nigel.  She said she could feel it in her legs.  I swam 100 yards and was tired all over.  She is 4% of the way to 112 miles.  I am 2% of the way to a 4224-yard swim.

She is getting a new bike.  I am getting a swim coach.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bitching About Computers--and Finding Out How Much I Mistrust Them

This morning I lost the treasured hour in the quiet car where I can read a book without interruption and not listen to 2nd-hand cell phone!  Ahhhhhhhh!!

The reason I lost that hour is partly that I am spending the last 15 minutes of that hour bitching to you.  But I lost the first 45 minutes when I got an email from Southwest Airlines saying the reservation for the flight bringing John Wilson to Philadelphia today was cancelled.

Cancelled!!  How?  By whom?

John emailed me yesterday about our plans for tonight.  He did not email, text, or call me, so it must be a computer glitch--at least that's what I thought.

So I called Southwest--leaving the quiet car and walking to the other end of the next car.  Did I ever say how much I despise people who talk on cell phones in the quiet car and worse, go to the end of the quiet car, still inside it, and talk.  If I am ever ejected from a train, it will be because I told one of those jerks to leave the car and they got mad enough to fight.  Hasn't happened yet, but not for lack of trying on my part.

Anyway. So I politely stick my head in the luggage rack of the next car and call Southwest.  I get on virtual hold where they call me back.  I read the newspaper while waiting, head where the top bags are:

When Southwest called me back, I talked to a very patient ticket agent who said the reservation was cancelled on line and I should call John.

I called.  His wife Wendy answered.  John was in the John very sick.  It turns out John is hoping to be better tomorrow, but cancelled the reservation and was planning to call me later.  


So I really do mistrust computers.  Which is silly.  I do not mistrust the navigation computers in Chinooks and Blackhawks and all airliners for that matter.  It's only the computers I interact with--like the ones that I use to take Army on line training.

End of bitching about computers.

For now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Great Guy Gets Promoted--Chad Hummel to Sgt. 1st Class

Echo Company, 2-104th Aviation dumps water on newly promoted soldiers.  In the case of sergeants, the soaking occurs right as they finish reciting the NCO Creed.  This is Chad Hummel, the Echo Co. training NCO, just as he finished reciting the creed from memory.  The Army gets better every time someone like Chad gets promoted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Staying in Shape at 59

Last week I missed the 4:45 train from Philadelphia to Lancaster by less than a minute.  The next train is at 5:35.  Fifty minutes.  What to do.  In my pack was running gear and the Red Caps at Philadelphia's 30th St. station will hold bags for the next train.  I changed in the men's room and ran 3 miles on the river trails right outside 30th Street Station along the Schuykill River.

On Tuesday I was in New York City to get some adoption paperwork validated by the Haitian Consulate.  I was done at 430pm.  My car was across the Hudson in cheap parking lot in Seacaucus NJ.  There was no sense starting the drive home before 630 pm, so I stored my bag at a hotel where i have occasionally stayed and changed into running clothes in the hotel.  So I ran 4 miles along the Hudson River trail.

Part of staying in shape at my age or any age is using an unexpected hour to work out whenever possible.  I really do take my bicycle with me whenever I take my car anywhere farther than the local grocery store.  Many gyms sell day passes or hour passes for $10--and then you get a shower.

When I get stuck or have time to kill, I could read a book or work on my computer.  I also carry a full-size battery-powered keyboard for my iPhone.  But for me missing a train or walking out of a meeting into a bright, sunny day makes me want to ride or run.

These impromptu workouts can be the best part of a very long day.

And mixing up workouts by activity, distance and intensity allows my 59-year-old body to keep going and going and going.

In a Video About Kevlar

The video is the life story of Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar.  I am in for a minute beginning at 12:30 modeling Kevlar!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Family Groups at MEDEVAC Departure

Since September 28, I have been posting photos of the family groups of soldiers who left for pre-deployment training with the F/1-169th MEDEVAC.  The photos are on the 2-104th Aviation Facebook page.

You can see photos from the departure ceremony there.  Later this week I will be attending another departure ceremony.  This group is bigger, so it will mean more photos on the facebook page.

Here are the three MEDEVAC Blackhawks making a final pass around Muir Field before flying to Texas.

Military Pilots Really Have "The Right Stuff"

Tammie Jo Shults, F-18 Fighter Pilot Today I listened to the audio of pilot Tammie Jo Shults calmly speakin...