Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I remember distinctly the Halloween book we had as children - and my Mom reading to us the 1st poem below.It was full of great poetry and cute cartoon drawings of busy Halloween parties attended by ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. It has skeletons on parade and jack o' lanterns. I have this book somewhere in my house but I can't find it tonight. I think about it most years - but haven't yet had a chance to sit down and blog about it.

Until now!

Here are a few of my favorite poems:

There are ten ghosts in the pantry,
There are nine upon the stairs,
There are eight ghostes in the attic,
There are seven on the chairs,
There are six within the kitchen,
There are five along the hall,
There are four upon the ceiling,
There are three upon the wall,
There are two ghosts on the carpet,
Doing things that ghosts will do,
There is one ghost right behind me who is oh so quiet.........BOO!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Pumpkins 2009

You might remember the pumpkins from 2007 and 2008, well here are the 2009 edition.

Here's my pumpkin, not political or too exciting but I wanted to try one that had a little more 3D effect.

The moon is made by removing the pumpkin skin but leaving pumpkin behind instead of just carving it out. I think I'll know how to do this better next time by making the layer thinner so light shines through but next year I'd like to try with different depths of pumpkin shell to see if there are some cool effects there.

Meghan's Pumpkin:

Molly's Pumpkin

Dave's Pumpkin

And the winner for 2009 is Matt's pumpkin - especially since he didn't have a stencil. This is his jeep in pumpkin form!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Balloon Boy Humor

YouTube is amazing, not because you can follow clips of news events about Balloon Boy (although you can) but because you can follow all of the parodies (who has time for this and how to they make them so fast!) Here are a few of my favs

Parody to 99 Red Balloon Song (warning: the letter to the parents at the end has a few choice words)

Parody of Balloon Boy AND I'm on a Boat (warning: a few swear words)

And just because I can - here's the original I'm on a boat song from SNL. This is the edited version (beeped out swears) but I've been rocking the unedited version in my car since the Cape Cod trip - it was a hit in South Carolina too! (you might have to watch a 30 second commercial but it's worth it!)

UPDATE: Just found one more Balloon Boy parody set to I'm on a Boat!

WARNING: This one has [Explicit] lyrics but is pretty true to the original On a Boat Song. Watch at your OWN RISK!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Edward 40s Hands

Since my college friends and I went to college before cell phones, IM, and "Edward 40s Hands" the drinking game - it has been a running joke since Molly mentioned it.

Here's some photo evidence of Edward 40s Hands meets guitar hero!

Monday, October 05, 2009

We Did It - the Little Miami Triathlon

Dave, Molly, and I completed the Little Miami Triathlon yesterday.

Dave rocked the Kayak division for individuals.

Molly and I anchored the team HOT TOMOLLYS.

(Note the HOT TOMOLLY bracelets I made which combine the yellow of Lance Armstrong's Live Strong bracelet with the red of the Share The Road bracelets bikers wear - mixed together to look like a HOT TOMOLLY!)

HOT TOMOLLYS Support Staff
To be successful at anything - you need strong support. To support us - My parents were nice enough to have T-shirts made for our support staff! It was great to have Meghan's parents, Aunts Angie and Julie, and Cousin Casey there to support us!

The event was very well organized for it's size (1,200 participants).

It was my 1st ever triathlon and it was MUCH harder than I anticipated.
I finished in 3:43 (hh:mm) (official time) which is slower than I was hoping, though having gone through the course I know how this happened.

I also tracked everything on the iPhone - my parents were able to watch my progress live in Boston on the web!

The Race
I have to say I found the triathlon humbling, which is intimidating and exciting as I do like a challenge, and this is quite a challenge. There were specifically 2 instances where I just felt like I had nothing else to give - but I'll elaborate on those later. I think mostly what I will take away from the triathlon is that training to run 5.5 miles or bike 18 mi just isn't strenuous enough to mimic the triathlon, and I need to push my training much harder to really be able to enjoy the triathlon. Also the machines you compete against are from another planet - the planet endurance or something.

Canoeing 6 mi [~64 mins]

The canoeing turned out to take longer than I anticipated and it was much harder than I anticipated. I think Molly and I were pretty competitive with our time, not too many people passed us and we passed our fair share so while it was hard, I think our time was OK in this event. It was much harder than I thought because 2 miles in my arms were getting tired. I didn't do anything to train for this event and I feel like I did a good job of sticking it out and only resting for a few strokes here and there towards the end - I was most surprised by how tired I was afterward. I wasn't really too tired but since I was using a Hear Rate Monitor I couldn't do much running at all in the beginning without going over my HR limit. (I spent most of my time training in South Carolina by running 5.5 miles every day and experimentally determining what max heart rate I can maintain and still feel good enough to bike 18 miles afterward and it turned out to be 175 bpm).

1st Transition [~3-4 mins]
I took a little more time than anticipated by changing from canoe shoes to my running shoes. This is in case the canoe dumps you don't have to run in went shoes, though next year to save some time we may try the technique we saw below:

But we also saw a good number of teams dump their canoes in the freezing cold water! People were talking about the "carnage" on the river and I couldn't believe how many people went swimming! So it's not a bad idea to have the back up pair of shoes.

I also took a little bit of time at this transition removing the iPhone from my waterproof holder to my arm band:

Running 5.5mi [64 mins to killer hill]
In hindsight - the running section was probably the one I was most prepared for and went as planned - minus a bio break half way through. I'm not a great distance runner - and this is the event where I was getting concerned as people passed me fairly readily. I passed some of them on my bike later but in general running is an area I need to improve. As I get in better shape I hope to be able to run this faster while still feeling good afterward.

Killer Hill [4-5 mins]
I arrived at killer hill just under the time I practiced the course the week before - and I was feeling very good. So I decided to attacked killer hill.

I'm not sure what got into me, my mind is foggy with memories of people walking the trail moving over for me saying "we have a runner" and visions of me grabbing the railings of the flights of stairs and running up 2 stairs at a time. That was for approximately 1/3 of the hill. I then walked the next part of the hill while my heart rate monitor distinctly read 196 bpm at one point. I had clearly over done it, and on the hill there is no where to take it easy - it's hard just to walk. The final portion of the hill I remember leaning against a tree for 30 seconds as I was trying to catch my breath. A spectator walking down the hill said "you're almost there - keep going!" to which I replied, "this hill's a killer." She didn't seem to recognize my humor and said "I think they call it killer hill!" and I was so tired I only mustered an "I know" in reply. When I reached the top of the hill I lost a lot of time walking over to the bike transition area as I just felt terrible. This would be the 1st of the two instances where I felt like I could just give up on the triathlon and not even care. All of my conservative running to be fresh for biking was just lost in 5 mins or so!

Note to myself: walk killer hill next time!!

2nd Transition [3-4 mins]

I spent a few minutes getting water. One rookie mistake was not taking a bio brake before getting on the bike - but more on that later. I tried not to show Meghan and her family who came how terrible I felt. After biking conservatively for a bit I did start to feel much better - I also drank a lot more water from my water bottle than I thought I would.

Biking [~90 mins]

I conservatively biked out of the park and after a few miles I began to feel a little better. I even began passing people quite regularly, in fact I was passing a lot of people. Only a very few people passed me initially. Every now and then someone who look like a blurry Lance Armstong would wizz past me. Sometimes I was going almost 20 mph and they were probably close to 30 mph. In hindsight I think I biked a bit too hard in the beginning once I began to feel better from the hill.

After about the 6 mi mark I'm feeling pretty good biking, thinking I have a shot at making it under the 3:30 mark I was shooting for. Then I was shifting and my chain came off! I lost maybe 5 mins stopping on the side of the road, trying to get it to catch, and then getting back up to speed from a stop. After this though I was biking at a pretty good speed. The occasional hill would come up and I usually could stay above 10 mph - I sometimes even passed people on hills while the Lance Armstrongs passed me even faster on the hills.

Somewhere after 12 miles I hit another wall. I don't know why - maybe it was the sudden stretch of hills or long slow climbs, or maybe it was the fact that every long straightaway seemed to be upwind. It was pretty windy. I think that was a legit factor that day as you felt like you could almost be pushed backwards if you didn't keep peddling. But (and I'm being serious) it seemed like I'd bike upwind, turn right and then bike upwind again. I an not very good with directions and tend to just bike with my head down - but the number of stretches upwind seemed ridiculous.

I wasn't feeling well, I remember a slow hill where I was going 8 mph (and most people were) and just feeling terrible. This is the second time I thought about just stopping the whole thing - but on a bike you can't (more on that later). I passed a woman who was puking on the side of the road as a chase car was coming to pick her up.

For most of the biking I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I was drinking a lot of water all day and I remember I should have done it before you egt on a bike. But I refused to stop because it wastes SO MUCH time when biking, you have to stop, get off, then start from scratch again to get your momentum. So anyways I ignored it - in hind sight I could have made it to the finish without stopping. But somewhere between feeling terrible biking and the stupid plastic racing seat that was raised a bit too high by the bike shop than where I had it - I just decided I was going to take a bio break and worst case I'd feel a little more rested when I was done. Well it's hard to estimate the damage to your time when you stop biking. I remember seeing people zoom by me and thinking of all the people I had spent so much energy passing earlier who are probably going by me right now.

Note to myself: No stopping while biking! I really look back at this as a moment of weakness because I probably could have made it - I combined my exhaustion and desire to take a bio brake into one really bad idea for a triathlon.

Biking vs Marathon
This bring me to a brief tangent as I was discussing my triathlon at work. Someone asked me if I would run a marathon next thinking it would be a tougher challenge, and while I am sure it is in a sense - the reality is once you are on a bike you are stuck.

In a marathon if you get tired - you walk. And you can reach the finish line eventually, maybe giving up 6-7 mph running for 3 mph walking (I walk at 3.3 ish).

When biking - the distances are multiples of running. And walking your bike is just not a practical alternative. You'll never finish. So I remember my second moment of weakness in the triathlon (the one on the bike) as one of my worst. Im not sure you can have as lonely a feeling in a marathon as struggling up a hill on a bike, peddle after peddle thinking you just cant go any further.

The Big Finish
Well like Dave - I don't remember much after mile 14 of the bike, but I remember rallying and keeping my head down and peddling - mostly in the pack this time. The last mile or so was easy so I cruised into the finish line at 3:43.

If you asked me during the triathlon if I would want to compete in one again I'd probably have said no. If you asked me after I crossed the finish line Id say that I would like to race in the one in June after more training. If you ask me today - I wish the triathlon were next weekend because I learned a lot about strategy and think I could run a better race after having run my 1st triathlon.

The Results
So that's how I was 13 minutes slower than my goal of 3:30. Molly kicked butt and finished in great time. Dave did an awesome job considering he just decided to enter the week of and hadn't trained (that we know of). I hope we all do it again in June. In the meantime it will be fun to keep training (I hope!)

Extra Pics:

Me and a celebratory coke!


Molly (she doesn't even look tired!)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Triathlon Tomorrow!!

Meghan's sister Molly and I are a team for the Little Miami Triathlon tomorrow (Team Name: HOT TOMOLLYS). The even better news is that my brother Dave is now participating in the singles division (Kayak division).

Because the iPhone is so amazing my parents will be following my progress live over the internet (remember my cool iPhone App!).

Using the iPhone app has been awesome because I have been able to measure my progress from when running a few miles seem a little longer than I thought it should be to where cranking out 5.5 mile trips is like nothing.

Even better than running - my Polar Heart Rate monitor is awesome because I have experimentally determined the range where I can keep my heart beat and still feel good after the running! My watch beeps at me when my heart rate get's too high and I can slow down (especially handy for those long hills). So in theory I will still have some gas left for the bike ride tomorrow as I plan to wear my polar watch and measure my heart rate over the course of the triathlon.

So I go back and forth with my goals. Sometimes I think I should be able to do the whole thing in 3 hours, and other times I realize how hard 3:30 (hh:mm) will be. And I haven't done any training by running or biking together and obviously haven't canoed before any running or biking so it will be interesting. So like any good engineer I ran some numbers:

Based on the times of the previous triathlon here are my goals. I'm publishing these as motivation for myself as people say one of the ways to make sure you do something is to start telling everyone you are going to do it.

1) Finish the darn thing!
2) Finish in under 3:30 (which I hope to do)
3) Stretch goal: Finish under 3:17 which was the median time last time

The stretch goal seems out of whack since I haven't even run distances or biked competitively yet, and as of June I hadn't trained to do either at all! I also know I run much slower than many distance runners I talk to - I'm just not a distance runner yet but hopefully I'll continue to improve in that area.

I have also used my training and some previous participants canoeing times to estimate my finish time tomorrow. On the high side of each individual event I'd come in at 3:25 and on the low side 3:05 but that is running the events individually, I figure running all 3 in a row has to add some time, so do the transitions which includes one shoe change (canoe to biking).

Here's the course Map:

Also because people think I'm crazy for tracking the whole thing on my iPhone - I thought I'd share with you all the equipment I'll be carrying with me tomorrow :)

Polar Heart Rate Monitor Watch + Chest Strap - Measures my heart rate

iPhone with GPS - Runs my RunKeeper App with GPS

iPhone Arm Band - to wear while running and biking

Dry Pak iPhone holder - To wear while canoeing incase we dump!

Kensington iPhone Power Pack - the GPS running constantly drains a lot of power - this will guarantee I finish before the battery dies!

Miscellaneous Items:
- Change of shoes in a waterproof bag (incase the canoe dumps)
- Sunglasses (of course)
- Under Armor type T-shirt to keep sweat away
- "Chub Rub" like product to prevent chaffing (once it happens while biking distances you'll understand)

During the triathlon - I'll basically look like this guys

I think that's it. Time for Bed because Dave starts even earlier than us and we are going to head over together.

I have to say that having a triathlon on the calendar for these months has really made training enjoyable. I hope I finish and enjoy the triathlon and plan to improve my time next year too as I will have more time to train!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ross Park Champions

This blog has been a long time coming - there was some softball politics as we came back from 9 runs down in our last at bat to score 10 runs and walk-off eliminating GO.

Here's our team: F&HC

Here's the write up from the league (we are F&HC):
The final day of the post-season tournament saw three teams vying for the coveted tournament crown. Even before the games started, it was already clear that for the first time in a decade a team other than G.O. or GPDF would win it all.

The first game saw F&HC and HCRC hook up for the second time in the tournament. In their first matchup, HCRC dominated and dispatched F&HC by the ten-run rule. This game could not have been more different. F&HC raced to a 7-0 lead, and throttled the regular season runner-up by a final score of 9-1.

So the championship game was set. ESIDE, winner of the winner's bracket, and F&HC, winner of the loser's bracket, met for the first time in the tourney, and third time this year. F&HC won both regular season meetings, including once by the ten-run rule. This game was no different. F&HC jumped to an 8-0 lead, and lead 10-2 going into the top of the seventh inning. ESIDE finally found some offense, but it was too little, too late, as they scored three runs to make the final 10-5 score look closer than the game actually was. The F&HC win forced one more game for all the marbles.

So F&HC entered the final game riding high, having won two very easy games already, and now owning a 3-0 record against ESIDE this year. ESIDE, on the other hand, forced to play with a lot of subs because their regulars were back in school, and facing an opponent they had yet to beat this year, couldn't be much lower, right? Well, they got even lower when ESIDE lost the coin toss and found themselves the visiting team yet again. Even when ESIDE scored three runs in the top of the first inning to mark the very first time all day that F&HC found themselves actually trailing in a game, things still managed to get lower for ESIDE as their third baseman pulled up lame running to first base.

F&HC responded by scoring three runs in the bottom of the second to knot things up 3-3. ESIDE kept the pressure on by scoring two runs in both the third and fifth innings to jump to a 7-3 lead. F&HC fought back in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull within one at 7-6. From there the ESIDE offense went on vacation as they scored just one more run in the final two innings? Would it be enough? Could the ragtag ESIDE defense hold F&HC to only one run over the final two innings? Through five innings they had hung a goose egg on F&HC three times, while giving up three runs in each of the other two innings. The answer came quickly as F&HC put together their best single inning output of the night, scoring six runs in the sixth inning of what was to become their sixth win of the tournament. I'm not one to start conspiracy theories, but all those sixes... hmmm. So F&HC completed the three game sweep beating ESIDE 12-8.

Epic Softball Game

In a competitive softball league at Kolping we played at team that we went ahead early 11-2 only to give up 8 runs in an inning. We answered with 17 in the bottom half of the inning on our way to a 4 inning run rule! It's been a long time since I've seen 21 hit in an inning and the 1st 13 score. Especially in a pretty good league. It was nice because their pitcher was being a tool with his trick pitches.

After winning our P&G league - it's nice to be on another good team with a great group of guys who just play hard.

Fair and Balanced

It's funny how no one wants to comment on these posts, but anyway here's a great clip from Fox News because it covers how I feel about Fox News being Fair and Balanced.