Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Top Ten Observations from My Honeymoon

Ok, as both of my readers know, I just got married and went on a honeymoon. We spent four days in Paris and then ten days in Spain. Here's what I observed, learned and/or did on the trip with my new wife.

1. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE seemed to know that I was American. Sometimes, folks knew before I opened my mouth. At first I thought it was because I was carrying a camera bag. But tons of people carry camera bags there, so I think that I must have a weird sort of aura that lights up like Vegas. Or maybe I smell like apple pie. All I know is that even the Asian tourists in Paris had me pegged. So much for trying to fit in. I bought a scarf in Paris to try to remedy the situation. It did not work.

2. Katie has a gift for languages. Or something.

3. I did not find the French rude or impolite in the least--quite the contrary. The people were friendly and funny. The Spaniards are a bit more reserved at first. Once I managed to break the ice, they were wonderful. I felt like most of the folks we interacted with in Spain would bend over backwards for us once we established a little bit of rapport.

4. I experienced my first little taste of married life reality in Barcelona. Katie would not let me spend 130 Euros on a pair of blue suede shoes. I guess I knew this sort of stuff would happen eventually. What a bunch of b.s.

5. We did tours in every city we stayed in. Three of them were bike tours. I cannot recommend them enough. It really helped us get our bearings and nail down the things we wanted to do in the cities. The guides always had interesting little pearls of wisdom. See No. 6, to learn some more.

6. In Barcelona, it is legal to walk around completely nude. However, you will get arrested if you put on a shirt. Pants and no shirt = ok. No shirt and no pants = ok. Shirt and no pants = not ok.

7. In Paris, we did a night bike tour on Halloween. Riding bikes in a group of 20 at night on the streets of Paris while being led by a complete lunatic was insane. The photo above is our guide for the evening. Yes, that is a plastic bag on his head. The tour lasted four hours and we never saw his actual face. He spent the night running red lights, leading us down bus only lanes and scaring pedestrians. I highly recommend Fat Tire Bike Tours. They do tours in Paris, London, Barcelona and Berlin. We hooked up with them in Barcelona too. It was just as good.

8. Katie and I drank 127 gallons of Sangria and ate at least 50 pounds of calamari. I didn't realize it at the time, but the wife managed to work some calamari into the menu for each day in Spain. Don't order a margarita in Spain. Ever.

9. I would move to Spain. We spent time in three very different cities there and a full afternoon in a fourth. Barcelona is the big city on the Med. Granada is about a quarter of the size, has a huge Moorish history and is in the mountains. Malaga is a 3000 year old city founded by the Phonecians and they can't till their gardens there without ending up with a huge archaelogical dig in their yards. Ronda is a tiny picturesque city perched on top of a gorge in Spanish olive country. I loved all of them. Barcelona is one of my top three favorite cities for sure. It tops Katie's list. All of the Americans and Canadians we met there seemed similarly enamored.

10. When people ask about our trip, they all want to know how the food was. Paris and Spain both have great reputations for their food. The food was terrific, there's no doubt about that. But you know what? I kept thinking about how lucky we are here in Cleveland. The restaurants here are great, too. If you are in or around Cleveland and don't make an effort to enjoy them, you are really missing out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 Race Results

I'll hopefully come back to fill in the details this weekend, but here is what I did this year as far as the racing went. My training early in the year went pretty well. I ran a bit more than I am used to in the winter months and I spent a ton of time on the trainer with the rockin' bike that Katie got me for Christmas. Around the time of the first race, I noticed something was wrong. I ran the American Odyssey relay knowing that I was hurt, but I just didn't want to admit it to myself. It was a stress fracture in my shin. I don't ever want that shit again. I didn't run from the end of April until the second week of June. And when I finally started back up, the small amounts of time I could run were absolutely maddening. All in all I can't complain too much. I had some decent races towards the end of the summer and I still had fun doing it.

St. Malachi Run--5mi 37:17

American Odyssey Relay--202 miles with 11 other people. Total time--30:08:00

NEO Kickoff Sprint Tri--I can't remember the time but it was bad.

Milton Man Sprint Tri--2nd in my age group and 11th overall

Cleveland Sprint Tri--3rd in my age group and 25th overall

Fairport Harbor Tri--3rd in my age group and 18th overall (I think)

Greater Cleveland Sprint Tri--2nd in my age group and 10th overall

Bellefaire Biathlon--1st in my age group and 4th overall

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two Weddings Down, One More To Go

I feel like I have been out of town more than I have been home lately. I just got back from my third trip to California over the past few months. Two of those trips came in the last month. This time was for my buddy's wedding. He and I have known each other since we were 12 and there isn't anyone on the planet that I have gotten into more trouble with. It spans multiple continents. He got married in Santa Barbara and we rode tandem bikes into the ceremony. It sounds idiotic, but it worked out pretty awesome.

The photo above is a winery in the Santa Ynez Valley--of Sideways fame. A huge group of us nabbed a limo and took a bit of a tour. The mountains were really rugged, but beautiful. Every time I go to California, I am always surprised at how brown it is.

I suppose this is a triathlon training blog, so I'll mention that stuff. To be honest though, the training has been suffering as of late. It won't get better anytime soon either. The wedding is in ten days. After that, a couple weeks in Paris and then Spain. I have been managing to get some decent runs in though--at least 20 miles a week. Not great, but considering the jet lag, wedding planning, travel, and the seemingly endless bender, it isn't too bad. I got some open water swimming in too. That is, of course, if you count sprinting into the Pacific with minimal clothing, realizing how damn cold it was and then sprinting right back out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Running with Rodin

My first run in about a week was a good one. Katie and I were just in San Francisco and Palo Alto. At around 8am on Saturday, Katie got up and went for a swim in the hotel pool. It sucks trying to swim laps in a hotel pool, but it's better than nothing. It was probably only 12m long and with the two of us in there slapping about, it got to be like a bathtub. It might as well have been open water. There were no lines on the wall, so you never knew when you were going to slam into it. The waves were coming from every direction, so I was drinking water just like when I swim in Lake Erie.

After the swim, we changed clothes and hopped in the car to head over to the Stanford campus. We rain for about 45 minutes all over. We stopped our watches a couple times to check some stuff out near the university chapel and again in the Rodin garden. Absolutely awesome. If you haven't seen it, the Gates of Hell sculpture is one of those things that will stick in your mind for a long time. It is a huge bronze set of doors with all sorts of 3D human figures getting sucked into what looks like a vertical lake of boiling oil on the gates. Every time I see it, I notice new stuff in it. The Gates, which are based on Dante's Inferno were commissioned for a French art museum that was never built.

Life is F-ing with My Fitness

On October 24th, I am finally going to make Katie an honest woman. In the month and a half before our wedding, we will have been out to California for a couple of other weddings. Needless to say, it is going to be a busy fall. Sprinkle in some out of town guests here and there, a weekend of rafting in WV and a decent schedule of biking and running and there is pretty much no room for any curve balls.

I should have knocked on wood. My dog has been having some issues for the past several months. Up until recently, antibiotics have been taking care of the problem. Or so we thought. After the last flare up, our vet gave us a referral to go get some further testing done. The new vet was not able to complete the tests because she thought she found a tumor on the dog's bladder and recommended that I get her to an oncologist ASAP. Holy shit. Bladder cancer in dogs is nasty. It is just a terrible, humiliating way for a dog to go. And it takes them quickly. Flannery is about six, lazy as hell, but she looks really young for a six year old dog.

Basically, I lost my mind through the entire holiday weekend. How in the world would I be able to spend as much time with the dog and make her comfortable while we are going to be out of town so much in the next two months or so? I was panicked.

Last Wednesday, we met with the oncologist. He gave the dog a nice brazilian wax (almost her entire underside is shaved) and then ran a bunch of tests. The poor dog had all sorts of stuff up her ass. No Cancer!!! Thank God. I was a freaking mess worrying about that dog. I'll worry about how much the past week cost later on, I guess.

That's a really long way to say, that I didn't do a damn thing over the last week.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fall in Cleveland

Fall in Cleveland can make you forget about how just how awful the winters here can be. This morning was just about perfect. And I needed it. Yesterday got pear-shaped right out of the gate and I wasn't able to get a ride in like I had hoped. Sometimes life just piles up a great big shit sandwich for those you care about. I figured a nice long run this morning would help beat things back a bit and get me a little bit of perspective. I am not so sure it did that, but I do feel better.

Katie and I got up fairly early, shook out the cobwebs and went for a pretty good run down to the lake and back. It was about 65 degrees, sunny and calm. Perfect. The airshow is down on the lakefront this weekend, so downtown was a little busier than normal. People were heading down to Burke Lakefront before 9am. We saw a couple pilots grabbing their morning coffee and the usual crowd of folks shuffling off to church.

When we left the house, we ran along the perimeter of Tremont, out to Lorain Ave and then over the bridge to downtown. We run up 9th past the Rock Hall and then down through the warehouse district to the Detroit Superior bridge. On W. 25th, I think Katie was trying to blow me up. That kind of crap just makes the title of the blog that much more apropos. About a mile and a half from home we were inches away from getting hit by a cab. I guess a left hand turn had the rightaway to people running in the crosswalk this morning. I slapped her back window pretty hard as she buzzed us and then gave her a piece of my mind when we caught her at a stoplight. Katie was a little less polite.

All told, we ran 8.9 miles in 1:07 (7:35/mi). I'll take it. 1200 calories in the hole before breakfast=a bunch of beer this afternoon. This afternoon we'll watch the Thunderbirds from a rooftop party downtown. Cleveland can be a pretty cool place.

Heres the run from this morning:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I know a bunch of folks who just finished their first Ironman. That got me thinking that maybe I should do one too. My fiancee must have been thinking the same thing because we both signed up for the Rev3 140.6 at Cedar Point on September 12, 2010. I don't get accused of being smart all that often, which probably explains a lot for me. As for Katie, I have no idea what her excuse might be. Our buddy Greg went ahead and signed up too. I suppose stupidity is contagious and we all caught it.

So, I guess this blog is going to help me chronicle how I go about ruining the next year or so of my life getting ready for this race. I might throw some other random crap up here too. With any luck, some of this might be entertaining for a person or two besides myself. There are several local and national athletes who blog pretty regularly. I'll no doubt copy off of them quite a bit.