Saturday, January 24, 2009

There is a Skip in the Step!

I'm in one of the most conservative areas of the country, Salt Lake City. The people of Salt Lake and the State of Utah in general lean to the right in the political views. There's no secret in that fact. So as I was on my way to this beautiful state, I was curious to see and listen to the people. What did they think of this historic week that was not really part of their original plan?
Well, there is a skip in their step. There is hope in their eyes. There is joy in their voice. I was talking to the girl at the register in Barnes and Noble. She was said "Doesn't it feel good to be an Amercian this week?" I couldn't have said it better myself.
It's a good life...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wake Up!


I’m not sure what the deal is. Recently, no matter where I am in the world, on vacation or working, I wake up and see the 04:18 on the clock. On vacation I would roll over and then sleep until 8:00am. Now, I just get up. I looked on to see if there was anything special about the number. Wikipedia only reports the fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe in the 5th century. Obviously that was a big event in the area where I live but I don’t think it’s related to my wake up time. I just take as this, I’ve got things to do and let’s go get them done. I’ll keep going but here’s to 4:20 tomorrow maybe!

It's a good life.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009



Maybe I’m slow or maybe I’m just looking at it differently. It hit me on the plane ride to Paris. Yes, the US took an historical step by electing an African American to the highest office in the world. Hopefully this breaks the barriers set before people who aren’t white males. I say that because hopefully the company I work for will now put women in a higher position. It’s crazy for me to think that an international company who reveres women in athletics can’t promote women in management. But I digress. What hit me was the inauguration itself. You have to go back 16 years to a party like that. When Bill Clinton first took office it was a party. People were excited for his youth, fresh ideas and swagger. 4 years later he took the oath under a cloud of scrutiny. 4 years after that the election of George Bush was controversial. It’s not his fault but he lost the popular vote and essentially won in the courts. It was not a happy time for the country. 4 years after that what choice did the country have. It would have been a disaster to switch presidents then (It was a disaster anyway!). So yesterday was a party. A party for youth, a party for fresh ideas, a party for swagger and a party for the humble. That’s why more than 2 million people showed up on the Mall. That’s why Mary threw an inauguration party last night. That’s why 5 fifth and sixth grade boys sat captivated in front of the TV watching the party. What a great day for Americans.

The Inauguration Party
When Mary sets her mind to something it always comes out great. Last night she hosted an inauguration party. In attendance were our close American friends here in Germany. Also in attendance were our close German friends and our German neighbors. Mary served Chili, Coke, Bud and Mac and Cheese. She hung the flag, she was buzzing around the house. What we witnessed was something amazing. I already mentioned the 5 boys. But our German friends were witnessing something for the first time. Probably because they didn’t really care about the most recent inaugurations but more because an American, Mary invited them to watch. Clearly, they walked out of the house amazed at the spectacle and the celebration of the transfer of power.

My Training
Living in California all those years I clearly took the great weather and year round comfort for granted. I used to look forward to rainy days in January or February because it meant I couldn’t go out and destroy myself on the bike. Today I find myself searching for a training camp to go to. There are camps coming up in San Diego, Tucson, the Canary Islands, Israel and Greece that I know about. I welcome the idea of actually going out on my bike without ice on the ground or without spending almost as much time dressing as I do running. I know that this will end but I’m still looking at roughly 6 weeks of questionable weather for riding a bike. Of course as winter changes to spring, the mud will be back in force. I know I won’t go to a training camp but I also know that if I ever get the opportunity to live in a place like San Diego (If there is any place like it) I will not forget these days.
One funny note. I’ve been doing quite a bit of swimming recently (warm training without a shirt). I ventured out to the big pool (50 meters) and am enjoying it. Last week I had a workout that called for 16 50’s of warm up and then the main set. So I’m in the pool doing my 50’s and I’m dragging. They seem to be taking forever. I’m on #11 thinking hard about just bagging the swim because it’s dragging on. Then it hits me, “I’m in a 50 meter pool”. You see, my head can still go on auto pilot. Most pools in the world are 25 meters or yards. So a 50 is down and back. So I’m on #11 of 50’s down and back when it hits me. 50 meters is down. So in actuality I was on #11 of 16 100’s. I stopped after #11, rested for a tad and then rolled into the main set feeling a bit stupid but very relieved that it wasn’t really me dragging after all.

It’s a good life….

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Old Man Winter

The coldest week in 100 years or so they say. Now I know this is not Illinois cold where I grew up but when it get's this cold another 5,10 or 20 degrees doesn't seem to make a difference. So how cold was it this week? Wake-up temperatures seemed to be stuck on -17 C which is 1 F. Daytime temperatures generally got up to -10 C but not much warmer. So with this cold weather I have some things I observed.

Too Many Canadian Friends

Somehow through my life I have established too many Canadian friends. Mostly through the sport of triathlon and guess where they live, San Diego. But there are still some who live in Canada. On Thursday I sat at my computer early in the morning with -17 C on the screen debating my bike commute. Mary had already said "I can take you." The thought came to my mind "what would the Canadians do?" Done deal, the Canadians would laugh at -17C and call it a warm day. So I road and froze my toes. One note, air vents is cycling shoes are good on hot days only.

Druel Freezes

Poor little Scoutie, the dog. She hesitates to go outside right now. We took her sledding one day (no, she can't sled). We were there for just over and hour and she was really cold. So cold in fact, she slept the rest of the day to recover. All dogs do that but this time it was in the same place, same position. She would look up every so often but then go right back down. One morning I put her out to eat. She was out in the yard looking at something through the fence when I opened the door to let her in. She came too the door like a 95 year old women, slow and unsteady. But there are times she really likes to go out and that is to run. As long as she is moving fast she is warm. So this week we have kept up with our 30 minute runs. By the end of each run, Scout has these really long strands of Ice hanging off her chin and whiskers. Who knew, Drool Freezes. She looks like old man winter in the picture above.

Mary the Trooper

Ok, so we all know that Mary prefers warm to cold. Given the option of the Beach or the Snow she will always take the Beach. Mary would get cold in San Diego! First let's go back to the trip to Slovenia. The Beach was an option but quite a bit more expensive. Mary thought of Marco and I and chose the snow. She knows how much Marco loves the snow and I love the Mountains. Now fast forward to this week. Mary is on a running plan that we set up. Her goal is a 1/2 marathon in March or April. She followed the plan all week and there was not a treadmill run involved. She dressed up each day and braved the cold. Heck, even on her running day off, she dressed up and went nordic walking with a neighbor. Maybe she's begining to like that cold feeling on her face?


Earlier in the week I signed up with a new coach. I needed a kick in the rear end and also I just needed to get organized. I can always do the work but when the plan is coming from someone else there is a sense of duty and I don't have to make it up. So I have been searching all winter for the coaching that would work for me and I found it at with one of my favorite bloggers, Gordo Byrn. For the next 12 - 15 weeks we'll be working on base building. His moto is just do the workouts. I'm good about that and if the goal is just finish them, that's when I'm at my best. So this week had a swim focus. 4 days of swimming this week. I haven't swum 4 days in a week in two years. So I knew I would have to do something new to be able to execute this. The best thing all week is I braved a different pool. I went in with the expectation that I'd find fat guys in G - Strings hogging the lanes. What I found was swimmers and almost exclusively swimmers. I found lanes blocked off and lots of them. Finally I found 50 meters. That's right, squint to see the other end of the pool 50 meters. I found swimming nirvana! Yesterday as I was rolling through my swim set I took a glance outside. It was -17C and there is lots of snow. The pool walls are essentailly all glass giving you the feeling you are outside. I had this strange sence that as I sit at the wall I should be cold but I wasn't, I was hot. One final note on Swimming I learned that I rarely completely dry myself. Usually my head is still dripping 10 minutes after I get in the car. Not a good thing, when it's bitterly cold and I have a 5 minute walk to the car. I now dry myself off extra good. I even use a hair dryer.

It may be cold but it's still a good life.....


Saturday, January 3, 2009


"No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich" - Chinese Proverb

I read another great book recently (Thanks Dad for telling me about it) called Outliers. It's written by Malcom Gladwell, the same guy who wrote Blink and the Tipping Point. To say the least, this guy is a great writer. Tipping Point is used in business everyday around the world.

Outliers is a book about where success comes from. In a recent Blog by Malcom he talked about success being nature or nurtur. The commom belief being that successful people are naturally successful. What his book tells us is for the most part that is not true at all. It has more to do with who you are, where you come from, when you arrived and the opportunities given you. Read it, you'll be blown away by the success stories.

A short story that I learned from the book:

At work we have a few Scottish footwear developers. In his book, Malcom tells a story of the rival clans in Kentucky. Essentially each clan (decendents of Scottish farmers) was a family and their bloody rivalries were centered around old world honor. So a few months ago, I (the American we can do anything) proposed a problem to the Scottish Developers. We had a shoe that needed some work, in the 11th hour. I came in with the problem knowing that these guys were the best in the business and could solve it. I said, here's the problem, and here's who surfaced the problem. I know you guys can fix this problem and I'm going to meet the person who surfaced it in 3 weeks. Can you just tell me how you'll fix it so I can tell him. The developers jumped all over me. You're bleeping crazy. That shoe is finished we're in production we can't fix this. Besides, it's a racing flat that is not a problem worth fixing. Does the bleeping runner really care about that minor problem. The two went on and on, and teamed up on the upbeat let's go fix it guys American. After reading Outliers it hit me. I was in a way blasting their honor. Me not knowing it and they probably didn't consciously know it either but their reaction was the same. If it was Kentucky in 1820 they would have pulled a gun on me and shot me. So I know now that when I want to present a problem like I did, I have to do it differently. I have to make it my problem and try to keep their honor intact. Either that or I need to go to the Chinese developer because they will work all night to fix it. Just kidding guys if you are reading this.

Read the book.....

It's a good life.....