Monday, June 29, 2015

A Busy Weekend: Hikes, Brewfest and man vs car race; Oh and Amber finishes 4th at IM CDA!

This weekend was busy! I took Friday off to do some lab work and a dental exam for the Peace Corps. After that Kendra and I drove up north to go for a hike. We opted to do Cannon but didn't just want an out and back so decided to park the car at the base of the mountain, run the Franconia bike path to the far side and then hike up that and then down by the tram. If you've never been up Cannon it is definitely worth it for the views alone.

We met up with my Uncle Billy that night for a cookout which is always good-especially when someone else is doing the cooking:)

The next morning Kendra and I met up with my cousin Joey and his wife and my sis Marilyn and her husband and a few friends and hiked the Georgian and Harvard Falls. I'm not sure if any of you remember but a couple years ago I tried doing all of the 48 4,000 footers in NH in the winter. I think I finally quit because of driving in the snowstorms but also the idiocy of hiking mountains just because of their height. This hike we did was a great example. Nowhere near 4,000 feet, it was nonetheless a great hike with good varied terrain. Plus we finished with plenty of time to jump off the Lost River cliff(at least Matt and I did) and have lunch at the Woodstock Inn before heading over to Brewfest at Loon. Couldn't have done all that with a longer hike. Oh! And we had time to stop at Chutters for a fill up on all of our candy needs

So off to Brewfest we go. 30+ breweries most of them local. A great time and looks it will become a yearly tradition.

Traveler(one of the few non-local companies) were giving out free mustaches.

Sunday morning we drove a bit of the Kanc and I decided that I want to try to race Kendra in the car to Waterville. She dropped me off at the Greeley Ponds trail head and drove from Lincoln to Waterville while I ran it. Again, another awesome hike that I would never have done if I was just looking for height as accolades. But this was great easy hike running along two ponds. Or it was easy until the river crossings. It had been raining all night and morning and the rivers were flooded over. Made for an interesting and wet second half of the run.

One of the easier river crossings
I finished up in around 53 minutes and arrived to an empty parking lot. Did I win? Well.... Kendra supposedly had made it to Waterville about 10 minutes earlier but couldn't find the trail head. Let's call it a draw.

So wow. A busy weekend. Two hikes, brewfest and a trail run vs car challenge. And yet if you add up all the time of me being active this weekend: Cannon(2:40), the Falls(1:30), Brewfest(4:00), Trail Run(:53) and even tack on my dental exam(1:00) it was less total time(9:53) than Amber's fourth place finish at Ironman Couer d'Alene(9:58). Yes, that's right, she did a sub-10 hour Ironman in 108 degree temperatures! Congrats to Amber!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Meaning of Life According to Hunter S Thompson; or Off to Guyana


Below is a letter Hunter S. Thompson wrote to a friend looking for advice. It's pretty good advice, I'd say, and I was just exposed to it and thought I'd share it with you all.  I've bolded a few lines but the ALL CAPS are his:

Dear Hume,
You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.
I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)
And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.
But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?
The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.
So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?
The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.
I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.
But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.
As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).
In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.
Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.
Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.
So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”
And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.
If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.
If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.
And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,
your friend,
Pretty great advice. Although I wonder if his friend had watched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas he may have thought twice about who was giving it.
It is so easy to get fixated on a goal and work and work and work just to find out that the goal is no longer meaningful to you. I'm not sure who said it but there are two sure-fire ways to suffering: 1) Not getting what you want, and 2) Getting what you want. Trying to conform ourselves around a goal that no longer works for us to get what we once wanted, is likely going to lead to the suffering. Wouldn't it be better to live our lives in an open receptive way that allows for plethora of opportunities and experiences? Why not, as Hunter suggests, find a way that we want to live and then do what it takes to live that way?

That is why Amber's continued pursuit and apparent joy with Ironman is so amazing. In addition to facing personal and financial strains she has had to deal sexist, unfair qualifying standards. These standards not only make competing at the world's largest stage more difficult, they also decrease female exposure in the sport which then making sponsorship opportunities more difficult to come by. Yet despite this, she has stayed on her path which, to me, means that she's living the way she wants to live and has found a manner in which to do it. I bet she wouldn't complain if she could get a company to pay her to compete though. Just saying.

Anyway enough about Amber. The real reason for writing this blog was to inform all of you trusty readers that, come September, you won't be seeing me around for a while. I have decided that I have floated long enough and have signed on with the Peace Corps to work at a hospital in Guyana. I have been a tourist long enough and now feel that I need to give back to society.  I have always wanted to get involved with the Peace Corps but have always come up with excuses. While I still have some excuses and things that make leaving scary, what is even scarier is living with regret.

I plan, assuming I have Internet, to keep on blogging. And for any of the more adventurous out there, there will be an inaugural trail marathon held in Guyana in November which I may try to race.

 Okay back to Amber. She returns to Ironman racing this Sunday at IM Couer d'Alene so make sure to tune in to to track her progress and send her your good vibes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Amber Heads to Idaho!

Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.

After a great 6th place finish at the Mt. Washington Road Race, Amber now has her sights set on her second Ironman of the season out in Idaho with Ironman Coeur d'Alene. From what I've heard, the course is beautiful and has some pretty steep climbs on the bike course. Apart from the stiff competition, the biggest factor for this Sunday will be the heat. With predicted temperatures climbing into the 100's, this is not weather conducive for racing well.

In fact, it is so hot that there has been talk about canceling the race. Which would stink for Amber. This will be her first race back and she's already shelled out money for the flight, rental car etc and not to race would be a great disappointment. Oh yeah and disappointment for me and all of her fans, because I think she has the potential to win it if it does go on.

So all you people with an in with the weather gods, touch base with them and request temps that don't result in a cancellation and then send all your good vibes her way!

Good luck Amber!!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 Ironman Couer d'Alene Pro Start List

After Ironman South Africa didn't go as planned due to a respiratory infection, Amber changed up her season's schedule-foregoing the US Championships in Texas; opting instead for the extra 6 weeks of training to prepare for Ironman Couer d'Alene which is coming up next week on June 28th. Granted this also afforded her the ability to race Pineland Farms 25k which she won and allows her to race the Mount Washington Road Race this weekend(see the preview of the race here). Having ridden with her on a few occasions this year, I can say that she's probably in the best bike form that she's ever been. As I've avoided the pool, like the plague, I cannot attest to her swim abilities but I suspect they have also improved. Point is: I expect good things from her on June 28th. It won't be because of lack of competition though. Below is female pro start list and as you will see there will be several Ironman Champions on the start line. My money is on Amber though.
  1. Amanda Stevens
  2. Dede Griesbauer
  3. Heather Jackson 
  4. Amber Ferreira
  5. Alyssa Godesky
  6. Sarah Jarvis
  7. Leslie DiMichele Miller
  8. Kim Schwabenbauer
  9. Anne Basso
  10. Katy Blakemore
  11. Terry Casey
  12. Haley Cooper
  13. Olesya Prystayko
  14. Sarah Graves
  15. Amy Javens
  16. Tamara Kozulina
  17. Mackenzie Madison
  18. Michelle Mighdoll
  19. Jen Annett
  20. Laura Siddall
Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete's photo.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chasing Al Capone

This past weekend, Kendra and I went to Chicago to make another attempt at qualifying her for the Boston marathon. This was three weeks after my pacing failure at the Delaware marathon and a week after an usual taper of wine tasting and vineyard tours. It occurred to me that in that time we were also chasing Al Capone's history.
Al Capone
Al Capone
Capone may have started his career in Brooklyn but he became notorious in Chicago. At 26 years old he became a mob boss controlling illegal breweries and a transportation network. For about four years he was infamous and had the backing of local law enforcement and pretty much could do whatever he wanted.

Rockford Marathon
Meanwhile,  Kendra and I cruised around Navy Pier before heading out west to Rockford the home of______. I still haven't figured that one out. I'm sure that there is something special about this town but I just couldn't find it. It could have been in one of the numerous strip clubs or pay-day loan centers in the town though.

Oh it can't be that bad though right? Well..... morning of the marathon, runners were presented with exceptionally long porto-potty lines. Not enough? Not quite. Instead someone had burned down about 10 of them the night before. Seriously. It looked like a city of Smurfs was massacred.

Speaking of massacres, supposedly it was only after the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre(an attempt on rival Bugs Moran resulting in 7 of Bugs' men being gunned down) that put Capone out of favor with the public. Soon thereafter Capone sentenced to 8 months for carrying a gun in Philadelphia.
Al Capone's Cell
Capone's digs at Eastern State Penitentiary
As I mentioned before, that sentence was spent in relative luxury at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia(he had a radio, oriental rugs and fine furniture) in 1929. A newspaper reporter for the Philadelphia Public Ledger described Capone's cell.

"The whole room was suffused in the glow of a desk lamp which stood on a polished desk... On the once-grim walls of the penal chamber hung tasteful paintings, and the strains of a waltz were being emitted by a powerful cabinet radio receiver of handsome design and fine finish."

As we had biked by the prison while in Philly a few weeks back, it didn't look like a four star hotel but at the time, it was one of the most expensive buildings in America.

Back to the race
After Delaware's fast start and painful finish, I decided to start us out a little slower this time. We were clicking off miles right around 8's for the first 13-15 and she was looking strong. The wind started to pick up a bit and our time started to slow a bit but still she was doing well. The culminating fatigue from having run a marathon three weeks before and the increasingly challenging wind did make us drop off pace a bit. We ended up finishing 7 minutes off qualifying for Boston but still with a huge 4 minute PR for her! It was a far more evenly run race and, with rest and a nice big build, I bet she will be qualifying for sure next time.

Back to Capone
After getting out of Eastern State, Capone was then free until 1932 where he was famously convicted of income tax evasion and was soon sent to Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. From what I've read, while Eliot Ness, a Chicago native, gets the credit for pinning Capone, it was actually IRS agent, Frank Wilson, whose investigation led to Capone's downfall.  Capone entered Alcatraz at age 33 and already was showing signs of dementia from neurosyphilis. He was released in 1939 and was determined to have the mental capacity of a 12 year old. He died 9 years later at his home.

We visited Alcatraz when in San Fran and it definitely didn't look like Capone's 7 years there were spent like his 8 months in Philly. Goes to show. Crime never pays. Or if it does, it pays you back with syphilis.

Up Next: Hollis Fast 5K(Danny and Kendra) June 11th; IM CDA(Amber) June 28th