Wednesday, December 30, 2009

End of the decade

A new decade begins tomorrow, and a whole lot has happened since then. I am pretty sure there is no way I'd think I'd be where I am now. I don't know if I'd be disappointed or not, probably too shocked to think anything about it either way. I'm going to attempt to recap here, and it will probably be more detailed in the early years because starting in about 2004 my life can pretty much be summarized by saying there was a lot of swimming, biking and running. I'm doing this more for me than anything, so don't bother reading if you get bored easy.

I was 20 years old when this decade started. We had a huge millennium party with family and friends and it is probably the last time I stayed up until 4am for New Year's. My first memory of this decade was at about 3am when we were returning to the food spread, and my cousin Trip wanted some meatballs from the crockpot, except there were no toothpicks left. He asked how he was supposed to get at them, and my mother responded, "Like this," and proceeded to dip her hand into the marinara sauce and scoop up a handful of meatballs. Yep, that's how it all started.

I was a junior in college, a basketball player and a film major taking awesome classes like comedy writing and acting for non-performance majors. I scored my 1000th point for the Emerson basketball team, was the top shot-blocker in the NCAA and got invited to pro basketball camp. I opted not to attend, because being pretty good in your Division III league is a far cry from being good against you know, real basketball players. Oh yeah, that was also the one time I ever got a call from Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately, I was later deemed unworthy to appear in the faces in the crowd.

I turned 21 that summer while staying in Cape Cod and working on an independent movie with some friends and an interesting cast of characters. And even though my role was mainly that of crew, it also contains my one acting role which included four words and one irritated look. We rarely really worked on the movie but I did get a board and learn to surf. In case you're wondering, my first drink was a mud slide at this Chinese restaurant that was pretty much the only place open in town besides Wendy's. I had two sips and let someone else finish it. I've never been much of a drinker.

To start my senior year I boarded American Airlines flight 11 on a Tuesday morning in September... of 2000, one year before that flight crashed into the World Trade Center. All I can say is that it is a good thing I was too tall in first grade to be held back. I interned at a couple of production companies and made a whole lot of photo copies of scripts and spent every Saturday surfing at Huntington Beach. I saw Sting get his star on the Hollywood walk of fame, but mostly while I was in Los Angeles I just got really, really fat. Like, fatter than I had ever been even though I was already pretty fat to begin with.

New Year's Day 2001 I jumped into the cold Atlantic Ocean in Boston, insulated by an incredible amount of body fat and finally ready to change that for good. It was when I actually started running on purpose. Just a mile at a time to start, but to me that was a big deal. I decided that maybe, just maybe I didn't need to drink a Pepsi with every meal, and it was probably not necessary to eat so much fried crap. I lost 20 pounds in my final semester, finished out my college basketball career losing in the first round of the playoffs and fouling out of my final game, probably the 4th time in my entire basketball career that I ever fouled out (total crap, too) Our practices that year were held at a local mental institution. I wish Emerson had a gym when I was there.

I graduated college, completely lost as to what to do next. I mean, I was ready to not be in college anymore, not live in a dorm, not have 3am fire alarms and treks down 11 flights of stairs to stand on Boylston Street in my pajamas freezing to death, but I wasn't ready for what was next. (hint: nobody is) I found out that the best thing about not being in college anymore is that when you are tired at night, you can just go to bed. No studying, no papers to write, just good night. My two best graduation presents were rock climbing, from my parents, and skydiving, from my sister. Both were tons of fun but I have to wonder if they were trying to kill me.

I bought my first car (which I still have and it's still just fine) I worked at the front desk at a gym, kept up with my running and started taking spin classes and continued losing weight. I was a full time ski instructor during the warmest winter ever, mostly teaching kids how to avoid skiing over the grass on the slopes. I lost two kids off the chairlift, but both were just fine. I lost 30 more pounds on top of the first 20, and then slowly got rid of another 10 once spring rolled around and I decided to sign up for my first tri, started riding a road bike with my dad, and started swimming.

I did my first running race, also probably the worst weather ever for a race to date for me: combination of pouring rain and slushy snow in the middle of May. I did my first sprint tri, had to walk a bit during the run, did my first Timberman and walked a lot of that run since I was not only completely unprepared, but it was about 95 degrees out and I was so late in crossing the finish line that there was hardly any food left.

My niece was born, and a month later I moved to Los Angeles to give my film career a shot. I was an intern again for a while, again making lots of copies of scripts before landing my first paying gig as a production assistant on a TV movie called the Pennsylvania Miner's Story. My amazing responsibility was to supply water gear to the crew while they shot scenes inside the water tank. But it was still kind of fun, and I got to meet some interesting people.

I saw Kermit the Frog get his star on the walk of fame (and yes, they still maintained the whole illusion that he was an actual frog and not a puppet) and got another job working on this movie The Rundown with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Seann William Scott (Stiffler from American Pie) and Rosario Dawson. My production assistant job on that one mostly consisted of getting blueberries and yogurt for the Rock in the morning (but never actually giving them to him, only to his assistant) writing down when the union guys went to lunch, and standing in the behind buildings on the set wearing a breath mask for the fires to make sure nobody walked through the shot while they blew stuff up. It was also on that set that I learned that movie cattle really have no interest at all in stampeding, no matter what the director says.

Even though it was great spending my weekends riding up and down the PCH through Malibu, I decided that LA wasn't for me, and I moved home and started working for my father's construction company, somehow getting stuck in accounts payable when I filled in for someone on maternity leave who decided never to come back. I signed up for some more triathlons and started training more. I also appeared on a reality TV show, a fact I forgot until I started writing this. That's right, I was on an episode of A Wedding Story. Not mine, of course, but my friend Heather's since I was a bridesmaid. So yeah, I was on TV in a fancy dress, of all things.

I did some more triathlons and signed up for my first Ironman and became obsessed with that. And really since then it has been mostly triathlon-related stuff. Eleven Ironman starts, ten finishes, 4 Kona qualifiers, one winter spent living and training in Phoenix, one Ironman win, one full-page ad in Triathlete magazine, a bunch of other triathlons, some new injuries, leaving the office work life behind, hopefully for good, coaching, and, well, we'll see what happens next.

All I know is that waking up on the first day of this decade as a chubby college kid with dreams of working in the movie industry I'm pretty sure I didn't think that ten years later I'd be a (sort of) fit person (or will be once I get off the off-season weight, even if I am probably 40 pounds lighter than I was then) who exercises 4 hours a day, races triathlons and coaches some athletes. Who knows where I'll be in another 10 years?

New Years eve eve

December 30th, and 2009 is almost over. I had completely forgotten that this is the end of a decade. Apparently the whole novelty of being in the 2000's overrides the whole concept of 10-year increments having some sort of significance. Before I get into the last decade, let's just talk about the past week.

There was a nice little gathering on Christmas eve, although it was different than normal because many of my cousins didn't come to the usual Christmas eve gathering, so there was no long-into-the-night game of Scene-It or Simpsons trivia or anything like that. In fact, everything was over by 9pm. So while I usually find myself going to bed really late on Christmas eve, I was actually in bed earlier I think than I had been all week. That didn't stop me from sleeping until 7:45 on Christmas morning, which for me is quite late. And obviously a far cry from the 5am I would get up at when I was a kid. I was one of those kids who was so excited for Christmas that I couldn't sleep at all that night. And, maddeningly, it was the one morning of the year that my father did NOT get up at 4:30 in the morning. So my brother and I would be forced to sit around and wait, knocking on my parents door every 15 minutes or so until they decided it was finally time for us to get up. My older sister typically had no trouble staying in bed.

Anyway, Christmas morning has definitely lost its excitement for me. In fact, I've found this whole year I wasn't really into Christmas at all. I wasn't so much anti-Christmas as I was more or less indifferent. I hardly watched any of my typical Christmas movies. But anyway, I went to my sister's on Christmas morning, which is more fun because my niece and nephew, at 7 and 3, are at prime Christmas ages. Except that it freaked me out when I realized that if my niece follows the timeline I remember from when I was a kid, then this is her second to last Christmas believing in Santa, which just seems impossible. But we'll try and make her hang on as long as possible. Anyway, they were lost in a sea of new toys and both seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly.

Later on we all went to my grandmother's for the big gathering. It actually turned out to be pretty fun. There was a yankee swap which I chose not to participate in because first of all, I hate those things, and second of all, given the participants, I can't imagine a gift that I'd end up with and actually be happy about. Plus, my own name for that game is the Christmas-ruining gift stealing game. After that was some singing of Christmas songs, which I wisely opted to watch from afar. Then we busted out an old home movie. Actually, two movies that I made with my cousins about 12 years ago. This is serious stuff that was edited, music, chase scenes, and credits written on a chalkboard. That was a lot of fun, especially since I don't think a lot of people had seen them in a very, very long time. And later on, I went with my cousins to my brother's apartment where we spent an incredible amount of time playing the video game Rock Band. If you haven't tried that, you really need to, because it is seriously fun.

Oh, and other than that? Training, biking in the basement, running in shorts on Sunday only to be reduced to nearly freezing to death on my run yesterday with below-zero windchills. Weather can be annoying sometimes. And I'm still trying to figure out what I want to watch while on the trainer. My brother gave me Netflix for Christmas, and after having it last winter and browsing their selection again, I am reminded that yeah, I've seen almost everything. I've rated over 1400 movies on there. So yesterday morning on my trainer ride I went with old classics that just happened to be on Encore. Die Hard and Spaceballs. Which only serves as evidence that I have the same taste in movies as a 12-year old boy.

Tomorrow I'm going to post what has happened in my own life over the past 10 years, and it is more for me than anyone else, so don't read it if you get bored easy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas eve

Tomorrow is Christmas, and again, how did that happen? I did nothing to get into the Christmas spirit this year. I watched hardly any of my favorite Christmas movies, I didn't listen to much of the music, and even though Christmas is not until tomorrow the Christmas tree is lying in the snow in the back yard. Why, you might ask? Well, when the tree falls over for the third time in 4 days, it's probably time to get rid of it. Plus, there were hardly any ornaments left aside from the unbreakable replacement ones. So last Christmas no tree because a tree fell on the house in an ice storm, and this Christmas no tree because the darn thing just wouldn't remain upright. My mother tells me that that is one of the things that husbands are for.

Speaking of my mother, she actually had knee surgery on Monday. I only mention this because I think it's kind of interesting that in the past year my mother has broken her foot (slipping on the ice last February) and torn her meniscus (taking a clumsy fall walking out of a gas station convenience store) and both times didn't get diagnosed for 6-8 weeks later, when she finally listened when I told her that if it doesn't stop hurting on its own after that long, it's probably time for some medical intervention. Hopefully this trend will not rub off on me.

I thought I might have more to say, but mostly I'm just killing time before the Christmas eve festivities begin. Oh, I did get my wrapping done this afternoon, so that's about it for getting ready. And once this pesky Christmas thing gets out of the way then I can finally start concentrating on the important stuff: TRAINING.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas eve eve

Somehow December 23rd has arrived. It's just too bad that January and February never seem to go by anywhere near as fast. I'm proud to be able to say that after my post-swim trip to the mall this morning - arriving at 7am and getting a really kickin' parking spot - I finished my Christmas shopping one day earlier than last year. I didn't used to wait so long, but somehow it just keeps happening. And although my family will ask me what I want, I am not a fan of asking what they want. It sort of takes the fun out of it, you know? It's Christmas morning, you give them their present and it's like, "Oh yeah, here's that thing I told you to buy for me and you went to the store and got it. Thanks!" I mean, I suppose it takes away that element of fear that they won't like it, but it still just doesn't seem to be as much fun. The exception to this rule is my mother, who is absolutely impossible to buy for. She has everything she needs and wants it seems, and if there is something she decides she wants, she goes and gets it. My father, on the other hand, I never have trouble with, so at least that's a good thing. I also am interested to see what my 7-year old niece things of the game Perfection. Remember that one? Where you have to beat the timer by putting the little shaped pegs in the right holes before the timer runs out? Hopefully it will prove to be more fun than frustrating.

So what else? Pretty much nothing but absolute frigid cold. We had one day where the warmest it felt all day long was 4. Air temperatures with highs around 20. Oh, but today it will be about 23. Some days the windchill puts us below zero. I understand that this is sort of what you know you have to deal with by living here, but this is awfully early. I mean, we're only two days into winter. We were also due to get quite a snow storm last Saturday night. I've lived here long enough to know that you never know what you're going to get with those things. I can remember more than one night growing up being 100% convinced that school would be canceled the following day, only to awaken to not so much as a flake. It can go the other way, too.

So I went down to Boston that night, fully expecting to get trapped there for the night with snow starting sometime around dinner time. Dinner came and went, no snow. 10:30 at night, still no snow. I'm not sure when exactly it started, but I do know that by 12:30, it was finally coming down pretty good. That left me with a decision to make. I could either leave right then and hope that I'd make it before it got too bad, knowing that the further north I went the less snow there was supposed to be. Or I could stay, and likely get burried and trapped until sometime late the following afternoon since it would probably be snowing for more than 12 more hours.

I decided to make a break for it. I drive a Nissan Sentra, which could probably only be worse in the snow if it were rear-wheel drive. I figured maybe driving on 95 wouldn't be so bad because it was light and fluffy snow, and maybe it would just be blowing around since it had only started recently. Well, I drove incredibly slow towards the highway, and when it came time to turn onto the on-ramp, I had a hard time seeing it. At that point I started questioning my decision, but I was too far into it to turn around.

So, onto the interstate. Well, the snow was light and fluffy, but also coming down hard enough that the road was covered in it. Fortunately, almost all of the cars were driving equally slowly, crawling along at about 25mph. You know, except for those SUV's who seem to think that just because they have four-wheel drive they also possess magical powers that make it impossible to slide off the road while driving 50mph through the snow. I can't tell you how many times I've been passed by a car like that on the highway, only to find the same car a few miles further up, off the road and turned facing in the wrong direction. As for me, the speed wasn't really an option, and upon reaching what I would describe as a slight incline, I nearly didn't make it to the top because my rear wheels kept skidding out.

Surely I was questioning my decision at that point. It had taken me what seemed like 20 minutes to go one exit. I couldn't decide if I did or didn't like having other cars around me. On the one hand, I was afraid if my tires skidded out again at my blazing speed, I'd crash into one of them. On the other hand, I needed their shared light to see where I was going, otherwise all I could see was the illuminated blizzard coming down toward my headlights.

So essentially, for about 15-20 miles, I thought that maybe I was going to die. Or maybe I'd have to spend the night sleeping in my car under an overpass. At least I had a backpack with some extra clothes since I had planned on spending the night in Boston, but at that point, I figured I would actually be worse off turning around. Then, without warning, the snow wasn't so bad. Is that pavement I see? I was driving 40mph and I wasn't fearing for my life. Then, just as suddenly, it stopped snowing entirely, and I zipped home the rest of the way on completely dry roads. It was crazy. I don't think it started snowing in New Hampshire until about 8:00 the next morning and even then we got maybe an inch. Boston got like 15". So that was an adventurous evening.

So that's about it for now. Still swimming, where the pool was quite cold this morning, riding the trainer and going nowhere and running in way too many layers because it's so freakin' freezing out. It's supposed to get into the mid 30's tomorrow. It'll probably feel downright tropical.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Frigid weather, 5K's, fixed foot and credit card fraud

It has been a somewhat eventful few days. First, on Friday I got to run outside and feel as though my face might freeze off. It's nice and cold and windy, and apparently we can look forward to a high temperature of 20 degrees on Thursday. This is not supposed to happen until January, normally. And really, it doesn't HAVE to happen at all. Not sure why we're getting so lucky. Saturday was nice because there was no long ride, just a nice, short easy ride in the morning.

Oh, but then there was yesterday, Sunday. I ran a 5K. I don't particularly want to elaborate on it except to simply say that it was the slowest 5K I've ever run. I didn't check my actual time, because it might make me want to quit running all together. But I'm pretty sure that my pace was slower than what is my fastest Ironman marathon pace. Except during my marathon I'm pretty sure my heart rate never hit 193, as it did yesterday. I don't really know what the biggest problem was, I just know that it sucked.

Of course I'm coming off an injury, blah, blah. But let's keep things in perspective here. It's not like I'm coming off paralysis that had me incapacitated for months. I had a tiny crack in one little bone in my foot and didn't run for 7 little weeks. So right now I'm thinking that I will either come up with a fake name to use for running these races until I run a time that is not flat out embarrassing, or maybe think up some costume I can wear during the races so people think that I'm just running them to be funny and don't have any ideas in their heads that I might actually be trying.

Anyway, after that, I spent the car ride home coughing since I had that taste of blood thing going on in the back of my throat that sometimes happens after hard efforts in cold weather, and then I got on my bike trainer for 4 hours where I learned that while watching the movie Julie & Julia the Powerbar you might be eating is absolutely not an adequate substitute for anything you might see on screen. This was all followed by being unable to keep my eyes open to even read past 8:30, but still not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep.

The one, amazingly bright spot of the day was finding a pair of Oakley sunglasses that had been missing for an entire year, that fortunately I had still not yet replaced.

Then there was today. Today I discovered that someone has been using my credit card number in and around Sacramento, CA. This seems odd to me since I have the card in my possession and am sure that it is currently about 3000 miles from California. The first tip-off was a $14 charge at a KFC in Oakland about a week ago. Not only have I never been to Oakland, but I've also never even eaten anything from KFC let alone purchased "food" there. Then today two new ones: a gas station and a K-mart in Sacramento. Both charges around $35. So much for that credit card. But seriously, if you were going to steal like that, wouldn't you go somewhere more interesting or at least spend more money? I really don't know how this could have happened, but I'm more annoyed with the fact that now I won't have my credit card number memorized when they send me a new one. It took about a 10-minute phone call, so I'm not really so worried about that. I wonder what they made my signature look like?

Oh, and also today was the follow-up appointment with my podiatrist. The good news is that everything looks good there. And my hideously deformed hammer toes already seem to have flattened out a bit due to the orthotics he gave me six weeks ago. So my dreams of being a foot model may not yet be dead.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter showed up early... again.

Apparently last week while I was in Las Vegas it was 53 degrees there and closer to 70 back in NH. Not really typical. But then, probably 36 hours after that little warm-spell, it snowed. That's usually the way it goes around here. So when my plane landed at about midnight on Sunday night (I'm probably pretty lucky I got out, there were huge delays and cancellations everywhere, people lying all over the airport terminal, but I was on a direct flight) I could just make out the whiteness covering the ground, signaling the onset of winter. Technically it's still fall, at least astonomically speaking, but that never seems to matter.

The past couple of days have been spent trying to recover from my 2am bedtime that night I returned. Oh, and trying to get some workouts in. It hasn't been easy, as my motivation has been severely lacking. The more I think about it, the more I think the biggest issue is that all of my training sessions are done solo. It's not like this hasn't pretty much always been the way I've trained, but I think towards the end of the season I got to spend a lot of time with my teammates, and there were always at least a few things to break up the monotony. But currently I'm staring into the face of 4-5 months of winter Ironman training done mostly by myself. Yikes. And to top it all off, I still need a TV series to watch on the trainer. Fortunately I am pretty sure Netflix is going to be one of my Christmas presents. When trainer season hits, let me tell you, you can get a whole lot of mileage out of your Netflix subscription.

Wednesday morning was when winter really decided to hit. Normally I like to be up and in the pool as early as possible, assuming I'm starting with a swim workout, which inevitably on any weekday I will be. But since I was still exhausted and on Pacific time, I decided not to worry about it, and it worked out quite well because there was quite a snowstorm that hit overnight and into the morning. I also happen to own a terrible car for driving in the snow. Small Sedans that weigh maybe 95 pounds just love sliding all over the road. Somehow in the 8 years I've owned it, I haven't had any snow-related accidents, but I've sure skidded out on the ice a lot. more than anything though, it is probably just that I choose not to drive it in bad weather if it is at all avoidable.

So anyway, the swim was put off until much, much later, after the majority of the roughly 8" of snow had fallen. And even later than that I finally went out to get my run done. I hate the treadmill. I have done exactly two treadmill runs in about the last 4 years. One was for about 5 minutes when I was sort of doing a test run on one of my many injuries of the recent past. The other was almost exactly a year ago when there was a major ice storm that knocked out power for a week, made a tree fall on the house, and caused hundreds of roads to be closed. Considering the amount of trees and limbs lying on the ground and across the roads that day, I decided I might just be better off running indoors at the gym, where the power fortunately was never lost so at least I had somewhere to shower for the week.

So anyway, the point of all of that was that I ran outside on Wednesday. I timed it just right to finish as it got dark. I also ran on roads that I had never run on before. I had decided I'd be better off on much less-traveled roads, so that if cars went by me they'd be less apt to splash me with slush or, more importantly, slide into me and break my legs. It worked out well for the most part, except I did get splashed a few times, but all of my bones remain unbroken. It was actually raining by then, which made it quite pleasant.

So now we have a solid coating of white on the ground, and no sign of warm weather to take it away. It may be too soon to say so, but it looks like we might have a white Christmas for the third year in a row. What's strange about this is that we probably had three total white Christmases in the entire 20 years preceding. I know we still talk a lot about global warming, and to me we definitely experienced it for at least a little while (I spent the winter of 2002 as a ski instructor, routinely teaching people to ski on slush-clovered slopes while they wore t-shirts, and having to take our skis off at the bottom of certain trails to walk across the grass and get ther rest of the way to the bottom) but the past couple of years have been brutal, and I fear that this one is going to be the same. May first certainly seems awfully far away right about now.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vegas, baby!

I am currently sitting in the Las Vegas airport, being a good kid and not throwing my money away on the plethora of slot machines available while I wait for my delayed flight. (if you've seen The Three Amigos enough times, it makes you want to use the word "plethora" whenever it is applicable, as I believe it is here)

The biggest gamble of my trip - seeing how I am not a gambler - was bypassing the exit row on my Southwest flight in the hopes that if I sat in the back and pretended I was waiting for someone, nobody would sit next to me and I'd have an entire row to myself. That gamble paid off, and I can't tell you how much nicer it is to spend 6 hours on a plane when you can do it lying down, especially for someone who on most flights spends the entire time with their knees pressed up against the seat in front. And God help me if the person decides to recline. How is it that when you recline your own seat, it feels like it hardly goes back at all, and yet if the person in front of you does it, suddenly their seat back is two inches from your face? But anyway, we even managed to land early, so that was a nice start.

My luck ran out there, though. I caught a shuttle from the airport, not really knowing where I was going, but I had a piece of paper with my reservation at the Hilton Garden Inn and the address. I showed it to the shuttle driver, and she said that was where she was going. She was dropping off several of us, and at about the fourth stop she pulled up to the Hilton, and I got out with two other women. I showed her the paper again. "Are you sure this is the right place?"

"Yeah, Hilton on the strip."

Okay, here's your tip, see you later.

Of course that was not the right Hilton. Mine was several miles down the road. I don't know how you can charge $30 in a cab to go like 5 or 6 miles, but at least I had finally made it to the correct hotel. You know, the one I had actually reserved a room at.

So I was prepared for a weekend of triathlon coaching education, but the first night really only had time to unpack, brush my teeth and go to bed. On Thursday morning, I had some workouts to get in. This included riding on a stationary recumbent bike in the "fitness center" in my hotel. Notice I use the word in quotation marks, because 3 treadmills, an eliptical machine, a recumbent bike and a weight machine to me does not equate a fitness center, but rather a room with a few pieces of fitness equipment in it.

I felt slightly ridiculous riding the stupid thing, but it did allow me to read a few magazines and I am really not too worried about my biking suffering terribly from riding in that very non-tri position for a few rides. Oh, and let me tell you, it is a welcome thing to get on an airplane and travel without a bike box. It is something I've done a grand total of two times in about the past six years, and it's awfully nice to bypass the baggage check line and the associated fees that go with it.

First up Thursday night was a USAT seminar on athlete weight loss. The main reason for my taking it was that it took care of several of my "continuing education credits," which are a requirement as part of the certification. Luckily, Bob Seebohar, the presenter, was a good speaker, otherwise I might not have made it through. As it was, a seminar that went from 5-9pm, or 8-midnight to my internal clock, had me just about ready to collapse by the end. It was interesting information, mostly because his thoughts on nutrition are completely opposing to almost everything my own coach has me do. But that's okay, if I've learned anything doing this, it's that nobody has all of the answers, and it's always interesting to get a different point of view. But I do think that in my next Ironman I'll be taking in more than 860 total calories.

Day two began with an early morning run. The clinic started at 8am, and I wanted to be sure to have plenty of time to get in an hour and fifteen minutes. I had at least had the foresight to check the weather and know enough to bring tights, but I hadn't realized I would probably also need gloves, a hat, and a second layer. It was in the upper 20's that morning, and I was a bit chilly in tights and a long-sleeved shirt with no insullation. In fact, after roughly 45 minutes I noticed that the sweat that had been dripping off the brim of my hat had actually formed an icicle that got bigger and bigger as I went along. Needless to say, my bare hands weren't working too well when I was finished. I had been running on random sidewalks simply until I ran out, then I'd turn back and find some other random street. Unfortunately, I never got far enough to see the interesting part of the infamous strip, but that would come later.

The clinic itself was pretty good. There were things I'd heard before, things I hadn't, and once again things that were completely contradictory to lots of other things I'd heard. But even if you read Triathlete magazine, you will often find that there are articles within the same issue that directly contradict each other, so you just kind of have to take in what you can.

On the first night, I was far too tired to go out and do anything interesting, so I was totally lame and boring and stayed in my room and watched TV. In case it wasn't already obvious, I'm not exactly a party person, so for me, going out and living it up in Vegas was never really something on my list of things to experience. Especially when I was out here by myself.

Day two began with a shorter run and not quite as cold weather. Then lots more triathlon stuff. They throw an amazing amount of information at you in a very short period of time, but luckily most of the presenters were at least engaging. It could've been pure torture if they hadn't been. We also seemed to have a pretty good group of people taking the clinic. I'd heard some stories about people in these clinics that made you fear for the lives of any athlete they might attempt to coach, but I didn't get that kind of feeling from anyone here, which was comforting.

I was just as tired Saturday night as I had been the night before, but I decided that as long as I was in Las Vegas, I might as well go check it out. Long story short: I met someone and we're married now. He was here for the rodeo and I'll be moving to his ranch in Colorado. Okay, okay, that's not really what happened. What really happened is that I took the hotel shuttle into town, walked up and down the streets with my hands in my pockets, trying to avoid the dozens of men accosting everyone with playing card-sized photos of naked women, and walking through various hotel casinos but not spending any money. I was so adventurous that I had dinner at a food court. And I was back on the hotel shuttle at 9:15, thoroughly ready for bed after such a wild evening. This must really make people want to hang out with me.

On Sunday morning I went for another run in the cold and dark. It must've been slightly warmer because the icicle on my hat was far less pronounced this time. Towards the end, I started hearing what sounded like thunder off in the distance, and I looked back to see fireworks going off back by Mandalay Bay. You don't often get fireworks on your Sunday morning long run, but this is Las Vegas. And it also happened to be the morning of the Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll marathon and half marathon, which was just starting. Too bad I didn't get a chance to jump in. Although I don't even want to know what I'd run for a half marathon right now.

That day the clinic was mercifully short and filled with much less information. We spent the morning in groups working on a training week for a fictional athlete we were presented with. My group was me, and three men twice my age. Before I knew it, the learning was over, and now I just have to do the test, send it in and I will be officially certified. Very exciting.

And now here I am, at the airport and wondering when/if my flight is going to take off. It's currently raining here, and this is one of those places where they don't really know how to handle it. Apparently at home on Thursday it was close to 70, but then on Friday night it snowed. I'm not sure what kind of weather to expect when I get there, but at least we can handle precipitation when it comes.

So there you have it, lamest trip to Vegas ever. But at least I got some good education out of it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Movie Guide

I made this list a couple of years ago but decided to post it here. Now that it's December, these movies can help you get into the Christmas spirit. On to the holiday movie picks:

Molly's holiday movie guide

There are certain holiday movies and specials that simply must be watched every year. It just wouldn't be the same without them. Having many cable channels and the help of a DVR has made this task easier than ever. Usually my indoor bike rides in December are spent catching up on these Christmas classics. You may or may not agree with my "must watch" list, but I will try and give reasons for my choices as well as ones I have left out. For those of you who didn't know me in my former life, I used to be a film geek. Now I'm just a geek in general.

A Christmas Story
This one is just too easy. First of all, it is on TNT for 24 hours straight from Christmas eve through Christmas day, not to mention the multiple airings before that... although it does seem to have gotten less air time in the last few years. Second of all: it is simply the best Christmas movie ever made. I loved this movie so much when I was a kid that I used to ask to rent it year-round.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Oh, Clark W. Griswold, you've done it again. From uprooting the giant family Christmas tree to getting trapped in the attic to dealing with infamous cousin Eddie, this is another one that just can't be missed. And it really made up for the atrocity that was European Vacation.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Who among us doesn't feel for Charlie and his tiny little tree? And isn't it just like Linus to tell us what it's really all about?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Sure, we're all a little weirded out by the Island of Misfit Toys and the fact that for some strange reason they are ruled by a lion (and just what exactly was wrong with the doll?) But we still enjoy the freakiness of Yukon Cornellius and Herbie, the elf who wants to be a dentist (I actually met a guy who looked like Herbie... seriously) and of course cheer when Rudolph triumphs in the end. Also this was always the most fun song to sing back in elementary school. "Like a lightbulb!"

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The cartoon one, not the crappy live-action one. Though heartwarming, those Who's down in Whoville sure are a forgiving bunch. Whether he gave back Christmas or not, I'm guessing that in real life this one would end with more of an angry mob scene.

Muppet Christmas Carol
I'm a huge fan of the Muppets. I'm also a big fan of Christmas. This one was easy. Although slightly bittersweet, as it was the first movie where Kermit was voiced by Steve Whitmire. R.I.P. Jim Henson

Muppet Family Christmas
This lesser known classic came out in the mid-80's and includes Muppet Show Muppets, Sesame Street Muppets and Fraggle Rock Muppets. Not to mention an adorable flashback to Muppet Babies. Any Muppet fan's dream. And as Animal said: "Peace on Earth. Gimme presents!"

The Christmas Toy
Another Henson creation. Sort of like Toy Story with new toy vs. old toy, only with old school puppets instead of computer animation and no Tom Hanks.

Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas
Either you know what I'm talking about here, or you think I'm crazy. Riverbottom Nightmare Band had some pretty rockin' 70's outfits in this one. It's also fun to watch otter puppets go down slides and sing songs about puttin' holes in the washtub.

A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
This one just came out a couple of years ago, but it has found a prominent place on my list. It does get a little creepy though with a beefed up Beaker as bodyguard and a Sam the Eagle who I think might be on E.

Home Alone
I actually still have my ticket stub from seeing this movie when I was 10. (that was when I started hanging onto them... and no, I'm not a hoarder... I swear) Admit it: no matter how old you get you still enjoy it. You just have to not think about what a weirdo Macaulay Culkin turned into.

The new classic. Just the right mix of regular Will Ferrell antics and genuine Christmas spirit. And it makes you wonder what spaghetti with maple syrup might taste like.

Bill Murray in the modern-day (well, late 80's anyway) fairy-tale. Did you ever really stop and think about what a great story it is? It almost makes me want to read the book.

The Santa Clause
For some reason I actually like Tim Allen movies. I have no defense.

Die Hard
I know, you probably read that and thought to yourself, "what?" Then slowly it dawned on you that yes, this movie takes place on Christmas eve. This is my brother's favorite Christmas movie. It's been around for 20 years and it's still awesome.

Honorable mention:

Frosty the Snowman
I know, it's sort of a classic. But this one just doesn't seem to translate into adult-hood as well as a lot of the others. Frosty seems a little on the slow side, and little Karen seems a bit over-dramatic over the loss of a new friend she's known for like 3 hours.

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Another one that just doesn't hold my attention anymore. I can't get through it every year.

Jingle All the Way
Yep, you read that right. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (before he started being a governor and took away our hopes for a True Lies 2), Jake Lloyd (the kid who ruined the new Star Wars trilogy) and Sinbad, who I actually can't figure out why he's famous. I actually saw this one in theaters, folks. I was a lot younger so I think my mom gave me the money for it, so I wasn't actually the one paying. Does that help at all?

A Very Brady Christmas
This one came out when I was totally into watching the Brady reruns. Even if it had a fake Cindy. (seriously, was Susan Olsen really that busy?) You have to wonder if even the writers cringed as they typed out this huge display of corniness. Mike Brady becomes trapped in a collapsing building (on Christmas day, no less) and is only able to free himself when he hears his family singing "Oh Come all Ye Faithful" outside. This one also led to the very brief drama "The Brady's" with such gems as Bobby becoming paralyzed from a race car accident and my personal favorite, Marcia (fake Marcia) being an alcoholic. Classic.

Yes, there is a glaring omition here. It's a Wonderful Life. I've actually only seen it once. I should probably sit down and watch it again.