Friday, March 30, 2012

On Becoming a New SuperHero

The YMCA where I swim is really good for my ego. Whereas I do wish that there were some super fast blokes that would challenge me in a set, I don't seem to mind being the fast guy in the pool. There are several advantages in being the fast guy.

For 1, no one wants to swim with me. I'll politely join a lane and start doing my set. Soon thereafter, I've got the whole thing to myself.

For 2, all right, there isn't a second advantage. Having a lane or a pool all to yourself isn't all it's cracked up to be. Humans are social creatures. Even though, for the most part, I suck at socializing, I'd still like to have the opportunity.

I think I've figured out why I get all of this open water space. It's not really that I'm the fast guy. That's a horrible label. I've morphed into a Superhero. I haven't gone on to create an alter ego yet (you know, except for 'The Banter'). Let me describe to you my powers in terms of other, pre-existing Superheros. 

As a creation of DC Comics, Aquaman is from the Lost City of Atlantis. He sports orange and green colors that seem to clash with any known sea creature in existence. He does have some interesting powers.

Like all superheros (myself included), he's really strong. But, this isn't the reason I identify with the underwater blond. It's his swimming ability that I mimic. He's, and to be technical here, pretty dang fast. We're just not sure how fast. Not many people have actually put a radar gun on his swimming to calculate his top water speed. Rumor has it that radar guns don't work well under water and scientists are having trouble adopting sonar to ping smaller, semi-organic objects. Plus, there's this on-going debate on whether we should use mph or knots. The whole argument is a mess. All agree on one fact, he's faster in the water that the average bloke.

Oh, and, for some reason, he can talk to fish.

Wolverine, on the other hand, is a Marvel Comic guy. Just like me, he's got an awesome hair cut. We differ in our opinion of our side burns.

We diverge on our ability to heal. He undergoes mitosis at an enormously fast rate, putting most bacteria to shame. This allows even major injuries to close themselves almost immediately. I, on the other hand, will take a couple of weeks off of training due to a blister. Hey, every superhero needs to have a weakness.

The most obvious connection between me and the Wolverine is the long nails. His claws are retractable, nearly invincible, and perched nicely on his hands. They make an amazingly efficient weapon.

I am neither Aquaman nor Wolverine, but an amalgamation of both. On the Aquaman side of my genetic mutation, I've got the super-human swimming ability as compared to my YMCA bretheren. (Aside: I'm pretty sure I have the power to talk to fish. I'm not sure that I want this power so I keep it repressed. I can't imagine that fish would be stimulating conversationalists nor can I quite figure out what I could say to them that they would find interesting. End Aside)

On the Wolverine, or masculine, contribution to my DNA, I've got the long nails. Except, mine are less useful. Sadly, they are my toenails. I first noticed this weapon the other day in the pool. I was happily swimming in my empty lane doing a set of 200s on 15 seconds rest. Back in the days when I was on the swim team, we'd have large volumes of yardage in kick sets. I don't think I've done one since. As a triathlete, I prefer to focus on my form and arms while reserving my legs for the rest of the afternoon. My legs are really just lumps of meat dragging behind me. I will occasionally use them in a race to shoot bubbles at some water monkey who feels the need to draft so close that he repeatedly touches my feet. Other than that, I try not to use them much.

As you swim, your body sways side to side as a natural consequence of your stroke. If the bottom of the pool is 0º and the side wall is 90º, I probably swing about 45-55º in my natural stroke. Some people suggest going the full 90º but I've found this horribly uncomfortable and inefficient.

As you swing from left to right, your legs are used as stabilizers to keep your knees, hips, and torso in line with your head. During one of these stabilizing motions, my feet happened to click together. That's when I noticed my wickedly long toe nails.

How did I notice? I cut my big toe. That's right, my big toe on my left foot crossed the plane of my right foot. The 2 objects only briefly collided. But, when your body has been soaking in luke warm bath water for the past 30 minutes, the skin gets soft, wrinkly, and pliable. The sharp piece of keratin took a nice little slice out of the area under my left biggie. It was more like a paper cut than anything else. And, just like a paper cut, it smarted big time. The cut is still there providing further evidence of my non-Wolverine-like healing powers.

As I look back on my own personal nail-cutting history, I don't think I've cut my claws in over 3 weeks. It's looking doubtful I'll do it in the near future as, since our recent move, I'm not exactly sure where to find the nail clippers. However, I do know where the hedge clippers are located. Should I let them go too much longer, this may be a viable option.

I now understand that my toes also give a probable reason why people don't want to swim with me. As it turns out, I may not have superpowers at all. I'm just a guy with questionable grooming habits. There goes my chance at joining the Justice League for sure. Just in case, I'm going to talk to some fish.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WW- The Banter Has Moved!

Most of the time, my gaps in content are due to ridiculous reasons:
-I was working
-I was training
-I was ill
-I was lazy

There's really no excuse not to blog under those conditions. Recently, however, I had a much more valid excuse... I moved. It's quite humbling when you see everything you own fit into a 17' U-haul. You've got HER stuff. You've OUR stuff. Then, you've got MY stuff, which conveniently fit into a bag small enough to stow away underneath an airline passenger seat. (Okay, that's my non-triathlon stuff. We had to make a separate trip for my tri gear, but that doesn't count.)

As of yet, we are far from settled in. Everything is in boxes or bags. Hefty makes a kick-ass luggage set. As a bit of friendly advise, don't use the Vanilla Scented trash bags to package your clothing. It seems like a good idea, you know, with the fresh smell and the food like goodness. Trust me on this, it's not that great on your clothes.

Today was the first day that we had any real food in the house. Dinner yesterday was eggs and toast. Dinner 2 days ago was PB&J. Dinner 3 days ago was leftover pizza. Guess what was for dinner 4 days ago?

So far, we've made really good progress in getting our lives somewhat streamlined. Sure, there are things that elude capture. We'll sort it out in due time. Until then, we improvise. For example, plates are not needed when you own stock in paper towels (especially when you consider what was recently on the menu). Did you know that wine tastes just as good from a coffee mug as it does from a wine glass? I do not notice my hair feeling any different when I use dog shampoo.

Small things are the easiest to misplace in a move. They also tend to be the most important. Hence, the reason we busted out new toothbrushes. Finger brushing just wasn't going to do the job. Further, a razor isn't that easy to spot amongst the mess. Now would be a good time to grow a beard, except for the fact that there are certain places on my face that refuse to sprout buds. A beard on me would just be a pathetic swatch of miscolored patches of fuzz and thick red bristle. No really consistency could be seen.

If only there was a way to solve my facial hair problem. If only someone was willing to deliver me toiletries at super low costs. If only...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WW- Crazy Triathlete

I know that there are a significant number of things crazier than the Ironman. Still, I'm sure it takes a special kind of idiot to contemplate a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and then a 26.2 mile run. Perhaps the first edition of your IM experience involves a drunken bet. Most people can understand and accept that (mostly because that's how the Ironman got started in the first place). But, to actually pay other people money year in/ year out for a sport that will never give you any cash back while sucking the life essence from you and the ones you love... That's a different story.

I'm pretty sure the entire sport is whacked in the first place. Swimming on its own is tough. Biking on its own is tough. Running on its own is tough. Ooh, I got an idea, let's take 3 individual sports that are all tough and make them harder by doing them back to back without stopping. We clearly have a screw loose.

Even the shortest distances in triathlon are misnamed "Sprints". Sprints are designed to be anaerobic in nature. Your anaerobic system kicks in immediately but gives up after around a minute. Not a single person on the planet can sprint a 1/3 mile swim. This is generally accepted as a medium distance event in competitive swimming. Certainly no one can sprint a 13 mile ride. Even the good people take around 30 minutes, far more time than aforementioned sprint. I've yet to see anyone sprint a 3.1 mile run. Seems impossible. Yet, some bloke decided to combine these distances into what is affectionately called a Sprint Triathlon.

So, I confess that the average triathlete is missing a few tools from the tool shed. I know this and I fully accept it. Then, just when you starting to come to terms with your abnormality, just when there are enough morons that think the same way you do, along comes a guy like this.

Let's count the crazy:
1. He's a triathlete
2. He's a juggler
3. He's a juggler-triathlete
4. He's swimming the backstroke (minus the stroke)
5. He's cycling on a mountain bike
6. He's running in Vibram Five Fingers
7. Did you happen to notice that he couldn't stop playing with his balls?
8. He's not wearing spandex. (Unrelated to #7)
9. He plans on competing this way
10. He'd still probably beat me in a race

Friday, March 16, 2012

Water Conservation

Triathletes are generally the good guys of the sporting world (at least I like to tell myself that). We've got lots of reasons to take care of the environment and lots of different tools to do so.

For example, since we have bikes we are more apt to commute to work. Lots of triathletes, world wide, will double dip by getting their workout to and fro work. They exercise and save on gasoline all while reducing their carbon footprint.

While were on the topic of conservation, according to recent studies (most of which were performed by me), triathletes are more likely to purchase energy efficient vehicles. I have a hybrid. Rare (but not unheard of) is the triathlete that drives a Hummer.

We eat healthy. All-natural foods appeal to us. Low fat. Unprocessed. Non-smoking. We fit the bill.

See, we are better than the average snook. We spend lots of time in the world. We frequent the roads. We hang out on the trails. We are guardians of the sidewalks.

Given all of these eco-friendly characteristics, there is one category in which we are gravely lacking: water conservation. We abuse the hydrosphere with reckless abandon. Allow me to explain...

For the most part, we (read: me) are sweaty, smelly people. Training for copious amounts of time can do that to you (me). Thus far, there is only one efficient way to remove this stink- bathing. My bathing technique of choice is the shower.  As you may or may not know, showering requires water.

If you are really sweaty and smelly (meaning me), a 2 minute showed doesn't cut it. You (I) must bust out the luffa, lather up, and spend several minutes grinding and scrubbing every nook and cranny. This takes time. All the while, the shower head is faithfully spewing its extra-tepid water at the approximate rate of 2.6 gallons per minute. Assuming that we (I) limit bathing to just 10 minutes, this is roughly 26 gallons of water per workout.

This in and of itself is not so bad. Until you realize that we (I) often do more than one workout per day. Supposing that there's a morning run, that's 26 gallons literally down the drain. Then we (I) have an afternoon bike ride. There's another 26 gallons. So far today, we (I) have dropped about 430 pounds of liquid down the pipes.

There are several opportunities in which 2 showers a day isn't enough. Take, for example, the amateur athlete that has a full time job and an opening in his (my) schedule in the afternoons. This athlete, in my hypothetical may-not-have-happened scenario, skips the morning workout in exchange for additional sleep. When the lunch break arrives, it's off for a workout. Perhaps the local YMCA is close enough for a swim. Perhaps there is a nice running loop near the workplace. It's possible that there is a treadmill somewhere in the near vicinity.

This non-existent athlete wakes up in the morning and showers. +56 gallons. Now they (I) have an afternoon workout. In order to get back to work, there is an odor quota that must be taken care of. Another 56 gallons. Now, after the workday is done, the last workout of the day gets the typical triathlete (me) ready for beddy bye. Your (my) significant other will probably  forbid eating 'dinner' together until you (I) have been scrubbed clean. This brings the total up to 168 gallons of juice for the day.

If this is a typical day for (me) the typical triathlete, repeated 4 days per week, that's in the vicinity of 1000 gallons per week. This adds up to more than your typical backyard pool in terms of raw volume over the course of a year, solely in an effort to be less pungent. Keep in mind that this number doesn't even take into consideration how much fluid that we (I) consume during said exercise.

I suspect that the major reason that triathletes are so eco-friendly in other areas of life is guilt. We (I) try to over compensate for our (my) water consumption by being champion recyclers. By driving less. By being excessively healthy people. We (I) know that the amount of water used in keeping us (me) clean is enough to moisten a small country on another continent. At least we (I) smell decent.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WW- Truth in Advertising

I'm an iPhone guy. Compared to its capacity, is use it less efficiently than my brain (under 10% of its potential). I barely use it for phone calls (I'm not that popular).

One of my favorite apps is called Zite. For those unfamiliar, it's basically a personalized SmartPhone magazine. You install the free app and select categories of information that you want to read. I don't want to read about make-up and beauty, so I didn't select them. I do want to read about health and fitness, so I added it to the list. (FYI- Health and fitness apparently includes make-up and beauty. Ugh.)

Others not selected: Politics. Cooking
Others selected: Sports. Science and Technology

Including their pre-sets, you can also invent a category. I've invented triathlon, comics, and satire.

Now that I've selected my categories, the app will scour the web searching for recent articles. I simply click and read. The big bonus, no advertisements.

In a bit of irony, I was browsing the satire section and was interested in an article, from,  on... Advertising. I guess the ads don't bother me as much as I think they do. Imagine what advertising would look like if the marketing geniuses told the truth about their product. It would look something like this:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Accepting the hidden challenge

The Challenge
Earlier this weekend, the Banter-in-Law sent me an email. It can be seen below in its entirety. I have edited the link as I do not have permission to share the nitty gritty of his Garmin data with the entire world. It's off by only 1 or 2 characters for those of you who are feeling ambitious and are hoping to hack into the BIL's Garmin files.

To: The Banter
From: BIL@BilsPlace.Net
Subject: Ride Baby!
<iframe width='465' height='548' frameborder='0'

 Here's what you don't see. You miss out on the hidden agenda blatantly clear when one triathlete emails another triathlete. Since Google translator does not speak triathlete, I'll interpret for you.

To: The Banter
From: BIL@BilsPlace.Net
Subject: Ride Baby!

Dear Pansy,
What a nice blog article last week on how you are stuck in your basement. I, however, live in a better place than you. I am not sequestered to a bike routine of going nowhere. Just to prove it, the weather here was so pleasant that I went on a 40+ mile bike ride. It was a little bit windy but I planned it perfectly so that I would start into the wind and fly home without doing any work. Here's my Garmin file. Read it and weep you big loser. Should you ever get out into the real world instead of being an agoraphobic, see if you can beat me.

-The BIL

In his defense, it was a really good ride. The BIL is training for Olympic Distance races with the hopes on upping the ante to a half-iron. Either way, a 40+ mile training ride is pretty cushy at this time in the season. He averaged 18.4 mph over the duration, which is faster than the average athlete in most given races.

Well, BIL, I read your trash talk and your challenge was accepted. Up here in the north, winter has released its feeble grasp. This past Sunday, I went on my own 40 mile ride. Or so I thought.

Pre- Ride
This was a perfect opportunity to test my mettle against the BIL's. The last time we raced head-to-head was in 2010. I, of course, won. He had a good showing at that race but it was early in his triathlon career, he was on a borrowed bike (mine), and he was running an unfamiliar course. This time, he had the home court advantage, full knowledge of the challenge ahead of time, was on his own bike (a nice aero Cervelo at that), and had weeks of outdoor training.

He had reported that there was an average of 10-15 mile winds on his ride. Since this is a competition, and I am cursed with the Male Ego Gene, I am proud to report that our winds were 20 mph with gusts into the near 30. Take that BIL.

As I set out, it had dawned on me that I haven't been outside of the basement in 2012. It took me a while to get set up. First, I had to find the front wheel to my bike. The basement does not require both wheels and, due to the nature of a wheel, it moves around from time to time. Upon successfully finding and securing the wheel (without which I would have surely lost the race), I moved on to finding my helmet, glasses, gloves, and spare tire. None of these are required in the dungeon. Technically, they are not required on the road either but they are a very good idea.

When I stepped out into my garage, the wind gusts, which were out of the west, smacked me dead in the face. Brr. I went back inside. When I returned, I now had on 3 shirts, ear warmers, and full gloves instead of those with the finger holes cut out. Not only did I have the wind and the cold working against me, but I added about 15 pounds of fabric weight. I was not deterred. In hindsight, I was WAY over dressed. This fact had no bearing on the competition at hand.

The Problem
As I got ready to mount my faithful steed, there is one more piece of the puzzle, The Garmin, which would prove once and for all who is the greatest triathlete in the family. The Garmin was with me a couple of hours ago when I went on my morning tempo run. The Garmin goes with on every run. On every basement ride. And now, new to 2012, on every outdoors ride. Only this time, it refused to work. I'd like to think it had performance anxiety. It had plenty of power. Still, it refused to start up. I tried everything. Apparently, begging doesn't work on your 310xt. Another solution would have to present itself.

<Aside: I took it with me anyway. At the 45 minute mark, I pulled off into a small park and attempted to start the Garmin again. I suppose that trying to restart the Garmin (complete with a 'soft reset') no less than 4 times at home wasn't enough to convince this idiot of its uselessness. As you can probably guess, it didn't work again. End Aside>

(I secretly think that the BIL convinced the Wife, his sister, to sabotage my unit. Sneaky but effective.)

The Less-Than-Perfect Solution
I have an old Timex watch. I licked it a long time ago. Than goodness I had the clairvoyance to do that. It was ticking perfectly. The downside: no gps. I set out on what I thought was at least 40 miles. It took me 1:57.12. Ha, BIL. That's 20. <something> mph. In your face.

Later on, I googled the route. As it turns out, my ride was just over 38 miles. Give me credit for planning a 40 mile route and getting to within 5% with only my brain as a guide. Caveman approach. This brings my average down to about 19.6 mph. Still not too shabby.

And the Winner Is...
Alright, I'm gonna call it a draw. The BIL had a great workout. He had hardcore evidence to back up his claim to awesomeness. The Banter had his ego, an old watch, and sketchy directions.

Be wary BIL. I will ride this challenge again. And when I do, you can bet that I will have healed the Garmin. I will be ready, once and for all, willing to reclaim the "Best Triathlete in the Family" Title. Until then, keep up the good work. I am proud to compete against the likes of you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How 7-11 Saved My Run

There's a lot of background to this story. Just to be clear, I have edited this post. What you are about to read is the shortened version. I had considered giving you all of the details but that would make for an intensely long post. Whereas I'm not opposed to writing copious amount of content, I don't feel that the specifics actually add to the story. There are a couple of facts that you should know before I delve into the meat...

1. I am a latte drinker. I have a daily latte from my Mr. Coffee Espresso machine  and microwaved milk (I'm kinda high class). I am thoroughly addicted and I do not mind.
2. Lately I've been having 2 of these beverages. Both in the morning. One first thing as I wake up. The second, about an hour later, as I head off to work.
3. I normally draw the limit at 2 per day. I'm not sure why. If I had to guess, it would be guilt. That feels like the correct emotion yet I am not sure where it comes from.
4. Caffeine, when taken in doses that your body has not yet adapted, is a digestive irritant and a bowel relaxer. I am highly adapted to 2-a-day lattes so this is not normally a concern.
5. On the morning of this fateful run, I ran out of coffee grounds.

Not only did I run out of coffee grounds, but I told the Wife about my deficit. Part of me secretly hoped that she would go to Starbucks on her lunch hour, purchase a frothy beverage for herself and me, and have the barista grind up a pound of Cafe Verona beans. This did not happen. On a late Thursday afternoon, I had a choice to make.

Normally, Thursdays are my long run days. On this past Thursday, we were in the middle of a semi-heat wave. The temperatures on Wednesday were in the mid-60s. Thursday was in the lower 50s, which is still plenty warm for this time of year. But, by the time I was released from my employment responsibilities, the temperature was quickly dropping. And, for anyone who paid attention in middle school science class (or high school if you happen to live in New York), warm air masses that are overtaken by cold air masses tend to yield rain. So we had 50s with rain and the mercury was steadily dropping. My decision: long run today or swap a bike ride and postpone my long run until Friday? As you may know, I have recently developed a love-affair with my bike trainer. The swap was looking mighty good.

On the way home from work, the Wife suggested that we detour so that I can replenish my coffee supply. I am not one to say no to a professionally prepared hot beverage. (For those of you who are true coffee drinkers/ Starbucks haters- I am quite naive on this sort of thing. I simply don't know any better.) I was hungry anyway so this sounded like a great idea. The only caveat, this would be latte #3.

As I finished off my cup of joy, I felt an uncomfortable grumble in the nether regions. I admit that I was shocked at the speed in which the last helping of stimulate slammed the digestive tract. Luckily, I was sitting on my sofa. This was not what I would call an emergency situation. After a routine evacuation (again, I'll spare you the details), life was good.

Now, I'm not one to consciously waste a good caffeine high. I know of the ergonomic effects of the world's most widely used drug. Current research believes that caffeine increases fat metabolism, allowing your muscles to use a higher fat-to-carbohydrate energy system. The result is more energy for less oxygen. To add to this awesome achievement, apparently the caffeine also slightly inhibits pain receptors. I decided to stick with the original long run plan.

The run was scheduled for a 1:45, or 12-13 mile run between 8 and 8:30 pace. I planned to run my nice 8 mile loop. This should take a bit more than an hour. I would stop at home, take in a gel, drink some water, pick up the PRP, and head out for 4-5 more miles. This part of the run went exactly as planned.

Around mile 6, my stomach started to make those annoying sloshing sounds. If you have ever experienced them, you know exactly what I mean. It sounds as if you have some thick liquid hanging out in your stomach that enjoys to swish as you run. Step. Slosh. Step. Slosh. Repeat for the next 2 miles.

Experience has taught me that this is the beginning of my body's evacuation sequences. Someone on the inside has pushed the eject button and it is only a matter of time before the floodgates are fully open. When I arrived home, I added 'hit the can' to my list as a precautionary matter. There was not much in terms of actual product but the pressure relief valve was reset. I was good to go.

The rain continued and I didn't mind. I was running and I truly enjoy being out in the elements. The water doesn't bother me. I play games on the sidewalk. Puddle jumping. Puddle dodging. Puddle slalom. Plus, I was feeling great. The caffeine was doing everything that was advertised and I was taking advantage. But, around mile 10, my sloshing had renewed itself. In fact, it was back in full vengeance. There's nothing like a good sloshing to ruin running bliss.

From here, it was a downward spiral. The sloshing grew into pressure. It was the bad kind of pressure. The kind that you fear to open the pressure relief valve by even a little bit lest something more than pressure present itself. In theory, this is the kind of pressure that should make you run faster. Tragically, your system doesn't work that way. There are only 2 ways to feel better. Stop. Or sit. As I glanced around the heavily lighted, highly populated neighborhood, sitting was not going to yield the proper relief. I ran on.

Around mile 11, it was nearing code brown status. I was sweating profusely that had nothing to do with my run. I was starting to panic. I was still about 2 miles from home and had little chance of making it. There were no woods. No private areas. I was out in the open. Lots of houses. Lots of cars. I had never felt so alone.

As it happened, at mile 11.5, there was an intersection. On one side had a church. Across from the church was a house. Across from the house was a used car lot. Across from the used car lot was a 7-11- the hero of this story.

The 7-11 was closed. This was probably the best news of the run thus far. For those of you who frequent this convenience seller of the Super Big Gulp, you'd know that they are 24-7 kind of shops. There is only 1 reason for its closure... It was under construction. Even in my state of helplessness, I know that a construction site is good news to the vagabond with bowel control problems. Construction means a Porta Potty. Inevitably, the people who own businesses do not appreciate it when the hard working blokes that they have paid to renovate their facility use the bathroom. I was saved.

Again, I'll spare you some of the more pertinent details. You know, those that involve water-logged sensitive areas and 80-grit toilet paper. In the end, that sort of discomfort was minor compared to the happiness of the portable, human-waste disposal unit and the fact that this particular unit was unlocked and unoccupied during my time of need.

So there you have it. A construction site at a business that I have never visited saved my run and my dignity. I just might reconsider my lack of patronism to that store. 7-11: I owe you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WW- Future of Our Youth

In case you mist it, this passsed Sunday was National Grammar Day. As a teacher, I founded this quite disturbing. Why would thems have a day to honor grammar on a Sunday? At lest allow us to not celebrate this day in school. Apparently, these is one of those funky-type holidays. Imflexible in its date is wat it is so it is always on March 4th. This wasn't not my first year not celebrating the day.

The only reason I even know about this day is that I came across this article. To save you the effort of reading it yourself (heaven forbid that I encourage reading), the dude basically says that word-making is dynamic and that we need to keep up with the times.

I have read the doomsday articles on numerous occasions in the past. Old fogies complaining that today's youth are lost souls. Popular media, such as social networking sites, are ruining our young people's ability to make grammatically-correct, coherent thoughts. This is the beginning of the rapture.

Here's a semi-NSFW video that proves the helplessness of our kids, sung by adults. (Get rid of the scantily clad bra- chick, whose also thinks its a good idea to have a business suite, and it's perfect. Except for the fact that its mocking Timberland, or Timberlake, or Timberman, or something like that.) Apparently pop music, like, also messes with kids' minds.

Now, I fully get that this was done in jest. It made me giggle several times, despite the horrible music.  I, for one, thing today's kids are in good hands (again, I'm a teacher). I think that they are also makin great strides in expressing themselves. Here's a nice picture of me, sent to me by one of my kids, that proves the point. It is well done and completely, 100% gramatically correct.

I luv teaching.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stockholm Trainer Syndrome

In 1973, a small group of people were hanging out in a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. I suspect that they were minding their own business, drinking the free coffee, chatting with bank employees, and trying to figure out how to remove those pens nicely chained down in the lobby. As if to ruin their bliss, another small group of people comes in to rob the bank.

The bank robbery lasted for about 6 days. Everyone was quite civil with each other. The hostages and the bank robbers eventually became friends, despite the fact that the bad guys had guns. No one got hurt and the victims defended their captors. This was the birth of Stockholm Syndrome.

Nowadays, the term has been expanded. You no longer need to be in a bank. Or have a gun. There only needs to be a situation where one party is an aggressor while the other party is the aggressee. Next, there must be some kind of trauma: bullying, belittling, pain, suffering, abuse, etc. If the end result is a positive bond formed out of the negative interaction, BAM, Stockholm Syndrome.

I have Stockholm Syndrome. My aggressor- the bike trainer. It awaits for me in my prison cell of a basement. The 8 x 11 space has a sink and a TV with only basic cable. Riding on the trainer is pure torture. I spin my legs in tiny circles. Like a hamster in cage, I go nowhere. I am bathed in a pool of my own excrement (sweat). This corrosive material damages many of the moving parts on my bike. Let's not even think about the smell.

In fair weather, I love riding my bike. I go for hours on end with the pure bliss of being out in nature, wind blowing through my hair. It doesn't feel like work. However, after 15 minutes in the dungeon, I am in agony. There is no nature (I do not get the Discovery channel on my cable package). There is no wind (flatulence is not the same thing).

Recently, my attitude towards the trainer has changed. I am doing a lot more work in the basement. I ride about 5 days a week. I am mixing up the intervals. Even as I write this post, I am thinking on heading on down to the bike. I am feeling faster. I am feeling stronger. I believe I am faster. I believe I am stronger. I am crediting the trainer for my cycling fitness gains.

As I check the weather forecast, I know that I am destined to be on the trainer for the next couple of weeks. And you know what, it doesn't bother me. In fact, I am looking forward to the times. I have some repeated workouts that I want to compare my paces against. The trainer is devoid of the elements that can hinder efficient comparisons. The wind can work against you. There are no traffic lights in the basement. No cars are going to run you off the road. The risk of getting hit by a gazelle is at an all time low.

In short, I am growing to love my trainer. It will be a sad day when I hang up the rollers for the open road. Gone will be the bad movies. Gone will be the stink. Life, as I know it, will have changed and I don't know if I want it to.

This is Stockholm Trainer Syndrome. May God have mercy on my soul.