Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Periodically Speaking

This post was inspired by a few of my students. Whereas they will once in a while do something that is generally regarded as blog worthy (they are teenagers after all), I try to keep their appearances in the blog to a minimum. The only time they make Banter headlines is in truly exceptional circumstances of idiocy or in regards to sport. This post is about none of that.

Here's the synopsis: I started teaching a new chemistry class this semester. This information in and of itself is neither shocking or newsworthy since I have a degree in chemistry and am a teacher. In fact, given those qualifiers, it makes absolute sense. So, what's the point.

As you may have garnered, the more some things change the more they stay the same. At the beginning of the course I sat down and laid out a plan of attack for the new chemists. I flashed back to my HS chemistry days and recognized that it was an agonizingly horrible experience. I don't think I learned much except for the most useless of facts in a chemist's toolbox.

One of the things we had to do was memorize the elements, including their symbols, for the first 80 or so entries. Mendeleev, who was a triathlete, would have been proud. Now that I'm an adult and in an advisory role, I find that task absolutely, totally, and in all other ways ridiculous. There is not a chemistry lab lacking this list readily available for your viewing pleasure. Why bother memorizing something that is going to be in plain sight? Plus, there's a lot more going on in chemistry than just the elements. There's, you know, compounds, electrons, and other stuff (okay, I actually didn't plan that far ahead).

Like most good teachers, and some mediocre ones as well, I make it a habit of actually talking to my students. They believe it's wasting time. I believe it to be learning about my students so I can better serve them. (They may be more right than me... I'm still not complaining.) I told them about my chem experience and that I actually memorized the names and symbols. They, of course, took it upon themselves to challenge this edict and test me. I, of course, passed with flying colors. I can't remember the kids' names to save my life but I'll be damned if I get an element wrong. Curse you 10th grade chemistry teacher. You took up all of my good brain cells with that useless knowledge.

The kids, sadly, were quite impressed with this feat. I tried to explain to them that it was a useless skill and that I really only had one other, equally useless skill. They were having none of that. This resulted in my kids actually wanting to memorize the elements. Ugh. (The results are not in as of this posting.)

Hopefully, they aren't scarred for life. Hopefully, they know that there's more to life than chemistry (which is not completely true).

For example, there is candy.

Since these kids are HS students, and that they have recently, or soon will have, gotten their driver's license, they'll need a car.

Based on the evidence that they wanted to memorize useless facts, they clearly are geeks in the bunch. Here's one that appeals to their geekdome (of which I may be the overlord).

I admit that not all of them are geeks. Some might actually become stand-up, first class citizens. That'd be awesome. (Except for element #1- definitely misplaced)

And, just in case you're thinking that there's too many. There's not enough time to learn and pronounce all of that, take a gander at this gem. Try and pay attention to some of the images as they flash across the screen. Good stuff in there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WW- Ode to OKC Tri-Geeks

I'm hanging out in central Oklahoma. Home of the Sooners. Home of the BIL. Home of not much else. In a effort to socialize me, the BIL set-up a play date with some of the members the OKC Tri-Club. I got to be the odd man out by being the only person in our small group ride NOT on a Cervelo P2. Unlike them, I choose to ride an American-made Giant.

We set out on a 30 mile rolling course. I spent a lot of time riding with IronMan Piers (so named 'cause he's a once and future IM finisher). Up and down we went on a route littered with short/ steep rolling hills and featuring over 1000 feet of climbing. The quads don't normally experience such resistance changes on the trainer back home. We also got knocked around quite a bit with a mighty batch of wind.

(Aside: Since I've been in the great OK state, I've had the following burns: wind burn, sun burn, trail burn (more on this later), and today, freezer burn. Second aside: Today was cold and snowy. It's as if the state wanted me to feel right at home, ya know, weather wise. End second aside. It sure is an interesting place to train. End aside.)

Before the ride, the clan had planned to go out for a run. The original goal was to go for an 8-10 mile transition run. When the ride was over, that plan was promptly modified to for a 6-8 mile easy run. I love hanging out with triathletes. Who was I to argue with shortening a run? I thought it was a swell idea. We set out at a comfortable pace and ended up getting in 6.25. It was time well spent.

During the run, we got to chatting. This is new for me. The only times I ever exercise with people are during races. Chatting is generally kept to a minimum since I am working on crushing the dreams and egos of my fellow competitors with marginal levels of success. Idle conversation doesn't seem necessary during those times. However, that day's workout was a social experience and conversation was good. At one point, Realestate Rob ('cause he's a real estate guru) made a joke to me and Bug Doc Katrina ('cause she's a genius PhD scientist in bugs). The joke was about Germany's solar dominance over the US. So, not only am I hanging out with triathletes, but also people who get the irony of American's popular media's penchant to get the facts wrong (FYI- Germany leads the industry in solar power usage and significantly trails the US in available solar energy. Hence, the reason Realestate Rob's joke was hysterical.)

Just in case there are any other geeky triathletes out there, I've got some memes that you'll appreciate:

A big thanks to the OKC peeps for inviting me into their inner circle for some fun in the Oklahoma sun. IM Piers and I had some great Darwin talks and the importance of science history education. Realestate Rob helped me understand better the seedy underground of the Oklahoma housing market. Bug Doc Katrina (shown on the right) volunteered her time to take me and the family on an incredible behind-the-scenes tour of her work at the museum. All y'all are the epitome of awesome Southern Hospitality at its finest. Good luck to you and your up-and-coming endeavors!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Driving Into Spring

I really would like to know how in the world people came to base season change on a small rodent. It must have taken years of careful observation coupled with, and I'm pretty sure about this, plenty of ethanol. To make the leap of faith, and to practice it yearly, that a groundhog seeing its shadow or not will dictate the arrival of spring is completely fascinating in a disgusting sort of way. (Plus, if you've ever watched the video, I'm pretty sure the whole thing is rigged, further negating any hold in reality.)

I know that there are those who enjoy the winter wonderland (the Wife being at the top of that list). They see pictures like this and think, "It's so beautiful." I look at this shot of a path near my backyard and all I can see is a world that has had its color removed and replaced with white and gray. It's like taking a talented artist, maybe the pbs guy named Bob Ross, and asked them to paint a couple of happy little trees. But, in a cruel joke, they gave Ross only white, black, and gray paint. I suppose I don't actually hate looking at the snow but my world dictates that I must interact with said substance.

It's right around this time of year, in case you haven't noticed, when I loathe living in the northeastern end of the country. Spring will NEVER arrive early. At this point, I'm pessimistic that it will arrive at all. But, like any semi-intelligent bloke, I took matters into my own hands. Since spring won't come to me, I'll go to spring.

So I packed up the Wife and dogs and headed south. For those of you who didn't know, there is a semi-inverse relationship between latitude and temperature. As a rule of thumb, not dogma, the lower the latitude the higher the temperature. I live at around 45º north latitude. The Banter-in-Law lives at around 35º latitude. As I said, the relationship is only semi-inverse. Back home, the temps were in the 20's. Upon arriving in central nowhere, AKA Oklahoma, the mercury had to the mid 40's.

The above shot is a pretty good representation of the entire state. As you can see, there is absolutely no snow on the ground. The white/ black/ gray has been completely replaced by the representative colors of brown and red. I haven't checked in to it, but I'm pretty sure those are the official state colors, mostly because there aren't any other colors available. (Aside: Rumor has it that just I missed a big snowstorm than pummeled the locals and delivered a good 3/4 of an inch. Shut the city down for 12 days and some people had to ration supplies because they were caught off guard by the heinous precipitation. The National Guard was leaving the state as we drove in. End aside.)

Further analysis of the picture will reveal the extremely low water levels in what passes for a 'lake' around here. Obviously the BIL's neighborhood planning committee was not composed of triathletes or they would have better removed the tree stumps from the 'lake' bed and made it available for swimming. No such luck. In the background, you can see that the state's representative colors are worked directly into the brick construction. Almost all of the homes celebrate the brown and red motif. In the foreground of the shot, you can clearly see that I am a horrible photographer who cannot remove his finger from the frame, thus negating any criticism I may have about the landscape.

You will also notice the lack of any deciduous trees or forests, further angering the spirit of Bob Ross. This fact continues for miles and miles through Texas down to the Gulf. Wind speeds and gusts have nothing but a couple of rogue cows to slow the circulating air.

I am not complaining about any of this. Upon arriving into Sooner country, I said my hello's and promptly went for a run. Remember, this is Lent season and the 20 hour drive was non-conducive to Lenting. The thermometer said 43º at 9:00 pm. I put on my shorts and did a 4 mile jaunt in relative comfort. I had stepped out of the car into a different state. And into a different season. I had arrived in spring.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Challenge of Lent- 2013

Before I get on with the meat of the post, I'd like to take a moment and apologize to those of you who are expecting some sort of Wacky Wednesday report. I would only interrupt such semi-hilarity for special occasions such as natural disasters, birthdays, or Alzheimer's. Today being the kick off of Lent, and with me having a tradition of being Lental, I will have to postpone the Wacking for later on this evening when I'm alone another time.

Happy Lent to you. For those of you who are new to the show, or for those who have just plain forgotten, or for those of you who simply don't care, I am a big fan of Lent. I have absolutely no idea why. Let's try and find out...

Lent 2011
This was my first year blogging and I came up with this great idea of giving up 'not working out'. I called this extravaganza the 40 Days of Working Out. I created some rules that qualified and quantified working out.
  1. I must swim, bike, and/ or run daily. Other forms of exercise do not count.
  2. For it to count, the total duration must be more than 30 minutes.
  3. Intensity is not important.
  4. I may not work out extra in one day to make up for another day.
  5. I may excuse myself from exercise if there is a legitimate risk to my health, including injury.
  6. I may excuse myself from exercise if there is a legitimate obligation to the Wife.
It wasn't until well into the season that I learned how to count and came to the conclusion that Lent was actually 46 days, not 40. I worked out for 45 of those days. Quote from the conclusion of that season, "I might have been better served by taking a day off and really attacking my workout versus stringing together a few of mandated sessions that my body wasn't interested in."

Lent 2012
It's amazing what a year will do to your brain cells. The further you are removed from the incident, the more appealing it becomes. Lost to the wind are the bad times. Gone is the hatred. Absent is the negative. The only thought that remains is the calling that lead you to the original conclusion. Therefore, I decided to try again. "I promised that I wouldn't do that again. As it turns out, I am a complete idiot."

I failed. But, the Lenten Challenge leave me alive, with only a couple of scars down the sides of my cheeks as reminders of the experience. It went so poorly that I didn't even report my progress, or lack there of. I completely glossed over the fact that I was a Lenten Loser. I blogged as if the Challenge didn't even exist. Sorry about that.

Lent 2013
Starts today. And, since I am obviously a short-sighted bloke with poor long-term memory skills and a lower-than-average cranial capacity, I am officially starting the 2013 46-Days-of-Working-Out.

Given my Lenten history of bitterness and failure, why in the world would I do this again?

Well, for the exact same reasons I annually sign up for the Ironman (which may not be too far off from now). For 1, it's hard. For 2, I hate failing. Even though I biff it repeatedly, that doesn't mean I appreciate the fact that it won. Every year I have a rotten IM. Every year I have a rotten Lent. But, I think I can beat them both. I have no evidence for this. The data actually refute that hypothesis. Doesn't matter to me. I'm quite stubborn on most aspects of life and I'm not going to let this one a pass.

With each subsequent failure, I grow stronger in my desire to prove to myself (and to you if you care to read about it) that I have what it takes to actually be a success. Just because I sucked in the past is no reason to predict that I will suck in the future. (Okay, that may be bad reasoning. But reasoning intelligently has also not been one of my strengths.)

Hear that Lent. I am not afraid of you. I may despise you, but I am willing to tackle you head on. Face first. You may win again this year. I won't be easy. I refuse to go down without a fight. If you have any hope of beating me this year, you had better bring it. Because I am ready. (Plus I also have a few extra pounds I need to lose. I'll add that to the list of incentives to beat the system.)

Goals of my Lenten Challenge 2013
  • 46 Consecutive Days of Working Out
  • Following the rules and procedures established in 2011
  • Lose 8 pounds by Easter  (official weigh in this morning, on my off by 5-pounds scale, was 172.2)

Anyone else with me? Goals for you?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Naming Workouts

For Immediate Release

During the upcoming 2013 training season, will name noteworthy training sessions. Our goal is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events. The fact is, a training session with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation.

Naming Workouts
Track sessions and long runs have been given names since the 1940s. In the late 1800s, swim training sessions near Australia were named as well. Training systems, including winter training, have been named in Europe since the 1950s. Important dividends have resulted from attaching names to these training sessions:
  • Naming a workout raises awareness.
  • Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a workout’s progress.
  • A workout with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
  • In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication.
  • A named workout is easier to remember and refer to in the future.
The question then begs to ask “Why aren’t workouts named?”  In fact, in Europe the naming of workouts has been going on for a long time.  Here in the U.S., summer time exercise including recovery runs and easy days occur on such a small time and space scale that there would be little benefit and much confusion trying to attach names to them. However, harder training is different. Workouts occur on a time and space scale that is similar to tropical training.

In fact, historically many major training sessions have been named during or after the event has occurred. Examples include “The President’s Day Run” and “Swimageddon.” Yet, until now, there has been no organized naming system for these workouts before they impact physiological centers.

One of the reasons this may be true is that there is no national workout center, such as the National Exercise Center, to coordinate and communicate information on a multi-state scale to cover such big events. The Centers for Raised Awareness and Prevention (CRAP) does issue discussions and training plans on a national scale but it does not fill the same role as the USAT. Therefore, it would be a great benefit for a partner in the exercise industry to take on the responsibility of developing a new concept.   

This is where a world-class organization such as will play a significant role. We have the physiological ability, support and technology to provide the same level of coaching for workouts that we have done for years with semi-entertaining blog posts.

In addition to providing information about significant workouts by referring to them by name, the name itself will make communication and information sharing in the constantly expanding world of social media much easier.  As an example, hash tagging a workout based on its name will provide a one-stop shop to exchange all of the latest information on the impending high-impact anaerobic efforts.

There will be many differences from the “traditional model” for naming workoutss. Unlike simple runs, training takes place at efforts under extreme energy and forces from the body.

Often a workout that is expected to strike a metropolitan area three days from now has not even completely formed in the training log. Therefore, naming of workouts will be limited to no more than three days before impact to ensure there is moderate to strong confidence the workout will actually happen and produce physiological effects in an area of the body.  In addition, the impacts from workouts are not as simple to quantify as speed training sessions where a workout is named once the paces exceed a certain threshold.

The process for naming a workout will reflect a more complete assessment of several variables that combine to produce disruptive impacts including snowfall, ice, wind, temperature, and relative pansiness on the day.  In addition, the time of day (morning vs. evening) and the day of the week (weekday school and work; travel vs. weekends; Spring Break) will be taken into consideration in the process the Banter will use to name workouts.

This is an ambitious project. However, the benefits will be significant. Naming workouts will raise the awareness of the public, which will lead to more pro-active efforts to plan ahead, resulting in less impact and inconvenience overall.

Coordination and information sharing should improve between bloggers as well as the media, leading to less ambiguity and confusion when assessing big workouts that affect multiple states of mind. It will even make it easier and more efficient for social media to communicate information regarding the workout resulting in a better informed public. And, on the occasion that different workouts are scheduled on the same day, naming workouts will allow for clearer communications.

Finally, it might even be fun and entertaining and that in itself should breed interest from our reading public and our digital users.  For all of these reasons, the time is right to introduce this concept for the season of 2013.

Call to Action
I am asking you, the reader, to help me in this endeavor. I am looking to compile an A-Z list of named workouts. The name could be just about anything., PG-13 or below please. Comment with your proposed name and description of the workout. United on this front, we can change the way people think and report on exercise.

Special Thanks
Thanks to The Weather Channel's ludicrous policy of naming winter storms for providing the inspiration for this post.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The 5th Emotion

I am not, by any means, an expert on emotions. I am, however, well read and a very careful observer. Based on volumes of literature and years of experience, I'm pretty sure that there are only 4 emotions: Happy, sad, frustrated, and hungry. In most instances, the latter is widely accepted as the driving force for the other 3.

(Aside: Some journals also list a sub-emotion, known as horny. It is believed to be a concurrence state of happy and frustrated. Recently, testing protocols during those experiments has been called into question. Whereas scientists agree that horniness exists, as evidenced in countless You-Tube videos of spring break (of which I have NOT seen, just for the record) (please don't ask me how I know about those videos that I have not seen) (keep in mind that I am, like I said, well read) the question is whether or not the condition is an actual emotion or simply a character trait controlled mainly by the Y chromosome. Others believe that they have found the horny gene on the X chromosome with a magnifying gene on the Y, using that hypothesis to explain why males are more... Anyway, the debate is very polarized and consensus is not expected any time soon. End Aside.)

Early Friday morning, I awoke earlier than usual with a funky pain in my chest. I am, for all intents and purposes, not very old in terms of expected heart problems. Not wanting to rule it out, I took my pulse. It was sitting happily in the upper 40s. No beats were skipped. Using that highly sophisticated system of diagnostics, I quickly ruled out heart attack, stroke, and knife to the thorax as possible causes of my chest discomfort.

Now that my interests were piqued, sleep was not about to return. I got up and did some research. My first order of business, for some reason, was to look at my training log. Training can be an incredibly powerful tool, but it can be destructive as well. I didn't like what the log was telling me.

I'll note that the Banter-in-Law and I have been recently having a pseudo- run competition for a couple of weeks now. I'm not sure who's winning, mostly because I don't have a copy of the rule book. Despite repeated attempts to order one from Amazon, I have failed miserably at obtaining a clear description if the winner is declared by the sum of miles over the duration of the competition period or if the winner of this week gets a point and the miles are zeroed at the beginning of a week.

To further complicate matters, the BIL and I disagree as to when the week actually starts. I posit that the week starts on Monday since Saturday and Sunday are commonly referred to as 'the weekend' and training blocks are combined efforts on these days. The BIL is quite Gregorian in his definition and prefers to allow the common wall calendar to control on what day his week starts. Even the Bible states that the week starts on Monday but this evidence means nothing to the BIL. Again, debates like these are highly polarized and rarely is a consensus formed. Which is why I need a copy of the official rule book. Which is why I have a complaint email out to Amazon customer service.

Regardless of how you interpret the rules, the competition is pretty close. I believe that our weekly mileage over the past couple of weeks is similar. In the head-to-head competition, I have won just as many weeks as I have lost. Things are heating up, unless you are looking at my weather forecast.

This past week has been a little different. Not only have I been trying to run more, I'm taking the overachiever line of adding more bike trainer time. Ideally, I'd be getting in simple saddle time. Since I'm doing my work on the trainer, simple saddle time sucks and I've replaced cruising with intervals. And when doing intervals, the Ego Gene takes over and I have to go hard. And, over the course of 3 weeks, I went from 3 rides to 4 rides and now to 5 rides this week.

On top of that, I've been running 7-8 times a week. This is more running as I have ever done in a week's time in both frequency and mileage. One day, about 10 days ago, it was 'warm' outside (40s) and I went hard. My legs were still smarting a couple days later. On Tuesday of this week, I did my usual trainer ride in the morning. It was tough. I canceled a run due to muscle soreness and replaced it with a glass of wine and Big Bang Theory reruns. On Wednesday, I did my a.m. ride and a nice afternoon tempo run. On Thursday, I was scheduled for an easy short run but replaced it with a date with the Wife.

When I looked at the log on Friday morning, it's clear that my brain has subconsciously come to the conclusion that I will only be getting in 6 runs this week and losing about 8-10 miles as compared to last week. This was a hard pill to swallow. After hitting PubMed, I came across a study found in the Journal of Obscure Medicine that lists, what scientists believe, is an actual 5th emotion: Guilt.

Guilt is triggered by the release of guilt-inducing hormones that flood the brain and body. Hypersensitivity to the environment is common in patients suspected of guilt. Here's the worst part about guilt- it creates an additive, negative cycle pattern of thought. Once you start to feel guilty about something, you think about it more often. Which leads to more guilt. Which leads to more thinking. Then, you start to feel guilty about feeling guilty. Thus, the cycle is amplified.

Even in the JOOM, they list that in most test subjects, guilt lies in direct conflict with logic. This was certainly my case. Logically speaking, it was a good idea in taking time off. My legs recovered well. I was able to hit my targets during my bike rides. My subsequent runs were smooth and comfortable. Six runs with 30+ miles is still darn good. I had a great date with the Wife. There was nothing to feel guilty about. But, like most emotions, there really is no point in arguing.

After learning about this new emotion, of which it is clear I am capable of having, I needed a solution to my problem. I needed to stop feeling guilty. I did what anyone else in my situation would do. I went for a run. And, just to make sure, I tacked on a couple of additional miles from the original plan. I didn't erase the guilt completely, but it did lessen the blow. I slept well of Friday night.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sick of the Winter

Seriously, I am DONE with snow. It bleaches the Earth and coats everything with a thick, unpleasant slurry. It really is a shame that it's not done with us. I know that it is only February and, from a meteorological perspective, spring is still another month and a half off. The possibility for snow is not only reasonable, but also highly probable at this time of year. That's besides the point. Anybody else with me on this?

And while I'm at it, I am also finished with the cold. For the record, my definition of 'cold' is morphing. It used to be anything under 20º. Then I brought the threshold up to the freezing point of water. Now, the freezing point of the Banter is hanging out in the mid-40ºs. This, of course, depends on the atmospheric pressure and my sodium content, which is ample these days. At this rate, I'll be your prototypical old guy retiring to Florida, complaining that anything below 70 is cold. If I were to make a graph and extrapolate, I may reach that point in 2.5 years. Awesome.

It doesn't look like the pain is going to end anytime soon. A quick glance at the near future weather yields this:

Boo! Unless, of course, this hits us hard and they close school. Then, I might celebrate. Unless they force us to make up the day when it's nice outside. If that's the case, I'm back to Boo! All of this would be better if the snow and cold just went away.

For those of you who are semi-science geeks, you'll understand why I am so winter-adverse. Most movements on land depend on an imbalance of opposing forces. You provide a mechanical force. The land provides a frictional force. (Okay, these are really just subsets of the same force, but that's fodder for another post.) Gravity (which is a separate force not yet unified with the others) pulls you down. Whether or not you actually move depends on the coefficient of friction, or amount of sticky between you and the land.

Sometimes, the coefficient of friction drops to drastically low levels. When that happens, navigation is incredible difficult. That is unless, of course, you are planning on going downhill. Then, things get rather efficient. Or painful. Or hysterical.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Evidence of Economic Recovery

Let's face it, my finances for the past year haven't been exactly on top of their game. There's a big reason for this: the Democrats are in control and have been for quite some time we were paying the bills on 2 houses at the same time. Then, a couple of weeks ago, the burden was lifted on one of those fine dwellings. We found a nice young couple of suckers to take over the responsibilities of the old house.

  • Gone was the second mortgage (okay, it was actually the first mortgage since we owned that house first). 
  • Gone was the insurance premium, which we kept current because we had this secret dream that some natural disaster would wipe the house out and we could simply collect the premium and be done with the housing market (yes, I know there are flaws in that scheme, just let me have my fantasy). Also, the mortgage people required it.
  • Gone was the school tax that we still have to pay even though we don't have any children. Since I am a teacher, it's sort of like paying my own salary. And that, like all perpetual motion devices, doesn't work as well as you'd hope.
  • Gone was the water bill, whose main purpose was to make sure the toilets would flush. Apparently, if you let the bowl go dry due to natural evaporation, the scent trap underneath gets freed and you populate your house with the smell of your community's sewer system. The basic service fee cost more than the amount of water used and almost all of that was by flushing non-soiled toilets.
  • Gone was the gas bill, whose sole purpose was to provide fuel to the boiler and give heat so that the water pipes needed to flush the toilet didn't burst in places we didn't want them to. (It's a viscous loop.)
  • Gone was the electric bill, whose sole purpose was to provide energy to the pump that circulated the hot water from the boiler to the rest of the house so that the pipes wouldn't freeze so that we could flush the toilet. 
  • (It seems a lot of our money went into making sure that the toilet would flush in a house that we didn't want anymore.)
Now that all of the above has been deleted from our list of requirements, our bank account is starting to show signs something that resembles normalcy. For example, I have heard of places that will make food for you. You walk in to these place and select an item from a list of options. You are allowed to make changes, such as adding additional products or removing  a selection. Then, they will cook your food and deliver it to you fresh and hot. We tried that the other day and it was awesome.

Further evidence, new shoes. I've been in need of a new pair for a while now. My old ones were getting a little ratty. Look at the pic. These obviously aren't mine because I would never actually run in a pair of Saucony's (unless someone from Saucony wants to sponsor me, then of course I'd love the shoe <ahem- hint hint->). The shoes in the pic share some striking similarities with my real shoes-Mizuono's (if anyone from Mizuno happens to be reading this, I'm expecting a call from Saucony to discuss sponsorship, but I will entertain any offers from you). With all of my cash being flushed, I've been holding off on the purchase. No more! I actually bought a pair of new running shoes. Granted, they haven't made me any faster but my feet do stay a little warmer and dryer in the winter's cold.

Here's the big one. The conclusive evidence that my checkbook has been unburdened from its shackles. The sure fire way that you know that things are starting to look up for the Banter again.

I'm training again.

Up until yesterday, I had simply been working out. The philosophy behind that statement can be found here. For those of you too lazy to click the link, allow me to summarize. No races + no goals= No training. As you have probably surmised, I have officially signed up for a race. My sidebar has been updated. I am taking my nice new running shoes out for their very first training run later today.

I signed up for the Keuka Lake Triathlon- Olympic Distance. The KLT is an outstanding event. It's a beautiful location. Challenging course. Perfect amenities. I mean it no harm or disservice when I say this is/ nor will not be the main event of my season. Then, why in the world did I choose this race first?

A couple of reasons: First, it's the traditional kickoff to the triathlon season. Most races prior to June are either running-only events or duathlons. Most triathletes are pansies (myself included) who don't like cold water swims. Upstate NY is mired by high latitude numbers. This equates to poor levels of insolation and, due to water's high specific heat, a tendency to have chilly water temps. Any colder, in some years, and the race would become a duathlon, which is triathlon's bastard brother of multisport.

Second, of all of the triathlon race distances, I enjoy the Olympic Distance the least. Don't get me wrong, all triathlon events are fun and on orders of magnitudes greater than their single sport companions. If you take the rest of the sporting world out of the equation and focus at the pointy end of the spectrum, Olys are the hardest. They're almost fast. They're almost long. They're completely hard. But, I have delusions of longer stuff, making this race a great steeping stone. It's also a rather efficient gauge of my early season fitness.

And lastly, I signed up for this race because the RD is smart. Triathlons are expensive to start off with, difficult to plan, and complicated to coordinate. Unlike running races which seem to allow anyone with a twenty dollar bill to get in, there is a triathlon race capacity. Swarms of competitors swimming, biking, and running take work to manage and keep safe. More people equals more work and more risk. But triathlon is growing while the venue capacity seems to have stagnated. RD's all across the country are seeing their race sell out. This is a good thing for them. In fact, the earlier the race sells out, the better. They get capital in hand, pay their bills (which may or may not be toilet flushing related), and can plan accordingly.

With that in mind, RD's offer a discount for people to sign up early. Like I said, the RD is smart. This is the real reason I signed up for the race. The KLT early bird special ended yesterday. That knowledge alone was enough for me to open my wallet, pull out the credit card, and sign the electronic waiver. I "saved" $5 by forking over digital cash yesterday instead of today. It's still not enough to get someone to bring me cooked food, but it's a start.

The other races on my wish list have later deadlines and I am a procrastinator by nature. I will be signing up for more races. I still have yet to register for the big one. I have an idea for that race. But, like I said earlier, we are not in full blown recovery and tris are expensive. I'll keep you posted.