Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stumbling the Gantlet
Running between a couple of lines of thugs beating on you with clubs or switches can be difficult. So can spelling a tricky word consistently all the way through an entire sentence. And when the word is a tester like gantlet—or is it gauntlet?—well, then you've got real trouble.

Today, therefore, seemed like a good moment to run the gantlet of the Sunday shows—a gauntlet that can be withering, and where Mrs. Clinton knew she would face strict scrutiny of her sharply changed positions on Iraq.

I've often paused, while tapping away brilliantly at the keyboard, to ask myself if it was the gantlet or the gauntlet that I intended. But even when uncertain, I've made my choice and stuck with it. No sharply changed positions on the spelling of the word, not for me!

So, yo, New York Times, the reason Hillary is running the gantlet is that several months ago she threw down the gauntlet and challenged Edwards, Richardson and the rest for the presidential nomination.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pierogies in Portland
Pierogies and holubtsi and dancing girls in native garb, all at the Ukrainian Festival in Sellwood...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Generational Lament
Received this morning: "J has been going downtown since Wednesday. He got a summons for jury duty. He thinks they will have a full jury today and he will be released. He has sat on six juries and enjoys doing it. I asked him if he met any interesting people. When they have breaks they all are attached to a phone or other type of gaget. No talking to each other, like it used to be. What would these people do with out their phones? The world sure has changed."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

'You be good. See you tomorrow. I love you.'
Last words of a very smart African gray parrot, who died late last week at 31.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Today's Run

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hometown Race
My assessment of the Oregon Trout City of Portland Triathlon is swayed considerably by the fact that I was able to drive to the start in 10 minutes and park maybe 50 yards from T1/2 and the finish. How cool is that? The contrast with, say, Vineman, with its far-flung transitions, mile-away parking, and dismal school-bus shuttles had me wiping tears from my eyes.

Or maybe that was just muck from the Willamette.

Yes, we swam in Oregon's superfund toilet of a river.

It wasn't bad, actually. Well, my swim was bad, but conditions weren't. Under water you couldn’t see past your fingers, but that was as anticipated. It was long—literally long, I think, maybe closer to 1.0 miles than 0.9, although that hardly explains my pathetic time. That was a product of my generally weak form, and also the strange neck/shoulder/arm ailment that befell me soon after the Pacific Crest half back in late-June. Speaking to the latter point, I just haven't been able to swim much and, being a mediocre swimmer at best, had totally lost my edge. Instead of swimming my usual three or four days a week, I've been in the pool maybe a half-dozen or so times in the past nine weeks. Not good. And when I do swim, I have almost no strength to pull with my left stroke.

OK, so my swim was 37:48, 111th out of the 137 dudes who started the race. I was just happy to have it out of the way.

I then had my typical stupendously slow transition, despite the fact that I got my wetsuit off much quicker than usual. How'd I accomplish that? I cut it off! That's right, I used a pair of scissors and sliced right down each leg and just stepped out. This wasn't as crazy as it sounds, actually, as the suit, after six years of use, had recently suffered several tears and was landfill-bound. Oops, I mean recycling center-bound (this was a "sustainable" triathlon, after all). I almost bought a new one before the race but thought it would be fun to usher out the old one in dramatic fashion. It was a first-generation Zoot two-piece and a gold-medal winning gymnast didn't have the flexibility to wiggle out of that bottom piece with ease. Still, the thing did carry me through dozens of races, including several in frigid waters. I think of Millerton on the edge of the Sierra in April, and Wickiup in the Cascades at Pacific Crest—pretty chilly stuff.

Onto the bike. Riding my old (2001) Lemond roadie among all the sleek, super-light tri bikes is getting ridiculous. I'm springing for a new bike soon, very soon. A tri bike. That's right, aero bars and everything. So this might have been it for the bike, too, though I did not cut it up or even crash it to celebrate the occasion. I just rode it. Not particularly quickly, but on an odd, straight-line, six-lap course, my bike was better than my swim. Up the river parkway for two miles, a U-turn, back down it for two miles, a U-turn, again and again.

One way was into the wind and up a slight grade, the other way—that's right: with the wind and down a slight grade (funny how that worked out). Highlight of the race came on lap six when I saw racer 510 weaving between people on his passes. Passing on the right is against the rules—and it's a good rule, a safety thing, limiting just a bit the possibility of mishap amid riders of varying abilities, fitness levels and powers of concentration. A decently marshaled race would have resulted in a penalty for racer 510—one Luke Reyes, of Portland—but all it earned him today was a gentle (I swear) few words from me when he passed me on the right: "Hey, bud, you gotta pass on the left, not the right." The classy Mr. Reyes flipped me the bird, good and long, without looking back.

Well, I kicked his ass on the run—48:18 vs. 1:00:46—despite the fact he was half my age.

The run course was excellent, over the Hawthorne to the east side of the river, north up the Esplanade, back to the west side on the Steel, then south to where we started. Do this 3.1-mile loop twice and there's your 10K, triathlon fans.

Mile 6 on the run was my best and fastest, coming in around 6:50 as a little peroneal tendonitis in my right leg finally loosened up. Always nice to finish strong and, moreover, always nice to finish.

Crowds were super—more fans than racers (300+), I think. Weather was perfect, calm for the swim, keeping the river smooth, and then sunny and comfortable, in the 60s heading into the 70s by the mid-morning finish.

To Jeff Henderson, who brought this inaugural triathlon to downtown Portland, a big thank you. It was a very well run event. Strictly on organizational terms, one of the best I've ever been involved in. And I'm not just saying that because of the killer parking spot I got.

The final data:

PS: Oregon Trout, the title sponsor of today's race, is a great organization!