Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another Music Post

It's been a while. I know. Don't get your hopes up. I'm not going to say anything definite or provide any kind of factual update to anything that's been going on. Someone asked me recently how things were going and my response was "Things continue and the dude abides." The reference got missed but the sentiment was dead on.

That said, these two songs have been on the playlist a lot lately, along with the rest if these guys' catalog. The band is called Thrice and I think they're my favorite band of the moment. The songs seem a bit contradictory in terms of lyrical content, but they go together for me. They're both from the album "The Artist in the Ambulance."

The Melting Point of Wax
I've waited for this moment
All my life and more
And now I see so clearly
What I could not see before.
The time is now or never
This chance won't come again
Throw caution and myself into the wind.

There's no promise of safety with these secondhand wings
But I'm willing to find out what impossible means.
A leap of faith.

Parody of an angel
Miles above the sea
I hear the voice of reason
Screaming after me
"You've flown far too high boy now you're too close to the sun,
Soon your makeshift wings will come undone"

But how will I know limits from lies if I never try?

There's no promise of safety with these secondhand wings
But I'm willing to find out what impossible means.
I'll climb through the heavens on feathers and dreams
'Cause the melting point of wax means nothing to me.
Nothing to me
Nothing to me

I will touch the sun or I will die trying.
Die Trying.

Fly on these secondhand wings
Willing to find out what impossible means
I'll climb through the heavens on feathers and dreams
'Cause the melting point of wax means nothing to me
Nothing to me
Means nothing to me
Miles above the sea.

The Artist in the Ambulance
Late night, brakes lock, hear the tires squeal
Red light, can't stop so I spin the wheel
My world goes black before I feel an angel lift me up
And I open bloodshot eyes into fluorescent white
They flip the siren, hit the lights, close the doors and I am gone

Now I lay here owing my life to a stranger
And I realize that empty words are not enough
I'm left here with the question of just
What have I to show except the promises I never kept?
I lie here shaking on this bed, under the weight of my regrets

I hope that I will never let you down
I know that this can be more than just flashing lights and sound

Look around and you'll see that at times it feels like no one really cares
It gets me down but I'm still gonna try to do what's right, I know that there's
A difference between sleight of hand, and giving everything you have
There's a line drawn in the sand, I'm working up the will to cross it and


Rhetoric can't raise the dead
I'm sick of always talking when there's no change
Rhetoric can't raise the dead
I'm sick of empty words, let's lead and not follow

Late night, brakes lock, hear the tires squeal
Red light, can't stop so I spin the wheel
My world goes black before I feel an angel steal me from the
Greedy jaws of death and chance, and pull me in with steady hands
They've given me a second chance, the artist in the ambulance


Can we pick you off the ground, more than flashing lights and sound

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Road Tunes

This past weekend, I had to make a solo run from Oakland to San Diego in a pickup truck with no air conditioning. If anyone needs a 2000-something Chevy Silverado extended cab, drop a line.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I have an uncanny ability to turn the events of my life, significant and trivial, into massive piles of stress using only the power of my mind. Boredom is, and always has been, one of the greatest catalysts of this process. As you may imagine, I was a little leery of 6-8 hours in a car with only my iPod, the San Joaquin Valley and the inner recesses of my head for company.

Thankfully, the iPod and the valley delivered. It was a beautiful day without too much traffic and the tunes worked like magic. I was totally in the zone and made the run in 7.5 hours. I had so much fun with the tunes that I started keeping track of the playlist. One thing you may find interesting, if you've spent any time in a car with me, is that there's no metal in it.

For the first hour, I ran the iPod on library shuffle. Hey, it was 7:30 in the morning and I was feeling indecisive. After the gas stop, this is what spun out of the stereo.

Panic! At The Disco: A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
Drive-By Truckers: Southern Rock Opera
Kenny Chesney: Live Those Songs Again
Cross-Canadian Ragweed: Back To Tulsa, disc 1
Arctic Monkeys: Favorite Worst Nightmare
Dierks Bentley: Feel That Fire
Our Lady Peace: Burn Burn

So if you've got a long drive ahead, that's my suggestion.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vineman. When You Start to Sizzle, You Move Your Ass.

As usual, for the math geeks and the short attention spanners, here are the numbers:

Swim (Watch split): 0:35:28
T1 (approx): 0:04:10
Bike: 3:02:50
T2: 0:07:01
Run: 3:06:03
Total Time: 6:55:34

Race day dawned before I got up, which was pretty cool. I was lucky enough to have an early start, at 7:02 AM in wave 5. Riding down to the start I had my first thought about how different this race was going to be, since all I had on my back was my mesh Zoot bag. That's right, no transition bag for this race. The Zoot bag contained a pretty minimal kit, too. Wetsuit, flip flops, body glide, goggles, swim cap and sunblock. Everything else I would need before T2 was attached to the bike.

I was strangely calm as we got into transition. I didn't even use my ipod or go through any of my pre-race jitters. Seems like before I knew it, it was 10 minutes to start and I said good luck to a few friends and headed down to the water.

The horn sounded and I took off. I had a little crowd control problem in the first hundred yards or so, but I got clear and found a rhythm pretty fast. I made my along the line of buoys and the only thing that worried me was that every time I hit the one I'd been sighting on, there was another pair. I really wished I had counted them ahead of time so I would have known where the turn was. I'd been warned ahead of time about how shallow the river got in places, but I wasn't ready to grab muck before the halfway point, or to swim into the legs of someone who had stood up to walk at the turn. I don't think he was ready to fall on his ass either, so we'll call it even. Around the turn and into the back stretch I ran into problems. Navigational problems that is. I realized how far off I was when I got close to the bridge and realized I was headed to the wrong side of the leg. I made a hard jag back toward center, only to get stuck behind a frog-kicking girls from a wave or two ahead of me. She wound up getting her ankle grabbed as I jerked past her. Sorry. And then it was out of the water. Final watch split: 00:35:28, my slowest half iron swim so far, but still nothing to sneeze at.

Pretty clean, considering I had to get my swim gear off, bike gear on and the whole shebang repacked into the Zoot bag so it could get moved to T2. I was really looking forward to those flip-flops. 4 minutes or so and I was on the bike.

This bike course rocks. Apart from some rough, narrow roads, it's not technical. It's mostly flat/rolling and a lot of it even has shade. As I came up on the first turn, I felt like I was on a course to make my first goal of the race, which was to finish the bike under 3 hours. I know, it was way too early to feel like that, but I did. A couple miles in, I was approaching a hard right turn into a short, steep climb and there's a volunteer yelling STOP!. Right about then I hear the siren and jam on the brakes. My back wheel starts to slide, but I get my foot out and keep from falling, stopping about a foot shy of the side of a moving ambulance. Not a good sign.

The ambulance passes and I start riding again, from a cold stop up the steep hill. I start talking to the guy next to me about how that just totally messed up our rhythm. Strangely, he agrees with me. We crest the hill and there's another volunteer saying there's been an accident and we'll have to get off our bikes. Also not good. A few hundred yards later, we see the ambulance and a giant tree across the road. There's a cluster of bikers standing there waiting to walk under the tree. There's a fire truck and a cop car on the other side. Going under, I realize that there's a guy under the tree. The paramedics are trying to get him onto a backboard. I shudder.

Clear of the tree, we take off. The guy next to me asks whether I think having a tree fall on you is more or less likely than getting hit by lightning. I have no idea, but I know he's drafting, so I accelerate away. Within the next mile I heard one crash behind me, and then heard another one and turned just in time to see the guy slide into the embankment.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. I felt strong pretty much the whole time. I remembered my lesson from Wildflower and had 6 scoops of CarboPro and 3.5 Nuun tabs spread across 2 water bottles. My other two were plain water. I exchanged two bottles at the first aid station and rode away with more water and a bottle of Gatorade. I never touched my Gus, but I never felt hungry. It must have worked too, because I also never cramped up on the bike.

My only moment of trouble came on the way up Chalk Hill when I suddenly found myself unable to shift into my easiest gears. WTF? At least it wasn't Wildflower. Chalk hill isn't particularly rough, except that it's at mile 42 or so and you're past the last aid station. I stood up, powered up it and dropped back into aero on the other side.

Not too long later, I was in T2, feeling good but a little disappointed that my dead reckoning split was 3:05. Turns out it was 3:02, but I think that without the attack tree I would have made it under.


This is just sort of embarrassing. I got to my spot pretty quick, but I had trouble getting my ice jug open. Then the guy next to me on the rack showed up and wanted to chat about the tree. Finally, I had to wrestle out of my jersey and into my Barney Butter jersey, which required a fresh application of Body Glide to my sides and chest. The jersey tore me up at Longhorn and I didn't want to have that experience again. I finally got out on the run 7 minutes later. Need to work on that.


This was an unstated, though internal goal of mine. Run at least half of the course. I'm pretty sure I did it too, though my time doesn't bear it out. It took about 3 miles for my legs to loosen up from the ride. What has two thumbs and needs to work his bike to run transition? That's right, this guy.

Anyway, once my legs loosened up, I found a pretty good rhythm and was able to run more than walk for most of the way out to the turnaround at La Crema Winery. I didn't see many friends on the way out, except for Chris and Joanna, my fellow Barney Butter-ites. I got a confused look from Chris when I called his name, but had a quick chat with Jo as she passed me. Somewhere past the big hill, I heard the following, which threw me for a second: "The sexy thing is that you're running."

And then Brian Melekian ran past me, looking like he wasn't working at all. We had a quick shouted chat and I was on my own again.

Around this point, I still wasn't hungry, but I had a Gu and a salt tab, just to be safe. I still felt good, although the temperature was climbing. When I got to La Crema, I grabbed a couple of fig newtons at the aid station, along with water and Gatorade. Bad idea on the newtons. I couldn't chew them. I choked one down like prison penance and threw the other two away. On the dirt path through the winery, I felt okay, but the heat and dust started to get to me, so I decided to walk around the first pond and run the second. Oops. The second one is way longer. As I crossed onto the trail, I ran into Derek from TNT and we made snarky comments before I ran on.

Derek caught me at the aid station where I made my second mistake and grabbed some flat cola. What kind of cola? What's a pirate's favorite cola? That's right ARRRRR-C cola! (You're welcome Ben and Mike.) This is supposed to be good on the run for some reason but all it was good for was making me burp.

I ran/walked with Derek for the next few miles, wondering why I hadn't seen more friends. Of course, as soon as I said something, we started seeing all sorts of San Diego TNT-ers. I also saw Dana and Paul about this point. At about mile 8, I had a second wind and Derek dropped off. I ran on through about mile 9.5 before I melted down. My calves started to cramp. And I don't mean "oh, that kind of hurts." I'm talking about mucles rippling up and down on the tendons twanging nerves like like badly tuned banjo strings. It got so bad that from mile 10 on, I couldn't run more than a hundred yards or so without the cramps coming back.

This is of course when I saw Gunn, Jason, Penny, Jodi, Robin and pretty much everyone I knew. Awesome.

I gritted my teeth and ran/stumbled my way out into the neighborhood where Betsy caught me at a walk and told me to run the last mile with her. I tried, but the calves rebelled and she pulled away. As I turned into Windsor High for the finish, I saw Iris heading out. I gave her a big high five and dug deep to find something to run through the finish.

I crossed the finish at a run, grabbed my medal and water and headed out to...realize I hadn't turned in my chip. I went back.

So what did I learn? A lot. I learned that it's okay to hold back and leave something in the tank for the run. I spent all last year burning down to the cinders on the bike because I knew that with my feet I wouldn't be able to run. I learned that 6 scoops of CarboPro is hard to choke down, but the 675 calories it give you is really useful. Especially on top of the bagel w/ peanut butter, glass of apple juice and clif bar I had for breakfast. That and 1 Gu (100 calories) was enough to put me through the race with more than enough fuel.

I learned that 3.5 Nuun tabs and 5 salt tabs isn't enough on a hot day. Given that I never felt tired or hungry, I have to chalk the muscle problems up to salt and lack of bricks.

Finally, I learned that my style of racing, which is definitely more relaxed than that of most of my friends, works for me. It's not for everyone, but I'm really digging racing on feel. I'm still happy with not having a computer on my bike, and with not using my heart rate to make speed decisions. I'm happy having my watch and taking splits but not really looking at them. I'm enjoying the races, even when they hurt, and that is progress.

So yeah, my swim was my slowest 1.2 miler and my run was longer than my bike again, but I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed my race and I wasn't destroyed afterward. In the final analysis, despite the issues I ran my fastest 70.3 to date and accomplished my only major goal, which was to break 7 hours. I call that a success.

I've got a lot to do to get ready for Pumpkinman and for the challenges to come, but this race showed me that I'm on the right track.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Holy Mother of God...

It's finally here. Tomorrow morning we hit the road for Guerneville and the long awaited running of Vineman. It feels a little bit weird, to be honest. We all signed up for this thing back in December which, for those of you playing along at home, was in 2008. Two thousand friggin' eight! This is by far the longest lead time I've ever had for a race and it's messing with my head, man.

I mean, I'm not worried about the race itself. The horn will go off at seven o-freakin' early on Sunday and I'll run into the water with the rest of the numbskulls who paid money for this and sometime later I'll finish and they'll hang a shiny thing on my neck. Hopefully, shortly thereafter, there will be beer.

It's just strange in that unlike any of the other races I've done, this one doesn't feel real. I'm not nervous. I'm not excited. I'm just ready to go do it already, but there's still 3 more days to get through. Sheesh!

Are we there yet? No, wait, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Don't turn the car around...oh, damn it all...

So that's it 'til after the race, kids. See ya at the finish.

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Repeat

I think I've listened to this song about 50 times today. I love the lyrics. It's a Drive-By Truckers song, from the Southern Rock Opera album.

(Cooley / DBT)

Your Daddy was mad as hell
He was mad at me and you
As he tied that chain to the front of my car and pulled me out of that ditch that we slid into
Don't know what his problem is
Why he keeps dragging you away
Don't know why I put up with this shit
When you don't put out and Zip City's so far away

Your Daddy is a deacon down at the Salem Church of Christ
And He makes good money as long as Reynolds Wrap keeps everything wrapped up tight
Your Mama's as good a wife and Mama as she can be
And your Sister's puttin' that sweet stuff on everybody in town but me
Your Brother was the first-born, got ten fingers and ten toes
And it's a damn good thing cause He needs all twenty to keep the closet door closed

Maybe it's the twenty-six mile drive from Zip City to Colbert Heights
Keeps my mind clean
Gets me through the night
Maybe you're just a destination, a place for me to go
A way to keep from having to deal with my seventeen-year-old mind all alone
Keep your drawers on, girl, it ain't worth the fight
By the time you drop them I'll be gone
And you'll be right where they fall the rest of your life

You say you're tired of me taking you for granted
Waiting' up till the last minute to call you up and see what you want to do
Well you're only fifteen, girl, you ain't got no secretary
And "for granted" is a mighty big word for a country girl like you
You know it's just your Daddy talking
Cause He knows that blood red carpet at the Salem Church of Christ
Ain't gonna ever see no wedding between me and you

Zip City it's a good thing that they built a wall around you
Zip up to Tennessee then zip back down to Alabama
I got 350 heads on a 305 engine
I get ten miles to the gallon
I ain't got no good intentions

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Does this make me a bad triathlete?

Today's Stats:

Sleep: 6 hours (pretty good for me)
Workout: 2850 yd master's swim. 57 minutes.
Breakfast: 2 Pop Tarts, 20 oz Diet Dr. Pepper
Snack: Powerbar Harvest Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bar
Lunch: 6" Subway Club on wheat w/ swiss, all the veggies. Cheddar Sun Chips. 32oz Diet Coke
Snack 2: Vending Machine Crackers
Dinner: Rubio's bean and cheese burrito, chips, 22 oz Diet Coke.

I'm listing this for a reason, not to boast about my crappy eating habits. I've been going to these noon master's workouts every Wednesday for a month. Yes, today was my fourth time. I typically get to split the lane, though I did have to circle my first time.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember me posting about pool work earlier in the year, before things started going squirrelly. I was zeroing in on 3500 yards in an hour. At a minimum, I was hitting 3000. Today is the first time I've come anywhere close to that in a good long while, and I feel pretty good about it. I mean, the coach's workouts are tough, and I'm still learning all this base pacing stuff, but that's where the point of this post comes into play.

Since I started into this whole triathlon adventure, I've done a lot of things I never thought I would ever try. A half marathon. Two, soon to be three half Iron tris. 9 other triathlons. Several layers of goofball workout that I don't even want to think about. Along the way, I've learned a lot about myself, both what makes me tick physically and mentally, and how I relate to this bizarre world I inhabit. I've met loads of people, many of whom I'm lucky enough to call friends and some even good friends. I wouldn't trade any of this for the world, believe me.

So what am I on about?

During this time, I've also gone through my periods of obsession, where all I think and talk about is practically triathlon. Where I count calories and schedule my training sessions to the minute. I've had periods where I swing the pendulum all the way across and drink too much and stop sleeping and eat like a jackass. What I've learned so far is that none of this really affects my ability to race. I can swim and bike as hard as I want. I may gain a minute or lose two, but I never move the needle too far. My runs are getting better as my foot heals and I see good things in the future.

But now I'm weeks away from Vineman, my second half of the year, and while I originally wanted it to be my "A" race, the one I just killed, I find that now I don't care so much. I know I can finish it. I know how I'd like to do, but I also know that if I don't do it I won't be heartbroken. Frankly, I'm getting in touch with my motivations in the sport and they aren't what I thought they were.

I had a talk with Mark a week or so ago and I was telling him about some workouts I'd been doing with people who weren't as fast as me or didn't have the same endurance. Usually, I just hang anyway. He got a little concerned that I was sacrificing my training. I probably am, but the thing is, I know that if I set my mind to it, I'll finish the damn race. I learned that at Wildflower this year. I'll just get it done on race day. I might not do it as fast as maybe I can but I'm a pretty simple machine. Point me in a direction, turn me loose and I'll find the end of the path.

What I'm learning is that I don't care so much about my times. I don't care about my position in the field. I care about what I do on the way to the race. Who I train with and get to know. Who I can help to meet whatever goals they have. Mostly, I find that what I care about is that I enjoy the time I put into it and the people I spend that time with. As long as that's going on, the racing seems to take care of itself.

So you tell me, does that make me a bad triathlete? Should I be more gung-ho about the numbers? Should I be charging for a podium that I'll never reach, or am I onto something? Maybe my mind will change after Vineman and I start gearing up for 2010. Maybe not. I sure as hell don't know, but I'm having a lot of fun with the puzzle.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The day after I got back from Wildflower I bought new bike shoes. They're awesome. They fit great, have cool carbon-fiber soles and don't make my toes go numb. They're also very, very white. Tooth commercial white. Albino in the sun white.

Today I bought new running shoes. Asics Kayanos, just like I had. Again, great fit, nice and light. Very shiny. Very, very shiny.

I look like a newbie.

I gotta train more.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Let the Experiments Begin

I've been thinking a lot about Wildflower since we got back, especially during the long sessions on my living room floor working over my legs with "the stick." It's interesting, but more than anything I've done since I got into triathlon, this race really brought a lot into focus. I talked about the nutrition problems and T2 issues in my race report, so I won't go into them again, but I've started trying to put the puzzle together to make sure that Vineman goes better than WF.

This isn't to say that I got off to a clean start.

I really meant to do some light recovery workouts this past week to help clean Wildflower out of my system, I really did. It just didn't work out. I was only home one night last week, and that night I was working, so it was Friday before I managed to get in any actual exercise, and that was only about 3/4 mile at the Cove. A decent swim, but not much for the workout value.

No worries, though, because by the time we got to the Brewhouse, I had a ride scheduled for Saturday morning. I had originally planned to hit the coast with the tri club, but I wound up riding the Del Dios/Elfin Forest route with Greg, which was cool. A little harder perhaps than I had originally intended for my "recovery" workout, but it felt good to push and to keep up with someone who I know is faster than me.

Nonetheless, I was plagued by some equipment issues. At Wildflower and throughout the last few months of training, my aero bottle had been driving me nuts. Turns out that I really can't use one. My shoulders are too big. The bracket that holds the bottle in place is stretched too wide and it rattles and flops around. On the last two rides, the race included, it has actually fallen off. I caught it both times, but jeez. In order to keep it from falling off a second time, I had to dump my cage bottle and fill it from the aero to lighten the load. So I did the rest of the ride on two bottles of watered down carbo-pro. Yay.

On the way home, I stopped and bought new bottle cages for the tri bike and, although two bottles don't fit comfortably inside the frame, I'm gonna try my mext ride with them anyway. I had a new mixture of carbo-pro all set to go, but it got screwed up. I'll take another whack at it next time.

I was also shaking down new bike shoes. They rock. The stiffer soles and wider toe boxes in the Northwaves make a world of difference, but I don't have the left cleat lined up right, so by the halfway point my knee was killing me. A simple enough thing to fix with a trainer session and a screwdriver, but I have to find the time, absolutely have to before next Saturday.

As soon as I get them dialed, I start on bricks.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wildflower, or My Day Climbing the Cliffs on the Surface of the Sun

It’s official, Wildflower 2009 has come and gone. It’s in the books. For those of you with short attention spans (or gratuitous number fetishes) here are the splits so you can get back to your graphing calculators.

675 – Ryan Mashburn
Age 32
Hometown San Diego, CA
Time 07:23:08 at Finish Line
1533rd overall
1214th overall men
255th 30-34 men

Swim: 00:34:43.710 28:56 min/mi
T1: 00:05:22.680
Bike: 03:26:59.420 16.23 avg MPH
T2: 00:03:03.470
Run: 03:12:58.720 14:44 min/mi

One of many things I love about triathlon is the fact that I can have my lame ass splits down to the millisecond. As if the .720 on my run split was all that separates me and Chris Lieto. Eh, whatever. On with the race report.

Driving up to Lake San Antonio, I wasn’t sure I was going to race. My cage was still rattling from the three serious bike crashes friends have had in the last month, my foot was still bothering me (though it was improving) and, to top it all off, I have no health insurance. Those factors, coming off the general turmoil of the last few months had me seriously considering forgoing the long course in favor of the longneck. On arrival at the campground, parking next to the RV, however, I started to feel something that has been missing for a while now. What is it, you ask? Did I suddenly regain mobility in my left index finger? Did I have a great spiritual epiphany of some kind? Nope. I just felt focused. As I pitched my tent I started feeling more like, well, me than I have in months.

Thursday night was just like last year, beer, BBQ and chucking stuff in the fire. Laughing and goofing off. Catching up with old friends. General good stuff, really. Which made it a little unnerving when rain on the tent fly woke me up that night. I was a little freaked out for a second. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to wait out rain in a tent. It took me back to my old Boy Scout days. Yes, I was a Boy Scout. Is that a shock? Really?

Friday dawned okay and we killed time until noon, when packet pickup started. A bunch of us cruised down to the lake to do a swim preview. I left my wetsuit in camp, figuring I’d rather brave the lake than put on a clammy wetsuit on race morning. This was both wise and foolish. Foolish because there was a serious algae bloom going on and swimming through it was a bit like something that Mike Rowe should be doing at the safe remove of “on TV,” and wise because it meant that I didn’t have to worry about the algae evolving and running off with my wetsuit overnight. Those things are expensive.

The rain started as we toweled off on the boat ramp. It continued through packet pickup and stopped long enough for us to grab some lunch and shop the expo. By the time we got to camp, it had started again, though it was light and intermittent enough for us to ride our bikes out to the camp entrance and snag free Avia visors and gelato. Mmmm… It was a wet ride back to camp, though. The rain continued on and off into the night and I was nervous about the race the next morning, since I knew there would be some serious downhills and I was riding the Kuota for the first time in a race, though not for the first time in the rain. I calmed the nerves by wandering down to the Fargos’ campsite and hanging out over some pasta and snacks. That, and a couple of Tecates got me calmed down. I even got some sleep, which I didn’t manage to do before Longhorn.

Race morning dawned cool but dry. I had a crisis of confidence when the alarm went off and considered hiding in the sleeping bag, but I ultimately decided that someone would probably figure out where I was. I got up, ate my standard pre-race energy bar and prepped my water bottles. BG and I rode down to transition together and this time I remembered to make sure my brakes were closed when we dropped Lynch Hill. When I got to my spot, number 676 was racked wrong and his bike was where mine needed to go. The official I grabbed wasn’t overly helpful, though he was very polite and wrote down the number to come back and check on it. I wedged my bike and bag into what little space I had and went to body marking.

Now, I don’t want to criticize the race volunteers, but I’m going to. The kid that marked me was cool enough. He got the numbers on my arms and hands, the age on my calf and the number on my left leg right. When he got to my right leg, he did something that makes no sense to me. He lifted the cuff of my tri shorts wrote the number, then put my shorts back. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with tri shorts, they’re spandex and have a strip in the cuff that keeps them from moving. This kid wrote my number underneath the leg of my shorts. He knew he was doing it too, because he had to move them out of the way. WTF, I ask you, WTF?

So I go back to transition and number 676 has returned. The four of us who have been screwed up by his mistake politely stare at him until he realizes what he’s done and sheepishly turns his bike around. At this point, the official returns to ask me, number 675, whether racer number 675 has come back fix his bike. I briefly consider slapping him upside the head with my helmet, but realize that that would disqualify me. I explain that it was 676 who had misracked, but that it was okay now. He wandered befuddledly away and I put on my wetsuit while chatting with the guy on my right, who explained that he was worried about his transition times and therefore had already saved drafts of his T1 and T2 twitter posts in his phone. I wandered befuddledly away.

The swim was uneventful. Apart from the muck, it went well. I held a much tighter line than last year and overall swam a cleaner course. I came in a bit slower than I wanted, but all told, I blame that on the dude who kept stopping in front of me to frog kick while sighting and then sprinting ahead to keep me from passing him. I very nearly gave him the butterfly dunk, but I got past him in the end. I felt a little funky running up the boat ramp, but the cheers I got from some friends up on the hill spurred me on into T1. I took some extra time there to settle my stomach and get my heart rate down. Remembering last year’s race, I just calmly walked my bike out to the mount line. Ben, thanks for the cheer at the gate.

Now, the bike was the interesting part. When you sign up for the Wildflower long course, everyone tells you about Nasty Grade. Seriously, everyone. Your doctor, your dog, your dental hygienist, everyone. Nasty Grade is at mile 40. Nobody tells you about Beech Hill at mile 2, or wherever it is. Bastards. I thought it would never end. Frankly, I’m not sure how I stayed vertical heading up it. At the top, we took off on the roads through the park and out to the county road. This is where Marty passed me. I briefly tried to catch him before I realized that I was making a HUGE mistake if I planned to get past mile 5 and so let him go. I dropped back into my aero bars and felt something was wrong. It took a minute of listening to rattling parts before I realized that my aero bottle had come loose and was about to crash down into my front wheel. I got a hand on it and stopped, wasting some time while I fixed it.

Over the course of the next 30 miles or so, I had a lot of time to think, but I didn’t. Apart from the new bike and the aero bottle, there are two other changes I’ve made to my training and racing. I’ve replaced Gu with a Carbo-Pro/Nuun mixture as my primary source of electrolytes and calories. I’ll talk more about this in a minute. The second change is that I’ve thus far eschewed the bike computer on the tri bike. This means that when I ride I have no idea how fast I’m going, what my elapsed mileage, average speed or cadence are. The only things I can use to gauge my progress are mile markers and how I feel. This keeps me intensely dialed into my own legs, heart and lungs and I constantly have to adjust my riding to match the way I feel. Does this help? I don’t know, with only one race under me this way, but I beat my projected bike time by five and a half minutes, so maybe.

At mile 41, I realized I had been going up for a while and that it was really hard. This is about the time I realized I was on Nasty Grade. Who knew? I got about a third of the way up the main stretch and my legs just wouldn’t turn. I don’t know what happened, I just knew that if I didn’t stop I would fall over, so I unclipped and pulled over. I stood on the side of the road for about a minute and then I felt fine, so I started back up the hill and passed the two guys who had just asked if I was okay. That felt good.

This is where the quote of the race happened for me. A guy from the UCSD tri team caught up to me and chatted in between heaving gasps for air as we climbed. We talked about training and the hill, and when I said I didn’t think it was as bad as it had been sold, he said this: “I don’t want to piss on your Cheerios, but up there where it looks like the top, it turns right and goes up again.” I laughed and he left me in the dust.

The coolest thing about the bike course is this: for every ugly climb, you get an awesome descent. The back side of Nasty Grade is worth the whole dang race. I’m actually glad I didn’t have a speedometer. I would probably have slowed down.

Then came mile 48. That sonic boom you heard around noon if you were there…that was the sound of me blowing my wad. My legs just stopped. I was hungry, despite the Carbo-Pro and two Gu Roctanes I had consumed. I was out of energy. I knew I could dig in and just muscle through the last few miles, but I was seriously considering bailing in T2 and calling it a day. I have never thought about that during a race before.

I’m not sure where, but somewhere in here, I realized that race day was the exact opposite of Friday. Instead of rainy and cold, it was crystal clear and roughly a thousand degrees. Oh, and did I mention the head winds? Just like Beech Hill, nobody ever mentioned those.

I got into T2 and I was seriously wobbly. I had to sit down to put my shoes on and that’s when Trent found me. I felt like crap and was convinced I’d just had the worst bike ride since Sleeping Indian. When he said “Nice bike. You killed it.” I thought he was joking. Then I looked at my watch. It had only been 4 hours since the start. I was on schedule. Holy shit. I talked to him for a minute or so and Heather asked how my foot felt, then they shooed me out of T2, where I threw a cup of water on Brian Horne at the gate for ca-cawing at me. Long story.

I mustered enough juice to run past the crowds and out onto the fire roads before it all went to hell. My legs just quit. My calves and quads felt like they wanted to jump off my body and go searching for a less abusive relationship. I started walking. Sometime in mile 2, I think, Gunn caught up. Now usually he catches up, slaps me on the back and keeps on running. This time, he walked with me. That’s when I knew just how hard this thing was. As we walked, we talked about the race and we both came to the conclusion that our nutrition strategies were severely lacking. We kept up a run/walk, though mostly walk, pace for the first 7 miles or so, before we mustered the will to run through camp and past the TCSD station and the TNT camp. I have to say here that team San Diego ROCKED that turn. The roar as we passed carried us through another mile or so. Brian finally pulled ahead at mile 10 and I ran with a really cool guy for another mile and a half or so who had done the race several times and talked me through “the pit of despair” as he called it. This is a 2 mile exposed stretch of road. 1 mile down and 1 back up. When you come out of it, you’ve got about 2 miles to go and Andy dropped me there.

I finally crested Lynch Hill and began the descent to the finish. I managed to run most of the last mile and yes, I crossed the line at a run. I saw Gurujan and Heather in the finish and the hugs I got were a big help. But I have to say that when I saw Rick Fargo and he told me Ben missed the finish because he was in the pisser, I nearly collapsed laughing.

The beer they gave me after I stopped wobbling was one of the best I’ve ever had.

So all in all, I didn’t hit the time I wanted, but who cares? I needed a win, after everything that’s been going on lately, and finishing the 70.3 course at Wildflower certainly qualifies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy...Or Not...Whatever....

It's been a little while since I've updated this blog and I've been wondering whether I ever would again. I don't say that facetiously. I've been thinking about scrapping this thing.

I've been told several times lately that my posts are too negative, or too raw, or don't make sense, or just generally make people worry about me. Let me tell you this now, once and for all, I am not sitting at home alone in a dark room with a bottle of whiskey playing with knives or out pounding nails into walls my forehead or whatever else those of you who are scared for me may think is going on. Yes, things have been...we'll say strained...lately, both personally and professionally and there is still a lot of shit to shovel, but I've moved from the backhoe down to the bobcat and am in the process of shifting once again to a regular hand shovel. I'm a little ways out from moving down to the garden trowel, but I'll get there.

My road has been redefined rather brutally in the last couple of months, but I know where it points now and I'm actually looking forward to getting moving. I don't know how everything will shake out, of course, but I'm no longer concerned about that. I've set what wheels in motion that I can control and I've accepted the fact that others will just have to be watched and not interfered with.

So that's it for now, and while I know that this post has not exactly been a ray of sunshine, I do hope it explains a few things so you can all stop worrying that the next blog post will be ghost written, pun intended.

I'll check in again after Wildflower, though there's a decent chance that my race report will read "Drove to Lake San Antonio. Didn't race, but still limped home." Such is the way these things go. Until next time, and there will be a next time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

So I Can't Sleep. Again...

I tried to do some real writing to kill time, or hopefully make me tired, but it didn't work, so I went back to reading. Killed The Gate House, by Nelson DeMille. Okay if you're already a fan, but not his best work. So I moved on to Fates Worse Than Death, by Kurt Vonnegut. In the interest of full disclosure. Vonnegut has been one of my favorite writers since high school, so it may not be a shock that at the beginning of chapter two he wrote something that I found to be brilliant. Here goes:

"If a maiden sits on the ground in a clearing in a forest where a unicorn lives, they say, the unicorn will come up to her and put its head in her lap. That is the best way to catch a unicorn. This procedure must have been discovered by a maiden who sat down in a clearing with no intention of catching a unicorn. The unicorn with its head in her lap must have been an embarrassment."

Now we know the best way to catch a unicorn, but to catch it doing what?

That's all. Now I need to find something to knock me unconscious. Perhaps a hammer...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

News of the Weird

Apparently, running hurts less than walking these days. Fucked up, right? Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, March 9, 2009

By Way of Explanation, or Maybe Just Thinking Out Loud

It’s been an odd couple of weeks, or maybe months. In some ways momentous, in others like a hard right hook to the kidney with a fist wrapped around a roll of dimes. As I blink away the tears and try to find a few hours to sleep I’m stuck wondering what exactly has happened. Sorry to be so oblique, but there are names that can’t be used and trains still coming behind the ones that I’ve managed to take as glancing blows. Those could still be direct hits and I’m trying not to tempt fate here.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is that I feel like I’ve been missing things lately. Mostly little things. I’m good with the big stuff. The stuff that casts a long shadow and makes a big boom when it lands, that stuff’s easy to see coming. The little things, the ones that slide in like razor blades thrown in the dark, those I’m not so good at. There have been a lot of those lately.

My last post? The one about sleeping only 50 minutes in one night? There’s a reason those things happen to me. It’s pretty much always because I’m sorting through something that I don’t understand, or because I’m beating myself up about something that I’m fairly certain I’ve screwed up. It was a healthy combination of both this time.

I walk on wounds
That seldom prove to slow me down
I laugh this constant pain away
So you can't tell
But there it lies under the smiles
It drains me mile after mile
But seldom proves to slow me down
Here I go

I find that this is a pretty good encapsulation of the way I feel most days. Despite the fact that I actually enjoy most of what’s happening in my world most of the time, there are those moments where I’m talking to someone, or leaving them, and I realize that I’ve missed something, that there was one more thing I should have said or done. That feeling that if I’d just been more alert I could have made something different happen. I’ve reached a point where I am well and truly sick of this feeling.

There are conversations that need to happen. Actions that need to be taken. Most are small things, little movements that can tie off loose threads and simplify things, but it’s also the smallest things that shake the biggest foundations.

As I lie awake at night, my brain churning through all my mistakes, both real and perceived, trying to make sense of what I know I should already understand, I can’t help but wonder where the ride ends. When do we pull into the station and let the safety bars pop up off our shoulders so we can move freely?

How do we know when to pull the trigger as opposed to the ripcord?

Don’t fall, I see lights in the distance
They’re not far away
Stand up because the sky is turning gray

There’s hope in these footsteps of persistence
So don’t go astray
These lights get closer everyday

If the lights in the distance are really getting closer, then the next question I suppose, is whether or not the destination on the horizon is the one we’re supposed to be aiming at. When the road runs out and we finally reach the lights will we find the answer we’re looking for, or just another turn toward a farther off horizon? When we’ve walked the soles off our shoes and talked ourselves right out of our voices; when all that remains is action, will we know what to do? Will we pull the trigger, or the ripcord?

These are the things I wonder about when I can’t sleep, and sometimes when I can. They’re the things that hit me in the shower in the morning and that only recede when I’m kicking the hell out of myself physically.

So if you’ve noticed that something’s not right, that I’m not reacting the way I should. If you think my actions don’t connect with my words. If you’ve seen me staring randomly off into the middle distance, then you’ve caught me square in the act of being out of my depth. I know I owe more than one explanation, and probably a couple of apologies for the last couple of weeks. I think I even know who’s supposed to get which. Now all I have to do is figure out how to deliver. I can say this, though:

A destination, a fading smile.
Another station, another mile.
Another day gone, I swore that I will.
Be there before dawn.
So be there, I will.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sometimes I'm Amazed That I Can Even Dress Myself

Since I haven't used this particular storytelling device in a while, we are going to revisit The Big Book of Stuipd Things Ryan Does.

Today's reading comes from chapter 972 (It really is a BIG book.), entitled "Insomnia, or How to Put Yourself in Physical Legal and Moral Jeopardy."

I agreed to go to Mt. Baldy on Saturday to get in one last day for the season. All I had to do was get myself to Dieu's at 6:30AM, load the truck and head for snow. Sounds simple, right? Well, I had dinner plans Friday, and we were well behaved. Then I had to run down to South Park and meet some people at Hamilton's. And you CAN'T go to Hamilton's without trying at least one of the beers. Look it up, it's a law. And once you have your beer, it would just be rude to say hi to your friends, pick up what you came to get and leave, right? Exactly.

So I get home at about 1:00 AM. Five and a half hours to go. My phone rings. I answer. At 1:30 AM, I lose signal and the call ends. Five hours to go. The phone beeps. I have a text message. I answer. An exchange ensues. It is now 2:30 AM. Four hours to go. I have stuff on my mind and can't get to sleep so I lie there in bed and watch the ceiling fan until 3:00 AM. Three and a half hours to go. at 3:50 I sit bolt upright in bed, waking up shaking and sweating from one of the most vivid nightmares I've ever had. I don't get back to sleep. At 5:50 AM I shut off the alarm before it goes off and grab a shower.

To read about the nightmare itself, go to the Creative Blog.

Total sleep: 50 minutes.

Between my house in Kearny Mesa and Dieu's in PB, I knock down 40 ounces of soda and two pop tarts. At our breakfast stop, I drink yet more soda. I am now on something less than an even keel.

I drive like a demon to Mt. Baldy and we beat the other car by almost an hour. Finally, they arrive and we can all suit up, cash in our $5 ticket vouchers and hit the slopes.

On my first run, I manage to bury my nose in a slush pile and flip multiple cartwheels down about 50 yards of wide open groomer. I take a second and laugh it off, after making sure that all the parts move properly, and bomb down the rest of the run. My riding never really recovers. I'm jittery and gun-shy the rest of the day, and manage a couple more hard falls that I'm lucky didn't hurt much more than my pride.

We had agreed to meet at the cars at 3:00 to head down and find food on the way back home. By 2:00 my foot hurt so bad and my control was so shot I had to stop. I made my way back to the lodge where I grabbed a Gatorade, a soda and some cookies to get my energy levels back up.

We get back to the cars and head out, stopping for lunch/dinner in lovely Rancho Cucamonga before making our way back to I-15. At this point, everyone in the car is asleep except for me and Dieu. He's in the back seat, playing with my digital camera. I am trying to stay awake while driving by calculating just how long I've managed to be awake, assuming that the 50 minutes of sleep don't count.

This is when my phone beeps. I've got a text message. Now, I know just how stupid this sounds, but I answer the message. An exchange begins. I'm driving down the freeway with a bum foot, exhausted by 36 hours awake (interrupted by 50 minutes, of course) with a carload of sleeping friends who have entrusted me with their safety. And I'm texting. This is because I am a good friend. Hear me out.

I drive a Ford. It has the sync system, so the phone is connected to the car stereo via bluetooth. If I take a call, it goes onto speaker phone. This would wake up all my tired passengers and make them cranky. No, far better to let them sleep and risk their lives without their knowing, not to mention the ticket I'm up for by now. So I'm texting and driving, like a champion, I might add. Thank you for keeping me awake in 160 character chunks my friend on the other end of the phone.

I get home at about 7:30 and shower, planning to have a beer and fall blissfully asleep watching a DVD. Fantastic plan, right?

My phone rings.

I'm back in the car, driving off to watch movies somewhere else, drinking yet more soda to stay awake. As these things go, I manage to be up and in hang out mode (with a few interruptions for unconsciousness and station identification) until 5AM. Well, 4 AM, but daylight savings started so take your 4 AM and stick it. It was 5AM. At that point, I pass out.

So the upshot of all this: I am an idiot. Yes, I can still go for two and a half days on no sleep. Woohoo! It's like college all over again, but without the Jack Daniel's and Jack in the Box. And Mark, thank you for not taunting me into working out this morning. I think I would have died. Those aero bars would have made too tempting a spot for a nap.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Running: The Bane Of My Existence

Actually, the title of this post is a bit misleading. When I'm healthy enough to run without random bits of my legs and feet feeling like they're made of broken glass, I enjoy running. Strapping on (yes, I know, I said strap on) the ipod and hitting the pavement for an hour or three is a great way to burn tension, unplug and work through stacks of the crap and assorted detritus that accumulates in your brain during your day to day life. Believe me, this is a good thing, especially if, like me, you currently have huge swaths of your world being torn apart by heavy equipment and the scraps left to rot in the sun on your front lawn.

So why am I writing like this? Because I went running twice this weekend. The first time, yesterday, was at the tail end of a brick workout. For you non-triathletes, this is a workout comprised of two sports. In this case a 40 mile bike ride followed by a 30 minute run. Now, if you follow this blog, you know that I have had assorted issues with my feet and ankles over the last year and that I haven't done much running beyond racing.

I've been working on it, though, and the foot has been doing a lot better. I've been running again for a couple of weeks and was up to four miles. So I thought the brick would work out okay. Not so much. Seven minutes into the run, Mark was out of sight and my foot was thunking down on the road like a cinder block. A cinder block wrapped in nerve endings. I tried to tough it out. Pros play hurt right? Fuck the pros. I decided to walk until minute 10 and try again.

No dice. I walked to minute 12. 13. 15... Are you seeing the pattern? 24 minutes after the run began, I limped my way back to the car.

Which brings me to today. Just to make sure I'm not broken, I decided to try a run only workout. I went down to the boardwalk and banged out 5.75 miles pain-free. What the fuck? Seriously...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Training and Racing Update

So I haven't blogged about anything like the triathlons that're supposed to be the focus of this blog, so it's time to talk about 'em a bit. First up,


March: Solvang Century
May: Wildflower Long Course
June: San Diego International
July: Vineman 70.3
September: Big Kahuna

Maybe something else, if it catches my attention. I've gotta sign up for Kahuna and Solvang pretty soon, just to get them out of the way. For those of you playing along at home, that's 3 half-iron distance tris, all in preparation for the big adventure of 2010. More on that another time.

As for training, I've been doing okay with it, considering that my approach to training is about as scattered as a crack addict in a house of mirrors. I've been doing workouts based on what's gonna hurt most since that's about the only way I can find lately to kill the tension and anxiety of the professional world. Fucking economy, right?

In order of occurrence:

In the pool, I'm up to 3000 yards in 60 minutes. 3250 in 64 minutes. I'm shooting to hit 3500 in 60 minutes. Got some work to do.

I've been biking a lot and doing well. I keep getting stronger and I hope to make a big improvement on my 3:03 bike split at last year's Longhorn 70.3. I'm hoping to go under 3 hours at Vineman.

As for running, I've been in physical therapy to have my foot worked on; part of the continuing quest to clear up last year's plantar fasciitis. It's been going well. Two weeks ago, I started running again for the first time since October. I started at 3 miles and I'm up to 4. I actually ran 4 straight miles pain free last Sunday in 38 minutes. Things look okay, but I'm taking it slow. My goal is to be able to run 10k, or half the run, at Wildflower, and to be back to full speed by Vineman. No risks, no foolish chances with the leg, that's my new motto.

Here's hoping 2009 lets me race as strong as I plan.

Of course, this is all contingent on whether this intense, white hot poker of pain I've developed in the ball of my foot goes away. It's never easy is it?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For God's Sake, Don't Make Eye Contact!

I was on the road for work today, which is to say that I went to Phoenix for a meeting. As usually happens on days like this, I spent the bulk of the day in airports, Lindbergh Field and Sky Harbor International, to be exact.

Today, I had to fly to Phoenix, got to the client's office, have a meeting and do a walkthrough of their new office to plan an installation. Along the way, we fleshed out the project requirements and roughed in the equipment list. My kit for this little adventure: a notepad, pen and pencil, digital camera, ipod and book for the plane. That's it. No laptop. No portable printers, projectors or any of the other crap I see people carrying around in the security line. What I like about traveling this way is that I can get through security without using the plastic bins, my briefcase is nice and light and, when I get to my gate, I get to be one of the few people who isn't buried in a screen.

I confess, I do carry a Blackberry, and it's a handy little fucker, but most days I'd just as soon hammer a ten penny spike right through its vampiric little silicon heart.

The fact is, as I watch people freaking out that they have to remove their bluetooth headsets to go through the metal detectors, or even better, spend an entire flight with the thing deactivated but still in place; as I watch them sitting in crappy airport gate chairs for hours at a time hammering away on emails and chatting into their little headsets, I wonder what's wrong with me.

I hate being connected. In fact, the harder I am to find, the happier I tend to be. I can go a whole day without my phone. I can go several without checking email. I've set things up at work so that they can run without me checking in constantly. When I do check in, it's usually because I'm bored, and not because they need me to do anything back at the ranch. It's this way because I made it this way. I am replaceable. We should all be replaceable. We should all be able to unplug, to be able to sit down and read a book without a bluetooth headset on, to look around a room or out a window and not at a computer screen.

I get productivity, I do. I get that we all have a thousand little things at one time that require our attention. What I don't get is why we think all of it is so urgent.

Maybe I spent too much time in the wilderness as a kid. Maybe I'm just a bad employee. Maybe I'm missing something and it really is cool to be that connected. I just don't get it. Text me a comment. If I turn my phone back on any time soon, I promise I'll read it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Lesson Learned

So last Friday morning the physical therapist watched me jog around his parking lot, and he figured out that I stomp my right leg down and push it off as hard as I can while my left leg runs. Even after he clears me, I have to relearn how to run or I'll end up back on the table. That was 9AM.

At 10AM I find out that a device I installed a month ago has failed in the field, at about the worst possible time for relations with that client. Then I find out that our mail server went down Thursday night and no one noticed. I'm standing there, trying to figure out which fire to put out first, and still bummed about the PT results, when one of the guys walks in with another problem, and that's when this happened:

Yup, I threw a straight right into the anodized aluminum side of our server rack. Let me tell you something that I already knew. Metal is stronger than flesh and bone. I got off light with the skinned knuckles. I've cracked bones doing that in the past. I know just how stupid it is, believe me.

Which brings me to Dieu's annual birthday trip to Big Bear, which began Friday night. I considered bailing, since I was in no mental shape to be social. As it turns out, it's a good thing I didn't. Without going into detail about the weekend (if you're a facebook friend you can piece it together), I spent a day and a half teaching and coaching, which I actually like to do, though I forget how much harder it is than riding like myself. Seriously, if I'm teaching you or just hanging out on the green runs while you practice, it's because I want to. I know full well that I can take off, so don't apologize for holding me back.

Come Sunday I've got a choice: watch the Chargers game in the bar, or go back up the mountain alone and hammer the slopes. I guess I should digress a little here and mention that snowboarding is what I do when I really need to reset my head. It's time I use to take all the damaged and broken and off kilter bits and pieces of my life and put them back in order. This happens without me actually doing anything. The harder I go, the clearer it gets. I ditched everyone in the bar.

I charge a couple of runs and decide to drop onto Olympic, which is the only double diamond run. I stick my first couple of turns and then I hit the ice. BAM! Flat on my face, supermanning down the hill. This has happened before. I kick around a bit and get my board below me, dig in and stop, then lay there laughing my ass off for a couple of minutes before I get up and take this picture:

I took it to prove that yes, I do fall too. So I get up, stick a couple of turns and fall flat on my ass again. In the lift line, the lifty says "Making friends with the snow?" which I find inordinately funny.

I'm riding the chairlift up, pretty much alone, listening to the classic rock they're playing on the PA and right up in front of me, a hawk shoots out of the trees, spraying snow all around it in this cool falling cloud. I watch it flap and gain altitude and then it starts gliding in circles, ever bigger circles, in and out of the patches of sunlight coming through the clouds. Finally, I lose it over the ridge and settle back into my seat. Somehow, there's no more clutter in my head. All the shit, the noise and aggravation and apprehension, everything that scares me and makes me nervous, all of it was gone. Right there, somehow, everything was okay.

I rode through the rest of the game, thanks to a text from my brother letting me know how badly it was going, and met up with everyone after to drive home. So now I'm back in the world, and my calm has already been tested several ways from Sunday, but I still can't shake the feeling that there is in fact a way through it all, that all I have to do is find it. I'm hoping I can hang tough enough to prove myself right.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stress Reliever, Had To Be Done

So I'm having one of the worst days on record in a very long time, despite the fact that in a few short hours I'll be on my way to the slopes. Anyway, this made me laugh a bit, so I thought I'd share:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blog Division

What a shitty name for a band, huh? Sounds like a bunch of nerds with woodwind instruments. Anyway, in an effort to separate my fictional ramblings from the tri and life stuff that are supposed to be on this blog, I've started another one.

If you're interested, the URL is It's also in the blog roll on the right hand side of the page.

Now, I promise I'll try to keep this one on topic, or at least rooted in stuff that's actually happening.

'Til next time, kids.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sometimes I Scare Myself

I was going through some old files on my hard drive tonight, that isn't code for looking at porn. Anyway, i ran across something that made me laugh, so I decided to post it here. By way of context, a couple of years ago, I took a class in how to write horror fiction. One of the assignments was to write 10 opening lines/paragraphs for short stories. These were mine:

Ryan Mashburn
Horror Writing
Assignment 1: 10 Opening Lines
1. It’s not exactly like flipping a switch, you know, ending the world, but it is pretty easy.

2. “God damn it,” Claire mumbled, kicking the bloody carcass away from her, “Why do they always have to look so human?”

3. Have you ever seen the inside of your own body, without the help of an x-ray?

4. My eyes hurt, the way old scars do when it gets humid.

5. It’s raining outside, the kind of rain that makes you want to put on a straw cowboy hat, steal a Camaro and cross the border at sundown, looking for a beach where you can drink cheap tequila and pretend that nothing’s wrong.

6. The room smells like old blood and rotten leather.

7. You’re feeling it aren’t you? That little pang of excitement, the subtle aftertaste of fear. You think you can handle it. Take the chains off and find out.

8. I can honestly say I never believed him, never thought he was anything but a daffy old coot, until I saw him there, splayed out on the floor like a frontiersman’s bearskin rug.

9. When I was young, I would look up at the stars in wonder, dreaming about flying between them, about weightlessness and light speed; now I just wish the sun would never set.

10. I never would’ve pegged Bobby Smiles for a prophet, but the little fucker was right, he didn’t live through the day.