Thursday, December 17, 2009

5 good minutes with GeoPigeon

Without a doubt the star of this fine meeting has been GeoPigeon, who I’m sure most of you have seen popping in and out of various sessions. The heck with TigerGate, inquiring minds crave to know who is this bird and why is he attracted to geophysics? @purplecrowlidar sits down for 5 good minutes with GeoPigeon.

Me: Dude, thanks for taking some time off feeding to talk to me. So what about AGU09 interests you?

GP: For a pigeon-centric point of few, and let me say right off, that is what matters to me and in fact to most other pigeons, I’m worried about what humans are doing to the environment. Not the climate. We can handle that. The magnetic enviroment.

Me: How’s that?

GP: You humans are visual and essentially tuned out otherwise. We’re visual but also very tuned into magnetic fields. We got this little “box” in our heads that is like a serious antenna for detecting fields. It’s a whole different world for us. I mean when we’re young you learn to fly and like right away you’ll get lead miles from your nest and your Dad will just say lead and you find yourself heading right back to wear you started, unconsciously. Wow.

So as you get older you realize this orientation thing you’ve got going on. And for me, I’m worried about the changes I hear. From what I’m gathering the magnetic field can change violently, catostropically. What would that mean for us?

Me: Yeah, but time scales, you’d adapt as the field changed, right?

GP: Probably, but then what about change and space weather? I mean I’ve flown through a few magnetosphere/ionosphere sessions and I’m grateful for what a low solar minimum we’ve just had. But what happens if we come out of this minimum into a big maximum. You leave home one day then bam, you fly back to another country. This blows my mind man.

Me: Did you catch some of the nonlinear sessions talks on the magnetosphere?

GP: Yeah, that network stuff you’re starting to compute, we’ve done for a long time. We minimize long-range correlations in our magnetic phase space all the time, its an effective homing technique, especially if you’re hammered.

Me: Gotta ask. You really a seperate bird species related to Dodos?

GP: (sighing) always haunts us. Yes, but you’re not a monkey and I’m not flightless. Nuff said?

Me: Why’d are you basing out of Moscone South rather than West?

GP: Oh, come on. The Expo. The Donor Lounge. And mostly the posters. I’m a bit slow and didn’t go to University so I like taking my time and studying the posters. I get a different angle on them then you do, what with my eye placement.

Me: Yeah, head on a swivel, eh? One last question, who you got tonight, Penguins/Flyers?

GP: You kidding? Flyers are still trying to define themselves under Laviolette, and what’s this Richards, I mean the Captain sayin’ "We're not playing with enough heart right now to win”. He’s calling ‘em out, it’s a home game and it won’t matter that Sid is healthy. The Pens are going down tonight.

Me: Alright then, peace bro. Hey they hassled you at the Donor Lounge the other day, sorry about that, mention you’re my guest and we’ll chill later.

GP: I’m down. See ya’.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Up to swim in the hotel's 20 yd pool with the shallow end at 80 cm, so even I can't flip turn! Only the underwater pool lights were on, kind of surreal swim particularly with dark tint googles.

Exciting day continued with the CDN Schmooze Breakfast, great turn out, yummy food and best of all for geophysicists: free! Onto some interesting posters, if your interest in the science stuff check out the Purple Crow Lidar twitter page.

The Brew-Crew, Pat and I went down to the far end of Chinatown for awesome dim sum, the old skool kind in the big room with the carts coming by with food. Everything was to our tastes but the desserts, maybe not sweet enough by our standards? Nice day for walking. Got back for some more science, an interesting poster and the talk associated with the previous blog post.

On the way back to the hotel saw some awesome bikes, I love my fixed wheel bike and SF is a great town for ogling some sweet rides. Did see my first poser PUSHING a way too new looking Bianchi. No class man.

Brew Crew and us took it easy, went out to a pub for a nice meal, a brew and some good times. Sleep time, dig the electric lights on the buildings (at least I saw them like that).


SF Dec 13, 2009

Just some quick thoughts on Dec 13 cause now it is today and that was then is this is now, right? And I'm into the AGU meeting now...Here are some photos from yesterday and some awesome run up the Embarcadero, so recon on the Escape Tri course. AO: the photo might be us in June! Water did not look bad at all, some people were swimming. Juiced the Fort Mason hill.later am: Brunch at

Whipple Lecture: JP Bibring

Too much in Dr. Bibring's lecture for a proper tweet, here's a summary.

Mars can teach us "Why Earth is unique and what drives its evolution"

Results from OMEGA Near IR imaging.

1. Mars clouds and climate change.
Most clouds water vapor
Localized mesospheric (80 km) CO2 clouds, maybe nucleated from magnetite.
(my comment: if so, can solar wind directly help in the lofting of these particles?)

2. Mars a dead planet?
Appears to be no more outgassing is what is thought.
In North polar region dark gypsum dunes around H2O on caps, could be last places with venting.

3. Where is the Co2. Ice? Carbonate?
South Pole has CO2, but mostly H20.
No significant carbonate (which would be made by liquid water).
N2 and CO2 lost (probably) by atmospheric escape, not in ice or carbonate

4. Altered materials?
Rust layer VERY thin, NOT in cratered regions. Not due to liquids. Due to slow atmospheric over millions of years with H2O2.

"red --> rust --> water --> life --> NO"

Hydrated phyllosilicates (not clays) could be association with life.

Consider this figure. If picture of ehb/lhb (e.g. secondary peak) is correct liquid water may (and habitability) may have occurred between the 2 (on Earth as well). On Mars the dynamo shut off during lhb, and with no field to hold off energetic solar particles dense atmosphere/water lost after this. Mars data consistent with this, volcanism occurred after this time and not associated with liquid water and no magnetism (cause Mars not massive enough, insufficient mantle convection). So "poster" picture you see sometimes of a Mars with active volcanos AND oceans is wrong.

5. Phobos and Deimos are more likely parts of Mars after impact like the Moon. Not captured asteroids.

I'm probably not doing this justice but it was a interesting, thought provoking talk, I enjoyed it. Notion of Earth having ocean/life between the ehb and lhb has legs as far as I'm concerned, as pointed out we say life started after but we have no Earth left accessible to us to tell if indeed life was there before. Bibring claims only 10-15% of ocean would evaporate during lhb on Earth.

My battery (laptop and body) needs recharging, I'm out of here.

ps: "geo-pigeon", the renegade pigeon who appeared during the talk and has visited the Donor lounge twice whilst I type this appears to be gone for now.

SF Dec 13, 2009

Just some quick thoughts on Dec 13 cause now it is today and that was then is this is now, right? And I'm into the AGU meeting now...

Here are some photos from yesterday and some context....

am awesome run up the Embarcadero, so recon on the Escape Tri course. AO: the photo might be us in June! Water did not look bad at all, some people were swimming. Juiced the Fort Mason hill.

later am: Brunch at The Delancey Street Restaurant. Read about the foundation and what they do here. Inspiring. Awesome food and very reasonably priced. Mamma omelette apple smoked bacon, avacado, white cheddar yum!

Early pm: Hung out in Hayes Valley, sun finally came out, Bluebottle coffee (the best)

Late pm: junking in the Haight. Pat got a god-awful coat and I get a sweet bike jersey for only $10 (they offered Pat the seniors discount and she took it with no hesitation, I love this woman.

Dinner and drinks in Chinatown.

On to today!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chrome Bag Store - SF


Saturday, December 12, 2009

SF Dec 12, 2009

Jet lagged to the gills so not much I can say except it rained a lot and didn't feel much warmer than London. Planning on a run in the AM before Sunday brunch, sure hope my suitcase gets here.

BTW: don't fly Delta/NWA if you can help it. They are charging me $24 to deliver my suitcase THEY lost. Can you believe it? The "free" option is if I game back to the airport and picked it up myself!

Here's some of the day in pictures.


SF is naughty at Xmas I


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What’s this in the lab?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First snowman of Winter 2010


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cass & Pat watch MTHS win the City Championship


Pat at the Championship game.


Monday, November 9, 2009

More Window Coon


Ahead by a Century


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Little Fall off-roading


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TO seen from Plaza Hotel Bar


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Run 2009


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival


Pat @ Grape n Wine


Cass @ Finish of Western Invitational, Oct 2009


Cass getting his game on for Western Invitation 2009


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lecture Report

(the following silliness is for trigeeks only)
Lecture Report
Physics 2070/2700 Lecture 1
Tuesday Sept 15, 2009

Short version: went over course outline, lectured on the Sun. Best solar lecture in Ontario on Tuesday, M50-54, 1hr 38 min 12 sec

Long version:

All week I had been tense knowing about Tuesday's lecture. When I got signed up to do the lecture last May by my Chair it seemed so far off. I worked hard all summer not thinking and trying to talk for only minutes at a time so I would be ready on the big day. And it came! I barely slept a wink Monday night, and was only half-asleep at 3:30 when the alarm rang. I got up and had my pre-lecture breakfast of sardines, tuna, pickled herring and buttermilk. At 5:27 I left for the lecture site. I had checked and re-checked my lecture bag and new I had what I needed for this 2 lecture hour endurance test: cup of tea, power cord, laptop, green laser pointer & iphone. I sat outside the room and waited for my turn to enter.

At 1120 the class using the room last filed out and I made my way in. As the students filed in I set up my lecture area (L1) with my electronics. I tested the internet connection and waited, first for the yellow flag signaling 5 min to start, then the green flag meaning 1 min. 1130 came and I found myself in a panic saying "Hello, my name is Prof. Sica". I steadied myself and remembered how I got here, the hours of training and practice in kindergarden, primary school, secondary school, tertiary school and a postdoc. I got in a good rhyme and fired up the browser to the class outline, deftly pulling the browser window off my laptop screen onto the projection screen. I had a good rhythm thought the outline and handled most of the points well, my intent stares stopping any poor soul's questions with a glance.

Onto the last section on Religious Accommodation I let up a bit preparing myself for the transition from the course outline on Preview to the Keynote lecture on the Sun. I had struggled at this point other years, in particularly with GI problems and knew this was a terrible part of the day to have gas. Fortunately my low fiber eating paid off. I closed the window and quickly switched from the campus network to a private wireless network and my iPhone hooked up like I had practiced and took control of the first slide using Keynote Remote.

From here it was easy, as I tend to have more trouble with the class information sheet and rules than the lecture content. I avoided tripping over the explanation of power output for the Sun, and heading into the final part of the lecture on the future state of the Sun over the next several billion years I realized I had a PB going, as I usually just skip this bit. I didn't run the java applet of the process on the last slide, but got the essence of the diagram explained.

After the lecture I answered some questions and headed home, where Pat greeted me with a warm hug. Without her constant help I never could do have done this. I also want to thank my parents for their constantly reminding me to do my homework, Columbia University, University Alaska, everyone there, thanks so much.

Now do you understand why I NEVER WRITE RACE REPORTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

AO tried to wear the aero helmet, Muskoka 70.3 2009


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Quiet Dignity and Grace

Quiet Dignity and Grace

Well it wasn't my A day at IMC last week, in fact it was a PW rather than a PB.1 But I am a scientist, and the scene below describes my feeling succinctly:

(ahhh what a movie huh?)

My race result was not unexpected after losing so much training time in May and June. Never got to race much so I had a decent base but no "pop" (e.g. lots of cake and no icing?). So while I ran the marathon I ran at (for me & most hominoids) a glacial pace. Vignettes:
  • picked a good "hole" in the swim pack at the start and had little contact the entire race. Unfortunately swam by the turn buoy by quite a bit which didn't help an already slow swim.
  • my transitions where reasonable fast, both < 4 min
  • excellent pacing/ride to 160 km. Last 20 km supposed to be recovery (mostly downhill) but the Okanagan Valley had 3 weather surprises Sunday: warmed up 5 deg from the temperatures of the last week (low 30's), a dense layer of forest fire smoke blew in and hung at about 500 m above the surface and a wicked headwind kicked up in the last 20 km of the bike which sucked the life out of me. Lost 10-15 min on this piece.
  • held run together for about 6 km or so, then my pace just decayed for the next 30 km or so. I could only run fast enough to sneak by the walkers but the runners would blow by me. Am curious to find out how many places I picked up in run but I think lots, I've never seen so many people walking in a race. Saw a deer hop by on the course. Answered the trivia question at the Peachtree Runners booth at Mile 21 but the guy on the mike took the answer from the crowd, not me :-( (it was the 3 Company's Theme, I said it first damn it!).
Race goals:
  • I did manage to find Pat and the kids in the last 300 m and get my cowboy hat to finish in
  • I did do a quick peanut butter and jelly time at the finish (AO tell O.F.)
  • I didn't beat my 11:37 time from 1990.
  • I didn't finish top 20 in my AG.
So thanks to all of you that sent kind words before and condolences after, and have been waiting to hear it I had jumped off the Physics Building or what. I really appreciated it and carried your thoughts with me through the long day. Special thanks go to The Coach, who manages to put up with me and requires I keep it real. AO who gives me full bandwidth to her right ear and "listens" to all my moaning: great training partners are hard to find and I am lucky. CSS and CSS (should have thought about that before we named 'em, huh?) were awesome with race support. CSS is running now and CSS is doing tris and vows to do the entire Subaru series next summer and I hope to join him. Cause, in those now famous words of AO:


Coach has decided she can make a short courser out of me and I am both skeptical and willing to tri.

And lastly but not leastly 3 cheers for PjS and her high tolerance to living with a triathlete. And defying all the draft people and course cones to get me into the Burger King drive thru line after the race.

Stay tuned here cause I'm doing the Muskoka 70.3 next Sunday, as are many TS people (don't ask why, I believe the argument I got was "Hey, you don't have to train for it and it will be fun.") AO is organizing a pool, you each put in $5 and guess how many km I can run before I blow. Contact her for details, she has seen me post-IMC and has already bought in for 2, 3 and 4 km. She is betting with her head and not her heart, but I'll give you folks a tip. I did a tempo piece on the Port Stanley hills today on the and appear to have a little bit left in my legs. I'll see how my first post-race run goes tomorrow.


1 Personal Worst/Best

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chey on the way back from BC


Monday, August 31, 2009

Breakfast, day after IMC 09


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thanks Folks

OK, all my plans of yaking to you all week with have fallen by the wayside, and, atypically, I don't have much to say. I am going to have a very good, average or bad day, and my body has given me no inkling of which. The only positive sign is I took a little run this morning and almost barfed trying running at 6:16 km, but my 3 km I was feeling more normal. Dropped the bike off (see picture below) with Cass helping as my Sherpa.

Some of you have sent wishes already, thanks so much, I'll keep them "Closer to the Heart". You can follow the race at here, I'm racer #1794 (not coincidently 1794 was the year of the Whiskey Rebellion in Pittsburgh: I'm taking that as good karma). Yes, I do hear you when you scream at your screen, so even if I'm dying on the run say nice stuff to it!

Given May/June were a write-off and I had my serious doubts about making it here, I'm going to make tomorrow a Grateful Day.

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no I've said too much
I haven't said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

From Drop Box

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On the beach in OK Falls before IMC


Friday, August 21, 2009

Osoyoos visitor centre


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer in the Okanagan


Truckin in the OK Valley


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sica-mous in Penticton


Fine Dining in Penticton


Millions of Peaches, Peaches for me




Friday, August 14, 2009

Desert Running Attire

As an addendum to today's post I'd thought I'd show you proper desert running attire for mid-day, summer conditions. Note the savvy runner wears:
  1. a hat for warm, and to keep the head dry
  2. arm warmers (mid-zero)
  3. shirt
  4. wind vest (important to ward off the mid-day chill)
  5. shorts
  6. Rainlegs, a dutch invention, essentially waterproof knickers
  7. knee high socks
If I wasn't doing intervals I would of course dress warmer. Fortunately nobody knows me in this town, and I only saw one other kindred soul out running on the IMC course.


Surviving in the Desert

Surviving in the Desert
From Drop Box

I haven't written in a bit but with the race coming up and training leveling off I'll have to get more words out. Been keeping with the big hours since Steelhead which leaves little time for much beyond swim, bike, run, repeat.

I have 2 brilliant friends, fellow members of the professoriate and knowledge in many thing. I have heard them quoted on the CBC, newspapers, etc. Their expertise is far ranging, and spills into all areas except geography. They attempted to convince me I am in a desert (see above photo from of few minutes ago of water pouring out the drain spouts on the OK Falls OP-centre). I confess to not being a geographer either, but I know a bit about weather and offer the following observations from this morning.
  • At noon today the temperature was 11 C (50 F). Noon is the period in the middle of the day, as opposed to midnight (gee it cools off so much in the desert at midnight).
  • The "desert" we are in has at least 6 gigantic lakes. These lakes are full of water. Many deserts, like say the Sahara or the Gobi, are often characterized by their lack of millions of liters of standing water, much of which I'm guessing came from the sky and was not trucked in from Vancouver.
  • The profs mentioned that there are scorpions about. I'm sure they were here on a reunion tour in 2003 where they did a blowout encore of "Rock You Like a Hurricane" to 5000 fans at the Penticton Stockyards.
  • At yesterdays ride the profs were wearing vests, arm warmers and possibly thermal underwear. Presumably this was to avoid skin damage from dust storms?
(wait my fingers are numb, I'm turning up the gas fireplace in the condo now, be right back)

Where was I, oh yeah, the desert. I got to take in the beautiful desert views from the completely empty lake, where my only companion for my mid-morning swim was a loon-like bird (presumably a desert loon). Not a soul was on the beaches, nor did a single boat push off its mooring. Presumably this is because the locals no better than to venture out in the heat of the day.

Of way cool note: near the beginning of my swim I looked down in the clear lake and saw a large (3/4 m) moving black cloud. I dove down and it was a ga-zillion tiny fishies all swimming together (back to school early out here?).

It is rumored to be warming up here during the week, so I'll grant this place a charitable semi-arid rating. Last time I was here in 1990 we camped the week before the race with our 2 little babies and a crappy tent, and whiled away the hours in the campground bathroom trying to stay warm as it rained day after day. 19 years later and I'm happy to have moved to the living room with a fireplace.

Anyway we can,
We're gonna find something
We'll dance in the garden
In torn sheets in the rain

We're the deadbeat club
We're the deadbeat club

OK, got to run. Literally, I got some intervals to do before the thunderstorms purge the region in the afternoon of all whose consciouses are not clean.....


From Drop Box

Summer Desert Running Gear (12oC in OK Falls)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

OK Falls


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Just a Test

Just a Test
Beastie Boys:

As long as I learn I will make mistakes
What do I want? What do I need?
Why do I want it? What's in it for me?
It's the imagery of technology
Is what you get is what you see
Don't worry your mind
When you give it your best
One two one two this is just a test

Yeah, today was just a test and I finally got a C so I'm stoked. Whinin' time is over and as my Man Daredevil said "Time to get off this pity kick and start using some muscle". Yesterday some bon homme on TriRudy posted that Costco had Garmin 305s for $176 CDN and hells bells my local Costco had a few in stock so I upgraded. Easier than wearing my usual 2 watches and I'm sure this bulbous chronograph is Tone's run speed secret.

So today I focussed and I got toyed up for 1:45 run with a 1 hour tempo (focussing involved pissing, moaning and feeling sorry for myself from breakfast until late afternoon). Coach graciously offered to pick the team up Newtons at Lake Placid and I needed a new pair. Unfortunately I got a different model then I had intended, but after checking in with Tori @ Newton I got the hype/marketing/reality of the situation settled and for 1 oz extra per foot I think I'm ahead of the game. So I put the suckers on, powered up, shouted "giddyap" and left, vowing that I would pick my feet up (I've noticed I'm shuffling more than I should, I've been working my core/stretching on the hip area to try to open up my stride).

Wasn't a epic run, but I'm heading in the right direction. I stayed in the hills and in control, not working too hard, relaxed and put together a sub 5:201 paced hour with little effort (AO: out and back on the usual AM hill loop). The point is I have recently been struggling like a drowning man to run 30 s slower than this, so this was a welcome event to get some easy speed without beating myself up.

Let's see if I can carry this momentum into the upcoming Death Weekend IV: The Final Chapter (final big weekend of training before my gradual descent into IMC).

Word up,

  1. per km, Yankee friends. I wouldn't be moaning about doing 6 min MILES at IMC.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"The Big Push"

"The Big Push"

Football fans know this title. Coach Lombardi's famous: "Gentlemen, today we start the big push" (read Jerry Kramer's Instant Replay; I'll wait). Steelhead has come and gone and all focus from this point is soley on IMC Aug 30. I leave for BC next week, but that is a long time from now. This week is my last hell week of excessive training volume. Steelhead was Saturday, had a recovery ride Monday, a brick yesterday with AO and 4.5 on the bike today. I've recovered pretty well from Steelhead (e.g. muscle soreness, etc), but I'm tired.

Steelhead? History now. Bittersweet. Swim was good, age group place not good but some of that was a timing mat issue (mats far from swim exit, so my time had wetsuit removal in it). Great beach start for me, starting in front I took 1 step and fell flat on my face! Ha! Got up laughing and stumbled into the water (as usual swimming way before many others). Had a relaxed swim, felt good about going 2x the distance at that pace or better. The bike was bad luck in terms of planning. I don't count on the wind becoming so strong so early in the morning. The last 16 miles of the bike was into a gusty headwind, and I didn't budget my energy appropriately. Would have had a mighty fine bike without the gusts.

The run is the issue between now and IMC. Like Austin Powers I have lost my mojo, and if I don't find it soon IMC is not going to be an epic performance. My run was disappointing, it just hasn't come back this season. Effort seems same, form decent, leg cadence same, but pace is bad. The good I can take from this is the last 5 k were my fastest, and I was able to keep eating on the run (important for the IM marathon). Given 6 weeks ago I couldn't run a step I guess we just takes what we gets, eh?

The other positive is my recovery has been pretty good. I don't know how much of that is due to my (over?)use of compression gear, but it does seem to help with recovery. It certainly helps you to look like a serious geek. And I wore compression sleeves on my calves during the race and maybe that helped too.

OK, my brain is fading. The big finish: rode out to the Port today via 2 of my favorite surreal places. First I went through Sheldon, the Rhubarb capital of Ontario ("you can hear the rhubarb grow") then through Fingal. Go ahead say it out loud. Fingal. Love it could do this all day.


Lance had to change 2 flats today, ha! Barbi: she did it, 2nd woman overall at Ultraman Canada.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Rack: Steelhead 70.3 2009


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Be pRepaired

Be pRepaired

Warning: seriously ugly picture in this report, continue at your own peril.

Initial product report: Crocs pRepairs

There is a new ugly for the harrrrdddccorreee trainerw among us, which for this humble blog is most of us, eh? I just got as a (it about time its been 2 weeks now) birthday present the last pair of Croc pRepairs at the local Sportcheck. Croc claims they:
  • Enhances recovery after athletic activity.
  • Reduces peak pressure by up to 50%*.
  • Reduces peak muscular effort by up to 24.6%*.
  • Lower
    muscle exertions can provide an improved opportunity for blood flow and
    fatigue relief, creating greater recovery potential.
  • Promotes a natural motion of the foot.
  • Anti-bacterial/anti-fungal/odor-resistant Croslite Ag™ footbeds.
  • Footbed conforms creating a custom fit.
They are not kidding, I think it could be more like 50.003% and 24.629%, they are being conservative. I noticed it is already 2130 here and I am buzzing around the place like a beaver on Dexedrine despite being up for a 0600 hammerfest with AO. Of course the above is the good stuff, here is the reality:

Now I know there are readers of the fair sex who may have to take time to get their cool back, its OK, I could easily be a shin model. So get yourself a pair of pRepairs from wherever near you sells ugly shoes.

I sit here in my rockin' sox and Crocs attempting to heal my legs, which participated in a breakthrough run today. Getting a little run mojo back as AO and I did 2 of our best quality tempo runs of the season. I measure my run using an Annometer as opposed to a heart monitor or GPS watch. The Annometer is simple and accurate: you simply get it up in the morning, give it some coffee and its volume/frequency of complaining about the pace increases linearly with effort, so by the time one gets into "the Red Zone" the Annometer slows down and just starts cussin' at you.

It didn't help poor AO that 2 factors conspired against her today. First, due to my commitment to the success of and its many great fish and plastic products (track #FishTime on twitter) I greatly increased the pace by developing a new running style I call "Way of the Carp", or "fish-like running". Using gill breathing rather than lung breathing you can increase your VO2 max by 15.3381%. Furthermore, rapid dorsal fin & lateral fin like hand motions greatly increase your leg speed (7.31113%).

Second, perhaps due to the sharp window to the world offered by my morning cup of Yuanmei Eel Milk, when the Annometer nearly pinned off-scale 15 min into the 2nd tempo, I channeled Lou Gossett Jr. from An Officer and a Gentleman: "Girl can you handle it" "Girl I gots you papers, just sign 'em and quit" "You just a wash-out Zero". And it was all great fun.

Just a long swim tomorrow, then a BIG(ish) day Friday, yeah!!!!!!!


ps: I think we have found the secret "Easer Egg" in the design of the Shimano tri-shoe strap. Anybody besides me using 'em? We finally figured out how to keep them from rubbing on the crank.

ppss: slime tubes: put some WD-40 on the values and the slime won't make the value stick shut. Thanks for that one Paul!

pppsss: don't care what they say, I loved Thor's effort today! And Lance's.

p^4s^4: George Hincappe has a badly bruised collar bone from a fall today and has to ride the ITT with it, everyone send him some love, OK?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Getting Sibo-nized: Part 2

Getting Sibo-nized: Part 2

Sunday Sibo came by for Round 2 of the fit session. The main goal was to change my cleats (I switching pedals) that had the proper angles to accommodate my knee angles, and more important, stay in place, part of the lessons learn from said knee issues. While at this Sibo noticed some issues with my saddle. I was using the popular Profile Tristrkye saddle, which is know for it mega-padding on the nose end, as well as a copious cutout in the middle of the saddle (e.g. your boys will love me 100 km into Ironman). The padding makes it quite comfortable, but it appeared that this saddle was too wide for me, binding my legs. Previously I had used a Fizik Arione saddle (road version). We decided it would be more comfortable and functional to change back, which we did along with all the associated twiddling to get the angle right. First ride today was quite positive.

We also nailed things on my "road" bike (OK, its really a X-bike), which I look forward to trying this weekend. Changed up the saddle (as the Arione was on the road bike) and Sibo scored again, noticing that the seatpost I was using was catching on my legs, so we swapped that out as well. I also pulled my shortie aero bars off to pass them on to Cass, he has earned them racing this year. He did his tris down on the old Skool.

So why am I telling you this? Cause on my venerable Tristrkye I had mounted the last bits of a Xlabs bottle launcher (gave up rear bottle carriers) to which I attached a pump, CO2 cartridge, and bag with tube, patches, tire irons, etc. And that's where all the stuff stayed, mounted to my Tristrkye. As I went out with AO for a pre-dawn (by a few minutes) morning ride. I should have sensed something was up, like when I had the pot all set to go (without the top on, almost a flood). Or when we rolled out of town past about 10 OPP and City police cars (traffic blitz?; more on that later). We got about 2 hr into the ride when after crossing some tracks AO noticed her rear tire was flat. Now AO has a history of not sweating the details of such things as extra tubes, she rides with a big smile and a cell phone. And why should she when she rides with one of those clueless sorts who buys a $10,000 ultra lite bike and puts 10 lb of emergency equipment on it?


AO flatted I pulled up and she said I need: patch, pump, irons, slave labor, you wouldn't want little old me to fix that would ya' (just kidding she wouldn't give me the pleasure and in her defense she did NOT hold her hand up and demand my wheel as a neutral tire change). We both looked in horror at the back of my saddle, which was naked as a jay bird. Freak! The one time I leave the stuff home and you guessed it. Tone was in the middle of morning driving duty, but Pat kindly did sag-wagon duty. Gentleman I am, as soon as my heart rate dropped into Zone 1 I said good luck to Ann and got another 1:16 of riding (as well as peace and quiet, AO is a real chatterbox in the morning after 3.14159 oz of coffee, the other 2*3.14159 oz she has after riding).1

Oh yeah, so coming back into town more police cars, the Forensic unit, police RV, etc. Still haven't heard what is up, but sounds bad.

My God I'll be up to 10 at this rate and those 6am running intervals are going to hurt. And you are going to have to wait until tomorrow to see my "no radios" socks and Prepair's TOGETHER in color.


(BTW: RT @yuwanmei: A stream cannot run uphill, nor customers from our exceptional products or services! #FishTime, I am angling in for a franchise for rights to ALL eel products sold in southern Ontario. Invest now, America can not resist these good things.)

  1. sarcasm alert

Monday, July 20, 2009

How Can I Miss You if You Won't Go Away?

"How can I miss you if you won't go away"

Yup that famous country song that never got wrote by my long-ago office mate & friend Rod in AK. It probably had some more lyrics, but the part that was going to make him rich, the hook, was undeniable in its C&W essence.

So you've missed me, haven't you? I've missed me & you too, but I didn't really take a vacation from myself. I have been putting all my efforts into healing (see my ancient posts from way back), doing everything put sitting under a pyramid with dangling magnets (on back order, damn thing still hasn't made it here). And I am going to tempt fate and call myself "healed", or at least healed enough to know I can take some down time and get to the line at IMC without having to buy a size larger wetsuit. Here's a graph of the last couple weeks.

So I'm getting there, have a couple long rides and runs under my belt and my swimming, after a several week slump, is on the rebound. My bike ain't too bad (I mean it could get worse? How?) and I'm loving the Q-rings, will be definitely putting them on my road bike as well. Got cocky and rode my fixie back and forth to campus 2x today, damn I missed riding that bike more than everything during my "set back" as Coach Sheri calls it. Will do a post on that machine soon, she's a beauty. Can't sugar coat it though: my running sucks and I hope I get the flab down and some leg speed back. I've (or more accurately my knee's agent and road manager, AO has) held back from racing, so we will see what is what on August 1 at the Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, MI.

I have a REAL hard time writing at all, before email it was hell to get a line in the mail from me, as I hate actual writing (e.g. penmanship) and would consider taking up typing as a competitive sport if there was a club in my area (and it allowed Italian/Irish, you know how these snooty clubs are). So typing helps. Digression: when I was in Grade 5 they made me go to this special room in the grade school where I had to practice cursive writing with this brace that held my hand in this awkward position so I wouldn't, as lefties are prone to do, smudge things. It was the system that made me the burden to society (and Pat) I am today.

But the other thing that has helped get me going is getting in the Twitter loop. Unlike Fbook, which frankly I don't enjoy, I find Twitter a hoot. I originally peed all over the idea of ų-blogging but after actually blogging for awhile I started to grasp it. And unlike the staid Fbook, Twitter is completely unstable and volatile, we're talking Morey Amsterdam on steroids. I mean as I write this the most wonderful news source The Onion is claiming it has been sold to a Chinese fish parts consortium who are now using it for propaganda and fish part ads (for instance the current op-ed pieces are "Know Any Good State Secrets" and "American Children Like Me Are Lazy and Insolent and Must Try Harder" (hey, come to think of it there were 2 Chinese girls in my lane today and they were taking notes)). And the passion of my year, the Tour de France is fantastic with all the updates and insights (many from the riders themselves).

Try it gentle reader and if is too much at first let me know and I can walk you through the model, which is a bit unusual for non-computer types at first. And of course, don't forget to check out You can even see what I ate before swimming today, the joke being I saw that Lance Armstrong had almost an identical meal before a stage last week, and he posted a similar picture.

Tomorrow I hope to write about the awesome fit session II with Sibo yesterday, we did some more tweaking on my bike position and even a saddle change, I'm planning to give it a hard test ride with AO in the pre-dawn wasteland she calls mid-day.

Fact: I got back to writing quicker than NASA got back to the Moon (BTW Google Earth now has Google Moon integrated, way cool; if you don't have Google Earth why Santa Claus, why?).


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life is Like Canadian Football

Life is Like Canadian Football

How true, eh? Hockey's finally over and only a few weeks until football up here. This and a bunch of other 70's tracks by CFL'ers have recently been dug up and reprocessed: check out

I've been feeling a bit "3 and out" the last few days myself, but this give me a lift today!

ps: sounds a bit like Bare Naked Ladies, don't it?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting Sibo-nized: Part 1

Getting Sibo-nized: Part 1

Lately my obsession with training has changed, by necessity, to obsession with getting well. I'm trying to cover all the bases and use this opportunity for change, because

(a) change is good, right?
(b) you do the same thing, you get the same result, right?

Right. So we are in agreement let's continue. My knee thing is cycling induced, and hence the first place to look for a problem requiring change was in my bike setup, which I have meticulously tweaked and build up over 20 years of racing to a point I knew I had to be "in the box". This is Dan Rishworth's concept of fit being a box, not a point, with some range of variance. And since I thought I was there I was out of ideas. Fortunately in good old London, ONT I had an expert to turn to, so I shot an email off to Sibo: Fit emergency!

Sibo arrived and I hopped on the tri bike and he quickly confirmed what I had thought: I was clearly in the box. Seat height good, arms, seat tube angle nominal. Maybe raise the front a big, little more tilt on the armpads.

"Good work fitting yourself, rook. Now, step aside, watch and learn." Sibo's mantra is "fit starts with the feet, the feet are the only part of the body locked to the bike."

So we spent most of the next 4 hours focussed on the feet, and got some serious surprises/revelations/facts.

Our first move was to end the rearward cleat experiment. I had been placing my cleats as far back as possible behind the pedal axis, which is about 15 mm on my tri and road shoes. You can read about the logic in this article from Cycling News (thanks GR!). I had enjoyed this experiment and taking my calf muscles out of the pedal stroke definitely helps come run time. However, Sibo made some good arguments against this choice, including the fact that as your cleat moves toward mid-foot your ability to compensate for biomechanical factors by changing your foot position decreases, and in the limit of literally putting your clear mid-foot, it goes to zero. So we moved the cleats forward to nominally just in front of the pedal axis.

The first inkling we had of anything being up was when Sibo set up a laser level and target on my leg to track my leg motion when pedaling. Ideally your leg should move up and down in one plane with little side to side motion. My legs were really moving side to side, especially my (hurt) right leg. So measurement established what I had been told for years and could never fix: don't stick your right leg out when pedaling. It wern't me Maw, it twas my weird hip!

Sibo asked, do you have orthodics and indeed I have been running with them for about a decade since a battle with planar fasciitis. I used to wear then cycling but hadn't for awhile, so I popped them in and guess what: my right side fell into almost perfect alignment. But my left side when from bad to very worse. WTF?

So we said OK, no orthotic left, orthotic in right. Right stayed good, left went back to bad. My orthotics correct pronation, that is the tendency of you knee to move inward as you move you leg up and down. So the orthotic tilts the inside of my right foot to the right. It appeared that I needed to tilt the OUTSIDE of my left foot to the left, so my feet where tilted the same way.

So we try this (with a serious amount of shim in the left, ultimately 4.5 mm) and bam, my left leg drops into an acceptable range of variation (which should improve with some IT band stretching on the left side). Now why would my body be so tilted to the left? I dunno, maybe that decade of speed skating in a counter-clockwise circle gave me a hip imbalance? This wouldn't be surprising as many speed skaters, especially short trackers, develop a stronger leg due to the turning. This result is also consistent with:
  1. my "right side" saddle pain, i.e. constant moving on the saddle to the left during rides to take pressure of the right
  2. my lower left glute pain when racing
  3. CK's observation running in the Orange Grove (see April posts) that I was leaning to the left when we ran.
The next step was to allow for my natural foot position. With my Speedplay pedals this was straightforward, as the pedals have adjustable float, and this float can be centered around any arbitrary point within the float range. So we were able to adjust for my outward foot on the right, rechecked with the laser and all was much improved. We then made a few minor changes, that is moving the saddle back a wee bit (e.g. 0.5 deg, I'm now at nominally 80 deg seat tube angle), raising the bars a cm or so, with a more upward tilt to the pads and leveling my seat as opposed to the few degree upward tilt I was using. We also moved my pads 24 cm apart, about 2.4 cm wider than they were. Though less aggressive in front, this change does allow better breathing, and with my priority on distance events seems reasonable.

I can't stress enough what a valuable experience this was, and not being able to ride now is made even worse as I am excited about trying out the changes on the road. Sibo did a terrific job, and I look forward to working with him more in this area (we didn't even get to my road bike!). It is also worth commenting that with all the changes Sibo made, he didn't change my saddle height. Shows you that there is a lot more to fit then just having the right saddle height and stem length.

I tried to work on wellness today and had acupuncture and fascia massage done on the knee. I did some upper body weights yesterday and got absolutely schooled on the chin up and dipping bar: I'm going to leave that stuff in at least until I leave for BC as my body "strength" has dropped to pitiful and I need some more muscle to put into that fine new stroke Coaches Barbi and Len taught me in FLA.


Sunday, June 7, 2009



I went to see the doctor, cause I had a pain or two
He said don't be a sissy boy, there is nothing wrong with you
This world is full of heartache, just be brave and see it through
Just get back to work you little jerk, I've had enough of you
He looked alot like Tiger Williams
He was brave and strong and true
But if you tried to cross him
He would put a hurt on you

The Hanson Brothers, He looked a lot like Tiger Williams

Ahh, Romo needed some more recommends for Canadian music extraordinaire, and he being about The Game and it being almost time for the Big Fella to come out of his box and go for a few laps around the rink before heading for a summer in Cottage Country, what other song could cross my mine 'cept maybe The Hockey Song. And The Hanson Brothers covered that as well, a bit differently I might add than Stompin' Tom.

Gentle readers I'm typing this to tell you that after 2 weeks of trying to "be brave and see it through" I'm shutdown. Going to try 2 weeks rest and see if I can lick this pes anserine bursitis thing and get back on track for training for IMC. So if you have great workout post a comment and let me live vicariously through your workouts, rather than my typical, "living vicariously through myself." Or to put a positive spin on it, if you have a sucky day out there it is better than mine!

The only positive in all this is Cass did his first tri last Sunday at Milton. He had a good bike and an excellent run and appears to love the sport. Milton was a sprint; he's excited about doing an international in Guelph in 2 weeks (except for the swim :-).

Look for more tomorrow, as Sibo is jetting in to look into some bike fit issues (my injury is actually due to cycling, not running, so a re-re-fitting seems prudent).


Sunday, May 24, 2009

DIY TTT: Stage 4

DIY TTT: Stage 4

Race Director's Report

It's been a long day, and a Race Director's job is never done. Stage 4 got underway at the beautiful UWO Aquatic Centre. I was so happy to see the entire field still intact! This feat was largely due to the gala Triple T dinner provided by Chief Antonio last night, who is always my first choice to cater such affairs. I get tired of saying he outdid himself every time, but he did again, serving Pat and I plus the entire race field a delicious grilled Trout, with a delicious rhubarb Tart with vanilla-Tyme ice cream (get it TTT!). Magnifico!!!

Anyway today at 1015 prompt the Race Harmonica blew and the field was off. Again AO set the standard with another gem of a perfectly paced swim, sailing through 1900 m in 30.50. The morning was grey but no rain as she left T1 in first place for the 3 lap loop of the country north of London. By the time I was able to catch AO in the gold race chase vehicle she was already on her 3rd lap and riding strong. She powered into T2 with a 3.18 bike split (including phone calls), as the sky clear and the Sun came out.

A quick T2 and AO was off on the 13.1 mile run in the hills of north London. Yours truly decided to test his wonky knee and rode the lead athlete bike for the run. AO ran a steady first lap, after getting her running legs after her hardest bike ride of the season (and after 2x40 km rides yesterday). Coming into the halfway point at Chez Sica she had a quick stop for fluid then off for the 2nd lap. Unfortunately I had a brain cramp, and I went the wrong way on the lead bike. Whoops! Fortunately I found her before she had completely withered up and dehydrated from the heat, and she picked it up again trying to break 2 hrs. She worked really hard up the final hills and came into to the cheering crowd in just over 2 hours, still in first place. AO's course record performance was:

Stage 4 Results
1. Ann Onymous, London, ON, 30.50/6.41/3.18.08/2.57/2.03.50 6 hrs 2 min

Overall Results (Final)
1. Ann Onymous, London, ON 11 hr 58 min 35 sec

Here is a picture of AO on the podium receiving her award and prize. The custom made winner's medallion is gold(ish) chain holding 3 nuts, one for each discipline, with the middle (bike) one extra long. The nuts, well this was a nuts weekend! And yes, AO won a working cell phone (it rings) courtesy of the Dollar Store in London. After the medal ceremony the racer enjoyed a post-race feed catered by the local Dairy Queen.

Look for next year, where we will hopefully be doing this craziness in Ohio! And congrats to Ontario's Rich Pady who was first overall solo competitor in the other TTT.

the RD
ps: click below to see some photos of this epic weekend!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

DIY TTT: Stages II & III (Day 2)

DIY TTT: Stages II & III (Day 2)

Stage II (dualthon, 5/40/10 km)

It was cool and clear at dawn as race leader Ann Onymous led the field out for the 5 km run, blazing into T1 in 25 min. Race partner AT and her left for a fast 40 km, and AO led into T2 after 1:22 on the bike. She then hammered at 49 min hilly 10 km to solidify her lead. I slept through this but it sounded exciting. Being Race Director is cool as all your flunkies do all the work.

Stage II Results
1. Ann Onymous, London, ON 2:35

1. Ann Onymous, London, ON 3:08.30

Stage III (1.5/40/10 km)

I was awake and at the pool for final race instructions at the new and shiny UWO Aquatic Centre. I was happy to see that the entire field was still together, no one had dropped. At exactly 1518 or something like that the Race Harmonica sounded and the field left on the swim. No surprises here as AO continued her pool domination, swimming a beautifully paced 7.49/7.45/7.36 (23:10, 1.32.6 pace!) SC swim.

After a flying min transition she led the field out on the 40 km bike course and with the crowd frantic in concern, finally showed up not on a milk carton but in T2 in 1:35.24 , with a big smile on her face. Again, the RD apologizes for the "many red lights", "viscous Kona-esque winds" and "crappy bike support" issues AO mentioned. A big gulp of water and off she went out of T2.

The run for this leg is a challenge and hilly loop around the NW end of London, ending in the famous quad-smasher Col de Brescia. I question whether I will see any of the participant running in at the end of this Stage!

However, as the picture shows I was wrong and AO was race leader with a 52.10 run.

Stage III Results
1. Ann Onymous, London, ON 2:59.05

1. Ann Onymous, London, ON 5:56.35

Friday, May 22, 2009

DIY TTT: Stage 1 Race Director's Report

DIY TTT: Stage 1 Race Director's Report

Stage 1 of the DIY TTT race was held this afternoon under warm, partially sunny skies. The athlete (UPAO) attended my race briefing on deck at the new and beautiful UWO Aquatic Centre. After receiving the race instructions I raised the Canadian flag and the athlete and I sang an abbreviated (but moving) rendition of Oh Canada. The athelete then took to the water for warm up until I raised my right arm signifying start anyware within 15 s. Tension was high and my racer was relieved to hear the chord from the race harmonica (couldn't find a whistle and they wouldn't allow me to discharge my 2" barrel Bulldog 44 magnum in the pool) and off she went. AO as expected flew on the swim with the following splits/stroke count over 50 m:


Would post a picturebut you are not allowed to take one without written permission of the Aquatics coordinator!

Yours truly won the race down to T1 and had the contestant's bike in the racks and a orange cone on the mount/dismount line. AO screamed through a 4 min, 3 sec transition, almost as fast as her swim! The racer then left on her bike for the grueling 5 mile test. AO kept her lead and was first in on the bike in 18.36 (couple long stop lights, I couldn't afford to have the roads closed), although AO was inches away from receiving a 4 min penalty in T2 for a dismount line violation.

After a screaming fast 45 s transition AO led the charge out of T2 for the hilly 1 mile "loop", which isn't a loop and I had to hobble about 1/2 mile to get to the finish. AO hammered through the elastic cord finish line (which accidently snapped back on her, whoops I was futzing with the camera!) in 7.30 for a 34 min 30 s first place finish.

Stage 1 Results
1. AO, London ON, 34.30 (received 1 min time bonus)

Overall Results
1. AO, London ON, 33.30

We all look forward to tomorrow's racing which includes the morning Stage 2 3/40/10 duathlon with a team bike ride (AO and TF) followed by the Stage 3 Olympic race in the afternoon.

Race Director, DIY TTT