Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Tragedy in Boston: An Open Letter to All of Us

I've been spending the last two days as I imagine most decent people in this country are. Deeply saddened by what happened yesterday and feeling desperately helpless.

In particular I can't get the face of little 8 year old Martin Richard out of my heart. He was killed yesterday while waiting with his mom and sister for his dad to finish the marathon. I'm reminded of a few years ago when my wife and young son were waiting for me there at the finish line in Boston - and it makes me break out in tears.

Like all of you, I've been watching the news reports. I'm praying for those responsible to be caught. But what happens then? Where will the news focus?

Let me ask you something: How many of us know the name of at least one of the murderers in the Columbine shooting? How about the monster from Sandy Hook? The killer from the Aurora shootings?

Now let me ask you something else. How many names of the innocent victims can we recite? How many of their lives and dreams do you know about? I'm not judging, just wondering why this is? Why are we like this?

Once the murderer from Boston is found, all of the news agencies will focus on him or the group of people responsible. They will go into detail about their thinking, planning, history and motives.

But here's the thing. Their motive is irrelevant. It's made irrelevant by the simple fact that to commit such a heinous crime against innocent people like Martin, they have to be deeply disturbed and mentally ill. Just as I couldn't care less the rantings of someone committed to a padded cell, I care nothing for what this person thinks or what they have to say. Because their thoughts, beliefs and any insights into the world is worthless. It's meaningless drivel. If they didn't have this cause, they'd be focused on another. The real 'motive' is that their sickness has reduced them to something not recognizable as a human being.

And while the authorities and mental health professionals hopefully may be able to decipher some useful information from this person's way of thinking to prevent future tragedies, there's nothing there for any of us. Absolutely nothing.

The news agencies won't change by themselves. They know what people apparently want to see. Politicians will start politicizing it for their own gain and self-served ratings.

But what if we all changed?

  • What if we started demanding our news to be about the victims, like Martin and Krystle Campbell
  • What if we turned off the news when they started giving the killer or killers more attention than they deserve? 
  • What if we told the news agencies this by sending them eMails and then followed up by ignoring them when they ignored our requests - and instead spent our time adding to humanity instead. 
  • What if we used that extra 15 minutes for our kids. Calling our family and friends. Volunteering, or just walking over to your neighbors house and tell them how much you enjoy being their neighbor?

What if everyone started making a habit of this? What kind of tidal swell would that create? I wonder.

So that's what I'm doing starting today. I'm sending this to the news agencies I watch. And I'm offering you to feel free to post a link to this page anywhere you want. Or copy and paste the text. Put it in your own words, spread it around - create a chain eMail.

From here on out, when I think of Boston, I'll think of Martin. I'll remember his name for the rest of my life and the names of the other victims that come out in the days ahead. I'll focus on the first responder stories and names of the other heroes from this tragedy. My thoughts will be of them.

I'm not doing this out of naive optimism. I'm doing this because I'm tired of feeling helpless. I'm doing this because I want our world to be a better place for my kids and for all of us.

For Martin Richard's sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of each other - please, please join me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hero Worship

This post has nothing to do with swimming, cycling or running. It has nothing to do with nutrition, key workouts or cool rides or other observations on sport. But it has everything to do with life. It has everything to do with resolve. It has everything to do with mental toughness. It has everything to do with character. Because without all those things - then what is sport? What is life? What matters?

This is my little sister Kirsten - or 'Kee' as we call her. 'Kee' is actually not short for Kirsten. It's short for Quiche, which is her other nickname - and that's a longer story.

I love this picture. It was taken years and years ago, but it's timeless. I keep it on a shelf in our office, and every time I see it, it makes me smile. Because I love my sister in that deep way that a big brother always loves his little sister. That protective way - even though growing up with 4 boys around her - I can assure you she doesn't need protection.

A few years back Kirsten was diagnosed with cancer. Just writing that makes my eyes tear up. It makes me angry. I want to find Cancer and say, "Who the f*ck are you that you dare come near my little sister?" My sister doesn't smoke. She stays in shape. She eats healthy. There was no valid reason for it to happen to her.

But cancer doesn't care. It's random. It's indiscriminate. It doesn't care if your a good person or a bad person. It doesn't care how many people love you dearly. It just is.

But - this particular story has a happy outcome. My sister went through treatment and has since been cancer free. She got married last summer to a great guy, surrounded by her loving family and friends. And she's happy.

And although the strength in which she fought the disease was reason enough for me to admire her, it's what she did afterwards that really put her into 'Hero' status for me.

When she was going through chemo, she lost all her hair. And I know that hurt her deeply. I know that she felt self-conscious about how she looked during that time. But so you know what she did with those feelings?

She put together a time-lapse of the private pictures she took of herself while her hair was growing back and she shared them to the world. She didn't put cancer in the rear view mirror just because her fight was done. She reached out to help others in a selfless way using her talents as a producer and story-teller in film.

When I watch this video, I cry. I cry because I feel helpless to help the girl in the pictures that I grew up with. But mostly I cry because I'm so very happy to have my little sister in my life. And I cry because she is an amazing human being - and I am lucky to know her, and be inspired by her.

Here's to you my wonderful sister - Kee.

PS: If you want to share this video with someone that you think might be helped by this, here is the URL of the video to send them: http://youtu.be/jPljZN3tAds

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dialed In

Fit the new, zero setback post into my TT bike. Makes a world of difference. I don't know who these guys are that need that much effective reach that comes with the standard setback post - but I'm not one of them.

Did a bit of video analysis - below. Saw that the leg extension may have been a bit too long (it's right at the 155 degree limit, but then again, the pedal stroke is smooth with no acceleration of the knee at BDC and my hips are rock solid) - but decided to drop it by about 8mm. That may be about 3mm too much at this point, but we'll give it a few rides. It's getting pretty darn close.

I was initially concerned about the 'toe drop' which usually is indicative of too high a seat. But I searched out a bunch of videos of pros doing warm-ups for TT on the trainer and every one of them drops the toe on BDC - I think it's because TT puts you so much more forward.

Anyway - real test today was in the form of a 54mi ride at a decent pace. Felt awesome on the aero bars and spent probably 90% of the ride there. Then did a 4mi MAFF (solid aerobic zone) off the bike and MAN could I tell a difference from trying to run off the road bike. The TT bike totally saved my running muscles and I felt like a million dollars.

I will say that for sure the TT bike does NOT corner like the road bike. Had a few 'whoah' moments trying to press a corner tight. Part of it is the front wheel - the HED's use a really wide C2 Al rim and I think there is just a bucket load of rotating mass coupled with some incident wind gusts that made the front end feel like I was about ready to lift off. However - I totally recommend the HED Express series. That wide C2 rim allows you to ride about 10psi lower air pressure because it's so freakin' wide (i.e. more air volume). And that just makes the ride so plush.

Conti 4000 race slicks though are the bomb. Smooth as silk and not the classic Conti squared off feeling on the corners. Great tire profile. Not so good on gravel though. Did a little front wheel slide coming down a street crossing sidewalk ramp. Good thing I used to practice those front wheel slides on the Mt. Bike. Still, it's a little disconcerting of a feeling. In general, this setup is great at going straight ahead at mach schnell.

Afterwards did a long walk with Luke. And now of course a well deserved adult beverage. Booyah!

Friday, April 5, 2013

New Toy

 Today I pulled the trigger on getting a training wheel built up with a CycleOps G3 PowerTap Hub. Can't wait. Will pair nicely with my Garmin 310XT.

There was a day when I was poo-poo'ing (jokingly) the whole 'power meter' thing. I also for a while refused to even ride with a cycling computer or heart rate monitor.

But the more I've been reading - especially stuff by Joe Friel (I just started his Power Meter book after reading some blog posts and articles by him) - the more I'm becoming a believer that it's probably something that will help better structure my training a lot.

And having a new gizmo and data to download and analyze will certainly add to my geeky fun factor this season. I'll be able to finish a ride and then download the route, distance, HR, elevation gain / loss, min / max / avg speeds and now power output throughout. How utterly geeked out is that?!!

Plus of course all the references in the 'Sh*t Cyclists Say' video:

Wheel should be built (by Kompetitive Edge) within the week. Can't wait to try it out! I'm sure I'll be buying one for Paige after she tries it out too. That's the thing about having a two athlete household. It's hard to get away from buying two of everything.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013