Prognostications and other thoughts

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Exercise in idiocy: Tahoe Triathlon

2 days after turning 39 years, I convinced my friend Larry Norris, 41 years old, to join me in the debut of the "lake tahoe triathlon". Larry and I used to race a lot in the early '90's, and after just one year, he began to beat my times. He was good enough to probably race as a pro and often placed with them. I was a little slower but in a younger age group so we'd both end up getting medals (top 5). Unfortunately, our Pro dreams changed and 15 years later, we've both returned to "weekend warrior" status as I have 1 kid and he has 3 and we both have demanding jobs.

In any case, we convinced our understanding wives to rent a house for our families to have a wonderful weekend in Lake Tahoe, and, oh, by the way, we'll be doing a race. We had done this succesfully in July and were hoping for a repeat. Unfortunately, the weather had already started turning toward Fall.

This was a ridiculous race.

Only 70 people actually raced, and 15 (20%) DNF'd because it was SO F'ING COLD. 38 degrees at race morning. Gun went off at 7:05 AM.

- swim was ridiculous-amazingly big swell at Kings Beach made it hard to see buoys. Plus there was virtually no race support so you couldn't sight off of kayakers and the like. I was getting cold with 400 yards left; I had the worst swim in years-33 mins +. Yes, Norris beat me by nearly a minute in the swim. He has never done that.

- Transition #1. My brain turned to mush-could not process how cold it was plus what to wear. It took me ELEVEN MINUTES to get changed and on the bike (it normally takes less than two). My hands were so cold, I needed to ask someone else to buckle my helmet. Norris did his transition in 6 minutes.

- Bike. What should have been a spectacular ride turned out to be survival. We went up and over hwy 267 and turned around at Truckee. We must have been going near 50mph; my speedo didn't work but I was spinning out the 53x11. But the faster you go, the colder the feet and hands get..

- Run. Was able to get the shoes on fairly quickly. My God. I could not feel my feet tho. Talk about running with a stick up your ass. I had to run on the balls of my feet; the heals were simply too painful. It took 3 miles to get full feeling back in the feet. How Norris managed sub-7 pace is beyond me (i think the course was short...),

In the end, Norris beat me by 5:58. If you take out the "gift" of my 5 minute longer transition and then add splits, the old man still got me by 1 second.

Rest assured, Norris, this was a fluke. Good weather conditions and yer history.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Yeah yeah, everyone is sayin' something about Katrina.
I have to say the news coverage doesn't quite capture the enormity of the situation. I don't think people can quite comprehend what's happened, either.

A few years ago, my brother-in-law and his family got stuck in a flood in Palo Alto. Their rental house was at the end of the cul-de-sac, in a neighborhood built on the flood plane of the SF Bay. The tide came in during a huge rain storm--and the bay did what it is supposed to do. Within hours, their neighborhood was under 4 feet of water. We picked up my brother-in-law, with his terrified cat tucked in his jacket. Amazing how that cat knew trouble.
In any case, several hours later, we waded in, belt-deep water, to the house to try and find any important keepsakes. Bizarre to see boxes of photos and games floating around like some sort of bizarre party.
After the waters receded, we tried to help him clean up. It was amazing-everything was covered in a silty film of dirt and who knows what kind of oils and other suspended particles. It took hours of scrubbing and rinsing to get even the dishes clean. The house needed to have the drywall removed from the first 4 feet and completely replaced. Their two cars were totalled.

In New Orleans/Mississippi/Alabama-many houses are NOT EVEN THERE. It's just debris like you'd see at the dump. The idiocy of the design of the city of New Orleans is simply stunning. Incredible that after the hurricane is when the trouble REALLY started. Most of the city is under as much as 20 feet of water--and it smells like decay. Ironically, Bourbon Street is "dry".

I don't think the web has done a great job in reporting this. There isn't a sense of the completeness of the disaster. It is more soundbites and pictures that don't seem to tell the whole story or the enormity.

Good old TIME magazine did an excellent recap this week. They capture the photos and the emotion and the STORY. However, though this content would tranfer well to the web, they make you pay to see it. In cases like this, they should make it free.
Here, though, are some pictures from the magazine, that do show the story.