Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Free Dog Story, and Why It's All Angie's Fault

2:30 am, Monday morning, December 5, 2017

I abruptly awoke from a peaceful sleep to an immediate keen awareness of my surroundings with the distinctive sound of a dog wretching.  I was lying on my side on the port side of the bed facing outboard.  The source of the alarm was somewhere between 3-1/4” and 3-3/8” in front of my forehead.

“What the hell was that?!” Angie hollered.  Evidently her fight or flight mechanism had been triggered too.


And there staring before me on my pillow, so close that I could stick out my tongue and lick it, was a pure white slimy pile of dog puke.  If you took a serving ladle and glopped out a full scoop of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, and then added one more full scoop, that would be about the size and shape of the goopy glob that shared my pillow with me when the light was flicked on.
This photo shows the perpetrator of the incident, aka Reese the Dog. Contents of stomach not visible.

We had just washed the sheets that evening, and as my wife will tell you the absolute WORST household chore you can ask me to do is put the fitted sheet on the bed.  No matter which way you start you always put it on 90 degrees off of the correct orientation, and as soon as you’ve fit one corner you can be sure it will come flying off towards you when you try to stretch the next corner on.  I absolutely hate it and will throw a temper tantrum every time the task is before me.  So having gone through that nasty awful process I was a little more vested in the state of our freshly cleaned sheets when I saw my painstakingly hard work from a few hours ago threatened by a festering white gelatinous pile of doggie upchuck.

And that’s why my instinct was to immediately plunge my hands into the puke and stop as much of the liquid within from seeping into the pillow case, the precious soft lusciousness of the pillow within, and the sheet and mattress directly below.  I saw it like that scene in Aliens, where they discover that the alien green blood is so acidic it eats through the metal grated floor, down to the next level and through its metal floor, and on and on burning a hole through the building’s never ending layers of structure.  If my hands melted away in fiery acidic doggie stomach contents, damnit, I would save my sheet and pillow case that I fitted all by myself and not without maybe a little complaining.

Bear in mind that one second before this my hands were comfortably shoved under my pillow, resting and dreaming of the amazing work they had recently performed from the arguably impossible task of fitting the sheets, so I think it’s important to describe the sensation from their perspective due to this instinctual yet poorly thought out move that was forced upon them.  Warm.  Extremely warm.  A lot of wet. Certified and definite kind of wet you’d expect from most any orifice of most any animal.  Really really soft but not in a good way like when you touch fleece or a baby’s foot.  Soft, like……….well, like whale blubber if you put it on pulse mode in a blender for about 30 seconds.  And the reason it was so soft, my eyes discovered as they looked upon the dripping horror that I had cupped in my hands, was that most of it was synthetic pillow stuffing.

I think I carried it to the toilet.  I’m not sure because now I was wretching.  I was making those disgusting dry heaving sounds, about to puke myself from the texture and the smell of the contents in my hand.  Apparently this was very amusing to Angie, who by now had yanked off all the sheets and was getting ready to throw them in the washer. (it's amazing how fast we can act in a dangerous situation heightened by the desire to go back to bed)

Now, I didn’t intend for this to really be a story about doggie puke.  I meant it to be a life lesson about the differences between a husband and wife, a man or woman, because I’m not saying this situation was the fault of anyone in particular but now that the event was more or less over it’s typical of me to rewind and analyze the root cause of the situation.  Here’s my logic:

Had there been no pillow to tempt the dog to partake in joyously ripping it to shreds and enjoying its succulent fluffy innards to begin with, this incident would surely have been avoided.  Upon further investigation of the scene of the crime, it was noted that the pillowy victim was found in the spare bedroom.  In particular, the type of victim is very interesting.  It was not a nice big feather filled pillow designed with a clear purpose of supporting a human head during its slumber, but was actually the kind of pillow that serves no purpose whatsoever other than decoration (if that’s a purpose). 

Now, the standard length of a king size bed is 80”, and depending on how much you fluff it, a standard head-supporting functional pillow measured longitudinally or parallel and in-line with the human body is about 16”.  If you use two pillows, one sort of nested over the other, that would probably take about an additional 10”, so that adds up to 26” and should leave 54” of bed exposed when it is properly assembled prior to getting in it.  This is what a man pictures when he thinks of a bed that is made.  Notice there is no decorative pillow stuffed with synthetic fluff, aka a large doggie treat, in this assembly.

Typical cross section of a “made” bed using “The Logic Technique.”

But this is not the configuration we have in our spare bedroom, because as the man of the house the layout of the bed is not my jurisdiction nor do I have any authority over the bed arrangement or any of its assembly components. This assembly by tradition must fall solely on the hands of the woman of the house.  So, without the helpful guiding hand of logic, it seems the new $150 comforter on the bed must be vigorously and entirely covered with $750 worth of pillows so as to conceal its pattern and decorations, however worthless they apparently are as they must concede to the amazing floral pattern and unmatchable joyous art of the multitude of pillows above.  Going back to the longitudinal dimension of the previously described inferior yet logical arrangement (which you’ll recall left 54” of useable space on the bed) this arrangement allows for a mere 8” of exposed, useable space on the bed.  It also requires that you set your alarm clock for one hour prior to your perceived bed time to allow sufficient time to clear the bed of decorative pillows and allow oneself ample space to sleep comfortably.  Therefore, it is clear that the root cause of the problem of being awakened by dog barf on my pillow in the middle of the night is in fact the decision to have a surplus of decorative edible fluff-filled pillows, which in turn caused temptation by the dog to disembowel the said decorative pillow, allow the stuffing to fester in its belly until proper digestion of the contents within could be regurgitated in a glorious manner at 2:30 am precisely in the location 3-1/4” to 3-3/8” from the forehead of the man of the house.  In short, it’s all Angie’s fault.

Typical cross section of a “made” bed using the “I Want My Dog to Eat a Decorative Pillow and Puke on My Husband's Head” Method.

Although no paw prints were found to suggest Kona the Dog had any involvement in the incident, it is strongly believed that he played a role as accomplice or perhaps even selected which pillow was to be "hit" and therefore masterminded the whole thing.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Esteemed Tricredible BAGUBA Award

Happy 10 Year Anniversary to the Tricredibles! To celebrate this awesome accomplishment I thought I’d write a piece involving a great tradition that our team has. 

Nobody ever wants to get hurt, but if there ever was an incentive to fake an injury the Tricredibles Triathlon Team have it in the esteemed BAGUBA award. Credit for the invention goes to Carl Bonner, who came up with the concept loosely based off of a similar award he remembered from his high school’s wrestling coach. How he knows that I’m not sure, since word is he lettered on the cheerleading team. But anyway, the coveted annual BAGUBA award started in 2009 and stands for Beautifully Athletic Guy (or Gal) Uninhibited by Adversity. The criteria to qualify are simple: 

1. You need to get injured or really sick. The worse off you are the better your chances. If it doesn’t set you back riding the pine during the triathlon season for at least a little while you need to get more injured or more sick. Try harder. 

2. Overcoming the injury or sickness is okay, but you score more points if you go on and participate in races even though you aren’t fully healed yet. 

So it requires poor genetics, a little bad judgement perhaps, and not just a small amount of stupidity basically. 

Carl hand crafts the awards himself. Various (mostly) bike parts are cobbled together to resemble the winner’s exact likeness and then mounted on a plaque. No two awards are the same, making them rare collector’s items the moment they pass hands from the presenter to the recipient. Traditionally, the award is presented during the annual Tricredible Christmas Party to celebrate the closing of another triathlon season. Here’s a list of the distinguished BAGUBA award winners over the years: 

2009 Bob Morrison 

Bob trained for Ironman World Championship Hawaii while undergoing chemotherapy! Bob probably qualifies every year for a BAGUBA more than anybody because he’s just that much tougher than us but we gotta spread the love around at least a little bit. 

2010 Phillip Rowan 

Phillip’s favorite thing to do on a bike is come up with new ways to come off of them. That year he suffered a wreck during the Thursday Night World Championships. With stitches everywhere and nerve damage he still was up racing triathlons within a few short weeks. Phillip could have been a BAGUBA award winner for his various crashes in 2011, 2013, and 2014 as well. All of which resulted in various broken bones with shiny new metal hardware to put himself back together again, but we got tired of him falling off his bike on purpose just to start a collection of BAGUBA plaques. 

2011 No Winner 

I think we didn’t have a Christmas party that year and the award was neglected as well. Shame on us. 

2012 Bert Kelly 

With a stress fracture in his foot, Bert wore a boot for 6 weeks leading up to Ironman Florida and ran it anyway unbeknownst to his doctor. 

 2013 Mike Colombo, Bruce Richter (1st ever tie) 

Mike broke his collarbone in a crash during a training ride. Still not completely healed, he went on to race Ironman Louisville anyway. Thinking it was just a torn meniscus, Bruce did Ironman World Championship Hawaii on a bum knee. After painfully limping for 16 miles of the marathon he came home to find out it would take a series of surgeries and other people’s parts to fix all the damage that was within. 

2014 No Winner 

Everybody was too healthy that year to get one! I’m sure some people tried to fake an injury or two, but the judges were not fooled. 

2015 John Caracoglia 

John rode 100 miles on a training ride and the next day passed out. When he came to a doctor was suggesting he needed a pacemaker. After completing a required rest period John jumped right into the Medoc Marathon. That’s swinging for the fence! 

As of yet, we have not had a female BAGUBA winner. Speculation is that (1) women are far too smart to race on damaged limbs and (2) the prospect of Carl sculpting female anatomy with bike parts is a little disturbing and probably won’t be very accurate. But the tradition lives on as we eagerly anticipate the crowning of a new BAGUBA champion for 2016! So, be safe, train hard, and if that doesn’t work for you maybe there’ll be a shiny new trophy for you at the end of this year!

Here's mine from 2013. The Hello Kitty bandaid on the right knee I thought was a nice touch.

Here's Phillip and his BAGUBA.  Carl captured the details of his head perfectly in this sculpture.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

One Last Ride

The last moments I got to spend with my friend Dave Mirra were on a bike ride we shared the Saturday before it happened.  It was kind of chilly, and I had delayed my morning ride until the afternoon to take advantage of higher temperatures.  Dave and I are the same when you do that – it totally gets you out of sync and it’s easy to end up skipping the workout completely.  We hadn’t ridden together in quite a while so I texted him to see if he’d join me.  Honestly I thought if he had said no I probably would have skipped it altogether.  The window was closing fast on my motivation that day, and I felt like I wouldn’t have the gumption to do it at all if he wasn’t up for it.  He texted back that he could go but not for a couple more hours.   “I could do 3 but that might be too late.”  For a half a second I thought it was and considered asking for a rain check and just going on my own straight away.  I’m so glad I didn’t. 

“OK 3 will work.”

When I rolled up on his driveway he was ready to go, aero’d out like always with that supercool custom black P5, disk wheel, and his old fallback Kask aero helmet.  And a great big smile on his face.  “Bruuuuuuuuuuuce! I don’t know, man, I’ve gained a lot of weight.  Do I still look like a triathlete?!”  I told him he could maybe pull it off.  Heh.  I knew he hadn’t ridden in a while.  We rode side by side catching up, talking about the races we wanted to do this year, just having a chill ride and enjoying being on our bikes together again.  We used to play a game called Heart Rate Wars where we’d ask each other what their HR was periodically during the ride.  The lowest number wins.  Dave made it up, of course.  Typical Dave.  Usually, we’d be within a couple beats of each other.  I had told him when we left his house that I wouldn’t call him out on it this time, but he still wanted to play anyway.  For once, I put the smack down on him!  He just laughed it off talking about how out of shape he was but swearing he’d get it back.  

He was so calm on that ride now that I think back on it.  It was just a relaxed conversation with a relaxed pace.  Dave normally is a notorious “half-wheeler,” always sticking his bike out just a hair further than yours letting you know he was open to going faster.  You didn’t dare do it back to him or it was immediately game on!  But on this day it was different.  Just two old buddies riding together enjoying each other’s conversation and enjoying a nice sunny day on their bikes. 

Whenever we would have a good ride (or swim or run), I could always count on an encouraging text from Dave shortly afterwards confirming how happy he was to have shared the workout.  I wondered if he’d do so this time.  “Thanks for the push,” I read from his text later while on my couch.  “Wudntadunnitwiddoutya!” I texted back.  I got my last “lol” from my great friend Dave Mirra after that.

I’m so glad we shared that ride together, and all the ones before that.  These are the memories I hold on to and will always remember with a happy and warm heart as I press on.  Dave wanted me, and all of us, to strive to be the best we could at whatever we put our heart into.  “Don’t live off of old accolades, Bruce, make new ones.”  How will I live my life from here on?  Making new ones.  

Thanks for the push, Dave.  Thanks for the push……

Dave Mirra

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Just Cuz I Drive an Xterra Doesn't Mean I Can Do One

Wow, Xterra Richmond was tough!  I knew I wasn’t in it to place or anything but if I needed to find something I suck at I would have just entered a dance contest.  Turns out I mountain bike worse than I dance.  Here are my take homes from Sunday’s massacre:

1.       Why is this race so small?  There were only 145 of us blooming idiots.  I really thought this would be a much bigger event.  But I will say that the vibe is super chill rather than how you can almost slice the nervous energy with a knife at Ironman events.  

2.       That swim is by far the hardest, gnarliest, craziest swim I’ve ever done.  You have to shift your swim strategy around every buoy to adjust for the current, which was quite strong in the middle of the James River.  Boulders just under the surface force you to pull yourself over and slide off of them like a seal.  At the first turn buoy I got socked in the face, my goggles fell off, and I was in such a pickle I actually panicked so hard I started panicking because I was panicking.  Had it not been for the sand bar in front of us that we all ran on I feared I might actually drown.  We looked like a bunch of Jesus’s on the sand bar, just a’walkin’ on water!

This is the swim course.  You can just make out the sand bar between buoy 1 and 2, just above the direct line between the two.  On the swim back from the run on Belle Isle, the red line shows a typical age grouper's line as they fight the current, the orange shows a typical pro and the blue shows the recommended line. Photo from www.xterraplanet.com.

Swim start. Photo courtesy of Julia Bonner.

The sand bar run.  Photo from www.xterraplanet.com.

3.       I never thought Carl Bonner and I would be in T1 together, sitting down giggling and chit chatting about the fine mess we got ourselves into while we put on socks, mtb shoes, gloves, etc.  We had no idea what we were doing.  Everyone else had pretty much left.

Carl always takes forever to set up his transition area.  No designated bike placement. Just put your crap wherever you want. Xterras are super chill about rules! Photo courtesy of Me.

4.       I know I have an old Studebaker for a mountain bike, but between its crappy oldness and my crappy oldness we made for one slow-ass, all up in everyone’s way, festering turd in the middle of the trail.  I got dropped by every man, woman, child, elderly, obese and if there were crippled folks out there I’m sure they passed me too.  My heart rate was pegged and my quads were ripping.  All I could think was how great it would be if my derailleur snapped so I could quit and blame my bike.

Finishing the bike leg. I was exhausted! Photo courtesy of Julia Bonner.

5.       What the crowd support lacked in quantity it made up for in quality.  If you could hear the crowd ahead that meant you were approaching some gnarly death trap on the trail - and those folks were there to cheer you on whether you eat it or beat it.  They didn’t hike all that way up the trail to see you wuss out and gingerly walk your bike through a creek.  So, I didn’t disappoint.  At the first creek crossing I endo’d and landed on my ass.  The crowd went wild....

6.       Evidently what I think is technically challenging on a trail and what others think is challenging are completely different.  Basically, if there’s a rock the size of a cell phone on the trail I think you should turn around because it’s obviously closed from this point on.  At one particularly rocky, skull-shattering descent I stopped and got off rather than land on my melon and live the rest of my life as a vegetable.  Just as I did some chick came rolling by yelling and flung herself down the rock pile and vanished up the trail.  She just left me there holding her purse with my jaw on the ground.

Just about done with the bike leg.....

7.       By the time I started the run it looked like pretty much everybody’s race was already over.  The bike racks looked as full as they did before the gun went off!  It was a miserable 95 degree hot and humid death march.  I ran until the Mayan Ruins, which is a ridiculous climb up a wall of railroad ties.  After that I alternated running and walking as my heart rate kept spiking in the heat.  The legs were there but I just couldn’t take the heat.  I walked the Dry Way (the boulder crossing to Belle Island in the middle of the James River) since the knee is not near strong enough to take bounding from boulder to boulder.

Finishing the run with the hot sun beating down on me.  Photo courtesy of Julia Bonner.

All in all, I just wasn’t prepared for this race.  It was way harder than a half iron road tri, and I’m just not in that kind of shape yet.  And I’ve got to get better at mountain biking if I’m gonna attempt another one.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Never Quit.....But If You Do, It's Best to Check if Any Little Girls Are Watching First

"But you just started?!"

Ouch.  I had just taken the first steps of tonight's run when I felt a pain on the inside of my knee.  I knew immediately the run wasn't gonna happen. Turning around, one of the little girls from next door was right there.  "But you just started?!"  Well, crap.  I think I just got crossed off a list of potential heroes.....

Running has been going well actually.  I've been going out for 3 mile jaunts here and there with nothing more than a little tendonitus or ITB flare-ups for discomfort - the kind that you can bear.  So at the beginning of this week I decided on a goal: I would do four 3 milers within the week, which would be a reasonable step up in mileage from where I was.  The fun thing about starting over in running is that you improve a lot.....fast.  The first 3 miler of the week took over 28 minutes.  The second just under. The third, on Friday, was just over 27 minutes.  Every run's a PR these days!

But the last half mile of Friday's run came with a little bit of that medial knee pain, right where Mr Peabody's golden cartilage donation is, and I thought about walking.  But the PR was in sight and I just didn't want to beat myself up all night if I gave in.

I was surprised but not all that disappointed when I felt it flare up again at the start of tonight's run.  I hate I fell short of my goal for the week, but I'm happy I'm just setting goals again!  I'm sure by Wednesday I'll be ready to give it a try again, and I still get another shot at completing that goal......before I make newer, bigger ones! Heh.

I've been asked now that I'm running again if I cherish each step I take.  Of course I do!  But no more than I did before I found out I had a turd for a knee. I honestly in those final years of running better and better, of 55 mile weeks, burying myself in training, and realizing my dream of qualifying for Kona, finished every run with the exact same sequence: as soon as my foot hit the concrete of my driveway I thumped my chest twice, put my hands together, lifted them up, looked to the sky and thanked God for allowing me the gift to run.

I still do.  Still a runner.......

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Still a Runner, Even If It's a Bit Ugly and Slow

Cleared to run!

But that doesn’t mean I just strap on the sneakers and start rolling.  It’s painful.  Ugly.  Slow.  And I have to walk a little bit between each ¼ mile jog.  And if I make a full 2 miles of that I’m really having a good day.  Today was a good one.......10:13 for the second and final mile in the grass.  I made it through the last mile and a half without stopping even.  Cheers to small victories.  

 Off for a jog...walk.....run thingie in my Ronald McDonald shoe thingies and my bionic knee brace thingie.  It evidently takes lots of thingies to get the knee moving again.

I've mapped out a route that goes for a mile in my ‘hood, and noted landmarks at every quarter mile.  I try to jog to a landmark then walk to the next one.  I turn around at the mile mark.  The jogging hurts.  My IT Band hurts.  And the medial side of my knee hurts, which has been the scary one since the pain is right at the site of my cartilage graft.  But from today’s x-rays everything looks good in there.  It’s just still a messed up area of my knee, and the cartilage is still trying to grow, and there’s no way to know for sure at this point if it’s really fixed or not.  So I’m to keep the mileage low, monitor the pain, and run through it when I can or back off when I have to. 

More x-rays today!  My "Screwed Up Knee."  Heh.  All looks great at this point.  Mr. Peabody's donated bone and cartilage is all mine now. 

I hate that it’s so vague and nothing is definitive yet.  It makes it very difficult to proceed and feel like I’m progressing to anything.  It just seems like floundering around, trying to run, telling myself it doesn’t hurt or at least not that much.  I wish I could sign up for a race – even if it were next summer – so I could have a goal to train for and get my fitness back on track but I have no idea how I’ll progress in the next month, let alone year.

But at least I do have hope.  The door to being able to compete again in triathlons hasn’t been shut yet.  So, I don’t know what else to do but get out there and run.  So here goes nuttin'.  Time to go put my big ass knee brace and Hokas on and get this fun over with!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Coolest Thing Ever: Dave Mirra and the P5

A week ago from last Wednesday night, Angie and I were chilling watching tv.......right about the time when you start asking yourself how much longer are you gonna stay up before you go to bed.  There was a faint knock at the door and we exchanged that look that says, "Were you expecting anybody?"  Angie ran to the bedroom to get a bra on.  I was in my boxers, but I figured if anyone was willing to knock on our door at that hour they probably could handle a man in his drawers.

Maybe I should have put something on over those drawers.  It was Dave Mirra's wife and daughters!  With fresh baked muffins!  Thrilled as always to have a bite of the Mirra's tasty treats I invited them in and after I went to my room and put some shorts on we all sat around casually chit-chatting.  And then like a bull in a China shop here comes Dave busting through the front door with his Cervelo P5 and booms, "Here ya go, man!  She's all yours!"  What do you think you would look like if that happened to you?  Might I suggest this:

My jaw dropped and I could taste the cat hairs in the carpet.  A P5?!?!  You're giving me your P5?!?!? Who does that? 

Absolutely amazed.  This is mine?!?!?!

Dave and I have become great friends over the last couple years, but I haven't saved his daughters from a burning building yet.  I never performed an emergency trachiotomy on Rex or Rocky, the Yorkies.  What an unbelievable gift from an amazing friend, model father, and phenomenal athlete.  If you have no idea who Dave Mirra is, you can Google him.  It probably won't say "Bruce's Friend" but I wish it would.

The muffins.  One's already missing.  That didn't take long.....

Wait!  We gotta get a shot together with the bike.  Lemme put some real clothes on!  Lemme put my race wheels on the bike!!!!

I so wanted to wear the Cervelo shirt they handed out to those that rode #SimplyFaster at the Ironman World Champs but I couldn't squeeze into it.  I was in a bit better shape last October......

I suggested Dave puff out his belly like this for the shot to make me look smaller but I couldn't convince him.  Lauren was pretty quick with the camera of course so this little shenanigan kinda backfired on me.

To put this in perspective, a Cervelo P5-6 is my dream bike.  I was actually quite jealous when Dave bought it.  Not only did he get one but he had it spec'd out with every option I had dreamed of.  Conveniently, it was exactly my size.  I won't say how much this bike costs.  You can Google that too.

So, since the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram world is probably sick of me posting pics of the Cervelo P5 I'll post a few here.  Cuz it's my blog. 

I have gone on a few rides with it so far and all I can say is it's every bit the rocket ship that it looks.  I'm not near in shape enough yet to warrant such an awesome ride, so I kinda look like a poseur on it for now.  But I'm coming back.  Not to worry......

 Ready to roll! These are Dave's Dura Ace wheels from RAAM (Race Across America - which he and 3 others won the 4 Man Division of as part of a team called Legends of the Road) that I'm borrowing until I get something 11 speed compatible.  All my race wheels and components for the Cervelo P3 I've been riding are 10 speed.  I'm a little behind.....

The front end is super aero.  The brakes, which are hydraulic, are hidden behind carbon fiber covers.  The shifting is Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic - just push a button and the derailleur moves accordingly.  No cables anywhere!

 I love the Rotor crank and aero disk chainring.  Just behind it and inside the carbon fiber frame is a compartment for the Di2 battery that runs the shifters. No pedals shown at the moment.  They were on my Cervelo P3 during the taking of these pictures.

Dav'es nametag from RAAM is still on the top tube.

 Dave had put Ceramic Speed pulleys on the rear derailleur.  Ceramic bearings reduce friction just that little bit more to make it extra slippery fast!  Me likey!

Enough talking about this rocket ship!  Time to go ride!

Thanks, Dave.  I know you had all kinds of options that you could have done with this bike yet you shared it with me out of the kindness of your heart.  It's been a long journey for me these last few months and I hope you're just as eager as I am for me to be back in shape and ripping down the roads with you as we train for the next adventure.  I am always amazed when I read how many comment about how much of a role model you are to them.  And I see it.  The P5 is something I will certainly respect and cherish, but nowhere near as much as the friendship we've put together.