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Mirage a Tri

October 15, 2017

Season Finale – Zoot Westchester Triathlon, 9.24.2017

 

tri 2017 trio pre race

Elijah, Reggie, Ed just before Elijah’s start. Dylan rooted us on from month 1 at college

 

“I should run an Ironman.”

The recurring siren song of that fantasy percolates inside my head every year that I train for an Olympic Tri.  And every year as I dismount from my bike after the 26 mile ride and transition to the 6.2 mile run, that fantasy evaporates into the more rational thought of “I’m calling an Uber.”

Yet for almost 10 years running (and swimming and riding), I get sucker punched by my selective memory, which highlights only the conquest of the finish, bonding with my kids, and my valiant physical attempts to slow the relentless onslaught of aging and its ponderous gravitational pull toward the couch, the remote, donuts, gated Florida communities, and the ever threatening scourge of the muffin-top. It conveniently sweeps the rigors and tedium of the sport under the rug with other inconvenient truths such as how close 59 is to 60, that they charge for college, and that there is still no viable alternative to death or taxes.

But while I continue to drink the electrolyte infused Kool-Aid, I have become painfully aware that the events are not getting any easier.

I noted this year, for example, that the 4:30 AM wake up seemed to have come several hours earlier than it did for my first Olympic Tri in 2009. As a side effect of that strange shift in the space time continuum, my first thought when the alarm sounded has morphed from a chest pounding “LET’S DO THIS” and a leap into my race gear, to a disoriented whisper of “why is it so dark?” and a lurch toward the snooze button, sending several items on the nightstand crashing to the floor. Read more…

Gratitude

July 3, 2017

“He’s great, and he’s a cross dresser.”

Even if that hadn’t been the only qualifier we had for the ER surgeon, it registered to both my wife and me as an extremely odd piece of information to divulge under any circumstance.

“Do cross dressers make better surgeons?” we asked, which in turn confused the attending physician who had actually said, “CrossFitter.” Given we were at the Good Samaritan Hospital, I had visions of our surgeon being responsible for fitting little Jesuses on all of the crosses in the rooms, but she was appealing to my affinity for Triathlons and felt I would be comforted knowing the surgeon on call was a fellow athlete, a CrossFitter as in CrossFit training.

15 minutes later, disoriented, distressed and dressed in one of those little blue backless gowns on a gurney, I was signing pieces of paper in which I acknowledged that anesthesia takes out more people annually than base jumping.  In a few moments, I would be operated on by a surgeon I had never met, in a hospital I had never heard of. Read more…

Projectile Dysfunction

June 5, 2017

In the mid to late 1980’s, East Palo Alto’s crime rate was soaring, reaching a pinnacle in 1992 when it earned the auspicious distinction of having the highest murder rate in the United States. Paradoxically, East Palo Alto was perched on the northern stoops of Menlo Park, Stanford and Palo Alto, three of the most affluent zip codes in the nation.

The San Francisquito Creek marked its southern border. By midsummer in the 80’s, the creek’s course past East Palo Alto to the bay was nothing but a series of last gasp ponds and puddles blemished with bottles, cans, syringes, car tires, shopping carts and the occasional corpses of a rare Steelhead trout cut off and beached between spawning and hightailing it home to the Pacific. Casualties of uptown overdevelopment.

“Because it’s only $400 a month” was the musician logic I had used to explain to my father why I had rented a home on the tip of East Palo Alto. “It’s more like a buffer zone,” I explained, 5 blocks on the preferred side of the 101 freeway. “It’s the other side of 101 where it gets really bad.” 

I had grown up on a street 6 miles west, one block and about 5 acres east of the 280 freeway, a buffer zone between the half a million dollar homes and the multimillion dollar ones.

 “Only $400 a month,” I had repeated, exasperated that my real estate coup had been met with so much skepticism. “2 stories, 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, bathroom AND a yard.”  In the eyes of a jazz pianist squeaking by on sporadic club gigs and wedding receptions, it was the Ritz. Read more…

Health Care and the Gorilla in the Mix

May 5, 2017

I look at the confederacy of imbeciles running our country, and I listen to them blather on incessantly about health care.  And while I can pinpoint the moment it happened to the presidency, I wonder when exactly it was that the aggregate IQ of the House and Senate dropped into the single digits.  Then my heart stops as I realize it was us that voted them in, putting our respective intelligence quotients at an even lower level.

Like throngs of excitable lemmings, we have been duped by partisan posturing and self-righteous pontificating on a host of topics, most notably, health care. We swing wildly for the left or right wing fences but have taken our eyes off of the ball. 

Shame on all of us.

We have become so polarized over the issue of health insurance, that we have abandoned reason and critical thinking for whatever rhetoric it takes to win the argument. The bigger the accusation, the bigger the partial truth, the better the headline. To the unrestrained glee of the health care, pharmaceutical and hospital industries (all of which profit the sicker we get), we have missed the essential truth and tolerate a host of insanities that have inexplicably become the new norm.    

At the end of last year, my wife learned that she had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which when combined with the fact that her mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 49, put her at an extremely high risk for cancer. We opted for preventative surgery. She had a hysterectomy in January and is scheduled for a double mastectomy in September.   Read more…

Escape Artists

March 9, 2017

Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, June 12 2016, a Family Journey

alcatraz-in-distance

Photo of Alcatraz taken by Dylan the day before Escape From Alcatraz Tri, June 11 2016

 

Prologue

“JUMP. JUMP. GO.GO. GO. DO NOT HESITATE.”

The cadence and volume of the start coordinator at our exit from the boat was frenetic enough to suggest that “GO!” and “JUMP!!!” were only precursors to exponentially more calamitous communiques along the lines of “stampede,” “iceberg,” “abandon ship,” and “Jesus Christ, did you see the size of that shark!!!”

I had been expecting “Ready. Set. Go,” lightly seasoned with the soothing preamble of “good morning” and “have a great race.”

The Escape From Alcatraz triathlon is to your standard Olympic triathlon what Metallica’s single St. Anger is to Miles Davis’ My Funny Valentine. It’s The Shining compared to The Notebook, The Godfather to Mr. Ed, or more apropos, Jaws to Finding Nemo. If you survive the “1.5 mile” swim from Alcatraz to the sliver of a beach just west of the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco (you are allowed 60 minutes max), you continue with a ½ mile warm-up run to your bike, followed by an 18 mile bike ride (17 miles of which is uphill) capped off with a brisk 8 mile run (112 miles of which is uphill, through sand, and into the wind). Completely unreliable sources report the race course was designed initially in 1320 by someone named Dante and adopted later by the Spanish Inquisition (something I wasn’t expecting). The word Alcatraz, often confused for a Spanish word meaning “Pelican,” is more accurately translated from old Arabic to mean “dragged breathless into the gloomy depths.”

The entire premise of the event is a little off the charts. As a native San Franciscan who has spent hundreds of hours sailing inside, outside, and around The Golden Gate, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the #1 guiding principle under sail is “stay on the boat.”  The logic behind that adage closely aligns with the reason they chose Alcatraz for a prison. If the guards didn’t shoot you as you bolted over the wall, it was pretty much guaranteed that between the current, the bitter cold, the chop, and the occasional Great White (that’s a reference to a shark, not a large Caucasian), the swim would kill you.

And as for biking and running, should you actually make shore, San Francisco ranks second to the Himalayas as a geographic region least likely to be referenced as “flatland.”

Read more…

I Feel The Earth Move

January 22, 2017

The press limits and fixates its reporting of earthquakes to measurements on the Richter scale. They toss us a number, usually projected at the epicenter of a target behind them, and we take their dollop of science and run with it. The higher the number, the greater the pucker factor.  Done.

But the Richter scale is only a sliver of the seismic puzzle, only one data point in the more complex schematic of sphincter compression. For example, what the reports always omit is the duration of the event.  An earthquake of 8.0 that only lasts 3 seconds will spill your coffee and call for a new set of briefs, but not much more. On the other hand, a 5.2 that shakes for a full minute can bury you and take down a city and its gilded towers.

Reports estimate that about 400,000 people participated in the Women’s March in New York City yesterday. But while size matters, those numbers barely scratch the surface of the seismic power of the day. They have presented a Richter number out of context, providing about as much information and insight as reporting only the number of pages in War and Peace.

Read more…

A Tale of Two Men

January 16, 2017

Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King. In four days, Donald Trump will become our 45th president.

It was the best of minds. It is the worst of minds. The juxtaposition between these two men boggles any mind.

 Dr. King was unmatched as a courageous visionary, a brilliant and enlightened man of peace who lifted the nation up from hatred, ignorance and fear. What a shameful contrast to see our president elect, a man of small hands and smaller intellect, luxuriate in his narcissism by fanning the embers of hate and fear, preying on ignorance, malaise and greed.

I listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech every year. I remind myself that the truth and power of his words still shed light on the shadows. They inspire me to speak loudly, consistently, peacefully and without hate. See it here http://bit.ly/2jBqzuC or read it here http://bit.ly/2jokkgs.

It took great courage and resolve to march back in 1963. It will take courage, tenacity and the conviction of truth over rhetoric to once again transform “the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

A man can dream.