Posted on: March 10, 2008 1:10 pm

H-IM notes; weather + voting = recovery week

My totals are terrible for this last week for a few reasons, most notably the weather in Texas. Monday it snowed, Wednesday was decent, and Thursday it snowed again. For those of you that don't live in Texas, let me set the stage for you: Dallas doesn't know how to handle snow. I mentioned some of it last week, but I forgot to mention that the city has like, 1 sand truck for the whole town despite the fact that it snows/ices over at least once a year. You would think at some point they'd get a handle on this issue, but no. So that's 2 days that were out. I'll admit that I could have worked out indoors, but I really hate running on a treadmill and spin classes just plain suck. So yea, I could have done more if I really felt like it...but I didn't. Tuesday was out because of the voting debacle, which also affected me because I postponed a session with the swim coach to go vote. I'm going to go ahead and paste my review of the caucus process from another site at the bottom of this blog(or just click here) for anyone that's interested(if you're not, ignore the part below the weekly total). It was chaos. Between those two issues my potential workout week got chopped in half. So yea, my totals suck. I did a big bike/run brick yesterday to make up for it.

About the only notable workout-related thing that happened this week is that my stamina in the water is improving. I was ablt to knock out a 400yd swim without stopping, which is a significant improvement. The new form is starting to take hold, and I'm now cruising at about a 1:50/100yd pace instead of the 2:00-2:15/100yd pace I was doing prior to working with the coach. I was able to do a 50yd swim in 41 seconds, which means if I could keep up that pace(not likely anytime soon) in a sprint tri I'd have a swim time in the neighborhood of 4:06. To put that in perspective, my best 300yd swim to date is 5:08. Another way to look at it is that the guy whose swim time was 1st in the whole tri put down a 3:41. 4:06 would make me 2nd in my AG(Age Group) behind only that guy.

03/02-03/08 Totals:
Swim: 2500.00 Yd - 46m 12s
Run: 3.12 Mi - 32m 36s


I voted in the Dem primary yesterday; not so much because I like Clinton or Obama as the GOP nomination was sewn up and I wanted to be a part of a process that still affected the outcome. I hit the primary at around 3:30 and got done with the voting in about 10 minutes. It was a quick process since I went before people got off work. I voted for Obama(while gritting my teeth) and headed home for a few hours. I came back at about 6:45 with my walkman(there was a Texas basketball game on) and sat around listening to most of the game while I waited for the caucus organizers to get their shit together. It took 2 hours just to get signed in for a couple reasons. First, they didn't validate anyone as they walked in the door. Somebody started letting people in before they were supposed to, so all 200+ of us walked in and stood/sat around while the organizers tried to figure out wtf to do. Second, they couldn't validate any of the early voters until the polls closed & all the votes were counted & verified. Why? Because there was only one copy of 'the big black book' that had all the names of people that voted, and that was the only method for verifying early voters since early voters didn't get the coveted stamp they needed. For those of us with a stamp, we could get signed in. However, the people who didn't have the stamp didn't realize they couldn't get validated because the organizers did a piss-poor job of explaining this issue. Instead of making those without stamps get out of the line, they would get 4-5 voter cards at a time and hoof it back to the other room to verify they had voted early. This delayed both the stamped and unstamped people because they wouldn't let others sign in until the 4-5 people had been verified(which would take 5-10 minutes each time). Did I mention the line? When I say line, I mean 'disorganized glut of humans in a general area'. There were 9 people that could verify IDs, but rarely more than 3 people were being checked at any given time because there was no 'line'. So it took ~2 hours to get everyone signed in.

Watching that process last night made me realize a few things:

1) Democrats can't organize anything. They couldn't even decide how people would write down who they were being a delegate for(actual quote from the precinct chair: "First name or last name? LET'S ALL VOTE ON IT"). I'm starting to understand how the Democrats lost in '04.

2) Caucuses make me think there are certain advantages to a dictatorship. Everything moves more quickly when you know your vote is going to be burned in the back room.

3) It's amazing anybody gets elected in this system. It was chaos. It took nearly 4 hours for ~200 people to work through the caucus where I was.

4) I'm not so worried about voting machines anymore. More to the point, given how ripe the entire primary system is to manipulation, the voting machines are now just another item in the pile of potential clusterf*cks.

Oh and back to the game: Let me set the stage for you. Texas was up & down all night, being down 10-3 early then going on a 15-0 run and eventually being up by 12 at the half. They had the lead up to 17 at one point, which Nebraska erased with about 3 minutes left in the game. There were 75 seconds left and Texas was up by two when I took off the headphones to sign in(they were giving instructions, etc.). When I put the headphones back on, the game was gone. What happened? KSKY(660 AM, the local Texas radio affiliate) pre-empted the last minute of the game to air the MIKE F*CKING HUCKABEE CONCESSION SPEECH! WTF?!?!? Hey K-SKY, here's a little nugget for you: when the most popular college team in the state is trying to win a conference title and is only up by 2 in the last minute of the game, DON'T PRE-EMPT THEM. HUCK IS QUITTING. HE'LL STILL BE QUITTING 5 MINUTES FROM NOW. PUT THE F*CKING GAME BACK ON! I called the station this morning and lit up the general manager's voicemail, and I imagine I'm not the only one. What a ridiculous decision. I now have my own version of The Heidi Game. Listen, if McCain, Obama, or Clinton were conceding, I kinda get it. It still could wait 5 minutes, but those are at least relevant. Huckabee wasn't going to win the nomination, period. This isn't news. But back to the caucus...

Many people don't realize this, but at a caucus you can declared as 'uncommitted'. If there are enough of you that declare this way, you can go to the convention as 'uncommitted'. But there weren't enough last night. I didn't expect there would be, but I thought there might be a few of us. There weren't. There was one person...me. Since I was the ONLY person who stayed around as 'uncommitted' and we didn't meet the threshold to get our own delegate(s), my vote decided who got the delegate for all the 'uncommitted' voters. Not only that, because of the way the numbers worked out there was another delegate that would switch sides depending on how I voted. So my one caucus vote in essence was a 4 delegate swing.

You want to be the most popular person in a room? Go to a caucus as the only 'uncommitted' voter. Every time I stood up I had 20 pairs of eyes watching me. People were welcoming me with open arms, any time I spoke they all listened to me like I was actually an interesting human being(which isn't true, ask my friends), and I got jokingly bribed with a soft taco by the Clinton people. A Clinton-supporting wheelchair-bound woman even offered to flash me in exchange for my vote. That would have been tempting if she was attractive(she wasn't).

Here's the thing: my vote got a lot harder when it became apparent that it really mattered. In a race where the delegate lead is as small as it is between Clinton & Obama, the 2 delegates I'm holding suddenly become much more important. It's infinitely easier to screw around with your vote when it doesn't have any substantive impact; if I was in the Republican primary I probably would have voted for Paul for the novelty of it(though I like some things he stands for and would enjoy the government spending getting ground to a halt with Dr. No in office, other parts of his platform are as wheels off as it gets). But for the first time probably ever, my vote actually matters. Tangibly, Clinton & Obama are very similar. They're different shades of gray on a lot of issues, even the delegates last night admitted as much. So if they're roughly the same on the tangibles, I'm going to compare the intangibles. There's a couple intangibles I'd like to see from a president: the ability to inspire the country(and Congress) and a person who won't polarize the country(and again, Congress). Well, I haven't been inspired by Hillary at all thus far, and I think it's safe to say a Clinton back in the White House isn't going to heal the division between the two parties, so I went with Obama. Because I went to Obama, he got 9 of the 12 delegates from our precinct instead of 7. My one vote made a difference. It's probably the first time and very well may be the last, but it happened. For once I felt a part of the process; it's a dysfunctional, convoluted process, but it's what we have. I did my part.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to set fire to the K-SKY studio.
Posted on: March 3, 2008 1:55 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2008 1:56 pm

H-IM for 03/02 wk; 5 signs triathlon season is on

It looks like winter's coming to a close in Tex-oh wait, nevermind, it's snowing outside. I think Texas weathermen are masochists by nature; only somebody who enjoys public scorn & verbal abuse would take on the job of trying to predict weather in this state. Yesterday it was 80 & sunny, today the high is 45...and that was at 7am. It's supposed to snow at least an inch in the DFW area. I know that doesn't sound like much to anyone north of the Mason/Dixon line, but you have never shared an icy road with a Texas driver. There are 2 types of drivers in Texas when it comes to icy roads: 10mph or 90mph, and they share the same roads. There's almost nobody who drives sensibly in Texas when the snow & ice hit. The entire city shuts down if the roads ice over at all. Can you blame them? Who wants to get stuck behind a Ford Fiesta doing 12mph on the Dallas North Iceway with an Excursion flying up your ass at 85? Anyway, this last week wasn't a bad week for getting in some outdoor training. The weather was decent, though I made sure to get a ride in on Saturday because Sunday sounded like it was going to be windy(and it was, my gf actually got blown off her bike on her ride). With things starting to warm up, you see some signs that the triathletes are ramping up for the summer:

  1. The 'Team in Training' jerseys start surfacing. The TnT people are great and they're working for a good cause(fundraising for cancer research), but their logo should be changed to say 'HI I'M A N00B' or 'WATCH OUT, I SWERVE'. If you're not a TnT coach, you're probably a newcomer to the sport. They're the tri equivalent of "New Year's Resolutionists" at the gym. Good for them for improving themselves and raising money for a good cause, but Sweet Jesus Stay To The Right.
  2. Tan lines. During the summer, I look like I'm wearing a pair of white bike shorts when I'm naked. Calm down ladies; I know the image of a pasty ass really gets you going, but I'm taken.
  3. The barely-there bike shorts. A note to any prospective triathletes: bike shorts don't last forever, they get thinner over time. At a certain point, they get translucent bordering on transparent. The problem is that the transparent part is on your butt; so unless you preen in the mirror, bent over staring at your butt in the shorts, you're not going to know unless somebody else tells you. This happens mostly in the beginning & end of the season when people are either dusting off a pair from last season or using shorts they've been using too long at the end of the season. When you combine that with #2, that's a lot of glowing gluteus maximus in a group ride. When in doubt, replace the shorts. You don't want to see my pasty butt anymore than I want to see yours...unless you're a hot woman. In that case, please never change out your cycling shorts. Sincerely, All Male Triathletes
  4. The Jammers. Listen, I don't mind if people listen to music when they train. I do it too. But I never blare the music so loudly that I can't hear somebody screaming "ON YOUR LEFT" when they're passing you on the road/trail/sidewalk. That's just for running; the people that wear headphones in both ears on open roads when cycling are just asking to be somebody's hood ornament. I only put on headphones when I'm on a closed path(i.e. not on a path with vehicles) and even then I put it on low and only in my right ear. That way I can hear anyone coming up behind me, whether they announce themselves or not. Everybody needs motivational music, but The Jammers only motivate me to go on a psychotic rampage against all iPods.
  5. The Piranha. These guys - and let's face it, 90% of them ARE guys - are the speed demons. They go 20+ mph, they ride in packs, and they're on a mission to train no matter who is in their way. These guys will fly by you without so much as a whisper. They've got the right to the road/path as much as anyone else, but you have to keep an eye out for them or they'll scare the unholy sh*t out of you.
Of course I was happy that Daylight Savings time started this weekend. I was looking forward to an extra hour of sun to work out in, being able to get out and run outside after work without hurrying. That also meant I might be able to ride once a week after work since the group rides would be starting up. Then my gf informed me that I was a week off. Apparently I don't know how to read a calendar, which bodes well for any appointments I have coming up. Oh well.

02/24 - 03/02 Totals:
Bike: 32.58 Mi - 2h 03m 18s
Swim: 2000.00 Yd -35m 15s
Run: 6.00 Mi - 1h 00m 51s

Feb 2008 Totals:
Bike: 79.31 Mi - 5h 20m 52s
Swim: 6230 Yd - 3h 07m 13s
Run: 36.86 Mi - 6h 46m 21s

2008 Totals through 03/02/2008:
Bike: 130.12 Mi - 8h 33m 09s
Run: 63.97 Mi - 11h 18m 27s
Swim: 16230 Yd - 6h 35m 22s
Strength: 50m
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