September 29, 2008

Kid update

The kids had their 4 month and 2 year doctor's appointments last week. FYI, if you schedule them for the same time with the same doctor you still have to pay two co payments. I figured I better record the details before the post-it note we have it on disappears. Lily was 12 lbs. 14 oz. and 24 inches. 50th percentile for height and 25th percentile for weight. Jack was 36 inches and 31 lbs., both in the 90th percentile.
Lily continues to grow at alarming rates and is a very observant little baby. Always taking in everything she can with her wide eyes. This is especially true while feeding, much to Beth's annoyance. She hasn't rolled over in a couple months and for the most part is very happy and content. She continues to lose hair everywhere except for the mullet. She does enjoy talking but the antics of Jack seem to be the only thing that makes her break into full on giggle fits.
Jack is still the happiest boy we could ever imagine. He loves doing just about anything but especially if that anything involves his cousins. Still isn't much of a talker but does seem to add words on a regular basis. Just don't ask him to repeat them, he doesn't play that game. No word used more often than "no" and no word as classic as "Lily". To say Lily he just moves his tongue up and down, in and out, while making noise. He is a very good brother as evidenced by the pictures below. Always testing out Lily's toys to make sure they are safe and then showing her the fun things you can do with them.

September 23, 2008

So long suckers

I wanted to quickly say good-bye to y'all. I received some good news via email today and apparently I am so rich that I will probably never take any of your calls again.

David Smith ESQUIRE of London wrote and informed me that as of this morning I inherited $30.1 million! Apparently the late Jurgen Krugger, member of the Helicopter Society and the Institute of Electronic & Electrical Engineers and a German property magnate, either met me in his world travels or a friend of his nominated me as the beneficiary of Mr. Krugger's estate. The email was filled with typos and incomplete sentences so I may have mixed that up. Either way I just have to send my credit card and bank information to David Smith ESQUIRE and they will transfer the funds. Oh and I need to use his email address instead of his work address.

So farewell, if we happen to run into each other at some fancy restaurant I guess I could pick up the check or something.

September 15, 2008


I'll break this report down into two versions. The 2.06 mile version (pictures included!) and the 206 mile version. First 2.06:
Carbo Load/Race Prep
Lose some skin/crack a helmet.
Dominate the sprint finish.
One happy family.
Third place.

And now the 206 mile report:
Lotoja (low-ta-juh) is once again in the books and I'm not sure who is happier, Beth or my hindquarters. Those two will have to discuss amongst themselves. All things considered it was a pretty good day. This was my 5th race and it serves as a great motivator all summer to stay in a shape. Not necessarily in shape but a shape. Training was certainly better than last year when I re-injured my knee four weeks before the race but I still didn't get the miles I would have preferred. Thus my motto "next year is the year".

We arrived in Logan Friday afternoon in time to check in, visit the team shop, and join family, friends, and the rest of Cache Valley at Olive Garden for the requisite carbo loading. Afterwards is the real highlight of the weekend, Grandma and Grandpa's homemade peach ice cream. That night we prep the water bottles, load the musette bags for the various feed zones, give last minute instruction to support team members, and of course talk strategy. The strategy is something like this, I won't wait for you if you won't wait for me. I've waited for two people in the past, one paid my entry fee and bought me a jersey, the other took 30 minutes to help me fix my cleat in the freezing rain. Unless you do one of those two things I'm not prolonging what is already a very long day in the saddle.

Casey and I had one of the last start times around 7:15 am. My brother Brian started even later around 7:30 a.m. There are over 1000 racers but they break us up into groups of 50 or 60 based on age and category. The first 33 miles to Preston are traditionally a group warm up with no attacks. This year's pace was frustratingly slow with too many riders taking long slow pulls up front. It turned out to be an omen of things to come. As pathetic as our pace was we actually caught the group that started 3 minutes in front of us outside Preston. I checked to make sure Casey was on my wheel as I started to battle through the congestion so we could get to the first feed zone at the front of the pack. I don't know what happened but that was the last time I would see Casey that day. I was pretty aggressive as I tried to get away from the rest of the gomers. It's my opinion that you can't win the race in Preston but you certainly can lose it. If you don't have a quick stop and get out fast you may never be able to catch the race leaders.

Thanks to Uncle Bill I did have a lightning quick refresh of water bottles, dropped off my cold weather gear and was on my way. There was a couple of us that hooked up right after Preston and started reeling in groups to make sure nobody rode through the feed zone and broke away. We caught my dad and some of the others from his group and rode down the hill to Riverdale together. By this point there were three other leaders that had started with me. We continued to pick up people as we past them heading up the hill to Mink Creek. Then contrary to the basic laws of physics as the group got bigger we got slower and slower. Remember the theme, too many long and slow pulls by gomers. The four of us then took control and rode away from the rest of that pack. As the hill ticked up a notch going over Strawberry the four leaders became three. It was at this point that a rider came flying by us at a wicked pace. I had flashbacks to 2006 when I actually tried to hang with this same guy, Nate Pack, for a while. This year he started three minutes after me but two years ago we were in the same group. That year he went on to ride the last 175 miles by himself and take first place over all. This year he missed first place by a minute. The guy is an absolute machine. It's weird that I am starting to recognize riders who I have ridden with in the past. If I saw these guys on the street I wouldn't know them from Adam but give me a nice view of their butt in lycra and I know exactly who it is.

I was really suffering but couldn't believe I lasted this long with two guys who were obviously very good climbers. I am not a very good climber but the combination of an awesome loaner bike and the amazing Lifewave patches I was able to hang on until just about 100 meters from the false summit. As I hit the first false summit the leaders' lead of 100 meters quickly turned to 500 meters with their head start on the downhill. At this point I was caught by another guy in my group and together we set off to try and bridge the gap on the saddle before actual summit in a couple miles. We flew down the hill and were cruising at good pace on the flat and could still see the two leaders a few hundred meters ahead. I was sitting second wheel when we came up on three other guys. I thought for sure we were just going to go around and continue the pursuit but for some reason the other guy thought it would be good to sit up and duck in behind them to draft. I did not see this bonehead move coming and before I could hit the brakes I rode right into the back wheel of the guy. I went down hard on my right side and my helmet bounced twice on the pavement. Immediate answers to "are you alright?" went unanswered as I tried to clear my head. My first thought was I wonder if this is bad enough to climb in the van and quit. Then my left calf cramped up like never before and thoughts changed. Turns out it wasn't very bad. My bike was mostly OK, my helmet had a crack but was still in one piece, I lost some skin on both knees and my right thigh has some road rash but amazingly my shorts didn't rip. You can see some the blood through the Norda's logo on my shorts above. The neutral support helped me rinse off the wounds and apply some band aids that lasted all of 6 or 7 miles, I took a nature break and was back on the bike.

At this point I had no idea how long I had been down or how many had passed me. I was surprised that I hadn't seen Casey or my dad yet. I caught one guy who was one of the original four leaders and he said we were at best 5th and 6th. So of the 100 people that passed me while I was on the side of the road only a handful were in my group, that was nice. The ride into Montpellier was the slowest and most frustrating ever, terribly slow riders failing to point out the simplest obstacles in the road. In fact that was basically how it went for me the rest of the day, making this my most frustrating Lotoja ever. I think next year I will try to race in a different category. Competition will be stiffer but I will get an earlier start time and hopefully find people to help me set a pr and break 10 hours.

My sister Kristin was stellar on support. This was the first time in a few years that my support person was at every stop and didn't leave me standing there wondering where they (you know who you are Beth and Casey) were. Casey's stellar support even hooked me up with Advil out of their 'just in case' box. This year I added two new pieces to my race food, orange slices and turkey and cheese rolled up like a taquito. Both hit the spot and kept me going. Probably the highlight on the course was seeing Beth and the kids at the feed zone in Alpine. Jack was stoked and tried to be helpful by handing me the empty water bottles I had just discarded.

After the last climb over Salt River I was joined by another rider from my group named Jess. He and I rode the last 100 miles together. As good as a rider as he was we still were plagued by bad groups. We hooked up outside both the Afton and Alpine feed zones and we thought we might be racing for third place but could very easily be racing for 6th and a spot off the podium. With about 30 miles left we were with 2 other racers from his team who had started earlier. I went to shift gears and my chain fell off, a by-product of the crash. By the time I got it back on I was about to give up catching those guys, figuring that the three team riders weren't going to sit up and let me chase back on. Then Uncle Tom to the rescue. Tom and Shelly teamed up to do a relay this year and Tom had just gotten back on the bike in Alpine and caught me. He said he'd help me catch back up. He set a blistering pace that I couldn't match but then backed it up a notch and let me recover for a bit as we eventually caught Jess and his group.

The last 30 miles were more of the same and Jess was still on my wheel as we neared the finish line. I had yet to have a sprint finish that actually mattered and was pretty excited for this one. I kept telling myself that if I lost this sprint it wasn't going to be because I went too early, as is usually the case. I needed to be patient and release the fury inside the last 100 meters. With 1 KM to go Jess pulled up even with me and we started to ramp up the speed. There were other riders in the group that wanted in on the action as well and joined us in the left lane. With 400 meters to go another guy said something like "well I might as well win this" and took off, sprinting into the right lane. I won the sprint to get on this guys wheel edging out a fifth rider. Jess was now sitting on my wheel and soon as the pace barely slowed he attacked swerving into the left lane with 200 meters to go. He had opened up a lead of 4 or 5 bike lengths and I wasn't sure I could reel him in. My left calf had been on the verge of cramping since the crash. Sure enough I got into his slipstream and nailed it back, sat on his wheel for 2 seconds and before we ran out of room came around him as fast as I could. I owned. Such a fun way to finish. Based on the finish photo above it looks like I won by a bike length or so. It was even better to find out that the sprint was for third, which at that point was the best I could hope for. After we crossed the line Jess came up and slapped me on the back and said "that was #@$%&*#@ awesome!"

It was a great day and even better to be done. Mostly sunny, comfortable temperatures, the head winds could have been dialed down but also could have been worse. The majority of team Norda's gathered at the Teton Club courtesy Pam and Gary to tell and re tell our war stories of the day. And after we've done that we tell war stories from the past and speculate on next year's adventures. It's all part of the experience.

The next day, when the adrenalin wears off comes the real pain. It became apparent that I bruised a rib or two along with my hip in the crash. I also woke up to blood covered sheets. Remember that scene in The Godfather where the guy wakes up with his sheets soaked in blood and finds his horse's head in bed with him? Well it wasn't like that all. But I was patting myself down trying to figure out what was wrong, but it was just a leaky band aid.

Thanks everyone for a good time, see you next year.

*I wish my 25 page paper due next week in Business Strategy was on my Lotoja experience because I could totally do it.

September 11, 2008

Nice Tetons

After LOTOJA the family stayed a couple nights with my aunt and uncle at their place in Teton Village. Thanks Pam and Gary! I can't wait to invite myself in December. We spent a lot of time just relaxing but did get in a few favorites like eating at Mile High Pizza, walking around Jackson Hole, and a Gondola ride up the mountain.
Everyone but Elder Mikey the day after the race.
Here we are riding up the mountain on the Gondola. The new tram looks like it will be ready to open about the time the snow flies.
Lily loves seeing her mom walk up.Up on top of the hill, or the mid mountain lodge. Jack was less interested in the photo op and more interested in . . .
picking up rocks
and trying to throw them into the river below (while we held onto his collar to prevent any tumbling down the mountain).

The drive home was surprisingly quick and easy. We stopped in Afton and I was excited to hit Rulon Gardner's Burger Barn. That guy looks like he knows a good burger. Well he may know one but certainly doesn't make one. The Gold Medal and Farmer's Wife Burgers were a total disappointment. Not driving by that Subway again! I chose not to make a scene though. I was reminded that there may or may not be a warrant out for my arrest in Afton. We can't quite remember what happened with the speeding ticket from 2006.

September 4, 2008

Twilight is for girls?

It's possible that someone somewhere is asking themselves "I wonder what this guy has been reading?" Well, let me answer that for you Mr. Imaginary Person.
There is a general opinion out there that Twilight is for girls. I for one subscribed to that opinion. Sometime last year I picked up a copy for Beth based on the recommendation of few co workers. She got it that night and the next day at work I get a call at 9:00 a.m. (no joke) telling me not to come home unless I had the next book. I don't remember what time she came to bed that night. When I got home my curiosity got the better of me and I asked her what the books were about.
"It's about vampires but they are actually good blah blah blah"
I stopped listening at vampires. But going back to the Twilight is for girls opinion. I started casually asking around if any guys had read the books. A year and half later I had found three guys who had. And I actually respected these dudes opinions. I felt is was now safe for me to try. It's all your fault Justin, Jason, and Brian. Plus the timing was right, I thought I should read before the movie release in November and I needed something to break up the adventures of Scot Harvath novels from one of my new favorite authors, Brad Thor.
I did like the book and plan to read the rest in the series. I'm even kind of excited to do so because I heard they get better. But dudes you need to understand and be prepared, Twilight is absolutely for girls. It's told from the point of view of a girl and it confirms a lot of the things we've long suspected go on their head and we never understand why. It wasn't until page 378 that the action picked up to a point where I wasn't going to put it down and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. It continues to build until the climax when I actually wanted to throw the book out the window. Without giving anything away I can say that right at the climax, Bella, who is telling the story, does a very girly thing and faints. I couldn't believe it. For the most part you find out what happened later on but the movie will have one built in advantage over the book, we'll get to see the action.
One last thing I feel must be put out there. The middle part of the book, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say over 100 pages, revolves around the love birds asking the dreaded question "what are you thinking?" They find slightly different ways to ask this like:

"I want to know what your thinking."
"Will you promise to tell me what you are really thinking?"
"What's going through your mind?"
"I'm thinking I wonder what you're thinking."

You'd think that the answers, some variation of "how much I love you" or answering with a question "how come you love me?" would be the most bothersome but it isn't, it's the questions. I'm so glad Beth, as much as she hates it, understands my dislike for this question, or at least acknowledges it. The answer for me is really very simple. Both Jerry Seinfeld* and Ray Romano have created entire bits and episodes answering this question. Edward is a much better man than I (no duh! chants the chorus) for encouraging those conversations.

*for what I'm talking about please refer to this clip. The specific part is about 2:40 into the bit. If you listen to the whole thing Jerry will tell you what he likes about Chinese people as long as he is on the subject.