Saddle Time...

Tara went out for a walk with the dogs this morning, and when she returned she announced it was beautiful outside and to get ready to go on a long bike ride with her. After some coffee, cereal, and catching up on some work, I got suited up in my 26-33 degree riding gear. We drove over to Martensdale to ride the Great Western Trail to Mullets and back for a 44 mile round trip.

She was right, the bright sunshine, clear air, and pleasant temperatures made for a nice picturesque ride. We were quickly reminded how beat up the south end of the GWT is as it really needs to be resurfaced. After a nice lunch at Mullets, we turned the ships around and headed back to Martensdale into a slight headwind which got the HR up a bit more. I had not overdressed, so was just right comfort wise. Tara's toes were freezing as she was in her normal summer cycling shoes since she doesn't own any winter ones. My iPhone froze up again about 2 miles from the parking lot due to the colder temperatures and headwind because I had it exposed on my handlebars. We made it back home fine where we chowed down on a take and bake pizza from Papa Murphy's.

The 3 hour ride wrapped up a 12 1/2 hour training week amidst a busy weekend of getting my lesson plans, and materials ready for Germany. I have three or four meetings tomorrow, some online judging to complete (divided between Monday and Tuesday), a list of errands, dropping off a car for a new tie rod, smoking 3 chickens, and some phone calls will make for a hectic Monday.

We were captured by Judy Pauley the other night as a family sitting on a couch...

I need longer days this coming week to get all I need to do completed. Time management will be kicking into overdrive starting tomorrow morning...


Christmas Day.....2014!

Christmas Day 2014 has come and gone. Fun was had by all as we spent time with family, shared thoughts, food, wine, and talked about what is coming up in the future.

Tara was happy with her favorite Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Italy...

Alexa was pleased with her New England Patriots stocking cap...

Zack was content with some iTunes credit...

I was good with some Godiva dark chocolate macaroons...

On and on it went as we unwrapped presents, enjoyed the giving, and went on throughout the day. I was not expecting sunshine and 50 degrees, but when that happened I had to get out on the bike for a couple of hours to burn some calories to make room for the Christmas dinner.

Out I went on the road bike...

I stopped at Summerset for a couple of shots...

...before motoring on home. Prime Rib, scalloped potatoes with gruyere, sauteed green beans, homemade apple pie, and Bruce Cakebread Cabernet was on the menu for the evening and it was all delicious.

Then we headed to the movie theater to see the 7:40 showing of Into the Woods which we all enjoyed. Christmas 2014 is in the books, and now we roll forward into 2015 ready to face what comes...


Trimming Trees and Training Stress...

Sung to the tune of 12 days of Christmas (pick it up somewhere in the latter part of the chorus):

...15 strings of lights, 3 extension cords, one roll of duct tape, and a green tree has lit the front yard!

The decorate the outside tree project was projected by me to take only about 30 minutes or so to set up. I blew a few fuses in the $2.98 strings of lights from Wal-Mart before I wired it all correctly, taped all the sockets with duct tape to keep the rain out, and got the tree lit up like I wanted. Between the trips back and forth to Wal-Mart to buy more strings, climbing up and down the ladder, dealing with all of the spaghetti wrapping it around each limb - I was at it for about 4+ hours to do just the one tree.

Training Stress...

I had a nice 40 mile ride on Sunday in the mist to wrap up a 12 hour training week. Being it was still deer hunting season, I avoided the heaviest hunted sections next to the trail and ended up doing two out and back trips to Summerset State Park from Indianola. Better safe than sorry as who knows if some hunter would mistake me for a deer?

December is turning out to be a decent base building month like it was last year. I am lifting weights on M/W/F, so total stress on the body has been pretty good with enough stiffness between my recoveries to remind me of my age. I've been going to the YMCA to take advantage of the leg press, rowing machine, and move what little iron I can compared to some of the gym rats in there. My body weight has trimmed down about 3 of the fall pounds that I had gained. This, in spite of me having nibbled here and there on some of the holiday delights that I have encountered.

December 2 - rode 24.6 miles for a duration of 1:34:32
December 4 - rode 5.57 miles for a duration of 00:33:43
December 5 - rode 5.58 miles for a duration of 00:32:00
December 6 - rode 29.3 miles for a duration of 1:58:20
December 7 - rode 23.2 miles for a duration of 1:37:48
December 9 - rode 23.2 miles for a duration of 1:35:30
December 10 - rode 18.4 miles for a duration of 1:09:27
December 12 - rode 23.7 miles for a duration of 1:29:50
December 13 - rode 17.4 miles for a duration of 1:11:19
December 14 - rode 27.5 miles for a duration of 2:07:46
December 16 - rode 18.3 miles for a duration of 1:21:53
December 17 - rode 18.4 miles for a duration of 1:14:00
December 18 - rode 21.5 miles for a duration of 1:05:00
December 19 - rode 17.4 miles for a duration of 1:57:11
December 21 - rode 40.3 miles for a duration of 2:42:13

December Totals: 314.35 miles  --  22:10:35 hours

Tara and Alexa are making homemade pizza tonight with salmon, pesto, buffalo mozzarella, and sun dried tomatoes.  Yum!


Winter has arrived!!!

Today begins Winter with the Solstice and shortest day of the year in terms of daylight. Fall was pretty favorable here in Iowa - outside of one brief cold snap when the Vortex dipped down to make our faces hurt for a few days.

I decorated the tree this past week, and even did some outside (I'll take a shot of the exterior tonight to post up tomorrow).

Happy Birthday...

to my Dad, Preston who turns 88 today in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were out visiting for his birthday 2 years ago. Here are Dad, Zack, and Alexa in his apartment...

Happy Birthday DAD!

Temperatures are a nice 42 degrees today, so I think I'm going to head out for a multi-hour bike ride to take advantage of just about wrapping up my 2014 riding. I used this week as a pretty heavy training week with a lot of TSS from rides, and weights. I'm due for a R&R week beginning tomorrow where I will continue with the weights, and dial back the miles and intensity. My ATP goals of the year were to increase by only about 10% the hours from 2013 (433 hours in 2013). 

I will do a quick follow up post on all of that next week once I tally the final numbers, but I actually am close to the additional 10% I was seeking. I've been using December as month one of base building for 2015. Everything I've read for the Master's athlete is, due to recovery, keep the hours pointed towards quality vs. quantity. So I have about maxed out the annual hours that I need to with this year being the most ever. Next year, I will not attempt to exceed this year's hours by adding 10%, but will focus on higher quality hours of the same amount.

Upcoming: Tara and I celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary on December 30th!!! It's a big milestone for us in many ways. I'm looking forward to all the years to come with Tara. 


Happy Hanukkah 2014!

Happy Hanukkah from our family to yours. 

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Being an interreligious family, we celebrate both Jewish and Christian holidays. Last year Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving, but this year it is mid-December.

I made Paula Deen's crockpot pot roast yesterday for the occasion, and somehow I totally misread the directions.  It called for making a "house spice" to use on the beef. I thought it was supposed to be used entirely on the roast when the recipe called for sprinkling it on the meat before searing it. It was actually a supply to keep in storage for many uses - not just this one time. Luckily, I didn't trust it totally and did not make or use the full amount of house spice. Nor did I use any boullion cubes (called for 3). If I had - we would have been ordering out, or going out as the meal would have been a total loss.

Needless to say, even with me leaving out the boullion and only making about 1/2 to 2/3's of the house spice - it was still way too salty. So Tara went into salvage mode by adding the juice of a lemon, and some honey to cut the sugar in the gravy. We actually managed to eat it, but think of oversalted movie popcorn.  Now double that.  That's how salty this was. Plenty of water was consumed by all the rest of the evening. We will polish off the leftovers tonight after some exercise to burn off the sodium, and hydrate heavily for round two.

Happy Hanukkah!


Rainy days and Mondays always get me...

Monday morning and it is raining. In honor or the late Karen Carpenter, I'm making the coffee and organizing breakfast while listening to her golden throat...

The weekend seemed to blow right on through with the warm winds from the south. Fred Lorber's funeral was on Friday. It was a fitting tribute and celebration to Fred's life and how he touched all those he encountered. We shared some special music, listened to three wonderful eulogies, and the Rabbi's message. Fred had touched everyone in the room through his stories, character, charisma, deeds, and love for life. Tears were shared, laughs were shared, respect was shared. One left the Temple filled with the good fortune of having known Fred.  

Since I was all dressed up and in Des Moines, I went shopping in the afternoon for things I need to take to Germany.  I got home and went out for a bike ride to enjoy the warm temperatures.  After a nice warm shower, I had dinner with Tara and Zack.

Saturday began with a meeting from 11:30 - 2:30, and was followed by picking up a suit that was tailored, and dropping off another for alterations.  Then a quick lunch with Tara at Palmer's Deli. A bike ride with my lights on where a buck running at full tilt nearly took me out on the Summerset Trail at dusk. I made it back home and had a lovely dinner of lamb, rice, and butternut squash.

Sunday was a mellow morning in bed with coffee and CBS. We wanted to take advantage of the 60 degree temperatures, so Tara and I headed out on the road bikes. After passing Summerset State Park on the Summerset Trail, there were so many hunters out in the fields and pickups parked along the gravel roads we turned around for fear of getting shot. We altered our route and managed to make up the miles on alternative trails, and roads to get our 2+ hours in for the day. Then I just tuned into football for some mindless entertainment until I went to the store to purchase the evening's produce that I wanted to cook. More football, and then it was bed time. Seems like the three days just flew by...

...and now it is rainy and Monday!


Celebrating Fritz today...

Tara and I have been asked to sing this morning at the memorial service for Fred "Fritz" Lorber who passed away on Tuesday.  His obituary and an edited video of him from last year talking about his WW II experience are at that link.

He touched all that knew him.  My Simpson students had the pleasure of hearing the story of how his family left Vienna to come to the US as World War II was starting.

Tara and I had just been to his 91st birthday celebration dinner a few weeks ago where he was sharp as a tack. He always wanted me to sing some operetta from Vienna, so that is what we will be doing this morning to open the service.

RIP Fritz Lorber...


Saturday's story: It fits!!!

Knowing there would be crowds out shopping, I braved it alone to hit up two of my favorite shopping venues in Des Moines. Saturday noon time had temperatures that were nice, and it fit my day's schedule to shop, get lunch, ride my bike, and end with Virginia and Nix's Christmas Party.

The hunt for tall/slim man's clothing has improved! Everything I have purchased in the past two weeks was on sale to boot. My new Levi's (a nice pair of 32 x 36 original fit 501's) arrived from San Francisco yesterday.

According to the tracking # of a pair of sweaters, they are due to arrive on my doorstep tomorrow. Two new Michael Kors suits - 40L with 32 x 36" trousers - both being taken in a bit in the waist of the pants, and the sides of the jacket - will be ready by the 16th of the month.

A Calvin Klein suit I bought last year that fit great at the time before I dropped 20 pounds is being altered in the same manner - taken in at the waist, and the jacket sides are being tapered in for a trimmer fit.  I still need a few more dress shirts in a tapered slim fit with long enough sleeves, but that's next on the hunting list.  I got one new belt and some new socks on sale as well yesterday.

My first purchase of a pair of Danish Company ECCO shoes confirms that I have now moved into old age going for comfort over style.  They actually are a great blend of form, function, and style compared to my usual Italian or Johnston and Murphy loafer preference.  Color me impressed. Imagine?  Me with a pair of shoes that do not have leather soles!!!!  I'll have to get used to walking again...

I stumbled upon a heavily discounted pair of Steve Madden shoes that was the final pair the store had in that model from last year.  The sales price was aided by an additional 25% discount at Younkers which meant they also graced my shopping bag.

I stopped in at Palmer's Deli for a Turnberry sandwich to go, and couldn't resist grabbing a 7 layer bar to toss in my lunch bag with the pickle, sandwich, and bottled water as well.  I knew I had 30 miles on tap for a training ride and would easily burn the calories.  Wow, was it good.  YUM!!!

I headed out for my 2 hour ride on my own version of the Global Fat Bike day by running my 30mm wide gravel tires on the road bike.  ;-)  I had my music going full bore with Sinatra, Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Kiss, AC/DC, Nazareth, Joan Jett, Massenet, etc..., heart rate pumping in the 145 - 162 range the entire ride, and all was well until mile 25 when the iPhone battery suddenly went from 1/2 charged to giving me the low battery signal - which then about a minute later resulted in it shutting off.  Go figure, but it turns out it was the cold air.  iPhones do not like the cold and since it was mounted on my handlebars, the windchill made it act up.  I plugged it in at home and after a couple of minutes it jumped to life and warmed up only to show that the battery indeed still had 1/2 a charge.

I shaved and showered, got dressed and headed to Des Moines with Tara to enjoy a wonderful Christmas Party at the Lauridsen's.  The Simpson College Madrigal Singers were singing at the party, and we all sang Christmas Carols with Jamie and Bernard taking turns at the piano.  My favorite moment came when I was standing next to an attractive woman about my age who was nursing a glass of wine and enjoying the music we were all singing. After she heard me sing various carols, and after I cut loose on O Holy Night - she asked me if I had been in high school choir.  Too funny!!  I said yes, and asked her if she had been in high school choir as well.  She said no, but she was on the baton twirling team. It was a great moment and I wasn't going to spoil it for her that I had trained beyond "high school choir" for a few decades. The party was such fun with beautiful decorations, delicious food and what seemed like an endless supply of beverages that were enjoyed by the crowd of what looked to be 100.  Thank you Virginia and Nix!!!!

All in all a great Saturday.  And one that FIT all the way around...


Black Friday and weekend Shopping BUST!!!

I have been holding off on purchasing new clothes since I dropped weight this year, and making do with what I do have (even though I am really swimming in all of it).  Now that I am back to my 31" waist, I remember well the frustration from years ago of trying to get pants that fit.  Hilfiger worked back then, but they don't make much in my length anymore for some reason.  Buying off the rack is nearly impossible as very few stores anywhere have pants that are 31" x 36" or even 32 x 36" which I could get altered to snug them up.

A typical suit in 42L comes with the smallest pants being 36" waist.  No way they can take in 5" off of the waist without the front pockets becoming back pockets!!!  And the crease would be from my hip to the knee which would be way too funny.  Buying suit separates would be my ticket, but even then - it is rare to find pants with enough of an inseam I need to match the waist unless I up the game to a Brooks Brothers $1200 suit.  I can find a lot of 30" x 32" or 31" by 32" pants - but I need 4 more inches in length.  Even online, all the designers don't have pants in my size.

I did manage to try on enough things this weekend in the war zone of Black Friday weekend to get the waist correct.  I ordered and got a sale on Levi 501's from the Strauss website in the correct size as no store carried my size.  And I got a couple of sweaters online for the Black Friday sale price that are being shipped to me.  Same sale price as this weekend, but I have to pay the shipping to get the sizes I need.

I am sorely in need of a couple of new suits in my size since most everything else I have is 44L with 34 or 36" waist pants from my unhealthy years.  One suit, I think I can take in from 34" waist and salvage it (my black Calvin Klein suit).  The rest are history for now.

I may have to wait until I get over in Europe where I never had a problem getting things long enough - even off the rack - in Austria, and Germany.  Suffice it to say, the hunt is on for the sizing and style I can live with for the price.

It's much like buying bikes for me.  Stores and companies only target the majority.  Being tall and slim puts one in the minority as the supply and demand equation is not in my favor for clothes here in the US.

One of my favorite blogs, Tall Adaptations, is well versed in my dilemma.