Jumping from the Kamara or How I relieve frustrations

Change is a constant in life. And coping with change is the only constant. Last year in the midst of professional churn, I decided to complete a swim I had been longing to do for a lifetime.

This year, in the midst of a new set of challenges, I decided to jump from the Kamara. A jump I had been longing to do for a lifetime. The jump is very safe. People do it routinely, but the first time you do it there is this moment half way down where you realize you are STILL falling.

My sister took the video.

The commentary is Greek.

Funniest moment is when she calls me ‘half-ironman or cast-ironman’ …

Still think the Ferrari may prove to be cheaper …

Vineman 2014 Race Report – Getting Ready

As we get older, and as moments come and go, we appreciate the passage of time with a certain melancholy that can be infuriating. Vineman was such a moment. And that melancholy makes writing a race report harder. To write about this event is to transform the memory from an event to an orderly set of words that describe a sequence of events bereft of the emotion … After all I am a computer scientist not a writer.

And there is this temptation to not write. But memory is fleeting and just writing the stuff down makes it last a little bit longer.

Let’s dive in then…

The day before

The one really useful thing about Vineman is that it’s pretty frigging close to my house. A modest two hour drive, this makes it possible to overpack without having to worry about the space issues.

And did I pack my little honda fit. Here’s the list:


And I got it all into that tiny little car… Although there was no space for anyone else to sit in the car.

Packed and ready to go, I headed out to Vineman…

Along the way, I got stuck in a horrible traffic jam. Something about the Breast Cancer, I presume given the pink, the gender and the walking. You’d think Google Maps could provide some insight into that but … No.

The hours piled on, the drive continued, and finally I arrived at my destination: Windsor High School.

When you do a sprint triathlon, unless it’s some ultra competitive thing, you meet a lot of people whose body type is – well – not ultra skinny.

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When you do a half-ironman, even after losing 40 pounds you feel  like a conformation lab surrounded by whippets…

The scrawny emaciated scary fit looking people that were surrounding me was amazing. If I was into men, the eye candy would be reason enough to do half-ironmen.

What was scarier was the plan that they could take 2500 of these scrawny looking people, all simultaneously going through taper crazies and talk to them …



Wait … this is a high school normally full of teenagers with raging hormones …

The folks at Vineman gave us our marching orders, wished us good luck and sent us on our way.

To wait in another line:


Where we had to get our race packet.

Doing a race with so many people really is a case of hurry up and wait until the damn thing starts.

After collecting my race packets, I headed to my hotel, picked up my bike gear and tri gear and headed out to the beach in Guerneville to get a feel for the swim.

The other gentrification 

When I arrived in Guerneville, I parked across the street from an over the top alternative hippy location.


The building across from where I parked was devoted to some new age religious theories tied to the Goddess. Honestly, I can’t recall.

When I was done with my swim, just down the street from there, I was super hungry and decided to go get a bite to eat.

I figured it would be local diner food.

Boy was I wrong.

There are some pretty frigging swanky places to eat.



Guerneville is caught between the low rent district it was and the place the 1% are turning it into.

Can’t wait to see the protest rallies here. Maybe I don’t want to do Vineman next year…

After a remarkably tasty diner, I drove off to my hotel in Healdsburg.


I have this long and sordid history of not eating enough for long distance events. I once decided to diet during the Sequoia double metric. I forgot to eat lunch during the Death Ride. I had a buddy who wanted to buy me this electroshock collar that he could zap every thirty minutes to remind me to eat.

Bonking and me were like this partnership of evil that could never be broken.

This time, I swore I was going to eat enough.

And so after eating a non-trivial meal in Guerneville, I also had some really kick-ass pie in Healdsburg…

My plan was to eat so much, that there was no hope in hell that I didn’t go hungry…

Although I was struggling finding something to eat for breakfast the next day … But with all the food I ate this should not be a problem. At all….

One last check

Back at the hotel, I did one last check of my equipment. And of course, I couldn’t find anything, unpacked everything three times, forgot to take things… I was sooo pissed off.

And then my wife calls, and I sounded … well … let’s just say the word pleasant doesn’t necessarily come to mind…

But her call managed to get my brain focused on the task at hand, and somehow I managed to correctly pack everything this time.

And now for some sleep

One thing I’ve become a fan of recently is Mindfulness. There is a lot of stuff in that repackaged yoga, but one thing it does help a lot with is getting your brain to focus on the task at hand and to deal with the stray thoughts that distract you. Before I learned about Mindfulness, it was impossible to sleep before a high stress event like a half ironman. Now it’s possible. Not magic, really just a way to get your brain to focus on the immediate thing at hand instead of every random thought that comes through your head in a high stress environment distract you from sleeping.

Overcome with sleep… I got ready for my race….



Week 76 – Falling Towards Apotheosis


One of my favorite TV series of all time is Babylon 5. And one of my favorite episode titles is “Falling Towards Apotheosis“.

The episode is part of an arc that leads to the final confrontation between the Shadows and Vorlons about the future of the galaxy. The episode is the moment at which the final events that will either lead to a bright new future or a dismal past become inevitable. After this episode the die is cast.

What is interesting about the title is that it juxtaposes apotheosis – a climax or highest point – with the idea of falling … We are to imagine the story no longer moving out of it’s own free will to the end, but the force of history and events pushing it towards the end. Whereas most of the time apotheosis is something we move towards – our actions drive us to the climax.

In many ways JMS’s title was hearkening to another title, a book by Thomas Pynchon called Gravity’s Rainbow.

The phrase Gravity’s Rainbow is an image used by Pynchon to describe the parabola formed by a V2 rocket.


A V2 rocket is fired into space, for a period of time it has control of it’s destiny,  and at some point the rocket loses control of it’s fate and after that point gravity takes over. The parabola formed is what he calls Gravity’s Rainbow. The broader theme of the image is this notion of loss of control and hurtling towards your fate for good or for ill. And that notion of control followed by a switch to destiny plays out repeatedly throughout the book. The book, particularly explores that moment when you go from control to destiny as an important transition point.

For the last couple of weeks I have been in that transition point in the parabola. This is why I haven’t been blogging. In this state between moments, there is s certain amount of breathlessness. There was this nagging feeling that I am loosing control over the outcome of my race.

And this loss of control is disorienting. You feel that your ability to change the outcome is slipping away and that powerlessness is crippling. And you’re trying to desperately do one more hard workout, to focus one last time because if you do the outcome will be different.

And you know it’s pointless.

And then suddenly you embrace the loss of control.

The training is done, the preparation is done, the die is cast. Nothing more to be done.

There is still the small matter of doing this race, and I have control over that but the outcome of this race was determined over the last 8 months of insane training.

And now that the race is days away, I feel good again. I feel that I am no longer in the moment between control and lack of control – I have made the transition. I am now hurtling towards my apotheosis or destiny like a V2 rocket.

And that makes me feel good again.

Final weight loss status update


If you can read this graph what you’ll see is that I lost 26 pounds. My starting weight was 220, I reached 193.9. I was on track to get to 185 but shit happened. As it is I lost about 4 pounds a month which is pretty good.

Fun facts about my weight loss. I dropped 4 sizes from a size 36 to a size 32. I will need to buy a new wet suit when I do my Ironman next year. For a mile swim the suit is okay, but for a two mile swim it’s kinda baggy. I had to buy new training clothes because nothing fits anymore. Making this a ridiculously expensive bit of weight loss.

Weirdest part of losing weight is that I can’t stay in cold water for as long. Turns out the fat was keeping me warm – who would have thunk it 🙂

We still need to get to 176 before the Athens Marathon… unclear I can pull that off … but I will still try.

The one important consequence  of my weight loss is that I did make the promise to myself and my family that if I couldn’t get to 195 by the time I did Vineman, I was not going to do an Ironman. Completing an Ironman weighing over 200 pounds was unrealistic. And if I hadn’t loss the weight 1 year before, I was just going to do a whole lot of exercise and ask them to deal with my workouts and fail and that was not fair to them. I met my goal, so now we can start looking for events to sign up for.