Monday, December 31, 2007

The End Of The Year

We have been pretty busy since the last time I posted. We finally got power back to the house one and a half weeks after it went out. It was nice to get back into the warm house and into our routine again. It was hard to get any type of workout in while we were living at the hotel room and a steady diet of fast food didn’t help our well being much either. Tulsa is still in shambles. We still have tree limbs stacked up along the streets and the sound of wood chippers and chainsaws have become a constant reminder of the carnage that the ice storm caused.

Christmas was good to us. Santa brought us a Wii game system and the kids are on it constantly. It’s funny before the game starts there is a disclaimer which states something to the effect you need to be in good health prior to playing the game. You’ve got to be kidding me? What is the world coming to? Braden has become quite a bowler and I like the golf game. Below is a picture of Braden really immersed into fighting evil as Spiderman?

Dana and I got iPhones from her parents and Santa brought the girls their first cellular phones. The iPhones are great. It’s a shame they don’t work in the operating room.

The weather is still crappy and icy around here so the other day I had to take my run indoors to the treadmill at the health club. One hour of boredom…uggh. There was this attractive woman running pretty well around the indoor track when I got up there. She was moving pretty fast and it got my attention. She looked familiar but I just couldn’t place her. She was doing supersets of weights followed by walking lunges and track work. She looked really fit like a track star. Have I seen her at a race? TV? School chum? Then it finally hit me…That’s Amber Valetta the supermodel and movie actress. She must have been home for the holidays and working out at our health club. Anyway, it made the indoor treadmill workout much less monotonous watching her go through her routine.

At the opposite extreme was yesterday’s workout. I am trying to get some longer rides in for the Epic Camp preparation coming up later in January in New Zealand. This is pretty difficult considering the sub freezing temperatures outside. I was forced to take my 60 mile ride indoors to my Computrainer. To make the ride even more dreadful, I subjected myself to watching the documentary “Sicko” by Michael Moore. Next time maybe I will rent an Amber Valetta movie. Listening to the drone of Moore’s voice go on and on about the catastrophe of the US health care system made my ride much more painful.

I just reviewed my year end training numbers. I worked out 710 hours last year which included 6800 miles (365hrs) of cycling, 1200 miles (148 hrs) of running, and 130 hours of swimming. I was surprised to find out that I only averaged 13.3 hours/ week. The total numbers were similar to last year only this year I cycled 400 miles (20 hours) more and ran 200 miles (32 hours) less.

The latter part of this year I have been injured which brought this year’s total numbers down a bit. To me it just seemed I did much more than that. I guess with all the other things going on in my life with my family and job it made it seem like I was working out all the time. I guess in every free moment I had… I was.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

No Electricity...But We Still Have Power

The power is still out at the house, and we are still living out of a hotel room but life must go on. This weekend we traveled to watch Payton, my 11 year old daughter, compete in The Christmas Invitational in Fayetteville, AR. There were gymnasts from 4 states represented and some USAG national level judges there to officiate the event. It was Payton’s first big meet as a level 7 gymnast, with more soon to come. This was the real thing. It was held in Barnhill Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas, not just in some gym. She had been training years for this. I got excited just walking in there. I can’t imagine what Payton felt.

The parents and spectators seemed a bit different at this event too. Many had laptops set up with spreadsheets on them. They would greedily type up scores on all the gymnasts as they came up. I don’t know if it was just for something to do to keep them busy like score cards at a baseball game, or if they were keeping tabs on the competition.

The girls there were all so good. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to make an Olympic team. The pool of talent must be huge. Just eight girls get the chance to make the Olympic team, every four years.

When Payton took the floor for her first event, the floor routine, my heart was pounding. She was first to go out of her little group so I’m sure that the anxiety was a little bit higher. I was so excited for her that I could barely hold the camera still. Level 7 is the considered the first “optional” level, meaning Payton had her own routine with her own personal music. Everything went flawlessly. She came through like a seasoned champ - a 9.25. I was so proud it almost brought me to tears.

On the beam during warm-up, she fell three times on a component. But when it came to do the routine for all the marbles she nailed it. I could see some of the other girls on her team had worried looks on their faces before they got started. Payton told me later that some of the girls on other teams were so nervous they were vomiting. Payton, on the other hand, looked calm and collected out there. I was so proud of her ability to focus and channel positive energy into her routine. She was able to finish ahead of a few of the girls who do better than her in practice.

I don’t get to see her practice that much, but she is very dedicated to what she does and loves every minute of it. Directly following school, she heads straight to the gym where she spends 4 hours working out per day. After that, she quickly eats, does homework, and then goes to bed to start the cycle over again. She literally eats, sleeps, and breathes gymnastics. Often when I pick her up she seems exhausted but she never complains that much. I never had this type of dedication as a youngster but she wants to do it and often gets on my case to make sure that I drive her to practice early so she is ready to go when it starts.

I don’t know a lot about gymnastics. I have watched it on TV during the Olympics and other televised events but what I do know is that these little girls are tough. I often see them with casts on their arms and legs and still get out there maintaining some element of their routine. They may not all be Olympians or Collegiate gymnasts but they are learning a great skill in this sport. They are learning to focus and set goals, and most important of all they learn to overcome failure. I can already tell Payton is mature beyond her years. I’m sure a lot of it is due to her involvement in her sport.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Hate Cold Weather

Tulsa Oklahoma lacks the crowded streets, has reasonable property values, and lacks the hustle and bustle of a large city. It has all the amenities of a large city but on a smaller scale. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. However, one thing it does have that I don’t particularly like is the extremes in weather. In the summer we can get heat indexes in the range of 110 degrees F or greater with oppressive humidity, then in the winter we get snow, ice and temperatures below zero F. The humidity is still present so the cold feels wet. Dave, a reader from Australia, emailed me and wondered how we train in such cold. Good question Dave. Personally having 5-7% body fat, I can deal with the heat, but it’s the cold which I can’t stand. I suppose training in these weather extremes makes us tough.

I grew up in Kansas City, MO. The weather was worse there. When I was young I vowed that when I chose to settle somewhere permanently I would do it south of the Kansas City area. Tulsa was it.

This past weekend has been particularly trying. An ICE STORM came through and dumped inches of ice on the streets, trees, and power lines. I took Paige up to Bartlesville for a swim meet on Sunday and when we came out the car was covered in ice. After we got home some power lines broke under the weight of the ice causing a fire in one of the trees in our backyard. This morning more ice accumulation resulted in trees losing branches and power outages throughout the city. This included our household.

I was up at 5am for work with a flashlight. When I arrived I heard that we were on backup generators and the main oxygen pipeline was broken. Patients in the hospital that were on ventilators were now requiring oxygen delivery with backup tanks. We only had a 48 hour supply. There would be no elective surgeries today. I had the forethought at that time to call and reserve a hotel room before the rest of the town awakened. By the afternoon, the temperature of our home had dropped to the upper 50’s already and it was just going to get colder. The power company is estimating return to power in no less than a week and a half. What!!!!

Tulsa currently now looks like a bomb went off. There are broken trees all over the road and live power lines lying across the roads. Currently the Chance family is held up in a Super 8 motel eating a steady diet of fast food. Unfortunately these are the only places open. Hotel rooms are in high demand. The check in desk at our hotel was a mad house. I feel sorry for those poor folks who were working there because it was getting pretty ugly.

To put a positive spin on our misfortunes, I told the kids to pretend that we were on vacation in “Ice City”. Instead of palm trees we had ice trees. “Isn’t this cool guys?” They didn’t buy it. The complaining and bickering in the back seat of the car still persisted. I just feel fortunate that we have a hotel room, heat, internet, and the “Disney Channel”.