Friday, August 29, 2008

Renaming a Signature Dish

Over the years, I've developed a few signature dishes. One of the oldest dish I had named as Haole Killer chicken. I named it thus because white folk seem to choose this chicken to the exclusion of other proteins at the luau, especially the pork. I'll take pig and poi three or four times over chicken, but that's just me. Previously, the process included skinning chicken quarters, marinating them overnight, baking them for an hour, finishing them on the grill, then pouring a finishing sauce over the final product. This was fine for working in waves as I've done previously, but this year we're going to do it all in one go. So, over the last month I've worked out my sauces and technique so that chicken now includes three liquids: a poaching liquid, a grilling sauce, and a finishing sauce. The poaching liquid includes 1:2:3 ratio of flavoring liquids and the grilling and finishing sauces include three ingredients. So, three steps, three sauces, three ingredients. From hence forth, the sauce will now be referred to as 'Ekolu Chicken.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Luau Count

So, I'm trying to get a better idea of how many people will be showing up. Of course, a comment that something came up doesn't mean you shouldn't show up if your schedule clears up. Anyway, please post a comment if you plan on coming or not coming. Saturday's ride was hot. Brutally hot. I was happy to be able to get through it without getting dehydrated. 425 left to go.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Current Fave

I can't remember if I've posted on this before or not, but I'm going to post it anyway. Generally, I like George Clooney. I liked him in O' Brother, I liked him in the 'Oceans' series. I loved him in Michael Clayton. I've also been a fan of Elmore Leonard. I liked Jackie Brown. I loved Get Shorty (despite Travolta). I also like Steven Soderberg - Traffic is still one of my favorites, and as I've mentioned, I like the 'Oceans' series - even if they are formulaic. These three elements come together best for me in Out of Sight. Before I saw it, I was doubtful at best. It was a dollar movie and when were first married the dollar movies were our principle form of entertainment. We'd sit through virtually anything they showed there. And from this, Out of Sight has now emerged as one of my favorite films. Not so much that it will displace my current top two - Shawshank Redemption and Unforgiven, but it's definitely made it into my Top 5. And no, I haven't read the book. P.S. Today Brently and I headed out on an MTB ride after work. We climbed up Memory Grove, over the City Creek trail and went down Bobsled. I rode my 69er Serotta. Two things became clear: one is that I need to do more climbing and two is that I've got a phobia right now of falling and breaking my collarbone. As a conclusion, I don't think I'm ready to do real mountain biking yet. I need more fitness, more complete healing, and more confidence. Hopefully, I'll have the legs and the confidence back in time for fall perfection. I'm guessing at this, but I'm guestimating total mileage today at about 10 miles, taking me to 510 down with 490 to go.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Best Piece of Geek Gear Ever

I love gear. A lot. Most of the gear I buy doesn't really make that much of a difference, but it sure is fun to play with. Sometimes it even looks cool. Like my Zipp wheels. Man they look good. I don't know if they're any faster, but they at least look the part. One piece of geek gear my wife bought me as a birthday/anniversary gift is this: The swimman system of waterproof headphones and a waterproofed iPod shuffle. Swimming is easily the most mindless physical activity I do. It turns out watching that little black line slide by lap after lap isn't really that engaging. I try and focus on my stroke, but man it's boring. The swimman system rules. It works well, generates decent sound, and is durable. I've had this system since April and it's worked like a charm. It sure makes those long swim sessions easier, which is proving invaluable as I get ready for AZ in November.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Pre-Luau Ramp Up

It's about that time. The days are starting to get a little shorter. The evening temps are getting a little cooler. College football is on the horizon. And, it's time to start getting my game face on for the luau. This year, it will be at the Timpanogos Cove park, as you should already know. Instead of the multi-session affairs of the past, this year's luau is going to be one single-session shabangabang. So, instead of constantly cooking as the luau wears on, it all needs to be delivered at just about the same time. I've been working on layout, timing, and mechanical setup. The logistical challenge this year should be most of the fun - or most of the anguish. I've been picking up additional chafing dishes and high-volume outdoor cookers. It's time to start picking up the table settings, the charcoal, and the sauce bases. Finally, it'll be time to pick up the food and finish the final details. I've recruited Ben to man one of the grill stations. The two of us should be able to pound out the proteins in a couple of hours. I'm excited about this and hopefully you'll all be able to make it. Ride update - it's been a while since I've updated this - since the Vikingman, actually. So with about 245 since the Vikingman, I'm half way there.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hello, My Name is Fish and I'm an Addict

Jeff the interventionist on "Intervention" is found of saying that every addict needs to hit a bottom before they change. I may have hit my bottom on the Utah Half last week. You see, I theorize that participating in long distance events is an addiction. By long distance, I mean anything that takes more than five hours to do. My first long distance experiences came in 2006. My brother had talked me into doing the Honu Half Ironman in Hawai'i, even though my triathlon experience to that point included the American Fork Splash 'n Dash and the Turkey Tri. Those were both reverse order pool triathlons. To get warmed up for Hawai'i, we did the California 70.3 Oceanside race. And that was really my first hit. The novelty of the experience was invigorating, from the training, getting set-up through race day, and taking the line. It was all part of the rush that topped out with crossing the line. Running down the finishing chute was one of the most exhilirating things I've ever done. As I crossed the line, I was nearly overcome with emotion - pride that I'd done pushed through the pain and self-doubt and disbelief and relief that it was finally over. It was awesome. Ever since that, every long race I've done I've been chasing that high. And like with a drug addict, each long distance adventure seems to render a little less of a high at a higher cost. At every occasion, the question of what the hell I was thinking became a question I asked myself searchingly as I pushed through the pain rather than an ice-breaker comment made to fellow participants. Each time, the doubt and self-loathing increased. Yet each time, just like an a drug-addict, I found myself plotting my next score. At the Utah Half, there wasn't much of a rush in signing up. Even less in prepping. Doubt and self-loathing combined with heat exhaustion and dehydration led me to utter those words, "Never again Swanney. I'm off the skag." And I meant it. It sure felt like the bottom. Only time will tell if I'm on the road to recovery or whether that the Utah Half was just a bad trip.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

UtaHalf Race Report

Long posts can be tedious to read. This is going to be a long post, but one that I think may be worth reading. So, for your convenience, I've condensed it down a short version. The short version: -The organization was severly lacking. -It's sheer stupidity for me to do long races in the middle of the summer. -Triathletes can't seem to ride a straight line, but non-race racing roadies (I'm talking about the ULCER here) have are color-blind to yellow. While this may not look like the short version, I assure you it is. I was out there for a long time. Pre-Race Three hours of fitful sleep didn't quite refresh me like I hoped when 4:40 rolled around. I got up, went through my race-day routine and arrived at Utah Lake State Park nearly on schedule. The line of cars queued up at the entrance to the Utah Lake State Park was an ominous sign of things to come . You see, the organizers were collecting a parking fee and figured that instead of using the two lanes already there, they'd block off one lane. Nothing like sitting in line in your car at 5:30 a.m. Fortunately, the poor organization was spaced through-out the day. Upon arriving at the race venue, I thought I knew the swim was going to be one-lap, the bike course headed to west mountain and included four aid stations, and the run included part of the road around the airport and as well as the river trail. It turns out the organizers decided on a two lap course that morning. Confusion abounded as race time approached and no one really knew where we were going. I don't know how they measured the course initially, but even they admitted afterwards that it was too long. The problem for me is that I have a hard time judging distances in open water and so count on the race organizers to have the distances measured correctly. Seeing how long it took me to do the swim, I started the bike even more discouraged than normal. As I made my way through the bike leg, I was nearly hit by a car in a roundabout by the Provo Town Center. The driver was looking to see if anything was headed into the roundabout while failing to look to see if there was anything already in the roundabout. I shouted to get her attention, to which she honked and yelled. I responded with a full version of a TLA (three-letter acronym, courtesy of Jon). It's one of the TLA's that the youngsters are fond of texting. And it wasn't LOL or OMG. A slight headwind slowed me as I made my way toward Lake Shore. I've ridden that road enough times to know that given the time of day, it'd probably be a head-wind on the way back as well. I was making good time and at around mile 14 I started looking for the first aid station. Nothing. You see, instead of four aid stations on the bike, the organizers decided on one instead. Unfortunately for me, I set up the water bottles on my bike on a four aid station strategy as I count on organizers to have the course according to the information they publish on their website the week of the event. I know, foolish on my part. I noticed two things as I limped into the only aid station. One is that triathletes do a masterful job of drafting in races, but can't seem to stay off others' wheels in group rides. Tight groups of five or six in full aero tucks made their way past me on their way back. Maybe I'm just weird, but I wouldn't consider a time to be worth anything if I'd cheated to get it. The other thing I noticed is that century riders are color blind to yellow. The ULCER and the UtaHalf shared the same route, so excitable types in Rock Racing jerseys started coming the other direction as I headed back from the turn. Three or four of these guys in every group would be riding on the wrong side of the yellow line. This wouldn't have been a big deal if the roads were closed, but they weren't. As a result, several cars swinging wide of these guys pushed me into the gravel on my side of the road. On the way back, one of my two water bottles rattled out at a cattle guard and spilled onto the road. One water bottle wasn't enough as I made my way from Lakeshore with another head wind. As a result, when I started the run, I was already getting dehydrated. Good thing on the run there were eight aid stations and the shade to look forward to. The run did have some shade and there were eight aid stations. On most out and back legs of more than a mile, there's usually an aid station at the turn around where volunteers are making sure you run the whole leg. The problem was that a three mile stretch of the run headed through a festering swamp with very little shade. And no aid station. The pavement simply ended and a spray-painted u-turn sign on the pavement told you to turn around. With that, my dehydration was complete and I spent much of the rest of the day walking while trying to rehydrate. At some points, I'd get enough fluid in to start to well enough to run again, but those were short lived. It was a long day that may have cured me of the long course. I'll save that discussion for another post.