Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Run

This wasn't an organized event, it was just my friend Diana and I out to get in one last run for the year and enjoy the good weather.

Afterwards, I went home and was all ready for a lazy evening of watching TV, when Diana called and Mai called and told me due to some last minute juggling, we were going over to Mai and Charles' for New Years. :) It was a fun evening, we played some games, had the TV on in the background, and welcomed in 2008!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dallas World Aquarium

My parents and I visited the Dallas World Aquarium today, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The aquarium packs a lot of animals and exhibits into the space they have. What I liked was the layout - the walkway meandered from the top to the bottom, which generally gave you two or three vantage points for most of the displays.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
View from the top at the Dallas Aquarium.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

I live in Florida and have only seen this many flamingoes at parks. ;)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Work Bike Club

It was another gorgeous day and we had higher than usual attendance for today's Lake Sylvan ride. Only two people were missing, Jessica and Andy, and they aren't regular attendees like the rest of us.

Lake Sylvan
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
View from a dock inside the park

Work Bike Club
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Hector, Asa, Terri-Lynn, Bill, Tomasz, me, Marilyn, Francis, Eugene

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Nintendo Wii

My friends Mai and Charles had a small party at their house, a small well-kept home with a large side/back yard. It is always interesting for me to see how other people decorate their homes, since mine is so plain. Their home is very colorful, with nearly every nook and cranny displaying pictures, art, or souvenirs from various trips. Diana and Travis also attended, along with two other teachers (Diana, Mai, and Charles all teach at the same middle school) - so we were a very learned group indeed!

The big hit of the evening was the Nintendo Wii that Charles recently bought. We took turns playing tennis, golf, bowling, a weird cow racing game, a target shooting game, a bubble bursting game, Super Mario Galaxy, and it was all a total blast. There is something really fun about mimicking the motions of a sport (i.e. the arm swing of throwing a golf club or swinging a tennis racket) for a video game. I'm not sure it would be that much fun playing the computer, since half of the fun was watching the others, but the control mechanism is definitely innovative.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Japanese Guests

It was a busy couple of days, because the running club's Japanese guests were in town for the OUC Half Marathon. They arrived Wednesday, and we had dinner at Anthony's Pizza near Lake Eola. They looked very tired from the trip, which was understandable since they arrived just hours before. Two families brought their kids, who were nearly asleep by the end of the meal.

I'm not sure what they all did on Thursday, but on Friday I took the day off work to spend some time with them and help out. The day started early in the morning, when the Japanese runners and a few of us from the Orlando Club met up for an easy run around downtown. After that, the group vote was to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom (I suspect the kids had a major say!) so we carpooled over to the park.

It was overcast so many of the animals were out and visible - really good timing for a trip. Most of us rode Mt. Everest, a roller coaster that was under construction the last time I visited. This was a great coaster, with a few surprises along the ride! After that the club had our carb loading dinner at Buca Di Beppo's.

The OUC Half Marathon was Saturday morning, and I was happy with how I did. The visitors were scheduled for more sight-seeing in the afternoon so I had the time to myself, to zip home and run a few errands. That evening was the running club's Christmas party, where we had dinner, gift exchanges, musical entertainment, and so on.

On Sunday, the group wanted to visit Islands of Adventure, so I got to use my season pass. One of the Japanese, Hiroki Zaizen, arrived a bit early so we got to talking. I hadn't really spoken with him before because on Friday he went off on his own to Kennedy Space Center instead of Animal Kingdom. Well Hiroki showed up with an Ironman bag (those small black ones with the ropes, the ones they put your finishing goodies in) so we got to talking about triathlon. I showed him my CDA keychain and he wanted to hear all about the race... which was funny since this guy was the IM expert! It turns out he has done most of the Asia/Pacific ones (IM Japan, IM Korea, IM Malaysia, IM Austrialia) and qualified for Hawaii several times! I looked up his latest Hawaii result from 2006 and he finished 449th overall at 10:10:48. Absolutely mind-boggling!! He said his goal is to go 9:30 (!).

It was fascinating talking to him about the international scene, from how tricky it is to handle travel arrangements to the challenge of getting into an event. As annoying as it is having to sign up a year in advance, within one hour from when registration goes live before the event fills - all that applies to international triathletes as well. He said he tried and failed to get into several US Ironmans just because they fill so quick, including IM Florida 2008. I told him if he gets into IMFL 2009, he can come out early and stay with me. :)

We had a good time at Universal Studios as well, especially on the water rides.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


My friends Stephanie and Jason invited me over for an early Thanksgiving dinner, which was a feast. Chicken, sweet potatoes, corn, stuffing... all the good stuff. :)

Afterwards we watched Babel, which was a weird movie I can't really recommend. The plot followed different groups that were somehow connected to a couple on vacation in Morocco (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett).

The movie starts off with two boys getting a rifle. They are shepherds and use the weapon to scare off predators, except in shooting wildly off a hill, they hit a tour bus and one passenger - Cate Blanchett. That delays their return, so their nanny takes their kids into Mexico to attend her son's wedding. Finally, the story also follows a Japanese girl whose father was the original owner of the rifle. He went on a hunting trip in the previous year and gave the rifle to his guide, who then sold it to the father of the shepherds.

None of us really liked the movie, we all thought it was a little weird. On the other hand, it looked really good. My friends have quite the home theater: 60" HDTV, and we watched the HD-DVD version of the movie, in 1080p!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pressure Washer

A few months ago I bought a small pressure washer, 1300 PSI, and have used it for odd jobs around the exterior of my house. Today I decided to tackle a bigger job: washing away algae from my walkway, driveway, and sidewalk, that tint the concrete dark.

It was... very very slow. I think a 1300 PSI unit isn't quite up to that task, because I spent nearly two hours washing half of the driveway. Ugh! It was a very slow process because to wash anything off I had to use a pinpoint stream, and that meant a huge amount of repetitive back-and-forth. But what little I did clearly shows improvement.

The pressure washer is great for other things. My next project, to be tackled over a weekend or two, is to wash the patio and pool area. I've been lazy and haven't done anything in the two years I've been in my house. As a result, the deck and screen support beams have some algae and dirt accumulation. It isn't too bad but I know it'll look better when it is gleaming white and clean again.

I think I'll just punt the front area and hire a company to do it. One estimated the fee would be around $65, and for that I'll definitely just have someone else do it!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Running Club and Trivia Night

I met with some others in the Orlando Running Club, for the Winter Park short loop. Turnout was huge, by club standards: 15 people!

After the run we had dinner at O-Boys, a local barbecue place, that also runs a Trivia night. We had enough for several teams, so my end of the table formed up a team. We did pretty well, but finished in 4th place and out of the prizes (top prizes were basically $25, $15, or $10 towards drinks). Out of 80 points, my team scored 68, and third place came in at 71. So close!

The trivia contest was three rounds: 10 questions each, worth 1 point in round one, 2 points in round two, and 5 points in round 5. We missed 2 round 1 questions and 2 round 3 questions... due to the scoring differential, had we gotten either one of the 2 round 3 questions we missed, we would have placed.

The two we missed were:

1) Who played Doc Ock in Spiderman 2?
2) What is the common word for the term "sternutation"?

We thought for a while but just came up empty for #1. The answer is... Alfred Molina. Same thing with #2... we guessed hiccup but the correct answer is sneeze.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Japanese Class

A found out my coworker Matt took Japanese classes, by accident. We were having lunch and he made a remark in Japanese, which I answered, to his surprise. It turns out that Seminole Community College has a weekly course, and it is held at the Heathrow campus which is across the street from work! Now that's convenient. Matt and his wife are visiting Japan next April, so they are in the class doing a little preparation. Meanwhile I am traveling even sooner, so I figured what the heck, I'll take it as well.

I missed the first quarter, six weeks long, but he was sure I wouldn't have any problem starting out in the second quarter. The class is one of those adult education style classes, not a real language class for a degree program, so it doesn't cover as much material. I found out they were using the same textbook I had from classes back in Houston, Japanese for Busy People, so I looked around online and bought the latest version, the 3rd edition.

The second quarter started tonight, and lasts until mid December. Class meets once a week, on Thursdays, for 2.5 hours. Overall, it is a lot of review for me - I've already covered the entire textbook... but years ago so I am a little rusty! The class did the first 6 chapters in the first quarter, which means I am set because I do remember that pretty well. Class is also small, about 8 students total, and the teacher is a native speaker, so it looks like it will be a good one.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Party

A few weeks ago Diana called up and said she had this great idea - a Halloween party. However, the condo she and Travis had wouldn't fit many people, while my house was bigger... thus, I was talked into hosting the event. Diana didn't abandon me though - she offered to decorate and eventually drafted a few others into assisting. My task was to clean up beforehand, and buy some food and drinks. And get a costume.

For whatever reason, I've always thought Halloween was a strange/goofy/bizarre event, mostly because of macabre themes and costumes that are otherwise avoided the rest of the year. As a result I never really did much of anything on Halloween, other than buy candy in case a few trick-or-treaters stopped by.



It wound up kinda fun, and not too much work - but again Diana and some other did a lot of the work. After searching for a while, I decided to get a Guy Fawkes costume - basically the guy from V for Vendetta, except I didn't wear the mask around all the time.



Diana said the key was having a lot of drinks available, so I bought beer, wine, rum, etc. It was fun and I'm glad I let Diana twist my arm into having it. Although I'm not sure about next year. ;)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wedding Reception

The Apisukh's invited me to a wedding reception at their restaurant, Thai Delight, for their daughter Lanna's recent marriage. Of course I attended - it would be fun to meet the happy couple, and then there was the food which I couldn't miss under any circumstances.

Lanna spent years as a gymnast, and the restaurant has pictures and newspaper articles up covering her career. For the reception, Vic played some videos of her at practices and competitions, and it was interesting to watch. I talked to her a little bit and she said she can remember all that, and has the muscle memory for it, but she added there is no way she could do any of those moves anymore without injury! I can believe it, since I know gymnasts have to work out like 4+ hours a day. What was funny was when she said she had a "bad back", and gave the example of "a few weeks ago I couldn't walk very far on my hands". Oh yeah, well I'd topple right over and crash in 2 seconds!

Lanna went off to the University of Washington (hm... sounds familiar... I think I've been there) and competed as a Husky. Out of curiosity I looked her up and they have an athlete profile still up: Lanna Apisukh.

Anyway, the reception was great and I got to meet a bunch of the other regular customers. Lots of pics are here. My favorite of me is one where I'm busy filling my plate with food. I joked with Chitlada I did my club bike ride that morning, 57 miles, and didn't eat anything just so I'd be all ready for her food. :)

I thought for a while about what gift to get them, before deciding on a gift certificate from Williams-Sonoma. I know that chain is in Seattle, where the happy couple resides, so I zipped into their Winter Park store to pick it up.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Swim Relay

This morning I did the swim leg of the Florida Challenge, a local half ironman. A few weeks ago, some people my friend Jennifer knows formed two relay teams and needed to fill in some spots. She asked if I were interested and I agreed - after making it clear that I wasn't a fast swimmer. I can do the distance, just slowly! Earlier this week I met Chantal, the cyclist on my relay team, for coffee, just to say hi and not meet for the first time in the transition zone. We chatted a while and figure out that the core of the teams were a swimmer and two runners (a married couple and their friend), and that the other swimmer (me) and other cyclists (Chantal and Jennifer originally, but she had to back out) were friends of friends. So that's kinda cool, three people wanted to do two relay events and went to find more to make two teams.

Anyway, I picked up Chantal since she lives near me on the way to the event, and carpooling would make parking a lot easier. The morning of the event it rained... heavy. The rain was appreciated since it lowered the lake temperature to 77 degrees and into the wetsuit legal area! Naturally, I took advantage and brought my sleeveless wetsuit along. It was drizzling at the start, but I was mostly warm standing on the beach in my wetsuit. Chantal waited with me and eventually I left to stage for my wave.

It was a tough swim, since the winds and light drizzle made for choppy water and a tough swim out. I finished up about 52 mins, and handed off the timing chip to Chantal and saw her off. And then... I started to relax. I've often thought that it would be fun to just do one leg of a tri, and here I was, all finished at 9 am. I packed up my stuff and dropped it off at my car, grabbed my folding chair and came back to nap and wait.

By this time the rain stopped and it was partly cloudy - excellent conditions rather than the heat and blazing sun. Chantal rode back into transition about 1 pm, for a 3:50 or so bike leg, and we gathered her stuff up. After packing up my car more, we thought it would be nice to wait for Bob, our runner, to finish up. So we waited, but he hadn't finished by 3:30 pm (about 2:30 into his run), and Chantal had to get home, so we left. Later I checked the results and saw the Bob finished up about an hour after we left, with a ~3:25 run.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bionic Woman

I'm a sucker for a certain genre of show, the sci-fi secret agency vs. the bad guys show. Such as Dark Angel, or Alias, or even La Femme Nikita. Naturally it doesn't hurt if the female lead is attractive. ;) Those shows are gone, and new for this season is Bionic Woman, a modern version of the 70's show that I barely remember.

So far we've had the usual startup episodes, to provide background info and hint about the future. It is pretty generic - Jamie Summers works for some secret agency that... doesn't do a whole lot actually (so far). But there are bad guys out there trying to steal bionic technology, some backstory with her fiance, who also worked for this agency as a surgeon until his untimely death, and had kept secret files on her for years before they even met, a rogue previous bionic woman (Sara Corvus, played by Katee Sackhoff), and some god-awful awkward and annoying relationship with her younger sister.

The show is OK so far, but something isn't quite there for me. I thought the setting was better in Dark Angel, and the pace of revealing information about Max's past and the genetic experiments was better. Plus there was more action. In Alias, the backstory (at least through 2 seasons) was pretty good - Sidney Bristow was a double agent and trying to deceive her employer while informing on them, plus battling a mysterious other agency.

Bionic Woman is all over the map with a bunch of partially developed plot threads. I think if they cut back on the relationship with her sister it would be better. The other thing that bugs me is the obligatory "but this isn't what I chose" moments as Jamie fusses about working for them - only wanting to do it "on her terms" and so forth. I have a feeling since they spend so much time on how she's juggling her secret job with taking care of her sibling, her sister is doomed to be kidnapped or held hostage. Which would lead to even more annoying time spent later in a rescue attempt, plus the ensuing fake righteous indignation from her sister concerning secret keeping and honesty and blah blah. As you can tell I think this is the show's weakness.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dawg Dashers

One luxury of events in the Seattle area is the late starting time: the Dawg Dash starts at 9:30 am! By then, back in Florida, it would be too hot most of the year.

This annual tradition has grown to include Waffle Fest, hosted by Francesca, featuring a waffle brunch and lots of toppings. And hanging out with friends afterwards. This year's festivities also included a "predicted run" competition, where everyone guesses their finish time. I guessed 52:00 and finished 51:02, good enough for 2nd place. Of the various door prizes, I chose a Huskies bracelet. :)

I was a little slower this year compared to last year, even though the courses were very similar. I chalk that up to running less compared to this time last year, and the fact the fall is the start of the running season in FL.

Dawg Dashers
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Rod, me, Krisanne, Jen, Francesca, Eric

There was apparently enough UV to tint my transition lenses - proof that it is sunny in Seattle. Or at least the city is bathed in radiation. The funny thing is that with the transition lenses, I don't notice any color change when they tint, as opposed to the drastic difference when switching to a real pair of sunglasses.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Red Mill Burgers Ride

One difference between Florida and Washington is how early you leave to exercise. This morning, Francesca, Rod, Sandy, and I were able to wait until 10 a.m. before going on bike ride! Part of the reason was waiting for the day to warm up... into the low 50's (!) and let some of the fog burn off.

Sandy decided to torture me with a hilly urban ride through the University District, Capitol Hill, Freemont, Phinney Ridge, and Ravenna. I'd like to point out the highest point in the entire state of Florida is Britton Hill in the panhandle, towering 345 feet above sea level, so keep that in mind if you examine the elevation chart. The ride was very enjoyable and midway through the fog burned off revealing a sunny 60 degree day.

At the top of Greenwood, we stopped at Red Mill Burgers, serving up great cycling food: delicious burgers, french fries, and shakes.

Red Mill Burgers Ride
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Sandy, Francesca, and me (Rod took the picture).

Thursday, October 11, 2007


For my birthday, two friends from work took me to dinner at a fancy restaurant in our area: Bonefish. Yesterday, Paul (friend and coworker) took me to lunch so I got a few meals out of aging up. ;)

Anyway, I could tell that Stephanie and Jason were frequent eaters at Bonefish. The hostess, several of the wait staff, and the manager all greeted them. When we gave our orders, the question to them was "the usual or something else?" Too funny! My friends apparently typically have the steak, despite being at a restaurant that favors seafood. I ordered blackened grouper with vegetable, and it was great.

However, the signature item was the "sorbet sampler":

Sorbet Sampler
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
A very tasty desert.

I forget the exact details, but even before it arrived, Stephanie predicted the five types of sorbet and also the fact that "coconut is out of season so you'll get an extra lemon sorbet as a substitute". I think she's had the sorbet a few times!

Sunday, October 07, 2007


I haven't ridden in a complete downpour since I moved from Seattle (hey, it rains everywhere, not poking fun at northwest weather!) but that changed this afternoon. The forecast called for light rain and after waiting until it looked clear, I dusted off the Trek 1000/PowerCrank bike and decided to go on an easy ride through Mandarin Club Estates, a neighborhood with a few minor hills.

I noticed the sky darkening as I rode out, and when I reached my turnaround point, a light drizzle fell. The rain increased until it became an absolute downpour, and I was drenched from head to toe. The neighborhood is low traffic, and the rest of my route was all on a bike trail so I just slowed down and enjoyed it. It was warm and the rain felt pretty good!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

MS 150

I signed up to ride in the MS 150 with four friends from the Seminole Cyclist bike club. Jennifer wasn't able to make it, so the rest of us met up at the horribly early hour of 4 am to drive up to St. Augustine where the event started. After parking and going through registration formalities, we were set to start with the 2000 or so others also doing the event!

We opted to skip the first rest stop, to get in front of the bulk of the crowd. From there, David and Bob did most the pulling, while I settled in the drafted relentlessly. David and Bob were taking turns in front and didn't seem to mind, and I didn't feel strong enough to take a substantial turn pulling, so it all worked out. We made great time, averaging just under 19 mph for 81 miles. It was scenic and windy, but at least the wind was mostly from the side.

But I was tired. After grabbing my bag and checking into the hotel, I took a nap. Greg called and we went to have lunch, and after that I took another nap. I had been doing some consistent biking, but not enough to casually shrug off an 81 mile effort. I thought of how grueling a long stage race like the Tour de France must be.

After taking it easy, we met with David's and Bob's wives, and had a huge meal at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a restaurant styled after the movie Forrest Gump. The winds picked up and we joked about how tough a day it would be tomorrow. This didn't faze David, who was more interested in the football game his alma mater, the University of Florida, was playing.

I got up the next morning about 5:30, to pack and be ready for the start. Greg called up and said I should check the weather, so I turned on the TV and found that the day's forecast included 20-25 mph winds from the north, with gusts up to 40 mph. The return trip would be north, straight into this. I thought of how brutal it would be, when Greg mentioned a plan B: he would call his cousin to drive him back to St. Augustine. And by the way, would I be interested?

It didn't take me long to think it over and leap and this chance. Greg and I reasoned this was a great charity event, we had already turned in our money, and David and Bob wouldn't really miss us since we would lag behind anyway. After all this rationalization, we felt better about skipping the return trip.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Disney Olympic Tri

I had a pretty good race at the Disney Olympic tri - 3:47:21. Yes, nearly four hours for an olympic... that's partly because the bike leg was 58K instead of 40K. I finished 66th out of 141 in my age group, which for me is a great result - above median!

I drove down yesterday with Diana. We checked in, picked up our packets, racked our bikes, and then went to meet up with the tri group for dinner. Diana split a cabin in the Fort Wilderness campgrounds with some others, while I opted for the luxury of my own room at Fort Wilderness Lodge. I thought I would see how it is staying on Disney property the night before, rather than have to drive down at 4:00 am to get there in time. Overall impression: while the room was nice, it isn't worth $180 to not drive down again. It is pricey, and for that the check-out time is still 11 am, so if you are in the event and not staying another day, you can't even get a shower afterwards! Bah.

My swim went as usual, 40:36 for the 106th in my age group. Someday I'm gonna really try to improve my swim.

The bike leg was an extra 18K as I mentioned, and it went pretty well. I did 1:56:58 over the distance, 85th in my age group. For me that was a good result, since I averaged 18.8 mph.

The run was OK, hot and humid, exactly what to expect in Florida. My Garmin apparently had major problems getting a good GPS signal, since the route it captured is literally all over the place. Despite the map, I assure you the run didn't take us back into the middle of the lake. My run time was 1:01:21, decent in the conditions. What I'm really happy about is that fairly slow run time was 29th in my age group. So no matter how crappy I felt on the run, more than a 100 of my immediate competitors felt and did even worse. :)

The tri season is winding down, my next event will be a relay, where I am doing the swim. A friend of a friend put together a team for the Florida Challenge, a half ironman in a few weeks. Their swimmer backed out so they were looking for another, just so they could participate. I find it funny that as slow a swimmer as I am, there is a team that was happy to have me join them for the swim leg!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fantasy Football

My friend Paul started up a Fantasy Football league and a few of us at worked joined up. I used to be a huge football fan, watching entire games and poring over stats. That was back in high school when I must have had a lot of free time. ;) These days I watch part of a game at the most, and generally don't do much other that read results and follow in the paper. Usually I get more interested during the playoffs.

So I thought this would be fun - I've heard of these leagues but never took part. My first dilemma was coming up with a team name. Since I live in Lake Mary I went with an animal that has both an L and M in the name: the LLAMAs.

A few days ago the league auto-drafted for us, and this weekend we had our first matches. I have an assortment of players, most of which I've never heard of, and my team defense is Miami's (starting) or Green Bay's (benched).

I did pretty well this week, by not touching what the autodraft gave me. I'll probably jigger around my team in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bike Crash in Miami

This story made the rounds here: 11 Bikes Crash with SUV. Basically, an SUV made a left turn and cut off a group of riders, and they piled into the side of the vehicle. Yikes!

That ride is apparently a speed training loop through a residential neighborhood - the article did mention the cyclists were traveling around 30 mph, and I can tell you that is pretty fast.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Leak Fix

The AC guy showed up and confirmed that it was indeed a drainage issue. He fixed it in a lot less time than I thought it would take - 30 minutes, maybe 45 minutes total! I didn't pay close attention but he just needed a hose and bucket, and what I assume was a pump he brought along since I heard a mechanical whirring in the background.

However the carpet still needs to be addressed. It is stained and discolored along the edge. Right now I have all the furniture stacked up in one corner of the dining room, and will probably leave it there while I decide what to do about carpet replacement.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mysterious Leak

I got home from work Wednesday, dropped off some papers on my dining room table. The carpet was wet, which was a surprise. I soaked it up, looked all over trying to figure out where the water came from, but found nothing.

The same thing happened Thursday. I recently did laundry so I thought perhaps the washing machine was leaking. But after a search, nothing obvious in the utility room. The carpet was wet all along the border with the tile.

Friday morning the carpet was wet again, so I called a plumber. He came over and quickly diagnosed the problem as an A/C drainage issue, so the normal drainage leaked out from the return vent to the dining room. It seems there is a clog and the unit needs to be cleared. So that'll happen Monday. In the meantime, I guess I'll run the A/C less, but in the middle of August in Florida, not running it isn't really an option.

If the carpet is too messed up and needs to be replaced, I plan to tile or hardwood floor the dining room. I don't really like carpeted dining rooms anyway - every piece of dropped food would stain it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Moss Park Tri

My friend Diana signed up for this event, and I thought it would be fun so I did too. The original plan for her was to compete against her brother, head to head (or as well as possible given wave starts) in the same event in order to settle a family bet about the strength/abilities of male and female athletes, or in reality who between Diana and Gary (her brother) would retain family bragging rights. I decided to do the event rather than just come spectate!

Gary flew in Thursday, and in a surprising move, flew back home Friday to attend to some situation with his girlfriend. Yes... the long awaited battle didn't occur! I'm not sure what happened, and neither is Diana, but I advanced the theory that he was afraid of the competition and created some excuse to back out. She laughed for a bit and mostly agreed.

Overall this was a very well run small event. The swim was kinda muddy, but the bike and run were great. The bike course was a loop through the adjacent neighborhoods, and traffic was so low it felt like they closed the streets for us. I think I saw two or three cars out there. The run was on the trail in the park, which was 80% shady!!

I had a good event except for one issue: a flat tire. ARGH! While I was changing it, I thought of how fortunate I've been overall in events, since this was my first mechanical problem during one. The next closest would be dropping my chain but that's just nothing besides an annoyance.

Once fixed, I finished up and chatted with Diana. I was pretty happy with my results overall:

Moss Park Sprint results

The distances for this sprint were 750 m swim, 12 mi bike, 2.75 mi run. I finished 16th in my division, with a 15:41 swim, 47:13 bike (grrrr), and a 22:26 run. Overall time was 1:31:36.

Thanks to my bike computer, I could tell it took me approximately 11 minutes to change the flat, because my ride time was about 36 minutes. So subtracting that out for my "virtual" finish time, and I get about 1:20, good enough for 8th or 9th in my division! Of course that isn't official but it is what I should have done had I not flatted.

I looked through the photographer site and found a pic of me
during the run. It is currently rotated incorrectly or I'd link the image.

Diana had a great race also, crushing her division to finish 1st in 1:12! After studying the results she said I slacked because I'm a faster biker and runner than her, yet I ran slower (and of course bike time was messed up by my flat). :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Running Club Banquet

Tonight was the Orlando Runners Club annual banquet, where we also raffle off some prizes, award a few scholarships to high school students, and conduct the club's other awards.

Some exciting news for me is I'm one of the four members chosen to participate in the Urayasu half-marathon, an exchange program we have with a sister club in Japan. Time to brush up on my Japanese and train for an early February half-marathon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Shopping Redux

As I mentioned a few months ago, I went clothes shopping with my friend Diana. Today we finally got around to the second part, which was to pick up a few more items.

We went to the Lake Mary Target, because Diana wanted to show that decent clothes didn't need to come from fancy expensive stores. We picked out a few fitted T-shirts, two long sleeve striped shirts, and some jeans. Again, we covered the "theory of the blue jean", which is according to Diana:

  • light or faded color is trendy and thus BAD for me in general
  • shiny look is also BAD
  • no carpenter jeans - stressed many times

Thus, the "good" jeans are dark blue and for lack of a better descriptive word, dull, as in not shiny.

We also picked up some fairly plain looking thongs, to replace the various sandals I have. I gather the sandals have too many straps or whatever, because the ones she approved were brown with just a simple foot strap. To my surprise they are quite comfortable to wear.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Best Place

An email making the rounds here to an article listing the Best Place to Live, as ranked by CNNMoney. Number 4 on the list is... Lake Mary, FL! Well that is great news, and I am pleased with my fortune-telling and crystal ball skills when I moved here two years ago. The rankings are specific, of "smaller places, between 7,500 and 50,000 in population, that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community."

The cons are: Florida summers and Florida hurricanes. Well, that is... entirely accurate. But this climate isn't foreign to me - I lived in Houston for 10 years and it was a similar climate. Actually, I imagine any place with this latitude north or south of the equator is like this, and that is a lot of the world's population. At least here in the US there is air-conditioning on demand all over.

The lady mentioned in the article has a shorter commute that I do - 4 minutes versus my 10 minutes!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Artistic Gators

We decided to change things around for this morning's club bike ride. Instead of having the B group head out with the A group, we decided to ride the route in reverse. The problem was the tendency for the B's to try to keep up with the A's, and mostly succeeding, until a bit past Gemini Springs where the A's would ramp it up. Some B's would still try to hang on but ultimately get dropped, nearly exhausted. So the suggestion was made to go the other way and keep our pace relatively sane.

This worked out really well and we did a few extra miles, for a total of 43.

Back at the Colonial Town Park, some kind of art show was going on: ceramic gators are all over the place. I remember something similar in Seattle, but that was of ceramic pigs. Actually I think the pigs appeared in Orlando also. I'm not sure what they are there for - I think it is a fundraiser of some kind - but they do look kinda cool.

Artistic Gators
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Ceremic gators at a shopping plaza.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


A few weeks ago, I noticed a spider web hanging under my mailbox. It was big and almost looked like one of those string props from Halloween. But it wasn't, and I grabbed some rolled up newspaper and brushed it off.

A few days went by, and it was back, glistening in the morning dew. Once again, I just brushed it away. I didn't see a spider around, but one was obviously there.

Then I was out of town for a bit, and when I came back, it looked like a few web strands were there, but not a complete web. Sort of like one was there but the wind blew it away.

Today I noticed the web back, but it was up near the lid. So I opened up the mailbox slowly, and found that spider had spun a web inside the mailbox! I looked closer and saw what looked like an hourglass mark on the abdomen:

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Yes... I am positive my arachnid guest was in fact a black widow spider. I can't have a black widow living inside my mailbox! I don't want to get bitten picking up my mail!

I tried fishing it out, but she was very nimble on the web, and retreated to the end of the mailbox. After spending a few minutes deciding what to do, I went in and got my bug spray. I felt bad but I don't want to mess with a black widow or brown recluse - those just have to go.

So I doused my mailbox with the spray: top, bottom, inside, on the pole, in various holes in mounting brackets, etc.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007


I had a day layover in Lisbon on the way home, so I made the most of it by walking around from my hotel, near the Marquês de Pombal monument, to Baixa, the historic downtown.

Marquês de Pombal
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
This street had really wide sidewalks with some intricate inlaid tile patterns.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Fountain at Rossio
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Praça do Comércio
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

After sitting for a bit in Praça do Comércio, I decided to walk over to São Jorge Castelo (St. George Castle), up on a hill. But, I got totally lost in the Alfalma district of Lisbon, which was a maze of narrow sidewalks with constant stairs and turns. I kept going up since the Castle was somewhere above me, but buildings blocked the view. Eventually I emerged and got my bearing, but I decided it was too late to go in the castle (the grounds were closing in 30 mins) so I headed back to the city center. Eventually I decided to just ride the subway back to the hotel since my feet were tired.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I spent a few days in Budapest, mostly walking around with city with Eric, Kelly, and Jennifer. At this point I've actually walked around Budapest a lot more than I've walked around Orlando, FL!

Tile Roof
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
The tile roof on this building caught my attention. This is a city market, where farmers come to sell fresh fruits, vegatables, and meat. The second floor is more touristy stuff - souvenirs and so forth.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
We passed this large synagogue on our walking tour. I think it is the largest one in Europe.

Freedom Monument
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Built by the Soviets to commerate freedom from fascism of WWII. Of course, they didn't leave for another 35 years! Our guide told us the monument is locally referred to as "the bottle opener".

Danube River
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
The Danube River (Duna River locally) with the Hungarian Parliment in the distance.

City View
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
View from near Budapest Castle.

Hungarian Parliment
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
A few of us took a short tour inside the building, which consisted of the grand staircase entry (basically only used for heads of state), an atrium with some of St. Stephen's relics on display, and the Parliment chamber.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
This flag is at the 1956 Revolution Memorial. The seal in the middle reminded people of the Soviet conquest, so they chopped it out.

Heroe's Square
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
This monument celebrates Hungary's millenium. The base of the column are seven horse riders, for the original seven horse tribes that conquered the Carpathian basin. Angel Gabriel is at the top.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Prague to Budapest Bike Trip

The trip concluded with our arrival in Budapest, Hungary. Over the 8 days of biking we did a total of around 295 miles, averaging 36 or 37 per day at a 10-15 mph pace.

I of course mapped it out with my GPS. ;) Unfortunately I don't have mapping data from the first day, which I think is partially related to memory size on the GPS unit, plus the fact I hadn't disabled heart-rate data capture. Thus, day one's data was a lot larger than it needed to be and was overwritten.

Our route:

  1. Konopištĕ to Sedlec-Prčice

  2. Planá nad Lužnicí to Telč

  3. Telč

  4. Rozkoš to Hlohovec

  5. Malacky to Děvín

  6. Neudsiedl am See to Sopron

  7. Osli to Györ

  8. Györ to Panonhalma

First, the trip was relaxing. Our daily mileage was very reasonable and in many ways this trip was more of a vacation than other guided tours I've been on. For example, in India and China we had to be up at 6 am, be done with breakfast and on the bus by 7. Here, we could sleep in until 7:30, eat a leisurely breakfast and be ready to go at 9 am. Much, much nicer!

The daily mileage and pace requirements were easy. I tell non-bikers about 35 mile days at 15 mph and that sounds high to them. But let me assure you that those numbers are very easy to anybody in reasonable bike shape.

Our lunches were picnic style, so most days went like this: eat breakfast, short van transfer to a rural area, load out on bikes, ride for 2 or 3 hours to lunch, have a picnic lunch, ride another 2 or 3 hours to a van pickup, go have a beer while the guides loaded bikes, short van transfer to next city/hotel, check in, ~90 mins to rest and shower, eat dinner, then laze around. Perfect. :) On many days there was a site of interest to check out - usually a castle or monastery - so we would stop and wander around that for a bit.

Our guides were Martin, Martina, Klara, and Pavel. Martina unfortunately broke her ankle while loading bikes on the trailer, a freak accident from jumping down and landing partially on a curb and twisting/breaking it. She eventually had some screws put into her ankle in a hospital in Brno, so Pavel came along to drive the van while Martin took over riding with us. Martin is the owner of the tour company, and Klara is a medical doctor taking the summer off between some kind of program for the World Health Organization. Both of them were interesting as they were also mountain climbers and talked about Everest and K2 and other 8000 meter peaks like it was no big deal. They had some crazy stories about Karakoram, living in Pakistan while organizing expeditions, attempting K2, and being 300 meters from the summit of Everest but having to turn back due to weather. Wow! I told Martin someday I'd like to visit Everest base camp and he made some joke that it was easy, grandmas and cripples could "easily" get there. Riiiight. ;)

They also had some questions for us, about why we picked the tour. Everybody along basically said the same thing, which was basically the thought of traveling behind the Iron Curtain or to the Eastern Bloc was just unimaginable, back in the 80's. When the borders opened up in the 90's it still seemed so remote. So we were all curious about Eastern Europe. Martin was quick to correct us - Czech Republic was CENTRAL Europe... don't confuse us with those bumpkins out in Bulgaria and Romania for heaven's sake!! ;)

The trip entered four countries: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary. Granted, Slovakia and Austria were a few hours or overnight only. Each of these countries had different currency: korunas in Czech Republic, korunas in Slovakia, euros in Austria, and forints in Hungary. The Czech koruna is different than the Slovak koruna, but we weren't there long enough to really worry about it.

Coming soon: pics, more comments.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Our trip included a quick visit to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Bratislava Castle
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Czech Pics

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
A typical small village in the Czech Republic. Every one we rode through had a central Cathedral and town square.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
We spent our first night here in this scenic town.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Telč is a UNESCO World Heritage site - a small village built around a town square with a castle on the side.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
The castle in Lednice.

Castle Ruins
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
These ruins overlook the Danube river, in Devin.

Monday, June 11, 2007


I arrived in Prague after 22 hours of flights, taking me from Orlando to Newark to Lisbon, then Lisbon to Brussels to Prague. So I was beat when I arrived around 9 pm in Prague, and just about immediately fell asleep.

In the morning I had a few hours to wander around the city. My hotel was on Wenceslas Square, near Old Town Square where a famous landmark is, the Astronomical Clock.

Astronomical Clock
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Old Town Square
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

After walking around about 2 hours, I made my way back to the hotel to get ready to meet the group. I wish I had been able to spend a full day in Prague before the tour started since it is a scenic city with a few bridges and old buildings to see.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Quick Note

I did finally get my passport, a day late for my flight to Portugal. I picked it up on Saturday and with a bunch of phone calls and juggling, I was able to alter things to catch up to the bike trip which leaves Prague on Tuesday. So... I'm off to do it!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Passport Frustrations

I'm nearing my vacation but I'm missing on item: my passport! Despite sending it about about 3 months ago, I have yet to get it back.

I've been checking the status of my application via the page on the State Department's website, but all it has said is "processing" for the last few weeks. They don't want to talk to you unless you are leaving within 2 weeks.

When it did get less that 2 weeks for me, I started calling, but it is hard to get through to someone at the National Passport Center. I finally did after calling for 45 to 60 mins over a few days, and the rep looked up my info and only said that it is still being processed in New Hampshire, and that she could mark it "expedite" and try to get it to me next Monday. I am not optimistic this will happen.

If I had to do this over, I'd do a few things differently:

1) Send in the passport even earlier. Apparently 3 months isn't enough time for them to handle it.

2) Expedite it. I just sent mine in normal and I think that just means your application gets ignored versus ones applications that include the extra expedited fee.

3) Fudge your travel date. I think I made the colossal error of listing the date I need my passport as the date I actually need it. Big big error. I see now what you want to do is sent it in 6 months early and also say you need it a month earlier than you actually do.

4) If you live near a passport center, just make an appointment there, and again claim you need it within two weeks. It looks like even if you send it in early you might wind up being forced to do this anyway so just skip right to this step.

5) My biggest recommendation is never ever book a trip unless you have a passport in your hands, with an suitable distant expiration date. My passport is due to expire in late June 2007, and I thought back in February it wouldn't be a problem to book a trip in June and also get the passport renewed by then. Ha!

The rep said that if I didn't get the passport Monday, I could always go to a center, and wasn't I lucky that one was in my same state! Well yeah, except the center is in Miami and that is a 5 hour one-way drive... not exactly an afternoon trip.

It is just a disaster and part of what upsets me is that I didn't anticipate this enough to game/outwit the renewal system.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dog Walk

For Memorial Day I decided to take it easy, and go walk dogs with my friend Jennifer. We did 5.2 miles (yes... I wore my Garmin GPS to see how far) and it was a pretty good workout, because I spent most of the time restraining the dogs, who were eager to move a little bit faster, or cross the path and search the grass.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Mikey almost pulled me over when he spotted a squirrel crossing the path.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Libby didn't pull as much, but she veers all over the place, so it was tough getting her to walk straight.

Afterwards, we got smoothies and water for the dogs, and then found some bike club members who passed us towards the end. I didn't feel like biking today, since I wanted to sleep in a bit after Islands of Adventure, and this was fun and got me outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Islands of Adventure

A friend Tim had a visitor Bryanna in from Delaware, so I met up with them today. We went on a airboat ride, a very reliable fun activity everybody I've gone with enjoys. We saw a few gators including one sunning himself on the bank, even though it was overcast.

After that we went to Islands of Adventure, the Universal Studios traditional theme park - as opposed to the "movie ride" other park.

The big coaster there is "The Hulk", which is a great coaster. Midway up the initial incline, the coaster shoots forward into the first dip and subsequent rolls and loops.

After that we rode "Dr. Doom's Fear Fall", which basically launches you straight up, back down, and then bounce back to the ground. Pretty decent as well.

Then we tried out the water rides, Popeye's Barge, Ripsaw Falls, and Jurassic Park River Ride. And let me say, I've been on water rides in other parks that basically splash a bit. These rides utterly drenched us: head to toe soakage.

Then we tried on of the Dueling Dragons coasters: Ice. This one was fast, smooth, and had nearly nonstop horizontal rolls and vertical loops. Excellent ride!

By this time the park was closing, so we left to eat outside where the prices weren't so jacked up. I bought a season pass, since I'm sure to return at least once or twice before another year.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Diana and Travis' Wedding

My friends Diana and Travis were wed today, in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in naerby Winter Park. I met Diana last year in the Y's running group, and I've become friends with her and Travis, now her husband. She's an English teacher at a nearby middle school, and always has some crazy/unbelievable stories about her workday to tell me while we run.

Wedding Ceremony
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

It was a warm day to be outside in a suit, but we had a few clouds pass over, and the ceremony wasn't too long.

Happy Couple
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

The reception was in a hotel ballroom and we filled it up! They had lots of relatives and friends in town (e.g. count how many bridesmaids Diana had, hehe) for the weekend so it was fun meeting and talking to everyone.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Florida Half Ironman

Ok, the official name of this event is the "Ironman 70.3 Florida", but I can't get used to that.

My buildup for this event suffered towards the end, but I wanted to do the event anyway. Yesterday I drove out to pick up my packet, and rack my bike. In the transition zone I thought I saw Karen Smeyers, so I wandered over closer... and indeed it was her! She was really friendly and I took a picture with her. I joked that standing next to her is as close to an Ironman Hawaii championship as I was going to get. :)

I had a tough time at this one, starting about a third the way through the bike, where my back started to feel stiff. I slowed up and finished the bike, stretched a bit, and started the run. And my lower back stiffness didn't go away, I had to stop and stretch out quite frequently to prevent cramps. Ugh.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Wearing the spiffy jersey at the event.

Bike course

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Chugging along...

Run course

My overall time was a sluggish 7:28:03, from a 3:23 bike and a 2:56 "run" (which was really a walk due to my lower back).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Eye Check

I broke my glasses last night, snapping the frame in the middle. I had to dig out my old pair just so I could get around. I went into the optometrist and asked about getting new frames, and got talked into a new exam. This was fine since it had been 18 months since my last one.

The good news is my eyes are healthy and my prescription didn't change at all from the last time. In turn, that prescription was only slightly different from the time before (i.e. my old pair of glasses was fine to use for a while).

While I looked over new frames I decided to try more a more rectangular one. I've always had round lenses/frames and over time I've been picking smaller and smaller ones, so the lenses have shrunk. So in that trend the new pair will be about the same size or slightly smaller, but more rectangular.

I also decided to try Transition Lenses, the kind that darken in sunlight. Part of that was forced since the frames I chose don't have clips available - although I might be able to find something good enough from a drugstore. But, I seem to misplace the clips about once a week and wind up searching all over for them, so I decided to give the Transition Lenses a whirl.

On top of that, I also ordered a pair of prescription sunglasses. I've never had those either, but here in Florida I wind up wearing sunglasses quite a bit so I thought having a pair might be nice. Those lenses are rounder and larger, to better block the sun. They will also be polarized and all around be nicer than clip on sunglasses.

Another friend of mine is getting LASIK - Diana, my friend from the Y running club. She's cutting it close to her wedding on the 26th, by having the procedure on May 18th! I've lost track of how many people I know who have gotten this procedure done. It is very tempting but as of yet I have resisted. I suppose I am nervous about complications.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lake Mary Magazine

Something exciting for the bike club: the Seminole Cyclist club made the cover of a local magazine! There is also an article and some pics. In fact if you look at the slideshow, I'm in the lower right corner of picture #1. It was taken before our Diabetes Ride back in February.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fancy Cars After Bike Ride

It isn't often that I park my car and return to find it right next to a Lambourghini Diablo. Or Lotus Elise. Or in fact, surrounded by very high end or classic cars. But that's what happenend this morning, after the Seminole Cylist's Lake Monroe ride!

I haven't been biking as much lately, since I've had several running events stack up and I've been making an effort to swim two or three times a week. So I was concerned I would be dropped like a rock during the ride, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I can still hang with the B group. It was a great morning, sunny and a bit cool (relatively speaking of course) and I felt good throughout.

Back at the Colonial Town Park, I noticed a crowd near my car. It seems that local auto enthusiasts hold an informal car show every month. It was pretty cool to see the cars, ranging from modern sports cars to classics, about 15 in total.

Lambourghini Diablo
Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

Lotus Elise
Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

Lotus Esprit
Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

I could kick myself for not taking pics of all the rest of the cars. There was also a 60's Ferrari, an Aston Martin, a Dodge Viper, a few Porsche's, high end BMW's, etc.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dragon Roll

My boss took us out to lunch today, and we went to Amura, a nearby Japanese restaurant. I had the "fiery chicken" bento box, which was good but not really that spicy, in my opinion. Two other coworkers split a "dragon roll":

Dragon Roll
Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

The presentation was pretty cool. So I took a pic with my Blackberry. Yes... I originally resisted the idea of a camera on my cell phone, but it is turning out to be handy at capturing miscellaneous shots like this!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Vacation Flights

I finally nailed down flights for my upcoming trip in June:

  • Orlando - Lisbon, June 7
  • Lisbon - Prague, June 11
  • Budapest - Lisbon, June 22
  • Lisbon - Orlando, June 23

I've been eyeing a bike tour for a few years now, and decided that if I didn't just book it and go, it would never happen. The two most interesting ones to me were Prague to Budapest and Treasures of China, and since I recently visited China I leaned towards the European one.

The planning became slightly more complicated since a friend from the Seattle area is getting married in Portugal on June 9th. I looked at the calendar and figured, why not try to do both!

So I'll fly in to Portugal and then make my way to Évora where I'll stay at the Convento do Espinheiro, which looks to be a super fancy hotel, and attend the wedding. Then I'll fly out to Prague in time for the bike trip, from June 12 to June 20. I'll have an extra day in Budapest before returning to Lisbon and then back to Orlando.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

IOA Corporate 5K

My company participates in the IOA Corporate 5K, which is a huge event with hundreds of companies and nearly 7000 participants. Last year due to a screw up, I didn't wind up running on my company's team, and neither did a few others. This time we got on the right mailing list and didn't have that problem.

Companies can enter men's team, women's team, mixed teams, and also have walkers, so the idea is to show up, hang out at a tent, and enjoy the beer afterwards. ;) Each company gets to have 5 "seeded" runners, people who are expected to finish in the top 10% or 20% overall, with a different colored bib number which lets them line up at the front. I didn't have a seeded number, since the team coordinator was going to finalize that at the event depending on who showed up, but a friend who often works at running events - I think she works part time at Track Shack, a local shoe store also involved in producing many events - saw me beforehand and gave me a seeded number, which was orange instead of blue, and let me line up ahead of about 6800 other people. Cool!

Anyway, I haven't been doing much speed work but I have been biking and running regularly so I felt like I could do between 22 and 23 minutes. I finished at 22:11 which I was extremely pleased with. I even took mile splits and they were reasonably consistent - I ran the first mile ~10 seconds faster just to help separate from the crowd.

Our men's team came in 3rd in our division, and 7th since we had enough people to enter two teams. The women's team came in 1st in their division, and the mixed team came in 3rd. Overall we did really well as a company!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sunrise to Sunset Relay finish

As we were nearing the switch to the other half of the 12 person team, the 6 person team called up and said they were withdrawing. They caught up to one of our runners, Michele, and shadowed her until they came to us. We rolled down our windows and Amy S on the 6 person team said everybody was pretty much wiped out.

We all understood of course, we were a bit ragged from only running 3 legs each; the 6 person team had twice as much and along with that, less rest since they were out on the road approximately every 4 hours. Each of their runners did 4 legs, while Amy S and Cathy did 5. It may not sound like there was much left (4 runners with 2 legs to go, and 2 runners with 1), but after almost 24 hours into the event, ~4 or ~8 more miles is a really long way!

We wished them the best and they drove off to Fort Meyers to find the finish line, hotel, and get some rest. After transfering the race baton to the other van, we followed suit.

The finish line was at the Edison-Ford estate in Fort Meyers. We ate and drank and waited for the other part of our team... which just showed up as they were closing down the festivities.

Results are up, and we came in 1st in our division! Of course, we were also the only team in our division, so we knew going in all we had to do is finish. :) Florida Landsharks 1 - 29:08.40. Whew.

Sunrise to Sunset Relay Leg 3

In the morning, we drove to meet up with the other van. They found a nice park to spend the night at, with covered picnic tables, so they stretched out and took long naps. Those lucky bums! I can't complain much because I fell into a deep sleep after my night leg(s) and got up in time to cheer Dave as he came in and transfered to Art.

My half of the team ate breakfast and then drove to a park near where we would take over again. I waited around and saw Amy T coming over a small bridge and took over and started Leg 26. It was already approaching 90 degrees and I tried holding a 9 minute mile, but had to slow a bit due to the heat and due to a bit of sleepiness. ;)

As I approached the next exchange point, I picked it up as much as I could and transfered to Christine. I felt elated that I was now done with my running legs and could sit back and just cheer!

Sunrise to Sunset Relay Leg 2

My second leg of the race started around 2:15 in the morning. After only getting about 45 minutes of napping in, I was tired, but after moving around I became more alert. But, not alert enough to start my Garmin in time for it to get a satellite fix... so no mapping data, only time.

Legs 10-18 of the event were along the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (i.e. LOST, what a great acronym). It was a clear, dark, cool night and I quickly found a great pace for what I thought would be a 6 mile run - an 8 minute mile. I ran along just listening to the night, and the assortment of chirping and clicking that a zillion nocturnal animals and bugs made. It was a little spooky at times, but I had my headlamp which was really good illumination.

So I was shocked to arrive at the next transfer point in only 16 minutes!

I got my phone out (after the hit-run we decided everybody would run with a cellphone) and called the next runner, Christine. She was shocked to hear from me so soon, as was everyone else in the van. Below the trail in a parking lot, I could a few people coming out and walking up to meet me.

Christine mentioned a few times she didn't really want to run alone in the middle of the night, so I offered to run with her. Her leg was supposed to be about 5 miles so I figured if that were still accurate ;) I could do a total of 7, no big deal.

So we set off and she played some music on her cell phone, which had a speaker loud enough for both of us to hear. I'm a little faster than Christine so it wasn't hard to let her set the pace and keep up. She mentioned that my headlamp was a real lifesaver because the flashlight she brought to run with wasn't very bright at all.

Our run was uneventful except for us getting passed by another team midway through - a runner and a trailing cyclist. I think for next year having a cyclist along would really help - other than my start leg when the teams we started with hadn't spread out, this were the only people I saw on the road with me during the whole event. I saw other teams running, other vans, and my own team, but never another runner while I was running!

We arrived at the next spot in 55 minutes, and I estimate it was really 5.5 miles instead of 5. So my leg 2 was relay segments 14 and 15, a total of about 7.5 miles in 71 minutes for a ~9:30 pace, not bad at all.

Since it was now about 3:30 am, I had no problems getting a good nap in!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Relay Drama

Most of the time in the relay we spent driving to the next spot. With a 12 person team and 2 vans, we had 6 people in the "active" van and 6 people in the "resting" van. After everybody in the active van ran their leg and we switched to the other van, the vans would switch roles.

That is the ideal, of course you don't really get that much sleep no matter where you are!

For the rest of the legs, we drove along and waited at the next transfer spot. We had a few games in the van to pass the time, but between grabbing ice, navigating, and chatting with other teams, it wasn't like we had tons of time to kill.

Everybody agreed the conditions were tough, both from the heat and also from the roads. Most road we ran on didn't really have a shoulder, which meant when there was oncoming traffic, a runner would zip off into the grass.

After we transfer to leg 7, our van became the resting van so we drove off to get something to eat. After that, on the way to the leg 13 start, where we would start running again, we witnessed an accident: truck versus bike. (!!)

The race allowed for other people to shadow the active runner, especially during the nighttime segments. One team had somebody on a bike riding behind a runner, and they were on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic, which is correct. Our van was approaching them, but some total jerk in a pickup truck decided we weren't going fast enough so he passed us to the left but swung out too far along the shoulder, and hit the cyclist, knocking him into the grass. The truck slammed on his brakes, then sped off.

We were stunned and decided to follow the truck for a bit, about half a mile before he got off the road. We turned around to go back to check on the cyclist, and the truck moved away and we never did get the license plate.

Back at the cyclist, he was OK but in some pain. It looked like the truck's driver's side mirror hit him square in the shoulder. But he was otherwise OK, wandering around holding his arm. We called the police and they responded quickly, and the officer went off to speak to the injured cyclist and his team, the "12 Monkeys".


Right then, the other team (6 person team) called and said their van broke down and wouldn't start... so we drove back to find them to either help pickup or transport runners. Unfortunately the vans didn't have jumper cables so we wound up calling AAA and hoped they wouldn't take forever to come out to the middle of nowhere. ;) Fortunately, the wait wasn't long at all.

Once all of this stuff settled down, and Team 2's van was running again, we drove up to the start of leg 13 where we would take over from Team 1B. Our plan was to grab a 2 or 3 hour nap, but after all this it wound up only being 30 minutes or so.

The excellent news was that on the way back past the site of the hit-and-run, we saw a police car that pulled over a pickup truck that looked familiar. Plus some others from 12 Monkeys. We stopped and yes indeed... the cops caught the hit-and-run driver, found the pickup truck with a smashed driver's side mirror, and said the driver confessed. Great news!

Sunrise to Sunset Relay Start

I met the other running club members for the drive to the start of the Sunrise to Sunset relay, a relay race from the east coast (Jensen Beach) to the west coast (Ft Meyers) of Florida.

Relay Team
Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

We had enough people to form two teams: a 12 person team (one that I was on), and a 6 person team, and had a few meetings to organize supplies, van rentals, and other logistics. I was a little interested in the 6 person team, but I decided since this was my first running relay I should start out "easy" and be on the 12 person team, and therefore only run half as much as somebody on the 6 person team would.

We kicked it all off at 2:30 pm, along with 4 or 5 other teams. Starts were staggered and based on estimated pace, so that all the team would finish up around the same time - Saturday by 5 pm. The 6 person team was slated to begin at 4:30 pm.

I had the 2nd leg (and the 14th and the 26th) so I was up next. After cheering at the start, we drove over to the next transfer point and waited there.

Once we handed off, I began. It was hot, 85 degrees or more, with no shade. About 30 seconds into my run I developed a headache and knew this was going to be a tough event. Leg 2 was mostly on sidewalks, so I just slowed to a pace that didn't feel miserable.

This leg included a tall bridge over the water. The slope wasn't so bad but the bridge and sidewalk was white so the sun reflection was hot and blinding. Even better, the curve in the road before the bridge was lined with really tall bushes, which cut the breeze so that entire section felt like a dead air humid swamp.

As I ran down the other side of the bridge I could see my team and once I handed off, I walked around and stretched for a bit and drank some gatorade. 4.7 miles in 43 mins, pretty good in the heat and with the bridge!

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.