LE FREAKING SWIM

I don't have a good picture of me swimming.  Such a picture may or may not be possible.

I include this snapshot of me with my wife, Elizabeth, because she is a better swimmer than me, and to demonstrate that it is possible to wear a pink cotton tie without irony, and thus give hope to those who remain confused.  It's also here as a reminder that life balance--in my case, wife/kids/work/training/writing balance--may well be the key to long-term success in each of segment of our busy lives.

I did post a 1:14 swim at IM Boulder 2016 (although I cratered the run, for reasons that will require some mutual trust in order for me to explain), so I'm not a completely lost cause, but am far from the pointy end of the spear.

SWEET TEA, WHITE LIGHTNIN', BREAKIN' HEARTS, NOT MINDIN'

The Colnago, unfortunately, is not my bike.  I do love my 2014 Cervelo P2, but I didn't even KNOW that Colnago made a TT bike.  And look at that thing!  Savage.

I am not a gifted cyclist.  But riding is the BEST.  There are only a few other ways I would rather spend my available time, and none are as thrifty (assuming I don't soon buy a Colnago) and healthy (assuming I keep the rubber side down).

Most of my cycling is done on the trainer in our garage.  I use a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and the stock wheel on my P2.  For much of 2012-2016, I used Trainerroad's virtual power feature to measure my rides, often supplemented by the Sufferfest workout videos.

I've now switched mainly to Zwift, which sort of combines both of those platforms in that it gives instant and trackable data feedback (like Trainerrroad), and also has a visual component (like The Sufferfest).  But it also has a video-game aspect to it since I am riding while watching my avatar ride through London, Richmond, or the mythical Watopia, while passing, drafting, and being passed by hundreds of other avatars.  I've not been doing it for long enough yet to know whether I am making the same gains with Zwift as I did with Trainerroad.

BESTIAL WAIL

Among the authors from whom I'll openly steal is Charles Bukowski, whose book of poetry, Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail is how I often think of triathlon.

I played team sports as a kid, and running was doled out as punishment.  Although technically adept at such sports, I was never the fastest on the field, diamond, or court.  When running became a choice rather than a command, I found out how stripped-down and revealing it can be.  And being the last leg of triathlon, it's like sauntering down Main Street wearing nothing but a Speedo ... you better have your act together, because you can't hide on the run course.

I'M A CHEF, DAMMIT

Yes, the televised ringmaster who makes you cringe and laugh.  Yes, the foreign marshmallow you see in cartoons.  Yes, the starched veteran preening at the country club.  Yes, the tattooed burnout that your neighbor's brat son goes to culinary school to become.

Chefs are like lawyers--all the stereotypes are true.  Go looking for evidence of any type of chef and you will find it.  The days of "never trust a skinny chef" are long gone, and with them many of the cloying and indulgent touchstones (Lobster Thermidor, Steak Diane, Tournedos Rossini) of haute cuisine that would be eons out of place on the menus of our most-hyped contemporary restaurants.

Professionally, I act within a rather narrow amplitude of highs and lows.  I shave every morning.  I wear black pants, black shoes, white jacket, white apron.  I greet every cook and steward when I arrive in the kitchen. I say Please and Thank You.  If every cook acted the way I do, the kitchen and the cooks would be quiet, fast, focused, and (I like to believe) brutally efficient.  And as they say down in New Orleans, if Ifs were skiffs, we could all go fishing.

A sales manager once told me, as we passed between appointments and I laughed at something or other, "Don't smile, you'll ruin your reputation."  Brutal!  Right?

Well, I supply the structure, the system, the recipes, the vision, the leadership, and the discipline; of course, my sous chefs assist with all of those things as well.  And the inescapable truth about kitchen work is that it's often like the Amsterdam airport or Grand Central Station--souls from all over the world, some of them seeking, a few of them on the run, perhaps one or two with no clear idea of how they ended up here at all, speaking different languages, craving different outcomes, but all, for the moment, bound by the same schedule and landscape, and relegated to an uneasy equality by a circumstance that they have chosen but yet seems arbitrary.  Those souls supply the laughter, the stories, the accents, the scuffles, the music, the drama, and the youth.

Cooking is a job.  With time and effort, it becomes a craft.  Give yourself to it, and it becomes who you are.  Decide what to be, and go be it (stole that one from the Avett Brothers).

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