Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's been a while, Part 2

Ok, so yesterday was pretty random considering I haven't posted in a month. I've had quite a bit to write about in the past month, but it seems like the time slips past so quickly. On the surface, that probably seems absurd, considering I'm at my desk most of the day staring at computers. Generally, though, those computers are tossing numbers all over the place that require my attention...and writing often requires a fair amount of attention as well. Seeing as I'm not getting paid to write anything, but those numbers tossing around might help pay a few bills (or, in yesterday's case, cause me to further ponder the question why I STILL deal with those numbers every day)...I haven't written much.
Of course, there has been A LOT to talk about. Thanksgiving with family, and all the things to be be thankful for. Abbie's first birthday (it's already been a year, CRAZY). Abigail walking. Abigail pointing at things and starting to give us some serious baby talk. Abigail making it all the way up the stairs without us knowing. Abigail smiling and hugging and generally being such a happy, content little girl.
Some much needed rest...a few extra days sleeping in. Lots of 1 year old birthday parties. A strained Achilles (getting better...that's the first time I've done that, and it is NOT a pleasant injury). Looking back on all the year has brought us and looking ahead at what's to come. Lots to talk about, indeed.
As for yesterday's quote...Kira has often asked me to talk a bit more about what I think about the present state of things with regards to the economy. While I'm no expert (Who is, really?)...I certainly have some opinions, particularly with the present state of things. So, from time to time I might toss something out there, like yesterday's quote. Keynes had little faith in the private sector and thus argued that public participation (i.e. government) was necessary in order for stable, productive markets (it goes without saying that the preceding is perhaps the crudest definition of Keynesian economics ever written, and I would surely receive a failing grade on any econ 101 paper with said definition). While I agree that blind faith in the private sector is akin to locking the fox in the hen house...insatiable greed run amok knows no bounds and will never lead to a beneficial end...I don't believe Keynes could have ever imagined government intervention on the scale we see today. And just as the belief in "free markets" is naive, the HOPE that the government...the big tax and big spend, earmark, special interest, our forefathers are rolling over in their graves, equally unfounded.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's been a while

"Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. The measure of success attained by Wall Street, regarded as an institution of which the proper social purpose is to direct new investment into the most profitable channels in terms of future yield, cannot be claimed as one of the outstanding triumphs of laissez-faire capitalism…." While I certainly do not agree with alot of things Mr. Keynes had to say, this sure does strike a chord with me

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mike Seidel

Is the Man...
Some of you might know that I'm a bit of a weather geek...I've got the degree in Atmospheric Science to prove it (a degree, by the way, that Kira thinks I would probably have a lot more fun putting to good use than the way I currently spend my days, staring at a screen, watching oil and gas prices and constantly stressing...she's totally right, but that's another topic for another post). You might not know it where you're sitting, but the Mid-Atlantic coast is getting absolutely hammered as I'm writing this...a storm which, when all is said and done, might do more damage than any hurricane has ever done from the Outer Banks to the Jersey Shore.
The Weather Channel, of course, is in the middle of all of it. I'll be the first to admit that the Weather Channel is not quite the same since NBC took it over and Al Rokerfied it (I'm of the opinion that the addition of Al Roker to anything meteorological automatically renders it illegitimate). But for every Al Roker there is a Dr. Steve Lyons or Jim Cantore. Or, in today's case, Mike Seidel. Yes, he's wearing goggles...and yes, he's getting pounded in Virginia Beach today...and yes, he's probably loving every minute of it...and YES, I am jealous.
So, if you know anyone down in the DelMarVa, give 'em a call today and see how they're doing. And maybe, just maybe, a few more days like today might make me consider a career change.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Where it all started

On January 18, 2005, Kira and I had our 2nd date. It's an easy date to remember because I still have the ticket stub from the show we saw that night. I had started listening to Ray LaMontagne a few months earlier and was excited to see him for the first time with Kira at the TLA. It was the first of many trips I would be making to Philly in the coming months (and years!). We've seen him several times since then but that night, for me, was the best. I had never heard a voice like was haunting, powerful, vulnerable...that voice has been with us ever since.
Ever since, obviously, has encompassed a lot. The move to Philly, the move to Hoboken, the wedding, the move to Westfield, the arrival of Abigail Ray (and now you all know where Abbie gets her middle name!)...and tomorrow night we're heading back to Philly to see Ray again. This time he's performing at the Tower Theater. He's performing solo, just like the first time. Date night has taken on a whole new meaning now that Abbie is here and we're both looking forward to our first Saturday night out in quite a while

Sunday, November 01, 2009

New York, New York

This is NOT about the Yankees (I had to put that out there for my Philadelphia family and friends who read this and might otherwise decide this is one entry they can do without).
Today is The NYC Marathon. I was going to simply call it The Marathon because, well, it's New York. But there are other marathons, for sure. There is Boston, which everyone who runs a marathon harbors dreams of qualifying for some day. There is Philly, of course, 26.2 miles of Brotherly Love. And there are countless others that take place every month, in every courses, hilly courses...rock and roll marathons, trail marathons. Every marathon is a different race for everyone who ties 'em on in the morning, whether you hope to finish in 2:10 or 4:10...the demons and doubts are there for everyone at mile 20...the marathon is an equal opportunity sufferfest.
We have a few friends running today...JVA is using New York as the start of her 4 marathons in 4 weeks, she has already run Boston, run over 100 miles in 24 hours and done more things in sneakers than many of us could ever dream. Eric is running 26.2 for the first time today. He's dealt with all the setbacks in training...the knees, the feet, the stomach. It's going to hurt a bit and he knows it. I'm sure there are others we know toeing the line at 9 AM on Staten Island...everyone has a story today about the Marathon and the trip they took to get there. Everyone will cover the exact same path of 26.2 miles and yet they will all see each mile in their own way. They will all have similar questions at the start and they'll all find different answers along the way. Today I'm thinking of everyone running in New York..wishing you all fleet feet, steady stomachs and PR's

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Little LadyBug

After spending a beautiful October morning at the Westfield Halloween Parade, it's pretty apparent to me that all of us new parents have A LOT of fun dressing up our little ones and taking an inordinate number of pictures. We had a lot of fun trying to capture the "perfect" moment...hoping the little ones would hold a particular pose or place in line (or on the ground) just long enough for a picture. We learned that Abigail is quite a little lover, literally, as she spent a good part of the day kissing nearly every baby she laid her eyes on...that's all I need, my 11 month old already has a reputation.

My daughter's risque behavior notwithstanding, it was a really great day. Kira's mommy group is a great crew of girls and it's always nice to see them all together. It seems to be going by so quickly, this first's hard to wrap my hands around the idea that Abigail is almost one. We're waiting for those first few steps and the incoherent mumblings are starting to take some shape. We catch ourselves wishing we could slow things down just a bit, but we're enjoying every minute.

Changing subjects...Kira and I made a few changes to the flickr page with regards to privacy, but we realize it might be more trouble than it's worth. Let me know if you guys are having any problems checking out the pics and we'll do our best to take care of it. Thanks again

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back at it

Wanted to say thanks to everyone for being so supportive in my week of self pity following the Zof...I'm over it. It's really remarkable to have friends and family who are able to offer kind words from so many perspectives.
So, after a week of bikes, no runs...nothing...the offseason training has officially started here for Team Theesfeld. This year is a bit different than last, as there won't be another little one arriving in a few weeks time (hard to believe that Abigail is almost 11 months old already). Kira and I are both trying to find a way to keep things rolling big rides or runs or races, just getting outside and enjoying the effort. Slower runs, easy rides...I took the powermeter off my bike, it's nice to be free of the numbers for a bit.

(I'm about to inject some personal feelings with regards to the economy and what I think is going on...nothing real specific. They're only my thoughts, I'm no expert...and I'm totally apologizing ahead of time if anyone thinks I'm full of it...)

I think it's just as important to try and recover from all the other efforts as well. I've admittedly spent too much time getting sucked into all the fear mongering that's out there with regards to the economy. I realize, of course, that part of it is my job to stay informed in order to make good decisions. But there's a difference between being informed and inundated with opinion, conjecture and just plain BS. I wonder if it should still be my job, I wonder what else I could do. I want to be less affected by it...I wish I could just trade the numbers and not constantly wonder what they all mean, where it's all heading. But I also feel so fortunate to wake up with my daughter each morning, to have coffee with my wife. I feel so lucky to have spent all this time with Abigail and Kira from the very beginning...I don't want to miss a thing. At the end of the day, I just want to do what's right...and I think we all feel the same way, regardless of how we go about it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sorting it out

Found this on Jordan Rapp's blog...

We tend to celebrate risk only after it has led to great things, which means we rarely celebrate the risk-takers who haven't yet been rewarded for their efforts. The paradox here is that we are often unwilling to embrace ambition and originality until it is safe to do so - in short, we're unwilling to take risks ourselves.

Gotta keep on keepin' on


The following is an email I sent to my friend Geoff Clark, who was checking in after he hadn't heard from me these past few days after the Zof. It's not as well written or clever as some of my usual posts, but clever and cute doesn't seem as easy right now.

Haven't been able to put it into words yet...3 simple letters, DNF. My first ever. Got off the bike after 5 hours, started the run, my right knee wanted nothing to do with it. Walked a bit, tried to run again, same thing. I was tired, upset , didn't want to fight, frustrated..pulled off my number belt and called it in.
I've spent the last few days trying to figure out what went wrong..still trying to figure it out. On paper, I was ready for a big day, all the numbers looked good. But numbers aren't results and now I've got some time to ponder all the hard work with nothing to show for it. Tough to finish the season this way.
Kira did great, finished the short course in 3:41, easily beating her goal of sub 4 hours. She's going to have set some goals next year other than simply finishing these races.
Thanks for all the encouragement and support Geoff, it's really meant a lot. Fortunately, it looks like the 2010 Zof is in May, so I won't have to wait too long for another chance. Full details...and some discussions, perhaps, on where things might have gone follow.

Thanks again to everyone who offered their support these past few months...and particular thanks to Kira, who is now dealing with a husband suddenly questioning his ability and mental strength. I wish I could go out and give it another shot tomorrow, just to erase some of these doubts in my head. Instead, I'll try my best to sort out the good and bad and figure out what went wrong. It makes for a far less satisfying end of the season, but it makes me look forward to erasing these thoughts from my mind when 2010 gets rolling

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Just One Day

6...Months of focused training
4000...miles of riding and running
Nearly 300...hours of time on the bike or pavement or trails
All for one day
Tomorrow is the Zof, finally. We dropped Abigail and Luna off at my folks house last night. Our first night away from our little girl, and we miss her so much. Kira is in tears at the kitchen table and I'm trying to keep a strong chin. It'll get easier, won't it?
Kira is battling a stiff neck which will make the ride a bit uncomfortable, but she's ready to suffer thru it. I'm ready to put it out there and see what happens. The forecast is for a chilly start but a sunny, 60 degree day. A fine day for some Bring It On

Monday, September 28, 2009

Puddle Jumping

Yesterday we threw on some wetsuits and ran the Newport Liberty Half Marathon in Jersey City. OK, maybe we didn't wear wetsuits, but there was something to be said for waterproofness, given the absolute soaking we got.
There was a little part of me that hoped the girls (Kira and her friend and running partner Torrie) would wake up Sunday morning and decide they didn't want to run in the rain because, well...I didn't particularly want to run in the rain. Alas, Torrie tapped on the door at 6:40, just as I was finishing a quick walk with Luna, and we were off to JC a few minutes later.
We got a great spot in the parking garage where we could lay out all our gear, searching for the right combination...the girls went thru all the options...tights, knickers, or shorts? Long sleeve, tank top, or short sleeve? Rain jacket or no? I said the hell with it, put on shorts and a tank top and accepted the fact that I would be completely wet to the core by the end of it, but at least I wouldn't be weighed down by too many wet clothes. We pinned numbers, topped off with a bit of water, applied vaseline in strategic places, took some gu and rolled to the start.
Starting lines always fascinate me...everyone at the front always looks so damn fast...strong and lean. They all look like they know what they're doing...plyometrics, a few quick sprints, some stretching...I usually reach over, touch my toes and hope for the best. I wasn't born or raised as a runner, this whole thing is relatively new to me...I feel like I'm making it up as I go along.
Just before the starters horn I asked Kira what she was hoping to finish in, she said 1:53 and asked me what I was thinking. I decided I was just going to watch, just run and see what happens...and we were off.
Trying to describe a 13 mile course could take a while, and though I'm obviously prone to some lengthy prose, I'll spare you all the details...needless to say, it was a very difficult course. The most obvious difficulty was due to the amount of water on the course. Puddles everywhere, some shallow, some with the look of a bottomless pool, eliciting a quick pulse of fear as we ran thru them. The notion of running tangents was dismissed as lines were decided based upon how deep the puddle looked or how hard it would be to run around. Besides the water on the course, we ran in a continual light steady rain and relentless south/southeasterly wind, which felt like running uphill at the southern end of the park and sucked the life out of us each time we had to run towards the Statue of Liberty. And finally, due in part to the fact that's it's impossible to fit a round peg into a square hole, or in this case a half marathon into a 4 mile long stretch of real estate, the course took us on all kinds of turns and loops through Newport and Liberty State Park. Lots of turns and loops makes it hard to keep any kind of rhythm, no matter how fast or slow you run, and yesterday's course was perhaps the most difficult I've run in that regard.
With all that...the rain, the water, the twists and turns...the girls ran in style. I almost missed Kira crossing the line since she came rolling thru nearly 5 minutes before her goal, crossing the line in 1:49:10, good enough to be in the top 100 women out of nearly 700, setting a PR and looking and feeling all the while that she could've (and should've!) run faster. And Torrie, who insists she can't run long distances, finished her first half marathon in 1:52:39. Given the conditions and the course, it's not much of a stretch to say the girls could, and will, go faster. I think Kira has a sub-1:45 half in her. But given her goal here, and the fact that we've got the Zof in 2 weeks, she's right on pace to finish the season strong and go into the winter feeling good...and in the right mindset to set some goals for next year. Not too bad for a new mom, eh?
As for me...well, I defied the advice of the Guru...kind of. I ran how I felt and figured I would back off when it felt like enough. But other than some tightness in my right calf, I felt "good". I could still feel friday's workout (I got a 60 mile ride/6 mile run in) in my quads, but the pain kind of settled into the rhythm of the run...and in the end I crossed the line in 1:22:55, a new PR for me and an indication that I'm stronger than last year and ready for the Zof Long Course...let the taper begin.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

So, we're 2 weeks away from the Zof and I'm trying to figure out how to structure the last few important days of training. Kira is running the Newport Half this weekend and I'm thinking of joining her but I'm not sure how I should approach it. I've got one big ride/run day to do this week, something that will get me close to 4 hours of work (maybe a 60 mile ride with an "easy" 10K). And here's the dilemma. If I do the half on Sunday, I want to do well, like set a PR (1:24:55 in Philly last year). But I'll be putting myself pretty far behind it with a big day of work and certainly won't be coming into the half in top form. And as I'm writing this I'm thinking "Seriously Mike, stop complaining and just get it a big day and then go run as fast as you can". It's funny...this blogging, this thinking aloud about my "issues"...I should be so lucky that my drama this morning is whether or not I should run a half marathon on sunday after getting 70 miles in a few days before. I think it's good for me to start to write these things gets easier to check myself and realize how I can turn some insignificant issue into some drama...and anyone who reads along acts as my therapist for a day. So thanks...looks like I've got some work ahead of me in the next few days

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You're such a fast walker

Luna and I had a little spring in our step this morning on our walk. It's starting to feel like fall...I told Kira it's one of those mornings you feel like you should have a pack on your back and the smell of chalk on your hands. Or in the woods on your mountain bike. just feels good to be outside. Lots of things to look forward to in the fall...maybe a few days of climbing, we already had our first taste of apple cider (thanks Mom), the American Zofingen is only a month away (and Kira is gettin' after it this year, setting her sights on the short course)...taking Abbie on some walks in the woods with the leaves changing. You can take summer, for me, this is the best time of the year

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's the weekend...

It must be raining. Seriously, this is getting a bit out of hand. Can anyone remember so much rain on such a consistent basis? We had better have an epic fall, we certainly deserve it.
Nothing too extraordinary to write about of late, the girls (Kira, Abigail and Luna) are all good, just rolling thru the end of summer. We haven't had too many great summer days to talk about thanks to the weather. We had some fun afternoons at the pool, a few nice weekends in Brigantine, some BBQ's...but it's been hard to get things going with any consistency...because of the WEATHER! OK, enough about that. Everyone else is dealing with it, so there's no need to dwell on it any longer.
I Rode Hillier Than Thou last's a ride/race that my friend Chris Evans first told me about many years ago (Chris was the first one to ever destroy me on a bike. I still remember the first time my skinny little legs showed up for a ride with him...I took one look at his legs, which each measure, roughly, the circumference of my waist, and I knew I was in trouble). Hillier is's a 100 mile route with approximately 10,000 feet of climbing. If you're a cyclist in North Jersey, you know the climbs, you've heard the stories...the ride elicits all sorts of dread, fear and respect, quite often within a small stretch of road.
I had no real crazy expectations going into the ride other than to suffer gloriously. I did not train to peak for the goal this season is the American Zofingen up in New Paltz in October...I had an idea of maybe going under 6 hours, which would be a proud effort given the difficulty of the course.
I made the mistake of not reading the cue sheet to start the race and immediately missed a turn after the first hard climb up Stephensburg Rd. This unfortunately was a pattern for the first 20 miles...miss a turn, put myself on the rivets to get back to the lead group, get back on, and do it again. I finally put myself back together going into the first checkpoint/feed stop, where my race to stay in the lead group came to an end, thanks to my inattentiveness. I was under the impression that there would be no attacking thru the checkpoint...everyone had to wait in line to sign in, and I assumed we would regroup and get back after it. Well, you know what they say when you ASSume something. The "opportunists" (There are other, more offensive terms I might choose to describe them, but what's the point) took the single file check in as a sign to start to get a gap, and the group was splintered. I worked super hard to get back to the group and saw the tail end of it right before another climb, this time up Coleman Hill Rd...but that was it. Too many matches burned, too many mistakes, and I couldn't hold on. Let me make it perfectly clear, there is no way I could have won this race...I was not even close to the strength and fitness of the top 5 (which one of my Wednesday night Jay's ride partners, Bob Penn, did...a great ride by a super strong man). But I could've held on a bit longer and likely finished with a better time.
Instead, I spent the next few hours in no man's land...suffering alone in the sun, humidity and hills. The miles ticked by, but they were not idyllic. No peloton rolling thru the fields of southern France. No one to share the work with, to laugh about our misfortune of choosing such a ridiculous way to spend a sunday. But they were glorious miles. Alone on the bike, working hard, not giving up. Maybe I rode too easy for too long in the middle, but I was leery of putting myself in the red with 50 miles to go, knowing what was to come at the end. I started to reel in a few riders who had popped off the back of the main group for various reasons...flats, mechanicals, not enough in the tank or in the head. I would work with them for a bit, thankful for the shared effort and the occasional brief conversation. I suffered on the climbs, I even WALKED up a small stretch of one particular hellish bit at the top of Iron Bridge Rd. But there was relief in knowing I was on the second half of the route. Climbs I recognized from rides with Chris and Michael Worth...Staats Rd and Adamic Hill. Familiar sites like the Glen Gardner Inn. And finally, perhaps a bit too late, the decision to ride away from my mates and suffer alone for the last 15 miles. Perhaps I waited too long to go...maybe I wasn't strong enough in my head to put myself into that painful place. But I went, and I guess that's the point. In the end there was Hoffman's Crossing Rd to Cokesbury, the ride thru Califon and the finish at the top of Sliker. My time was 5:53, good for 20th place overall (to give you an idea of how fast this ride has become, the course record up until a few years ago was around 6 hours...this years winner finished in 5:10 or so).
I take a lot away from a day like last Sunday. Obviously, I feel grateful for the strength to ride relatively well. But there is more...there is a certain glory in such a day on a bike. It is different for everyone, whether they ride Hillier or their local hill. But if you ride a bike, you know the feeling...whether it's pride, joy, relief, disbelief...or something that puts it all together. It's why we love to ride our bikes.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

For Susan

Early in the morning, cup of coffee at the table, gliding thru various web pages...the weather, Ray Lamontagne, checking bills...and bikes, all things bikes. Bike shorts, races, photos, wheels...power output, training, beauty and suffering. There are a lot of great blogs/websites/journals out there about cycling, too many to mention in one post (and part of the "fun", I think, is discovering another site dedicated to the bike and all that it brings to our lives). Today I came across one of those sites, Fat Cyclist. There are so many emotions that run thru my head and heart when I read something like this. Cancer SUCKS...totally, unequivocally SUCKS. Susan surely was, and will remain, a remarkable evidenced by the inspiration she provided her husband and all the beautiful tributes to her from various and far reaching places.
And one of those places, a big cycling. And I'm reminded about what the bike does for me, for many of us. We all ride for different reasons...some of our reasons change daily...We want to hit wattage numbers on our Powermeters, we want to get a long ride in, we want to get some strength work in...we want to be fast on the wednesday night group ride, we want to spend time with our wives. We want to see our daughter take her first few rolls when the training wheels come off...we want to ride enough to have an extra beer or some more ice cream. We want to suffer, we want to laugh, we want to share time with friends, we want to be alone. There is nothing like riding our bikes...there is no beauty in effort that compares. And so today, on my ride with Kira, I will think of Susan for a moment, and will give thanks for how blessed I am to be able to ride my bike

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A busy few weeks for the Theesfeld's. We can't really remember what we did the weekend of the 11th (though we do remember date night at Anthony's restaurant in Metuchen...thanks Nanny T) This weekend saw us down the shore again. Kira loaded the whole crew (minus me) into the car on thursday night and drove down to Brigantine to see Sarah, Frank and Shadow Kern. Friday was a day for the girls in Ocean City, NJ, visiting Svena and Sam and the rest of the Johnson crew. I rolled on down (literally) later on Friday. I pulled another long ride off on Friday (it was Kira's idea, I swear)...145 miles from Westfield to Ocean City. It probably should've been about 135, but I took a few wrong turns around Ft. Dix and added some time and miles to the day (At that point, what's the difference between 135 and 145, right?) I linked up pieces of the Jay's LBI ride and the CLBC longest day ride to spend a lot of time on some great roads with hardly any traffic. The old raritan canal road to Princeton, the bike lanes though the Pine Barrens and the cranberry bogs (and corn and peach and sod farms), and the crazy seabreeze headwinds when I finally turned east for the coast at mile 125. The only real problem was the redneck in the pickup who thought it would be funny to throw a gatorade bottle at me at 40 mph between Egg Harbor and Mays Landing (they're always in pickup trucks). Other than that, a nice way to get down the shore.
The rest of the weekend was nice and easy...the way summer is supposed to be. A nap for Abbie Ray on the beach...running, riding, and rollerblading around the island of Brigantine...hanging out at the pool on the bay (Abigail is DEFINITELY loving the water)...watching the tour and explaining all things bike racing to anyone who will listen...playing with Sarah's new puppy...and trying to always be mindful of how blessed we are to enjoy such glorious days. I do love hanging out with my girls.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Rolling with my girl

Summer showed up this weekend, just in time for the 4th of July. We didn't have any big plans this weekend...we're still settling back in to the routine after our week down the we planned on a ride together if the weather held up (let's face it, with the way the weather has been this summer, I wouldn't have been surprised if it was snowing on the morning of the 4th). Morning greeted us with beautiful blue skies and temps in the 60's, Nanny T drove out for some Abbie Time, and were rolling.
As usual, the ride out of town was uneventful..we headed out thru Plainfield to avoid the ridge, decided to take part in the 4th of July Parade, and found our way into the Great Swamp, rolled into Harding, marvelled at some of the homes on Bailey's Mill, tried to find a place to grab something to eat in Basking ridge and Bernardsville (no easy task, apparently, on the 4th of July) and rolled back home.
Kira rolled thru the day with style, steady pace, smiling wide, enjoying the day. It's so much fun to spend time with her on the bike, we've had so many great days together on the roads...from Mt. Ventoux and Provence... to the Jersey shore and the Gunks...I couldn't have hoped for a better riding partner.
Hope everyone had a great 4th...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Down the Shore

Our first trip down the shore with Abigail, the annual Filachione Clan in Ocean City, NJ extravaganza, has come and gone with lots of smiles and sand and Mack and Manco's and rigatoni and meatballs...a rather unhealthy amount of fried seafood and beer and wine (but what else are you supposed to eat when you're down the shore...and speaking of down the shore, does anyone else say that, or is it just a Jersey thing? Do people in California say down the shore? Unlikely, I say) A fair amount of rain and clouds but enough sun to make everyone happy (and it's not like the kids cared whether it was sunny or rainy or cloudy...I think fire and brimstone could fall from the sky and they'd be happy because they're at the beach) Lots of naps for Abbie, staying up late and sleeping in, living the good life...and a bit of a much needed and well deserved reality check for Kira and me. Because at the end of the day, all of the stress, the worry, the crazy commutes, wondering why it's all so hard sometimes...all that really matters is enjoying our days. Special thanks to Mom Mom...we're already looking forward to next summer

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Pits

12:32 on a Tuesday afternoon, sitting on the top steps of the crude ring...bored out of my mind. A few weeks ago I mentioned $75 crude and $3 gas...I just didn't think we'd get there so soon.
It's the dog days of summer on the NYMEX...when I first start working down here in the summer of '02, I spent a lot of time in the late morning/early afternoon playing tetris, killing time between the open and close. It sucked. Guys used to take the entire summer off and start rolling back in after Labor Day when the hurricanes start playing pinball in the Gulf. Most of those guys are gone, retired or broke (or both), but it's still dead quiet for most of the day...waiting, waiting, waiting...staring at the screen, looking for a number that just doesn't seem to fit. It was a lot more fun when we were yelling at each other.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Exchanging vows

:complete happiness.

That sounds right. Happy Anniversary Kira

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I told a few people my plans for Saturday involved some sort of big ride...80, 100, 120 miles...something out there a bit. There were more than a few responses that bordered on concern for my overall mental well being, as in why would I elect to put myself thru such an endeavor. But enough people seemed interested in what such a day might be like that I decided I'd try to put some of the pieces of the day together and tell a bit of the story. Of course, I'm fairly certain the only people reading any of this are my wife and her sister (she's my sister now, of course...thanks for all the kind words Erika, love you) this is really nothing more than a heavy dose of self indulgence. But hey, I rode 109 miles yesterday...I'm allowed a little indulgence, right?

Most long rides start the same, the morning follows a pretty steady routine. Up at 5, coffee brewing. Luna and I take our walk, drink some coffee and talk about the day ahead (Luna didn't have any big plans for the day and told me to enjoy myself). Breakfast is something that will stick to my stomach for at least 2 hours, usually oatmeal with some peanut butter and honey, some eggo waffles with nutella...anything that makes me feel like I won't be hungry in 45 minutes (yogurt and granola just doesn't work...I'll be hungry before I walk out the door). And there are the usual, food, glasses, $20 bill, credit card, ID...6 gel packs, 2 energy bars...spare tube, CO2, cell phone. I put my bike shorts on just like everyone else, 1 leg at at time (though I applied a bit more butt butter than most of you do, I'm fairly certain about that)

Things start to change as soon as I roll out the driveway. There's a different feeling in my head before a big day. 40, 50, 60 miles really aren't a big deal...a few hours rolling around...they can brutal, fast, hard miles, but they're over in a few hours. Saturday was different. I knew I signed up for a long day, I figured I'd log nearly 7 hours on the saddle and be home about 8 hours after I left. So when I rolled out at 5 before 7, I knew it was on.

The first 35 are easy. The first 10 are spent trying to escape the Route 22/78 universe, the next 15 are rolling miles thru the Great Swamp (yes, there is a Great Swamp up here in NJ, and it's not the same one where everyone from the Soprano's seems to end up), and the next 10 are like rolling thru an episode of lifestyles of the rich and famous. There are a few spots in the Mendham/Bernardsville/Far Hills triangle where (former?) masters of the Hedge Fund Universe and pretenders to the throne reside...they actually label their driveways, as in private road's obscene how extravagant some of the spreads are up there. But the roads are nice, there's very little traffic, and they all seem to end up at Coco Luxe.

Coco Luxe is a great turnaround point for most rides. Great pastries and cookies (an unreal Savory Scone), coffee...everyone is super friendly to cyclists. It's just a great spot. For me, Coco Luxe served as the beginning of the ride...the next 45 miles were the goods, and I knew it. There's a quick little hop up the hill to cross over 206 and another short steep section to get into Pottersville...and then the ride starts. Pottersville Rd. is a very unique climb for these parts because it's actually more than a mile long. It's about 3 miles, averages a fairly tame 5-6% grade, but it hits you with a couple 10% sections that let your legs know what you're in for. Normally, the last section is baking in the sun, but I was blessed with a cloudy cool morning, and all went well. At the top, take a right and start rolling towards my old stomping grounds, Long Valley. At this point, 40 or so miles in, I'm still debating which way I'll take to the top of Schooley's Mountain (yeah, it's NJ, but it is called a mountain...humor me). It feels good to roll over some familiar roads, the roads that I first really became a cyclist on nearly a decade ago. I remember how hard it all seemed in the beginning...30 mile rides were torture...and it feels good to be stronger now than I ever remember.

At mile 49, I decide to take my suffering straight up, literally. Schooley's Mountain Road is averages nearly 10% for it's length of nearly 1.5 miles. The curve...if you've been there, you know what I'm talking 10 seconds of hell. It's so steep my front wheel lifts off the ground when I get out of the saddle and start working. It's like 17%, and it's made worse by the fact that it only backs off to 8%...there's no easy rest until the climb is over. At the top, I know I'm fully committed to the ride...I'm 50 miles away from home and there's no easy way back. 30 miles of rollers and climbing before I can take the "easy" way home.

Along the top of the mountain and into Califon at mile 60...a quick stop at a god awful gas station to grab a few bars and bottles of water...and more hills. Califon Rd. to Guinea Hollow to the back of Philhower (the easy way, but I wasn't done yet). Into Mountainville, along the river until I get to Still Hollow. This is another one of those "I can't believe we're in NJ" roads. It reminds of the scene from Shawshank Redemption where Red travels thru Maine to find the box beneath the black stone along the old stone wall. Still Hollow Rd. is a mile and a half of New England road here in NJ, and it's steep as heck in the beginning and end, with a nice rest in the middle. Still Hollow gets to the top of Bissel and one of the best descents around, all the way back down to Rockaway, a left and a right onto Hill and Dale and the final point of suffering, Parsonage Lot. What a great name, I think...kind of evil sounding. It's like hitting a switchbacks...just a proper straight up steep climb. Well over 10% for nearly a mile with a few 15+ hurts, especially after 75 miles.

At this point, the worst is over...Old Turnpike Road (517) is a few minutes of 35mph fun into Oldwick. An unremarkable stop at the general store (it was too late to get the good stuff, the pastries and scones were long gone)...Lamington Rd., Liberty Corner, thru the Hills and over Somerville Rd. I did have an extraordinary meeting with a big doe and her newborn fawn about 90 miles in...the rest of the ride was just a process of ticking away the pedals to home. More busy roads and unfriendly traffic, SUV's and cell phones, fat people making fun of me and my bike shorts...full New Jersey style. But I think that's what makes the ride complete...109 miles of full service NJ cycling

Friday, June 05, 2009

June Showers...

Bring May flowers? Seriously, this is a bit out of hand. It's 90 degrees in Seattle and 65 and raining for 4 straight days here in the lovely garden state. I shouldn't complain, I'm sure it'll be hot as heck here in a few weeks and I'll be wishing for cooler days.

It's a quiet friday here at work after another crazy week...I just had an arm wrestling match in the middle of the crude pit, and nearly lost. Too many miles running and riding and not enough pullups. And while I'm on the subject of miles...

Kira was psyched for me to get in on the Jay's ride to LBI this weekend...the only problem is i thought it was on saturday...the boys (and a few girls, I'm sure) are in fact rolling out on Sunday morning at 7 AM. So, I've got a big opening in my day tomorrow, the weather looks good...might be time to put the hurt on. Maybe something like this?

We'll see how it goes

Lot's of new pics up in the Flickr account. Kira has been so good about keeping things rolling...she's grinding thru a rough couple of weeks with work, but she's doing a great job keeping things in perspective. And Abbie has her 6 month checkup today...The over/under is 15 pounds

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thoughts on a Friday

Some random thoughts on a week gone by...

A week that saw Kira leave us for her first trip since Abbie was born. It was rough, for sure. I kept telling Kira I could understand how she felt because it was so hard for me to leave for Montana in early February...but I know it's not the same. The most obvious difference is the time that's gone by, and how that time has strengthened the bonds we all share. But it's different for Kira because she is, in the most simple terms, Abbie's mom...and that's a bond that I can't begin to understand. I can see it...the way Abbie smiles when she sees Kira, the way Kira let's go of all the stress and anxiety of the daily grind when she holds's beautiful, magical,'s everything that's good about being in love.

Another maddening week of work...a week that saw energy prices go even higher...way ahead of themselves, if you ask me. Things don't make much sense, and yet make perfect sense, again, which probably means crude's going to $75 and we'll see $3 a gallon at the pump before we know it. Of course, complaining is a bit like biting the hand that feeds me, and I'll fight the hypocrite label as long as I'm alive and trading energy products. But I think it's safe to say my 50-100 lots a day have very little impact on the daily price changes, considering average daily volumes are in the millions. It really sucks that the only way the banks can make money is to take the money the government gave them, and instead of lending it, they use it to make big bets on the most lucrative markets they can energy. But wait, this is working, right? The recession is ending, right? What a load of crap...all I see is real prices going higher...and no one I know is going out and talking about feeling better about things...regardless of what the latest greatest financial expert is claiming on our favorite financial news network. Tell me again why I do this for a living?

Listening to Kings of Leon right now...dude, they're really good.

Lance is the man. The guy hasn't ridden a grand tour in 3 years, broke his collarbone 2 months ago, he's 37 years old...and he's getting STRONGER on the bike each day in Italy. Seriously, if he doesn't get you fired up to get off your ass and do something...then check yourself.

The weekend is here...time to get on the bike, get a few runs in, trim the hedges...and hang out with my girls.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

5 Star Day

Kira and I have a saying (actually Kira coined the phrase, but I've happily claimed it for myself)...when we have one of those really good days, it's a 5 Star Day(5SD). A 5SD can come in all shapes and sizes...we spent a sunday this past winter on the couch in front of the fire for the entire afternoon...a 5SD. Getting a 100 miler in...a 5SD. Yesterday, for me, felt like 3 days in one, and if I add 'em all up, I think they qualify as a 5 Star Day.
The day started early enough, up at 5, walking Luna, drinking coffee, eating a few eggo waffles, getting ready to get on the bike...the plan was to ride up to my folks house in Long Valley and spend the day helping should I put it...get ready to get rid of a bunch of crap (more on that later). The ride itself was nothing special, 55 miles, the midway stop at Coco Luxe, climbing up out of Pottersville (I still think that's one of the best climbs around here). cruising thru Hacklebarney...but it was still a great ride. The weather was perfect, a beautiful late spring morning, lots of people out on the bike, feeling good about not having to wear knickers...and it was fun to be on some of the roads I first started riding on nearly 10 years ago. Lots of time has passed since I first finished a ride by rolling up River Rd. towards the Worth's...lots of time turning over the pedals of my life...but the way it feels to get out of the saddle and work towards the last sign at the top, thinking of how hard it is to hold on to Chris E's's why I ride, why being on the bike is such a gift.
Rolling into my folks' house is always dad always makes some reference to the absurd amount of miles I just rode (where'd you ride to today, Mike, Ohio?)...and Mom is still ready to feed me the second I walk in the door (and there's still as much food in the house as there was when my brother and I grew up). My Mom and Dad are getting a dumpster delivered this week and filling it with all the things they've been accumulating for the past few decades...helping them get everything together felt like an episode of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. You can imagine how much dust was on an old pair of luggage that still had the tags from our last flight from Iran in the late 70's...or how burly it was to get rid of that old rug that's been in the basement since they rolled it out over 20 years ago. Moving old mattresses, TV's, bathroom vanities...taking a sledgehammer to the old doghouse...going thru the few things I have left up there...old photos, trophies from 8th grade baseball and my days with the Long Valley Raiders...finally letting go of some things we all held on to for far too long. I spent some time underneath Denali's old tree, listened to a thunderstorm roll in, ate some more food, waited for Kira and Abbie to roll up the driveway...and enjoyed an afternoon at home.
Kira and Abbie showed up as the thunderstorm was ending, spent some time with Nanny and Poppy, and we moved on to the final chapter of my Saturday trilogy...the annual Memorial Day BBQ with the Worth's...where I always end up eating 3 plates of dinner and 2 plates of dessert and Susan insists I eat more and take some home, where Michael always has some project in mid-completion...and where the girls remind me of how much we've all grown up since this whole friendship began at the Chesapeake all those years ago. I remember the first time Chris showed up at the bar, looking for me because Michael told him I ride...Or all the mornings when I showed up at Chris and Amy's before a ride and ended up drinking coffee and eating whatever Amy made for breakfast...all the times with the kids, when they were just kids and I could toss 'em around. I think of how much I admired Michael and Susan and Chris and Amy when we first met, and how I admire them even more now that Kira and Abbie are here with me and I'm only now starting to get an idea of all that goes into being a good husband and father and what it all means. They are great friends and I always cherish my time with them.
It really was like 3 days in one...and if I add 'em all up, I think it was a 5 Star Day.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Behind every man...

if he's lucky enough, there's a woman like Kira. It's a cliche, it's cheesy, whatever. I'm really lucky. She had the perfect words for me this morning at the perfect time. It's funny how the right person can come along and do that...
Between her and Abbie, does it really matter what happens on the NYMEX each day, or that I didn't time the bottom of the market...does any of that really matter? Is it going to matter in 5 years? 10? I'm caught up in a lot of it lately, struggling a bit with all the changes at work, not having much fun with it anymore. It definitely feels more like a JOB than ever before. I'm fighting with someone on a daily basis...fighting for a lost cause, words on deaf ears...seriously, what's the point?
It's time to start letting go...maybe not all at once, but change is coming. Tomorrow is supposed to be 75 and sunny...I think I'll take the day off and ride my bike, hang out with the girls and get ready for the BBQ on Saturday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things that get us through...

It sure does feel like things are really hard out there in the world right now. Everywhere I turn I hear horrible stories of people losing their jobs, their savings, their confidence, their faith. No one seems immune, certainly not me. I'll admit to getting caught up in it all...a bad day can shake me to the core and cause me to question my abilities...can I still do this job, am I still a good trader, am I doing the right thing, am I proud of the way I handle myself? Yesterday, unfortunately, was one of those days where I didn't have any good answers to those questions, and it's a bad way to finish the week. And then I come home...and I see Kira and Abigail and Luna. And they smile and tell me they love me no matter what. And they know I'll find my way through. And they tell me to get on the bike and start rolling...and feeling strong...and I realize how blessed I am for all the things I have in my life to me help me get through...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Spring is in the air

It's hard to imagine we had near blizzard conditions on Monday. I'm heading out for a ride with Mike S. this morning in temps that should approach 60 degrees by the time we roll back home. It'll be the first of many rides we'll be out on this season, as Mike is prepping for Leadville and I'm looking to perhaps pulloff the sub 9 hour Wilderness 101/sub 8 hour AmZof double (it's a bit ambitious for sure, not to mention more than a bit selfish to ask for the ability to get in 2 big races this season...the Zof is definitely in my sights, not too sure about the 101 yet). Things are good, Kira just wrapped her first week back at work and pulled thru in fine fashion. It's a struggle to wrap her hands around all the changes but I know she'll shine...she always seems to find her way. Abbie is amazing (though we are still inconsistent, to say the least, when it comes to some of our sleeping patterns. Last nights lack of sleeping pattern would be a prime example) It's all part of the trip, for sure.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The littlest things

It is amazing to think that just 2 months ago Mike and I had never spoken about feedings, dirty diapers, nor pacifiers. WOW! Our world sure has been turned upside down. As every parent forewarned... life is forever changed...but it's so much better. Every day brings with it some new little surprise that brings such joy to our lives. Silly to say, but right now it is the fact that our girl is finally pooping daily... probably too much information for some of you... but for those who know what it's been like we couldn't be happier! Another milestone is that Abigail is now officially in the 8 pound club and is doing great. Never thought she'd outgrow the newborn clothes... but it's happening! We miss you all and look forward to seeing you soon. PS: Check out our newest Abbie pics (click on the Flickr link on the right).