Fitness Friday—July 31st

7/20 M Yak T Yak W Pasco R Pasco F SA SU Total
S               x √-
C     15i   52 900’ 

18.3 glide

    67 √-


6.3 49:11

6.7 53 


2 6   10+ hills, trails, lake   31 √

S: First zero of the year. Combination of limited pool access while on the road and laziness. I’m reminded of the old Chris Farley SNL skits. I suck!

C: Also, sucky. Friday’s “chick ride” (5 women, 2 other men) was nice. I kept thinking it was going to ramp up once we left the bike trail, but it never did. I accidentally went off the front once, but then played nice the rest of the ride. So refreshing to ride “steady” for a change instead of the usual race team nonstop “mod-hard/hard” mix.

R: Basic week. Dano and I called a hilly run on Saturday and the team scrambled. . . Las Vegas, Eugene, I’m watching the Tour de France. Sad really. All we can do I suppose is lead by example.

Grade for the week: D+

Tiger’s Tirades

Rick Reilly, widely read sportswriter who typically combines humor and emotion, has written a sober article titled “Woods Needs to Clean Up His Act.”

If someone told me a multi-ethnic golfer was going to come along from my hometown and dominant for decades, I would have assumed I would have been front and center on the bandwagon. But, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I haven’t become a Tiger guy.

But after reading RR’s piece, I find myself taking the contrarian view. In fact, apart from the “f’in photographer. . . and break his f’in neck” I can accept Tiger’s tirades. Maybe RR’s hackles are up because of the obvious contrast with the seemingly comatose corporate billboards that roam PGA fairways. Yeah, Tiger runs hot, but is there only one way to approach golf at its highest level? Can’t excellence take different forms?

Here’s an idea, when Tiger blows up, parents can talk about it with their kids. Maybe they can explain that just because someone excels in athletics we shouldn’t assume their private life is equally excellent. Maybe the lesson is everyone is imperfect and we’re better off emulating the family members, teachers, and neighbors we know best and who hold our families, classrooms, and communities together.

Aren’t children smart enough to understand that just because someone excels in the public square–whether in athletics, politics, or other types of work–their private lives aren’t necessarily worth emulating.

In essence, RR argues, “because Tiger’s the best golfer, and because he has the most eyes on him, he should set the best example.”

Why though?

The related social scientific discussion is because most everyone is flawed in their private lives, we need to seriously reassess our tendency toward celebrity worship and be far more pragmatic about human vices. In fact, that’s why the rule of law and institutional checks and balances are so important.

What I’m Reading

The WSJ recently reviewed the top economics blogs and one I read regularly, Marginal Revolution, by Tyler Cowen, was highlighted. The one critique of MR was that Cowen’s sporadic “What I’m Reading” posts make people feel inferior because he’s always reading about 20 different books stretching across about 10 different fields, many quite esoteric. Cowen is a unique dude, incredibly well read, a prolific writter (he blogs 3-5x a day and writes nonstop essays and books), and a connoisseur of ethnic cuisine among other things. 

I’m always reading email, student work, and lots of print and electronic periodicals. On top of that, I have book reading periods, one of which I’m in right now. So with no Cowen-like pretense, here’s what I’m reading.

Nancy Pearl, on Seattle’s NPR station, KUOW, turned me on to “the best teen novel” she had ever read, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I purchased it for my soon to be 14 and 17 year olds. I’m reading it before wrapping it and to say I’m wrapped up in it is an understatement. You know how we all have things we wish were different about ourselves, I wish I made more time for fiction. I really believe in the power of fiction, I just don’t make time to drink from the well often enough. Synopsis. . . elite boarding school, 10th grade girl, 12th grade boyfriend, secret all male society, feminist pushback, timely, and smartly written. 

I’m also reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. The subtitle hints at the thesis: Why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need-and what we can do about it. Overlaps almost directly with my primary professional interests so I’m enjoying it. Wish I wrote it first.

Last, but not least, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I heard the author, John Gottman, on NPR one night and thought he was the clearest and most interesting and insightful speaker on marriage I had heard. When I told the wife that she ran out and got a few of his books. Should I take that as a bad sign? I negotiated down to taking turns reading alternate chapters of “Seven Principles”. Funny thing, she hammered out chapter one and then we stalled. Yesterday she told me she has to return it to the library soon, a not so subtle hint, but first I have to wrap up The Disreputable History. How can I concentrate on my marriage before knowing how things turn out for Frankie, Matthew, and the other Loyal Basset Hounds?

Fitness Friday—7/24

7/13 M T W R F SA SU Total



14:58 1k




15:08 1k



4x100Im, :35-37

      6,000 √


16i 50 2,045’ 



groups 2/3

  53 1,385’ 



    31+ solo 1,200 



150 √




  6 10+ 1:22   28 √

S. Had wanted to get three workouts in, but bagged the late week one. Not in top shape, took it relatively easy, and felt decent.

C. The “i” is for indoors. Two good, hard race team training rides. T’s was hilly and I spent the second half in small chase groups. Beautiful weather and fun. Rode so hard that I hit the wall five miles into to W’s six miler. R was hard and fun too. I hit the the top of Tenino hill hard and was in the middle of things all night. Nice to get out for a solo ride on Su before hitting the road to teach in eastern WA. I feel strong, but will lose some fitness next week no doubt.

R. If I didn’t have training partners waiting for me on W and F, I’d probably bagged one or both of those since I was still hung over from the previous night’s cycling effort.


This just in. Michael Phelps wrote me and said he doesn’t find me that interesting either so I guess we’re even. 

For the last three years, on the last Thursday of July, I’ve ridden my bike around Mount Rainier with 799 other gluttons for punishment. 152-154 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing fun. I just learned that this year I will be on the outside looking in since I will not make it off the waitlist. I’ve spent the last couple months impressively working my way through the waitlist peloton, but I simply started too far back.

Now I don’t know what the purpose of going on with cycling and even running and swimming is. I’m not entirely sure yet, but I suppose life is still worth living. If you’re wondering why don’t I do a personal version of RAMROD, it just wouldn’t be the same without Travis and Dave, the unrivaled scenery, and the Crystal Mountain sandwich food stop. 

That giant sucking sound you hear is my motivation to go long. In fact, why ride at all, why run, why swim, why move from the couch? I think I’ll just sleep in, stay in bed, eat, and smoke cigars. I’ll sell my bike on craigslist and use the proceeds to buy new pants and belts. It’s a nice carbon frame, 60cm, with Dura-Ace 7800 components. I’m now accepting offers. I also have a few pair of size 11 Mizuno Wave Creation running shoes still in the box,  some new goggles, a pair of zoomers, paddles, jammers, a gym bag, a Masterlock, some Infinit mix, a YMCA card, and wife who probably won’t have much interest in me in a few months.

Then again, there will be more of me to love. 

Take a good look at this picture of me at the Pre-Classic in June because the next time Dano snaps my picture, he’ll need a wide-angle lens.

The "Before" Picture


Missed Opportunity

After Beijing, some wondered whether Michael Phelps’ eight gold medal winning performance would inspire many more young people to take up competitive swimming. My guess is his dramatic success has lead to a slight increase in participation.

One problem though, I wonder if other people are like me and, outside the water, don’t find him the least bit inspiring. He doesn’t appear to have anything interesting to say and seems downright uncomfortable on the national or global stage. I can’t help but wonder what the impact would be on youth swimming if the eight gold medal winner was an articulate, engaging, and even charismatic young man or woman with a social conscience.

Think Cassius Clay in a speedo and goggles.

Fitness Friday-7/17


7/6 M T W R F SA SU Total
S     2,800         2,800 √-
C             17 (rain) 17 √-

6.3 47+


6.3 46:23Yak 6.3 52Pasco 6.3 48:30Pasco   10.3 1:19+   35.5 √+


Light week because I was making the big bucks as an itinerant teacher educator last Monday through Thursday in warm, sunny, eastern WA.

S. A student turned me on to a aging, outdoor 50m pool in Pasco. Hour lap swim, $1. No lane lines and a serious side current in the middle made it feel like an open water swim. Also had to keep looking forward to avoid a head on collision. I was planning to make up yardage Friday through Sunday, but wasn’t feeling 100% and haven’t been terribly motivated to swim lately.

C. Same thing applies to the bike. Plan was to make up some ground Friday through Sunday, but procrastinated until Sunday when the weather turned nasty. I just read an Outside Magazine article on Armstrong. He talked about the terrible weather during his most critical training period back in the day in Boone, NC. He said the weather was awful, “but we nutted up and rode.” I failed to “nut up” on Sunday when the skies opened up. I was more Sarah Palin than Lance Pharmstrong, I mean Armstrong.

R. No bike, no pool, but one always has running shoes. Good four day stretch that made Saturday’s 10+ miler easier than normal. Cooled down in Ward Lake.

Next week I’m home and not busy, then back over the mountains.

Why Merit-based Teacher Pay Is Not A Good Idea

There are several reasons, but the most important coincidentally relates to health care reform. In a recent New Yorker article Obama is supposed to have read very closely (The Cost Conundrum, June 1, 2009) Atul Gawande examines why health care providers vary so much in terms of cost and quality and why cost and quality often aren’t related. Late in the article Gawande turns to the Mayo Clinic as a model of topflight efficiency and quality.

“It’s not easy,” he (a Mayo administrator) said. But decades ago Mayo recognized that the first thing it needed to do was eliminate the financial barriers. It pooled all the money the doctors and the hospital system received and began paying everyone a salary, so that the doctors’ goal in patient care couldn’t be increasing their income. Mayo promoted leaders who focussed first on what was best for patients, and then on how to make this financially possible. No one there actually intends to do fewer expensive scans and procedures than is done elsewhere in the country. The aim is to raise quality and to help doctors and other staff members work as a team. But, almost by happenstance, the result has been lower costs. “When doctors put their heads together in a room, when they share expertise, you get more thinking and less testing,” Cortese told me.”

Here’s the public schooling parallel. “The aim is to raise quality and to help teachers and other staff members work as a team. . . . When teachers put their heads together in a room, when they share expertise, you get improved teaching and learning.”

So Arne, in your vision, will merit-based pay decisions be made on a teacher-by-teacher basis? If salary allocation is a zer0-sum game, and I’m a teacher who is excelling, why would I share my most successful materials, my most effective teaching strategies, my best insights with my colleagues? The answer, of course is, I wouldn’t. And so how will teachers who have beat a permanent retreat to their respective classrooms, create improved academic achievement?

The runner up problem is hypocrisy. Arne, is your salary merit-based? What about Obama’s? The members of Congress? District superintendents? Principals? What about the CEO’s who have seen their salaries and pensions skyrocket at the same time their company stock has fallen? What about the 80-90% of people’s who are not commission-based salespeople? If merit-based pay is so good for the goose, what about the gander?

Fitness Friday—7/10


6/29 M T W R F SA SU Total




x   3,650       4,000 √-


  54 900’       



  59+ 1,606’       




    37 1,578’       

18.4 solo


150 √+


6.2   7.1       


  9 hills/trails       

Ward Lake



  31 √


S. Chose not to swim T so came up short on yardage. My excuse? Phelps returned to competition and I didn’t want to steal any of his limelight. 

C. The best I’ve felt and the strongest I’ve ridden all year. Too bad I peaked right after the Astana Tour de France team roster was finalized. Highlight was bridging up from no man’s land to the lead group on the second climb in Capital Forest and then being in the middle of things all the way home. 

R. Fair amount of trail running. The team is in pretty solid shape. Cooled down at the end of both F’s and SA’s runs in Ward Lake. A favorite summer tradition.