It’s not too often that I talk about companies or products here.  I have talked about some cycling, running and triathlon related products over the years, especially once I’m confident that it’s something that I like.

This is one of those times.

Actually, a moment to rave about some phenomenal customer support from one of the companies.

The company is Light & Motion, creators of personal lighting systems for pretty much any activity you want to engage in, on ground, in the air or in the water.

The story:

I bought a set of Stella 300 Dual headlights back in autumn of 2009.  I needed them for my bicycle commute to/from work in Germany.  If you’ve lived in Germany, the winters are cold and dark.  Very dark.  Especially if you spend a large amount of time riding through the forest, hoping to dodge any deer or boar that want to cross the trail.

Brilliant riding!

They treated me extremely well through 3.5 brutal German winters, including two in a row that the German weather service declared “the worst in 40 years”, followed by “the worst in 41 years”.

Days like this:

Winter Riding in Germany

Except when I was commuting, it was pitch black except for what the Stella would illuminate.  Which on a snowy ride like this, pretty much everything was illuminated for a good 30-40 yards ahead.

Like I said, brilliant riding.

Here in Oregon, I don’t need them for daily commutes, instead breaking them out on occasion, like every Monday to get home from the bike polo game.  A couple of months ago I realized they were not working as they had, or should.  So I contacted Light & Motion.

A bit of talking back and forth and they suggested that I send it in for a look.  Which I did.

They arrived back at my front door today, an almost completely brand new set.

Looking at the work order, it mentions that they replaced the cable (that runs between the battery and the lights) as well as changed out the lights.  In other words, they rebuilt a new set, which is great since they no longer make this model.

So the lights are almost five years old and completely rebuilt.

They covered it under warranty work!

The quote that they gave me prior to the work was extremely reasonable, coming in at around 1/10 the cost of buying a new light kit.  I was pleased with that, knowing that their standard warranty length is two years.  But three years after that point, they still covered it.

Amazing service that was completely unexpected.  Unexpected, but greatly appreciated.

Broadcasting their excellence to the world is the least I can do.

So if you’re in the market for headlamps or headlights or dive lights, buy from Light & Motion.

I know any lights I buy in the future will be from them.


Winner, winner, chicken dinner

For those of you following the blog on at least a semi-consistent basis, you might know that I entered a photo contest held by the local newspaper, Medford’s Mail-Tribune.

No prizes, just a chance to get published in the local paper.

There were four categories relating to the Oregon Outdoors – People’s Choice, where I asked for your help pushing my photo up to the top, and three editor’s choice categories – Wildlife, Landscape and People in Nature.

Although I’m not sure how the final tally for the People’s Choice will work out, looking at the voting web page after voting closed showed my Charioteer sitting at #2.  Out of 342 entries.  That’s pretty humbling.  Thank you!!!  😀

The surprise was the phone call I received on Monday.  Apparently the editors liked my Sparks SUP photo enough that they declared me the winner of the People in Nature category!

Sparks SUP

So on Tuesday I did a phone interview with the editor.  Click here for the story.

Again, thank you all for your support!

Now get out there and enjoy your weekend.

Preferably Outdoors.


But if you must spend a portion of the weekend indoors, perhaps you’d like to follow my new Facebook page.  I will post items there that will not appear in this blog (don’t worry Mom & Dad, I’ll share anything with you some other way).


From now until August 31st, 2013, use the code BAPLaunch when you check out at billandersphoto and save 25% on pre-shipping costs. Thank you for your support!



All done with this training cycle.  Now for a bit of active recovery this coming week.

But first, I need to give credit where credit is due.  I’m married to a true Goddess.  The one who asks me what I want to do during my holiday break, to which I answer “sleep and run”, and she gives me that “Are you serious?” look, to which she already knows the answer.

So that’s what I did over the past two weeks, which was my last Base period before racing at the end of January.

All told, 110.97 miles of running in the past two weeks; 50.43 miles last week, 60.54 miles this week.  Snow, rain, well below freezing, well above freezing.  The whole stinkin’ gamut.  And it was all good.

I did get a few commutes to/from work on the bike, but swapped one ride home for a run, which served two purposes.  And instead of 35 minutes to get home, it took 1:20.  So it really didn’t impact the home life too much.

And the runs were a mix of short hill runs, medium tempo runs and long steady runs.  In other words, a normal training plan.  But it wasn’t all normal.

– A 10-mile tempo+ run last Monday, which started out slow thanks to the 50 miles of the previous week.  The first three miles were OK, but nothing to get excited about.  Then the gears switched and I was rolling through the forest at a comfortable clip, finding my groove.  The (+) portion of the tempo was when I decided to go visit an old friend, the pain cave, whose threshold I hadn’t crossed in quite a while.  I didn’t want to get too deep in, but decided to head over, open the door, look around the make sure that the drapes hadn’t been stolen.  Nothing was disturbed, but there was definitely a layer of dust from lack of use.  I’ll have to get back there soon.  So even after the slow opening miles, I finished the 10 miles just a few minutes off my 10-mile PR.  But I did feel it the next day.

– The 20-miler on New Year’s Eve was a mixed bag of weather.  It was a steady 45F, rapidly changing from sun to pouring rain and back again.  Since the rain was going to be intermittent, I left the shell at home, which made for a few borderline hypothermic moments.  Luckily it cleared out just before sunset, which let it cool down quickly into the upper 30’s(F).  So soaking wet, cold.  I couldn’t get into a warm shower fast enough.  But that worked out well, since it was New Year’s Eve.

– New Year’s Eve detraining – lots of resveratrol was consumed, which my doc (“drink early, drink often”) swears is good for my heart.  And let me tell you, the German’s know how to greet a new year.  I swear every family up and down the street bought hundreds of euro of fireworks.  It looked like a war zone out there.  It did my teenaged-boy heart good.  And though I was perfectly fine the next day, I just didn’t get out the door to run.

– Today’s 15-miler through the ice/snow was great, especially considering the amount of miles these legs have endured in the past 14 days.  Although after a poor night of sleep, I wasn’t too motivated.  Goddess got me through that (something about “get out now”).  The legs were heavy and tired, but found their rhythm after a few miles.  Then a nice negative split.  Nothing too drastic, but considering the abuse that I’ve put myself through, I can’t be anything but pleased with that.  It was a great way to close out the cycle.

So now it’s a recovery week, which will include some thigh-busting skiing in the Alps.  And if that doesn’t teach the quads who’s boss, I don’t know what will.


Year in Review – 2009

Lots of thoughts during these long runs about posting a year in review.  Some discussion with other folks on their year’s in review.  For me, the review is only meaningful to the one posting it, unless the numbers posted are compared to the year’s goals and/or previous year’s totals.  Otherwise they’re just numbers.

So for those of you who want numbers, you won’t find them here (unless you read above).  I look through my numbers fairly often in both Training Peaks and SportTracks.  Matter of fact, I keep a rolling 10- and 28-day chart in my SportTracks to make sure I’m not doing anything too crazy.  With the move to Germany this year, there wasn’t any sense in setting annual goals, since there were way too many variables.  All of my short-term goals were early in the year (March’s LBL 60K and April’s Country Music Marathon) and were resounding successes, even if I didn’t meet certain time goals.  I learned quite a bit, including how much I enjoy a good trail run.

But thanks to the commute to/from work, my bike mileage jumped considerably over last year, which had a six-month chunk taken out thanks to a deployment to Iraq.  No cycling during that time.

And what will 2010 bring?  Who knows.  A 50K at the end of January, then I’ll start searching for something to do later in the year.  The Antwerp 70.3 looks fun (I love that distance triathlon), but finding a swimming pool with good hours is a trick.  The local pool is open 10am-10pm, but is too far from work for a lunchtime swim.  After work I’m usually too knackered to do anything.  Plus, that’s Goddess’ time.  So unless I think I can pull off a 70.3 without any lap time…

So here’s to a great year for each and every one of you.  If you’re one that makes resolutions, I hope that the resolve you currently have lasts through the year.

Building Up & Breaking Down

Lovin’ the weather here in Southwest Germany.  Winter finally arrived last week, smack dab in the middle of my recovery week.  Not just a tease, but a full-on, in your face arrival.

Thursday morning’s very isolated snow-shower pretty much shut down any commute for anyone on the south side of Heidelberg.  But not for me.  Gotta love the bicycle.  I floated through the forest and across the fallow fields on a pillow of fresh snow.  Shaking my head at all the poor folks in their single-file parking lots.  Once I got into town, I dropped the tire pressure to 35 p.s.i. and the studs stuck to the ice.  No issues at all.  My commute was extended by only 2-3 minutes, which would be about the time that it took for me to let the air out of the tires as well as account for some creeping around corners (I haven’t found the edge of control with the studs yet).  For those on four wheels, the commute was extended anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.

Friday was a bit more of the same in the afternoon, but everyone on four wheels seemed to behave themselves.  Then the cold set in.

Saturday was a bit chilly, dipping down to +4°F (-15°C) and gradually warming up to +12°F (-11°C) by early afternoon.  Luckily there wasn’t much wind, so the run wasn’t bad at all.  Matter of fact, I layered too much and was peeling off layers, caps and gloves just a few miles into the run.

Here it is, Monday, the Winter Solstice, and we still have a fair covering of snow on the ground.  Perfect for jumping in to the next Base period.  But I’m jumping ahead of  myself.

As I said above, last week as a recovery week.  That made it week three of my Base 2 cycle for my next race on January 31st.  Being the “old guy” that I am, following Friel’s protocol of using three week cycles for folks over 40, vice the four week cycles for those under 40, has worked quite well for me.  Especially since I’m not focusing on long-course triathlon right now, but instead basically living the life of a duathlete.

So Base 2 was a good cycle.  Through the second week I pushed my running mileage up to 35.5 miles.  Nothing extravagant, but on top of my 90-miles of commuting each week, the legs are getting abused a bit.  And with another Base cycle, leading into my Build cycle, I’ll be dancing very close to my upper manageable limit of 60 miles per week of running.  That’s not counting the commute.

Besides, if I’m to run more than 60 miles per week, I better be getting paid for it.

The workload wasn’t overwhelming, but for some reason the recovery took a bit longer than normal.  Perhaps all of the holiday parties?  Typically I’m good to go by Wednesday.  Last week it took until Saturday before I felt fresh.  But that’s OK. 

It’s the result of doing good work.  And some good parties.

Today’s run, warmer than this weekend, looked similar to the photo at right, although not as deep.  The nice thing is that it adds a nice bit of strength training to the run.  Although strength training in the middle of 10-mile runs are typically not the best thing for the legs.

But it’s good work.

Since I’ve taken this week off from work, the commute isn’t necessary.  So that leaves my legs fresh for the runs, which will tally up to ~50 miles.  Next week there will be just a few commute days, so bike mileage will remain low, but I’ll have to ramp up the miles through the weekend, seeing how close to 60 miles I can dance without overdoing it.  And then rush headlong into the next recovery week, which includes several days of skiing.  But it’ll be good recovery from running.

What’s interesting is that right now, with a full Base cycle followed and Build cycle still to come, I’m aerobically in better shape than I was going in to last March’s 60K Trail Run and significantly better than when I ran my 40-miler in September, 2008.  That isn’t a subjective feeling, but looking objectively at output from the Training Load plug-in for SportTracks.  So things are looking good.  The trick will be keeping injury free over the next few weeks as I ramp up the miles.

Then crank out an enjoyable 50K in six weeks.

But my challenge right now isn’t with the running.  It’s with eating.  I know that’s a funny thing to say during the holidays, but it is what it is.  With this workload I need to be ingesting approximately 4,000 calories per day on average.  That’s a lot of food, especially since I don’t eat a “normal” western diet, full of processed carbs, fats and salt.  Basically, if I can’t identify it as something that came directly from a plant or animal, I eschew (or would that be “won’t chew”?) it.  Within reason, of course, because life’s too short to be that strict about anything.  And although I could reasonably identify a Whopper as mostly coming from animals and plants, I stay away from that stuff as much as possible.  And the recent results of my blood work tell me that I’m definitely on the right track.

So I’m typically falling short of that 4,000 calorie mark by somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 calories.  That’s a lot to miss.  It does hamper my workout recovery.  And since it’s such a large daily deficit, I’m not losing weight since my metabolism is slowing down to hold on to every calorie I ingest.  Basically, my body is going in to survival mode. 

Someone hand me a cookie!

<DISCLAIMER: Any and all training that I describe works for me and flies in the face of much conventional wisdom.  The reason it works for me is that I have a few decades of activity and fitness under my belt and know that my body can recover quickly from a given workload.  So don’t think that you could, or should, jump from 35 miles of running one week to 50 miles the next.  If you do, you’ll get hurt.>

When will they put in lanes?

“I swam 4,000 yards today. It was only two laps.” 😉

Behold the world’s largest swimming pool. And no, it’s not a hoax. One lap would be the swim leg of a 1/2 IM! Click on the pic for the story and more pictures.

Although I find it funny that it’s a saltwater pool, separated by 40 yards of sand from more saltwater.

Personally, I’ll swim OW.

News You Can Use

Marathons Cut Risk Of Fatal Vehicle Crashes

So register, run and save a couple of lives.

Oh, but don’t sprint at the end. 😉

Not much news on the training front. I’ve mainly been running for the past month since my marathon. The work schedule has really kept me from the pool during lap swim times. And since the sun sets before I leave work, I haven’t been doing much on the bike. I abhor trainers, even rollers, but I need to get back on them. And with zero triathlons on the horizon, it’s a bit tougher to jump on the trainer, even though I keep telling myself that it’s good for the soul.

Just over nine days until the Mississippi Blues Marathon. I’m running the half, which I’ll treat as a training run for my next full, the 26.2 with Donna, in February. The half is just a good excuse to get out of town for a day and see another part of the country that we haven’t yet, plus get out and shoot some photos. I can certainly run the 13.1 from my front porch, but what’s the fun in that?

Here’s hoping the Holidays are everything you want them to be. We’re nice and relaxed here.

Shirt Rules

Should they apply to swimwear too?

 Let me explain – I’m working a slow, slow night shift.  So I’ve plugged in to to catch up on podcasts.  The one I’m specifically listening to right now is from September 26th and relates to Race Shirt Etiquette.  It’s an interesting one, since I’ve thought about whether or not I should wear my pullover from my DNF.

Anyway, at about 9:37 into the commentary, Ben brought up a point that got me to thinking about the start of my DNF.  Ben states “…Never wear a shirt that is so old, thin and threadbare that you can see the color of your nipples or chest hair through it.”  Good rule, don’tcha think?

So why did the rule immediately make me think about the guy at the start of my DNF, standing in the lake, just deep enough that his coin purse could get wet, in a Speedo that was so thin you could actually see the color of his ass hair?


New Directions

Well, recovery is done.  It’s time to start focusing on dodging the flying monkeys on November 18th.

And that race gets me to wondering about my sanity.  Why can’t I pick a relatively flat course for my first time at any distance?  Especially since I’m not light, bordering on Clydesdale at times.  I’m not what you would consider a climber.

But that’s part of the challenge, right?  😉

The last couple of weeks since my DNF have been interesting.

– Juggling three college courses.  For some reason I decided that I could handle three at once, since IM training was done.  All three are keeping me quite busy.

– Last weekend saw by brother-in-law and his family visit.  We had a wonderful time with them, although the time was short.  The photos I posted last week were from a trip we took with them.

– Working on my new photography web page.  I had sold a fair bit of my photos online over the past couple of years, but I’m no longer comfortable with the company that I was using.  So I’ve switched companies and am starting the web page development.  It’s a work in progress, but if you’d like to browse over and have a look, please do.  It’s  I’ve got quite a few more photos to upload as well as working the layout.  And if you see any that strike your fancy, there’s a purchase option, if you’d like.

– Last week and this have my schedule flip-flopped, covering 12-14 hour night shifts, so I’ve been sleeping the day away and missing the beautiful weather.  At least I’ll be done Friday morning, right before my two long runs this weekend.  Then my work schedule is back to normal.

So what does this mean?  Six weeks of focused running, with a swim and bike thrown in each week to keep the muscle memory alive.  Lots of stretching, lots of miles, but quite a decrease in weekly hours compared to IM training.  So it is a break.  Of sorts.

Hope all is well with each of you!

Friday’s Quote

Getting ready to pack the car, head out to registration, enjoy the buffet and sit through the pre-race briefing.

Who cares what you’ve already done; it only matters what you go out
and do right now.

Kristine Lily, US Women’s National Team

And to put it in context, I’ll include the rest of the e-mail:

A quote from my favorite soccer player who happens to be playing in her record 5th World Cup at the age of 36…She says this in her new adidas commercial, and of course, since it’s an adidas commercial, it ends saying “Impossible is Nothing.” More good words for you.

Thank you, Beth! I hope I live up to the words you’ve inspired me with this week.

See ya’ll Sunday.

Countdown and Quotes

Race minus 3.5 days. I’m relaxing and actually haven’t been getting nervous, although as soon as I counted backwards on the calendar just now to come up with “3.5 days”, I could feel that faint tightening in the chest. No worries, though.

What’s done has been done and I can’t do anything else to get me ready. But I can throw it all away (I won’t). I have had a niggling pain behind my left knee for about a week now, so I’ve kept away from running. I’ve been getting my bike and swim in though.

Friday night I checked the water temp and saw that it was down to 80F, five degrees colder than the week before. We had a good couple of days of thunderstorms, so the heavy rain helped drop the temp. Of course, the “what if’s” kicked in and I realized I needed to think about renting a wetsuit. Turns out that I needed to order it by Friday noon in order to get it in time. So much for that idea. There’s no place local to rent, either. So what must one do? Punt.

I got out to the lake Monday morning, sans wetsuit. Conditions were similar to what they’re forecast to be Saturday, so it was a good test. I jumped in and it was fine. The beauty is that I generate so much heat when I exercise that I’ll be plenty warm. A wetsuit probably would have made me overheat.

The beach where we’ll race from is closed for the season, so I parked down the shore then hiked the path most of the way to the beach. I found a spot that let me spot a dock about 1/2 mile away and I figured that was a good swim plus sighting test. Straight line all the way, baby! And that’s what I swam. When I got the the dock, there was a couple bundled up in fleece jackets and jeans, looking at me like I was nuts. But the water was about 15 degrees warmer than the air, so I was good. I smiled, turned and spotted my way back to my starting point. All in all, a good swim.

Traipsing back through the forest to the car, I realized that I was walking in sandals through prime copperhead country, since I decided to depart the path. Not a good feeling, especially since I was out there alone and my goddess was in the airways between Oklahoma City and Chicago at the time. Not much she could have done for me there. Oh well, at least they could have used my Road ID to identify my body.

Water temp today is 79.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine surprised me with a wonderful e-mail. Apparently she’s been waiting for this week to send me some inspirational quotes. And she started off with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Ayn Rand.

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice your world to those who are at its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man is at his best with uncompromising values, and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.

Today she sent her favorite poem. Amazing words here:

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.

Thank you so much for the inspiration and support, Beth!

I’ll continue to share throughout the week.

Time to go get my bags ready…