Saturday, November 24, 2007

Turkey Trot at the Zoo

Avery ran the 1/2 mile "tot-trot" at the zoo on Thanksgiving morning. Here's a picture - as you can see, she's so fast, that the only picture Jas could take turned out blurry. :-) And her Dad had a tough time keeping up.
Avery would like to say: "I'm fast, like a girl! Because I'm five, and, I am a girl, so I can run fast!".

Friday, November 16, 2007

Matters of the Heart Rate Monitor

My fancy new HR monitor has a “fitness test” built into it. Basically, you lie down, very still, for about 5 minutes, while the watch monitors your heart-rate. At the end, it gives you a number. A higher number is better. In the manual, you can find your number on a chart and see how you compare. Apparently I can lie motionless significantly better than the average untrained person. So I’ve got that going for me.

Another feature I like is the “total number of heartbeats”. Today during my run, my heart beat 10,927 times. I’m not sure how to use this. I suspect that’s what separates me from the elite runners out there.

Yesterday I encountered a big scary dog, which ran up to and jumped up at me, while his owner made no effort to call him back or restrain him. Luckily it just wanted to play – but it did scare me and force me off the trail. I noticed my heart rate spiked quite a bit after that – first from the fright, then from anger at the owner for not controlling his dog. I’m not sure if my cardiovascular health benefited from the extra heartbeats. Or if my heart rate spike was tempered by my better-than-average ability to lie motionless while wearing a heart rate monitor.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Balloons, Kids, and Marginally Obscene Birthday Cakes

We had Avery’s 5th birthday party Sunday evening. Avery wanted a “princess party”, so that become that theme of the event. Guests included 3 boys and 4 girls, including Avery. Per the theme, the girls were dressed in full princess attire, which was about the most adorable thing ever. The boys, as per their custom, came dressed as typical filthy little five year old boys.

For some reason, each year we end up blowing up about a hundred balloons and scattering them about the house for the party. Within about .02 seconds of the first guest’s arrival, we remembered that balloons + little kids = chaos and NOISE. The kids had a riot throwing, catching, chasing, and attacking the balloons. Amazingly, nothing popped until 0:28:00 into the party. Unsurprisingly, this discovery led to balloon pops 2 through 20 within the next 0:00:30.

Balloon chaos theory also suggests, and the data supports that five year olds in a room full of balloon naturally tend to maximize their velocity, while peripheral vision is minimized. Results of this are easily predictable. At most points in time, there was at least one kid having wounds attended, and one kid facing disciplinary action.

For dinner the kids had pizza, as is done in 99.746% kids birthday parties, according to recent studies. We decided it would be fun to let the kids make their own, so we got them each a pita, covered it in pizza sauce, and let them add their own toppings. Being five year olds, toppings meant: 1) cheese, and 2) more cheese. Then back to the chaos while the pizza’s cooked. The party’s one moment of calm came after I removed the pizzas and got the kids seated at the table, each waiting for their “customized” (cheese) pizza. “Who had the broccoli and mushroom pizza?” I asked. Silence…. “They all have broccoli and mushroom!” I declared, to shocked, horrified, but blissfully silent stares from the kids. Note to self: 5 year olds are gullible.

The highlight, and perhaps lowlight, of the party was the cake. Per the theme, Jasmine baked a “princess” cake. It was an impressive sculpture of a cake, where the cake itself too the form of a the lower part of a poofy princess dress, encrusted with shiny red pomegranate “jewels”, and on top of which was a princess Barbie torso, arms, and head. Interestingly, the Barbie torso itself was topless, save for the icing that served as the upper portion of her “dress”. What the kids saw was a pretty princess cake. What I saw (and I wasn’t alone among the grown ups!) saw was a busty topless woman popping out of a cake, covered only in icing. The cake received rave reviews from little girls and adults, accordingly. The little boys were mostly indifferent. As Jasmine cut the cake, Avery licked clean the Barbie torso, taking great care to ensure no tiny bit of icing was wasted. Gluttonous and obscene! Must be a good party…

My own birthday was on Friday. I got a new heart rate monitor / altimeter, which is really cool. I was having trouble for a couple days getting it to download data from the watch to the computer though. In my frustration, I thought perhaps I’d never figure it out. I decided that I could still get all the training benefits of a good heart rate monitor (training by heart rate zone, etc) without downloading data, and that, for me at least, there no real training benefit at analyzing heart rate data on the computer. I think the real purpose in graphing the data on the computer is the ego stroke: “Hey, look how my heart almost exploded on that 1000 foot climb”.

So yesterday I fixed the problem, got the data downloaded, “analyzed” my latest workouts, and stroked my ego appropriately. “Look, Avery, here’s where daddy ran to the top of a huge hill!”. (“Wow daddy” she says. She’s polite, but not yet skilled enough to fake sincerity). :-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Avery, Across the Years

Avery turns 5 on Thursday. (I turn 36 on Friday, but that's another story). I though I'd see how she's changed each year! I can't figure out how to arrange these in any sensible order.... but I think you'll figure out which one goes with which year.

In Other news, Avery and Jasmine, and friends Karen, Ava, and Lily (and Aria is in there somewhere) appeared on the cover of the local paper:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Indian Summer

Jas and I were talking about my very limited blog entries. I think entries to date add up to two. There was a proposal floated to change the name of the blog from "Matt's Big Blog" to "Matt's Smaller than Average, yet Perfectly Adequately Sized Blog", but that just doesn't have a nice ring to it.

The nice fall weather is upon us here in Oregon. I took advantage to the fullest last weekend. Friday afternoon I took off work to spend the day mountain biking. Saturday I took Avery to the OSU beaver game (OSU 23, Stanford 6), preceded by Avery's first tailgater. After the game, Chris, Tim, and I drove up to Cloud Cap on Mt Hood. We arrived at ~ midnight Saturday night, had a few beers, and slept under the full moon in the dirt parking lot. The next day we hiked up to the Elliot Glacier and did some ICE climbing. Chris took come cool pictures at: I'm the one in the yellow helmet.

In other notes:

I've got my application in for WS100. ( The lottery is Dec 1. Wish me luck! Still working on plan-B, should the lottery not be kind to me. But a 100 miler is the goal for next year. I've been working on my 100 mile pace in all my training runs. (i.e. running really slowly!).

Jasmine got juried successfully at the corvallis art guild. And she'll soon have one or more paintings on display at the pegasus gallery in Corvallis. I'm worried though, that she'll sell all my favorite paintings!

I put a bunch of photo albums on-line at Mostly these are Jasmine's pics from races this year, that had been posted at But imagestation is soon-to-be defunct. So now they're here.