Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Crowd Reaction

That didn't last long. I've already gotten feedback over my most recent post. My nephew seems to be telling me that it stinks.

I'm sure it is better now with pictures of the little guy. I do have to admit, my brother turned out a cute little bably. Not quite sure how that happened....

Seriously adorable. Aunt Lynda can't wait to spoil him. And then return him to his parents. Mwwaahhaaahhhaahhhaaa.!!!! (evil laugh)

Slowing Down for Summer

We are having record breaking lovely weather here in England and thus, I've been spending the time relaxing and taking Tucker out for long walks and swims. His swimming is getting so much better! Mine, on the other hand, is still quite atrocious. I think I am getting faster these days though - it's all about survival. There is a male swan who has been pestering the swimmers at the lake recently since he has a baby (cygnet). So needless to say, I'm desperately trying not to be the last one in the group!

The nice, long summer evenings make for week day evenings at the pub. Here we celebrated Darran's birthday. (I'm hiding in the back right)

I also have to share my new flowers. So cheerful. I think the heat is making me lazy, this post really is about nothing, isn't it? Good news dear readers, my good friend Beth arrived from Cali this morning and we are off to Prague for the weekend. What better place to spend Independence Day? Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Time Aunt

I'm an Aunt! Congratulations to my brother Bob and wife Tara on the birth of their beautiful baby boy - Tague Sullivan Hart.

Here my dad shows off the little cutie pie. I'm afraid all the good pics are on Facebook and I haven't stolen any yet. I'll try to get some soon.

Here my father is already teaching Tague how to take a nap like a champ. Maybe I should send Tucker to nap with him too?

As for me, I am trying to find the perfect gift for my new nephew. I'm not sure if I can get this across the pond though. I just had to give this guy a hug to try him out. ;o)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup Fever

First off, it is a gorgeous day here in England. Whoever says the weather here is always bad must only bring the rain with them. Absolutely a brilliant day. Anyway, I wanted to try and convey the World Cup fever that has gripped the country but I haven't taken enough pictures to do so. It's like a town is ready for the Super Bowl, but instead it is the whole country. It's amazing and inspiring. I have a feeling the same sort of country pride is not happening back in the States.
I noticed the change a couple of weeks ago when red and white England flags started appearing everywhere. On houses, from flag poles, on cars, draped around statues - I even saw a giant dinosaur wearing an England flag as a cape and with two flags in his little T-Rex hands. Unfortunately, I was on my bike so no picture.

Every pub has flags for all nations to try and encourage you to come in and watch. They usually let you know who they are rooting for however.

I can't even tell you the number of cars I've seen with the flags flying. It seriously is like Da Bears at Super Bowl time of year.

And I had to share one of my favorites, colleagues Annette and Debbie. If you haven't figured it out, Annette is from Germany and Debbie from England. A friendly rivalry. Speaking of friendly rivarly, I've been swimming in the mornings with Tom - who is from Germany, Phillipa - from South Africa and Clark - from England. Add my U.S. nationality to the mix and we've had some fun interactions discussing World Cup group play. That's what is great about being here. It is an absolute melting pot of nations. We quite enjoy taking the mickey out of the bloody Germans, funny accented South Africans and stiff upper lip Brits. Of course, there is nothing to make fun of the Americans about..... Kidding!!! ;o)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Team Spirit

I have to say, I highly recommend joining a club or team. Not only do you get to meet people, but you don't have to race alone if you don't want to (and when I mean 'race', I really mean 'participate'). You can generally find someone else in the race to share rides with, whine with or just be happy you aren't miserable by yourself.

This weekend was the Windosr triathlon. A pretty big event and since it is held locally, the Berkshire Tri Squad (BTS) is out in force either racing or spectating. Again, against my better judgement, I'm including more race photos of my self. This was an Olympic distance triathlon that started out with a swim in the river Thames. Nothing like dodging some swan poo to start your morning.

Darran was camera man extraordinaire taking lots of great photos of the participants and spectators. This was no small feat as the Sprint distance triathletes started at 6:00AM! My wave didn't start until 6:20AM, which had me finishing at 9AM. I took 7 minutes off of last year's overall time (good) but none of the run (bad). Here's a pretty decent photo of our great fans on the left and me smiling on the right. I'm only smiling because there are people I know there. Otherwise, definitely in pain.
Louise wasn't racing this morning so Hironymous got to spectate as well. Tucker had to stay home though.

Two of my favorite people, smug marrieds Tim and Shannon Phillis, occasional Tucker sitters. Shannon did amazingly well for her first race since Ironman New Zealand over two years ago. Well, she did just have a baby so we will give her that. Tim is flashing us his gang sign as he runs by.

Michael, David and Tom cheer us on. Tom finished the sprint and then hung around to 'cheer' us on. And by 'cheer', I mean say annoying things like 'pick up those legs!'. Funny how he did the sprint distance and not the Olympic, eh?

Ian enjoys post race coffee after finishing the Sprint distance. We were happy to see him racing after recovering from a nasty chest infection. Do you think that is a water bottle in his pocket or is he happy to see everyone?

Here I try to sneak by on the other side of the street. I've got both feet in the air (good) but my arms are still way out of control (bad).

I like this picture of Sarah cutting through the pack. She and Gemma did amazingly well after their fab showing in Austria two weeks before. Go ladies!

I think Paul is giving us the 'I'm bored now' sign.

My counterpart - Men's Captain Guy Middelton races by our cheering crowd (isn't everyone in the States excited to see pictures of my partners in crime who you don't even know? Sorry, I just had to share)

I thought Darran took a great photo here. Jo, Jo, Helen, Michael and Dave eagerly await the next person to cheer on. I have to say, it was fantastic seeing these guys. Although, we did go by three times so not much opportunity to slack off in between visits.
Beth Booker looks great in the Sprint. Another wonderful Tucker sitter.
Her husband John Booker (also my racing nemesis) seems to be celebrating his victory. Yes, he beat me again. And by how much you ask? 8 minutes. I tell you, karma just comes back to bite you in the rear end, doesn't it? Congrats to John for a phenomenal bike. I'm no longer competing with this almost 50 year old man. I'm tired of losing when it involves swimming and flat bike courses. :o)

A last picture of a few of the specatators. More were out and about but I can only fit so many pictures on the blog of people you may not know. Thanks to everyone who came out that morning.

Lastly, what else are teammates for but a little friendly competition? I LOVE this photo from the race photographer of German Tom 'helping' Tim Phillis out of his wetsuit. See why it is so much better to race with friends than to race alone?

Monday, June 14, 2010


Vienna is a lovely city and one that I think I would fit into very well. I say that because their are hotdog/wiener/sausage stands on almost every corner. It's almost like living in Wisconsin but with better architecture.
The back side of some serious monuments. The queen in her thrown surrounded by several soldiers. We tried to answer that age old question of 'does the position of the horses feet really say how the guy died in battle?' If you ever live in Chicago, I think they tell you that on the architecture tour.

I'll say it for the five millionth time.. they don't make statues like these anymore. Vienna has this great area called the Museum Quarter. Home to museums, libraries, exhibits, gardens, etc. A great place to wander, enjoy the spectacle and stop for cake.

If you look closely at the top of this building, all the 'spires' on the ends are actually statues of people. We are pretty sure they were erected to be the lightening rods.

Karma. I made it to town just in time for the Vienna Wine Festival.

What does this sculpture say about this archway? 'All who enter get beaten with this giant club?' Cool statue but a little dark, no?

I wish this picture would have turned out better. This is the giant archway protected by said scary statue above. It houses the entrance to one of the museums and is one of the thoroughfares for the horse drawn carriages to go through.

Although I believe this was built quite a while ago, I get the impression that Vienna is ready for the World Cup.

Jo enjoys a little post race refreshment. The largest Snoopy Snow Cone machine ever!

We also took some time out of our wanderings to visit one of the oldest 'fun fairs' in the world. This classic carnival has evolved into a mini Magic Mountain. Here Tom, Michael, Sarah and Julian test out this crazy ride.

This was too cute. The dog is resting on the counter top just waiting for a customer. The sign below the dog says 'Please do not feed the dog'.

The library.

I think the Austrians are afraid of lightening. The sign says 'Due to storm entire park area dangerous!' Otherwise, why is the park dangerous? And what storm? As I was standing there, I was quite unsure.

Another view of the Library. Very Gothic. And for some reason, it reminds me of Ghostbusters. Anyone else?

Outside the library are statues of these little guys. I'm blanking on the name. Cupids? Fat babies? I forgot what they are called.

Statue and flowers dedicated to Mozart. Lots of classical music and opera to be seen and heard in Vienna.
Oh, and another shot from the bus. Thought you might like to see how the bikes get transported back from the race when not packed in boxes underneath!

I went to see the famous Lipizzaner stallions. What actually was most impressive is this indoor arena that we watched them in. The building was built in 1725 specifically for showcasing the horses. The facility is grand and enormous and older than the United States. Way cool.

Umm... can't remember what this is dedicated to. Loved the stonework and the gold leaf on top however.
There you have it folks. A random display of photographs from Vienna. With the pre-race prep, the race and the wandering, it was a great weekend trip.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pre Race Prep

Before the race, the usual antics abound as I try to play tourist and take in the appropriate amount of calories for the race. I do have some great photos of Vienna which I'll share in upcoming posts.

First off, we are picked up from the airport in a 50 person coach. Luxury considering there are only 9 of us. :o)

Jo throws open the windows of the hotel room and we get some air. Why did we have to throw open the windows? No air conditioning in our room. Amazing! Not only are we back in the land of twin beds, no air conditioning! Even I was hot so you know it must have been warm.

Early on we went in search of the one of our favorite pre-race activities: cake! Yumm.... if you didn't know, Vienna is known for it's coffee houses and cakes. Gotta love a city that encourages you to sit around and relax. Tom, Gemma and Paul make me feel better by also ordering some pre-race calories.

Time to exercise the cake out.... interesting location for a pool. Right in the middle of the river.

After much walking, I needed to refuel. (If you haven't noticed by now when I really enjoy my food I have to take pictures of it) This is probably my new favorite sandwich shop. Tons of variety and each for under 2 euros. This round saw me choosing Camembert, roast beef and caviar. Really? Isn't this on everyone's pre-race diet?

After surveying the city on foot, we spent the next day getting the bikes together and touring about to ensure that they weren't going to fall apart on race day. We ended up in front of the Palace but the mean guards wouldn't let us in with our bikes.

Across from the Palace. Half lion, half lady. I say it again, why don't they build statues like this anymore? Isn't this more fun than modern art??

The Palace grounds.

Of course, no visit to a Bavarian country would be complete without a few steins of beer. I had to put my camera in their for reference. Yes, those are litres of beer. Hooray! (And yes, I'm well aware this is still pre-race. What can I say? It is my version of carbo loading)

Tom shows off his super human strength by holding up 3 litres of beer for almost as long as it took to take the picture.

Trying to get a decent Facebook profile shot. Notice how the beer is bigger than my head? My poor chicken arms can barely hold it up.

Ahh... a favorite dish. I had to have schnitzel while in Austria. Accompanied with bread stuffing and my litre. Sadly, I couldn't finish it all. I was close, but I'm afraid I need child size schnitzel portions next time.

Once properly fueled on the day before the day before the race, we now have to head off to the race site to rack our bikes. As the race was located about 50 km outside of Vienna, we decided to stay in Vienna rather than the tiny town. In the end, a good call. Here we are getting ready to ride our bikes from the train station to the race venue. Michael and Jo are looking very chic with their streetwear and expensive bikes.

Tom is sporting the aero helmet look. I think the people at the train station thought he was a space man.

Fancy bikes and other people with fancy bikes. Sarah did most of the hotel and transportation coordination so big thanks to her!

Lastly, the group sits down for a pre-race Italian feast. I must say, it's fun to travel to races in foreign countries with other people. At least people that help you put your bike back together (and celebrate birthdays) after you take it apart. Somehow I always end up with extra pieces......