Monday, July 30, 2007

New bird nest in yard

My bluebird box has been empty since the titmice fledged in June. However bluebirds tried to nest until a house sparrow killed my female bluebird. Never did get me a house sparrow. Anyway, your observant ornithologist didn't know he had a mockingbird nest in the front yard holly bush until it was 2 days from fledging (which was a few weeks ago now). I'm out there regularly enough, but never saw it (nor did I actually look). I figured there was a nest as one adult just sat by the front window and just screeched at one cat or the other all day for a couple weeks.

Well the new nest I just finally found is in the shop in the back of our carport. I saw a Carolina Wren go in there a week or so ago and never saw it come out. Never saw a nest, but I didn't go in the shop. Well I saw it go in carrying food yesterday. Although the shop is closed off by doors, there is a 4 inch gap on at least one side for some reason. I was always afraid a bird would get in there and get stuck. Well my wrens built a nest between paint cans on a shelf and they are half way to fledging! Guess we don't go in there often (don't mow grass too much). Once they get close to fledging, I'm going to open both doors and leave them open to help assure the young can get out. It'd be pretty tricky to escape that narrow gap being a fledgling. They're going to poop all over everything!

We also have the biggest house finch roost I think I've ever seen in my neighbors tree, which extends into my yard. At least 50, likely 60+ roost in this tree! What a racket. I think the state game folks should do something about this. I'll have to give them a call and harass them:)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday Sprint triathlon

This morning was a short sprint triathlon in the middle of nowhere Tennessee, well Pulaski, which is a town in the middle of nowhere.

Details: 200m pool swim, 16.7 mi bike, 3.1 mi run.

We started individually every 5 seconds and I started about 15th. I passed 2 old guys that shouldn't have started so early as they were slow and caused mayhem as traffic in the lanes. Water was very choppy with us starting only 5 sec apart. I gagged a few times and left just a little breakfast in the pool. Not fun, but I was out of the water in 3:11. Fast transition to the bike and rode what was 17.0 miles on my bike computer avg'ing 21.0 mph. The bike course had one really hard hill about 3 miles in that put me in difficulty. It took me a while to recover from that and get into a good rhythm. I didn't take the hills properly and need to work on racing up hills. We also had a few long inclines that had us all riding slow. I was passed by 2 guys on the bike, one of whom I passed easily on the run. The other guy I never saw again:(

The run was an out and back with NO water station! Fortunately it was in the low 60's when we started and I hydrated well, and I didn't crave water. Anyway, fast transition to the run (best so far this year), but I left on my cycling gloves. I didn't realize I had them on until I was heading out of the transition area and putting on my race belt (which holds my number). So I carried the gloves, no big deal. Actually good for wiping sweat. I paced one guy the entire run and he never got more then 30 yd ahead of me. Afterwards he said he kept looking back to see where I was. We ran basically the same pace, which was 7:00 miles. My max pace. I gave everything I had on the run and wanted to puke near the end, but didn't. The guy in front of me started a bit ahead of me and I beat him overall by 20 seconds.

I was the 11th overall male, out of about 70 or so (not sure exact number yet). I got 2nd in my age group with my time of 1:15:09. Pretty happy with it all. I would have won my age group if I was in the 20-24, 25-29, and 35-39 age groups!! One fast dude beat me, but the race was good.

See results at:

Lessons learned: take off cycling gloves with 1-2 miles left, learn to climb hills in a time trial better. My warm-up was good, but it took too long to get into a rhythm.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chattanooga Trip

On Saturday Bec and I met Betsy and Jay in Chattanooga for a visit before a triathlon on Sunday morning. John had a blast playing in the water feature thingees outside the TN Aquarium while I slept. I was zonked and needed a nap. I did the best I could.

Sunday morning, way too early we got up for the triathlon. Like 3am central time. Uh. Wel organized race for 1200 racers. Huge race. The only thing that stunk was being bused to the swim start and sitting around for 90 minutes before we started the race. Was supposed to be 60 min, but TDOT was late setting cones on the highway for the race, so we couldn't start. Typical TDOT.

Distances were 1500m swim (0.9 miles) in the Tennessee River with the current, 25 mil bike, and 10 k run (6.2 mi).

Here's a pict of a one armed guy who did the whole race. How he swam, I have NO clue. Even riding the bike. So any of you that think you can't do a tri, think that a one arm guy can do it. Pretty inspiring.

Swim was super fast because we swam with the current. We got "yanked" out of the water by a bunch of thugs and I managed to get my right shin completely chewed up. I could have pulled myself out fo the water just fine, but they yelled "hands up." So I obligued and they pulled me up on the dock. Long run to transition area, up a bunch of steps, etc. Lots of people there cheering us on, which was cool. I saw Bec while going up the steps.

The bike ride was 26+ miles, not 25 as it was supposed to be and the course was super hilly. Not steep hills, but 0.5 to 1.0 mile long grades which wear you out. I passed a LOT of people on the bike. It clouded up and made the ride quite pleasant, for a race. I got off the bike slower then expected, but since the ride was longer then planned and very hilly, I didn't go really fast. However, I still passed a LOT of cyclists, especially in my age group. The run was rough. I ran slow apparently (still did 7:56 miles), but couldn't go any faster, I tried. We ran/walked up stairs and one short steep hill at the end. It was tough. I passed a couple people in my age group, but not a lot of them. I finished strong, but outside my time goal.

I ended up doing a 2:31:15, placing me 24th out of 114 in my age group (30-34 male). 18th best swim, so that is good. Even though the results online show my swim was 1 min longer then what I did, that probably included the getting out of the water and running up the steps to the transition area. I think it probably took me a minute to get up the hill. Phew.
Just scroll down to the Male 30-34 age group to see results.

See fun picts of the race.


Here are the much sought-after pictures from Flugtag Nashville.

The setup. Teams built floats/planes and pushed them off a barge in the Cumberland to see how far they'd fly.

more skydiving/smoke-writing
unsuccessful flyers

a crash
The winning team: their flying machine is a Kentucky mountain on top of a banjo. The pieces separated and the "mountain" acted as a hang glider and flew 110 feet. The distance set the North American distance record!!!

cool float, poor design

Friday, July 13, 2007


There has been a demand for the Flugtag pictures to be posted, but they have been downloaded on the laptop which is currently in Atlanta. Therefore, I will entertain you with photos from our recent vacation to Lake Nuangola.
We spent the first week in July at my family's cottage. It was a bit cool but we thought it was great since our home had been beastly hot with no AC. (The new HVAC has been installed and we are enjoying the wonderfully cool air.) We got a chance to see some old friends and to relax on the dock. Scott's parents came up for a few days to visit. Scott spent hours riding his bike in the mountains; I did not. All in all, a quite nice break from the real world.
For your viewing pleasure, here are the pictures:

Fourth of July Regatta

Boulder field (caused by glaciers) at Hickory Run Park.


Side note: Grandma and Grandpa Austin moved from their home of 50 years to a new home at the end of June. I don't have pictures of the new place (it's very cute, though), but here is a picture of the old home and my mother on the porch. Also one of the Austin ladies together.