Yes, I managed to run, bike AND swim!

And finished in 2:44:32. So now I think I have found my new gig. Yup, perhaps it is time for me to give up my day job and become a professional triathlon-er. Bagel shop by day! Triathlon-er by night. (Maybe I should work on the lingo first!)

I can safely say I loved every grueling minute of it – from the 4:30AM wake-up call, to the nice little dip in the freezing cold lake almost four hours later.  I would take the triathlon over the marathon any day.  No blisters, no toe damage, no three-days of immobility – just some sore “biking muscles” and the number ‘5026’ tattooed all over my body in black permanent marker. (Two showers later and it’s still there) I must say that the triathlon plays perfectly into my “lack of attention span” (hence ‘goldfish’) as the change up of events kept me on my toes – at least the four that are left after the marathon last year. jk, kinda)

I am also thinking that I will start the  “Angela Self School of Triathlons”. It will be geared towards those triathlon-ers who “prefer to prepare not to prepare” or “like to ignore stuff until it is staring them in the face”.  I learned this tactic as an employee at IBM (since unless it was happening in the next 24-hours it just wasn’t on your radar!) and will continue to use it until proven wrong, which is bound to happen no doubt.  I think I will charge enough to offset my expenses on the professional circuit. (Info-mercial to follow)

I will end with some pictures (of course!) and some other ‘Notes from Self’. *Photos courtesy of Mr. Engineer Boyfriend.

  • Eat Jason’s Deli for lunch and Penny’s(Thai) for dinner. Do NOT eat at Portillo’s. Shocking I know, but I did the Portillo’s thing before the marathon last year and didn’t fare as well. *Note, while the pink donut with sprinkles will also work, this should only be eaten when you will be doing the swim only.
  • DO fall into the “reverse psychology” trap. I did. This way when someone like Mr. Engineer Boyfriend says “you don’t stand a chance in the swim”, you can keep repeating that to yourself while you are scraping seaweed off your goggles and inhaling nasty lake water and decide “whatever, let them eat wake!”. *Note, this has worked for quite sometime, just ask the “iPhone hating guy” from the Blackberry post back in ’08 – he’ll tell you about the tree trunk episode way back when.
  • DO NOT know how to change a bike tire. It’s overrated. I just don’t think girls change tires. That is what we have boyfriends for. I don’t want that horrible black chain grease stuff on my hands anymore then you do. Less is more in my opinion. The less you know the better off you’ll be.

Wondering what I am about to get myself into.

I’m the one with the green goggles.

ah, iPhone. First thing I did was to get you back in my hands again.

note, I am freezing here.


Theme Me Up Scotty: The Clearspace Edition

It was bound to happen. I mean I couldn’t hold out forever. I have now been at Jive for over thirty days and thus feel it is safe for me to start waxing eloquent on the ways of Clearspace, you know to my two non-technical followers. (Hi Mom!! Hi Dad!) I also got a kick out of the title of this post. No one at Jive will get it (nor will Ma Self unfortunately) but maybe some of you IBMers might.  And no, I didn’t “go there” because IBM still owes me $53.84 on my Amex card.  $53.84 that I am sure they would have collected from me of course!  Okay, well maybe I did, just kinda ☺

Let me first hit on some of the basic steps that I have mastered here at Jive in a little “how to” with just a few “shout outs*” on the Clearspace side.

First, let me begin by prepping for a little theme development. Oh wait, I don’t have to locate some obscure .xmi file hidden deep within the confines of WebSphere to disable caching first?  Hmmm. Nor do I have to wait the eighteen minutes while Portal restarts?  This just seems too foreign to me.  I don’t gotta do nothin’.

So first on the Clearspace side and step number eighty-five on the WebSphere Portal side I am going to change the logo in the top left corner of the page.  Here’s the kicker! In Clearspace I don’t ever have to touch the file system. I can do this all though a web UI. (Granted yes, okay Portal now has that “Theme Builder Portlet” and Jive has the “Theme Builder Plugin” so I think they can both just cancel each other out there. I’m talking about ‘theme-ing’ for the hardcore users here!) So here are the steps:

  1. Log into the Admin Console of the Clearspace instance.
  2. Navigate to System -> Management -> System Properties.
  3. At the bottom choose to Add a New Property.  Name the property skin.default.headerHTML
  4. Set the following value with a link to your own Branding image.  In this example I just linked to an image I had uploaded to Clearspace. You know why I can do this? Because every file upload, blog, discussion, etc. has its own unique addressable URL.  Weird how that works, huh? ☺

<table cellspacing=”10px”>
<tr><td><img src=””&gt;

Next I want to change the way the top banner renders. Now let me remember, I need to find the banner.jspf file, the topNav.jspf file, a CSS file that is actually a set of three JSPs….nope, not with Clearspace!!! Heck, I don’t even need access to the file system, once again! Instead I have the ability to create a “custom css” template that can be used to override the default CSS settings.  Here is all I need to do:

  1. Log into the Admin Console of Clearspace.
  2. Navigate to System -> Settings -> Themes.
  3. For this example I will just edit the custom theme available out of the box. So click Edit next to this theme.
  4. Select the template from the dropdown named /template/global/custom-css.ftl. Click Create New Template.

(Now using firebug you were probably able to figure out which class definitions you needed to include to change the banner but I will list them below.)

5.  For the Template Value enter the following with your color, width, etc. specifications.

/* custom-css */
#jive-userbar {

Do the same with any other CSS Class definitions that you find.  Next all we need to do is handle the Theme mapping aspect. Yes, this part is just like the “Color Palette” option in Portal but without all the steps.

6.    Back on the main Themes page in the Administration console under Global Theme Map, select custom. That’s it. Refresh your page and you have a new theme.

So before I end, and I know this has been a long one. I do want to point out something particularly interesting about this Theme Mapping aspect. Here you have the ability to map a custom theme at a Space level, sub-space level or even to a particular blog. All in one location!

* Note: all “Shout Outs” will be subtly highlighted throughout this post.

The Cat-o-larium

(Yes, Ma Self, this ones about you again. You are just such an easy target. ☺ )

This past week I got the chance to kill two birds with one stone and visit the ‘rents in Baltimore while seeing a customer in Philly. (I won’t mention the fact that Ma Self and I were partying it up at Denny’s (yes, you heard me right, Denny’s) until about one in the morning the night I had to drive to Philly but oh well).

When I visit my parents I stay at my moms’ house with her and her two cats – Lucy (Luc-i-fur) and Bob. I am deathly allergic to cats of course – but this doesn’t stop Ma Self from contemplating a third cat at the same time that she is apologizing to me for the fact that “Lucy” seems to prefer to sleep on my bed. “I mean that is where she finds herself the most comfortable”. The cats don’t get along (I use that term lightly) and the third cat is somehow meant to alleviate the situation. At least that is what Ma Self’s kitty psychiatrist tells her.

Both Luc-i-fur and Uncle Bob are pure-breads. (Yeah, I didn’t know they made pure-bread cats either.) She paid the big bucks for them (more then Myles) but I guess if you are going for the hypoallergenic kitty one has to be prepared to spend big. (A hypoallergenic cat is about as real to me as the ‘seamless’ integration between Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr but I digress.) Lucy came first and she was cute as a kitten but in true cat fashion she now refuses to speak to anyone except for Pa Self. With Lucy Ma Self had grandiose plans for a “scratching palm”. This would be a multi-story structure that would be wrapped in brown rope (for the scratching) and topped with some fake palm leaves (for the palm part). Ma Self lost interest in that project shortly thereafter and so in her living room now just stands a “scratching trunk”.

Next came Bob, the bane of Lucy’s existence. Bob demanded more then “just a tree trunk”. Bob longed to be one with the birds and the squirrels. So Ma Self tried to train him to stay in the fenced in backyard, like one would a dog. But seeing that cats can climb trees and generally have little regard for rules, Bob would scurry away and stroll back home around dinnertime after the rest of us spent a frantic afternoon searching for the Gucci of all cats. As a result Ma Self decided she would fence in her deck and create what I now refer to as the “cat-o-larium”.

So here it is, the finished product. Note how um, curious my dad is. He is trying to think of something nice to say I think. Oh and that is Bob in the background. He likes it so I guess it was all worth it. Ma Self did say though that this is seasonal. That when it rains, is windy, snows – basically not 75 degrees and sunny, the whole contraption collapses. Guess its time to go back to the scratching palm.

I gotta Run, Bike and Swim?!?

In January I signed up for a triathlon.  What can I say? It was a slow time at work — not much left to buy on the Internet and not much going down in the celebrity world.  At the time it was merely a blip on my radar – I mean it was in August! There were still six months of winter and three hundred dog walks (in sub-zero wind chills) sitting between me and that silly little triathlon.  Well, not anymore! I have exactly three weeks to go and I am officially about thirteen weeks behind in training. I blame IBM. I mean why not. ☺

About two weeks ago I decided to get serious. I ‘googled’ triathlon training programs (once I figured out how to spell ‘triathlon’) and managed to find one that advertised an ‘accelerated’ program.  Since the Internet never lies I figured I this one would do and dug out the cap and goggles and kicked it into high gear.

The running part was cake. I have been running ever since all the other sports started costing money and requiring better planning skills.  I have no idea how far I will be running in this triathlon thing but I do know that I have a super cute “running shirt” picked out. It matches my new kicks – white with some light blue highlights.

Biking is another story. In order to get Mr. Engineer Boyfriend off my back I reluctantly agreed to use the “clippy” pedals. I am not sure if you are familiar with the concept but for someone who can wipe out riding in normal pedals, clippies are a guaranteed injury/injuries. I was given a complete dissertation as to why I should use the “death pedals” to which I paid little attention but then I found some cute blue “clippy shoes” that matched my ensemble and so I was sold. Two skinned knees and pretty banged up elbow later I am pretty good I think. Well as long as I don’t have to stop very often…or bike in crowds.

Finally there is the swim.  Now the problem here is that I hate being cold. Hate it.  I can be cold when it is 85 degrees out – ask anyone.  This, as you can assume, makes swimming in Chicago really, really challenging.  For one there is the fact that the lap-swim hours in the public pool are way early and that chlorine turns my hair green. The second thing is that in order to get the real triathlon experience I was going to have to suck it up and take a dip in the Lake, as in the Lake Michigan – the one that probably borders with Canada or something.

So this past Friday I gave it a go. All gussied up in my wetsuit (which I might add is about the most unflattering of all swimming costumes!), swim cap and goggles I trotted down the beach avoiding the syringes and broken glass to the water. I dipped ‘Lucky’ (my big toe) in and immediately I was frozen. I have no idea how I am going to survive the swim. I lasted about twenty minutes on Friday and spent the next four hours chattering (and picking nasty seaweed out of my hair!).

Basically I think it is safe to say I am, well, screwed. While I might have had grandiose dreams of becoming big on the triathlon scene I think my only goal now is to survive. The same goal I wound up setting for myself when I signed up for the marathon last year. I gotta stop doin’ this. Hopefully this year I will be swamped in January and not go down this path again.

Oh, and can anyone tell me how long each event is in an Olympic Distance triathlon? Or should I just be surprised on the day of the event?