Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wheeze, Cough, Sneeze, Wheeze, Cough . . .

I am sick, actually it feels as if I have been sick most of the Fall and this has made a serious dent in my fitness.

The first four weeks of the Fall Quarter I spent with just enough chest congestion to not be unable to run (raced twice) but just debilitated enough to feel like crap and unmotivated most of the time. One good week of working out (swimming, biking, and running) and then a week where the wheels come off. Weird.

And now, now that the winter break has commenced, I find myself fighting either a cold or a chlorine allergy/sensitivity so bad that it put me in bed for the whole day yesterday. Spent the day sleeping and watching episodes of Star Trek: Phase II. These are pretty well done but it is a little odd to see someone else playing the central characters. Kind of nice to do this really but I am feeling sad for what seems a wasted day.


Not to mention the tendonitis in my knee that I am now working through. 


Sheesh!

How am I going to get any kind of distance at this rate?

I will, it'll be a challenge but there it is.

In the meantime, it's the holidays! :-)

Some random stuff.

I raced last weekend, the 12K's of Christmas in Kirkland, a well-run event. A rather hilly course but one that I have done twice before, once in the pouring rain and again in 20 degree weather. Sunday was a bit misty and cold (normal Seattle weather) and it made for nice running conditions. Given this fall this was a nice test of where I actually am physically and, I happy to say, the news is relatively good. I am not fast (at least not as fast as I was when I did this course the other times) but I do seem strong. This felt like a good hard run and it was nice to have K, a friend of mine coming back after a couple of years away from running (and not by choice), run in with me after his own race.

Running in these kinds of races can be an interesting experience. You see all kinds of things, anything from strange running form to people deciding to squat at the side of the road (remember that carnage in Philly GVB?). During this race I had a guy let go a very smelly and loud fart right in front of me. It took a bit to get out from the smell. Passed this guy only to have him pass me again just before the finish. At least I didn't have to run in his wake. A headphone wearing woman ran into me three times. Not brushed against me mind you but full-on collision. I am not sure what was going on except, perhaps, that she was too busy figuring out whatever running program and playlist was on her iPhone that she wasn't paying attention to where she was going. Better she ran into me than a sign post or a curb or a car or . . . Then there was the guy running with his dog. They got in front of me and the dog is on a six foot leash and is wandering in and out of the traffic lane on 108th. The guy is listening to headphones and is concentrating on his shoe that has come untied when the dog goes back out into the traffic lane just as a double-long bus goes by. I can't believe what I am seeing and literally bark "Dog In!!" This startles the guy and he veers off to the grass verge to tie his shoe. Catches me up a little later on and gives me a look. Hmm.

Next race? Resolution Run with the Polar Bear Dip and then I am thinking of the Nookachamps Half Marathon on January.

Oh yeah, you can't really trust your GPS . . . 


Happy Holidays!

This will be fun!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bye Steve . . .

Steve Jobs died today. It is all over the news and this was important enough that my DW came down to the garage while I was spinning to let me know. Tim Cook's statement not-withstanding here will be a lot of words on his passing. Here are mine.

I first met Lisa at UW-Parkside in the early '80's in a computer lab filled with early IBM machines (the kind you had to boot from a floppy) and Apple 2's. So much fun. More fun than our old Commodore 64 and certainly easier to use than the TRS-80's I learned to program on. Here was something that could "do" something.

Macintoshes soon arrived on the scene. In the evenings we used to have them play MIDI songs in synchronization. And those disks, those tiny disks.

And then I went off to grad school and worked on DOS machines. But, you know, I would make party invitations using one of the Macs in the campus labs. Graphics, different fonts, etc.. Lugged a "portable" DOS machine around during the late '80's before buying my first Mac and that is where it has been ever since.

Learned video, graphics, and layout stuff on a Quadra 650. Animation too.

Stepped on a Powerbook 180 (opps) and replaced it with the machine I used to write my dissertation, a Duo 280.

First work machine? Powerbook Blackbird 5300—rigged for the presentation and multimedia development I needed to do in the classroom. Wasn't Sound Jam cool?

Along the way a couple of new iMac DV's made an appearance in my study and office but, really laptops were the way forward for me.

Powerbook G4? Sweet! And then the MacBook Pro followed by the thrill of the iPhone, the iPad, and a small collection of iPods.

There is a reason.

Some years ago, back when Apple products had made a temporary disappearance from college campuses (due in large part to the short-sightedness of IT decision-makers) a student asked me "Why do you use a Mac?" I thought about this and said "Because it lets me do what I need to do without getting in the way."

And that is really it. Forget "Cool." It just doesn't get in my way.

Of all of the things that Steve Jobs did it is this simple thing that is his greatest gift.

Thanks Steve.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Swimming in the air.

Well, now here is something interesting. A nice three-dee flyover of my Magnuson OWS today.




Killer descent, huh?


.9 miles in 28:40 give or take.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Triathlon #2: ChelanMan Olympic


This is it. This is what all this training has been for. It was a blast and unexpected too.

Let's just say that I was quite nervous in the week leading up to the race and could not keep from smiling during the race.

Here are the stats (BuDu Racing):
Swim Time: 0:29:53.2
Swim Rank: 116
T1: 4:38.5
T1 Rank: 419
Bike Time: 1:53:34.7
Bike Rank: 494
T2: 2:05.
T2 Rank: 305
Run Time: 1:02:38.5
Run Rank: 342
Age Group Place: 19/21
Gender Place: 219/228
Overall Place: 439/503
Overall Time: 3:32:49.9

OK, now here is the long (ish) post (I am tired).

Day One: The Night Before

Sj, Cr, and I drove out together. Rather Cr drove while I lounged in the front seat chatting idly about this and that. It seems so long ago and I honestly cannot remember. Mostly (I suppose) it was about what was happening over the weekend and what we were looking forward to. Sj is coming back from a stress fracture so her goal was to finish, enjoy everything, and have fun. I had been training and wanted to race. My left hip and leg had been bothering me and I knew that that could present a problem on the run. It is an odd thing that all of this soreness simply disappeared the closer we got to Chelan.

I love the drive. The terrain reminds me so much of the hills behind Santa Barbara and the warmth radiates. It is almost as if the land has nothing to hide. You can see every contour under a grass, bushes, and the widely spaced trees. It has been a cool spring and summer in the PacNW this year (here is why) and there was a hint of green mixed among the yellow of the dry grass. Here and there, evidence of the last round of wildfires in blackened tree trunks. I love the smell. Chaparral and other scrub. I love the cliff faces, naked and jagged. Through it all run the rivers of the northwest, strong, cold, and life giving to the communities that line their banks. It was nice to just watch, to loose myself in the scene.

We arrived at about 4:30 and checked in. I was sharing a condo with four other guys. Two were doing the Long Course (Half Iron), two (including me) who were doing the Olympic, and one who, having just completed Ironman Coeur d'Alene, was going to do the Sprint on Sunday. There was tri-gear all over the place competing for space with the various personal effects and food that we had all brought. Triathloning is turning out to be one of the heavier sports I have ever tried.

Off we went to check in, pick up our packets, and rack our bikes for the evening. Very smooth process. Very organized as you can imagine. Two very cool race shirts. Why two? I'll explain later. Race briefing was interesting. Interesting because it was hard to hear and over complicated. Briefing everyone on 3 or 4 simultaneous events has to be a challenge. I was most concerned about the no-drafting rules for the bike. Three bike lengths, passing in 15 seconds, and dropping back if you are passed. There was a USAT Ref out there and, as this is a sanctioned event, they would be monitoring things closely. I

And then it was off to eat dinner and get gear ready for the next day.

I inhaled a spinach pizza and a salad (huge) at one of the pizza joints next door and went back up to the condo to ready my gear and go through my checklist. Not only is this sport heavy it is complicated too. That done I retired early and read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before lights out.

Bunk beds are not the greatest thing ever invented. I understand that they are efficient and probably fun if you are a kid but . . .

I did sleep but, like everyone else, kept on waking up and checking the time. 0500 seemed to come every 30 minutes or so as I would wake up, grab my phone, and check the time only to fall back on my pillow for X number more minutes of sleep. P, who was sleeping on the couch, got up at about 0430 and I decided to just do the same thing. Breakfast (PBJ, banana, and coffee) and a shave (gotta look good for the cameras AND any iota of smoothness will just enhance my hydrodynamic and aerodynamic efficiency). Things were to kick off at 0700 so at 0600 we headed out the door and to the park to prep our transition areas.

The sprinklers had come on during the night and soaked the ground. There was a grassy mud puddle right next to my rack and most people's bike numbers had gotten so wet that they were already disintegrating. I borrowed Sj's pump and got my tires up to 100 psi all the while hearing little explosions as people over-inflated their tubes. At each discharge a little knowing and empathetic sigh would go up. The RD was calling out briefings and urging us to get out to the beach for the swim start.

I had lots of energy and dissipated some of it impersonating a sea lion on the sea wall before going for a warm-up swim. The water was a "chilly" 68 or 70 degrees but I found it quite comfortable. The neat part is that is so clear. Clear enough to see the bottom, the fish, and (unfortunately) the occasional beer can. The water even tastes good, a fact I reported to M who, having just recently learned to swim, jokes that he hydrates during the swim.

What wave was I? It is a blur. We cheered the Long Course people off the beach and watched them power into the distance and then at 0730 the Olympic swimmers went off. My wave started at about 0740. I lined up to the left and outside of the wave. This would give me more than 1500 meters but I would also have more swimming room. The RD counted us down and in we plunged.

The Swim

What a difference practice and one other race experience makes. This start was more crowded than at Issaquah but I felt immediately at home in the water and just started stroking. Not thrashing or windmilling as so many others around me were—stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe on the other side, and so on. Not all out but just steady. Rounded the first buoy and headed for the second glimpsing the underwater line that had been set up. It was pretty crowded on that line so I stayed off to the left and continued to sight. Long leg to the dock (see the map) and there things got interesting. The closer I got to the dock the shallower the water became AND the slower I was moving over the bottom. There was a current that took a bit to claw through. Once through I took advantage of what felt like a following current and sprinted for the finish.

What was I thinking? No singing? No calming. Just enjoying the effort and thinking about the upcoming ride and run. It was nice.

The beach and the swim out. My hands hit the bottom and I gathered my feet underneath my body. Staggered a bit as the sand slid out from under me but heard CL cheering at me. Big smile as I trotted up to my bike.

T1

Much better than last time! Ear plugs help A LOT! I highly recommend these from TYR (Barracuda also makes the same thing or is it sells the same thing). A little trouble getting my suit off. A lot less trouble getting my feet into my socks (baby powder) and then into my shoes. Garmin on, bike off the rack, and off I went running uphill to the mount line. On the bike and then I was off.

Bike:

I love riding. Even though it is a serious business it brings out the kid in me. The love of speed. Make no mistake, I work hard but it is still fun.

This was a 24.8 mile rolling course running along the shores of the lake. I had ridden much of this in May and had a blast on the uphills and downhills. Instead of hugging the shoulder of a busy highway we had the right lane to work in and traffic was being controlled by various volunteers and flaggers. Within .30 miles I was going strongly at 22.3 mph and hugely enjoying it. Was I getting passed? Of course. I would hear the heavy rumble of kevlar race wheels coming up behind me as a rider propelled a very expensive bike pass. I passed people too and traded off with a few. Slowed on some of the climbs more than I would like. Even though I was riding fast (for me) I was also conscious of having to preserve my legs for the upcoming 10K (a simulation of which a couple of weeks ago left me dehydrated and useless for a week) and took it easier on the climbs. Lots of smiling too. The new wheels, Mavic Speed Cities, felt great. Solid. Very solid.

It started to rain. At first little stinging droplets and then harder. The road got more and more slippery and I began to notice lots of soggy race numbers on the side of the road. I went past someone who had been trading off with me and joked "Of course it is raining!" She laughed as did I.

Things were going great. I was averaging 18.5 mph overall with a max speed of 32.5 on a long downhill and a minimum of 7.5 on a climb.

And then . . .

I heard this strange sound coming from my rear wheel. At first I thought it was my race number rubbing the tire (I had it mounted on the seat stay instead of the top bar). No. Hmm. The sound continued and I noticed that my rear tire was losing air. CRAP!

Totally flat by the time I pulled over. OK, time to get to work. Flipped the bike over in the dirt/mud at the side of the road and bikers whizzed by (just as I had done to others with flats). Across the road a father and his daughter were cheering people on. They asked if I needed help. I said, "No. I can't accept outside help but thanks for the offer" and went back to work, hoping that the SAG Wagon would come by (they didn't). Pulled the wheel, got the tire off and the tube out, and ripped my right pinky finger open in the process (not that I noticed). Ran the inside of the tire with my hand. Nothing obvious. AK and KK drove up and took a picture and asked where all the blood came from. Hunh? Blood? :-P

Got the tube placed and the tire remounted, loaded a CO2 cartridge into my little pumpy thing, and charged the tire. COOL! Remounted the wheel and spun it to check. There was a wobble. CRAP! What was wrong? Tube had bulged out. Deflated the tire. Packed it in, getting blood everywhere, pulled out my next cartridge, threaded it in, and, nothing. The CO2 rushed out but the tire didn't inflate. Well, bugger that. Let me try my pumpy thing. Nope. The tube is not taking anything now. CRAP! I am in a race and I am 3 miles or so from the finish. What to do. I start to run with my bike, in cleats. Then I think. Hmm. Don't I have a run to do? Duh!

Riding on a flat tire is an interesting experience. Luckily for me it was the rear that went and I could control things pretty well although the wheel tended to slew out when the should angled down to the right. Was going along slowly when CL and CP went by. They had been offering encouragement to all of us on the CL team. Stopped again to see if I could get the tire inflated with an undischarged CO2 cartridge that was lying on the side of the road (lots of biking related stuff on the side of the road, I know this because I was watching things very carefully). CL and CP kept their distance as I did this in case a course marshal went by. No joy and I continued on with CP behind me calmly encouraging me.

Whump! Whump! Whump!

I could hear lots of sympathetic comments from bystanders and encouragement too but, truth be told, I wasn't too fussed. Stuff like this happens. It could have been worse. There were sirens in the distance and lots of road rash. Me? I had a flat and a cut finger. Could've been much worse. Besides, it was fun.

The final hill up to the transition was kind of steep and as I whumped up it another racer came along side me and said "Did you know you have a flat tire?" I smiled and said "Yes, I know." I really wanted to add "Thank you Captain Obvious!" but didn't. Concentrated up the hill and then negotiating the turns to the dismount line and in to T2. Weight over the front wheel, back of when the rear began to slide out.

Thinking about things now I am kind of bummed. I was on pace for something just over an hour. Right up there with the leaders in my age group actually. But, live and learn.

Now why did the tire go? I still haven't done the postmortem on the tubes yet and have to take the wheel in to the shop to have it looked at as well (there are some mars on it now but it looks OK). CL theorized that the rain threw up bits of sand which worked its way down between the rim and the tire and abraded the tube. This might explain the slowness of the failure.

In the battle of the bikes Chelan 2, RPD 0 (damaged wheel during Tri-camp in May as well). Heh!

Lessons? Carry two tubes and three cartridges and make sure that the trigger mechanism is fully closed and that the cartridge penetrator is properly lined up.

T2

Faster this time because I just slipped my shoes on and went. Bit of a hike.

Run

Kind of anticlimactic actually. I was slow and started to get hungry pretty early on despite eating and drinking on the bike. Puddlethumper's energy bars are quite tasty.

The course was basically the same as the ride. The sun was coming out and the air was getting steamy. I really had to pee so I stopped at the first aid station, had some water, and took care of business.

Slow run but not a slog because I was so happy to be out there. All the volunteers and the spectators created a sustaining energy. So too did the other participants. Got my picture taken too with a smile on my face.

During the last mile my left knee and hip started to play up and I had to play with stride a bit to work it out.

As with so many of these races it was over before I knew it. The final climb was easy and we finished on a downhill (Yay!). With a smile on my face too.

Challenging race.

Food and then watched everyone else coming in before heading out to explore Chelan a bit and rest. I felt great! Tired but great and I suppose the argument could be made that I didn't really race hard enough. But I am happy and looking forward to the next challenge.

On Sunday I would have Triathlon #2.333, but more on that later.






Sunday, June 26, 2011

G.L.O.W.S.


19 Days until Chelan Man and my triathlon training is going along nicely. 350 or so miles of swimming, biking, and running. It has been a while but I am now up to running 10 miles, swimming over a mile consistently, and routinely biking 30-45 miles.

Today's little bit of training was G.L.O.W.S (Green Lake Open Water Swim), a one-mile race.

Was I nervous? Yep.

Am I always nervous? Yep.

Nervous despite the fact that I have been routinely swimming this distance and longer.

Could I do this? Would I have the energy? Would I panic at the mass start? Would I be able to swim with high intensity?

Turns out the answers are: "Yes," "Yes," "No," and "Yes." :-)

So how did it go?

A blast!
-----------------------------

Sunny June morning here in Seattle, one of those days that Puget Sounders are so thankful for given that summer doesn't really start until after July 4th. Email from the race director the night before saying: 1) get here early as it will be crowded, 2) water temp is 64.5m and 3) because of the cold water swimmers wearing wetsuits would be eligible for prizes. Hmm. So, normally someone wearing a wetsuit would not be eligible? This is a rule/norm/practice I need to know more about.

Sj and Cr picked me up at 8:15 and we found parking very easily. Check in was easy too as there were no lines. "Are you wearing a wet suit?" "Yes." "Is it a full suit?" "Yes" "OK, then I don't need to mark you. What size shirt? Take your pick." Then it was time to meet up with the CL team to get ready. Picture taking, suiting up, nervous talking, bathroom visits (it is axiomatic that as soon as you get zipped into your suit that you will have to pee), and worrying about whether or not my new optical goggles would leak. AK and KK rolled up on their bikes to watch the festivities.

At 9:00 am the half-mile race started off from the other side of the lake. A distant surging of arms and white water that gradually trickled closer and closer. As we wouldn't be going off until after the last half-miler came in, somewhere around 9:30, I jumped into the water to warm up and to test my new goggles. They worked! I could see. The water felt wonderful too, maybe a little warm.

Pretty soon the last half-miler came in and we were moved to the start area. Announcer announced "Keep the buoys on your left" and "I will say 'Swimmers on your mark' and then the starting gun will go off." Not even seconds later he said "Swimmers on your mark!" and then "BANG!!!" and we were off.

Lots of people around me. I could see feet everywhere. Feet flashing up and down. Feet and torsos thrashing around me. People cutting in front of me, colliding, stopping and starting. It took a little bit to establish a rhythm but I did. No panicking (as I did at Issaquah) either (all the practicing and warming up helped).

It is difficult to say much about the first half mile. There is a particular sensory deprivation that happens in murky water. The water is green and you cannot see much beyond the tips of your fingers. Unless other swimmers are immediately upon you they exist as shadows until you catch a glimpse of their heads and windmilling arms when sighting. Three quarters of the way over my left ear plug went missing and the water rushed in. That was going to be a problem later on. Then the last buoy was next to me. I flipped on my back, went around it, flipped back over and started towards the finish.

Not sure why this is but the second half of this race seemed to go faster than the first. The sun was in my eyes. I spent less time sighting and, consequently, swimming a not-so-straight line, and felt an interesting surging as people around me started gearing up for a sprint to the finish. It was infectious and they took me with them. At least I think I was sprinting but haven't a clue. In my sightings the finish arch came up faster and faster, the bottom of the lake began to resolve itself in my vision, and soon my hands were scraping the bottom. Feet down and wobbled up the steps to the finish line. Hit stop on my watch, looked up at the clock and saw 25:11 so I am calling my time that which means that I had the following stats courtesy of Triathlon Conversion Calculators: 1 mile in 25:11, 1:25 per 100 yards, at 2.3 mph.

AK shot this as I was waiting in the finish chute line, looking seriously for all the world like a rather grumpy over-stuffed sausage.

(photo courtesy of PuddleThumper, 2011)

Truth is I was just trying to stay upright. :-P

Pretty soon I was checking in with the other members of the team, all of whom had a great time.

This race confirmed that I DO need earplugs. :-)

Home then, quick post-swim breakfast of spaghetti, and then on the bike for 20-miles of power segments on the very crowded Burke Gilman trail.

Tomorrow?

40-45 mile bike ride interrupted by a search committee meeting followed by a brick to a 6-miler. Should be fun but I can't wait to put my wetsuit on again. After Chelan it will be the Swim For Life in August. 2.24 miles from Medina to Madison Park.

In the meantime, I'll wait for the official results wearing my new t-shirt. :-)





Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Official!

Here are my results:

Gun Time: 1:36:18
Net Time: 1:36:18
Swim Time: 00:8:46
T1: 00:8:05
Bike: 00:47:33
T2: 00:02:18
Run: 0:29:38

Overall Place: 363/541
Division Place: 36/47

Not bad! Not bad at all.

The transitions (ahem, "layovers") is something to focus on. Practice makes perfect. Right?

Let the analysis and drawing of lessons begin . . .

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My * First * Tri!

4 AM came awfully early this morning.

The sky was just beginning to lighten and the birds were waking up. My alarm woke everyone in the house up. Well, it woke the dog up and he started barking at it and THAT woke everyone. I had been porpoising the waters of unconsciousness all night and his barking still came as a shock. I could barely move.

All my packing was done the night before and all I needed to do was to wake up, have breakfast, and do some other stuff best not mentioned (like putting on a rash guard). My feet did not want to hit the floor but I eventually found myself shuffling the dog around the block in an attempt to clear my head and to allow him to clear his you know what. That and listening to the birds singing something like "Why are you awake? Why are you awake? Why are you awake?" (not an imaginative song I know.)

"Bye" to the DW and the FFF's (Four Footed Fiends) and at 4:45 I began the 40-minute drive to Issaquah. Packet pickup, body marking, and the transition areas were to open at 5:30 and the anal retentive man in me wanted to be there early enough to get a good rack position. 30-minute drive under cloudless skies on barely trafficked roads.

It is an odd thing to be "body marked." Number "119" on my left calf and left shoulder and "my age" on my right calf but there it is. This would come in handy later on as I could tell how old people were when I was passing them (the obverse for those who passed me is also true). I wonder how many people pay attention to this and think "Hah! I just passed a 25 year old!"

Standing in line to get into the Transition area I saw D a few spots ahead. Iron Man D, a strong swimmer who is known for bombing hills on his bike, turning around and climbing back up just so he can bomb it again. By the looks of it he was there even earlier than I. It took a while but I finally got a good position on the end of the first "my age" rack and got my gear together only to change it when CL came over to give me some pointers about where I should place my towel and my gear so that people wouldn't trample it AND I would have lots of room when changing. She also aired up my tires and suggested that I walk the transition route from the swim to my rack and then from the bike return to the rack and figure out where to go for the run. Do this without your glasses for the swim to bike.

Talked a bit with M too, who was doing his first tri as well.

Good advice. Past the Port-O-Potties (and the lengthening line) and the 8th rack on the right. Others were doing likewise so this seems a good practice.

Mandatory meeting at the beach at 6:45 found me in my wetsuit asking a woman if she could "zip me up." I wonder how many times in my life I have actually said that to a total stranger. Then a thinly sung "Star Spangled Banner" (why must they always be sung so) during which someone standing next to me grunted when the word "free" came up.

Tri's are more complicated than foot races and so I listened extra carefully:
Keep the yellow buoys to the left at all times. Check!

We'll be starting in waves. Check!

Elites start at 7 and we'll call the waves out so you can get on deck. Check!

Make sure to wear your assigned color swimming cap. Check! (Mine was something like the consistency and color of those cheap yellow dish washing gloves.)
Then I just stood there beginning to boil in my wetsuit as wave after wave of "young" people went off and, as I did so, I noticed two things. First, the swimmers seemed to be going so slowly but I knew they were actually traveling quite fast. Second, my stomach was beginning to go all liquid on me. I was nervous. Very nervous. More so as my wave start got closer and closer.

The Swim:

Stood rather quietly at the right front of my group. There didn't seem to be as many yellow heads as there had been other colors in the other waves and so we were all going out together. The water was cold but, compared to Lake Chelan a few weeks ago, seemed quite warm. I dunked under to get my face wet and felt the odd sensation of a single trickle of water making its way down the inside of my suit. There was nervous joking going on around me and no little amount of griping about how cold the water was.

The siren went off and I dove into a thrashing the likes of which I've not experienced before. There were people all around me. I could sense them, feel their turbulence, and see the bubbles from their passing. It was hard to get into that rhythm that I had been practicing: Face down in the water, one, two, three, breathe, sight, face down, etc... Instead I started swimming with my head up because that is what everyone else was doing and it was slowing things down and because I was starting to panic. I aspirated some water and came up coughing. The guy swimming next to me kept stopping and bobbing vertically. Why I do not know.

I decided to calm myself and get back to training—focus, stroke, breathe, sight—started playing music in my head (the Prophecy Theme from Dune), and just swam.

The last yellow buoy seemed to come rather quickly and I turned towards the beach. After a few minutes I noticed that people were standing up and that I was catching mud with my hands. I stood up too. "This cannot be the end!?" I thought and sure enough it wasn't.

Sandbar!

The bottom slopped away and I started swimming again to the beach feeling a bit bewildered and looking a bit like a well-stuffed sausage but with a smile on my face. Why a smile? I had done it AND CL was there cheering for me. It felt nice.

T1

300 yards to the transition area from the beach? Sounds about right although it might have been shorter.

I was wobbling around feeling really unbalanced as I trotted along trying to find my wetsuit cord and not run into anyone (or off the path as it were).

Found my bike but discovered that someone had knocked my helmet off and my glasses were on the ground as well. Had they been crushed that would have been the end of my race and the beginning of that little bit of Hell I call not being quite able to see well enough to do much except play Angry Birds at close range. They were OK. Stripping out of my wetsuit I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out and it took a bit to clear. I have to find out what this is. I asked another friend, M, about this and it happens to her too. She puts her helmet on first so if she falls down her head will be protected. Good thinking.

Don't remember much about this transition. I think CL was talking with me nothing is clear. I changed my shirt and got my cycling shoes on and started trotting for the bike start. There was PuddleThumper with a big smile on her face egging me on as she manned the bike out gate. Yay!

Got on my bike and started riding in the middle ring right behind a guy struggling to move a mountain bike 5 mph. It was too tight to pass him and the guys behind me were getting verbally impatient. I worked my way around, ate some Clif Blocs which I also started aspirating and sputtering pieces of all over my bars (there is a lesson here), and then started riding in earnest.

The Bike:

A very fun and mostly flat out-and-back course that was narrow and twisty at the beginning. Shifted into the big ring and just went. My legs were feeling very strong and I was breathing well. Rode in the upper-teens once we got on the main road.

Another cyclist and I were trading off during the early moments and he joked that it was going to be "that kind of day" as he went past me. I caught and passed him and jokingly introduced myself as we would be spending a bit of time with each other. He didn't get the humor I think and I didn't see him until well after I had turned around.

Then it was just riding, passing and getting passed by riders who seemed to have rockets attached to their bikes. Some people warned about passing. Most of the fast ones did not. One one curve I saw a cyclist sitting down with blood everywhere. A course volunteer was with him. He looked done. Wonder what happened.

The first big climb took the mickey out of lots of people and they started getting wobbly in front of me (even the fast movers). I shifted into the second ring and spun my way up. Indeed, my focus was on keeping my cadence up regardless of gear. The first descent was a blast. Big ring, hard gear, and an almost 35 mph chase down. I could not believe how fast the miles were ticking by. Every once in a while I'd glance at my HR. Way up there, in my road race band, but I was not feeling like the effort was hard. All this training is paying off I thought.

The return was also fun. Big climb at 9 went well and then I bombed the downhill and kept up the pace all the way back to the park.

Came in to the dismount line (didn't see the touch line and was not reminded to do so by the volunteers) and got off my bike. A rider ahead of me almost fell over. I trotted past and with a much clearer head found my station, racked my bike, and started getting ready for the run.

T2:

This time I remember that CL was talking with me about how I was feeling. I got my shoes on, changed my Garmin from bike to run, and said to her that using two Garmins in future might be the way to go. Grabbed a couple of Clif Blocs and headed out for the run.

The wrong way. :-P

CL gently directed me the right way (thanks!).

The Run:

Going from the bike to the run has been the part I hate the most (although the swim to bike transition might take that dubious position after today) but today everything felt good. I was warmed up and using short quick steps to get my legs turning over.

There was a moment where I thought "Nuts! I forgot my inhaler." I generally need that when running but realized that it would not be necessary today. My watch reported something like a 9:19 pace and I knew that it would be good.

Neat course. A mixture of concrete, XC trails, shaded areas, and full sun.

My metronomic machine was on and the time and miles ticked away. I just felt good. Not too hot or cold or anything, just good and solid. Well-hydrated and fed from the bike (fueling strategy seems to be working) meant I didn't need to grab water on the course. Trail running skills helped in the muddy and uneven areas. Just a nice run.

I kept on hearing my name and high-fiving other CL athletes as they went past the other direction. Another runner remarked upon this as I passed him. "You are a popular guy" he said. "It's about time too!" I replied and wished him luck. It was nice to see all kinds of friends, acquaintances, and training partners out there. Usually I am out there all by myself.

The end nearing I kicked up my pace a notch or two and got into something of a sprint with another runner. She was not going to be passed and gave it everything. I crossed the mat just after her to the cheers of the assembled CL athletes (thanks guys). BIG SMILE! (Though the pictures I've seen of all this on Facebook show me looking like I am at the edge of death).

I guess I am a triathlete now. :-)

Feels good.

But . . .

The Fretting:

. . . now I am fretting about two things. Bike things.

Triathlons have SO MANY RULES.

First, did I draft? There were moments where I was within a bike length of a rider in front of me. Trying to pass or stuck there while we were passed. Did that break the rules?

Second, I saw no touch down line, nor signs, nor was I warned that it was coming up by the volunteers, at least I think not but here is the rule. It was in the briefing and I was thinking about it but just missed it and kept rolling slowly while clipped in.

So, while I may have completed my first triathlon I may also have been DQ'd especially if I did this in front of a sharp-eyed course marshal.

Kind of a sour note to what has been a most wonderful day but we'll see when the results come out and, if so, lesson learned. Not the first time something like this has happened to me (losing my timing chip during my first marathon was a hard one too).

Things I Learned:
  • My body and mind reacts in strange ways to rapid shifts in activities
  • I can calm myself down and focus when needed
  • I need to find something to eat that I will be less likely to aspirate or change the way I take what I do have in
  • Keeping a clear head is hyper-critical. Noticing signs and obeying instructions is something I have to work on
  • Bill The Butcher has some of the best hot dogs I have EVER tasted
  • This was a very fun way to spend a morning and I think I am hooked
Well, there it is.

Time to get ready for the ballet. Giselle at PNB this evening.

Oh yes. I think I did all this in about 2:15:xx but I really am not sure.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Weird It Feels . . .

I've decided to take the plunge, literally, and train for the Chelanman Olympic Triathlon this July. Why? It just seems silly not to swim and ride when I like doing them so much. Besides, multisport training can help me make a healthier athlete right?

It is just that it just feels weird.

Weird not to be running six days a week. My body is either liking this or not, I cannot tell yet, and my mind hasn't quite reconciled itself to the change. I know that I am working but at this point in my training I feel like I am simply slacking off. That is the strange part.

At the same time I am learning all kinds of new things, like how to swim properly. 1.5 mentally exhausting hours in the pool this morning made so because I had to concentrate on changing my technique. What I remember from junior high swimming and what I have been doing since then is flat out wrong. You are supposed to roll back-and-forth when stroking to minimize resistance. I suspect that the theory behind staying level is that you are not wasting energy. I guess there really a trade off between twisting or rocking and lessening resistance on the one hand and bucking into the water. Looking at video of triathlon swimmers starting off it always looks odd to me. I suppose that competitive swimmers (Phelps, etc.) also do the same thing but they look so very, very rock solid in the water too. It is all confusing.

I wonder if TYR Nest Pros can be done in prescription? Simply the best goggles I've ever had. No leaks. No Leaks!

Wet suit? That is coming next, after swimming paddles.

Isn't swimming supposed to be simple?

Never thought I'd enjoy riding on an indoor trainer either but I am. It seems like most of Seattle is doing the same as I cannot find a trainer tire at any of my local bike shops (next stop is online I guess) and my poor road tire is melting from the heat. Tomorrow my coach has me riding one-legged to build strength. This will be novel.

I wish I could hook myself up to an electrical generator. Seems a shame to waste all that energy when I could be charging something. Right?

So far I can say that all this cross training has helped my running. Leg lifts are easier as is turnover and when my back feels tightly compressed from a run a swim stretches me out nicely. Though challenging, the Orcas 25K a few weeks ago was easier for all this other work. Nice high leg-lifts meant that I did not trip over any rocks and roots as is my normal practice in a long race. Recovery was a bit easier except for the stuck tendon in my right leg that loosened right up once I got back on the bike.

Yep. I think I am going to like this. Certainly I will need it.

In other news.

Remodeling mayhem is in full swing. Never thought I would fall in love with a refrigerator (a German one) or learn about building codes, shiplap, insulation, and utility masts but I am. It is not so bad except for the times when I have to answer a question every five minutes, a decision that will be "permanent" or expensively temporary. And then there are all those expensive unforeseen issues. At least we are doing our part to restart the economy with this orgy of consumerism, right?

The quarter is winding down. We've entered the ninth week and it just seems unreal. Looking over some essays the other day I realized that my students are smarter than me. DW said "Well, it is about time! :-P" I agree. Kind of nice. In the meantime, guess what, the professorate is not churning out rabid left-wingers at all despite the best protestations of the right. Of course, we are going to go through another round of deep budget cuts which will be painful and, guess what, likely stop the orgy of consumerism, the very orgy needed to get the bloody economy going in the first instance unless, of course, you would much rather sell cars in China. Yeah, this is wearing.

Better go hop on the bike for a bit. :-)