Monday, April 28, 2008

Dreaming of adventure & french toast

Standing there in my sweaty shirt, jammers and running shoes. Ice taped to my right calf and a sock full of ice stuck down my jammers -- don't ask -- I watched the butter slowly melt as the skillet heated up to cooking temperature. My day had started nearly four hours earlier, at 5:30 a.m. when I got up to go to Masters.

Now, by 9:30 in the morning I had already done my own personal triathlon and was trying my best not to drip sweat on the french toast I was cooking. I was trying to get breakfast made, packed up, then get cleaned up so I could run it to Karen before she took her morning break at work. I know, kinda in the wrong order of things, but don't worry, I didn't get any sweat on breakfast ...

So there I was, cooking breakfast and nursing a groin injury and a strained calf muscle and kind of feeling sorry for myself that I was unable to train at a hundred percent when something I read a month or so ago in an article by Mark Allen popped into my head.

"For every one of you (triathletes), there are millions who dare not to dream such a grand adventure for their lives." Ever since I read that article, this sentence has stayed with me. Every time I feel like giving up in race, such as at Sunday's bike time trial, or even when I'm training and I feel like backing off or cutting my workout short, this sentence pops into my head and I think of all those who dare not dream such a grand adventure as this. Those perhaps who want to but can't because of time or money or health reasons, or those who want to but can't because they are physically unable to.

A year ago I was at Queen's Medical Center having surgery. I have chronic kidney stone problems and a couple of times it has nearly ended me (that's code for I almost died). Once I nearly bled out following a surgery a few years ago. Another time I went into anaphylactic shock from a contrast dye I was given. So I know what it is like to be unable to dream of such grand adventures. It is my hope that training for and doing triathlons will be sort of a cure-all for my own medical problems, but only time will tell.

So with breakfast made, I jumped into the shower, dressed, packed breakfast onto my moped and scooted off to Karen's work, just in time for her break. Oh, and don't tell her about the sweat, OK? And feel free to stop by for breakfast. I'll cook!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

AWESOME KAREN

We had a Bike time trial today. 15 miles on the Queen K. Normally, the "K" stands for Kaahumanu, but today it is Queen Karen. She finished the 15 miles with a PR of over 18 mph. AWESOME. And More awesome in the fact that she rarily rides on the road, mostly on the indoor trainer and then usually only for 30 minutes at a time.

I keep telling her that if she would do some serious training she would put a lot of us to shame.
Great job sweetheart!
As much as I was hurting on today's race, struggling to not give up on those endless miles (well even 15 miles can seem endless when your legs and lungs are burning) I'm even more proud of Karen for her effort. And as the Robert Frost poem says:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I'm sure we'll both be sleeping well tonight after our miles ...

Friday, April 25, 2008

A plunge into the sublime sea

I was reminiscing today about my first Peaman swim back in December. How scared I was. I could barely swim to the third buoy without a snorkel and we had to swim all the way out to the sixth buoy — and back.


It’s funny how the fear from my first couple of swim events still haunt me. At Lavaman I was convinced I couldn’t swim more than a hundred yards before I would have to stop for a breather.
So, during my warm up for Lavaman, I swam out about 200 yards nonstop and I felt so relaxed and at peace. Just a plunge into the sublime sea I told myself. My confidence began to soar. I knew I could make it the entire course without stopping. I had to let go of those past doubts.

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote. “Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”

Everytime before I swim in the ocean, my first thought is, “I can’t do this. I can’t swim that far without stopping.” But, everytime I do swim that far. Everytime I swim to the sixth buoy, or the kitty (half-mile) buoy or even the Kings buoy (the 1.2 mile) I grow a little more confident. Advance in experience and maybe one day, overlook the old.

If you have self-doubt, or if past experiences creep up to remind you that you "can't do this" dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with a new power, my friends.

Thinking back on some of my first races, I was bemused at the silly, albeit at the time, rational thoughts I have while swimming. To the best of my reckoning here is a part of my thought process while swimming a Peaman race. Maybe there's a little insight into us "back of the packers, too."

PEAMAN COUNTDOWN: 3-2-1-go ...
MY THOUGHTS: wait, don’t get kicked ... OK, go! extend, pull, breathe. Extend, pull, recover. Extend, pull, breathe. Who is that next to me? Breathe, sight — cold spot! — lots of chop today. Breathe, extend, pull. Is that a shark? whew, just a fish. Breathe, draft, get closer. Too close. Breathe, sight. Who’s drafting on me? Extend, pull, relaxed recovery. Am I to the third buoy yet? Alright, the 4th buoy. Is THAT a shark? Breathe — cold spot! — extend arms, breathe, rotate. Pull, relax recovery arm, shark? Sight, who’s tickling my toes? Kick a little, breathe. What’s my left arm doing on recovery? My feet are dragging. Breathe, I’m getting tired now. You can’t swim! What am I doing out here? Yes, you can swim. no! yes! Breathe. Stretch out your stroke, glide, this is easy! I’m cruising now. Was that a jelly fish that just touched my arm? Breathe. Shark? oh, it's just a swimmer. Breathe, sight, stroke, breathe, sight. Swimmers coming. Breathe, move over, sight — ooh, look at that pretty fish — extend. No too tired. Pull, relax your recovery arm idiot. Breathe, sight. Swimmer going by. Breathe — the turn around buoy, yay — Should I stop and rest? No. Keep going. Don’t be a wuss. Ooh, that sun is bright, should have wore my tinted goggles. Breathe, sight, pull, cruise, draft, shark? Breathe. Pass this guy. Pull, extend, reach for it, you can do it. Breathe, sight, glide, tired, arms burn, shoulders burn, slow down, breathe — oh, another cool fish — Sight, draft, yes, drafting is good. Pull up behind that person. She’s going off course. Breathe. Forget drafting, just swim straight. Pull, recovery arm. What are your arms doing? Breathe, sight, almost there, this is the kick. Pass him, pull, extend, time to kick hard. Breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, sight, breathe, pull hard, passing, yes, nausea, oh-no-don’t-throw-up-slow-down-no-I’m-getting-sick-just-breathe-keep-going-breathe-50-more-yards-breathe-sight-breathe-pass-her-breathe-pull-sight-breathe-pull-pull-pull-finished. YES!

In memory:
A fellow triathlete died today. Dave Martin was swimming off Solana Beach near San Diego when he was attacked by a shark. Martin was swimming with his triathlon training group at the time. Pray for his family and friends.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On limitations


James Cook once wrote, "Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again." Are we defined by our limitations or by our accomplishments? Or by both? When I first started training for triathlons I couldn't swim any farther than I could hold my breath.

My self-imposed limitation was that I went my whole life without being able to swim and never really thought I could ever learn to swim. But with a lot of hard work and pushing a lot of self-doubt to the back of my mind, I can now swim. Actually I can swim pretty far now and regularly swim more than a mile in the ocean - usually on Sunday mornings.

So, on April 6th, 2008, I complete my first "real" triathlon - The Lavaman. It's an Olympic distance tri, meaning it is 1500 meter (about a mile) swim, 40K (25 miles) bike and 10K (6.2 miles) run. I've done several of the Peaman and Team Mango events over the past six months, but this was my first paid tri. My swim was fantastic. Oh, maybe not for anyone else, but I swam nearly a mile with hundreds of other maniacs in just over 30 minutes. I got hit, kicked, clobbered and I had a blast. When I saw my time as I staggered out of A Bay I was pumped. My goal was 40 minutes and I made it in just over 30. My bike was the fastest I have maintained for that distance (considering 6 months ago I was struggling to maintain 14 mph for 15 miles) I averaged over 20 mph for 25 miles.

Well OK, my run sucked, but it was under an hour and with a torn ACL I'll take it. My knee stayed in and I didn't walk any of the course.

"Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again." Are we defined by our limitations or by our accomplishments? Or by both? I don't know. But I do know, I'm not defined by my own limitations anymore. Take care.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SWIMMING TO HONG KONG

Swam 4x500s plus 1x300. The pool was really crowded today. The deep end was closed for life guard training so everyone had to share lanes. Oh, by the way, for all you nonswimmers, 4x500 means I did four 500 yards with a short rest (45 sec.) in between each one. Then I did one 300 yarder that was mostly drills like kicking and stuff.

My oldest son flew off to Hong Kong today for two weeks. Boy, are we nervous. This is only the second time he has traveled by himself and the first time to a foreign country. He should arrive there at 4 a.m. our time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Welcome back to lucidness

Wow. It's been a while. I've been very busy with my new adventure -- Triathlon. Not a sport for the lazy, that's for sure. I'm thinking of changing this blog to a triathlon blog so I may be working on that in the near future. Post photos, results, training stuff, etc.

While I've been gone, I've learned to swim and I actually survived swimming 1500 meters with 800 other swimmers, turtles and one shark. More later.

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