Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fast Friday

I was dismayed when I walked onto the pool deck yesterday and the coach announced it was "Fast Friday." This is the kind of workout I typically despise – 100 meter sprints with lots of rest. The object, of course, is to go all out on all of them (I have always had a problem with the term all out. If you go all out on the first one, you shouldn't have anything left for the rest of the set). For as long as I have been a swimmer, sprint workouts have been my Achilles heel. The lactate builds quickly with my arms and legs burning in protest at the effort and sometimes I barely eke out times faster than a longer set on shorter rest. It is ridiculous that a set of 10x100 with some hard 50’s kick interspersed is more tedious and painful than a set of 3x1000, but for my metronome style, it is. When the workout was over, satisfied with my performance and the gains that it will bestow, I thought about the importance of doing workouts that take us so far out of our comfort zone.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Engage Your Lats

Over the weekend I spent an afternoon at a swim meet. My niece and nephew, Jamie and Max, have been swimming for five years; they started with the requisite swim lessons and progressed to the team atmosphere. They were entered in swim meets quickly; my nephew, a tiny six year old, was dwarfed by the 8 year olds in his age group rendering him somewhat of a team mascot. I have followed their progress in person and on video and am amazed that despite the time improvements, countless laps, and supposed instruction, their technique is still deficient. I am not picking on them, though, as this phenomenon is seemingly widespread. Most of the kids I watched had terrible starts and turns and egregious flaws in their strokes, even discounting the kids who were obvious beginners. The fundamentals need constant work, but the rush to increase yardage or perhaps because there are too many kids in the pool, the task of perfecting stroke mechanics is relegated to the back burner until it is all but forgotten or it is too late.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Questions from Tim, Part 2

Several weeks ago I posted answers to questions posed by triathlon writer and photographer extraordinaire Tim Carlson. Here are some more off the wall questions.

What annoys you? 
I feel very strongly that people should wear a helmet when riding their bike. I simply cannot understand riding without one. The protection that a helmet provides is unequivocal, so when I see anyone speeding down the road without one, particularly my friends, I become irritated and frustrated. Usually, this is because I have scolded them many times before about this dangerous habit. I realize that I sound like a broken record and a nag, and wearing a helmet is a personal choice, but it is only because I care.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Prophecy

Silly me. Naturally, I presumed that regaining my swim form would be the most difficult aspect of my recovery from crashing and subsequent collar bone surgery. It turns out that learning how to swim again was the easy part. It’s like this. I was bothered by a relentless back injury from 2001-2004. I was rescued from retirement and a lifetime of pain by the outstanding people at the National Training Center in Clermont, FL (none of whom are there anymore). Upon my release from their care, they offered me this warning: as long as you keep up with your exercises, you should remain pain free, just don’t crash.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Westward Ho!

These last few days I have been making preparations for my annual training trip to San Diego. I will leave the frozen, brown tundra that is Boulder for warmer, greener California. I will exchange the mountains for the ocean and the monotony of indoor training with dodging cars and navigating street lights. San Diego, where I grew up, has served as a winter refuge since my college days (my first visit back from Providence, I stepped off the plane pasty from several months on the East Coast. My California tan sucked off my skin was cause for mockery amongst family and friends). I have taken winter excursions to Tucson, Clermont and Palm Springs. But without a doubt, despite my ambivalence towards San Diego, with its brilliant blue skies and welcoming beaches tempered by urban sprawl and exasperating traffic, it is home and I always look forward to returning.

Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Run Downhill

I raced the St. Croix triathlon for the first time in 1999. I started the run neck and neck with the legendary Karen Smyers. She pulled away on the first downhill and I was never able to bridge that gap and lost the race by 40 seconds. It wasn’t until after the 2000 Olympic Marathon trials, 10 months later that I took downhill running seriously, though. A masochist designed that painful course, with undulated hills comprising the last 16 miles leading to a downhill finish. My quads quivered, protesting with every step, until at last I crossed the finish line and lay down on a cot unable to move for an hour. The soreness lasted for days and I decided, with the St. Croix triathlon looming just 2 months away, to make downhill running part of my training.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Movies on TV

What is it about movies shown on TV that entrance us, even if it is bad or we have seen it over and over? This crazy phenomenon usually occurs on a weekend afternoon or late at night when, inevitably, there is a pressing task needing attention or the bed is awaiting warm and inviting. After flipping through the channels, frustrated by lack of good programming, suddenly you happen upon a movie that catches your eye. Perhaps you have seen it a handful of times or one of the actors is a favorite, maybe the dialogue caused your ears to perk up. You stop to watch for a few moments.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Questions From Tim, Part 1

Tim Carlson has been involved in the sport of triathlon as a writer, photographer, cheerleader and general aficionado for more years than I can count. When I told him about my blog he was very supportive and emailed me an extensive list of questions. Ten of them showed up on Slowtwtich  and due to the positive feedback from that interview every few weeks I will post an article entitled “Questions from Tim”.