Thursday, July 31, 2008

This Looks Familiar

The gear is out and sorted - three bags, a set of stuff carefully packed and re-checked in each one. I've got towels and sunscreen and glide and even a sleeping bag and pillow. My mom is arriving today and hubby and I are leaving first thing in the morning with his running club to go do the inaugural running of the Cascade Lakes Relay. Covering 217 miles from Diamond Lake to Mt. Bachelor to Bend, Oregon, our twelve-person team will run three legs each, of around six miles each. Hubby and I have done the Hood to Coast before, but that was back before we had kids. This will be the first relay we've done together in the twelve years since our son was born. Very exciting!

So, although I have no more triathlons coming up this summer, I'm really looking forward to this event (although I'll be sleepless and blasted and I know when I'm running somewhere in the desert at 3 am I'll be wondering what the heck I'm doing!). After we get back from this, Mackenzie's cast comes off his arm and we have about fiver weeks to get ready to go bike around Italy. Ciao!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Size Does Matter

When it comes to swimming pools that is. Now that summer is here and the long course (50m) lanes are open at our big lovely outdoor pool, I'm finding it very difficult to swim indoors after I coach in the 25 yard lanes at the gym. Not only is it so nice to do 100s in only two lengths, but the depth of the big pool makes such a difference, I'd forgotten how good it feels to swim in a deeper pool. Now when I go back to the pool I coach at, which is very shallow, I can really feel the turbulance caused by having so little depth. Your hands are constantly searching for purchase on the disturbed water, whereas in a deeper pool the water is so much smoother that you can more easily move it in the direction you want it to go. All of this is unconscious usually, it just either feels like swimming is going easily and smoothly, or it feels like you're swimming through molasses.

And speaking of feeling the water, a great drill for that is to swim with your hands closed for a fifty or so, then when you open up your hands you should have a great feeling for what you're doing with your hands when you catch and move the water. So many people swim by moving water in all kinds of directions besides straight behind them (which really is the only direction that counts). Sometimes when I'm swimming in the same lane, or even in an adjacent lane to another swimmer, I can tell that they're not very efficient just by the feel of the water they're moving. If water is being moved to the sides or in front of you, that's muscle power that's not being used to move water behind you. The closed-fist drill is a terrific one for starting to sense where you're moving water with your hands.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Take a Page From This Athlete's Book

Ah, if only everyone I coach would be so sensible! One of my athletes today told me that he's using this year's base season to just work on technique with swimming, instead of piling on the yardage in the hopes that somehow he will get faster. I've been working with him for a month now and he has already dropped from a 9:00 for 500 yards to 8:00, a pretty impressive jump in just a few week's time! Mostly we're working on extending his glide and "swimming downhill" to get his feet back on the surface, along with rotating to breathe.

The kicker? My client this time around is my hubby. Yep, it's only taken him 16 years to ask my advice on his swimming stroke, LOL. Actually, to his credit he hasn't been swimming much at all, since running is his current major sport. But he'a great all-around athlete, and he did try a sprint triathlon several years ago. I think he got re-interested after watching all of my Team in Training athletes cross the line at the Pacific Crest triathlon last month, and I'm very excited to hear him say he might toe the line at another triathlon next summer!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Want To See A Day in my Ordinary Life??

On a parenting list I'm on, we did this last year too: we each took photos throughout an entire day, and that way you get to see the average day in each person's life - what their dinner plates look like and where they go and what kind of slippers they wear, that kind of thing. Often when I'm blogging, it's obviously not the mundane details I'm writing about. So if you want to see all the nitty gritty of my life, you can check out A Day in My Life, 2008. And if you're really all that interested, my Day from 2007 is also still up. I found the similarities between the two of them a bit eerie. I have some routines that are pretty engraved in stone. I drink from the same tea mug, hang my laundry out at the same time, and make pizza for the kids once a week. But many things are different, too. The freaky snake in the high chair has been replaced by a cuddly teddy, that's a big improvement at least.

Interestingly, as I'm linking to this from my Ironmom blog, I shot both of these on a day I wasn't doing any swim, bike, or run training, which is usually only one day a week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Favorite Eleven Books of All Time

The question was asked elsewhere what your top ten books of all time are, and since I so love books, and so many different genres of books, it was very very hard to compile this list. Many books made the list, then got bumped by something else. All of these books reside permanently on my bookshelves, and are taken out and re-read at various intervals in my life. I never did whittle it down to ten, so this is my top eleven...

So here's mine (feel free to tell me yours!):

The Stand - Stephen King (because he is such a superb storyteller and this story is so engaging)
Illusions - Richard Bach (because every time I read it, I get something different out of it)
Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (because his language is so beautiful, I've read this trilogy more times than I've read any other, including twice out loud to my kids)
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (because she has a way of capturing a sense in a phrase that is unmatched)
The Killer Angels - Michael Shaara (because I'm a Civil War buff and this is the epitome of all Civil War books ever, with the possible exception of The Red Badge of Courage)
Isaac's Storm - Erik Larson (because I've always been fascinated by big weather, by this particular storm, and this is some awesome historical storytelling)
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (because it was the first book to affect me very deeply)
Out of Africa - Isak Dinesen (because I feel like I'm standing there in Africa again every time I read it)
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole - Sue Townsend (because I've sincerely never laughed harder while reading a book)
Into Thin Air - John Krakauer (I love Krakauer's engaging writing, the tragedy -- in the true Greek sense -- of this story and the people involved, how Krakauer makes you feel the mountain, and last but not least because I once considered going on this expedition so it always gives me the chills to read this account).
A Perfect Spy - John le Carre (hard to pick just one of his, but this is my favorite)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Imagine... a dock on an empty lake

...a perfect day under a beautiful blue sky

...water so clear you can look down dozens of feet and see the rocks beneath you

...air so warm and sweet that with every breath you smell the pine duff of the forest from the trees on the shore're camping next to the lakeshore, looking out longingly at this perfect water when... remember that your wetsuit is still packed in the back of the camper... put it on and wade out into the perfect water


...the sound of boats does not disturb the quiet of the morning hear the wind sighing through the trees and the call of the shorebirds look up and see snowy peaks in the blue distance beyond

...the lake smells as clean as freshly melted snow

...your feet move carefully over smoothly rounded rocks...

...and then... start to swim

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One-Hundred or Die

So my arms are basically leaden today and my swim really sucked, despite swimming the long course, outdoors, on a beautiful summer morning - usually a real treat! But that's because I'm trying something new: I'm working on being able to do one hundred pushups, courtesy of a training plan on this website So far, I can do about 25 straight, on my toes, but by the time I get my black belt, I'd like to really be able to do a hundred, and do them well.

Really, I'd love to be able to knock off one-armed pushups like Demi Moore in GI Jane, but that's probably not going to happen any time soon. Despite being a swimmer for a long time, I don't have a ton of arm strength, which is probably a testament to using all of those lats, back, and chest muscles in my stroke and not my arms (which is a good thing for a swimmer, but bad if you want to do puships like Demi Moore). Actually, I'd settle for having Viggo Mortensen recite DH Lawrence to me and screw doing the pushups, but that's probably even more unlikely to happen (if you don't know what I'm talking about, watch him play Master Chief Urgayle in this movie.)

Now, my hubby and Viggo share a good number of characteristics - piercing blue eyes, dimpled chin, strong jaw, looking cute in little black shorts, but reciting poetry is where they part ways. My DH is many amazing things - family guy, good dad, lover of Milk Duds, he even does a mean Elvis impersonation, but reciting poetry is right out. It's a small omission when you look at the total picture, and he's the kind of guy who knows me so well he got me a BlueSeventy wetsuit instead of earrings or a blender for our anniversary, so all in all I think I'll keep him!

Hmmmm.... I seem to completely have lost track of any meaningful theme here. I'm not sure how I ended up on Elvis impersonations from pushups, but in any case my goal is 100 pushups, in a row, not necessarily one-handed, and with a poetry-reading Viggo remaining in my fantasies. So I am on Day Two of the plan as of yesterday, which just about killed me since Wednesday's karate warmups was the "Five Or Die" drill, which included triangle pushups, wall pushups, crab pushups, triceps drills with the medicine ball, and some other random torturous arm exercise I can't seem to recall right now. But even though I survived all of that, I managed to crank out today's 44 pushups (in 4 sets with 90 seconds rest in between) from Week 1 of the plan reasonably well, so I think it's really an approach that might make this doable, even for wimpy-armed little me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

And Speaking of Karate and goals...

I already have 2011 pegged as the year for my next Ironman, since I promised the fam I would only do one every 5 years, at least until the kiddos are grown at which point I can Ironman to my heart's content. But I just worked it all out in my head and figured that if all goes well with no injuries and no setbacks and I work my tush off, 2010 may be the year I get my black belt in karate. So it sounds like I'll have my work cut out for me and an exciting two years there back-to-back. That makes 2009 the year of the half-Ironman again, something I'm missing this year but will be excited to get back to.

And so it goes...

2008: Team in Training and Bicycling in Italy with kids
2009: Half-Ironman (and maybe qualify for Half-Max Nationals again like I did this year? That would be fun!) + Brown belt year (tough!) in karate.
2010: Black belt year
2011: Ironman

After that, I just won't know what to do with myself... Maybe the Navy Seal Fitness Challenge??? That would give me four years to figure out how to do a pullup or two, LOL. I think I can manage the rest of it:

500-yard swim (using sidestroke or breaststroke) under 12 ½ minutes
42 Push-Ups in 2 minutes
50 Sit-Ups in 2 minutes
6 Pull-Ups no time limit
1.5 Mile Run under 11 minutes

But the pullups have always been my weak point...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Oooooooh, Scary!

In Karate today, we were practicing our defenses, in this case defenses against hand or arm grabs. We got to break out the pads and really practice pummeling our "attacker", and at the end they had a contest for which pair was the "scariest". I'm proud to announce it was a family sweep! Asa took 2nd place with her vicious attack on her partner, and I took first. So watch out Bad Guys, don't try to grab these two girls in a parking lot!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pac Crest Day Two: Start Wearing Purple

Day Two of our Team in Training event weekend dawned bright and early as we started loading the bikes to take up to T1. In this event, the first transition area is at the lake, while the second area is in town, so most people rack their bikes the day before and take a bus up to the swim start on race day.
Our mentors, Mike & Jeannette found these gorgeous purple jackets and had them screen printed with the TNT logo. We didn't get to wear them very long this morning as the day was heating up fast! As we got into the cars to head to the race site, I popped in a CD that the Portland TNT team had made of their favorite songs. The song "Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello had us all cracking up, and it became the de facto theme song of the weekend.

Once at the race site, we cheered all of the TNT Half-Ironman competitors in Saturday's race out of T1 and onto the bike course. Although our Eugene TNT team was small compared to this year's huge Portland team, we made up for it in energy and enthusiasm, cheering right up until the last competitor came out of the water. The transition area and cheering sections were all but emptied out, but we kept the enthusiasm up for each and every racer.

Now comes race numbering, and Steve demonstrates his best yoga stretches after getting his numbers on his legs.

Then it was time to enter T1 and rack our team's bikes. It's still pretty empty with just the TNT racks filling up.

After heading to the race finish for a couple of hours of cheering the Half-Iron participants in, we headed back to our condo for a pizza bake. I think we made enough pizzas to feed a small army!

After dinner, the team members got all of their gear ready. Our mentors had brought fabric paint, and team members wrote the names of cancer survivors on the backs of their race singlets, a reminder that this race was about more than miles and time, but about reaching for a greater goal.

Asa volunteered to paint everyone's fingernails and toenails purple for the occasion.

We wrapped up the night with strawberry shortcake, last minute gear checks, sitting around the table and talking, trying to calm those pre-race nerves. Tomorrow: the big day.

If you haven't heard this song yet, give it a listen. Our weekend theme song: Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Gimme a Break!

I have been wanting to plow through the rest of my photos from Pac Crest and finish my race report on the whole event weekend there. But it seems that life has had other plans, and hopefully I'll get to it during tomorrow's holiday...

First off, in yesterday morning's karate class, I inadvertantly broke the nose of my good friend's daughter! We were practicing a bunkai (application) for the kata Aoinagi, and I performed the bunkai (a throw) with my partner at the same time as the person next to me threw his partner and our partners collided, leg to face. She was so stoic about it, I didn't really know she was injured until she started bleeding. Ouch! So she will be getting that fixed up this week.

And then this afternoon, my son was doing a little dancing jig for joy over the fact that hubby picked him up his own cell phone (apparently a major rite of passage these days) and he managed to fall and break his arm! We got back from the doctor's office about 10:00 tonight, and it looks like we will have an appointment with an orthopedist on Monday after some of the swelling goes down. Again, my big guy was so stoic that I didn't really grasp how badly he was injured until I saw that he was pale and clammy. The X-rays looked to me like the bone was a bit telescoped, so I'm not sure if it will be a simple set or something more involved, but I'm hoping for the former. I told him I'll be the first to sign his cast.

I guess in a sense though I've gotten off easy for a very long time. I gave my own parents hell in this regard, constantly getting injured - broken bones, dozens of stitches, and a couple concussions thrown in there for good measure. So to go almost 11 years without a cast or a stitch has been pretty remarkably good luck for an offspring of mine. Still, any good thoughts you can think for my poor son would, I'm sure, be very appreciated. I am especially hoping for it just to be a basic break and nothing too involved.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More Details on Pac Crest Fatality

Here's the news story from the Seattle Times. The triathlete had a heart attack in the swim. RIP Patrick Findlay. Maybe this story hits me so hard because my own hubby is also 45. Because his father died of a heart attack at 42, so he knows what it is like to grow up without his father. Because Patrick Findlay's kids will now have to do the same. Because if it was my husband out there, I wouldn't want to be standing on the shore praying for the ambulance to get there soon as this man's sister-in-law was doing. To the family and friends of Patrick Findlay, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pac Crest Day 1: Craziness and Fun

Bright and early Friday morning, I packed up our camper van, removed all of the assorted cats who were trying to stow away, and we took off for Sunriver. The plan was to go to Wickiup on the way to swim and check out the transition area. To our great relief, we found the water was a balmy 64 degrees (not the frigid 52 of a few weeks before), and the parking lot was paved (it was a muddy dirt mess when we were there in early June).

From there, we headed into town to get our Team in Training athletes' packets and to let the kids participate in the Splash, Pedal, and Dash kids' triathlon. This was my 8 year old's second triathlon, and she had a blast. She especially loved how the "splash" part of the race was done on a giant waterslide and that they did a time trial start so there was no mob of kids.

It was fun to watch but I was completely unprepared for the sheer numbers of kids (and athlete parents) there! Most kids' triathlons that my kids have done have had about 40 or 50 participants, and this had more like 500 or so. I got separated from my friend (and my son) and forgot to take my cell phone with me, so a good deal of confusion ensued. We even ended up losing Asa at the finish line (I took photos and then we couldn't find her coming out of the chute), but luckily she stuck with our emergency backup plan and we met up in the transition area. You can just tell she was having a terrific time from the smile on her face in every race photo!

From there, it was on to the Team in Training pasta party. You can definitely say that these people have spirit. The coaches and mentors were lined up in crazy garb to welcome the athletes in. What followed was a lot of yummy food and some very inspirational speeches. Lest any of us forget why we were really there that day (and it can be easy to do in all of the pre-race jitters and preparation), Bob & Terry Jordan shared their photos and memories of their daughter Emily, who died of leukemia at age 5 1/2. Our team ate together and started to feel that this was all getting very real.

After the pasta party, we took a few group photos out on the lawn, and we were off to our condos to start getting all the gear ready for tomorrow. On Saturday, we planned to cheer on the Half-Iron participants, take another swim and get all the bikes ready to rack up in T1.