Category Archives: Swimming

In the thick of things, a new training toy

Anyone who trains for swim meets, runs, cycling events or triathlons knows the inevitable will happen: you will collect a variety of training gadgets.

Sometimes, you will actually use them.

Sometimes, that sometimes will turn into devotion to the device and you’ll wonder why you ever did anything without it.

This is an example of that:

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It’s a Finis Tempo Trainer. It is about the size of a half-dollar and I should have had it inserted in my brain years ago. Basically (at least at this point, because I am still learning how it works), you can set it to time yourself to swim a certain distance in a certain time before it beeps in your ear, letting you know you either made it to the wall and turned in the set time or you didn’t. It has other uses, such as maintaining stroke tempo, and for running and bike training.

Right now, its primary purpose is to be annoying and let me know that I don’t need to look at the pace clock for feedback. It does not play music or emit other nice sounds. Just that regular persistent beep. I find myself wanting to #beatthebeep now. I like it because I can already see it helps, but I want to hurl this aquatic accessory into the locker room sometimes. In the long run, I think any training tool you buy that benefits your performance is a good investment, and I  think this trainer will be one of those. At least this item is small and relatively inexpensive.

Now if only I could stop hearing that beeping noise in my sleep…

quitting

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, thought, triathlon gear, Triathlons

The season so far: sore but inspired

They says this old age thing isn’t for sissies. Whoever “they” are, they aren’t kidding.

Four competitions in five weeks, with another one next week, tends to leave a person hurting a bit. Toss work and writing and keeping up with the house on top of all that, and even I am surprised I still get up some mornings. Miss Bayer, Kid Advil and Aunt Aleve have become close members of my family now.

I’m slowly filling out the competition calendar, trying out some new things over the next few months. The World Out Games are coming to the  area, and I plan to swim there. I’m straight, so you many wonder why I’d go to something that’s geared toward bi, gay and trans athletes. I think the athletic community as a whole has to show love and respect towards athletes whose sexual and gender orientation is alternative to what the world expects. The Pulse nightclub shooting is part of the impetus, but these are ordinary people who do extraordinary things and also happen to be bi, gay and trans.  I’m looking forward to the experience – and looking for an affordable hotel.

I’m going back to a half-marathon in March (I swore these off years ago),  hoping to do my first Olympic triathlon in April and aiming for an open water swim of more than a mile in May.  The holidays are coming, and aside from some standard entertaining, I hope to do some resting. This upcoming weekend’s swim meet will afford some visiting time with family, plus a hotel room in which I do not have to make the bed, clean the bathroom or hang up my clothes. Hey, I’ll take a gift any way I can get it.

I’ve got a 10-mile run, a 10K, local and state Senior Games, a triathlon and one or two postal swims left before the holidays. How about you? What’s your sports torture du jour? And if it hurts, why do you do it?hard

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, inspirations, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, transgender, Triathlons

Olympics done, my racing begins

After a two-month break from competition (but not from training), it’s time to plan, pay and play once again.

I have a new calendar and it is getting full already. At this point, I have one free weekend in September, October and November. December has one competition (the state Senior Games), to be followed by minor surgery and two weeks off. I ramp it back up and prep for an event I said I’d never do again (a half-marathon) in March.

Some would say I have lost my mind. I question whether I ever had any sanity to work with in the first place. Regardless, I am having fun at this, even when the body is tired and the brain cannot keep up with work, workouts and stuff at home. And I don’t have kids. I have no idea how people who have kids do it all. They are brave and heroic souls.

It’s been fun and inspiring to watch the Rio Olympics. I’ve learned new stroke techniques during the swim competition, and picked up a pointer or two on transitions during the triathlon. And let’s be honest: at age 41, few really thought Meb Keflezighi was going to medal in the men’s marathon event. It was an amazing achievement that he qualified to be there, and while his 33rd place finish was not memorable, he turned a slip at the end into some Jack Palance-worthy pushups.

So much about the Olympics was good – there were moments of athletic greatness and  sportsmanship, along with compassionate acts and contributions for residents of Rio’s favelas for whom the Games held no benefit, other than to spotlight their plight. And then you have Ryan Lochte and his little band of ugly American aquatic brothers, with their party-hard attitude coupled with the ability to lie badly about it afterwards. A trio that deserves a podium of their own – gold, silver and bronze in the douchebag competition.

With these games over (and the even more powerful Paralympics yet to come), it’s time to dig down, rest up, eat well and train steady. It’s time to go out and play. inspire

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Filed under athletic competition, Current news, Cycling, Exercise, Rio Olympics 2016, Running, Swimming, travel, triathlon gear, Triathlons

Back on the training treadmill

I don’t normally compete in July and August. For one thing, it’s stupid insane hot here.

And I have time to get caught up on other things, like doctor appointments, writing and maybe some real rest time.

But as that famous blonde singer once warbled, “Oops, I did it again.”

I signed up for another half-marathon. It’s not until next March, but ten months goes by faster than you want it to. One month you’re a lane lizard in the pool or strolling on beach sand like a tourist without a timetable, and the next thing you know, it’s time to pick up the race packet and goodie bag.

I have other events before March: a few swim meets, road races and three triathlons. Those need care, feeding and training, too. But the half-marathon was an event I swore I’d never do again after I did the Daytona Speedway-to-The-Beach-And-Back half a few years ago. It was a nice race (if you ignore the 3:30 a.m. wake up time to be parked by 4:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. start thing, along with the 38-degree temperatures), but I figured by then, my distance days ought to be over. I was hurting so much at the end of that race, The Husband’s hope for a photo of me at the top of the track’s 31-degree banked Turrunsn 1 was just that – a hope.

Why do another half? A small desire for redemption mixed with a decent dose of insanity plus a need to defy the onslaught of age. I want to do a better job on the finishing time. And all of us who run are at least a little left or right of the center line of normal anyway. It’s not that age is showing or catching up. But little things are noticeable – injuries take longer to heal than they used to, and while I don’t require more rest, I seem to benefit from more of it.

I look at some of my friends, a few my age and some a little older, who are becoming burdened with the ailments of oncoming years. I don’t want life to get like that. I’m all for taking advantage of medical specialists, both Western and non-traditional practitioners, but I want to make the decision to do so because I am maintaining good health, not because I am fundamentally hurting.

Training has started, or in my case, just kicked up to a slightly higher level. I bow to all those who improbably and insanely choose to go back on their word and try something again, just one more time. I am one of you now. The Never Say Never Brigade.

 

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Filed under athletic competition, Exercise, Running, Swimming, thought, Triathlons

I missed the hardware (this time)

Good news and bad news about the 5K I ran today.

Good news: it was my first 5K of the year, after doing 10Ks, swim meets and triathlons to start the year.

Really good news: I finally broke my old personal best time and set a new one.

Sort of bad news: no medal this time. I finished fourth in my age group, forty seconds behind third place. No medal for fourth, which is disappointing, as this particular race had especially nice hardware.

But I’m happy with the new PR time, as that old one was from two age groups ago, and set on a flat course (today’s race had three small hills and a persistent headwind). Also old for this race: my current running shoes, which are retired from regular use as of today. I’ve been saving for a new pair, and got the money together yesterday, even though I have still not found full-time employment.

Being out of work has made me healthier, because I force myself to get up and move around more often. I’m not sedentary for eight hours a day. The weekly track workouts, with the bleacher climbs and sprints, have helped as well. And competition has kept me focused on not getting depressed and caught up in the frustration of not having a job just yet. It’s also something of a social outlet, after sitting in front of my home computer working on the job search, or freelance writing, or both.

I plan to keep competing, though not spending hog-wild on it at this point. I realize this is not the ideal time to be spending money on these endeavors. But I consider regular racing, whether it be running, swimming or triathlons, a reasonable investment in my health and my sanity. At this point, it’s hard to tell whether I am chasing what’s left of my mental marbles, or they are rolling behind me, trying to catch up. Either way, the personal race should be at least as interesting as my next event.Motivational-quotes (1)And a note to my friend Steve, who suggested that I “throw a little chocolate into every day”: my friend, I know you meant that literally, because you know how I feel about chocolate. But I’m going to consider your advice in the figurative sense as well. I’ll consider a good competition day to like a piece of the best chocolate: sweet, satisfying and a tonic for the senses.

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, mental health, Running, Swimming, thought, triathlon gear, unemployment

Doing It When You Don’t Want To

IRoads I was not exactly raring to go this morning. It was cold and drizzly, and it’s Day 1 being laid off from a job. I’ve never been laid off from a job. Not in over forty years of working. It is an odd feeling, to say the least.

The pool is closed today, so my schedule said I was running instead. My brain sort of said my schedule really should not matter. My heart dictated differently. So I got up at my normal time, layered up and headed to the track for sprints and bleacher work. After all, my first 10K of the new year is a week and a half away.

I got to the track and ran my laps. The bleachers were wet and slick and not looking all that safe. But something propels me to get up there and run them anyway. I am pushed on, not so much by my lack of a place to go today (though I do have work to do and resumes to send out and interviews to set up) as I am by a book I am reading, Find A Way, the autobiography of marathon swimmer Diana Nyad. It was not until she was 64 years old and on her fifth try that she achieved her dream of the Cuba-to-Florida swim. That means there were four failures before that. Failures that took a toll on her family, her friends, her health and her finances. And that’s on top of a childhood filled with sexual and physical abuse at the hands of both her father and swimming coach. The loss of her brother to schizophrenia and her mother to Alzheimer’s. How does anyone climb out of a place so dark  and not only survive, but keep focused and training and moving forward until they achieve exactly what they know they can do?

She did, and compared to her, my dark place is a just little ditch. The book was a Hanukkah gift, but the timing of its arrival was perfect. I’ll be fine.

 

 

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January 7, 2016 · 1:51 am

Big calendar, big plans

One year, three triathlons. I never thought I’d do one, let alone three.

The first, the super-sprint, was the test. The second and third were sprints, and in fact, I finished second in one and third in the other. You’re damned right I got the medals. They are hanging next to my bed, so they are the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.

I’ve got one of those big paper flip calendars in front of me, with enough room to write in my races and my training schedule. Yes, I have a smartphone, Excel spreadsheet and all the other digital doo-dads. I’d use them, but I like the paper version better.

This calendar has a hook, and that means it can hang on the wall. And that means I can see it. It confronts me every time I walk into my home office. A paper calendar says “I’m here, and you cannot ignore me. You put your plans here, ink on paper. So shut up and get it done.”

I know the digital way is more modern and has a better “cool” factor. I’ve seen my fellow competitors whip out their iPhones and compare the info they’ve downloaded from their FitBits, cycling computers and heart monitors. And those are all good tools, if you can spend the money on the purchase and maintenance. A paper calendar is zero maintenance, other than filling it in and checking off your accomplishments.

I’m off from work this week, so I’m doing a lot of quality training time and picking from the lists of what’s next. I’m looking at a possible six triathlons in 2016, including my first international. That’s on top of 10 swim meets, 12-14 road races and maybe my first ever bike event.

Here’s to a racy and injury-free new year for all of us.
Share your thoughts and stories, my fellow Athena,
Clydesdale and other competitors. We may all look and play
differently, but we’re still one big, happy, mostly functional
family.

calendar

A path to somewhere, and a plan to get me there.

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, thought