Saturday, November 12, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Do you have a bucket list? Is it something you just think about occasionally or is it actually written down somewhere? And assuming you have one and know where it is, what have you checked off recently? I have a bucket list - and most of the time I know where it is - although mine seems to get longer all the time. However, something that has been on mine for a long time was a triathlon. After some persuasion from coworkers (coupled with a bit of a break in half-marathon training), I signed up for the Saratoga Springs Triathlon. It was a Sprint, mind you (generally the shortest type), but it was nonetheless a triathlon. It was on August 20th. Despite what I considered a pretty miserable swim in Utah Lake (600 meters) and losing my chain and crashing on my bike about halfway into the 12-mile ride, I even placed! I was third of 12 male finishers 50 and over - and I won $15! Okay, it hardly qualifies as "winnings" , since it only paid for a third of the wetsuit I rented and didn't even use during the event, but does that make me a professional? I'll assume for the moment it doesn't, but it was a pleasant surprise.
Possessing absolutely NO competitive instincts or traits, I quickly signed up for another one - the second one being three weeks later in Stansbury Park ( just north of Tooele). I really felt I needed to redeem myself a bit for the swim and was certain I wouldn't repeat the bike chain and crash scenario. Well - the results were mixed. I actually managed to finish 2nd of six in my age group (M55-59), but felt just as unsatisfied about my swim. At least I didn't crash during the bike ride - I just lost my chain twice! Apparently, I am a reasonably competitive runner when it comes to triathlons (and old men) - and that helped considerably in both races.
Despite some dissatisfaction with my performance and results, I don't necessarily feel the urge to do another one anytime soon. Besides, I have a number of half-marathons in the next few months and they take precedence. However, I do feel I learned a few things - should I decide to do another one someday - if for no other reason than to validate my belief that I really am a decent swimmer!
First, I was reminded that swimming is GREAT exercise and a great addition to a training plan. I wish it were a bit easier to do that consistently. I admit, I still get winded pretty quickly in the pool, but I also learned "pool" swimming is much different than in "open" water when you are competing with dozens of sets of legs, arms, feet and hands for the same piece of water! And finesse swimming (with as little wasted movement as possible) just means you'll drink a lot of lake water. Much more important during the triathlon is getting your head out of the water to see and reduce water intake! (I did come up with a good analogy to a triathlon swim start, though - imagine a pond where large fish are occasionally fed; when the food is thrown in there is this mass swirling of fish climbing all over each other going after the food. Yes...that is pretty accurate! And whereas the first two triathlons I hung back and got behind everyone so I had fewer feet and arms in my face - I think next time I'll jump out front.) I was also reminded that when using bicycle toe clips (or equivalent), it really is a good idea to take your feet out of them before stopping! Yeah - I have crash wounds to remind me of that. And finally, despite feeling like you have leaden legs when starting to run after the bike ride - and feeling like you could hardly go slower - there is a good chance you are moving right along. I found that especially on the first Tri. I didn't feel quite as bad on the second, but managed to have (for me) a really good pace both times.
One item checked off my bucket list. The motivation to do another would be if Karen or other family decided they wanted to do one and we did one together. (And perhaps Buggy is ready for a reprise?! I now appreciate her efforts up at Jordanelle much better.) Never say never! Who knows, there may be another $15 out there waiting to be claimed!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
A great visit with Buggy, Topher and Grace - and an incredible trip to Spain - what is not to recommend? We've already alerted the Andersen's that we will be back - and that they should plan to fly with us on our next Charleston-based Space-A adventure. In the meantime - we highly commend Charleston and Buggy's B&B to you. You will not be disappointed. And even if you don't see Flamenco, you just might come back knowing about the Civil War significance of the Palmetto.
Thank you Buggy, Topher and Gracie for a great trip!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
In the grand scheme of things, have you ever been engaged in a worthwhile and enjoyable project – but as part of it needed to go somewhere or do something that you really couldn’t get excited about? Welcome to Nebraska! It IS a state – and even one of the 50 states, but it was hard to get excited about a trip to Lincoln! Consequently, we planned it for a quick weekend, with no extended travel or sightseeing on our agenda. However, as has invariably been the case with such trips – it turned out to be a good one and we enjoyed our time in the Cornhusker State.
From a race support standpoint, it was among the better ones. The National Guard was a major sponsor and they did an excellent job. (Anyone wishing to be on the Guard’s traveling marathon team has to qualify in this race – and we met a number of team members, including several from Utah.) The support along the course was exceptional and this may have been the only race we have done where water and sports drinks were handed out in cups with lids and straws! It may sound like a little thing, but drinking as you run a race can be a bit messy – but not in Lincoln! The post race food was not bad, but even better was the post race party with drinks, sandwiches, pasta salad, cookies and prize giveaways. Needless to say, we did not pass up free food. The course, itself, was nothing to get excited about (don’t forget, this WAS Lincoln), but there was one very attractive and affluent residential area we ran through that was nice and the finish was at the 50-yard line in the University of Nebraska Memorial Stadium – which was fun. Neither Karen nor I set any records, but considering the two week hiatus we were in South Carolina and Spain, we were okay with the results. I was back down in the 1:45 range and tinkering with a mid-foot “barefoot” running style that was advocated in the most recent book I read: “Born to Run”. (If you think you are ready for a running book, this is one I would recommend as both interesting and informative – with even a bit of suspense!) In fact, it was in this area I had the limited “deep thoughts” associated with this race – and they dealt with habits. Having run somewhat seriously now for 20+ years, how difficult would it be to change some things about my running style if I became convinced it might make me more efficient? What would it take to convince me? What risks would be involved? Would it be worth it? You may have heard people refer to a “runner’s high”. I have always felt a bit cheated in this area, as I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced one. Is it because my running is inefficient? It became apparent that habit, history and routine can be difficult obstacles to overcome – but certainly not insurmountable. Where – besides running – might the effort be merited?
Our sightseeing was confined to the area between Omaha and Lincoln. In Omaha we spent some time dining and strolling in the Old Market and we enjoyed a visit to Boys’ Town. The latter has a very interesting history and story – made famous by Spencer Tracy’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Father Flanagan in the 1938 movie “Boys Town
”. In Lincoln, Old Market became the Haymarket, where we enjoyed wandering around among shops and eateries.
We enjoyed a great tour of the State Capitol – a unique building housing the only unicameral state legislature in the country. We also wandered around the University of Nebraska campus – although we weren’t overly impressed.
(That was especially the case with me and their bowling alley. We were their only patrons for a couple of games so got special lights and music – but I shall quickly forget the disastrous results!) On the way back to Omaha we drove across a section (one of many, no doubt) of prairie and cornfields-in-waiting, and also along a piece of the Mormon and Oregon trail on the Platte River. All in all, it was a good race and trip – although should we go again, western Nebraska will be on the agenda.