March 30, 2008

A Little Etiquette Maybe

I found a little something that might be beneficial to some of you people out there. You know who you are.

*** *** ***
A friend of mine came up to me the other day and told me that the Theory of Three has altered her view of lap swimming. Now, whenever she is sharing a lane with two other people, she has something to think about. She marvels in the various roles played out in a 25 yard lane. She becomes mortified by the douchebaggyness of certain swimmers, is amazed at the pinhead maneuvers and revels in the victimization she witnesses.

It has made my lap swimming so much more enjoyable, she said. At least I recognize that everybody is playing a role. It's just the natural order of the universe in play. Like NASCAR, but without a Home Depot logo on my ass.

And just as I was about to say how glad I was to have helped her out, she continued on...

But something happened in the pool the other day that I just couldn't figure out. I think I found the rabbit's hole of the Theory of Three.

I was intrigued. Catherine and I had thoroughly analyzed the Theory of Three from every angle. So I listened. Here's the story she told me...

My friend, let's call her Alice, was swimming laps all alone in a lane when another, seemingly friendly woman, flagged her to stop. As Alice reached the end of the lane and looked up, the woman leaned down and, in a gracious tone, asked Alice if she and her friend could share the lane with her. Glancing at all the other over-packed lanes and recognizing there were not a lot of other choices, Alice said yes, no problem.

Alice continued on with her swim.

As usual, when Alice reached the other side of the pool, she touched the wall, turned around and began swimming back. That's when she saw it. Coming up on her were the two new women. More importantly they were both on kickboards and - get this - they were kick-boarding side-by-side. No room for anybody else to pass. That's right, they had asked if they could share the lane, then they took over the darn thing. There they were, just yakking it up as if nobody else was in the lane with them.

Needless to say, Alice was perplexed. My God, she thought, it's two douchebags in one lane. This proves everything about the Theory of Three wrong. The world went into a tailspin, everything started getting blurry. She was confused. Or was she?

So let's consider this a quiz. What do you think? Two douchebags? Or was there still a douchebag, a victim and a pinhead? If so, who played each role? (answer below)

Answer: Alice was clearly the victim. As for the woman who initially asked if she and her friend could share the lane, she was the douchebag. Her douchebaggyness was exemplified in her dishonest communication. She had no intention of "sharing" the lane but really wanted to "take over" the lane. She had the audacity to try and deceive Alice. Douchebag. The other friend, the one who just went along with the plan, well, there's your pinhead.

March 21, 2008

The Bright Side Of Pain

I'm in the last stages of Ironman training. In less than 10 days from now I'll be sliding stomach first into the taper period, where doubts and pounds seem to build at a fairly rapid pace.

These last few weeks of Ironman training are always the most challenging. It's when the volume of activity in all three sports reaches it's peak. When the hours you spend exercising start equaling the hours you spend sleeping.

On any given week, I'm logging in 175 miles on the bike, 12,000 meters in the pool and about 35 miles pounding my legs on the pavement. I'm power lifting to build muscle mass and redlining through intensely fast workouts to build speed. I'm eating not to survive, but to recover. I'm sleeping not for relaxation, but for the ability to wake up before the next sunrise and push myself to the limit once again.

The rare moment when I'm not moving are spent with ice packs rotating around the various pain points of my body.

Because it's at this period of Ironman training when pain is at it's peak. It's constant. I go to sleep with tired legs and wake up with aching muscles. I grunt when I walk up stairs and moan when I try to get down on the floor. It seems the only pain-free peace I have is sitting on the toilet. Some days I never want to get up.

Everything hurts.
But still, the training must go on.

Last Sunday I woke up at 5:30am to do my 7 1/2 hour bike ride. 112 miles. 5500 feet of climbing. 20 to 30 mile per hour wind gusts. If everything felt fine, it would've been brutal. But, alas, I'm in the heat of Ironman training. Did everything feel fine? If by "fine" you mean "everything hurts," then yes, everything felt fine.

I started the ride off slowly, mostly because I was in too much pain to go any other speed. I got into my painstakingly slow groove and pedaled up the coast. 10 minutes turned into 30. 30 into an hour. My mind wandered about. I went in and out, into the here and there, the this and that. I thought of things and stuff and such and such. And soon enough I got to the rolling hills part of the ride.

I was relaxed and decided to push a little harder, to get up these hills and prove to myself that I'm in Ironman shape. I focused my mind, honed in my eyes, shifted my gears and pushed.

Ooh. Ouch. Ugh.

Within 15 seconds I realized that my plan wasn't going to work out so well. Screw this, I muttered. I backed off the gears, sat up and slowly spun myself up the hills. Frustration began to seep into the weak corners of my brain. The fluid of doubt started coursing through my veins.

Why do I do this, I thought to myself. I want to be strong, I want to be fast, I want to be better than me. But I'm not. I'm not. As I pedaled further, I sunk myself deeper into the downward spiral of despair. I doubted my ability, wondered if I'd ever feel like I could move faster than a snails pace. I bowed my head in sadness and looked down at the ground just as a snail passed me by.

It was at about this time that another rider approached.

Her name was Betty. She was going just a little faster than me so I mustered up everything I had, picked up the pace and held on. I needed motivation. I needed anything.

Betty has completed nine Ironman races and was just trying to get back in shape for the new season. As we rode together, we struck up a conversation of all things triathlon: the ghosts of races past and ghosts of races future. Of training and traveling and balancing life on the pinpoint of sanity.

You're training for Ironman Arizona? she said after I shared the info. That's right around the corner. You must be in pretty good shape.

I chuckled slightly. I might be in good shape, I said. But it's really difficult to tell. Everything hurts. Always. I'm always in pain.

She smiled a triathlete grin - the cheek to cheek gaze of somebody who has been down that road, who knows the feeling. I miss that, she said. I miss waking up in pain.

We talked on a bit further, but my mind revolved around those comments. I couldn't stop thinking about what she said. About the enjoyment of pain.

And somewhere down the road it started making sense. I suddenly realized the gift I've been given. The gift to feel. To know I'm alive. To sense in every moment of every hour that I've pushed myself to the limit.

If there is a bright side of pain, I suppose it is this. It is the constant reminder - every second of every day - that I am in shape. That I am doing exactly what I want to do. That I have set my goals and am achieving my dreams.

If there is a bright side of pain, it is the continuous reminder that I am proud of me. I guess she's right - why would I ever want to let this feeling go?

March 19, 2008

Enough already

Seriously, folks, is this really necessary? I mean, c'mon.. enough is enough people.

*link courtesy of Catherine The Girlfriend

March 12, 2008

Your Body's A Temple, Mine Is A Shotgun Shack

IMHAMO (In my high and mighty opinion), one of the best things about Ironman training is the metabolism's reaction. In fact, my Ironman metabolism is the sole reason why I want to keep up this level of training. (I won't keep up this level of training after Arizona, but I want to. It's the thought that counts.)

I've already been blessed with high metabolism, but this incessant training takes it up a notch. I can eat and eat and eat - and it's all like throwing paper into a fire. In a matter of minutes, it's as if it never existed.

As you probably have heard, one of the most critical aspects of Ironman racing is nutrition. On race day, the right nutrition is the difference between a great day and an IV drip. But even before race day, nutrition is critical. Throughout training, the right nutrition is the key to recovery. And if you recover properly, you don't get injured, you don't get sick and you can wake up again on another day at another ungodly hour to do another ridiculously long workout.

Eat healthy, they say. You're body's a temple, they say.

Well let me tell you, if my body's a temple, it's much closer to the Church's Chicken end of the spectrum than the Taj Mahal. Seriously folks, let's look at this one.

All this Ironman training creates such a high metabolism that you actually burn off the food before it even touches your tongue. It's a Get Out Of Fat Free card.

So be honest, if you could eat as much as you want of anything you want anytime you want, would you really be lining up at the salad bar? Do you want to nibble on carrots until you start growing a little bunny tail? No siree bob. If didn't have parents, I don't want to eat it.

Give me a burger, a steak, an entire chicken. I'll have a large pizza please with everything on it. In fact, make it two. Give me a Fred Flintstone portion of spare ribs and don't forget the extra sauce. Do I want fruit or potatoes? Bitch please... fruit?! Don't insult me. Give me potatoes, top them with cheese, and pile all the chili you've got on it. While we're at it, a bucket of ice cream would be nice. Some chocolate. A cheesecake. A wafer thin mint.

Now excuse me, I need to go eat.

March 11, 2008

The Theory of Three: Rule 4

We've all heard the stories of Albert Einstein. How, like a regular schmo, he drudged through his day job in a patent office, gossiping around the water fountain (or whatever drinking apparatus they had back then), complaining about the boss and bitching about co-workers. Then, like an intelligently caped crusader, he'd go home and transform into a savior of all things mathematical. He'd compose complex calculations ad infinitum that would all eventually lead to the Theory of Relativity. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In some ways, Catherine (my wonderful girlfriend who is quite a bit more physically appealing than Mr. Relativity) has been paralleling Einstein. Though she spends her days in the monotony of office work, she has stretched her mind to develop one of the world's most important axioms of pool training. I like to call it the Theory of Three.

The Theory of Three (ToT) is an important one to understand and there are only a few rules, so try to control your ADD for a couple of seconds and pay attention.

The axiom states that in any given lap pool situation...
1. If the lane has three swimmers, inevitably one person will play the Douchebag, another the Pinhead and the third the Victim.
2. In no instance will you ever see duplication. Never will there be two Douchebags and a Pinhead, or three Victims, or any other similar combination. According to the Theory of Three, there are always three individual roles and they are always clearly defined.
3. The Theory of Three is irrelevant if there are only two people in a lane. The Theory of Three becomes exponentially more complex when four or more people share a lane. (We won't get into that one now. That's for the advanced class.)

The trick is (and this is where the intense calculations come into play), the role you play isn't always the same. One day you may be the Pinhead and the next thing you know - kaBLAM! - you've suddenly turned into the Douchebag.

If you don't know what role you play, don't be concerned. It is sometimes difficult for an inexperienced individual to truly determine the defined role without the support of an experienced lap-ematician. As far as what the lap-ematician does....well, this is where it starts to get a bit more confusing.

To truly determine what role you end up playing on any given day at any given second requires a variety of complex calculations that balance the time of day, the individual personality types, water temperature and a number that we like to call Catherine's Constant. Catherine's Constant usually equals 6.283, that is, unless it's Monday or Friday, in which case the number is doubled. Oh, and on Sunday mornings between 9:30 and 11am, the number is cut in half. I almost forgot that one.

I told you it was complex.

For those that are mathematically inclined, here's what the actual calculation looks like:

Your ToT role = (square root of (length of lane)) * (water temperature / the number of letters in your Chinese astrology animal sign) - ((time of day (unless it's Monday or Friday) + (the number of accessories you use in your swim workout (flippers count as two, so do paddles)) - (size of your bathing suit (in square inches) / your waist size) all multiplied by Catherine's Constant

If your number is over 100, guess what. You're the Douchebag. The Pinhead falls inbetween 1 and 99. As for the Victim, if the final calculation comes out to 0, then it's you.

As you can imagine, conquering this calculation requires a white board, a blackboard or, at the very least, a scrap of paper and an Erasermate. Unfortunately, most of us are too busy swimming to spend the time determining our ToT role. The good thing is that most of the time you can pretty much rely on your gut to figure it out.

Of course, as you may have already figured out, this all leads me back to the swim I had the other day.

I got to the pool at the ungodly hour of 6 in the morning. It was still dark out, but I had 5500 meters to get through and the pool closes at 8.

Yes, 5500 meters... I couldn't believe it either.

The good news is that the pool wasn't that crowded. When you take into account the early morning hour, the cold temperature (well, cold for Los Angeles. I think it was 55 degrees) and the fact that it was an outdoor pool with a 50 meter lane, there weren't a heckuva lot of people swimming. In fact, when I got into the lane, there were only four of us there.

I slid into the water and started my workout at a relaxing pace. Back and forth I went, knocking down the meters as smoothly as possible. As my body warmed up, I started picking up the pace a tad. Nothing too demanding, but a nice steady groove that I could maintain for the 3 1/2 miles.

After about 1500 meters I realized that I had the entire lane to myself. I enjoyed the solitude while it lasted. Unfortunately, I knew it couldn't possibly last that long.

It was right after I bounced off the wall at the far end of the lane when I noticed the new person who had climbed into the pool and began to swim. It was hard to miss him.

He was one of those guys that pushes really hard when he swims. And though he moves at a fairly decent clip, he's doing it all in a wacked-out kinda way. His hands are slapping the water, his feet are kicking like scissors gone wild, his body is twisting and rotating in contrary movements and overall there's a heckuva lot of flailing and splashing. Picture the Tasmanian Devil trying to swim laps. That was my new lane-mate - Taz. Water was flying all over the place and all you could see was an arm popping out here, a leg jutting out there. And, best of all, since he required so much space to maneuver, he was swimming in the middle of the lane. As you may already know, I love that.

I've seen these types of swimmers before. They go really hard the moment they hit the water, pushing and driving so that they look fast. But after a few laps they're all out of steam. My competitive ego has a tough time letting these swimmers pass me by. I've worked hard, I've fine-tuned my form, I've focused. I suppose I want to feel like all that work isn't for naught - that in any given race, a bus-load of Tasmanian Devil-like swimmers won't blow me out of the water.

At the same time, my ego also knows that in a few minutes I'll zip by them like they're standing still.

Of course, within a few seconds after I first saw him, Mr. Splash and Flail swam right by me and my ego, nearly kicking me in the face with his man-eating scissor kick.

Now maybe I'm a little crazy, perhaps a bit too sensitive, and definitely a competitive summobitch, but I had the distinct sense as he swam by me that he did it with attitude. If there's one thing I don't like, it's attitude when you pass me by.

You're a douchebag, I said to him (which actually just resulted in me swallowing a bunch of pool water, considering the fact I was still swimming and my head was underwater). I wanted to pass him by. I wanted to dust him. I wanted to make him swallow his ego and bow at my feet. Building an effigy of me would be ok too. But I tried to be patient. I told myself to hold on, he'd tire out soon enough.

I got to the other end of the pool just as a new lane-mate entered. Lane-mate #3. Uh-oh.

I thought about the Theory of Three. I already knew there was a Douchebag in the lane. That left a Pinhead and a Victim. I wondered which would be me.

I had a bit of a break in the set, so I stayed on the edge of the pool for 30 seconds before I pushed off again. As I continued down the lane, all of the sudden I came face-to-foot with Lane-mate #3.

She was wearing what looked like a short-sleeved wetsuit. She had long legs and lanky arms, which is important to the story as you'll realize in a second. As it turns out, she was doing the breaststroke. And with those aforementioned long legs and lanky arms, it was a very long-reaching breast stroke. With each kick of her legs, her feet practically stretched to the other side of the lane.

I had visions of the game Wack-A-Mole, where her feet were the wackers and my balls were the mole. I cringed. Why is she doing the breaststroke in this lane anyway?

You've got to be kidding me, I said as I slowed down behind her and swallowed pool water again by talking underwater. We're not in the slow lane here people.

This lane was clearly marked as the "Medium speed" lane. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but breaststroke ain't no medium speed. Regardless, I need to get by her before I get sucked up into the backdraft of her propeller-like legs. I moved to the far side of the lane, with the hopes of passing her and keeping my family jewels intact. As I pushed hard and began to swim by, I looked up.


Mr. Splash and Flail was rapidly approaching. He was, of course, smack dab in the middle of the lane. It was like a Mac truck coming right at me at full speed. I felt like a squirrel that was about to be smooshed and there was nowhere I could go, nothing I could do but hold on to my nuts and pray for my life.

For what seemed like minutes, I floated in shock. I never thought this is the way it would end.

Suddenly, in a flash of opportunity, I saw a space. I dropped back and went behind the breaststroker's legs just as the Mac Truck-like Splash and Flail whizzed by me. I don't think he even noticed me. I was a pebble in the road. He was a Douchebag.

With the coast clear and me safe, I moved back over to the opposite side of the lane and pressed forward, zipping by the breaststroker as quickly as possible. Suddenly it all made sense. She's the Pinhead. After all, who jumps in the Medium lane and just does the breaststroke back and forth? A Pinhead, that's who.

And since he's the Douchebag, that makes me the Victim.

This is the way it went for the next 20 minutes. Douchebag splasher annoying me with his form, Pinhead breaststroker oblivious to the fact that people are trying to swim in this lane. Back and forth I went, each lap getting more and more angry. I'm a Victim here people. I'M THE VICTIM!!!

I pushed harder, desperately trying to catch up to the Douchebag and pass him. I wanted to show him a lesson. I wanted to prove that I was better. Faster. More manly. And goddammit, I've got good swim form!! But, alas, with all my scheduled rest breaks, anytime I was about to catch up he had time to move further away.

After about 10 more minutes, he must've gotten frustrated with the breaststroker because all of the sudden I noticed he moved over to the fast lane.

HUH?!?! [cue sound of tires squealing and screeching and coming to a halt.]

The fast lane?! What the fuck?! You can't move to the fast lane!! YOU'RE NOT FAST!! I'm faster than you. If anybody should be in the fast lane, IT'S ME!!! And I'm NOT in the fast lane, am I!?! I'M IN THE GODDAM MEDIUM LANE SO GET YOUR SORRY DOUCHEBAG ASS BACK OVER HERE LICKETY SPLIT!!!

These are the things I was yelling in my head as I swam back and forth in the medium lane. I was pissed he moved over. Angry as all hell. He's not fast. He shouldn't be allowed in the fast lane. It's not fair. IT'S NOT FAIR, I TELL YOU!!!

I pushed harder. I was fueled, angry, perturbed, upset, and any other synonym you want to put in there. I was also coming to the end of my workout.

I had six 100s to go, with ten seconds of rest between each one. As I waited at the end of my lane for my rest period to end, I glanced over at the fast lane. Lo and behold, Mr. Douchebag was just coming to the end of the his lane as well. This is my chance. This is it. The butterflies started building in my stomach. My time has come.

He pushed off the lane while I still had 5 seconds of rest ahead of me. Everything was going just as planned. I love this.

As I pushed off for my first 100, I found myself catching up to Mr. Splash and Flail within 20 yards. It was like I had an outboard motor coming out of my butt. I flew through the water with the greatest of ease. And as I passed him by, I gazed at him with the leer of death. I threw at him all of the attitude I could muster, and topped it off with a patronizing sneer.

How do you like that, Taz m'boy?!?! You think you're better than me?! I shouted in my mind. You think you deserve to be in the fast lane?! Well, my friend, you don't!!

And realizing that I had 6 of these to do. I decided to keep going with my underwater tirade.

Welcome to goddam frickin groundhog day, I screamed in my head. Every 2 minutes I'm going to pass your ass and I'm going to do it with attitude. The only sound you're gonna hear is the echo of me laughing and snickering at you.

I smiled. I laughed. I swallowed more pool water.

And as I finished my first 100, I chuckled as he pushed off from the wall just 5 seconds before me.

Within a few yards of beginning my second 100 - BAM! - I passed him again.
Ka-BOOM! I did it a third time.
Groundhog day, motherfucker, I screamed silently as I passed him on my fourth 100.
You like me now!?!? I bubbled on my fifth 100.
And as I blew by him for the sixth time in a row, I had a sense of serenity flow through my body. It lifted me and pushed me through that 100 faster than I had been swimming all day.

I won. I'm the best. King of the world.

My swim was over. I smiled and got out of the pool with pride. I walked into the locker room with my head held high. I dried my body and squeezed into my warm dry clothes. And as I walked to my car, it suddenly hit me.

My calculations were wrong.

I reviewed the mornings activities. Over and over it went in my mind. Every scenario, every stroke, every thought. Soon it became clear. I realized that I had forgotten about Rule 4 in the Theory of Three.

Theory of Three, Rule 4: If you always think you're the Victim, you're probably the Douchebag.

Yes, it was me. It was me that was the Douchebag. I was no Victim here.

Sure, the breaststroker was the Pinhead. But my friend, the splashy swimmer - why he was merely the Victim. The Victim of bad lane circumstances, the Victim of my asshole-ishness, the Victim of Catherine's Constant. I thought he was the Douchebag, I was convinced he was the Douchebag, but that was merely a classic case of Douchebag transference. I had mistakenly redirected my Douchebaggyness onto the unsuspecting Victim.

It's a tricky thing, this Theory of Three.
Hopefully it'll make us all better people. I know I need all the help I can get.

March 10, 2008

Swim All Over Me

Afternoon Workout
3500 yards (speed work)
Main Set: 6x(100 easy + 2x 50 hard with 15 sec rest + 2x 50 hard with 5 sec rest) + 20x 25 at throw-up pace.

Mental state: Peachy keen

Physical state: I think my shoulders dislocated somewhere in the middle of the 50s. It was like swimming with a couple-a rubber bands for arms.

Random Comments: How come it's always where I am that seems to attract the older people who always swim in the center of the lane?

I don't want anymore flippers smacking me in the face. I'm getting sick of flailing hands thrashing me in the legs. I don't want to have to swim so close to the buoys that I smack hands with the person in the neighboring lane (who, by the way, happens to be wearing a big college ring or something of the sort that practically rips through my hand). And I've definitely had enough with stubbing my finger on the lane line buoys and replaying that fear in my head about breaking my fingers before race day. Breaking fingers on the buoys while swimming laps is almost as embarrassing as getting run over by a Port-a-John.

I suppose this says something about my swimming. Perhaps I have a swim stroke that makes people feel comfortable. They look at me going back and forth and think, why that seems like a nice enough chap. I think, by golly, I'll just jump into the lane with him and see if I can push him into the buoys.

Maybe I need to act more forceful.
Maybe I just need to figure out how to do a flip-turn. If you flip-turn, they don't have time to ask if they can share the lane. As for me, I touch the wall at each lap and look up. It's as if there's a sign on my forehead that says, come on in. Swim all over me. I don't care.

Yeah, I definitely need to learn how to do a flip-turn.

March 09, 2008

The Swim Was Crap

Morning Workout
16.5 miles
2 hours 30 minutes
440 feet of climbing
Pain level: Nothing to complain about. Except the achilles, I can complain about the achilles if you want.

4000 yards
Mental state: Drained. Like spaghetti.

Random Comments: Have you ever seen "Caddyshack"?

Let me tell you about today's swim.

I decided to go to the Santa Monica College pool to do my swim today, mostly because I was really tired after my run, it was a beautiful day and swimming outdoors in a nice, clean pool is just about the best thing to keep me motivated. The thought of trudging through 4000 yards inside the depressing dankness of the YMCA brings on an instant wave of depression.

I eased my body into the refreshingly cool water and began to swim. I was swimming slowly, but that was expected so I didn't get too worried about it. Suddenly, at about 15 minutes into my workout, I heard the lifeguards yelling something. I got to the end of the lane and stopped to figure out what they were saying.

Get out of the pool!! Everybody out of the pool now!!!

I was confused. Were they talking to me? Was I part of "everybody"? Or were they just talking to the masters swim class that was finishing up in the 7 lanes next to me.

Everybody out of the pool NOW!

I looked at my lane-mate, a bit befuddled. We both shrugged our shoulders, hoisted ourselves out of the pool and stood on the deck with the rest of the crowd.

Everybody started talking, mumbling and grumbling about the inconvenience.

I looked at the person standing next to me. Maybe it's a shark scare, I said in what I thought was a pretty darn hilarious joke. He didn't laugh. I shrugged my shoulders and walked over to my towel.

The pool is closing, a lifeguard announced. Refunds will be offered at the front desk.

Closing? Refunds? Huh?

One of my deep, dark, unfounded fears, is getting eaten by piranhas in a pool. Before you say anything, let me tell you that I know I'm not going to get eaten by piranhas in a pool. The chances of that happening are pretty low. Truth be told, I don't know if anybody has ever been eaten by piranhas while swimming in a pool. Still, it's something I think about, so please give me that courtesy.

Anyway, I glanced in the water, half expecting to see a school of piranhas. Nope. Nothing. However, why take chances - I decided to skip my swim workout and go eat enormous masses of food instead.

I grabbed my bag of clothing and started walking out. On my way, I stopped another lifeguard to ask what was going on. I suppose I had already assumed this was the case, but to hear him confirm it. Well.... blech.

Somebody had taken a crap in the pool.
Yes, you heard me right. Somebody shat in the deep end.

What makes this even worse, is that this is an adult-only pool. No kids. That means an adult, confident enough to swim in 12 feet of water (where said crap was discovered), decided that instead of walking the 100 yards to the bathroom, instead of maintaining some sort of decorum and decency, they would just take a shit right there, right then, and hope nobody would notice despite the crystal clearness of the water.


I headed for the door. But somewhere along the way I stopped. A little voice inside my head was whispering to me. Every workout counts, it said. Every workout counts.

Knowing that I would never forgive myself if I ignored that voice, I turned on my heels and reluctantly meandered over to the Kiddie Pool/Splash Pool/Pee Pool. I found a lane with people that seemed to know how to swim, eased myself into the 85 degree jacuzzi-like water, and finished my 4000 yard workout.

When I was done, I walked into the locker room and turned into the bathroom. I've always thought this was a clean bathroom. Then again, I suppose a good way to keep the bathroom clean is just to have people shit in the pool.

March 08, 2008

This Is The Point Where a G**damn GPS Might Come In Handy

Morning Workout
99.79 miles
6 hours 24 minutes
3060 feet of climbing
Pain level: Annoyingly fatigued

Random Comments: About a year ago the speed/distance sensor on my bike stopped working. One minute it would show me doing 22 miles per hour, next minute it's at 2.2 miles per hour. It was annoying. I'd finish a four hour ride only to have my monitor tell me I rode 14 miles. Now I'm definitely no super-cyclist, but I know I can go further than 14 miles in four hours.

I thought of getting the sensor fixed. For months I talked about replacing this part or fiddling with that part. Then I realized that I really didn't want to get the darn thing fixed anyway. Honestly, I kinda despise having this clock constantly telling me how slowly I ride. It taunts me. It mocks me. I end up pushing myself to the point of exhaustion and then get frustrated in the end.

So I took the speed/distance sensor off my bike. Actually, I think I ripped it off. I may have uttered some profanities in the process.

You want to keep telling me how slow I go, you little shit?! I'll show you who's the boss. [I tear sensor from the bike.] How does THAT feel, fucker?! How do you like that now?! You wanna tell me I'm slow NOW?! HUH?! Speak up, punk!!

So anyway, when I go for my rides nowadays I really have no idea how far I ride until I can get home and map it all out. I can make a guesstimate - figuring that my average pace is such-and-such, and then multiply that by so-and-so, until I come up with a number that sounds like something I'd be happy with.

Take today, for instance. At about 5 hours into my ride I started the calculations. If I take 16 miles per hour times 6 hours.... but wait, maybe it was 15 miles per hour. No, that's not good. 15.65 miles per hour times 6 hours 17 minutes. Maybe that's what I need to do.

After about 40 minutes of doing complex multiplication in my head, I realized I had no clue how far I was going to ride. All I knew is that I wanted to do more than 100. And from what I can gather from the calculator in my brain, 6 hours and 10 minutes of riding would get me to 100. No problem. Just to make sure, I rode 6 hours and 24 minutes.

When I got home I took my ice bath, showered, dressed, ate and, while laying on the comfort of my couch, mapped out my run. I couldn't believe the results. I checked my mapping again. Yes, it was right.... I rode 99.79 miles.

99.79 miles?! Are you f***ing kidding me?!

I was pissed. Less than a quarter mile short of a hundred?! This is crazy. I felt like getting up and running my bike around the block. 99.79 miles. For goodness sakes. this is the point where a goddamn GPS might come in handy.

March 07, 2008

The Morning Boot Camp

Morning Workout
1 hour 21 minutes (8.3 miles)
Pain level: Moderate

Some power lifting. Not that I'm very powerful, but I try.

Random Comments: Since I had some weight lifting on the schedule and since I had a breakfast meeting planned, I decided to save some travel time by starting and finishing my run at the YMCA. The festivities began at 6am.

The Y is only 6 blocks from the ocean, so I had the joy of running up along the coast in the early morning hours. If there's one thing I learned about running up the coast at such a time (and I reckon that I learned at least one thing, if not more), it's that there are a heckuva lot of women out there huffing and grunting in their boot camps.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the boot camp phenomena. For all I know, this may be a very LA type of thing. Basically, you pay somebody too much money to tell you to do more sit-ups. Technically, the leader is supposed to act as a drill sergeant and get you into shape. Hence the "boot camp" name. The truth of the matter is that, though there are a lot of drills, there's not a lot of sergeanting involved. From what I can gather, it's a half hour of sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks and potato sack racing.

This whole boot camp thing seems to be quite the cash cow though. In just 1/2 mile I saw no less than four boot camp leaders guiding their group of yoga pants wearing, tight shirt sporting, scrunchy-wrapped poneytail-ing, 30-something women through the same sorts of exercises I was about to do at the gym when I finished my run. The thing is, the boot camp clientèle - ALL women. I mean, nothing but. The only outie genitalia was with the boot camp leaders.

If I were a single guy (which I'm not) and if I were looking for a new woman to date (which I'm not) and if I were sick of the ridiculous bar scene (which I am) and if I became frustrated with online dating (which I was), I'd be signing my sorry ass up for an early morning boot camp. Not only do you get to hang out with the aforementioned yoga panting women, but if you play your cards right, you can get yourself some pretty ripped abs.

Every Workout Counts

Here's the deal. It's Friday, March 7. There are only 5 weeks until Ironman Arizona. That means 3 weeks of training, 2 weeks of taper. I started February with a leg injury, which stopped me from running for 2 weeks. Just as I was supposed to start running again. I got the flu. That put me completely out of commission for almost 3 weeks. Next thing you know, here I am in mid-March, with only 5 weeks to go, and I'm still trying to get back into the shape I was in 5 weeks prior.

I'm already one month behind.

Five weeks. 37 days to be exact. Five weeks sounds like a lot of time. 37 days sounds like I'm in big trouble.

At this point, I can't freak out. All I can do is focus. I can pray that my leg injury doesn't lay me up again. I can pray that I will have enough conditioning to get through this darn race. And while I'm praying and focusing, I need to exercise. Because at this point, with only 3 weeks of quality training, with only 37 days until the big show... at this point every workout counts.

Every step counts.
Every stroke counts.
Every beat counts.

As I geared up for Ironman Lake Placed a couple-a years ago, I laid out my schedule daily. I'm not a big fan of reading people's daily workouts - I find it boring. I'm assuming you do too. So let me apologize in advance. But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Especially when you get to the point where I am. Where the clock says "t minus 37". Where every workout counts.