Thursday, January 29, 2009

Moving on up

The hardest decision of the day comes at 5:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At this point, I'm still groggy, standing at the edge of the pool, eyes half closed, analyzing the lane dynamics of the master's swim class. It used to be a no-brainer which lane to jump into. But lately lane speeds have been changing. I am in the middle lane, in terms of pool geometry and speed. Today after my swim, Rob suggested I move up a lane. This seems like a simple hop over (or rather, dive under) the lane rope, I know. But it's not that simple. First of all, for some inexplicable reason, the lane immediately next to mine is the fastest lane, and the lane two over is one speed up. This makes it a huge jump, and I'm not talking about the physical distance. Once you get over there, there is no turning back. You can't just duck under the rope again to rejoin your comfortable lane. Mostly because you'd probably get your head knocked off by the paddles flying in the fast lane.

I've gone with the safe, comfortable, familiar lane every time. But with Rob's urging, I may take that scary step over to the lane of rules, strict intervals, and people whose names I don't know. He swears that I swim just as fast on my "good days" as they do (but how few and far between are those?). You have to take risks to see rewards, they say. I'll be keeping my eye on that lane, but I may be keeping my body in the good ole middle lane.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Race of the Year

Sometimes I find it fun to torture myself with 16 miles of trail racing (if you can call what I did "racing") on little to no training and 4 hours of sleep the night before. So I have been running. About 8-10 miles per week. I even went out to the Swampstomper trail twice in the past few months to get used to picking my feet up high enough to get over the roots. I also did a practice fall on the Wolf River trails a few weeks ago, but luckily, that part of my training wasn't needed this past Sunday. I really have not been training for the sleep deprivation. Running on less than half of your nightly requirement does interesting things to your depth perception and focus. Something about drifting off while running over roots and across streams makes it harder to stay upright.

It was much warmer this year than last, probably by 20+ degrees. What a difference being above the freezing mark makes. The trails weren't very muddy, which probably made for a fast course. Not that I would know. I was thrilled to be running with speedy Casey again, and we had a great group of 3 or more through most of the race. We let my teammate Steve lead after the turnaround, and he quickly took off into the distance, never to be seen again. Or at least until the finish line.

I was terribly sore Sunday afternoon, but embarrassingly it was mostly from Saturday's yoga class that stretched my pitiful hamstrings right to their limit. My three hour nap helped cure the sleep hangover, and the bar food that evening helped replenish my muscle glycogen.

It's almost race season again, and now that the Little Rock Half Marathon people have categorized me as "elite," I must begin actual training. Next week.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

But I Do Have Central Heat and Air

I'm one of the three American households who does not have cable. Nope, none of that in my living room. There are two very nice, almost straight antenna that get adjusted with most switches of the channels. I received for Christmas one year a tiny glass angel figurine who does an excellent job of holding up one antenna when I need channel 3. About a year ago I found that extending one of the rabbit ears with your basic aluminum foil makes the picture quality significantly better. I've even been able to see the score of a football game or two on occasion. I figure this just helps sharpen my observational skills during the game. I either have to listen for the score or keep up in my head. Usually I just fall asleep.

So the Big Switch is coming on February 17th, according to all of the commercials on channel 5. Now the government seems to think that three years' warning was not enough for some. And I'll admit it: I'm one of the delinquents. I may not even be getting my voucher for the converter box. But let me explain. I DID send off for my voucher, a long time ago. I received it, put it aside like a good procrastinator, and when I went to retrieve it, it had expired. Why in the world they needed those things to have an expiration date of 90 days from mailing is beyond me. But I'm still appreciative of the voucher. I found an article and some interesting comments, and like one astute reader pointed out, there were no vouchers when the Betamax player became extinct; no one gave me help in upgrading my car's cassette player to CD (upgrade = buying a cassette adapter to plug into the ipod- I skipped the whole CD era); I wasn't given a jump drive when 3 inch floppy disks went out of style. So thank you, government, for supporting my TV habit. Without your voucher, I just may have gone without television altogether. I may have relied on actual paper books, live person-to-person interaction, and getting out of the house for entertainment. Maybe I can get together with those other two households without cable and we can watch my latest Netflix DVD.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

10,000 hours

That's the time investment of practice or training it takes to be world-class at anything, according to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. I haven't read but part of another of his books, Tipping Point, but it's a fascinating study of sociology that one of these days I'll get to finishing.

So 10,000 hours. That's 4.8 years of full-time, 40 hr/week training. If I manage to average 10 hours per week, that's only 19.2 years. I'm at least a few years into that, so by the time I'm 50, I'll be a world-class triathlete. Awesome. Even better, in just another year and a half, I'll be a world class Health Promoter.

I am finally back to training regularly after a nice long leisurely two-month break. I have not yet found my motivation; I think it drowned, along with the sun, in all the rain we've had this week. My patient little Seduza has sat in the living room, still wearing her number, having only been ridden once since November 1, and to transport me to get breakfast at that. She's not the only one sitting around. I think I've worn a soft spot in my otherwise firm couch cushion over the break as well. The extra weight might have helped. I don't really mind the weather too much, especially if it's just a fog and mist like the Minceys and I had while running on Sunday around downtown.

I'd even enjoy some snow now and then. I like the quietness and how clean the city looks with a blanket of white. Running in the snow is to peaceful, and I'd even be up for some sledding and snow-angel-making. It is also a great excuse to leave the bike at home for one more day.

It's always nice to have insta-hydration in the form of snowballs, too.

Doesn't he look like he's straight out of the Burberry catalog?