Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cashing in a coupon

So, for father's day, I got a coupon from my family for some underwear. Yesterday, I cashed in that coupon on some sports underwear. See, they know I have really been struggling with staying cool and hydrated, and have been wearing the right type of material, but not the right colors. I bought some UnderArmour underwear bottoms, a white UA longsleeved shirt for the heat, and a white UA sleeveless jersey for running in. I topped this all off with a UA visor which should let the heat vent through my cranium, while keeping the sweat off of my glasses. All said, this was a pretty penny for underwear, but I am hoping this will help me to get in condition enough to allow me to continue training in the heat, and making progress.
Today was my 2000M open-water swim at lucky's lake. it was a beautiful day to swim, and I was excited to swim because it would be my first time crossing twice in a day. I felt appropriately tired from the swim and my arms especially are weary. I think that the best way to improve now on my swim is for me to start working on posture in the water, and my kick. My kick should bring up my legs to make me more aerodynamic in the water, and posture will help me to be flat like a board, not saggy and droopy in the middle like a 2x4 that has been left in the rain. This should help in the bike by sucking my gut up, and on the run by relieving some pressure on my lower back. Main way to do all of this is to start seriously concentrating on core strength. If I am right, that will help every aspect of training.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dilbert in action.

Several things have happened in the last week or so which makes me think of Dilbert, I can list them, then the author of Dilbert will have some stuff to write about.
1. There is a switch on the side of my laptop which turns on the wireless adapter. I worked for an hour to figure out how to "turn on the wireless adapter" in windows before realizing somehow the switch on the outside of the laptop casing was turned to the off position. I wonder if this is a first sign that I need to start finding something less technical because I have lost my 'e-touch'. Now that I said 'e-touch', I am thinking that sounds kinda gross, but I am going to leave it, cause that's how I roll.
2. I was passed over for a promotion and a guy in Canada was awarded the Director position. I should not be too frustrated, since he has a really great resume', but I have really been working hard the past couple years, trying to save customers even when I am not in the support group any more, and I have been rewarded for my efforts with stock options that mature over the course of 4 years. Then I will be allowed to buy them if i can afford them, and then if the company goes public and does well, I will be rewarded. That is a lot of 'if's and I am not sure what I need to do to actually succeed in this company. Maybe leave?
3. Historically, I have noticed that the people who get ahead in the world of business are those who do not do anything. I try really hard, and that gets me more work, but makes it difficult to get raises and promotions. In prior jobs, I have seen network and systems administrators pretty much take 8-12 months to study at their desks for certification tests, and when they get the certs, they get promotions and raises. I have seen people who do nothing but go to meetings and not speak, get promoted out of their positions, or they just wait long enough and get yearly mandatory raises and level increases and COLA increases. One turned to me a while back, and said, "hey, can you help me to create formulas in this spreadsheet? I forgot how." Grrr.
4. The other day, a co-worker was talking to an automated menu on the phone. I could tell because for the first part he was talking in his robot voice. I think maybe he wanted to make the automated menu think he was a robot, so that he could get to the option he wanted faster. It is kind of like talking in ebonics while playing basketball. Maybe they will pass to you once in a while if you sound like you think they should. No matter that when they actually look at you, they see a pale mound of quivering flesh who has lost all coordination and finess.
Automated menu, "Say, 'English' to continue this call in English, Say 'Spanish' to continue this call in Spanish."
Human pretending to be Robot, "I am not human, BI-NA-RY. 11110110001110"
Automated menu, "Hey, man, how is it goin? Whacha need? We got those humans fooled, yeah?"
Human pretending to be Robot, "I am a RO-BOT. Please Speak in BI-NA-RY. My keyboard got wet, MU-ST RE-BOOT, MU-ST RE-BOOT, MU-ST RE-BOOT"
It goes on and on.

I know I didn't talk much about my training, today is a rest day, and my legs are a little sore. I did great yesterday in my 30 mile bike, improved on my mph by .7mph, and had this been olympic distance I would have improved my time by 10+ minutes. Granted, I still would not have had anything left for the run and would have BONK'ed on the second 5k in the run just like in Miami, but I am confident that by September that I will be under my goal time of 3 hours, and that this will convert to a sub 6:30 time in my half Iron Man two weeks later. I have two running focused days coming up, one is a speed workout on Saturday, and then a recovery increase in distance on Sunday to 9 miles. My main focus is to pick up my feet, and not shuffle so much, which hopefull will allow my forward lean to do more work and cause both an increase in volume and speed, and a decrease in leg soreness and the impression that people are taunting me as they drive by because I am running like an old man.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Relax. A time for blissfull introspection and self actualization.

I went back through some of my recent posts, and I think I may have been a little harsh on coaches in general recently. It makes me think about what coaches do, and what coaches are. I guess they are a lot like parents for adults, setting limits, and encouraging you to greater heights, while at the same time picking you up, dusting you off, and setting you straight when you make a wrong turn.
In college, I was lucky enough to play on the basketball team for a year. My coach owned me for 2-3 hours a day, and because my "scholarship" required that I also work at the gym 5-10 hours a week, he owned me for that too. This is what happened during high school sports as well, they would teach me about the sport during practice times, but that is where they stopped. The dedicated athlete would pick up where practice left off, and do more drills, run more, take a weight training class, join another sport, play basketball at lunch, go back to the gym after dinner and play basketball from 5:30 until the gym closed at 11pm, then leave for a while, then sneak into the gym and either play basketball or go swimming after it was closed, then (at college) drink beer until 4am, then wake up for practice at 6am, eat a big breakfast, (or go to the morning class) then nap until lunch, and so forth. If you count the weight lifting classes, and the extra-curricular sports, and the rec-league, and the pickup games, I was technically "exercising" 8+ hours a day on the light days.
Here is the clincher: Nobody told me what to eat. Nobody told me to stop doing so much exercise, there was not really a measurable 'taper' to my days, aside from my shooting form, there was no discussion of my running form, or my posture, or what i should eat before, during, or after the workouts to ensure that I was working at peak performance, or so that I did not wake up the next morning with huge charlie-horses, or sore as hell.
I think this is why I am so taken aback when I am told that I can not go further or do more just because I feel like I can. There is a formula when training for an endurance race that needs to be followed for optimal results. There is probably a formula for working out for any sport, but the coaches of the time, or the coaches of that level were so focused on the execution of the 'plays' that there was no mention of how you should take care of yourself outside of practice so that you could benefit the most from your time in practice. nobody told me that just because I could eat a steak sandwich before a game without throwing up, that maybe i shouldn't eat that because it will be in my stomach and intestines for a long time, and could mess me up, just like they did not care about stretching. These things are more important for me now that I am in my 30's, because I can feel the effects more readily. If I eat a big steak sandwich before working out now, I will likely hurl. If I dont stretch, I will likely not be able to walk tomorrow. If I do an extra 500-1500 swim now, just because I can, that means I will likely not workout as well tomorrow, or I will bag the whole thing because I am really sore.
I see the rationale behind it, but it is still really hard not to want to do more now that I feel like I can. Ultimately, I want to be ready for my races in September, and the only way to do that is to listen, learn, and do my best.
I think that also means not eating two cheeseburgers, fries, baked beans, etc, just because I am really hungry and can. I will be full after eating just one burger, and will feel much better and may actually lose fat faster if I can control those urges.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Coaches - BEWARE!

OK, all you narrow minded coaches out there, here is my warning to you. You better watch out. I am going to start a revolution in training, and we athletes are going to school your ass. I am really sick of you people telling us athletes what we can and can not do, and I am on a mission to tell all of your athletes that they don't have to listen to all that you are telling us. (We have to listen to some, since you are the coach, but not all, pay attention). We do not have to listen to you when you tell us stuff like, "You should be happy with the progress you have made." - even if you say it just to be nice. I am sorry, I am not happy with the fact that in my first Triathlon I was 30th in my age group, just ahead of the guy who was DQ'd. I am happy that you helped me get across the finish line, but that is not enough! I am not satisfied. We do not have to listen when you say, "You really run funny, you have very slow feet." No shit, Sherlock! I actually had a basketball coach tell me this then walk off. I did not know better then, but I do now, that bastard needed to not critisize me, but needed to teach me how to friggin RUN! Now I am 35 years old and have to learn to run all over again. I played college basketball, and did not run correctly. I know now that I was putting the brakes on the entire time!
We do not have to listen to you when you tell us that we will likely not be an elite athlete, or will never play college basketball, or have set a goal that is too fast, or to far. I am sorry, but you have no say in that. That is MY decision. Life is so full of exceptions, and the only difference between an average person and an exception is that the exception believes they can do better, despite what other people say.
As a coach, it is your job to push athletes hard enough to make them better, while at the same time, balancing the risk of injury. Not eliminating the risk of injury, but balancing. The second I step on the course, I know there is a risk of injury. As a coach, you need to help athletes get to and exceed their potentials in a relatively safe environment. Relative to their desire and what they are doing. As workouts enter the riskiest areas, you need to determine where the risks are, and mitigate them while still allowing the athlete to succeed.

Teach me how to get better, don't tell me what I can not do, or that I have to deal with the cards I was dealt.

I am happy with my choice in coaches, because they understand my desire to get better, and to meet and exceed my goals. They have my safety in mind, and work with me to get better and better. For all you other narrow minded coaches out there, I will write something on the seat of my pants for you to read as I pass you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This monkey's down with the sickness...

Woke up at 3am this morning, flat on my back, mouth open, breathing like a fish out of water. My tongue was swollen, and dry like the Sahara at high noon. I am thinking major dehydration. I woke up a couple hours later with what I am going to call for now 'upset stomach'. After 30 minutes in the bathroom, I decided that today was not a good day for 20 minutes running, then 25 miles on the bike, then 30 minutes run again. Now that it is several hours later, I have decided that I chose wisely.
If you were like me when first starting out, you had a problem. You did not have a car, but you needed a car to get a job, and you needed a job to get a car. Likewise, you needed a house and a phone to put out your resume' but you needed to get your resume' out there to get a job to get yourself a house. In the same fashion, many people who wish to change locations or change careers have the same problem. If you want to move across the country, you have to be across the country to get a job there in order to move, and if you want to change careers, you need to have experience in the new career before someone will pay for you to do it for a living, otherwise you need to either start at the bottom and work up again, or spend all of your spare time doing the new career or learning about the new career, so that you start somewhere in the middle. I know many people in these situations, either starting out at a new career, or wishing they could do something else but can not afford to, or wishing they lived somewhere else but not being able to make the move. Lots of people never realize their whole potential because they either move to a new place and have to start over with a new company, or they have decided that they are not doing something that they want to continue doing. I know of people who are in jobs because they are stuck there, and are working for the weekend, and others who leave their jobs without knowing where they are going, or what they will do tomorrow or the next day. These people are the majority in my opinion. The minority of people are let go or downsized when they are completely content in their job, or at least brow-beaten enough that they are content enough with what they do that they can work to support their family or their playtime.
I have toyed with some of this over the last two years. Wanting to change jobs, wanting to move locations, so on and so forth. We have moved several times over the last 15 years, and I wonder if that has impacted my career success. When I was in college and just after, I changed my mind several times, and even as recently as 5-6 years ago I thought I wanted to go back to school and get my teaching cert and teach kids in high school. 3 years ago I thought I might want to get a Master's degree. I am not sure what I would have done with the Master's degree, but I thought it would be a good idea. At this point, I have analyzed myself into a corner, because now I have no idea what I would change if I could.
This concept of not being able to change is a factor in a lot more things than I have described above. A great example is my inability to get a tan. I can not go out in public at this point because I am so pale. I am really pale. The sun rays bounce off my skin like a mirror, and there is no 'tan'. My skin does not get brown either. It goes red, then freckles, then goes away. prolonged exposure will eventually brown my skin, but it takes a while. So, I cant get a tan unless i am tanned already. I will have to do the equivalent of borrowing someone's car and staying with relatives until my 'tan' appears. I am still trying to figure out what my metaphor actually means I am supposed to do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hair, and sweat loss, glad it is not the other way around.

One of my tasks yesterday was to run really slowly and determine how much hydration I lost in sweat over the course of an hour. So, I drank a 16oz water bottle, and ended up 3 pounds lighter at the end of the run, so mathematically, i lost 4 pounds of fluid. That is all fine and dandy, except that means that I lost 64 ounces of fluid! That is a gallon in an hour, and I am planning to do a race that lasts 6 hours, and I hope not to go that slowly. Coach suggested a fuel belt, but a 4 gallon fuel belt seems.... excessive and slightly awkward. I am going to have to work on this. (This is funny, not serious, so Coach, don't yell at me. I am just pontificating.) Anyway, I did figure out that when I lost my water, I also lost the ability to regulate my heart rate. It seems that when I am H20 low the heart rate jumps up above the easy workout and into the moderate to hard workout zones at the first sign of any movement. Lots of athletes probably knew this, but I did not. End result is this: I need to drink an insane amount of water to keep hydrated, and this will help my heart rate stay in the "weight loss/cardiac building zone" and out of the "AAAAACCCCKKKK" zone. It is very likely that this is also one of my weight loss issues. Long workouts at low heart rates are what dives into fat for food. If my long workouts are not diving into fat and immediately going into AAAAACCCCKKKK then I am going all anarobic, not aerobic. Luckily, I can megahydrate for the rest of this week, and next week is a recovery week where everything is long and slow, so i can test my theory there.
The other thing I have noticed is that I seem to have lost all style in my hair. I used to part it on the side, but now whenever I look in the mirror, I look like either a red-headed troll doll, or the Heat Miser from the rudolf christmas shows. I am not sure why, but it all just goes up... maybe I am getting old.
I am tossing around writing a book. I have several ideas which I think could be developed into full fledged story lines, and I think I have a good idea of how to organize it, it is just a matter of sitting down and flexing those muscles for a while. I guess I am kinda doing that here, just by dumping out thoughts into coherent sentences and paragraphs. Who knows, maybe I could write the next big series with huge acclaim. I am not sure. I ask you though, when was the last time you laughed outloud at something written in a book?