Friday, January 29, 2010

A letter to my Coach

Dear Chuckie,

I didn't like you on thursday. I disliked you for giving me tons of anaerobic sets in the pool. I was not happy with you for wanting to coach me to a successful Ironman on May 1st.

First, you start me off with "mixers". I prefer drink mixers.

Then, you give me golf sets. I really don't like golf. When people ask me if I play golf, I say "I haven't reach that age yet." I would rather watch the lifetime channel on tv while on the trainer with one of my neighbors drinking beer next to me and taunting. Kind of like in the picture below from last Sunday (only I wasn't watching lifetime, I was watching this):

(Yes everyone, that is a Christmas tree still up, yes I am on the trainer, and yes, the sun is out. Don't ask why either)

Then you give me 12 x 200's at 97.4% effort, and, let's not forget that I wasn't allowed to go any harder than that (in more ways than one). The distaste for you was so much that I couldn't taste the chlorine in the pool, and whatever else people leave in there. Maybe if the pool was 55 degrees, I wouldn't concentrate on my displeasure for you so damn much.

But, no worries, it wasn't long before I had ill feelings towards myself. I was ticked off at myself for signing up for an early season Ironman. It's the end of January, and I feel like I should be training as if I should be in mid-season form.

Whoa, I'm doing all my sets consistently. Catch breath, now send off

Ok, I am going to stop thinking now, because thinking is leading to bad karma, and sometimes, its easier to not think, than think, especially during hard swim sets. Wait, not think? I love thinking! Now, I am back to having a bad taste in my mouth that I can't taste thinking of your name.

Then, the dissatisfaction turned towards my friends. As in, all my friends who signed up for Ironman St. George, which is part of the reason why I signed up to do this event. Most of these friends are friends who I go up and camp with at wildflower. But they wont' be there this year because Ironman St George is on the same day as wildflower, which means I can't have fun with them. At this point, I now have a beef with North American sports, and it has nothing to do with the near $600 I had to "drop" just to "do" this "event".

Whoa, I just did all my 200's on the same interval, and although it hurt, it hurt a little "less" than normal - it's hard to describe. Wait, maybe all these hard ass anaerobic sets are working. Hey, this guy does know what he is talking about! 200 double backstroke, and I am outta here. Damn, that was a great workout! Glad I caveman'd up and did it, and finished with a smile on my face. Life is good!


ps- Despite my griping, it really was a great workout. I really am not a bad high maintenance athlete - I just had no motivation to be in the pool. I had early morning meetings, all morning, and a slight hangover from birthday festivities the night prior. Pool time was not desirable. Many times I wanted to "bag" it. But, I gutted it out, and it ended up being a great confidence builder. Thanks for being a great coach. I am glad you push me out of my zone of comfort.

pps- This is the third blog post in a row about swimming. What is this world coming to?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Refreshing Swim

I had a swim scheduled for this morning, so I headed up to my normal place of swim, the pure fitness pool in Carlsbad.

I walked out onto the pool deck, and noticed there was only one other person in the pool, although, he was finished and just getting out. I asked him the usual question "How is it?".

He waited a second or two before responding, and came back with "Refreshing", with a snicker and a sarcastic tone.

Having just swam in the same pool two days prior at 6:30am, when the air was cool, and the water was the usual 70ish degrees, I innocently asked "Is it warmer than the air?".

I noticed there was another delay in his response, and this time I didn't wait. I dipped my toes in, and responded for him "Holy shit!". He laughed, knowing that he was getting out, and I was getting in.

My warm up was supposed to be a 350 yard "mixer", mostly non-freestyle. About 12 yards into it, I literally picked my head above the water because I was laughing so hard it was so cold. I did the same when I got to the other side of the pool. The warm up, in all senses of the term, quickly turned into a 350 yard freestyle nearly all out time trial just to generate body heat.

I knocked out about 1700 yards before my shoulder told me to stop, then I jumped in the jacuzzi for 10 minutes, showered, and then decided to stop by the managers desk on my way out to inquire about the water temperature. I figured they didn't warm the pool on the weekends, or the heater was broken. He assured me the heater was indeed working, its just that when the were putting the covers on this week, the wind was blowing them off, so they didn't bother with them last night. We laughed, and I went on my way.

As I was driving home, still trying to warm up, I wondered what the water temperature was, so I called them back. I explained to them that I just swam in the pool, and found it rather cold, and was wondering what the temperature was. Of course the girl at the front desk didn't have "access to that information", so I decided to turn on my charm (yeah right), and talked about how water temperatures like that in the ocean are normally reserved for wetsuits. She then happily went to go ask someone as to the current temperature.

She came back a minute later and said "Sir. Hi, yeah, the water temperature is 55 degrees".

55 DEGREES!!??!!?

I might have yelled that into the phone, we shared laugh, and then I hung up (I think she had enough of my charm).

So, despite a meager 1700 yards, I still felt like a BAMF and putting on a performance worthy of a Carlos V bar.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Operation Triceps


For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting San Diego’s Gurujan Dourson, one of his (many) mantra’s goes something like this:

If you want to be a faster biker, bike more
If you want to be a faster runner, run more
If you want to be a faster swimmer, take lessons

Years later, I decided it’s finally time to take his advice, and got me some.

Better late than never, right?

I asked my friend Carrie to help me out with my swim stroke. Surprisingly, she accepted (all that time in the chlorine must have had an effect on her processing abilities. Thankfully she didn't ask for a video first!). Carrie is a rock star swimmer, and there is nothing more to say to it than that. She could kick your ass. I figured that if I can simply make my stroke more effective and/or more powerful, that’s gotta make me faster given the same swim volume. Seems reasonable.

Yesterday morning was my first swim lesson. She asked me my objectives, and asked me to swim a few laps. Some easy, some builds, and then an all out set. After the all out set, she started to talk, and the words came out of her mouth…

“You’re stroke isn’t, umm…”

For those of you who don’t know Carrie, she is very mild mannered, nice, and would never hurt anything (unless you ask her for a swim set). I could tell she was really trying to be nice with her choice of words:

“… horrific.”

Horrific? Really? Wow. I guess that’s better than “the worse I’ve ever seen”. I could barely hold back the laughter. She couldn’t.

After a few more laps, we realized what the main issues were:

• I don’t glide enough
• At the end of my stroke, I push off way too much. It’s like I’m trying to move the air above the water.
• And the best/funniest – at the end of my stroke on hard efforts, when my hand comes out of the water, my palm rotates inward (toward my body), thus pushing the water laterally across my back. She mentioned that she had a general concern for people in not just the next lane over, but the lane after that one. Sheesh.

After a few laps of instruction and trying to do a lot at once, I finally started getting the hang of it all (although, there is still is no chance in hell for me to count “one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand" while swimming.). I was gliding more, and pushing water, not air, backwards. Imagine that! Hey Mom – look at me – I can splash backwards now!

Anyways, onto the title of this post – my triceps were F-E-E-L-I-N’ I-T! Woof!

She mentioned that they will continue to be feelin’ it for the next couple of sessions. The 2700 yards I did this morning confirmed that.

While en route to getting a burrito after wards, I showed her a sample workout from Mr. V. She asked if I actually used the inner tube that he prescribes. I said No (sorry coach).

Well, apparently, I wasn't full from the burrito because when I went back home, I was eating my words when I opened an email from Chuckie that said "Buy this."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Counter Balance

If you can't have good without evil, sweet without bitter, success without failure, ham without the burger, then you can't have balance, without a counter-balance.

Ever since I wrote about balance (and with inspiration from CV's latest, and a conversation I had recently), I re-read a previous post I wrote - Extremes. The gist of the post was I had a friend who said I was so "extreme". Extreme, being a relative term of course. Doing a half Ironman - that's extreme. Talking about doing RAAM - that's extreme. She was one that generally liked being in a zone of comfort (not to be confused with, but certainly similar to, Z1 in training - it can get you somewhere, it's just boring). There's nothing wrong with that way of life (PC, speaking) - that was her MO. But, that wasn't ME.

My response was that to do anything great in life (or, let's just start with something a little more than ordinary), then you have to to be a little, or a lot, extreme - depending on how big your goals are. Take anyone who has reached their personal best, a community/group/team's best or even world's best, in anything (worth talking about anyways; losers need not read anymore) - and they had to make sacrifices. They had to put balance on hold a bit, and be a little "extreme". They had to sacrifice some things - whether that be sleep, a social life, family time, denero - whatever. Upon achieving their goal, I am sure each and every one of them would say "it was (well) worth it".

One thing they probably learned about whatever journey they embarked on, is how aligned their goal(s) is with their comfort zone. At the risk of sounding rather nerdy, if you think of two concentric circles, with your comfort zone being the inner/smaller one, you better realize that at some point, that thing is going to have to expand at some point, if you are to reach your goals. The greater the disparity there is between them, the greater the chance that your comfort zone won't allow you to reach your goals. The more pliable and expandable it is, well, "the sky's the limit".

It's rather paradoxical that humans are innately lazy creatures, yet we are at our best when we are challenged and stressed. To steal a line from Jon Voight in last season's 24 (one of the few shows worth watching): "Stress is the fertilizer of creativity".

(As an aside, I was extremely lazy over the holidays. Michelle and I finished an entire season of 24 [that's, 24 episodes] in less than 48 hours [not the first time I have done it], and I (we) loved every second of it.).

If I learned anything about the last year of my life balancing work/life/school/training/stuff, it was only to confirm what I thought a few years ago when I wrote of extremes and comfort zones. The more you are out of that good (?) ol' zone of comfort, the better off you are (or will be, someday), the more adaptable you are (hey, if caveman never adapted, then you wouldn't be reading this blog!), the greater your patience/stress threshold can be, and not to mention - feeding that ego and developing confidence, whether it be physical, mental, or both.

Life, as in training, has stress(es) applied to it, and after proper recovery, we are stronger for it.