Saturday, January 29, 2011

Polar Bears Swim Really Fast

A show on Animal Planet last Thursday shared that a polar bear can swim 6 miles/hour. I'm not sure I believe that but if it's true it would be a very dumb idea to jump in the water to escape a polar bear. Completing an Ironman swim of 2.4 miles in under an hour is an amazing feat alone, so imagine racing a polar bear in one of those things! Of course, I think I could take him on the bike.

It's easy to get caught up in all this "trying to get mo' betta, mo' fasta" stuff in triathlon. I remember once about 10 years ago - way before I had the triathlon bug - we went for a vacation at my cousin's cottage at Warm Lake up in Canada. I watched every morning as my cousin's wife would jump in the lake and easily swim to the other side and back as her morning exercise. It was, perhaps, a half mile wide but at the time completely vexing to me that she could do it so effortlessly (she swam in college).

So one day I jumped in and gave it a try. I doggie paddled and side stroked, gasped and treaded water. It was a dumb thing to do, and as I looked back at the cottage from the middle of the lake I saw my wife, Angie, and my dad on the dock yelling something inaudible at me as they wrestled with putting the canoe in the water. They meant to come and "save" me. I could see my dad was livid. He knew full well I had no swimming skills and had no business attempting this stunt. But I made it. Barely.

I've put a lot of work into becoming a stronger swimmer over the years, and I'm still nowhere near a front of the packer but it's getting way better.

The last couple weeks I put in some fun time trials in the pool. It started when I got caught up in a thread where folks were trying 500 yard time trials and posting their times just for shits and giggles. So I gave it a shot. I was pleased to turn in a 6:39 for this time of the year. That's a 1:19/100 yards.

A buddy of mine who can swim really really good (we'll call him Frank) mulled this over and suggested I should be able to swim a 100 all out in 1:10. I thought he was crazy. So i gave that a shot. I did it in 1:07! Again, quite pleased.

The man we'll call Frank challenged me again yesterday to try a 400 tt followed by a 200 tt. So I gave that a shot. I did the 400 in 5:08 (1:17/100), took 5 minutes active recovery, then did the 200 in 2:25 (1:12.5/100).

I don't know what all this means for this time of year but it's a good start. Maybe the man called Frank will make some sort of sense out of it and turn me into a front of the packer some day. Wishful thinking at the very least.

Anyway, training as a whole is going very well so far. January was a 40+ hour training month and the weight is coming down. Now, just over 170 lb and excited to see what I can make of February. The gumption is a'flowin' through these veins! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I love the word. It's so much more fun than all the other words we've made up that mean the same thing. This time of year though, it sure is hard to find a good helping of gumption. I've used the holiday season as I typically do - time off from structured training, minimal time in the pool or the saddle or following that white line on the edge of the asphalt. No training - unless it just feels like something fun to do - since I pulled the off-season parking brake after the Washington Half Iron at the end of October 2010.

As usual, the turn of the new year means it's time to start laying down a baseline for the upcoming race season. I have pounds to lose if I'm going to get back to triathlon shape, and a lot more work to do if I'm truly going to show up to the start of this season - and Ironman Coeur d'Alene - at a new low race weight. I'm starting 2011 at 175 lbs. My usual race season weight is 165 lb to 167 lb. I'm thinking seriously about racing 2011 at a weight at or near 160 lb.

Sometimes you gotta make the gumption up yourself, and today I might have. I set out in the cold weather today to do a solo bike ride of 40 miles. Sometime during the ride the gumption got to me and I locked in on making it 50 miles. Never mind the hands were numb, I hadn't eaten in 3 hours, and I was only toting one bottle with nothing in it but water. Never mind that the dark and ominous clouds in front of me were clearly dropping snow. At about mile 30 I began to bonk - a hunger bonk. My head didn't feel clear, the legs were wobbly, and I found I had to concentrate hard to stay upright. It was pretty gusty too. But I pressed on, determined to get the full 50 miles.

The snow hit right after the bonk started. It wasn't much of a snow, but it was sticking to me and made me more aware of the pins and needles it felt like were being stuck in my fingers. I contemplated taking the shortest route home. I contemplated stopping at work, where I was just about to ride by, and warming myself up for a few minutes. Then I thought how bad of shape I must be in if I would consider going to work on a non-working day, regardless of the reason, and I re-centered myself. Shortly after that thought I cleared the snow zone and started feeling better, though still kinda wobbly from the bonk. I scored the 50 miles and feel like this has been a good day to the start of my base training for 2011.

I spent some time on the ride considering how I would lose all this weight. I think it's time to start a more regimented nutrition plan. Starting Monday I'm going to try this as my standard day's nutritional intake, until the volume and intensity of my training dictate the need for more fuel:

Pre-Work Breakfast:
Honey Bunches of Oats w/ Blueberries, 5 tbsp of Hemp Hearts

Mid-Morning Break:
Diet Pepsi

Post-Lunch Workout:
Chocolate Milk
Salad, w/ Chicken

Afternoon Break:
Diet Pepsi

Something Sensible that Won't Piss Off Angie

Speaking of gumption, I'm not sure I have enough for this, but I was thinking of writing updates on this blog as my 2011 season shapes up. I don't really know if I have anything interesting to write about. Maybe it will entertain one or two bored people. Maybe it will serve as a good log for myself to return to in the future to remind myself what to do and what not to. At any rate, thanks for reading.