Category Archives: Swim

Loving the second week of streak

Yesterday and today were pretty amazing runs. Beautiful running weather – 40’s and mostly windless. Last night was kind of an interesting situation, though. Busy day at work, so I was initially going to do the run after I walked the dog with Mrs. Jank. But, I got home with some time to spare before we sat down for supper. #2 son was cooking, and it was going a little slow, so I popped out the door for one lap of the neighborhood (~1.5 miles); ate a light-ish supper, and then walked the dog and ran another lap for another 2.7 miles on the day. Legs felt good.

Today was AWESOME. The Nike+ app suggested I do 5x400m repeats, so, sure! That meets the intent (2 miles on my feet each workout, at least 1 “running” – actually exceeds the intent in my set of rules for this year, which was going to give me the “cheat” of only having to sweat for 1 minute out of the two miles). Rather than do them on the track, took advantage of the GPS and did them on the trail alongside Narragansett Bay by the office.

And, I’m pretty pleased with the result. Nike+ says I did about 7:10 average for the 5×400 intervals; even though I walked the breaks from interval 2 on, Strava says I did 2.5 miles at under 11:00/mile overall. Not gonna qualify for Boston any time soon, but I’m really starting to feel stronger.

Today was also the second day in the pool this week. I had a pretty rough swim on Saturday; decent swim Monday afternoon, but today was another “meh” day. Regardless, I gutted out 1 KM. Form didn’t feel bad; I think it was mostly light breakfast + intervals + no lunch yet.

Tomorrow and Friday are big meeting days at work. I’m going to try running before work. I don’t usually have good luck with that, but if I don’t, I’m probably not going to get it done. So – wish me luck!

Bonk. Or Whatever

Really? Haven’t posted since March? Well, crap. This winter really, really, really, sucked the life out of me. Let’s see, what have I done since then:

Another YAM Scram and Relay Vermont City Marathon:

Untitled

The Inaugural Mystic Half Marathon (Yep, that’s my boy, bringing home the age group hardware):

Mystic Half

A little bit of backpacking at Philmont in New Mexico:

Winter that never ends

Riding to get Ice Cream:

Untitled

Riding because I’m married to the finest woman on the planet (person on the planet, actually)

Untitled

Riding to fight homelessness:

Untitled

Drinking some beers:

UntitledUntitledUntitled
(Maybe lots of beers)

Anyway, today was the last day of the kids being at YMCA Camp Woodstock, so I did a pseudo-brick: Actually, a BSOTSD (Bike and Swim On The Same Day, if BRIC is a Bike and Run in Combination).

The swim was OUTSTANDING! We’ve been sending the kids up to YMCA Camp Woodstock in Woodstock, CT (Duh, but everyone assumes it’s Woodstock NY, so I usually mention it). The kids absolutely love it, and I’m jealous as all get out. It’s a plain, old traditional summer camp – swimming, and outside, and climbing, and stuff. Coed. I’m jealous.

Anyway, the last couple of years, on either dropoff or pickup we’ve gone on giant bike rides, or I’ve swum in the pond, or whatever.

Today? Well, can you ask for a nicer day?

Untitled

No, no you cannot.

Swim was great – 10 minutes out, 10 minutes back. Water was perfect, and this everything felt smooth.

So, got the kids home, unpacking, etc. And decided to run out for a bike.

Occasionally, there’s beach traffic backed up on IH-95 south on Mondays, so I take a back road across the RI border. For about 10 years, I’ve been thinking “Man, that’d be an awesome ride.” So, today, I rode it.

I had an epiphany earlier this week: Cold Brew Coffee as the basis of an energy drink. 1 part Cold Brew, two parts Water, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of sweet. Loaded it up and hit the road.

Untitled

I was right – the course was outstanding. Good long drag down CT 184 to the border for the first hour. An hour of mostly downhill and rollers to Westerly, through fields and dairys. The birds sang, the breeze blew, and the sun beat down on my ears.

Untitled

The last hour was the drag from Westerly back to Mystic, which I’ve ridden a thousand times (Maybe hyperbole, maybe not…). And, after 2 hours in the sun, only two bottles of drink, and one Kashi granola bar, I pooped out.

If you’ve never bonked before, it’s kind of interesting. Just before, you are feeling somewhat fine – maybe in the hole, maybe a little on the good side. Then, in the space of 100 pedal strokes, everything just kind of leaves you. Air stops entering your lungs, your heart stops pumping, and your legs just don’t want to work. A saddle that’s been comfortably beneath you for thousands of miles is suddenly assaulting your rump.

Anyway, this happened to me just as I came to the light at RT 1 and Flanders road. I coasted through to the shade on the west side, and sat down. SOmehow after finishing my last bottle and sitting for a couple minutes, I was able to get back on the bike and limp home.

The bonk was glorious. Which isn’t to say I’d like to do it again anytime soon, but there’s something satisfying about finding the limit, pushing past it, and realizing that there’s work to be done to move that limit further out.

28 Days of March to Go

Mother Nature continues to be a Mother*.

Today, I went to pay my respects to the waters, to spend some time immersed and moving through them. A lovely mile in the pool ensued. “Ha”, I thought, pictures of lovely summer days swimming in the sound, bay, ocean, and lakes running through my head. “It can’t be winter while I’m swimming, right?”

The swim was good. Not noticeably faster, but still good. Form felt good, lungs felt good, and there was a little bit left as the pool closed and I had to call it quits. But, I felt good; convinced that I had this winter thing licked.

Winter had other plans.

As I left the pool, snowflakes were beginning to fall, and by the time I reached home, they were coming down pretty well. But, as Tony Robbins told me, I can’t let other people set my own reality – I must take control of what’s been given to me. So, after supper, Missy and I set out for our after-dinner stroll of the neighborhood. Tons of snow coming down; about an inch in the hour we’d had supper.

But, as I’ve unilaterally declared Winter over, we went for our usual after supper stroll. Kind of a lovely walk, with snow crunching underfoot, and gentle flakes falling down. Which would be great, ‘cept winter is done.

Wish it believed it.

Didn’t step on the scale today, but had a bad, bad eating day. Calorie counting says I ought to have broken even, but it needs to wait until I get back on the scale.

Black Lines – Advent Day 11

As you can probably tell, I’ve pretty much decided to power on through the Advent Project, despite the fact that I let it lapse for fourteen days. Eh. What’s fourteen days between friends?

Today may have started out as a perfect example of how lucky I am:

Woke up next to the love of my life snug in my own bed. Made it down to the YMCA in plenty of time to get a good bike, and started warming up. Light class load during the pre-New Year break, and Noreen kills the lights, turns on the blakclight, and fires up “Speak To Me” for the classic “Dark Side of the Moon” class (Ride? I don’t necessarily feel comfortable using cycling terminology for spin class, which is a different animal, a ghost shadow of the wonder that is really riding a bike).

Anyway, having been back to spin pretty consistently for almost two months, I had a breakthrough last week in that I finally re-learned pacing on rides, not wiping out too early, and not holding back and finishing fresh. Good times.

After spin, I hit the pool. And spent about 1500 yards staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool.

New Years started early this year – the pool was PACKED – every lane shared. I dropped in with a nice woman who was swimming A TON of leisurely laps, taking the lane next to the wall while she swam next to the rope. So, first thanks for the black line was in making one lane into two.

Then, as the swim went on, the pool slightly emptied out, and I was able to move over a couple of lanes for the last set – 250 hard. Head down, stretching to meet the black line with every stroke, and happy as a clam.

Got home good and tired to start the day.

Perspective

Or Frame of Reference is Important

Went swimming at lunch today. Which is great, right? Trek 360 Bike

Or at least it would be, ‘cept I ran into my buddy T., who was heading into the locker room as I was heading out.

“Hey, how are you?” sez me.

He sez – “Can’t talk right now – gotta take a pee break – I’m at 4500 on my way to 3K for the day”

Well, crap. Right about then, my jammers seemed to get a whole lot roomier in the crotch. 4,500 yards and he’s not completely spent?

I’ve got to throw in a little perspective. T’s one of those great guys who everyone seems to know who actually do walk on water. He’s supremely competent in everything he’s approached, one of the nicest guys on the planet, great wife, cute kids, and an absolute animal in the pool, on the bike, or running. He’s awesome to ride with – knows every road in southeastern New England, does a great job regardless of skill level, and never, ever, ever hesitates to say “Sure” when you want to ride. And, he’s spent the last 10 months recovering from a pretty serious crash, but is back to being able to tear my legs off at will.

I’m a hack. I’ve been 20-30 pounds overweight for my entire adult life, and while I’ve developed endurance, I’ve never, ever been able to get my weight down to the point where I can develop speed. Anyone who has ever tried developing speed without dropping weight can tell you where that leads (straight to PF, ITB problems, or something that requires PT and ibuprofen).

So, I popped on the headphones, pulled down the goggles, and started cranking. And y’know what? About 300 yards into it, I realized that while I’ll probably never approach Tracy’s level, I’m doing all right. My resting heartrate is down in the 50’s, I’ve still got all my hair, I’ve got the time and disposable income to have pretty much any gear that I’d like and at least one or two chances to get out each week. All in all, I’m doing all right.

Perspective.

I’ve spent the last 15 years chasing (almost literally) the myth of Lance Armstrong. My enthusiasm for fitness really did start with a bike similar to the one pictured above. Was reading about Armstrong’s ’99 tour, and watching the OLN coverage on basic cable. I needed to get back into shape, had some time on my hands with a new job, so figured “Why not?” Started watching the want ads in the newspaper, found someone selling the Trek second hand for cheap, and picked it up.

And rode it, and rode it, and rode it, all the while hearing Phil and Paul in my ears.

My lovely wife and I didn’t have kids at the time, so Saturday mornings were mine. The Trek shifted Saturday Mornings from fishing to cycling, but I wasn’t riding for me – I was riding with racing in mind, despite being in my mid-20’s, 30 pounds overweight, and miles away from any organized racing scene.

Media didn’t help. I still look forward to each new issue of Bicycling, Triathlete, Runner’s World, whatever. Still love watching racing despite having my former heroes brought to earth over the last year. But I’m never going to run a 2:30 marathon, or do a 5 hour Half Iron, or drop the peloton heading up L’Alpe.

I reached down to the bottom of the pool, tucked my chin into my chest, pulled my legs into my chest, blew air out through my nose, planted my feet on the wall upside down, pushed off, stretched tall in good Pilates stance, and glided out to the first line of flags. While my head surfaced to take the first breath of that lap, I blew out jealousy, disappointment, and false expectations, and pulled in a lungful of wet, chlorinated air.

There’s a lot of folks not in the pool today, I thought, and pushed out another 500 with a smug sense of superiority over the couch potatoes who were just then sitting with a plate of fries. (MMmmm, fries) Even if I won’t ever be in the same league as the pros, at least I’m a step above the slackers, right?

But while I caught my breath waiting for my last set, I realized that standing on a pedestal above the lazy was going to be as healthy as trying to reach an elite level while juggling work, family, and some semblance of making a difference in my community.

Perspective. It’s about focusing on what’s actually changeable (controlling cravings for french fries for one). Focusing on actual flaws (Blowing off workouts for sitting on the couch) instead of perceived flaws (Bike weighing in at 19.5 lbs as opposed to under the UCI minimum). Focusing on awesomeness, like skiing a loop with my awesome sons, running River Road with my longsuffering wife, or the connections I’ve made in the larger running community.

Perspective. Another thing that T. has to teach me. And has been trying to in his own quiet way every awesome loop we’ve done of Newport Island.

B@$+dR@. (Still not there yet with the whole perspective thing)

Slush / Splash / Chase

Today’s awesomeness began this morning. The overnight light snows left a little bit of a dusting on the shoulder. Not enough to make it slick, but enough to leave tracks. Pretty cool to roll the front tire through it, see it get shiny on the edges, and then watch a steady stream of dirty snow the texture of an Icee keep growing out of the front of the fender. Got to work with the bottom bracket a sloppy mess. Commuter Details

Swam at lunch, and tried out a new Jlab Go waterproof MP3 player. Dug swimming with tunes; wish I’d known how to make the player shuffle.

Ride home was awesome. The days are getting longer, and it was still twilight leaving the office. Warm (For February) during the day, so the snow was pretty much gone. I had an extra half hour before supper, so I took the long way home, cutting down to Bluff Point and across to Haley Farm as the light faded.

There’s a mile-long stretch between Haley Farm and Bluff Point that’s on the ballast for the Acela track. I’m kind of surprised there’s not a Strava segment on it, but also kind of don’t want to make one. It’s flat, flat, and a great stretch for group rides and runs – 5-10 minutes of plenty of room to stretch and talk. By the time I got there, it was actual no-lie dark, and I was enjoying the cold and silence and the tunnel of lights coming off of my handlebars and helmet.

The first part of the trail is an abandoned rail bed. Flew around the corner, and almost biffed – caught the front tire in a frozen rut from the ranger’s pickup – three oscillations, and saved it. The cross bike is awesome, but the drop bars aren’t the greatest for manhandling the front wheel around ruts. Plenty of light, but no contrast on the frozen mud. I was happier than a pig in poop.

The mud trail comes out onto the ballasted shoulder of the track. Cut the corner and managed not to clip the gate, and briefly sat up to enjoy the spin. About a quarter mile ahead, there was a group of three mountain bikers, so I dropped the hammer and chased until they went up the grade to the pedestrian bridge. Almost caught ’em, ‘cept they could make the sharp turn and rough cutoff. I had to continue on about another 100 feet, slow uturn, and crank up the grade.

One little patch of mud on a south facing grade, and I found myself wishing for knobbies instead of the reflective slicks. Kept it upright, cranked over the bridge, and chased the flickering lights through Haley Farm. In hindsight, I think I caught the tail end of the Mystic Cycle Wednesday Ride – bunch of folks with nice bikes putting them up on the cars in the parking lot.

Rest of the ride was uneventful – Thought I was going to die going up Fort Hill, but that’s pretty standard. Flanders headed north is the most awesome false flat for about 30 miles around. Flew down the Gold Star Highway, and kind of freaked out when a driver actually slowed up behind me for about 100 yards ’cause they were turning right behind me. Thanks Driver!

Longsuffering wife had green beans and fish ready when I got home, and it was still warm…

Somedays, I just love my life.

2013

So, Fat Cyclist is getting back to his roots. Turns out, I’m in the same boat.

I’ve had probably the best mileage running fall that I’ve had in freaking forever – consistently made the Saturday run with the guys from church, averaged at least once bike to work a week, whatever. But, food raised its sweet, sweet head, I started homebrewing again, and beer’s pretty darn tasty. I’ve got a great new office where we’ve got way too many great folks who bring in tasty food. Sigh.

Bleh. Over 185 at New Year. Ouch.

So, I’m back on the wagon. Just finished a trip down south for work – only one night of Chic-Fil-A, no AM biscuits, not so many beers. AND! Hit the 50 meter pool.

Love the 50 meter pool. Love swimming in general – I’ve managed to get in at least 1000 yards three days this week – Monday in the pool up here, and Tuesday and Wednesday down south.

I’d forgotten how much i love to swim. Actually, I’m not completely sure I love to swim, but it felt good to be back in the pool, working a different set of muscles than I’ve been working for most of last year. No phones, no gadgets, no nothing. Made me happy.

Anyway – running with J. in the morning. Still got better legs than the 12 year old.

Racing Weight – Plugging Away

Hey, y’all. (Hey, Jank!, I hear you say)

Plugging away up here. Starting the 4th week of Racing Weight. Haven’t been completely strict on either diet or exercise, but I’m batting about 80% on workouts, and diet appears to be working – I’ve gone from 186 to 182 in a month. Nothing breathtaking, but steady progress beats no progress, right?

Working swimming back into my routine has been a key. Working out form through the Triathlon classes at the Mystic YMCA a couple of years ago made a giant difference. Swimming’s always been a great way to get exhausted quickly, but it’s nice to be able to knock out a mile of laps in 45 minutes instead of maybe 600 yards for the same level of exhaustion. I’m by no means a good swimmer, but the sensory depravation one gets in the pool is close to zen. 20 good flip turns in a row feels like carving a good line through moguls – something you can’t think too much about but need to be completely conscious of to make it happen.

Commuting on the bike is awesome, BTW. Need to spend some time documenting my current system. But that’s a post of a different color…

2010 Continued

Man, I’m loving life.

First, the Twitter (via William Gibson of Neuromancer fame) spits out this link about neo-cavemen (cave people?) in NYC. Absolutely fascinating, and Nassim Taleb makes an appearance (You have read Fooled by Randomness, right?). So, in one 5 minute diversion, I’ve got:

  • Meat.
  • Exercise
  • Math
  • Stickin’ it to the Man
  • References to squirrel hunting
  • Making fun of Vegans
  • Frenchies.
  • Ex-Navy guys about my age

Fascinating article, but I’m afraid it’d ask me to give up beer.

In other news, I had two great runs this weekend. The first was Saturday afternoon – I went long-ish from NAVSTA Newport to downtown after drill. Was just really, really nice to be out, and in the zone. Highlight was when a pre-family co-worker flagged me down across the street from the post office and introduced me to his girlfriend. She was nice, but the best part was being a decent enough person to work with to be flagged down socially.

Sunday afternoon, I went for a short run to blow out the carbon after the long run. The first half-mile was tough, but I stuck with it for 30 minutes, and felt GRATE! by the end of the run, and woke up feeling great this morning.

Tonite, I made it back to the Y pool for the first swim of 2010. Seems like the Mystic Y raised the pool temp about 5 degrees – it wasn’t painful to get in. I actually broke down and did about 600 yards of drills that I remembered from last winter’s swimming for dummies (Triathletes) class in addition to the standard warm-up/cooldown.

Let’s see about other stuff:

  • One of my running partners for the VT City Marathon training is on DailyMile with me. Very much like the RBF works to motivate me, knowing that there’s someone else out there getting fitter and faster than me is a huge motivator.
  • Similarly, I’m determined to figure out how some of the new “New Media” works. Want a Google Wave invite? Leave a comment.
  • Likewise, I’m all about the MIT Opencourseware Project. I set up a $99 monitor with an Apple TV and a VGA jack for my laptop, plopped my bike trainer in front of it, and I’m reviewing linear algebra and its application to computer science. All for the price of nothing (I’d bought the monitor for something else)
  • Found out that a high school classmate of mine is going to retire from the Army this year. Odd to think that I’m old enough to have retired friends. Happier to think that I can retire from the reserves in about 4 years. And thankful that there’s men and women in this (and other) countries who are willing to dedicate themselves to making the world safe for democracy.
  • Did the final cleaning on the old house. Scrubbed all the applicable floors with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and had a trip down memory lane to scrubbing the floors at the fraternity house on Sunday mornings (morning being loosely translated as noon-ish) after parties.

OK, that’s probably close to enough. Things I still owe:

  • Resolutions
  • Training plan for VT City
  • Pictures of the new house

ENOUGH! Go run.

EDIT: Two more quick things –

  • I’ve got a current intellectual crush on Karen Armstrong. Her book on The Bible is a great and short read. (And it’s out of the same Atlantic series that spawned PJ O’Rourke’s brilliant book on “On The Wealth of Nations”, so it uses small words). God is good, and expects us to be good to each other
  • Bag Balm. I’ve been suffering from some excema on my foot for about 9 months. Peeling, cracking, itching. I’d tried steroids from the doc, and some fancy stuff that Melissa recommended, and it just kept getting worse. Then, as we’re moving, I come across this tin of Bag Balm that we’ve had for a decade or more, since we treated a dog who’d had a run-in with a pricker bush. I figured “What the heck?” and smeared it on, and about 2 weeks later, I’m close to convinced that I’m finally going to get better. Just further proof that everything good comes from Vermont.