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Archive for March, 2012

Fit to be Tried.

Posted in P90X, Sports, Triathlons on March 21, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Well, I’m halfway through the first official week of triathlon training. Why official? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of someone officiating it. Or perhaps because I’m writing from an office. That’s probably it.

Random digressions aside, I have a schedule and everything:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Morning P90X Run P90X Run P90X    
Work           Run/ Bike/ Ski Resties!
Evening Bike Swim Ski or rest Swim Bike    

So, I have many opportunities to rest if I need, notably Wednesday night and Sundays.

But let me back up, like I so often do when I Moonwalk on the treadmill. On Thursday, I went swimming for the first time in a great many years. Like 18 years. The instructor is very serious, and she emails workouts the day of training, which feature an inspirational phrase followed by a soul-crushing workout.

“If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.” Said last night’s workout, followed by over 4000 yards of laps. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s over 2.3 MILES of swimming.

So, I survived Thursday, and in all honesty, it felt good to be back in the water. There were plenty of things I needed to correct, but I was overwhelmed at how much I had changed since high school. I was stronger, probably faster, and my lungs were really good thanks to the ski season. Also: I didn’t die. Silver lining and all that.

This past weekend saw me running hither and yon (have you been to yon lately?) to get my gorgeous borrowed bicyle up to riding shape. First, I stripped off all the unnecessary components (rack, water holders, barbeque) and then found some aero bars, which allow the rider to lean way forward in a most aerodynamic of postures whilst riding, and got a new rear tire tube, because the old one had suffered miserably.

I also acquired a trainer, which allows for indoor riding, because the bike remains in one spot while it spins a magnetically-resisted wheel. It’s pretty fun, and works extremely well. I tried this out Monday night, and spent 35 minutes (I’m building up to more) on the saddle.

Tuesday morning I went to the gym to spend time doing one of Life’s Worst Activities: the treadmill. We should probably rebrand them as Dreadmills. My hiatus time for running is on par with that of swimming – around 18 years. So, I started easy(ish) at 7 mph on some varied inclines. I did this for 10 minutes, then fast walked for one minute. Then I ramped things up to 8 mph on level ground, and put in another 8 minutes, then went to 10 mph for two additional minutes. Then I warmed down for four minutes by brisk walking. I’ll again note that this didn’t kill me, but it did expose some weaknesses. Namely, running. I’m just not that good at it. I think it’s a mechnical thing. My stride rivals that of a drugged giraffe. But, it’s something to work on improving, since it likely can’t get any worse. My legs, lungs and heart are in good shape from skiing and P90X, but my calves and shins were not used to the running motion, so they did protest a bit.

Yesterday’s swimming was great again, even if it was over 2.3 miles of it. My calves did have the tendency to cramp when kicking too much, but I blame this on the morning run. I was able to work with the instructor on improving my technique, such as keeping my face down in the water, as opposed to the old style I learned (during the FIRST Bush Administration – yes, Herbert Walker) of tilting your head slightly up. I also need to glide for a greater distance coming out of turns. And yes, I do flip turns, which is probably a great reason to wear a helmet, but thus far it’s been a moot point.

So tonight, I’m taking a break to let my legs rest up for tomorrow morning’s run, and am happy to report that my training is going swimmingly (snort) and I am eager to continue.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the Dreadmill.


Try A Thaw Lawn Thyme.

Posted in Sports, Triathlons on March 12, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Yes! It’s that time of year again, when a young man’s fancy turns to… athletic endeavors?

Such is the case for me, as I embark, bolstered by a successful Tour of Anchorage ski race finish, into the Summer Triathlon Series here in Alaska.

So, Triathlon – that’s a technical term meaning three athlons. The traditional athlons, predictably, are things I’m not very good at. The first athlon is swimming. Now, I did do some swimming in high school, but it was decidedly something I did not excel at. I did manage to escape drowning, but merited accomplishments beyond this are scarce. I think the most valuable thing I learned from my Swim Team tenure was the proper pronunciation of the word “chamois.” Bear in mind that this was long before the Sham-Wow.

Now, it has been nearly twenty (20!) years since I have swum competitively, or even swum for exercise. Of course, I’m not including years of hot-tubbing, but I think its exclusion is rather justified.

To remedy such a staggering hiatus, I have enrolled in Master’s Swim classes. I start Thursday. I hope my waterwings still fit.

With the swimming aspect being handled (in my mind) adequately, I then turn my sights to the next athlon; biking.

The most difficult aspect of biking, naturally, is that one requires a bicycle to do it. This, I do not have, at least by any meaningful definition. I still have the mountain bike I used in high school, and it happens to be old enough to vote. It’s also heavy enough to disrupt the Earth’s rotation if I went up a hill, which is nearly impossible, re: its weight.

As luck would have it, a wonderful individual offered a bike designed specifically for road use to me, and I plan on using that. I am also hoping to borrow a trainer to allow the bike to be used in a stationery (stationary? Whichever one doesn’t involve paper products) manner.

That solved, I must turn my attention to my least favorite activity; running. As I mentioned ages ago in this very blog, I am not remotely adept at running. Not even to save my life. I’m not exactly sure why this is. Perhaps it’s because running is an activity I absolutely despise. All I can think about is how much my entire body hurts the moment I begin to run. That said, I do plan on running, at least for the duration required by the local triathlons. We’ll see if I can finish in sufficient time to prevent my  body from completely rattling to bits.

So there we have it, my plan of a trifecta of athlonic activities. Which should be doable should I manage to keep my waterwings inflated, bike from voting (or running for Congress), and body from rattling asunder.

I’ll be the one with the chamois.


This week, I’ve raced the Tour of Anchorage, started Phase II of P90X, and am starting to train for the summer triathlon series.

This is Exhibit A of having zero social life.

Posted in P90X, Sports, Thought of the Day, Triathlons on March 8, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Recollections of a misspent youth, or, what I did this weekend.

Posted in Sports on March 6, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

“Hey Mike, what did you do this weekend?”

“Not much, went to Anchorage, competed in the second-largest cross-country ski race in the United States, drove home.”

“And I see you’re still alive.”

“I am indeed. Thank you for noticing.”

–          Imagined dialogue if someone asked me, “Hey Mike, what did you do this weekend?” and also noticed that I was still alive.

So, my List of Important Things held mostly to form. I managed not to die, I tried to be competitive, paced myself fairly well, and still managed not to die. I went up Saturday morning, which helped me to take my mind off of the event. I still needed to figure out what kick wax to use for my skis. Kick wax goes on the underside of the ski right under the foot area, and provides grip, whereas the tips of the skis have wax to make the ski glide – cleverly called glide wax. I stopped by a local ski store and they had recommendations for which wax to use. Saturday featured more snow, and I had been on the wrong side of bad kick wax – snow collects and sticks to the bottom of the skis and makes any kind of headway impossible. I was worried, but confident in the “pro” advice. Saturday night I focused on carb loading. Fortunately, I found out that this means eating lots of carbohydrates, as opposed to carburetors like I had been anticipating. Was not looking forward to that. So, stuffed with whole grains, I tried my best to sleep.

Moderately successful, I did have some pretty good pre-race jitters on Sunday morning. I forced myself to eat early and often, and hydrate accordingly. I arrived at the event early to check the snow conditions. It was a balmy 10 degrees at the start, and overcast. I was worried about more snow, which inevitably slows everything down. In my race, the 25k Classic, I was in the very first wave with 49 very competitive others. So, a little bonus pressure. I wasn’t shy – I went straight to the front of the line. I got a good clean start and was the first to the trails, then on the uphill got passed by a group of college team skiers and a few other, obviously experienced veterans with good techniques. I vowed never to wear spandex, despite the alleged speed advantage, then held my own for the miles that followed. The sun came out and it was gorgeous. I skipped all the rest stops and just double poled, like I had anticipated. I felt like I nailed my diet, which was nice. Wasn’t hungry, wasn’t thirsty the whole race. My race started at Alaska Pacific University and went to the Coastal Trail, finishing with a long uphill slog into Kincaid Park.

I finished with a time of 1:49 something, so was pretty far off my estimated time of 90 minutes, but the fresh snow made it slightly slower, and it was squishy for double-poling. My back (I knew it would) started to stiffen up like crazy near the end – just in time for the 2k climb into the finish. I started the hill about a minute and a half behind the guy in front of me, but couldn’t catch him at the finish – he beat me by 5 seconds. He was in my age group, too. Ugh. The hardest part was that I had no idea of where I was in the course. I could only go by time elapsed, and there I thought I would do better. So, I was a little slow, but finished not absurdly far away from my goal.

I finished 21st of 144 skiers in the Men’s 25K Classic race. I was secretly hoping to be in the Top 10 before the race, and any chance of that was dispelled in the first five minutes. I recalibrated my goal (during the race) to be in the top 20, and I was only 5 seconds out. There were a lot of very good skiers in the race, and I found out later that a guy next to me in another lane at the starting line was an Olympian. Turns out he was faster than I was…

So, next time I want to train more long skis over the weekends, and pay particular attention to diagonal skiing. It was a gorgeous Sunday, and nice to be outside. I have to remember that I’ve only been skiing for less than four months, so just doing a ski race is pretty neat.

I think I ate for two hours straight when I got home, and overall, I was rather pleased to manage not to die.


Los Anchorage: A tourist’s view of the Tour.

Posted in Sports on March 1, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

So, the weekend of the Tour of Anchorage Ski Race is looming. Why it’s weaving cloth using antiquated technology is beyond me, but that’s beside the point.

I have to admit that I am a touch nervous about the ordeal. Being heaped in with over 2000 other skiers, of all ability levels, I wonder just how well I’ll do. I’d like to do well, but I think my focus should be a bit more pedestrian.

To wit, my goals for the Tour of Anchorage, in order of importance:

1. Try not to die. This seems the most important to me, and I will do my best to see it happen.

2. Try to be competitive. I am competitive by nature, but am unsure of how this will translate to something so unpredictable and rather foreign to me. I don’t think I’ll go all 300 on people (“THIS. IS. SOLDOTNA!”) but I’ll try to pace myself accordingly to do the best I can.

3. Pace myself accordingly. I found a couple of weekends ago that I can pace myself quicker earlier, so I’ll try and do that. My plan is to find a better skier (That shouldn’t be too hard) and keep pace with him or her.

4. Try not to die. Yes, again. I think it’s that important.

So, we’ll find out Sunday. I’m in the 25k classic-only race. Since I’m extra classy. Also: I’m terrible at skate-skiing.

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the interim, I plan on pacing myself and, of course, trying not to die.