Friday, April 18, 2014

Double The Pleasure, Double The Fun

I really need to stop having days like this.

It seems every time one of my parents goes to the hospital to have surgery, I get accepted to a graduate program.  Simultaneously.

My mom was having tendon work done in a wrist.  I was having an overdue conversation with the graduate coordinator in a department to which I did not apply at the school where I have already been accepted into a different department, regarding electives for me to take this summer to prepare for applying to this program in the future.  Like two to three years in the future.

Except that there weren't that many pre-requisites I need to take and I had more than adequate test scores and...suddenly I'm being told to just put together an application because the program will accept me now.

I'm being told this exactly at the same time as someone, somewhere is cutting into my mother's arm.  Again, I really need to stop having days like this.

So...working towards two masters degrees at the same time.  I'm not sure if "fun" is the right word. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Music Dump: The "Do What You Want, Say Prayers At Night" Edition

No one has ever accused me of having good taste in music.  Then again, no one has ever accused me of having bad taste in music either.

I am guilty of having many different tastes in music (which will become even more obvious with the next music dump I'm already working on).  Today I offer (in order):

a driving, upbeat song by a usually plaintive group;
rhythmic alterna rock;
hipsters telling people to grow up and act like adults, set to a pop beat;
a European dance club hit;
an international DJ super-star working with kazoo; and
a'capella folk music.

Take your pick.

Love Runs Out, by OneRepublic

There's a maniac out in front of me.
Got an angel on my shoulder, and Mephistopheles.
My momma raised me good, momma raised me right.
Momma said "do what you want, say prayers at night",
And I'm saying them, cause I'm so devout.
'Til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out, yeah.

Love Songs Drug Songs, by X Ambassadors

And I look you in the eye
You know this is the last time I'm
Gonna put you back together

Ain't It Fun, by Paramore

Ain't it fun living in the real world
Don't go crying to your mama 

'cause you're on your own in the real world  

Lifted, by Naughty Boy ft. Emeli Sande

Devil can’t catch me tonight
I’m not afraid, and I’m not alone
Even if I’m dancing on my own
I’ll be lifted, lifted, lifted  

Long Road To Hell, by Avicii ft. Audra Mae

No, I don't know if I'll be coming home
It's a long road to hell without no soul

It has freaking (synth) kazoo as an instrument.  KAZOO.  Kindergarteners of the world rejoice.

Forever Young, by Audra Mae

May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young 

Sorry, Bob, I think I may have found my favorite version.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Not Just Me And Not Just Lane Lines: Me Versus Lane Lines

Eventually I'll stop posting about this, as soon as I stop seeing worse and worse damage inflicted to swimmers'  hands.

Last Thursday, a teammate hit hands with another teammate while doing free style in adjacent lanes.  One of them was totally unfazed.  The other soon looked like she had a golf ball attached to the first knuckles of her first and middle fingers.  I wish I had gotten pictures of that.

By Saturday, she knew her second knuckle and metacarpal were broken and the swelling was incredible.  You can compare her splinted hand to her other hand in the background.

That's the bruising on her thumb, two fingers away from the broken bone.  A bone broken by another human hand while swimming.

I am re-evaluating swimming's classification as a non-contact sport.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Prove It

This is when I promise once again that this post will be the last in my Tour De Torching Myself series.  If only because it means I can stop, or have stopped, torching myself!

But maybe I should just say I've learned a lot while coaching other people, that I finally have the opportunity to apply to myself.

An athlete of mine finally finally completed all the workouts in a week, as written.  Over the past few weeks there have been many reasons, legit and not, for things to be moved, shortened, skipped, or ignored.  I knew this athlete could do the training; it has been the next logical step in training since the end of February.  However, for all my cajoling and encouragement and foot-stomping, it just wasn't getting done, until last week.

On Sunday I send an email saying very simply: "goal of the it again.  Now that you've proven to yourself you could do it, prove to me that it wasn't a fluke."

Only then did I realize that that is exactly what I had (subconsciously) done in my own training over the past two weeks.  I had gone straight from a week where I felt "on the rivet" (a cycling term) of volume and stress, and I did it again (plus an extra workout).  I swam 5 days in a row at 5 am, rested two days, and then I did 6 days in a row at our normal swim practice times (anywhere between 5 am and 6:30 am).  I needed to prove it to myself (as both athlete and coach) that I could do that week, not just once, but repeatedly.  After that the old stretch-goal can become the new normal and physiological development continues on.

In a way, this second week reinforcement was the positive outcome from a questionable self-coaching decision.

Harkening back to the "more is more" debate: I felt so much better on that 6th/11th day than I felt on the 5th of the previous week.  That 11th practice in 13 days was by far the strongest overall of any of them.  I'm still searching for the point at which less becomes more.  I feel like I'm goin' huntin' for a wascally wabbit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why Have Dishes When You Race Bikes?

May I introduce to you, my water bottle collection.

It's the entire upper shelf, front to back from the far right over to a little into the next cabinet to the left.  I used to have a lot more, but I purged when I moved from DC.  These are the ones I kept as souvenirs of memorable races, companies, and experiences.

From crewing the Leadville 100 Trail Race, a nice metal, flask-like bottle.  Not for riding, but definitely useful.

A bottle from a tri club in DC that doesn't even exist anymore, except in memories.

A souvenir from a race that kinda-almost-basically-really-doesn't exist anymore, the original IM Canada in Penticton.

One of the cheapest - yet still over-priced; $10 - souvenirs you can buy from IM World Championships.

Anyone remember these Gatorade bottles?  This is the classic Ironman water/sports drink bottle.  Before WTC (and Gatorade and Powerbar) got cheap, all liquid - water, Coke, Gatorade - provided by the race during the bike leg was distributed in these Gatorade bottles.  Plus if you went to a practice swim, the tent that stored your belongings gave you one of these bottles when you reclaimed your stuff.  The last time I remember them being at a race was 2007.  I must have 10 of them.


My mini-water bottle from IM Cozumel, next to a normal 24 oz bottle for size comparison.  They're high quality, but just so small.

Ah, the FRS bottle.  I was so excited when I got it, but now I am extremely conflicted that I still have it.  This bottle was pitched at my feet by Lance Armstrong at the Twin Lakes aid station during his return trip of the 2009 Leadville 100.  For five years it has remained empty, but unwashed; the dirt is "original."  Anyone want to test it for banned substances?

A color for all seasons.  And this is just the first box.

If you want to drink out of a real glass when you come to my apartment, you should probably bring your own.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not Hyperbole: Me Versus Lane Lines

I wasn't joking.

My second metacarpal just behind the knuckle is mush.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Blinded Leading The Should-Have-Known-Better

This post is the next/last in what I have taken to thinking of as the Tour De Torching Myself.

I decided to write about the hazards of being self-coached, when I realized that if I was still working with Phil, my last week of swimming would never have happened.  He would have pulled the plug the second my appetite went wonky.  Although I doubt it would even have gotten that far because he would have been shaping my overall training stress to prevent getting so close to the line in the first place.

Yet, here I am, self-coached and right back where I was when I finally decided to get a coach back in the winter of 2008: doing more because more is always the best training plan, right?

The problem with me coaching myself is that I can never be easy on myself, but I can never be truly hard on myself.  I can't let myself off the hook when I really need to, but I also don't have the guts to complete the very toughest workouts that I can devise.  And, most importantly, these two short-comings combine to subvert any attempt at being objective and smart about my own training. 

So I spent two (three...four....) years chronically slightly over-trained, and rotating through a series of overuse breaks.

Good coaches are objective based on tangible and intangible data, and don't make decisions based on impassioned pleas, ego-driven emotions, and preferences based on "fun."  The very first and most valuable thing I learned from my first coach was when to do nothing.  The second was how little of something I needed to actually do.  All things which are easy to do when you are viewing an athlete from the outside, completely removed from the maelstrom of internal dialogue.  Not so easy when you are both the brains and the emotions of the operation.

I am literally blinded by my proximity to the data.

Which is how I even let myself get into a position to have the option to turn the screws that potentially dangerous last little bit. 

Which is why swimming isn't such a bad idea for my new (old) self-coached situation.  My job is to get myself to practice.  Whitney's job is to write the workouts, which do cleave to something of a general annual shape.  It's a good balance between being coached as a self-coached athlete. 

Doesn't mean I can't still mess it up.
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