Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Matching Pair Posted by Hello

Swimmin' With The Fishies

I think I'm going to like my new routine of going to the gym before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So far the pool has never been so sparsely populated that I could have my own lane, but the folks I've shared with have all been very good swimmers. In fact, I suspect that most of them are from the now-defunct 5:30 am Master's class, because they either bring their own drills in protective plastic covers, or they do the drills left on the board from the evening Master's class.

And why don't I go to Master's class myself, you ask? Well, I tried it for awhile, then went away and did some drills and went back again, but I could never even come close to keeping up with all those Michael Phelps wannabes and I was just in the way. Besides, it's probably not for the best that I spend my evenings hanging around with a handsome, built, Speedo-clad coach named Dirk.

'Nough said, I hope.

Interestingly, the best swim advice I've gotten since my lessons a few years ago came just last week from the fishie I was sharing a lane with. For starters, I knew this girl was good when I saw that she could backstroke and keep to her side of the lane. When she repeated the phenomenon breaststroking, I knew I was in the presence of a swim goddess, or at the very least a minor deity.

So I joined her lane and tried to just stay out of her way, which was a piece of cake, since she was so obviously experienced and although I'm slow, I don't tend to wander much-- I can keep my lane like an expert. I was taking a little breather at the end of the lane, when Fishie stopped and looked at me. "You're a runner, aren't you?"

Wow. Good call. "Is my form that bad?" I laughed.

"Oh, no," Fishie said. "Your form is great. But you're not getting much power from your stroke." She turned to face me sideways and ran a hand down her side, from shoulderblade to hip. "Are you pulling from here?"

I shook my head while a little light bulb turned on in my brain. We continued to chat for a few minutes and the way-too-extroverted-for-so-early-in-the-morning lifeguard strolled over and added his two cents, but Fishie's words had already struck pay dirt. When I hit the water again, instead of pulling with my arms, I focused on pulling with my lats, just like she had shown me.

A miracle! All of a sudden my roll happened naturally, I was gliding through the water on every stroke without having to think about it, and best of all my stroke count dropped like a rock! OMG! How could something so simple have eluded me in all those lessons, books and Master's sessions with *cough* Dirk?

Okay, so I'm not going to be giving the Thorpedo a run for his money any time soon, but huge improvements have been made with almost no effort whatsoever! I've got a long way to go before I can even consider joining the fishies for some training sets, but for the first time I see some potential here for me to be able to maybe tag along on a good day.

I think I'll skip Dirk's class, though.

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 15 mile run
Sunday: 2 hours bike-Spinervals 9.0 Have Mercy, 3 mile walk
Monday: 45 minute core and strength training, 5 mile run
Tuesday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run, 2 mile walk, 35 minute bike-Spinervals 1.0 No Slackers Allowed

Monday, June 20, 2005

You went to all these places without me? Posted by Hello
Next year I think we should all go to Disney World. Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Unintended Tri

I did a triathlon today. At the gym. I didn't plan to, it just sort of happened by accident.

I went to the Y for a spin class, and when the hour was over, I had a sudden notion to go check out the rooftop track, which has been resurfaced recently. My intention was just to run a mile, since I ran long yesterday, but I was having such a good time that I did three miles. I've always liked the rooftop track for some reason. It's best at night though, with the downtown lights sparkling off the glass of the skyscrapers all around. I don't usually go up there in daytime like today, but there was a nice little breeze and it was fun being up there.

After my run, I figured I had better go do what I had originally planned to do after spin class, which was swim. Only one lane was in use, so I could make no excuses and didn't really want to, anyway. I had a lane to myself for the first ten laps, then a guy joined me and started breaststroking. What the--- this makes twice in one week that some clueless bozo with no concept of pool etiquette has gotten in my lane and then interfered with my workout! Word to the clueless: If you have the lane first, do whatever stroke you want. But if you try to join in on someone else's lane, do not breaststroke, backstroke or butterfly unless you make some sort of arrangement with the person who was there first!

Geez, is it that hard to figure out? Do people really need to be told these things?

Anyway, I complained to the lifeguard while the guy was hogging my lane on his way to the other end of the pool. Then I took off, hoping he would stay there long enough for me to swim the length of the pool, since I had no particular desire to get kicked in the face today. I don't know if the lifeguard said something or if the guy grew a brain, but I never got my chance to tell him anything because he changed lanes before I got to him.

Good riddance.

The next guy who wanted to share my lane was sane, polite, and stayed on his side of the lane. Thank goodness. I finished my twenty laps in peace and ended my accidental tri with a relaxing soak in the hot tub followed by a shower.

I picked up some lunch at Central Market before going home, then started a crock pot of veggies for the week. I made my yogurt last night, so that part of my weekly cooking was done. I'll do some brown rice later today and maybe some bread pudding after my regular Sunday evening walk with Dan. I just love it when we have enough old naan and french bread for a batch of bread pudding!

Today's Workouts
1 hour spin class
3 mile run
1000 meter swim
later tonight: 3 mile walk

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Home Again - One Week Later

I've been back home for a week now and things are finally starting to feel somewhat normal again. I'm back in my old routines, I'm caught up on groceries and laundry, and I've about gotten my brain back at work. Funny how much you forget or lose sight of when you're out of the office a couple of weeks-- What happened with that new hire? Did that purchase go through yet? Is that manager still unhappy about the chairs? Did the furniture specs get reviewed? Are the printers are already here? What the heck is my password???

Now that I've had a week to settle in, I'm going to try doing something new. Since September I've had to be in a late meeting every Tuesday, which has led me to often wish that I could come in late that day, so as not to make it a 10 hour workday. But with a vacancy I wasn't allowed to fill and an assistant whose health was uncertain, I had little choice but to show up every day at 7 to ensure that someone would be there to open doors and handle problems from our early-arriving programmers.

But no more! Right before I left, I got a new person transferred to me-- someone reliable, who I've worked with before. So starting next week I'm going to go to the Y on Tuesday mornings. I'll either swim (if lanes are available) or hit the 6 am spin class. If I like Tuesday mornings, I'll add Thursdays as well. I'm pretty excited about this and I think I'll have a lot of fun with it. And if I don't, well, my weights, music and stretch cords are still waiting for me here at home. Or I can go for early morning runs or something. Either way, some serious early workouts are about to become a reality.

I also picked up a copy of Mark Verstegen's Core Performance this weekend. Already I can see why it's gotten so much praise in triathlon circles. Now that it's out in paperback and available cheap online, I highly recommend it to just about everyone. You don't even have to do sports to benefit from this book-- you just have to want to have a well-functioning body for the rest of your life. But hey, if anyone out there really wants to be a shuffling, hunched over old thing with back and hip problems some day, have at it. I'll even try not to say I told you so.

I had a good run this morning, in spite of being nearly three weeks out from my last massage. I saw my young cottontail in his usual spot on the bayou trail. Funny little thing, it's interesting to watch him grow more confident as early morning runners pass his favorite breakfast spot. I saw a lady walking along the trail inexplicably wearing a washcloth on her head. It wasn't even wet, so I can't imagine what its purpose might have been. And I saw a race going on! I hadn't even known there was a race today, but I was near the outdoor chapel when a tall guy ran past me and then turned off the trail to do a hill repeat on the steep bank. As he ran up toward the street level, I heard cheering. Wow, does this guy have a fan club or something? I turned to look and saw that there were runners passing a water station at street level on Memorial. Hey, where did they come from?

The really odd thing was that when I came around the Allen Parkway side of the bayou, I saw walkers on the street, then some fast runners wearing numbers. It didn't seem likely that this was a 5K fun run/walk because there were so few of them and the route was too long. It was the route of the annual 20K/25K, as far as I could tell. But then I doubted myself because as I got to a spot where I could see Memorial and Allen Parkway simultaneously, it didn't look like it was the same event on each side. Or maybe it was. I'd seen no crossover between the streets at Shepherd or Sabine, but maybe it was someplace in the middle, such as Montrose where the bayou trail goes below the street level and I wouldn't see them. I don't know. It was definitely a race though, because I heard people calling split times. But where did the walkers fit in? Odd.

After running along the bayou, I did a loop through River Oaks, then went up to Memorial Park and did a loop there as well. It wasn't as crowded as it could've been, so I guess the race siphoned off a few folks. Luke's Locker had their Gatorade tent set up, and the ice-cold Gatorade was very welcome.

Then I headed home, encountering only one weirdo on the way-- a lady on the bridge over Memorial that puts me back home. She was striding along briskly, elbows out, hands in the air, waving her fingers. I couldn't figure out if she was practicing chisenbop or doing some sort of mental rehearsal of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," but I passed her twice-- once on the bridge and a second time on my cooldown by the softball park and she was still ambling along, waving her fingers in the air. Very strange.

Tonight I'm trying to decide between going to the Y in the morning for a short spin class and a swim (if I can get a lane), or just spin at home and make some yogurt. I'm leaning toward the Y in the morning, but that would mean I'd have to get off the computer now and make yogurt.

Decisions, decisions.

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 45 minutes core and stretch cords, 45 minutes bike - Spinervals 7.0 The Uphill Grind
Wednesday: 45 minutes core and weights, 5 mile run
Thursday: 45 minutes core and stretch cords, 45 minutes elliptical, 15 minutes stairmaster
Friday: 45 minutes core and weights
Saturday: 14 mile run

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jury Duty And More!

There's something kind of nice about getting back from vacation with the whole weekend ahead of you. Vacations are great, but they're exhausting and it's nice to have a couple days to settle back into the old routine before having to hit the office again.

This time, I had an extra day out from work, though. Jury duty.

I had tried to get my date changed from June 6th, which was when I was inconveniently far from Houston, but the lady on the phone copped an attitude with me and insisted that it was the Monday of my return or nothing. Geez, lady, check your records-- I've served before, I'm not some lying deadbeat trying to weasel out of this, I just want something reasonable. Asking me to do jury duty after being gone from the office for two weeks is a recipe for a hostile, grumpy juror. But whatever, she's probably heard everything, so today was the day.

Since I really didn't want to be picked this time, I decided to forego my usual professional attire, and dressed a bit sloppily. This was hard to do for me, because the remnants of my teenage vanity got in the way, but I managed to put together an outfit that, combined with an unattractive hair arrangement and no makeup, managed to make me look (and feel!) dowdy, ugly and hostile. I made sure to take a slightly radical Chicano book with me, one that has a sombrero-clad guy holding a gun on the cover. I would've preferred Dan's copy of Naked Lunch as a you-don't-want-me-in-your-jury-box tome, but I couldn't find it. Oh well. I think next time I see the LaRouche-ites passing out literature on campus I'll get me an armfull for future emergencies like this.

I had Dan drop me off downtown, since Parking is $8 at a minimum, and they only pay $5.50/day for jurors. Thanks, guys. I went through the whole cattle-like rigamarole in what was literally a standing-room only juror selection area. We filled the room, we filled the halls, we filled the breakroom... it was obvious some of us would get sent home. When my number was selected, I trudged off with the other cattle to sit some more on the floor outside the court, since there weren't enough benches for us all. Criminal court. Hm. Not bad. Maybe it'll involve a Hispanic and the opposing lawyer will see my book and reject me. Too bad I can't turn my Spanish accent on and off at will. Maybe if I read the juror instructions in Spanish, it will get me in the right accent.

Luck was with me today though, and the trial my group was selected for got postponed. No one else needed our panel, so they sent us away. Hooray!

So no one thinks I'm a regular grump about these things, I'm simply inundated with work right now that's been backing up. Normally I like jury duty because it's a nice excuse to do something different, hang out downtown for a few days and such. In fact, I've been wondering lately if there shouldn't be a way to volunteer for jury duty and be able to avoid getting called up for it at inconvenient times. I would've loved to have gone in February or April, for example, when I didn't have a lot going on. Wouldn't a volunteer option be nicer for everyone? Between jobs? Go get your jury service out of the way! Bored at the office? Go see if they need you on a panel! Of course most people would still have to be drafted, so to speak, but it sure would be nice if we could have the option of choosing. Getting to postpone your date by a couple of weeks isn't exactly choosing, because it assumes that you have busy days or weeks, as opposed to busy periods of the year.

Anyway, it was eleven o'clock when I got dismissed, and with no car handy, it didn't make much sense to try to make it to work. The buses back to where I live (only 3 miles away, of all things) were several blocks away and run at 40-60 minute intervals, depending on whether I take the #18 or the #70. They take 20 minutes at a minimum to get me near where I live, then I would've had to still walk the rest of the way home, change clothes, eat a bit of lunch, drive to the office, etc, etc. So going to work didn't make much sense at this point. Anything that needed to be done could be done online in the evening or the next morning.

I had brought my gym bag with me, just in case I got dismissed early, so I headed off cheerfully to the downtown Y for my first swim of the season. Yes, first. I'm part cat, I think. I really hate water unless it's to drink.

The pool was busy with lunchtime swimmers, but I found a slow-moving guy in a lane by himself who looked like he wasn't terribly serious. Luckily he wasn't, and within minutes of my arrival, he left. Yay! I got in and immediately remembered why I hate the pool. It's wet and cold. Why do people do this on purpose?

Okay, buck up camper. Get wet, try not to shiver like the wimp you are and get swimming!

For the first five laps I had the lane all to myself. Once I was moving, it was fun to be back in the water. I was slow, but that was okay. Can't expect speed if I'm not training. Pull, breathe, small kick, not too much, this is triathlon swimming, after all.

Then after about five or six laps, I got company.

I knew she was trouble when she asked me and the guy in the lane next to me how deep the deep end was. Uh, I'm not sure, but it's deeper than me and deeper than you. Does it matter?

Apparently it did, because she only swam out about halfway, then turned around and came back.



What kind of damn fool goes to the pool at a busy time of day when everyone is sharing lanes, and then insists on breaststroking? And it's not like she was good enough for us to circle-swim, she had to do her slow little out-and-backs in the shallow end, forcing me to pause at the far end on each lap and wait for her to get near the wall before starting my return lap.

Grrrrr.... Having learned to swim as a thirtysomething, I'm hugely sympathetic to being new to swimming, and if anything, I'm supportive and enthusiastic about people's efforts. But there's a time and place for everything, and the busiest time of day at the Downtown Y's four-lane pool is not the time or place for someone to be learning how to swim!

Luckily by the time I hit lap 12, Newbie had had enough and left. I hope she comes back, but at a much less busy time when she can have a lane to herself and the full attention of a lifeguard.

Almost immediately I got a new lane-mate, a guy who had the body for his Speedo, but nevertheless looked just wrong in it, if you know what I mean. Having the body for a fashion doesn't always make it right. He started circle-swimming, which irked me at first because even my "sprint" sessions are slower than a slow boat to China. But once I realized that his warmup was also his top speed, I settled in happily and finished off my 20 laps.

Then I had a nice little session in the hot tub, nice and hot with very strong jets to work the mountain-climbing stiffness out of my legs. Then a cool shower, shorts, tank top and running shoes, and I was ready to face Houston's great outdoors again.

I didn't even botther looking for the bus stop. I ran the numbers quickly in my head and realized it would take just as long to walk as to take the bus, so I bought a 20 oz bottle of water and struck out for home.

I got in damp and sweaty from the humidity, took a shower, made some no-bake peanut butter cookies and had some lunch. I did a little office work online, thanked my personal jury deities for sparing me duty this week, and took a nap.

Tomorrow it's back to the salt mines.

Is it good to be home? Well, if home were elsewhere, I think I'd have a more ready answer to that. Dan and I are seriously considering moving to New Mexico after this trip. I want to get my ten years at the university, so that means not leaving before January, and we're in a lease until May, so we've got plenty of time to work on the matter. We'll need it. Jobs at my level take a long time to get. But I think we're serious this time about leaving. And since I have too much to say about this matter tonight, I think I'll save future musings for another blog post.

If home is where the critters are and where you always know where to find stuff, yes, it's great to be home!

Recent Workouts
Saturday: Run, 14 miles
Sunday: Bike, 2 hours - Spinervals 9.0 Have Mercy
Monday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 1000 meter swim, 3 mile walk, 30 minutes elliptical