Archive for the ‘swimming’ Category


The Illusion of Talent

August 16, 2008

With a healthy diet of Olympics coverage this week, I’ve been having some deep conversations withmyself on talent vs training. It always gets under my skin when people make comments about an athlete’s “natural born talent” with their training as a mere side note.

Sure, it may be genetics and specific body proportions that turn Phelps from what would otherwise simply be a world class swimmer into the freak of nature (in a good way) that he is today, but it is very dangerous to overemphasize the impact of genetics in his success.

If Phelps had picked up football in High School, he may still have the same general body proportions, short legs and huge wingspan, but his flexibility and strength would be like from an entirely different animal.

My point is that personal physiology is not a static element in someone’s life. The human body is insanely adept at reacting to the environment that you put it in.

Personal physiology is not a static factor. The human body reacts to the environment that you put it in.

Train, live and eat like a marathoner. You will have a marathoner’s body.

Train, live and eat like a weightlifter. You will have a weightlifter’s body.

That is not to say that if you train like an Olympic runner, that you will necessarily be taking home gold, or even making it to the games, but you will certainly take on some of their physical characteristics.

For example: In High School I was a running machine. Cross Country was my thing. That is all I did. I was 6 feet tall, 140 pounds, ate like a bird and you could see my ribs when I ran shirtless. I ran 5-6 days a week almost year-round and could pull off 17 minute 5ks. I was never fast enough to break any records, but did pretty well for myself.

Flash forward to today. After realizing the whole skin and bones look wasn’t exactly what the ladies were looking for and taking a few years off in college from running to become a gym rat and drink Keystone Light on a regular basis I completely changed my body. I balooned up to about 195 pounds, actually got chest and arm muscles and I barely looked like the same person. Since college I’ve slimmed down to about 175 now that I’ve gotten in to triathlon training, but you get the point.

There is no way that, with the body I have now, I can pull off runs like I did in High school, but also I probably couldn’t climb hills on a bike or zip across lakes as smoothly with the body that I had then.

My point is that natural born talent is an illusion. Most of us may never break the tape at Kona, it is key to remember that our bodies are products of the environments that we choose to put them in.

And now for the movie that is reponsible for helping to form most of my views on “talent.” If you havent’ ever seen Without Limits, go rent it now.


Back in the saddle

August 13, 2008

Blogging has been light because I have been lame.

In the 4 weeks after Rhode Island I didn’t do much except for a few spinning classes, with varying degrees of discomfort, and a few 1 and 2 mile runs. But I have been a stretching machine, which has really helped out my IT band and I’m ALMOST back to running normal distances again without pain.

I ran 2 miles yesterday and just felt a little tight at the end. WAY better than the excruciating pain that I felt after one mile about 6 weeks ago.

I think one of the reasons that I’ve seen some more progress in the last few weeks is this new stretch that I’ve been doing a lot. After doing tons of my normal IT band stretches, the foam roller wasn’t even hurting anymore and it felt really loose, until I would actually run on it. I figured something down there was still tight and the stretches I was doing just weren’t doing the job.

I eventually poked around YouTube and found this stretch.

Trust me, I look just as hot in those little booty shorts. I swear.

Anyway, as soon as I started doing this new one and a few other glut stretches, I could tell I had this big ‘ol knot of tightness in my left but cheek that I hadn’t noticed before. Hot, right? After stretching it out every morning before work and at night before bed for a week or so, I’ve gotten pretty flexible and now my running is almost back to normal!

Just in time to squeeze in some training to get for a September Oly! Woohoo! There is a lobsterman race in Maine that is calling my name.

Now that I’m starting to get back in the groove after exactly one month off, I feel like my endorphin tolerance has completely dropped. As soon as I start running (without pain) I get SO PUMPED and am reminded why I love it. I got in the pool for the first time in a while this morning and my warm up was almost 800 meters. I just kept swimming because it was fun and completely forgot about starting my real workout. It was the most fun I’d had in the pool all year.

Nothing like a little injury to refresh yourself in the middle of the season, eh?

Oh, and my work had a caricature artist come in today to draw me and the rest of the new people. Everyone has a pic of themselves by their desk instead of a boring sign or name plate. Kinda cool. I think this was the first caricature I’d ever had done. He even gave me disk wheels without me asking. Sweet! I didn’t bother trying to explain to him how to draw aero bars though…

What do you think?


Build Phase #1 = DONE

June 1, 2008

…and it couldn’t have come any sooner because my legs are FU@#ING SORE. The good news is that I at least know that my body is reacting to upping the mileage, and hopefully getting stronger, but right now my legs feel SO heavy and tired. Thankfully, as of 1:21 p.m. this afternoon, I’ve officially started my tapering for my first Olympic distance triathlon of the season, Mooseman.

My body REALLY needs the rest. I made the dumb move of planning to do all of my run workouts for the week in three days, back to back. When my running hasn’t been that strong lately (but slowly getting better) and I’ve been biking a lot more that makes every run hurt a LOT more. Thursday morning I woke up and the inside of my knee felt like hell and really tight.

I was at least glad that it was on the inside and not the outside, so I could rule out IT band issues, although at least I would have known what to do to fix it. After taking the next two run workouts really easy, stretching constantly, taking an Epsom salt bath on Friday, doing some form drills on a rubber track (to stay off of asphalt as much as I could) and doing another Epsom salt foot bath on Saturday, I think I may have finally gotten my knee back to normal and warded off any injuries. My goal, over anything else this year, is to NOT get injured. Hopefully I can still keep that goal open to check off at the end of the season.

This morning I got up early and did a bike-swim-bike from my apartment out to Walden pond and back. It is about 17 miles out there and I LOVE swimming there. It is one of my favorite places to go in the summer. I knocked off about a mile and a quarter swimming around the edge of the lake, and suited up to ride back home. My legs are complete jello. No energy, just dead weights. I definitely need to make sure I’ve fully rested and turned all this soreness into strength and speed that I can unleash on the race course next week. 🙂

Here is my lesson learned for this week:

I only brought two water bottles filled with my Infinit “special blend.” I downed one on the bike there and was wicked thirsty once I got out of the water and practically finished off the second one. Needless to say riding back (albeit wicked slow at barely 15 mph) in the 80 degree sun beating down on my backpack holding my wetsuit, I got really REALLY thirsty.

I was dying, but really just wanted to get home. Sure, I could have just stopped at a gas station and picked up some more water or gatorade, but I was getting cranky and just wasn’t in the mood. That was until I was coming into Cambridge outside of Harvard square and saw a bunch of girls selling cookies and lemonade on the side of the street, raising money for some school in some country that I can’t remember right now. Business looked slow so I was happy to reach into my saddle bag and take out a few dollars to donate to a good cause. Plus, that lemonade was freaking delicious!

I’ve always brought my wallet/ID with me on rides in case something happens and someone needs to find out who that schlub on the side of the road is, but it is also a good idea to have a few dollars for picking up some roadside lemonade and snicker doodle cookies!

That is all. I know the blogging has been a little light lately, but things should heat up once I get closer to my first 70.3 in July! WOOHOO.


New Hampshire Training Weekend

May 19, 2008

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Last weekend was my triathlon team’s training weekend. There were about 40 of us that all headed up to Franconia, New Hampshire to do some training in the white mountains, booze up a little, and actually hang out with eachother when not wearing workout gear. Overall: absolutely awesome weekend.

After pulling in to the Inn where everyone was staying on Friday night, hanging out and tossing back a few beers, I headed to bed to rest up for the 9:00 ride on Saturday morning. We split up into a half dozen different groups based on speed and distance of the routes we wanted to take. I jumped in with the 60-ish mile B group.

After a few miles, It was pretty clear why we headed up here. Northern New Hampshire is HILLY. About 10 miles in, and after one long steady bitch of a climb, it was all down hill from there. Nice smooth pavement, no big turns, it was beautiful. I just kept picking up speed, tucking down as aero as I could get in my drops and VERY cautiously passing a few other riders.

I was 100% focused on the road ahead of me and keeping a nice smooth line through some gentle sloping turns. I only looked down at my bike computer once and it said 54 mph. HOLY FUCK! I started screaming with excitement, but with all the wind blaring past me, I could barely even hear own voice. It wasn’t until a few miles later, when I was actually going slow enough where I could start pedaling again, when I looked to see what my max was. 57 mph!

I know that the pic is fuzzy, but trust me. It was Ca RAAZY. It was the fastest I had ever been on a bike by at least 15 mph, and I’m still absolutely terrified/excited thinking about it 2 days later. I’m SO not telling my mom about this one. She’ll flip.

I do feel the need to give a shout out to ROL Wheels. While I’ve admitted several times to the high crap factor of my Fuji Ace, I did upgrade to some nice few wheels that I won from a Simply Stu TdF contest a few years back. I can’t imagine the stock wheels would have handled so smoothly at a 57 mph decent, but those things were amazing and (for whatever ungodly reason) I felt pretty damn confident on them.  If a high speed decent isn’t a good test of a set of wheels, I’m not sure what is. I ride the SL 28’s, which are discontinued, but all there stuff is made for the “cost conscious” rider and I’m a real big fan after really pushing their limits this weekend even after I’ve been riding them for two seasons now.

And as with any downhill, it is inevitable that you have to start heading uphill again and we headed to the top of the Kancamagus Highway. For reference, the Inn we left from was at 800 feet and the top of the Kank is 2855. That is 2000 feet of climbing (not counting the first hill we did. DAAAAAAMN. After training like this I better bust through the bike course at Mooseman in a few weeks like I’m racing in Florida.

Wheelworks Training Weekend

In the end the ride was about 67 miles with 4:25 in the saddle. The ride took much longer, but we had to stop a few times to refuel, rest up, take some lunch, etc. After we got back, a few of us headed out for a 20 minute run, which actually felt pretty good. Now I’ve actually been doing a lot more running in training (since I slacked on my running so bad last year) I’m super psyched to see it is actually having an impact. Sure, my HR was in the high 160’s the whole time, but it still felt great.

And now, more pictures:

Wheelworks Training Weekend

More mountains.

Wheelworks Training Weekend

Cruising along the bike path past Echo Lake (i think).

Wheelworks Training Weekend

More bike path. While these pictures don’t really do it justice, this was by far the hilliest bike path ever. It is like a mountain bike trail that was paved. I was switching gears constantly. Not cool.

Wheelworks Training Weekend

Taking a quick look at directions to make sure we weren’t lost.

Wheelworks Training Weekend


After boozing it up at the Inn’s bar and pulling the late night party crew into the hot tub until they ended up turning the lights out on us the night before, we packed up our wetsuits on our backs and headed to Echo Lake for a nice chilly swim.

Bike ride? You guessed it, more hills. 4 miles, straight up. It was like trying to ride my bike up the side of a building and I kept tapping my shifters hoping that I had one more magic gear that would help relieve my quads. I don’t think there was a single one of us that wasn’t blurting out expletives at some point in the climb.

Thankfully, once we got there, it was gorgeous. Cold, but gorgeous. The water was about 55 degrees, and wasn’t so bad once I got my feet and hands in the water, but it made me want to tear my face off. I had to “man up” and get at least about 600 meters in, but it was a really nice swim and totally made the ride up there worth it.

Here is the view from the beach.

Wheelworks Training Weekend

Jane taking a swim after a run around the lake. She was an absolute machine. She forced a few brave souls to take a different look and go on a 90 mile ride with her on Saturday and never let up all weekend. She is turning 50 this year and I can only hope that I’m that bad-ass when I’m older.

Wheelworks Training Weekend

Matt and I flexing. Flexing somehow turned into the theme of the weekend.

Wheelworks Training Weekend

Group shot.

Wheelworks Training Weekend

And just to be clear, YES. That IS SNOW in the background. (me on the left)

Wheelworks Training Weekend


Swimming Breakthrough

May 4, 2008

After spending any amount of time doing any sort of training, you are bound to come across a big breakthrough. I have yet to pull off that 20+ mph bike ride or that sub 20 minute 5k run (at least since I was 18 )  yet but yesterday I did something that I decided needed some celebration.

I have pretty good swimming form, but there is always one thing that has plagued me no matter how many stupid drills and techniques I tried. bi-lateral breathing.

Sure, I COULD breathe on both sides, it just isn’t pretty. On the right side? I’m as good as gold. But when my head turns to the left, all of a sudden I go into some weird spasm, my arms start slapping the water, I start choking on water, and my kick goes all sideways. Not a pretty thing, at least until yesterday.

Yesterday I went to a swim clinic with my triathlon team and I got some much needed critique on my form. After a few new drills and realizing that I do this weird cross over and quick correction with only my right arm, that makes it really hard to breathe on the left side without lifting my head out of the water, all of a sudden breathing on the left side is SO much more comfortable.

I know seems like a pretty small step, but I’ve always tried to breathe on both sides, especially so I can sight better in open water and not go as far off course in open water swims,

Bilateral breathing? Check. Now on to that 20 mph average bike and sub 20:00 5k….

But first, I might actually want to think about working out again since the few hundred yards of drills that I did yesterday is the closest thing I’ve done that resembles a workout since last Sunday, exactly a week ago.

Being Sick Sucks!

I’m feeling really good and have finally fully recovered, but am still going it pretty easy with a nice light treadmill run this afternoon.

Happy training everyone.


Sunday Boredom/Speedo Mullet

January 28, 2008

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No. The post title isn’t a reference to some indecent body hair exposure experience at the local pool.

A short bike trainer workout and some time on the balance ball wasn’t enough to keep my mind busy for very long today as the snow outside messed up the rest of my plans. I ended up on this site for custom bathing suits ( playing around with different designs for a while and here is my favorite one that I made so far.

Speedo Mullet

Get it? Mullet?

Business in the front, party in the back? Haha.

Well I thought it was funny and figured that at least TriBoomer would appreciate it. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to order it, but I just wanted to share. Have a good week everybody!



Pool Distractions

December 3, 2007

So with all the spinning classes, training for a half marathon next February, and generally trying to stop sucking at running, I’ve somehow left off that “other” sport for the past few months. You know, that “swimming” thing that despite my best efforts remains my strongest sport?

It may have been the ice covered sidewalks outside of my apartment this morning, or just the fact that my speedo has probably gotten  pretty lonely and has likely been banished to some dark corner in the back of my workout clothes drawer… but I have decided that my swimming hiatus needs to end tonight. So pool time it is!

Sorry kids, no real news to blog about today. Just realized I hadn’t posted in a while and wanted to make sure you all knew I was still alive and kicking.  I probably owe posting a video too, but posting a video of me in a Speedo may break some FCC regulations or something. Maybe next time.