Wednesday, July 21, 2010

buddha time!

Welcome to the first installment of Wednesday reflections: trying to find dharma in everyday happenings. Sometimes I will find a way to look at Buddhism through the perspective of the athlete, and sometimes I will just reflect on life in general. Even that can help us as athletes because when we are at peace with our true selves we will have the freedom to perform better.
  I may change the name and day at any time as I am still figuring out where this blog is going.

When your attention is right now, the past and future disappear.
They have to because…
The past and future can exist only in the mind.
Think about it. The past is a memory
The future is imagination.
Only right now exists.
“City Dharma” p27

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The accidental spectator

 Ever go to a triathlon on accident? As you may remember, last Sunday I went to view the Detroit Triathlon. Well, this Sunday I ended up catching the Trek Women’s Triathlon Series in Monroe, MI. this was not my plan for Sunday but it just sort of happened. Let me explain.  This weekend we decided to go camping at Sterling State Park to test out a travel trailer my co-worker is selling.  Friday night I was looking at the park announcements, sad that I had missed the lake Erie rock collecting seminar  (yes I’m a nerd) when I noticed that the Trek Women’s Triathlon was going to be held at the park on Sunday. Oh joy! I can watch another triathlon this weekend and actually be on time to see the swim start.

The race was managed by 3 Disciplines Racing and they did a really spectacular job. I went to the Willow Duathlon, which they put on in May, and was impressed with their setup.  This one was just as well done. The transition area was well set up, the course seemed well marked, and volunteers seemed to know what they were doing.

Another nice thing was that the race did not start early, as with the Detroit Tri. Actually, the swim started about 15 minutes late. This was nice because the Detroit Tri started 30 minutes early and I missed it.

Not much to report, as I was not in the race, but here is a gallery of pics I took.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

run, don't walk

I went to the Detroit Triathlon today to watch the racers and get a better idea of what to expect. I have been to a few duathlons, but had yet to see a full Tri.

The event was held on the once lovely Belle Isle Park in Detroit, MI. the park is still beautiful, but the city has had a lot of trouble maintaining it and some of the visitors don’t respect it and tend to leave trash anywhere they like. This is very disappointing as Belle Isle is a park that could rival any of the great urban parks in the U.S. if it was maintained correctly. What was I talking about now? That’s right, the race.

The Detroit triathlon was scheduled to start at 8am, but there was a last minute change made and the new start time was 7:30. Needless to say, when I showed up at 7:45, I was too late to see the swim start. I was quite bummed, as the swim part was the most important thing for me being as I had never seen that part before. I guess some of the fault is mine for waking up late and not getting there an hour early as I had planned. I checked the website the day before and I could swear it said 8am. Oh well...

I did get to see most of the swimmers though, and it was very interesting to watch. There were about 6 or 7 kayaks out in the Detroit River to assist swimmers who needed it, but being as the depth was only about 4ft they didn’t seem needed. I was reassured that I can do this by all the average people coming out of the water into T1. It was nice to see that not everyone was a toned and trim athlete.

Speaking of average people, I saw a lot of bikes I would not expect there either. Yes I saw the Felts, Bianchi and Cervelos, but I also saw 1970’s friction shift Schwinn 10 speeds, mountain bikes and even a folding bike. My little green Raleigh would fit right in. heck, it would not be competitive in the least but Le Grand Noir would even make the cut.

There were a lot of people at the park to watch the Hydroplane races and this made it difficult if not dangerous for the bike portion of the event. People were walking around aimlessly crossing the road, Sunday cyclist going against traffic in the bike lane and a little girl was even riding her dirt bike in the bike lane (that the racers were using) the wrong way!  Fortunately someone made the girls parents aware of the speeding bikes that were about to blaze through their daughter’s path and she was removed from the course. There was one serious bike accident I am aware of when a racer hit a pedestrian wandering in the road. The cyclist was pretty scuffed up and finished the race after being treated on the scene but the pedestrian got the worst of it and was taken away in an ambulance.

Apart from that, it is a very nice, flat bike course that runs around the island with views of Detroit on one side and Windsor, Canada on the other. 2 laps were required for sprint, and 4 for the Olympic. I could not see much of the run course, just T2 and the finish line so I cannot report on that.

Overall it was a fun event. I don’t know if I would want to race it, with all pedestrians, but perhaps when I am more experienced and comfortable with racing it could be an exciting addition to my race schedule. As a bonus, I got to watch some of the hydroplanes doing their time trials after the race!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I have to swim how far?

Once, a Taoist master sat with his disciples at the edge of a large, raging river. Suddenly, one of the disciples stood up and shouted that an elderly man had been caught in the river. Helpless, the party watched as the man tumbled over rocks, was dunked under water, and thrown about by the current. Assuming that he had been killed, they were astonished to see the old man climb out of the river, completely unharmed. Surprised, the master walked up to the man, and said:

"You have survived a very treacherous peril. You must be some sort of spirit!"

The old man simply laughed a kind laugh and replied:

"No, no. I've been doing that since I was a boy. I simply let the river take me. I don't struggle, I don't thrash about. I simply place myself in the river's care, and the river takes care of me."

I need to remember this tale.

Went to the Y.M.C.A. yesterday to swim with my wife. Did 6 really slow laps.

Did I ever mention what a horrible swimmer I am? Seriously, I do not seem to be able to get swimming down. I swallow water through my nose, I can't float and I don’t breath right. I get one length down the pool and my heart rate is elevated and I am out of breath. That’s not even 1 lap! I need to rest for 60 seconds before I attempt the next length. I read articles on swim strokes and watch videos on YouTube, but I still don’t seem to be able to put it all together. I didn’t want to admit it but, I think I need to go to swimming class.

I also need to heed the advice of the old man in the Taoist parable above. If I remain calm, and let things happen naturally instead of forced, good results will follow.

I do actually enjoy being in the water. Anyone living in the great lakes region should enjoy being in the water. Unfortunately, enjoying the water and being a good swimmer are 2 different things. Could I get to shore if the boat I was on sank? If it was a mile or so offshore then yes, I could. That does not make me an efficient swimmer; it just means I can propel myself in various forms through the water.

Now beginner triathlon books say that I can do any stroke I like so long as I swim the required length. That’s cool, I can do that. The thing is, I don’t WANT to do that. I want to do the freestyle stroke like most other people probably do. Its not that I want to be competitive and be in the front of the crowd; I just want the pride of being able to swim the course in the manner it was intended and be able to finish the swim segment in a halfway reasonable time.

Speaking of halfway reasonable times, I need to work on my running.

Oh, and while I'm at it I figure I also need to work on my cycling.

Hmm, if you are beginning to notice a trend here your right; I am not a triathlete…yet.

Friday, July 2, 2010

birds and bikes

There was supposed to be an enlightened post about my camping trip here, but it just isn’t going to be. Work and life has interfered with my schedule and the time has past…

Well here I am on a Friday night. I should have been out riding my bike, but instead I spent most of the evening browsing Cornell University Ornithology website.

Ornithology you ask? It’s a fancy name for bird watching or simply “birding”. My wife and I have really gotten into birding this year and today she came across the Cornell website because it had an audio file of a Black-capped Chickadee song. For years now we have been pestered by what we called the “nelson bird”. By nelson bird I mean that the birds call sounded to us like nelson from the Simpsons saying “ha-ha”, almost mocking us in the woods as we looked to the trees to trace this sound to no avail. Well, we will be mocked no longer because we know who it is.

Anyhow, I am not sure I wasted my time so much as realigned my priorities. Tomorrow morning I plan on riding the bike instead.

  On a bike note, I got out the huffy or should I say 39 lb “le grand noir”.
  le grand noir is a 198? Huffy 314 I acquired a few years back for the grand sum of $20. I spent some time do what some would call “polishing a turd” and I now have a pretty nice looking vintage 10 speed. In addition to polishing, the bike also required some new components. Brakes and handlebars were procured from a $10 huffy wind sprint, which I then turned around and sold for $40. Not a bad deal if you ask me. I got new brakes and handlebar AND put $30 in my pocket.  Actually I think I have a thing for old beat-up bikes. My wife accused me of being a bicycle hillbilly this spring when I had 6 bikes in the garage, all in varying states of repair. I took this as a signal and sold 4 bikes and bought 1. This leaves me with a current total of (do the math) 3 bikes: (1) 39lb black monster, (2) 2006 Columbia journey, and (3) 1990 Raleigh technium grand prix (aka the green machine) the green machine is my current “serious road bike” being that it is the fastest of the three. The huffy is going to get a rear rack to fit the panniers from the Columbia, which I have grown to dislike very much, and the Columbia will be sold. The Columbia used to be my grocery-shopping bike, but the huffy is a much better riding bike and will begin its grocery getting tour soon. Some may wince when they think of a 39lb bike but that heavy, old time gas pipe frame rides smooth as silk