Miscellany

Some other nonsense that’s been going on around here:

It’s Wildflower week!
And I cannot wait. In the midst of writing a pump-up email to the TAG-ers earlier this week, I realized I was pretty pumped, too. Our tents are on the way down to the site, we’ve procured sleeping bags and head lamps, and I’m obsessively checking the weather. This year is so different from last: I’m just swimming a relay leg, and my only two goals are to swim fast enough that I’m not literally the last person out of the water and to yell as loud as I can, as long as I can for every TAG athlete on the course.

I’m not sure what on earth I’m going to swim; last year my swim split was 32-something, and I’d really like to be closer to 30, but the way this spring has gone, anything under 35 minutes will be a victory. I love that lake, but the less I’m in it, the happier I’ll be. (I may be going back in June to swim for as long as I want to, but more on that later.) (Also someone today posted that there were leeches in the lake, so that goes double for wanting to get out of there fast, ideally without stepping in any mud.)

What I really care the most about is being the best captain I can be for the people who are getting introduced to triathlon or to Olympic-distance racing for the first time — not just the TAG team but also the other two members of my relay team, one of whom happens to be my spouse. I’ve got a bag stuffed with extra Gu and Body Glide and safety pins, plenty of food and water, good music and extra headphones … I just need to track down a cowbell or loud whistle (or kazoo?) , and I think I’ll have everything I need.

I got a Garmin!
I may have mentioned that ever since I started using the REI credit card as my primary credit card (almost three years ago, when my old card jacked its rate and I was on the verge of becoming a poor grad student so wanted to get a good deal while the getting was good), REI Dividend Day has become a serious holiday. I’m one of those people who stalks the REI forums (yes, there are REI forums) and furiously Googles for any hint of the day my Free Money to Spend on Sportz will arrive. I plan purchases well in advance, and in years with no big purchase on the horizon, I go on a shopping spree of shorts and sunglasses and socks. It’s the best.

This year, I decided to go big. I’d been eyeing the Forerunner 910XT since it came out, but I’d decided it was more than I needed. Then my cadence monitor broke (I mean, it’s been broken forever, but it finally stopped working at all), and I thought I’d use the dividend on a new one, even though the ones I looked at were notoriously unreliable. I thought maybe I’d also get a heart rate monitor, but there’s only one option compatible with Nike+. And once I was already into the realm of buying gadgets, wouldn’t it make sense for me to start thinking about the future and pick a system I could grow into rather than spend money on solutions I knew were imperfect?

Yeah, I can be very persuasive when I’m trying to buy something.

It wasn’t as good a deal as I anticipated (REI’s 20% off coupon doesn’t work on things with GPS capabilities), but the “triathlon bundle” still ended up being essentially half-price, so I went for it. But weirdly, I got it home and didn’t feel compelled to set it up right away. When I finally opened the box several days later, and found bags of bundled pieces I couldn’t identify and quick-start guides in 20 languages, I nearly gave up. I, quite simply, did not need this much technology.

And then, the weekend of TAG’s triple-brick workout, the screen of my Nike+ watch suddenly got a spot of condensation inside (on a dry, 75-degree day), which then became a whole puddle of condensation, and the screen went blank … forever. It’s as though it decided to commit seppuku rather than get sadly cast aside in favor of a shiny new toy. I’ve already replaced that watch once under warranty, and it’s out now, so that’s it, I guess.

The Garmin and I are still getting used to each other. I haven’t set up all the quick-release stuff yet or tried out the heart rate monitor, and it took a while to figure out how to make it sync to my computer (I blame my computer). It doesn’t work beyond being a glorified stopwatch in my pool, which is 20 yards (the smallest it’ll let you set is 22 yards or 20 meters), but it’s pretty cool outside. There’s just so much data available that I can’t decide what I want on each screen, though probably that will be something I can only figure out by using it. And I keep forgetting that I have to turn it off (who turns a WATCH off?) so it doesn’t helplessly try to find satellites on the couch all day while draining its battery down to nothing. I’m sure I’ll adjust.

I got faster!(?)
Last week at track, we ran another two-mile time trial. I was so happy with how I ran this in March, but I was not necessarily feeling the repeat. It was a surprise, for one thing — our Training Peaks workout was a bunch of 800s, so I’d been steeling myself for that, plus we’d just run a bunch of stairs during our warm-up so my legs already felt a little trashed. For another, I was relatively rested when I ran that 16:37 — so replace my fears about running hard with no base of hard training with new fears about running hard after weeks of hard training and a decently tough race. I also was “between watches,” as they say — Nike+ had died, Garmin was still boxed — so I was running with just my Timex stopwatch. Which really should be all I would need for something like this, if you assume I’d need a watch at all, but one gets used to a certain level of feedback.

Anyway, I spoiled it in the section header, so might as well hop to: For all my fears, and my assumptions about/resignations to a slower time, I ran 16:23, split as 8:15/8:08. And while I’m not saying I had a lot left in the tank at the end, I also did not feel as wrecked the next day as I felt back in March. I still had a rough time pacing — my first lap was right around 2:00, just as it was the first time, and I once again totally freaked out and pulled back too much and then spent a little bit of time digging myself out of a hole. One of these days I should go out hard and try keeping it there, but I was so concerned about negative-splitting that I just didn’t do it this time around.

The second I have a benchmark, I get worried about re-testing and “failing” — exhibit A: I’ve only run one 5K; exhibit B: I haven’t done mile repeats since I surprised myself by running one that started with a 7; exhibit C: I felt legitimately nervous before this track workout. So it was a nice confidence booster to actually improve, as unlikely as that seemed at the time.

Oh, and “the girl in the Tempos,” my rabbit from the first time trial? Smoked my ass with a 15:xx. Training: it works.

(Now if only it would work for me in the pool, where I’ve been swimming a 2:03/100 pace for 18 months now. But that’s a story for another post.)

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4 thoughts on “Miscellany

  1. Kristina says:

    I missed the leech update. For my last open water swim, I ended up with swimmer’s itch. If I get a leech from Lake San Antonio, I’m not sure that I’ll be that surprised.
    I’ll be on the lookout for you Sunday!

  2. Diana says:

    Lawrence and our Zoot pals all have the 910xt and love it! I know you’ll love it too- I want one 🙂

  3. katie says:

    You lost me at leeches. I’m still standing on a chair yelling HELP!!!!!!

  4. quix says:

    So, how did it go :D? And I am a believer now in training mostly easy with some really hard stuff occasionally, but still surprised at paces I can pull out when I want to because it feels weird not practicing them more often.

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