Nov 29, 2007

Near-drowning experience

My brother Matt joined me at Master's swimming this morning in the Suffield pool. This was his first experience with structured swim training and I'm guessing an eye-opener for him. After a couple attempts at flip-turns he decided to just use an open turn at the wall. I definitely could feel his pain, they are not easy if you've never done them before. Then after a nice long freestyle set which was doable but tiring, he experienced the joys of kick sets!

Kicking the length of the pool using a kickboard to hold up your head doesn't sound too bad when you describe it, but the agonizing burn in your quads, calves and ankles is a different experience. He also got the full "uphill last 3 yards" thrill as your momentum stalls and every kick seems to bring you no closer to the end. He gutted it out though, took a couple short breaks but kept going. I'm sure he will appreciate it more when he's climbing up and down ladders today at work!

Finally, we wrapped up the fun with a 50 backstroke / 50 freestyle set. This would be my third time doing backstroke in a workout and his first. The coach felt pretty bad for us I could tell, but offered some very good advice on positioning and form. I could immediately feel a tremendous difference, the only problem was that my legs were so shot that I had trouble implementing it. After completing the 50 meters of backstroke we would immediately go to 50 meters of freestyle, and I felt like I was going to go under and not be able to come back up. I was completed toasted after the backstroke laps and probably appeared drunk as I struggled down the lane. We were schedule to do 10 reps by the coach, which was changed to 8 in the interest of time and ultimately ended at 5. The last one she had us use a pull-bouy which helped a lot because I could take some focus off of my legs and concentrate on the upper body but I was so exhausted it was difficult to make progress.

Still in all, a fun swim, it was nice to feel a challenge again, it had been getting a bit stale with just freestyle sets. We'll see if my brother ever shows up again though :)


Nov 28, 2007

Training totals update...

I haven't posted a lot of summary information in a while since it's been essentially a month or two off since my racing season but it's occasionally nice to do some comparisons to get a feel for how much things have changed in my life the past few years.

Some exciting number differences:

2006 total2007 - 11 months% Difference
Swimming43,000 yards90,000 yards110%
Biking2,000 miles2,800 miles40%
Overall hours278 hours338 hours22%

You'll notice that running is not in my table... it's actually down from last year, essentially on the strength (or weakness I suppose) of the last few months where I haven't done much running. Ultimately, if I want to get a lot faster in Triathlon, this has to change. I really need to get back in the habit, hopefully some of my new found motivation will go into this area.

Overall some very exciting and motivating numbers... it will be interesting to see if they continue to ramp up in 2008.


Nov 27, 2007

Volleyball Week 4

Very fun night last night, we went 2-1 and I felt that I played my best games of the season. We started a bit slow, and give up a big run in the first game and couldn't come all the way back and lost a tight game but even then felt we played okay. The second game we played much better, stayed aggressive and took our shots when we had them. I focused on staying aggressive and got a couple kills in. I've worked on taken an aggressive approach when I get a good set and was able to make a difference in this game. The last game was also a win, and again I felt good about my game. There was a bit of a hiccup where I got handcuffed by a particular server who managed to hook his serves enough to make them difficult to handle. Ultimate I hit the final shot at the net that let us take the win.

My focus needs to continue to be on staying aggressive at the net and taking advantage of my opportunities when I get them. My blocking also needs some work, I can go straight up but I have some difficulty adjusting to the ball as it's being struck. My play on the back line also needs some work, mostly in getting more accurate passes to the setter. I'm pretty inconsistent on where my bumps go. I've been pretty successful at getting to all the balls that come my way, but have difficulty making the crucial first pass to my setter to start the play.

Overall, things have gotten to be a lot more fun and I'm really looking forward to every week.


Nov 26, 2007

Solid Holiday Weekend

It was a refreshing weekend, with a solid 4 days off from work. From an activity perspective, I spent 3 of the 4 days getting some fun in either riding or running. More importantly, it was a great weekend for spending time with my family and relaxing. My cousin was married as well, and so the family grew again. Bruce is a fellow mountain biker, and although he's been a bit distracted (and probably will be for a while now) I wish him the best in his marriage. We also visited my wife's grandmother and great-aunt in R.I. on Friday, and spent a nice Thanksgiving day with my in-laws.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I did the Manchester Road Race with a bunch of family and really enjoyed as usual. It was a much nicer day, sunny and in the 60's, than last year when it was very cold and pouring rain. It's hard to call it a race since with 15k plus runners you spend most of the time dodging people instead of running. Once again, we started at the back after waiting in vain to meet up with some family and had to wait over 7 minutes from the gun to even cross the starting line. It's a 4.7 mile run, with two distinct sections the first 3 miles are spent dodging people and working your way up a long hill. With about 2 miles to go, you head downhill and the crowd has usually thinned a bit. This is the point where you can really run and see what you have. This year with the beautiful weather it was still really crowded at this point, but I managed to set a pretty good pace and hold it for the rest of the race. I passed my brother, but never saw my uncle and didn't end up catching him. I'm pretty happy with my effort, having gone over a month without any running to speak of. It's gotten me in the mood to start running again, I think I'm finally past the burn-out phase of this summer. Congratulations to every one that was out there for the race.

On Saturday I went to Case Mountain for a mountain bike ride with a friend from work who I managed to talk into giving it a try. It was a bit of a mellow ride, we headed up the fire road before running out the blue trail and back for a bit. A very cold day, the temps were in the teens, I just tried to stay warm and feel the new frame on my bike. It feels differently then the old frame, but I need to do some adjustments before I can definitely say what the differences are. It did seem to climb differently, I think perhaps both the lower weight and the softer ride helped. It also could be entirely mental :)

On Sunday I also managed to get out for a ride in the morning. We were a bit rushed for time, but managed to get a nice loop in, including a new trail with some pretty good downhills. I didn't manage to adjust the bike much before we went out, so I was still feeling a bit cramped on it but it was still a lot of fun. I'm thinking of heading up to Tolland Bike to grab some new, warmer shoes and have Dave check out my fork.


Nov 21, 2007

Volleyball week 3

Not a great result, we were 1-2 but it was a good effort and well played game. We played against the top team in the standings, and they were definitely a little bit better than us. More strikers and a better mix of setters on their team than ours. They also played with 6 while we played with 8, which is sometimes more difficult because you have to rotate people in and out and this makes it difficult to get into a rythmn.

I thought we played fairly well, staying consistent and working together. Our size hurt us a bit on the front line as they could rotate 4 big hitters, and consistently have a big man on the front. Our team on the other hand has 3 big guys and 2 (including myself) that are a bit smaller. Thus, with the rotation there would occasionally be a mismatch and it would be difficult for us to win the points.

Overall, I need to continue to work on being more aggressive with my kills. I'm still a bit hesitant to go for a hard spike since I'm worried about hitting into the net. I think this is a result of being a bit out of shape for volleyball, and not having the confidence to go for it. I'll have to continue to work on this aspect of my game in the pickup sessions as well as mentally focusing on it.


Nov 20, 2007

New bike

It feels like a new bike and looks like a new bike! That's always a good day, and I managed to achieve it without having to spend a lot of money. Even better, it's a new carbon bike day, which is clearly icing...

Here's a few pics of my new ride.


Nov 16, 2007

Bike update

Phone call from the bike shop yesterday...

"Hi, we got the frame back from Trek today, and apparently they didn't have any aluminum ones available. They sent a full-carbon fiber one instead" Gee that's too bad!

It's been a lot longer than I would like to have waited, but it will be very nice to get an upgraded bike in the process. If you check out Trek's web site, you'll see the difference between a aluminum and carbon bike is about $2,000. I'm not sure exactly which frame they sent me, but it's clearly an upgrade over what I have! They also tried to sell me on replacing some parts, but I wasn't interested. Most of the components I can replace myself for cheaper, and I rather give more business to Dave at Tolland Bike anyway.

I'm in Boston at a convention with my wife, so I'll have to wait until early next week to pick up the bike. Looking forward to the first ride on the new bike, maybe I can actually keep up with those young whippersnappers now!


Nov 14, 2007

New feature on "Views from Left Field"

As I've gotten more and more into blogging and RSS feeds, reading blogs and staying up to date has become more a part of my day. I use Google reader to subscribe to blogs that are interesting and thus I stay informed about industry trends, the sports teams that I follow and triathlon related happenings.

I just noticed a real easy way to allow me to share the blogs that I'm interested in with others. Blogrolls, as they are called, are fairly common and people use them to share links to other bloggers. The new and easy part is that I use reader to categorize and parse the feeds, and I can now add Blogrolls to this site based on the reader categories. So I no longer have to update links or change my settings, it's all maintained for me in the tool I already use. Check out the new lists on the right for the Sports and Triathlon related blogs I read as well as the Business and Insurance ones that I find worth my time. I do add and remove blogs to these lists as they become interesting, so check back often :)

If you have started reading news this way online, I urge you to give it a try. It actually saves a lot of time because you don't need to go check sites for updates, the updates come to you. As I mentioned, I like Google Reader, but there are many other options.


Nov 13, 2007

No V-Ball

If you're waiting breathlessly for a volleyball update... I'm sorry, volleyball was cancelled last night as they were using the gym for some other random, fitness class thing. I know, I was crushed too....

I did get the pool this morning, and there's a couple more swimmers there... both quite a bit faster than me even though one hadn't swum laps in 20+ years. Not helping the ego much, but she was a competitive swimmer before so I don't feel totally worthless :)


Nov 8, 2007


It's a totally foreign sport... but I'm learning. Here's a blantant pander to a couple of friends.


Back in the pool

Masters swimming has restarted, and I finally managed to get up and head to the pool this morning. It's tough to get out the door at 4:30 am, but I usually feel pretty good about it after I'm done swimming and headed to work. There were a couple new faces at the pool, but it's still mostly about swimming the laps for me.

I didn't feel a significant drop off from the spring when I last swam there, but I did start to get tired at the end of the practice. I also reaffirmed that kick-sets are really miserable, once I lose momentum in the last five yards it's like I'm kicking in pace. My coach is always cracking up at me since he thinks its funny how slow I get at the end. I can definitely feel the leg burn though, so I'm pretty sure it's working.

Lastly, it's going to be interesting to see how swimming affects my shoulder. Since I hurt it playing volleyball this summer it has never quite been the same. As I posted earlier, there isn't a permanent damage based on the MRI, but I do have some strained tendon issues. Rest has been a significant improvement, so I'm hoping that getting some regular exercise in the pool will strengthen it and it will get better.


Nov 7, 2007

Long Trail Trip Report - Day 2 - Oct 28

Day 2 – Saturday

Unfortunately, Saturday morning started much too early probably just after midnight, as I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. I really needed a pillow, and just couldn’t get too comfortable. Finally, things started to get a bit lighter and although it was drizzling and chilly, it was nice to get the day started. I’d been looking forward to making coffee for a while, so I jumped at the chance to get started. Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well and became a comedy of errors. First, I added the coffee to the water before boiling which caused it to go from quietly bubbling to exploding all over the place, including the hiker next to me. For my second attempt, I left the coffee out but then the fuel emptied mid process and I had to switch out canisters with my uncle. I finally got a cup done which my uncle started but then pulled the top off midway through and mixed the grounds in the cup, so that was a partial washout as well. The last cup I made turned out great and I got to enjoy a nice cup of coffee!! I’m thinking my trail name is ultimately going to be related to coffee in some way.

After packing, we set out for a day in the rain. It really wasn’t too bad for the most part as it was a light rain, and my raincoat kept me mostly dry. There were a couple really interesting and beautiful spots on the days agenda, the first being a “beaver-challenged puncheon” Even after discussing this with Steve, I could come up with no theories about what this was, but as soon as I saw it, I knew it. A puncheon is actually a boardwalk road (I discovered this via wikipedia after the fact), in this case, one which was partially below water just below a beaver dam. It was a very interesting sight standing three feet below a beaver dam that looked like it could collapse any minute and send us cascading away in a deluge of water.

Later in the day we came to a beautiful stream that was the biggest we had seen so far and just gorgeous. It was close to the shelter that I was really looking forward to seeing. At this point we were pretty wet, and my feet weren’t feeling too great. It felt like I had partially torn a toenail on my foot and I was looking forward to changing my socks. We took a short break in the shelter to eat lunch and dry out a bit. I changed my socks and although I couldn’t see any obvious issues with my toenail, it still hurt pretty good. (It’s since turned black and I’m apparently going to lose it soon… not sure exactly what happened)

We started out for the last stretch, hoping to meet my wife at 4pm where she was supposed to pick us up. The last part of the trail includes a pretty steep section that has “extensive stone staircases”, and my uncle was a bit nervous about this section coming. Of course, it was here that the rain all of a sudden came down the hardest, and it just poured. It was actually quite treacherous as we picked our way down the steep trail from rock to rock. They were covered with leaves and the rain was coming down like crazy, we had to stop and laugh out loud at one point about how crazy it was. My uncle took a short fall, but otherwise we made it okay. I was getting a bit worried, it was definitely a broken leg waiting to happen. Once we got to the bottom we started wondering how late my wife would be, she isn’t known for her promptness. It was quite cold, and we were soaked, not a good combination. Cell phone service was unfortunately nonexistent, so we had no idea what her eta would be. It turns out she was early, missed the trailhead and I managed to flag her down on her way back east.

Ultimately, it was a great start, we both learned quite a bit about our pace, conditioning and what sort of supplies we needed. We had considered this a “get our feet wet” kind of trip, and it certainly fit that bill. I’ve managed to compile a list of items to bring the next time, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be much more prepared…

Until next time on the trail…


Volleyball Week 2

The results weren't as good as last week, but it was still fun! We finished with a 1-2 record, as the other team was both more talented and more consistent. They had a bunch of big hitters, and also seemed to get every bounce as balls that seemed out stayed just in. We didn't play especially well either, and were shorthanded for a bit when when of our players left briefly with a thumb injury in the first game. She was able to ultimately return midway through the second game but was somewhat less effective than usual. We thus lost one of our good setters, and also a spiker as one of the guys had to rotate to the setting position instead. It felt good to come back in the last game and get a win, but we all felt that we could have and should have played better.

I once again played pickup after our games, and had a pretty good time. It's a really good chance to work on specific parts of your game without too many consequences. I focused on my overhand serve, and I'm comfortable enough with it now to start using it in games for real. It's not a great weapon yet, but puts a bit more pressure on the other team than just getting it over the net. I also tried to be more aggressive at the net. Applying more power is worth the effort now, since even though it will occasionally go long, often the other player will attempt to block and touch the ball. Instead of worrying about hitting it long I've focused on just hitting it hard. Timing is pretty critical to a good spike, you need to hit it with full extension at the peak of your jump. It's a good feeling when you catch one right though...


Nov 1, 2007

Long Trail Trip Report - Day 1 - Oct 27

Well.. the journey has started. My quest to finish the entire Long Trail in Vermont, stretching from the Massachusetts border to Canada, began this past weekend as we hiked in from MA.

Friday Morning

Steve and I were dropped off in Williamstown, MA for the start of the trip. There's no direct road to the southern terminus of the Long Trail, it starts in the middle of the woods. Thus, we had to hike in to the beginning, a 3.6 mile trip over the Pine Cobble trail. The guide promised views of Mt Greylock in MA, and an up and down walk. The cobble was there as promised (lots of rocks) but we didn't see many pines at all. Friday was a beautiful day and we had a really nice hike. The pack didn't feel that uncomfortable, and I got into a nice steady pace pretty much right away. I experienced a little leg burn on the first uphill, but that was it, and I felt great for the rest of the walk.

There were a couple spots where you could see out, and the scenery was very nice as we progressed uphill. There were a couple folks, dayhikers, out for a walk on a beautiful fall afternoon, and I was a bit surprised since I figured most would have packed it in this late in the season.

We soon joined up with the Appalachian Trail which ultimately runs along with the Long Trail for over 90 miles before splitting off and heading to NH and ME. The next landmark was the Vermont border, 3.6 miles from the start of our day. There’s a signin log there, and we took a short break for lunch/snack at about 3 pm. It was starting to cool off a bit, so I added a long sleeve shirt on top of my t-shirt and we headed back out North, excited about the start of the trail.

It’s fairly rugged country, there’s not a lot of civilization that you can see or hear, although you are probably not that far from roads and houses at this point. It’s a pretty peaceful feeling walking through the woods and I really enjoyed just looking around and noticing the trees and little brooks. I’ve always loved playing in the woods since I was a little kid, and really felt relaxed all afternoon. Steve and I chatted here and there, but most of the time was spent lost in thought and focused on picking my footsteps and breathing. I could really get into a zone, even on the uphills where I would shorten my steps but try to keep them regular and even. It’s interesting to me how the overlap of my training has come into even this activity. I could modulate my breathing and stay in an aerobic zone by keeping my cadence steady and smooth with shorter steps to counter the steepness of the trail. I could almost predict my heart rate the whole time even though I didn’t have my monitor with me.

We had planned to stay at the Seth Warner shelter Friday evening, and arrived there shortly after 5 pm. Anticipating that we would be the only inhabitants, (there was a note in the log saying no hikers had been seen for 48 hours by the last one through) we spread out our stuff and started to make dinner. After a somewhat filling Chicken Alfredo in a bag, we cleaned up and headed down to the nearby stream to get water. My uncle has a water filter which we used to purify the water and fill a few containers, a pretty cool toy.

On the way back to the shelter we met another hiker who was planning to stay at the shelter with us as well. This was my first experience with “Trail Names”. Apparently it’s a tradition that allows you to be anonymous on the trail and use something interesting as a name. My uncle goes by “Great White”, something I didn’t know of before, and we ended up with Pale Rider and Bigfoot in the shelter with us that night. It was an interesting evening, both of those guys were veterans of the AT and the LT, and had a lot of insight on backpacking. It started to rain shortly lightly as I was climbing into my sleeping bag, but otherwise a very enjoyable day to start.

A great start to the adventure...


Admin Control Panel

New Post | Settings | Change Layout | Edit HTML | Moderate Comments | Sign Out

About This Blog

Visitor Map!

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP