Jan 29, 2008

Volleyball - It's a wrap

A longer recap is coming, things are a bit crazy this week. We lost the best out of 5 series, 3 games to 1. As a team we played okay, and I thought I played fairly well but we couldn't stay in rhythm with 8 people.

It was a blast... back at it in a few weeks after a bit of a layoff.


Jan 23, 2008

Cramps suck

I neglected to post after swimming yesterday since I didn't have time to get back to it after my volleyball recap, but it was certainly interesting. Things were going pretty well, although I was somewhat shelled from the late night volleyball games. We had actually done some fairly intense workouts as we did 25 meter repeats at top speed and then some 100 meter kick sets mixed with 100 freestyle.

The final set was 400 meter swims, and I mentally told myself to focus on relaxing. This should be swum at my aerobic pace, staying at a speed I could hold for an 1/2 Ironman swim or so. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to even finish the first one as my calf cramped up tight after pushing off the wall as I was starting the 150 meter leg. Fortunately, I was in the shallow end, but with the water supporting my weight I could not put enough pressure on it to elongate the muscle! I clung to the lane line while my brother swam over, and the coach came running to make sure I was okay. I knew I wasn't going to drown, but it really, really hurt, and I couldn't find a way to relive the pain. Finally, I pushed up on the rope as hard as I could to give me a bit of force down to the bottom of the pool and managed to get the muscle to release.

I climbed out of the pool and walked around a bit as my coach suggested. The leg felt better and I decided to try again on the next interval. I was pushing off carefully, but after about 250 meters, I felt it again. This time, not bad, it didn't lock but I decided enough was enough and I climbed out of the pool for good.

I've never gotten a cramp in the pool before, although I've occasionally felt it get close on pushing off the wall. I've always managed to flex my toes quick enough to prevent the calf from locking though. When you push off, it's basically thrusting with your thighs and calves and then pointing your toes as much as possible to keep a streamlined position. The combination of thrust and them keeping the muscle contracted is clearly a recipe for a cramp, and it got me this time. I'm going to have to try and stay more hydrated and perhaps bring a sport drink to sip on instead of just water. I also suspect my lack of consistent run training has kept my calves from being as resilient.

In any case it was good that I was not alone and also in the shallow end, it could have gotten scary in the middle of the lake!


Jan 22, 2008

Volleyball Week 10 - We're in!

I arrived about 15 minutes early for my 8 o'clock games and found my team discussing playoff implications. We were tied for third place with my uncle's team, coincidentally the team we were playing that night. The scenarios looked like this, we each needed one win to get in, either team is swept and they are out. So things were looking pretty good, we needed a single win and we could play again next week. Even better, if we could sweep all three games we could knock my uncle's team out of the playoffs.

We got warmed up and got another nice break, there were only 6 of us there to play. Having six means a full court, but not rotating out to take breaks and lose your rhythm. It also meant that the 4 good hitters and 2 setters were always in the game and we didn't have many weak spots. I got a nice compliment from one of my teammates about how I was getting better every week and I was very pumped up to play. Facing my uncle and cousin also provided a bit of motivation and I came out fired up. We jumped on them early in the first game, and were playing very well. I had a very good game, registering a couple kills and a nice block on my uncle. We won the first game, and clinched the playoff berth thus eliminating any suspense.

The only remaining question was whether we could sweep and knock out the other team from the playoffs. We took the second game pretty easily as well, still playing quite well. I had a very good night overall, and we carried the momentum into the third. The last game was very tense as they fought hard to stay with us and save their season. There were many long volleys and lots of back and forth as the game came right down to the wire. We play to 25 points, rally scoring, and the game came down to a tie at 24. The last point was back and forth but they finally managed to drop a shot in and pull off the win.

Very well played, and we were all quite pleased with how well we were playing. We'll face the number 2 seed, a team which is beatable. We'll obviously have to play well, but if we can play at the same level as we did this week we can win. The number one seed which includes my cousin Jon will be very difficult to beat, so Eric and Nate will have their work cut out for them. It would be great if they could pull off the upset and face us in the final.

I'm looking forward to next week!


Jan 21, 2008

Cold ride

I went for a nice mountain bike ride up on Soapstone with my brother this Saturday, and it was a wee bit chilly! The thermometer in my truck read 14 degrees as I drove to the Hopkins road parking spot, and the the worse part was that most of my cold weather gear was still up in Vermont where I had forgotten it after skiing over Christmas. I had to wear some old ski gloves, and I didn't have my balaclava to keep my head warm. It turned out that staying warm wasn't an issue, as there was just enough snow to make it really tough to pedal.

There were some spots where a jeep had gone through, and riding in the tracks where the snow was packed was a little tricky. It was much more icy and slick, and definitely a lot of work to stay upright. Then we hit the trail where there weren't tracks and it got MUCH harder. I would say there were about 3 inches of snow with a crust on it that we would break through and have to continuously spin the tires out of its grip. It was like riding in really sticky thick mud, a lot of effort without a lot of movement.
We headed over the the Home Depot trail since I wanted to show my brother a couple fun lines over the ridge in the trail. After taking a couple runs over this rock, we decided to turn around as our legs were just about shot at this point. All of the uphill lines were pretty much impossible to ride since it was tough to get any momentum. This was close to where I had crashed pretty hard the week before, but with the snow it was way to difficult to ride fast enough to get hurt! Even heading down steep inclines we had to pedal to keep moving as the snow would suck in your wheel and slow you down. It was a great workout, 2 hours of constant pedaling without the ability to coast at all keeps the legs and lungs burning. Good times!!


Jan 18, 2008

Swimming stupid

My hubris on Tuesday, claiming that I was beginning to like kick sets, did come back to bite me albeit in a different form. I was again feeling cocky on Thursday and after having swum the first of ten intervals of 100's, including 25 backstroke and 75 free, I decided that the interval was too long. I mentioned this to the coach and he shrugged and said knock yourself out. If you want to decrease it go ahead. So I chopped 30 seconds off the rest time, not a particularly good idea.

Of course, the first interval is a lot different than the ninth or tenth, and eventually the 30 secs of rest I got dwindled to about 4 seconds and changed the game quite a bit! After the workout, the coach suggested that I remember that more rest isn't necessarily bad. I get his point, and in this case he's probably right although I do still feel at times that I need to be challenged a bit more.

Plus, a side benefit of decreasing the interval meant that I was punishing my brother at the same time :)


Jan 17, 2008

Dave at Work

My coworker, in an attempt to be funny, sent me this picture of me presumably "working" at my desk.

It's very warm and cozy as you can see, with a couple knick-knacks from my kids on the desk. My cabinet has a spare towel and my swimming fins which I haven't used in a while, along with my "stash" of tea!


Jan 15, 2008

Volleyball Week 9

An all around good result last night, 3-0. We really needed these wins too, as we are tied with another team for the final playoff spot with one week remaining. The other team currently owns the tiebreaker which is point differential, so we need to win out and hope they don't. It would be nice to at least be in the play-offs, and as our play has improved a great deal of late perhaps at least challenge to advance. We would be playing the top seed, and it would be pretty tough to advance, but it would be nice to keep playing.

On a personal note, I played fairly well with a couple nice spikes and a few more good digs. My passing from the back line is improving, but still needs a lot of work. My best spike of the night, and perhaps the season occurred when I went against my brother and rifled a shot past him that no-one could get too. It's always a bit sweeter with some good-natured rivalry.

I skipped the pick up games to head home and finish some work and to get up early for swimming this A.M. Don't tell my coach, but I think I may be starting to enjoy backstroke. Even the kick sets didn't seem quite as bad this morning!


Jan 14, 2008

Soapstone... and crash

It was really nice to get out on the mountain bike again this past weekend! We went on Saturday afternoon, hoping to get a few hours of riding before we get a bunch of snow again which would make it tough to ride.

There were four of us heading out, and I was the only one that seemed under dressed, scorning pants for just shorts and a long sleeve shirt. I did remember my gloves however, and ultimately I wasn't cold at all unless we stopped for a while. We decided to try and head for the "Home Depot" (No, I don't know why it's called that) trail over towards Porter Road. After a miscue or two in trying to find it, we ended up just where I had been a few weeks ago and had really enjoyed. It's a pretty windy trail with a lot of lines through, around and over rocks.

One particularly fun section involves riding over two rocky ridges that are somewhat connected by a deep trough that you need a lot of speed to get down and back up the other side. Shawn was a bit farther ahead of me and had stopped when he missed the line and was checking it out. I saw him, and just decided to go for it without thinking. This was a great idea as I made it all the way through both sections and the guy behind me just followed me right through. Sometimes it's best to just go for it, instead of spending too much time thinking about it. It was a lot of fun and the other guys wanted to try it. Unfortunately, on the way through Josh got a pinch flat and spent some time fixed that instead of riding. This gave us plenty of time to try riding the ridge in both directions, and I cleared it a few more times, but never quite so good as the first time.

After we got the flat fixed, we headed on and then looped around to head back to the house. Just ahead of me, I saw Josh to a wheelie drop off a pretty big stone, probably about a 2 foot drop. I just followed him right off it with one problem. As I pedaled hard to bring the front end up, my wheel spun and instead of lifting the front wheel and staying back over the drop my momentum stalled and the front wheel dropped! Not a good position to land on the ground in, as I went over the bars and slammed into a few rocks. I ended up with a pretty bruised thigh and knee, and it's still bothering me today.

That was pretty much the end of the adventure, we were mostly back at this point with one detour as we tried to avoid some flooded trails. All in all, a really good time and I'm glad we went as it's snowing now, and it will probably be a few weeks before the trails are rideable again.


Jan 11, 2008

Yoga again

It's been about 6 months, but I restarted my Yoga program yesterday. The gym at the office where I work offers Yoga classes during the lunch hour a few days a week, and I've really enjoyed it in the past. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped going, it was a combination of the session I registered for expired, I got busy, it was summer so I wanted to be out side, yada yada yada...

Anyway, I signed back up and was looking forward to the first class all week. It's hard to totally quantify the benefits, because in addition to a fun workout and added flexibility, it just seems to make my body feel better. I don't feel as stiff and awkward, my movements just seem to feel better and I suspect it helps my running a lot since it loosens up my legs and hips. The Thursday class is a Power Yoga class and tends to be more rigorous than Mondays, and it proved to be again yesterday. We do quite a bit with Sun Salutations, sometimes staying in downward dog or high push up which can be quite taxing on the arms, at least for me. The teacher likes to refer to downward dog as a resting position, but he's clearly crazy!

In any case it was enjoyable and I felt good for the rest of the day, I only wished I could do more than 2 days a week. I really have to try and find a way to fit it in sometimes at home.


Jan 9, 2008

Quick review - The Tea Stop

A bit of a digression from my usual topics, but I wanted to mention a fascinating new weight-loss product I've tried... no, not really! Or at least it's not exactly a weight-loss product, although it is probably helping me with one of my goals which is to stay more hydrated to keep from overeating as much during the day.

I ordered some loose tea from The Tea Stop to add to my collection of tea at work. I've been a tea drinker off and on, but lately I had drifted into the hardcore land of Starbucks coffee which is available in the lobby of my building (I wonder if my company did any studies on increased productivity from the vast quantities of caffeine consumed since they added the coffee stand) I wanted to get back in the tea habit a bit since I enjoy it, and it would be quite a bit cheaper not buying coffee.

I ordered two teas to try, a China Drum Mountain white tea, and a black licorice tea. Both were really good, I've been a white tea fan for a while and I really liked the mellow flavor which really was nice after lunch. The black licorice tea is billed as an energy booster, and I didn't notice a significant letdown from the lack of coffee which was a good sign. My only current issue is that I'm not sure exactly how to tell how much to use as I'm just grabbing a pinch from the bag. The site does give you how much you should use, but it's hard to tell how much is an oz. when I grab a bit. I'm sure I get a feel for it as I go, but if that's my only complaint that I'm pretty happy.


What are YOU waiting for?

I'm in, why aren't you yet?

Yes, Eric, Nate, Greg, Matt, Sean, Tom... I'm talking to you! Sign up here

I'm not suggesting you have to be as dumb as I am and sign up for the Bull Moose challenge, which is both races back to back, but pick one at least! Mooseman is a great event, a fun weekend all around and extremely well run. If you need to pick one race to do this year I would definitely recommend it!


Jan 8, 2008

Volleyball Week 8

Whoops, looks like I missed week 7 which is okay since it was mostly forgettable anyway. I suspect my uncle feels otherwise however since it was his team we lost too... but lets move on to this week.

As a team we played pretty well, winning 2 out of 3. It was critical to win since they were the team directly ahead of us for a playoff spot. I think we could have taken all three games, but we couldn't finish them off the last time. Personally, the first game was probably my best all-around game that I've played. I had at least 5 kills and 2 blocks and was a solid force on the front line. I also limited my mistakes in the back row, and served well. We really played very well as a team the first game. The second two games I didn't get as many opportunities, but I still played well when I got the chance to make some plays.

After my game, I got on the bike for 50 minutes and then on the elliptical for another 20 while waiting for the other games to finish so I could play pickup. It was a pretty forgettable pickup game for me, although my uncle seemed to be all over the net. It's still a lot of fun though and I'm enjoying it enough to sign up for another session.


Jan 7, 2008

Lazy? Not us.

This is a pretty funny if scary picture!


Jan 4, 2008

Looking back

Well, 2007 was a great year both personally and from my athletic endeavors perspective, capped most certainly by finishing the Ironman in Lake Placid at the end of July. Ironman was a goal I thought about almost 4 years ago, and it felt pretty great to achieve it. In fact, it was such a relief that I spend much of the rest of the summer in a bit of a lull trying to find something next to pursue. Much like my wife called post-partum depression, although I will probably get in trouble if she thought I was denigrating what she went through :) In some respects, I still don't entirely feel back on track but I've started to get some consistency back with my workouts which will help I'm sure.

With the Ironman looming over much of the year, I achieved my highest totals in workouts since I started tracking them.

Swim -- Bike -- Run
102,500 yds, 44:28:00 hrs -- 3,057 mi, 176:35:00 hrs -- 335 mi, 59:43:00 hrs
Total Time
371:14:00 hours

Here's 2006 for comparison
Swim -- Bike -- Run
43,200 yds, 13:26:00 hrs --2,046 mi, 121:21:00 hrs -- 463 mi, 86:36:00 hrs
Total Time

Almost a hundred more hours overall, one thousand more miles on the bike and a doubling of my swim mileage! Not too bad. As I've mentioned previously, the running is down and I attribute it to not staying consistent with running after the race in July. I hope at some point these numbers will be an inspiration to myself or someone else and help in putting my year in perspective.

Overall, I would consider 2007 the year of reconnecting with my family in sport. There was not a single race or competition that I participated in where there was not another family member present, and the group has gotten larger. It's no longer just my brother-in-law anymore, more uncles have gotten involved with both triathlons and hiking trips, my brother has done a lot with me as well. Cousins, friends and other relatives have also joined me at different points to mountain bike, ski, play volleyball and hike and it's been really great. I've reminisced a bit in the past about my childhood spent playing sports or other games with family, and I feel a bit of that has come back this year.

Here's looking forward to another great year, I'm hoping for more consistency but realistically less volume than last year.


Jan 2, 2008

Happy New Year

I haven't exactly been lights out with the posting, but the holidays as always were rather hectic. I hope that everyone enjoyed any time off that you got to spend with your family and that it was a pleasant few weeks. I certainly enjoyed my down time, and I managed to get out and do a few things that I haven't gotten the chance to do in a while, including skiing with my cousin.

Lots of interesting stuff to post about, I'm due for a 2008 goals post and a 2007 wrap up at least :). Two highlights from the year past, over 100,000 yards of swimming and over 370 total hours of fitness goodness! I'm also looking forward to the wrap-up of the volleyball season, and a decision about whether to continue or not into the next session.

Carry on...


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