Sunday, April 26, 2009

CB&I Triathlon Open Water Swim Practice

Yesterday was the open water swimming practice session for next weekend's CB&I Triathlon in The Woodlands, Texas. This will also be my first triathlon with an open water swim like this one, so I made a point to take the time to make the practice swim on the course (and it didn't hurt that I live about 2 miles from the lake!!)

Fortunately, it didn't take too long to get used to the water. The water temperature was said to be 75 degrees, which felt a bit cool at first, but was about perfect once I got moving. The main difference for me over my normal pool swimming was getting used to having to look out of the water to see where I was going, but that wasn't too bad. I think my biggest problem this Saturday will be overcoming the urge to swim too fast, but we'll see what happens.

A nice surprise was that I was spotted by a friend from two past events, last December's Lakes of Williams Ranch 30K and last February's Austin Half Marathon. Ingrid spotted me as I obliviously walked right by her--my wife would be the first to tell anyone that I often miss things that way--but I was glad she got my attention so we could talk for a moment. Unfortunately, I never got to see her again at the swim, which was not surprising given the number of people there.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


OK, this is just a quick post but felt I had to add it. I got up to go on an early bike ride today as it has been a month since I've taken my bike out and I have that CB&I triathlon coming up and all... Anyway, knowing there is rainy weather coming I check the weather radar and figure that the storms are about 2 1/2 to 3 hours away, and then I head out.

About 1.5 miles down the road, I start to feel some rain drops and I start thinking that there must be a few small pockets of rain out there. Then the drops start to sting and make noises as they hit my helmet. That's about when I notice the pea-sized pellets of hail starting to come down. Fortunately, I am near a neighborhood park and I quickly turn around and take cover as the hail continues off and on for the 10 - 15 minutes.

After waiting for those 10 - 15 minutes, the rain also clears outwith the hail and I go about my ride for the morning before coming home, cleaning up my bike and myself, and then take my wife out for breakfast.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Render Unto Caesar...

I made a late trip to the post office this evening to drop an envelope into the mail to the Internal Revenue Service, the modern day equivalent of rendering unto Caesar. Maybe I am being just a little overly dramatic, but then again the federal government doesn't seem to take my opinion into account when they spend my money--and that seems to be regardless of whoever is in the White House at the time.

Also, I just found out recently that Sun Mart is no longer putting on the Sun Mart 50K/50 Mile event in December. I am very disappointed that I will not be able to run it again. I did not run it last year as I my training was not quite there at that point (and it was on my birthday), but I had already put it on my planning schedule at the beginning of this year and was expecting a great time out the whole experience. I am glad I did this event in 2007. It still ranks as my worst event performance (largely due to an injury), but my favorite event experience!

I feel like I was the last to find out, although I suspect that is hardly the case.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Meeting Laura Wilkinson

Meeting Laura Wilkinson was very cool!!
Wouldn't my daughters be embarrassed by me using that phrase?

Back on April 1st, which now seems so long ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Olympic Gold Medalist Diving Champion, Laura Wilkinson. I was attending the local Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon meeting, where she was the guest speaker. She gave an inspirational story of her leaving college [OK, that's normally not so inspirational by itself] and giving up her scholarship to pursue her Olympic dream while training at the Woodlands Athletic Center (practically around the corner from me!). About 3 months before her first U.S. Olympic Trials, she broke her foot and lost most of her training time not to mention dealing with the bone setting wrong! Most of her training during this period was mental through visualization and preparatory training, plus watching films of her dives. In the end she scored first place at the US Olympic Trials, and the rest is history. She then talked about her fears today as she was transitioning to a life as a non-diver, through her foundation to build a facility (in the local area) to replace the now torn down Woodlands Athletic Center and to help train divers, as well as gymnastic and trampoline athletes--because they all use similar skill sets the thought is that one discipline's training will complement another.

After the lunch she took more questions than I had ever seen another speaker at the Chamber ever take before, and I've probably been to around 20 or more of these. After the event was over she stayed around and talked with people. After about 20 minutes of chatting with others, I walked over and introduced myself, and thanked her for coming out to speak. I thanked her for telling her inspirational story, and told her that I hoped that her future would prove to be even more successful and inspirational one day than her past has proved to be. I also told her that I could identify with her career change as I had 2 years ago changed my career path significantly and felt I was the better for it. Then she asked me several questions about what I did and how I handled those changes. Photobucket As I was finishing up and thanked her again, she offered my her 2000 gold medal and asked if I would like to hold it and look at it up close, and I could see in her eyes she genuinely meant it--she was not just going through the motions to have a good image. I had noticed before that a friend of mine with the Chamber was also near and had a camera, so I asked if I could get a photo taken. She smailed and took the medal and place it over my head and put her arm around me--and told me to hold up the medal as if I had won it! The most wonderful feeling came over me at that moment, probably partly due to all that I have been through recently, but also because I would never have asked for that, and would not have expected her to do it without prompting. Photobucket I had seen her show others the medal earlier and allowed them to wear it, and I know she probably has done this many, many, many times over the years, but I was just there to see her, and for her to show me that kindness and make me feel connected to her as if I was the most important person in her world for that instant really made me feel good for the first time in many days!! Photobucket
I am not easily impressed by people on a snap judgement, but she impressed me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Muddy Trails 5K with a 5K PR!!

It turned out that the race started at 4 in the afternoon, which is a bit unusual, but fitting with the after-race events. Not long after I arrive I hear my name called and see my friend John and his son, and a short time later the rest of his family comes up, with some others who drove into town for the weekend. This is John and I in the photo as we are looking into the sun and wind.
John and Richard

The afternoon is a bit warm, so I figure conditions are not great for a good running time but I do resolve to have a good time while running. The race starts out on a road but hits a wide running trail in about a 1/4 mile or so. While getting near 1 mile, my side was hurting a bit because of the effort, but I hit the first mile in 9:20, which is definitely fast for me, and faster than I should be running. After this I throw in a 30 - 45 second walk break about every 5 minutes or so. I figure I am doing OK, but not my best, so I hope for a time in the 32 - 34 minute range. As I come near the end and the finish line comes into sight, the clock is crossing 30 minutes and I coast across in 30:20, getting a new PR by 50 seconds and I was cheered across by my friends and their family. Here's a photo of me crossing the finish line.

After the race all runners get huge plates of crawfish, Muddy Trails 5K plus any other concession type food is available to all for a reasonable cost and a live band play zydeco music. After a time we learn John finished first master's male finisher, and we explain to his wife (Carol) how that is better than first place in the age division (which he otherwise won by 2 minutes). I had a great time with my friends and their family, it was nice being with them all in a happier setting from recent times. After 90 minutes or so, we leave and I am invited back to their house for drinks, s'mores and conversation around a small backyard bonfire before leaving around 11 that night to make the short drive home (we live in the same community).

It turned out to be my best day in a long time.