Sunday, July 23, 2017

Little Uno Big Results

My mother came to visit for the weekend, and attend a quilting conference in Raleigh. We were thrilled to show off the new deck and be able to spend this much time with her. The date was set by the conference, and it just happened to coincide with this year's Little Uno and Big Deuce swim race. I've done the Deuce several times, but signed up for the 1 miler this year.

Before the race
My RAM team had a tent setup with the banner, so we all kind of gathered around there to hangout before & after the race. Also got to see Kenn & Betty Gardner - Kenn was swimming, and they sing in the church choir with me.

Some of the RAM teammates
The two milers started first, and I have to admit I thought about jumping up to the other distance and I'm glad I didn't. At the May race, there was only 1 other guy in my age group and I wanted an award. This time the tables were turned - about 6 people in my age group in that race that were all way faster than I would have been.

The one milers lined up in the water walking out from a boat ramp. We had to tread water for about a minute. It was all one mass start for us, so it got pretty crowded. I got way more inside than I wanted to be, but I got to the front and tried to find some clear water without too many people behind me. Sure enough, once we started I didn't have to swim over anybody and nobody swam into me.

I started in at my normal lap pace - not sprinting out of the gate like I did in May. Settle in and stretch out my form. Keep my hands wide, high elbows and strong push through after entry, feel the top of my feet hit the top of the water. My sighting was dead on, I was swimming really straight. Now just hold that form for the entire lap.

There was a lot of chop after hitting the first turn. And that's when the human traffic started to get cluttered as well. This race is a triangle course, so after the 2nd turn the people clutter was much worse than the chop. Still after the last sighting buoy I increased the arm turnover, then sprinted into the finish.

Finished: 32:44, 44/144 overall, 17/64 men, 1/11 age group
YOU READ THAT RIGHT I WON MY AGE GROUP!!!!! This should not have happened. Last year I swam a 32:53, good enough for 5/8 in my AG. That extra 9 seconds I made up clearly meant that none of the fast guys showed up. Last year's age group awards went at 25:23, 27:48, and 31:35. I thought for sure I would have to break 30 minutes to get an award. And I felt like I swam the mile in under 30 minutes so those assumptions both turned out to be false!

Happy finisher, no results yet

Hanging with the RAM crew

With my age group award, a stemless wine glass!

All four of us won our age groups, so did plenty of other RAM members. L-R Rebecca, KC, Coach Kristen, me
I'll wrap up with a couple of other pictures collected from facebook friends
The best part is hanging out with friends

Billy Su (Last year's AG winner) caught me exiting the boat ramp at the finish
KC got me with Amy Oversmith
I think this is the first time I've won my age group in a race. I've been on winning relay teams, taken 2nd and 3rd place before, and snagged a few 3rd place overall awards in 5k's, but I think this is my first outright AG win. I couldn't be happier with how the day turned out.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

June Recap

this could be really short with lots of pictures:

Swim: 31,428 yards, 10 swims, 1 race
Bike: 0
Run: 0
Yoga: 0
Strength: 1 time lifting

Wow, that's even less than I was expecting. Haven't seen that many 0's show up since I was swimming 50,000 yards and running 100 miles a month. The one swim race was the Chattanooga Swim Fest, and it was amazing. Got back in the pool a few more times after that, including 1 time getting long course meters in (translated that to yards, hence the odd number). But that really was it.

Currently, from the bottom up, I've got a broken left big toe, my constant right foot tendon pain, a bum left hip, lower back pain, middle back soreness, neck pain, and arthritis pain in both hands and elbows. But that's not to indicate that June was bad, just that I'm getting older and can't do what I could do in my 30's. ha!

June also had (in addition to that wonderful road trip to Chatty) a visit with my parents to see the Lion King, Fathers Day, and a major release of our software at work. Plus the garden is kicking. There was a lot that was accomplished, and it was a great month. Breakdown:

Starting to grow!

Cucumbers getting bigger

Tomatoes are starting to take off
One HUGE moment that I'm very proud of is finishing my first wooden boat! I got the boat wrapped up (and started a woodworking/boatbuilding blog about it) and got it in the water for the first time. The name of this boat is "My Busted Foot", because I decided to pick up this new hobby after it was determined that I couldn't run any more. Super proud of the way this turned out!

You have to test these things on dry land first

It floats! Unreal happy about that.

Ella loved paddling around all over the lake

It was a large lake (Lake Johnson here in Raleigh)

Evil Genius did not enjoy it quite as much

It sits pretty clean in the water, looks pretty sharp I think

Kelley went nuts over these ducks
Aunt Martha got in on the action

At the Lion King to my left

And to my right! All the family
We had a great weekend trip down to Greenville. Mom wanted all of her kids and grandkids to gather for a fun show. All 11 of us don't get together very often, so it was really nice to have that much fun.

The biggest project by far wrapped up the month and is bleeding over half of July as well. The problem was that there are some concrete stairs going to the backyard that started crumbling. We have known for a while that they would have to be replaced with something else. Also there is a pergola in the backyard over a stone patio that has become overgrown and unusable. We enjoyed it for the first year or two, but haven't been able to for quite some time. So a few months ago we started talking about building a deck. There will be a more in depth post about it eventually, but in June it started with taking out a window from the dining room and replacing it with a wider french door. It's a door to nowhere, sure, but the best is yet to come.

Dining room, with window and corner cabinets. Already had the doors off of those when I grabbed the first picture.

Bye bye wall

bye bye window, hello framing

Bloody demolition man!

Cut out a big hole in the house!

Widen it to the framing

Slide in the door!

Framed up and ready for drywall

Now with more mud

I already had the shrubs & ivy down from the pergola

Bye bye pergola, hello backyard!

Demolition on concrete stairs is no joke. Now I've got two doors to nowhere!
Finally, the month of June and all of the stuff I should have blogged about in due time wraps up with two fun times. My sweet Ella had another birthday. She keeps getting older and wiser. and taller! Also Evil Genius actually went to a Durham Bulls game with my company. She loved learning about baseball and really enjoyed following all of the action. It's so cool to see her growing into her own person.

Big birthday girl!

already with the sullen hoodie of a teenager

with EG and Kelley at the game

going over the finer points of the shift

She got to run the bases after the game! somewhere in that line of kids
So I hope you had a great month too. June wasn't bad at all, overall. I could have done with less pain and more running, but I accomplished a lot and had a ton of fun.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chatty Time

This year the US Masters Open Water National Championships were held in Chattanooga TN. I've been through Chatty before, but never stayed there and been able to explore. Kelley was not too keen on the idea of me doing the 9.2 mile race, but I thought it sounded like a fun time. Instead I did the 2.4 mile race on Saturday. The road trip turned out to be just myself, and my RAM teammates Tom and KC. We're all pretty tight friends so I had high expectations of fun. The school year ended 3 days after the race, so Kelley and the kids stayed home. Tom's wife & kid also stayed home for the same reason, and KC's husband had to stay and work.

Tom got us to lie down on the sidewalk for this one
I took Friday off from work, and it's kind of a key point on my days off/weekends that I get to sleep in. This particular day off/weekend had me getting up at normal time friday, because they were meeting at my house at 9 am. Then we had to get up at 5:45 am on both saturday and sunday? this is suspect.

It takes about 8 hours to drive from Raleigh to Chattanooga. Our drive down was uneventful but filled with fun conversation. KC stayed at a different hotel, but Tom and I stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Inn. It was a really cool place!
The train cars were converted to hotel rooms

Friday night we had a fantastic dinner, and got to watch the first race in the Chattanooga Swim Fest go down - the 1 mile. This was a lot of fun to watch, the winners finished in just over 12 minutes! There was some serious current going. We also did the packet pickup for all of our stuff for the weekend.

Saturday - swim 2.4 miles
 Up early at 5:45, I got some breakfast and we got out to Outdoor Chattanooga, the starting site. The current was being released from the dam at 46,000 fps, which I think is cubic feet per second.There was a large ferry to get us up the river to the starting line. First we had a delay getting the ferry to arrive, then the ferry had trouble hitting the dock at the start because the current was too strong. We ended up having to swim from the ferry to the dock, then wait a few minutes before the race start because they couldn't stay on the dock.

Me with Kristen and Jordan! So glad to meet her in person

ready to race!

Our chariot awaits
I'm walking onto the boat to the start. We had to jump off of this same gang plank to get into the water and find the starting dock.

That finish line awaits
Hanging with KC on the boat

My only goal for the race was to hold my stroke the entire time. Work on efficient pacing, don't start out too fast, don't have to backstroke or anything to catch my breath. The race actually started about 2 hours after it was supposed to start thanks to the ferry issues. It worked out in our favor though. First I got time to hang out with Real Food for Fuel after running with her husband in several events. And the later we got the more water made it through the dam.

That all meant that my race itself was pretty uneventful. Eventually I started swimming, then I kept on swimming, then I finished swimming. There wasn't a whole lot of traffic in the water. The fun part about being in a National Championship race is the other competitors. As in, 30 states sent their top Masters swimmers. I was talking to one guy who did all three races this weekend, who finished 5th place in the 1500 trials for the Barcelona olympics. The field was competitive.

I swam 2.4 miles in 41:39, good enough to finish 141/193 overall, 71/100 men, and 12/14 in my age group.

Me and Tom after the race

Saturday afternoon
We had the rest of the day to rest up for Sunday and check out what downtown Chattanooga had to offer. My favorite is the Tennessee Aquarium. They have a jellyfish exhibit that is mind-blowing.

Tubs of jellyfish

so cool

Me with KC
Sunday - pilot Tom's 9.2 mile swim
The star of the show was Sunday's race. Every 9.2 mile swimmer had to have their own kayaker to pilot and hand them food, give feedback, etc. I agreed to pilot for Tom, KC registered to have a pilot provided for her. Another  5:45 alarm clock, early breakfast, and we got out to the finish line at some school.

I wanted to be comfortable and recognizable
From the school we took a bus ride to the starting area where the kayaks were loaded. The hardest part of my day was getting the kayak in the water, then paddling upstream to the first buoy where I was supposed to meet Tom. It was the swimmer's responsibility to find their pilot in the water.

Before the race

I'm taking a selfie with a girl taking a selfie

Other pilots, starting line is in the background

Tom is in the water. Found him!
This race had a crazy packed start. I've never heard a sound like 99 incredibly strong swimmers coming at me like that. It got loud and crazy fast. Found a few pictures in the local newspaper to illustrate the point.

Bottom left, I'm in the red canoe

on the right
Tom swam pretty good the whole time but started complaining of pain about halfway through. He wasn't as well conditioned as he really wanted to be. Too much life got in the way of his training through the spring. Hey, it happens to the best of us. I'm posting this over a month after the race, life.

Tom in the water

Tom got surrounded by 3 women

Still swimming strong

That last picture is a key point. Dawn (KC's pilot) is on the paddleboard on the right. KC in the pink cap) just passed Tom. This is a key point, as they are lane rivals on our team but KC's never actually beaten Tom before.

Right when KC caught up with us and passed it started pouring down rain. I really didn't think I was going to get a picture of the two of them in the water. 

Tom coming into the finish

Dawn, KC, Tom, me
Tom finished swimming 9.2 miles in about 2:27:something. It was good enough for 5th place in his age group (nationally, mind you), but only 52/98 finishers and an even lower placement on men. I think this is the first time I've ever seen him finish less than 3rd overall. He said it's the first time in his life (D1 scholarship swimmer in college) that he's ever finished in the bottom half of a race. I thought he did great. It was also the first time ever that KC has beaten him in a race, she finished in 2:21.

We stuck around for the awards - they awarded top 6 in each age group so Tom & KC both got awards. Then changed clothes in the parking lot and drove directly back to Raleigh. 8 hours in the car smelling like river, yum.

Tom getting his award

KC getting her award
Happy friends!
Overall this was a wonderful set of races and a beautiful weekend with good friends. Chattanooga is an amazing city, and I will certainly go back sometime with the family. This was so much fun.