There was no long post on Friday because I’m working on an eBook for this site: what you need to know to get to your first triathlon. I’m trying to find the line between helpful, researched information and not being a coach or expert. I’m looking to summarize my own experience in case it helps someone else out there. I did push away from the desk long enough to go to Tri Zombies and pick up swim paddles and a kickboard, which I put to use on todays brick.
Both items revealed significant details about my swim stroke. The hand paddles are just pieces of plastic strapped to my hands with holes to allow some water to pass through, but more they force my hand in a flat position which moves more water, underscoring how my hand enters the water, pulls water mass, and exits on the stroke. I used them with a pull buoy, basically a floatation device for the legs so I don’t have to kick, which all together confirmed that my left stroke needs a lot of work. The paddles forced me to work harder to keep good form. I alternated this with a kickboard, which told me that I don’t kick very strongly and should keep doing drills to build power with my legs. I started small today, 10 lap warmup followed by 2 laps each alternating the paddles and the kickboard, for about half an hour. Then changed into the run gear and lapped around Playa Vista for a while listening to the Tri Geek Talk podcast archive.
I wasn’t too thrilled with the Tri Geek podcast at first listen. The content is good, I was just put off by a tone I wasn’t jelling with. Also, and this is going to sound really stupid, I don’t like Hawaii Tiki themes. I say this with no small irony, I have a Hawaiian body stripe on the entire right side of my body. I think my aversion is because of its blandness. Hawaii is romanticized by a large population of very boring people, so I reject it like an Islands hamburger. I checked the Tri Geek blog to find out that the main host is William Lobdell, an LA Times reporter who lost his faith after years of reporting on religion (and recently lost his job in the LA TImes’ downsizing). He also became an Ironman in 2006. I had heard Lobdell on NPR some months ago, read his LA Times article discussing his acceptance of his own atheism, and was really impressed with the depth of his candor and reporting. He’s an exceptionally bright and insightful person, and he’s a gifted writer. I’m looking forward to his book, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America because I enjoy reading how people lose their ties to religion and belief. I believe that it makes them stronger, to have a tactile grounding in tangible reality. We have very real problems here on earth and often religion promises a reward after death for suffering in this life. This is why Mother Theresa was no saint – her facilities promoted suffering in the name of Christ. She promoted sadomasochism in the poorest parts of the world in the name of a fictional character from a book written by flawed men. I’m a radical atheist who believes that a discussion of god is as relevant as a discussion about a flying spaghetti monster. I like knowing that there’s another writer/atheist/triathlete out there, and I’ll give his now defunct podcast another chance to siphon out the content from the 46 episode run. He stepped away from the triathlon blog because of the demands of the book career and his home life, and as readers may be realizing balancing life and triathlon and work is not easy. There’s a lot of triathlon blogs out there that document people’s training programs and habits. But what makes a blog interesting is the author’s unique voice, which has got to branch out into the other areas of their life and reveal the how and why of their motivation. If all they do and write about is triathlon then they probably lack depth, which makes for a boring blog. It’s why I keep my personal training raw data minimal, because the numbers are only interesting to me.
Last night my cousins took us to The Magic Castle in Hollywood. It’s by invitation only, and besides several timed performances there are roaming members performing magic around the club. For those who don’t know, most magicians perform tricks that are no more difficult than a sixth grade science class. What differentiates them is their technical skill and their personality. A clever, fun personality can cover bad mechanics, but perfect mechanics can be lost under bad personality. The great magicians devise tricks that mesh with their personality and then practice obsessively, rehearsing for hours and days in front of mirrors until their technique is perfect. The same can be said for all of us. We should choose the career, sport, or hobby that plays to our strengths, and then we can practice it obsessively to get better.