Friday, June 15, 2007

I just completed a pre-walk/run of the run course portion of this weekend's Xterra. I am absolutely pissed at myself for not knowing about so many cool places in Richmond, especially after living here for 5.5 yrs now.

The course is cool and I tried to not run too much since I didn't want to change locking up my calve again. It takes 3 -4 days to work out and the race in only 2 days away.

Even moving slowly I missed a critical part of the course.

I followed the leads under the Lee Bridge and to 22st staircase, followed by a trip across and up-N-over Belle Island. Apparently I was supposed to get on top of the Lee and follow it across the river, hop off the North side of it down 2nd street and back to Brown's. Thank god for pre-runs. LOL.

I will be riding with a friend today to show him the Xterra mtb course, then at 5:30 I'll be heading back to the water to do another practice swim with the swim clinic.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Swim Swam Swum

My god, tonight was the first time in about 6 - 7 years since I last took a swim, and at least 15 - 20 years since I actually tried to maintain a real swim.

Introduce the River James. I met up with some friends who are also racing the Xterra this weekend. They knew the course for the swim and I thought it a smart idea to "pre-swim" the course. Good thing I did too, because it was nothing like I thought it would be.

I thought it was going to be a swim from Belle to Brown's Isle, but nope! You start of Brown's and end on Brown's. 500 meters, you think it can't be that bad. Wrong!

OK, it wasn't horrible, but certainly not easy.

I was informed of the currents and shallows, then we started across to the little island. About 20' out is the first main current and it appears to be the strongest.
No problem, if anything I was having to slow down because I was going ahead of my kind guides (not that I could beat them if they were trying). I kept trying to slow my speed, but with little swimming under my belt over the last decade or so, it was hard to control.

Now we are in open waters and the current is less, speed increases and so does the HR (heart rate). I try to slow up and find a comfortable cadence, but again my lack of experience is limiting me. Now we start entering another current and it becomes critical to swim harder, but my HR is through the roof already and my arms are tiring, but not before my chest begins to feel heavy and I begin to feel also claustrophobic.

Anyone that swims knows that your chest feels the pressure of the surrounding water, and I was feeling like I could not take deep enough breaths. In my own head I was beginning to doubt my ability to make it much farther.

I tried to remain calm, but every time I was able to catch a breath I would notice my need to increase speed to stay on course. After a few minutes, I began to notice that this spot was too deep to touch and too rapid to tread and not be dragged down stream.

I almost lost it (mentally) , but yelled out, "can anyone touch?" Blake relied, "yup, right here." That was my saving grace. I had about 30' to get there instead of the 150 - 200' to the island that we were to circle.

Once on the rock I was able to stand and catch my breath. From there I was able to work on keeping a pace that allowed my to better control my breath. I overheard my friends talking about taking a breath every 3 strokes and it hit me, I am taking a breath every stroke. I was sort of hyperventilating myself. So from that point on I worked on breathing every other breath under heavier workloads and it really helped out. During the last section of the swim I now had to return from which we came across and I so dangerously panicked early.

The girls went a head and Blake asked if I was OK. Feeling much better I answered "yes" as he started off to catch the girls. I wanted to be the last one as I wanted to prove to myself there was nothing to fear and no reason for my earlier panic.

Slow & steady I started across to return to shore. Only about 75 yards upstream from where we crossed earlier, I never really felt the currents as I did originally.

I was able to maintain composer and get to shore without issue.

I was glad to be finished, glad I went with someone, but mostly glad that I did this prior to the race.

I plan on making the swim clinic tomorrow and maybe even Sat. again before Sunday's race. Will I improve from this? No, not in time or strength, but I will in confidence and experience.

In the morning I plan to run/walk the run course, followed by a ride of the mtb course in the afternoon and as mentioned above, the swim clinic tomorrow night.

I'm still looking forward to the race, I think it'll be fun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Well, tomorrow is mid-week and that means only a few more days until Xterra!
I'm still feeling pretty excited about it, but not too worried. I guess the fact that my real goal is to just finish is a fairly easy one. Not saying it'll be easy, but it's less pressure than trying to place. My second goal is to make the 2hr mark. Considering I am not a runner and I haven't been in the water to swim in god knows 8, 10 or more years; I still think the goal is realistic.

I will be racing Clydesdale class, I think it's a little smaller class than 34-39 and certainly should be less competitive, overall anyway.

Oh, I guess I should mention that I will be doing the Sport, not the Championship race. Sport is 1/2 the distance. If I were stronger in the swimming I would really consider the full race, but 1000 meters or a minimum of 25min of swimming cross current would be waaaayyyyyyy to difficult.

It'll be interesting to see how the swim plays out this year as rain has been scarce over the last month or so, or that was until this past week. Showers almost everyday somewhere between Richmond and the mountains out west that feed into the James. Conditions on the James are still fairly low, so that means the rains are not enough to produce good runoff. In years past this led to more of a water run than a swim.

** Stupid tidbit. Tonight I was checking out at Kroger(self-checkout) and of course I was prompted for my Kroger Plus card, being stupid I scanned my UKROPS card only to have the computer take it. That is pretty damn cool since it'll be one less thing to stuff into my wallet.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I was working in the yard this morning and I've been coming across some pretty cool looking insects, so I went online to ID some of them and came across this thing.

It's a Wasp found in some south western states and South America.

It's called a Tarantula Hawk Wasp. Look at the size of that thing!

I also came across this on YouTube. LOL
Paris Goes Back to Jail.