Triathlon Part II

Some of you may remember my first "attempt" at a triathlon.  It was successful in that I achieved my goal of not drowning, but it was quite close.  I came in dead last in my group, and second to last overall.  Two years later, I’ve officially signed up to try it again… to redeem myself… No more excuses… No more blaming Tenille for a super-tight custom wetsuit.  This go around, the goal is to get a decent time.  I’m not sure what a decent time is yet, but hopefully it means not coming in dead last. 
This year has been one where I’ve put in some effort into my health.  When I reached 200lbs last year, Tenille and I decided that something needed to be done.  Microsoft offers a $2000 program (that’s after the MS discount) called 20/20.  Most people that have taken the program lose a LOT of weight (30-50 lbs).  This is from talking with friends that have successfully completed the program.  Unfortunately, our household is not one that can afford $2000 for me to get in shape, so we decided to go down the home brew route.  A good friend once told me that there’s no secret to losing weight, even though there are thousands of books published claiming they’ve figured out the secret.  At the end of the day, it’s 1.  Eat less, 2. Exercise more.  Everything else is trying to instill discipline in how we do these things.  At the recommendation of a few friends, I skimmed through "Body for Life" and created my own program that I felt I could stick to.  The goal was to eat frequently in small quantities.  Typically, I’d eat about 4-5 times a day, and it could be anything as long as the volume equalled that of two of my fists.  I also started a weight lifting program as well as a running program.  I’m up to running 5 miles fairly comfortably between a 9-10 minute pace.  I can swim 8 laps fairly aggressively (which is the triathlon distance).  I need to take a few practice swims in a lake, because as described in my last triathlon blog, lake swimming and pool swimming our two entirely different things.  I’m still biking at about a 12-14 mph pace which is a bit slow.  I like to blame the equipment on this one, but I also have a hard time believing that better equipment is going to make me THAT much faster.  I should stop whining and try training a bit harder. The bigger problem with biking is that it’s a pain in the bum.  Literally.
After about 6 months, I’m down to about 178 lbs now, which is great.  The last time I weighed under 180 was in college. My end of year goal is 169 which would be my high school weight.
This got me thinking about how we can measure if we’re in the best shape of our lives.  There seems to be a strength, endurance, and body composition portion of this.  I’m pretty sure that I’m not the strongest I’ve ever been, especially if you measure using the bench press test.  I think I could bench about 250 in high school.  I start whimpering when I approach 200 now. 
On the body composition side, my weight is lower than it has been, but it’s still higher than in high school.   Weight is probably not a good measure however, as it’s difficult to pin point when your body is done developing.  For instance, I shouldn’t compare myself to my junior high weight as I was still growing at that time.   The last fat content check I did (when I was 200lbs) put me at 25% fat. I’m a quarter fat.  Apparently, for a woman this is normal.  Sadly, I’m not a woman.  I’m fairly confident that my next measurement should be lower.   But, since I never had this measured in my high school years, it’s difficult to benchmark on this measure.
Finally, there’s endurance.  This is where I might have a chance to claim that I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, although there’s some conflicting measures here also.  About 6 years ago, I ran the Las Vegas Half Marathon in 2 hours 10 minutes, which is a 10 minute/mile pace.  I’m fairly certain, I would not be able to do this today.  But, on Friday I ran the fastest mile I’ve ever run in my life.  I’ve never beat the 7 minute mark, and on Friday I got 6 minutes and 56 seconds.  It almost cost me my breakfast, but it would have been worth it. 
Perhaps this "best shape of your life" concept is elusive as our body changes, and only something a middle aged man thinks about.  I’ll just document my best times, and perhaps when the time comes where my children are faster, smarter, and stronger than I am, I can challenge them with a few journal entries. 
 
 
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Home Projects

In May, Tenille’s father and brother, Mark, came up to help us with some home projects.  If I had any dignity, it’s possible that I could have been taken this as a sign of my inadequacy in the home projects department.  Luckily, I lost all my dignity in college in a squash match against a high school girl that beat me soundly (which is an understatement, because she skunked me.)  Instead, I was amazed at how fast Mark transformed our house.  He finished all of the baseboards and casing (which I found I were baseboards around windows) in two days for our entire house.  There was much gratitude in my heart for a work item that dissolved away from my honey-do list. 
Unfortunately, I found I was very little help in this process, and started to work on our fence which had blown down back in December (6 months ago).  One might think that almost losing our dog a few times would have motivated me to put up a fence a little sooner, or at least put up some chicken wire.  Nope…
 
I did find out that the hard part about building a fence is digging holes.  You never really think about digging holes when you think about building fences (unless you’ve done it before… )  I used an old fashioned hole digger which is basically two little shovels joined together.  Actually, it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that "I" used an old fashioned hole digger… We dug about 13 holes… of which 9 or so were dug by Adam Robinson (a good friend of ours).  All I know is that after I dug my 4 holes, my shoulders were protesting something fierce.  My delicate, spoiled flab did not handle the hard toil very well. 
 
Also, although the physically difficult part is digging the holes, the art to building the good fence is how straight you can make it.  My father in law was quite an expert at this and stretched a string from one end of the fence to the other.  Then we just lined up the posts to the string.  He also showed us another trick with the concrete.  We just dumped the concrete into the holes around the posts, without mixing it with water.  Once we filled up the holes with concrete, we poured water in.  I had a little concern that the water and the concrete wouldn’t mix thoroughly, but the fence is still standing, so what more is there to say…
 
The Monday after this weekend of toil, I told my boss about what I had done that weekend.  He laughed at me and informed me of a automated hole digging tool that works like an auger.  Apparently, it takes seconds to dig a hole using this tool.  My shoulder workout method took many minutes… Up to 15 if you count the breaks… (which starts to explain why Adam dug 9 of the holes…).  Fence Building Lesson Number 1:  Go rent a hole digger – price is no object.
 
A few weekends afterward, I borrowed a pneumatic hammer from our neighbor, Karlin, along with his compressor.  Since I had put up the posts and the cross beams, I thought putting up the planks should be a cinch!  Just put a board up, then BLAM BLAM with the pneumahammer.  I went to home depot and found what I thought were nails that would fit this nail gun.  It was a framing nail gun, and that’s what the nail box had said.  One of my dad’s friends, Mr. Kim, came over to help me about 11am.  I was thinking we could get the fence done, eat lunch, and get him out of here by 1pm.  We started putting the planks up, and found that the nail gun kept jamming.  Finally after a few planks, we decided to go the old fashion way (Mr. Miyagi style).  Needless to say, this took a little more than the 1.5 hours I had budgeted.  Mr. Kim stayed until 5pm finishing up the fence.  I later talked with my neighbor about what the problem might have been.  After he saw the nails, he saw the problem.  Apparently, there are different types of nails – ones where the heads overlap each other, and ones that don’t.  Whatever I bought, was not the right kind.  Fence Building Lesson Number 2:  Make sure you have the proper nails for your nail gun.
 
Although it took a little more time (and a lot more character) than I had anticipated, we do have a very nice fence now in our backyard.  I’m especially pleased with our gate which has the best action I’ve ever seen on a fence gate.  It looks like Sadie will be safe from running away and being taken to the pound (again), at least until our fence blows down again this winter…
 
Big thanks to the many people that helped with the toil, equipment, and advice!  It’s obvious home projects is not my gift.  Hopefully, I can return the favor, but I doubt anyone would want my "help" on home projects…