Triathlon–Best time ever? Not this year.

On Saturday, I participated in the Federal Escape Triathlon in Federal Way, and was hoping that it would be my best time ever.  Alas, it was not to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a serious triathlete (or athlete for that matter), but enjoy getting in better and better shape.  I found the secret to being in the best shape ever is to be in horribly bad shape when you’re young.  (Set the bar low).  Then, throughout your 30’s and 40’s, there’s always hope that you can be in the best shape of your life.  I feel sorry for those elite high school and college athletes who now have to admit that they have peaked and are on the downward side of their physical condition.  You should have been watching Silver Spoons re-runs with me during high school.   

This is my third time doing the sprint triathlon in Federal Way.    It is a 440 yard swim (1/4 mile), 11.88 mile bike ride, and a 2.93 mile run.  A very accessible event.  The first time I did this, I nearly drowned.  The second time, I took it a bit more seriously.  It’s where I got my best time (including the transitions) which was one hour and 38 minutes.  This time, I felt like I was ready to do even better.

My training swims were up to a mile.   Since my last triathlon I had been riding by bike more.   And I’ve been regularly running about 6 miles under a 10 minute pace which is pretty fast for me. 

The triathlon is great, because they write your age on your calves for everyone to see. The oldest gentleman there was 71 years old.  Not only did he do the Olympic length (which is 4x the swim, 2x the bike, and 2x the run), but he did them all at a faster pace than me.  Wow. 

There were 3 other gentlemen in the Sprint length that were in their 60s.  3 ladies in their 60s.  (All of whom beat me, except for one of the ladies.)

And you also had the group of guys in their 20s who hadn’t done any training and likely made a bad bet in a bar.  You could see them before the event posing together in muscle-man poses and toting their 30 lb mountain bikes. 

The triathlon brings out all-types, and again the Sprint is such a distance that really anyone can participate and have a good time.  If you can backstroke it back to shore on the swim, you’re all set.

For me, the trouble began when I accidentally lined up with the “fast” swimmers.  I usually like to go in the super slow group just because I don’t like to swim among people stroking and kicking furiously.  I’d rather glide along side a bunch of people who are afraid of drowning and taking it easy on the swim.  I saw a bunch of people checking in through the starting gate, but failed to hear that this was the wave of “fast” swimmers.  Just as I was lining up in the water, the announcer announced (as if for my benefit), that this was the heat for “fast swimmers”.  I thought that this wouldn’t be too big of a deal.  I can just stay back, and all the fast swimmers will be long gone, and I’ll just take it at my pace. 

However, after the race started, it turned into mad rush.  And there’s an odd psychological affect that happens when you’re exercising with other people.  When you’re running, you naturally start synchronizing your pace with the other people you’re running with.  It so happens, that this is also true with swimming.  In my brain, I kept telling myself to “keep it slow.  Keep it slow.”  But, after about 50 meters, I noticed that my pace was matching those around me, and I was WAY out of breath.  Then it dawned on me that I was now out in the middle of a lake.  The deep, dark, scary lake.  I couldn’t breathe! OH NO!  It was happening again!  I stopped swimming.  I knew my pace was too fast, and now I was starting to panic.  I rolled on my back and took a few deep breaths.  Then a wave rolled over me and water rushed up my nose.  I tried to start swimming again, but I started coughing and choking.  By this time, a life guard in a kayak noticed me and started rowing over.  I rolled on my back and tried to regain my composure.  After about 15 seconds, I started back on the front stroke, but this time I made sure my pace was excruciatingly slow.  I felt the kayak hit me a few times on my feet.  The lifeguard was practically right on top of me.  In some ways, I was grateful.  After about another 30 seconds of slow pace, I regained my confidence and picked up the pace again.  I probably lost about a minute or two, but was able to finish up strong in 11:11. It’s amazing how much of this is all psychological.

I ran out to the transition station, and this was when I hit my biggest setback.  My front tire was flat.  I had a CO2 cartridge and had brought along several tubes.  I quickly replaced the tube, and discharged the CO2 cartridge.  The pump was unfortunately, not seated correctly, and the air didn’t all make it in to the tube.  Now I had a half inflated tire tube, and no more CO2.  I searched around to see if there was a pump I could borrow.  A lady that just finished the swim, but was part of a relay team helped me and found a pump.  As I was pumping up the tire, it pops.  UGH!  I ran back to my station and replaced my tube again.  I noticed my hands were shaking a bit which made it difficult to get the tube in just right.  I ran back to the relay lady who took some time to inspect my tube replacement job, then helped me pump up my tire again.  Whew!  Success!  I ran out of the transition section and started my ride.  Apparently, it took me 17:22 to get out of transition.  Normally, this should take about 2 minutes or less.  But, as I was riding out of the park, I saw Caleb waving me down and cheering me on.  From that point on, the event went about as good as it could.  Finished the bike in 42:55 which comes out to be a little over 16 mph.  I’m not a strong rider, so that’s pretty good for me.  Transitioned to the run in 1:30, then ran the last 2.93 miles in 27:32 which is about 6.4 mph (or 9.4 min miles).  My final time 1:40:29.  Bitter and sweet.  2 minutes worse than my best time, but in my heart of hearts, I know I did better if it wasn’t for those blown tubes.  In the final standings, I was 2nd to last place in my division.  The guy who got “last” did not finish the run for some reason. 

There were two silver linings from the delay in the swim-to-bike transition. 

1.  I got to do a lot of passing.  It’s always a good morale booster when you can catch up to people and pass them.  Much more so than if other people are constantly passing you. 

2.  Next year, it’ll be that much easier to get the best time ever. 

Don Triathlon 2011-07-31 008Don Triathlon 2011-07-31 013Don Triathlon 2011-07-31 016

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How do you make a baby sheep?

(Warning – If reading the name and function of mammalian reproductive body parts offends you, you should skip this post.)

“I get that there’s eggs inside a mommy, but how does it turn into a baby sheep?”  Caleb, my 6 year old inquired.

We were driving home from a church activity where we saw a bunch of farm animals.  Tenille was driving, and she turned to me sitting in the passenger seat with an expression on her face that seemed to indicate that ‘Dad will be fielding this one.’

I knew that we were going to have the “how-to” talk on babies at some point… but I suppose I didn’t really think it was going to be for a while. I had resolved to myself that I would be as straight-forward as possible and not start talking about weird metaphors that were incomprehensible. Resolving to do this theoretically, and getting cold-called by your 6 year old son out of the blue are two very different scenarios.

“Uhhh….  well… “  Composure… composure….  How detailed am I supposed to answer this?  “Well… inside the mommy is the eggs… and inside the daddy is the sperm… When you put an egg and sperm together, the egg turns into a baby sheep.”  The end!

Pause….. Are we good?

Caleb is not a dumb boy, and I knew there was a giant gaping hole in my explanation.  After I cringed and waited for about 10 seconds, he asked the dreaded follow-up…. “But how does the sperm get to the egg?”

“That’s a great question Caleb.  Your mother will be answering that question… “  Tenille didn’t seem pleased.

By this point I had composed myself and had fully committed myself to explain the details of reproduction.  I broke in, took a deep breath, and explained in one long exhale:

“Sperm is created and stored in testicles.  When a mommy and daddy mammal are ready to make a baby (and people are mammals just like sheep), the sperm comes out of the penis and is put into the mommy’s vagina which is an opening that a girl has where your penis is.  This is called sex.  The sperm then finds where the egg is inside the mommy.  When the sperm meets up with the egg, the egg turns into a baby.” Done! Inhale…..

This is where Andrew, our 3 year old breaks in “But, what about Andrew?”  he screams.  We’re not even sure what this is supposed to mean, but we all laugh because we don’t know what else to do.  Andrew laughs, too, as if he got what he was asking for.  (a little attention.)

I looked back at Caleb and he seemed contemplative.  (Danger!  Danger!)  I think I could have ended it there, and I was pretty sure I wanted to be done with the conversation, but the cold mechanical explanation felt unsatisfying.  Who knows what was going through his head at that moment.  Ending the conversation there felt irresponsible.

I think after getting over the logistical explanation and the use of body parts, there’s really only contextual information left.  And this part wasn’t as difficult or awkward.  We explained about puberty, hormones, and the onset of desire to have sex.  We discussed the importance of making babies and keeping sexual activity within marriage.  We discussed modesty and keeping private parts private.  We told him that he will hear about this topic from friends who will likely not know what they’re talking about and treat it irreverently.  That if he has further questions, he can come talk to mommy or daddy and we’ll tell him whatever he wants to know.  Preferably, he should start with mommy, but he can come try daddy for the ugly straight talk.

A model of reproductive education we are not.  Apparently, my explanation was not as crystal clear as I had thought as we did have to make a clarification during the follow up session that it was a bit different than a boy peeing on a girl.

Hopefully, there will be a few more opportunities to correct some of those minor details in the upcoming years.   In the meanwhile, hopefully the “don’t make babies before marriage” message will stick and save us both from any embarrassing experiments.

LDS Food Storage–Take what you want.

In our church, we are counseled to build up a reserve of food, water, and finances so that we are able to ride out the unanticipated economic adversity in our lives.  Often, when I talk to other people about food storage, there is a wide difference in reaction between men and women.  If you’ll excuse the generalization, women talk about canning, wheat recipes, and gardening.  Men often talk about disaster scenarios and the topic of firearms seems frequently to creep in.    I think the argument goes that if you are going to the effort of stockpiling food for some kind of disaster scenario, you’d better have a way of protecting it, because thousands of other unprepared people are going to come and take it.  Although the conversation is usually interesting, I think our church leaders had a different strategy in mind.  I prefer to think that our response to anyone that wants some of our food storage is supposed to be, “Everyone’s welcome.  Take what you want.”

There’s a church website called Provident Living that gives a lot of guidance on what to store and how to store it.  Several years ago, when we first started accumulating food storage, wheat was the only food item on the list that was good for 25+ years.  (Now there are other “Life Sustaining” foods that are recommended with shelf lives over 30 years.)  Since we started before this “new list”, we have big plastic buckets full of wheat in our garage. 

But Don, should you really be advertising on the Internet that you have all this wheat in your garage?  I don’t think it matters.  Maybe in a disaster scenario, someone might come wandering to our home to see if they can take some of our wheat – maybe even by force.  They’ll likely run into very little resistance.  In fact, after they see the wheat they might have second thoughts about taking it.  We often equate wheat with bread, but there’s a lot of stuff that needs to happen before wheat turns into bread.  Not only do you need equipment like a mill, but you also need the other ingredients and the skills to actually make wheat into bread.  And if you’ve never made bread before, I guarantee you’re not going to be able to make a loaf of Wonder™ bread.  I tried once to take a few cups of wheat, grind it, and follow a recipe to make some bread.  And you would think that this super-fresh bread made from whole kernels of wheat would be absolutely delicious – like something you’d buy at Panera.  But, it was not.  It was the opposite of delicious.  I don’t think I know how to properly use yeast.  There’s some magical step that I’m missing because it didn’t make my bread nice and fluffy.  It didn’t even make it a little fluffy.  I could not believe how much effort I had to put in to make something that tasted so disgusting.  This is why I think we’re safe.  If you’ve got a gun, go hunt for a rabbit down on the Interurban trail (I saw about 5 of them on my bike ride), and put it on a rotisserie.  Because if you use it to take some wheat from a Mormon’s food storage, the jokes on you.

I couldn’t imagine going through the effort of making another piece of wheat dough cracker bread, then trying to get it down with some bleach flavored water.  And if you look at the recipe pamphlet, the other recipes don’t look that much better.  In a disaster, my guess is that I’ll probably revert to the “Thermos Wheat” recipe because it’s easy.  It’s kind of a “college guy recipe” for wheat.  You put a handful of wheat in a thermos, fill it up with hot water, then eat it the next day.  By about day 2 of this, I’m pretty sure I’d be looking for people to share this meal with.  Mostly, to hasten the end.  And if someone showed up with a firearm to try and take it by force, I would hand him (or her) a big sample bowl of the wheat gruel and ask with a smirk, “Are you sure?  Because you can have as much as you want.” 

For those with the mysterious skill of being able to make wheat into edible bread, you will be in high demand, and I personally invite you to come live at our home in the case of a large-scale disaster.  It’s like you can turn water into wine in my book. 

Until then, we’ll be crunching away on our lukewarm Thermos wheat. Maybe on special occasions, we’ll pop some “Roasted Wheat Kernels”  (A wheat version of Popcorn… or Popwheat as some may refer to it.)  And likely, we’ll be praying that the food supply runs out quickly.  

An exception to this is canned peaches.  To me, canned peaches taste just as delicious if not even more so than fresh peaches.  A few years ago, my wife canned several boxes worth of peaches.  It was so amazingly delicious.  But, it ran out within about a month.  Our family can tear through peaches like nobody’s business.  In a disaster scenario, you’ll probably come too late for the peaches.  We’ll be eating those for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snack – dreading the day we have to crack open our thermos.

Now, it is possible that over time we might actually figure out how to use some of our food storage in a way that does not sap our will to live.  Even in this scenario, my reading of the scriptures seems to imply that we’re compelled to share until the end.  So, everyone’s still welcome, and you can still have what you want.  (You’ll probably want the bread, though, and not the wheat kernels).

If you’re interested in starting your own food storage, Tenille will be attending a women’s seminar on canning on July 19th and another one about the LDS cannery, Food Storage, and budgeting on August 30th.  Give her a ping, and she’ll be happy to give you the info or go together.  I highly recommend starting the food storage as there is so much interesting, basic information to learn about food preservation.  As for the firearms to go along with the food, you can decide for yourself, but probably not necessary in my opinion.