Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Yesterday at work, I walked right into a wooden post while carrying my lunch. This morning while running, I tripped on a sidewalk irregularity and fell. Yes, it could have been worse, and I still don't know how bad it is, but I cannot afford to lose focus on the run again. The proverbial "momentary lapse of reason" could be the avoidable thing that ends my Ironman quest. There was a lot of blood (still wondering why no one stopped to help me when it was hard to miss that I was injured), and although my knee was severely damaged, I could still run. The scarier thing was landing on my hand and potentially breaking my wrist. I did two stupid things: I ran tired, and I tried to avoid landing on my new iPod Nano. From now on, I must get more sleep so that I'm alert while running (and not dragging my feet). And I must never run with my iPod Nano again. If the shuffle is not charged when I get up in the morning, it'll be a no-music run. I mean, there's no need to raise the probability factor on the disaster magnet.
Some of my "live-and-learn" techniques on how to avert training and racing disasters:
1. Don't run or ride without adequate sleep.
2. Swim on the good-weather days even if you're tired and want to put it off until the next day.
3. Do NOT run with unilateral leg pain (a stress fracture waiting to happen)
4. Bring a map.
5. Do not joke about the color of your bike being "run-me-over black."
6. Do not leap over snow banks if you don't know what's on the other side.
7. Do not decide to run when you have already committed to taking the day off (this is inevitably a corollary of Murphy's Law)
8. Never do a race where the swim is in Utah Lake
9. Don't carry a camera over your shoulder while holding a second camera if there's a possibility of black ice.
10. Avoid strenuous work of ANY kind during your taper (I can't stress this enough).
11. Don't run the first few miles of a marathon more than 10 seconds per mile faster than you plan to average for the entire race.
12. Never stay overnight in Gary, Indiana on a race road trip.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Every year since 1994, I've made Christmas cards using either linoleum block printing or screenprinting. Until 2007, I did all the production by hand which was extremely time consuming and labor intensive. In 2007, I purchased a small etching press from Dick Blick to finally streamline the process! (much to the dismay of my right arm, which looked forward to the pain and muscle-building process every holiday season).
This year, I'm using the press to print my first set of cards for non-Christmas purposes and I wanted to blog about the process for everyone who asks me how I do it. The cards are a set of five animals, to be auctioned as a fundraiser for the Madagascar Fauna Group in conjunction with Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's 2009 Prosimian Husbandry Workshop. The prints are one-color (black), so there won't be any discussion about registering multiple colors.
I start with a photograph manipulated in Photoshop for size/color. I print it out at the proper size (the card image this time will be 1/4 the size of a 8.5x11 in slice of paper - so 4.25x5.5 and there will be five, two landscape, three portrait). Then I gather the necessities: music (most important - carving and printing MUST be done to good music!), linoleum block (I use Dick Blick's golden lino sheets, they're easier to cut than battleship gray linoleum and they don't seem to harden over time), lino cutters (speedball makes a set of 5 cutters with handles) and carbon paper to offset the image to the block:
The next step is to offset the image onto the paper and start carving. I usually start with the most interesting and intricate area, so if I screw up the carving, I can start over without too much time lost. For animals, this translates into: start with the face.
Here is the progression described above:
In my next blog I'll show the five finished blocks and the printing process. Now I have to go buy paper. My favorite paper for printing cards is called Stonehenge and it comes in several neutral colors. It's heavy 100% cotton acid-free paper and I can tear it to any size. I don't use the already cut and deckled-edge card stock, mainly because I want the finished piece to be a frame-able piece of fine art disguised as a greeting card.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Thus endeth the hardest weekend of my IM buildup. 100 miles on the bike Saturday followed by a 20 minute run, and a 2:50 run today (Sunday). There's not enough advil in the world to make the pain go away, so I've decided not to go swimming.
Thus begins my easy week. Every 4th week is an easy week. But, I've decided to make it a run/bike easy week only. As the gatorade bottle says, NO EXCUSES. I must get my swimming in order and soon. 9 weeks to go and I've not been able to hold a regular swim schedule. At my age, I can't rest on my swimming laurels, and although I can probably make it through the 2.4 mile swim with little training, I want more than just to "make it through." I'm an All-American swimmer and I should be able to hang just a little behind the leaders for the swim. In 2002, I managed an hour in the swim, even in bad weather and after having to stop and go back for my chip (the averted disaster, it was miraculous found still floating in the water). I should be able to swim 2.4 miles in under one hour. But that will take me whipping myself into shape.
Starting tomorrow morning, I'm instituting Super Session 2009. Everyone who swam for the Meriden Silver Fins in the early 1980s will know what I'm talking about. It was a week of pain during the winter holiday - over 10,000 yards of swimming per day. My goal? Maybe not 10,000, but to get through at least 3 swims this week of 3500+ yards. My legs need a rest, my arms do not. No more excuses.
Let week 9 begin.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Here's the chain of events that led to the diagnosis. After showing an abnormal EKG, I was advised to get a heart ultrasound to find out why there was an abnormality (my doctor called it a polarization). Was I worried? Not really. Mostly because years ago, an abnormal EKG meant that I was an endurance athlete. This time it didn't. This time, I have mitral valve regurgitation. A mild case, but still, a case. I've been told it's not "urgent" - whatever that means. Will it affect my ironman training? It hasn't yet. I can't believe it's something that came up all of a sudden, so I'll continue with my regular training. But, something makes me wonder if my training had anything to do with it. Did I overstress my heart?
I guess I have to wait to find out more when I see my doctor. Until then, long runs, long rides, hard swims.. business as usual.
Monday, April 13, 2009
So, again, I have to ask, is it age?