Friday, June 27, 2008

13 Hours, 40 Minutes

No, that's not my triathlon time...it's how long it will take us to fly from Newark to Běijīng.

Yes, we finally have our travel plans to China all set. On the afternoon of August 14th, we will take off on a direct flight to our home town for the next year. We'll touch down over there on the afternoon of August 15th. (The International Date Line is a such cool thing. It will be daylight the entire flight. We will never see the sun set on August 14th, but it will magically be a day later when we touch down in the Middle Kingdom.)

It's feeling more and more imminent. The one big last relief will be when we have our visas in hand...

~Steve

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Team Balla

With support like this, who wouldn't want to get to the finish line as fast as possible...

~Steve

Monday, June 23, 2008

One Year Older, Two Minutes Faster

Well, I survived another one! Too bad for my students, who won't get to see if that old folk wisdom is true...the folk wisdom that if your professor dies, everyone gets an A for the class.

Here are the key metrics...with some details that come to mind.

Finishing time: 1:48:01. This represents a nearly two-minute improvement over 1:49:56, my time from last year. Still way back in the pack, but inching my way up...

Swim time: 12:35. This is actually 12 seconds slower than last year. But I've gotta believe the floating buoys are not necessarily in the exact location from year to year. Either that, or all the kicking and bumping at the start cost me a few seconds. (All of those same-colored caps look cool bobbing in the water. It's the action under the water that's disconcerting.)

First transition time: 1:50. Thirty seconds faster than last year. (I chose not to wear bike gloves, plus I put my shoes on standing up.)

Bike time: 1:06:03. This represents the single biggest time savings, at 1:13 faster than last year. Of course, this is not all that surprising, given that biking is by far the most time-consuming part of the race.

Second transition time: :30. One second better than last year. This is where not wearing biking shoes pays off...just get off the bike, stow my helmet, and go.

Run time: 27:05. A twenty-two second improvement. A few of these seconds came in the final 100-200 meters. As I came out of the woods, off the trail, and turned the corner for the sprint home, there were some spectators egging me on to catch these two guys a few paces ahead of me. One was no problem...he was kinda coasting in. The other, though, felt me coming and accelerated. I pulled up next to him and suggested that we bring it home together as fast as we could. A few minutes later, after we had recovered our breath, he came over and thanked me for giving him the incentive to finish strong. Nothing like that male competitive nature...in two middle-aged guys!

Overall, it was very rewarding to have such a nice
race (and no dreaded flat tire!). So where do I go from here? It strikes me that any further reduction in time will have to come from one of three places.

Stop breast-stroking. I just don't like doing freestyle, and so have avoided it in these races. At some point, though, the desire for greater speed will kick in...

Get a better bike. I saw maybe four or five other hybrids total among the nearly 300 competitors. Plus my feet are not locked on to the pedals. Put these two together and you definitely have room to go faster without pedaling any harder whatsoever.

Go faster. What I mean by this is pushing my anaerobic threshold more to the limit. In such a short race, more pain really is more gain. As for now, though, my hamstrings are objecting to any such thought...

~Steve