Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Clipless Pedals Save the World

Cycling with clipless pedals is a million times better than without clipless pedals. If you ride at all, I recommend getting them. It took me about thirty seconds to get used to having my feet clipped in and then it was like we had always been meant for each other, the pedals and I. You know the feeling you have when you clip into your ski bindings? It feels like that, only better, because now you're a machine.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Buying a House in Nashville

We finally had to get rid of our old realtor (pronounced "real-tor," not "real-la-tor," as my mother pointed out to me once upon a time. I've never been able to forget it). In some ways we thought we should just buy a house without a realtor. But a couple music guys (a songwriter, a session player, and another engineer) couldn't stop insisting on their realtor.

By "get rid of our old realtor," I mean get out of our contract with her, not, as it sounds, bump her off (is that a phrase? It sounds so weird right now. Perhaps because I'm so caffeined up, my heart's got the pedal to the metal -- my arteries are about to explode) or send her to sleep with the fishes. Again, I'm not very versed in mob-talk. We don't have HBO and I've only seen the Godfather twice, and it's been awhile since I played the Xbox game.

Hopefully you get the point. Nothing happened other than a phone call between the old realtor and Stoker, wherein Stoker said, "It's just not working for us." And she said, "You WORK too much! You shouldn't be buying a house!" At least she finally told us what she was REALLY thinking.

Stoker and I are the kind of people who stay. That's one of the reasons we got married. We both found something we liked and we ran with it. I figure this correlates nicely with how we are in working relationships, friendships, and when we find the right house. We've already put two offers on houses.

As my many fans will recall, the first offer didn't pan out because the house was missing a portion of its foundation. The second offer wasn't accepted. For that we partially blame our former realtor and I could explain why and you'd agree with me. But I haven't the time and you haven't the attention span for it.

We're first time homebuyers. Part of the reason we sought a realtor was because we needed someone to hold our hands through the process.

I'm still not entirely comfortable writing about people on my blog without their consent (unless you happen to be a friend or family, in which case, bad luck, you happen to be a friend or family member). So, I'm not going to mention our old realtor's name, but I'm also not comfortable using our NEW realtor's name, even though at the moment I only have good things to say about him (those music guys were right). We've put an offer on another house already.

The new realtor is professional yet polite. When we went to look at this house we're trying to buy right now, it could have been a very awkward thing because the current owners were there. But the new realtor (a name would make this so much easier, but . . . still not comfortable) totally put both Stoker and me, AND the current owners at ease. I'm pretty sure they were at ease, though I didn't ask them. After we looked around he thanked them and asked some pretty damn pertinent questions, and he phrased them in a diplomatic way. I wouldn't have dared asked the current owners anything. I always feel awkward about that.

By the time we left it was dark, but it was still 100 degrees outside. The three of us stood on the road by our cars and talked. It was so damn hot. This new realtor had the courtesy to say, "Let's talk in my car and I'll turn on the air conditioner." !!! I couldn't believe it. Another cool thing was that he didn't put on airs about his success. He showed up at the house in a Mercedes.

Stoker and I aren't high rollers, you know. We have good credit, but we have student loans, so we're not buying a super sweet house. I know that there are salesmen out there who are very calculated about that stuff -- they don't want to appear too successful or not successful enough. Perhaps this realtor is that slimy, but so far he hasn't felt sleazy, plus he's been more willing to work for us than the realtor we stopped working with.

The house inspection is on Thursday. Both of us are nervous about it. You know, it's such a difficult process, buying a house. It helps immensely to have a realtor you like. Then you feel good about that 3% they're going to walk away with. After the crap experience with that other realtor, it's like, "3%? You should have 4%!" Ha ha. Yeah right. But you know what I mean.

Overcoming Lake Monsters for the Triathlon

On Friday evening I went swimming in a nearby lake. There are several lakes in the Nashville area, believe it or not. Radnor, Percy Priest, Old Hickory. I figure since I'm about to do a triathlon that has an open water swim, I ought to practice swimming in a real lake. I've played in the water at Lake Powell, Pine View, and Bear Lake in Utah, but have never really gone swimming. And by swimming, I mean, really actually gone a fair distance with the intent to swim. Horsing around in the water is altogether different, and I did that a lot this weekend too, with Stoker, in the pool.

In all honesty I'm afraid of lakes. Lake monsters, to be precise. A lake monster is anything swimming below me or near me that I can't see. I think the fear stems from my first experience swimming in the ocean, which happened when I was in seventh grade during a family trip to California. We stayed in Oceanside because it was between L.A. and San Diego. This stretch of ocean was rich in kelp and seaweed and when I was in the water, it would sneak up on me and touch me on the leg or the back. It scared the hell out of me. At that time I grew to hate kelp and seaweed, and also the unfriendly Oceanside beach. It was unfriendly because of all the kelp and seaweed strewn across the beach, like monsters basking in the sun.

My distrust of lakes is only strengthened by the murkiness of the water. I'm sure if I were in Hawaii where the water is very clear, I'd have no problem. It's the unknown I can't stand. I don't have many phobias, none to be exact, oh, except the one: bathopobia. Yes, this is a bona fide phobia, an abnormal fear of depths. This I cite when asked by certain individuals why I won't go on a cruise with them. After reading Life of Pi, my resolve against cruising only grew.

Friday evening I swam in a small cove with a few other people. The water was a perfect temperature and though I was a bit freaked out by the murky water and the unknown sea monsters lurking beneath me, I overcame. With my face underwater, all I could see was the suspended sediment and my eyes reflecting back at me in the plastic goggles (a little freaky in its own way).

Luckily, I had replaced my crap goggles with Speedo Vanquishers and they didn't leak or crush my eye sockets with their intense suction (like the Leders I bought at Wal-Mart). Had any frightening creatures lurched at me from the water, I might have seen them coming. Honestly, I amazed myself with my mental ability to quell my own fears. There was only one moment when another swimmer was talking about a skeletal hand reaching out for him, where I nearly left the water and walked the circumference of the lake to reach my stuff, just to avoid the skeletal hand.

I plan to go a few more times before the triathlon, to get the feel of not having a wall to grab onto when I get tired.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Black Marks and Rock at the Pearly Gates

Do you ever feel like you're being watched? Not in the "I'm starring in my own movie and this is my soundtrack" way, which I'm convinced everyone secretly thinks until they have the reality check of "WTF, this is NO movie!" No, my friend, you only live once.

Who can blame us, really? Raised on Little Mermaid, Breakfast Club, and Some Kind of Wonderful and all those other Disney and John Hughes movies, we're bound to feel like our lives are dramatic and being caught on tape, somewhere, somehow, even if it is just a cosmic reel of film in the sky being recorded for judgment day.

St. Peter: So, Nicole, this is what we caught on tape from your college years. You were pretty rebellious. For no apparent reason. Of course, we all understand, but that's no excuse.
Film rolls. Nicole kissing a random stranger on the Old Main "A" on (when else?) A-day (Aggies, duh). Staying out until 4 a.m. to be with boys. Sleeping through political science class all the time.
Nicole: I was 18!
St. Peter: No one blames you, we all understand. We all rebelled and pushed the boundaries, I mean, I understand very much. But NONE of us got a D in political science because of our misadventures. As a result, three black marks by your name, here on the White Board of Judgment. [Gestures to a large white board with thousands of names on it. Nicole's name is highlighted with a long string of black marks beside it.]
Nicole, gasping: What? I'm being judged based on my college performance? I had no idea! The Christians told us it would be based on the Ten Commandments.
St. Peter, shaking his head: They've been wrong about a lot of things. For example, there is no Hell.
Nicole: Yeah, I kind of knew that, basically. I mean, I knew that the real Hell was being on earth, with the Democrats and the environmentalists. What really gets me is that you're using the name-and-black-mark system to judge people. I thought that was a lie, a tool used by clergy and mothers to subjugate children and the uneducated public.
St. Peter: No, it's real. Some of your black marks have been erased based on good behavior. For every insect whose life you have spared, one black mark is erased.
Nicole: There's that, I guess. So, I really like the soundtrack. Is that "Lovefool" playing?
St. Peter: Yes, sung by the Rolling Stones. This was a very big song your first year in college, when you were chasing that boy (an ill-advised love affair, if you ask me). But St. Anthony prefers the Stones to the Cardigans, so he commissioned them specifically for your life soundtrack.
Nicole: Wow . . . that's . . . some great service . . . this is very random. I didn't think saints listened to rock.
St. Peter: This is Heaven. Of course we listen to rock.

Anyway, the real reason I ask about feeling like you're being watched is because a couple of days ago, I was walking through the parking lot at my work. As I approached the building, a guy I had never seen before was walking away from the building. Really, I'd never seen him before. He looked at me like he knew me, you know how a face lights up when they recognize someone. So I smiled and gave a little wave. He said to me, "Nicole, right?" A bit taken aback, I said, "Who are you?" And he said his name, which I've already forgotten, and then he added, "I'm in security."

There are cameras everywhere, I don't even pay attention to them. But I sometimes wonder if there are people somewhere watching the video feed. It's just a little disconcerting, that's all. I guess this is how celebrities feel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Busy Trip, No Triathlon Training, etc.

Yesterday I ran a seven minute mile in 100 degree heat. I don't know what I was thinking. It was actually about 7:30, the mile. And I'm sure I could have been faster in better conditions. When I decided I wanted to do a sub-eight minute mile, I wasn't thinking about the temperature outside. Luckily, I took my water bottle and it was full of ice.

After the all out mile, I ran two more. But the heat nearly had me sick. So I had to walk often and ended up only doing the three miles in 28 minutes. It was a terrible time. I'm trying to find out how well I might do in the triathlon I signed up for. Anyway, I didn't get to exercise much on the Utah trip, though I ran four miles one day (it was very difficult, what with the elevation difference).

All in all, it was a busy trip (photos). I actually feel worse physically than I did before I went. I feel better mentally, however.

I told my mom on the trip that I no longer plan on sleeping well when I go home. It used to be different, back before the introduction of grandkids. Now the grandkids wake up and scream and throw things on the linoleum above the room I sleep in while I'm visiting. They're genuine busybodies. I used to think I had a lot of energy to kill, but then I met Dani's twins, Ellie and Emma and they have outdone me.

But Jack, the twins' brother, has gotten older and his vocabulary has also grown and now we have great conversations. On this trip Jack told his dad that we're buds. It's weird how a kid makes you want to be a hero. Or, in my case, a heroine. Except I've never really been fond of that distinction, so let's go back to hero.

Jack makes me want to be a hero. I imagine it's how a parent feels, and in that case, it must be ten times harder to be a "mean" parent (in the parlance of the child). But sometimes you have to have the big picture in mind, right? For me it's not too hard to be mean occasionally because I know that I'll leave and the kid will most likely forget me in favor of his or her toys.

One of the things that I talked about with Jack was his brand new cousin Isabelle. For some reason Jack didn't want his other cousin Clayton (Anji's boy) to look at or be near her. She was laying in her car seat carrier thing (I'm still not sure about all the baby paraphernalia) and Clayton came over to look at her and Jack put his arm up to block him. It was a very subtle move. I didn't know kids could be so subtle.

I said to Jack, "Why'd you do that? Don't you want Clayton to see her?"
And Jack shook his head and said, "No."
"Why not?" I asked him.
"Because she's too precious. You have to be careful with her."

I'm not kidding. He really said that. I think Jack is four. And then he touched her cheek really softly and I told him that he's very good. This all went on beneath the attention of the adults, except for me because I still have all those great childlike qualities about me. Essentially, I'm on their level.

I'm not sure what Jack thought Clayton might do to Isabelle the baby, accidentally hit her or something, maybe (not that Clayton is violent or anything. So far I've seen no evidence that any of them are vicious children). Kids live in their own world, you know, and they see things adults don't see. Like when an adult leaves the kids' room and all the toys come to life and have a tea party with the child. Of course, as the child grows older these tea parties become less frequent, until, eventually, the toys no longer come to life because the kid's an adult. You know what I'm talking about.

On Sunday, Abby, my sister Kelly's first daughter (Isabelle is the second), got a birthday cake. Basically the cake was a naked Barbie doll. Jk jk. The doll was only naked underneath all the frosting because, get this, the cake WAS the doll's clothes. You've never seen a kid happier about a cake, a doll, or a box ("I, I, I think it's a box!"). She absolutely loved the attention and I can only assume that this is because of my sister's overindulgent parenting.

I had my cell phone out to take pictures so I could send them to Stoker, and Abby noticed and said, "Take a picture," in a very adorable, childlike voice. She has a bit of lisp—also adorable. Take note that the command to "take a picture" is only acceptable when coming from a child. Please don't use this one on me next time we hang out, otherwise I'll be forced to deck you.

Look at that, I DID Complain about Lost Luggage the Whole Time

Last week I signed up for a triathlon. I'm nervous about it. I took my stuff with me on the trip to Utah, so I could swim laps at least one morning. My plan was to get up early on Friday and swim at the local pool. But United or Frontier lost my luggage. They didn't really lose it, but it wasn't in Utah when I arrived. I got into Salt Lake City at 11:00 pm, made the rounds yelling at people until midnight, and then gave up and went to my mom's. She had been waiting in the car for me for that entire hour. Normally I wouldn't have been so upset about my luggage being misplaced, but I had big plans for the next morning.

And I didn't really yell at anyone. I just went to the United lost luggage counter and expressed my frustration. The girl seemed to want to tell me it was Frontier's fault for not transferring the luggage. So I went to the Frontier counter. But the only person there was the Jetblue guy. He told me he couldn't do anything about it, and said, "All I can tell you to do is to go over to that white telephone over there on the wall and ask to speak to someone at Frontier about lost luggage." Translation: "Go call someone who cares." So I did that. After being passed around a few more times, the people I called said they couldn't do anything about it, really, and the girl wanted to give me another number to call.

There's an idea, just keep giving angry customers different numbers to call.

All in all, it was frustrating, and I don't want to spend this entire entry complaining about the lost luggage. Clearly it's a big industry, the lost luggage industry, because they have a system in place to deal with it (as my mother pointed out on the drive to her house). The next day a guy called and said he would be dropping my luggage off soon. He didn't even need directions to the house because he had a GPS. I told my mom it's just AMAZING that they can't think of a more cost effective way to deal with it, like not losing luggage. She countered that she's just AMAZED they don’t lose MORE luggage than they do. And she claims that it's gotten worse over the years.

I think she's probably right, as the possibility for more airlines has grown, flight and international travel is less a pastime for the refined: we now share elbow room with chickens and the homeless looking for a place to sleep. One company is even called Airbus, which simply reinforces my feeling that an airplane is really nothing more than a glorified bus.

Not so insightful from where I sit right now, but on the plane itself you really wonder how you could have paid $400 for such a narrow space between two large men who smell like they ran several laps out on the tarmac and then ate a few chili dogs before hopping on the flight. Next time, you think to yourself, I'll just take a Greyhound. That way, instead of being trapped with a chicken in front of your face and smelly neighbors, when the bus pulls over for a pit stop, you can change your mind about the ride and reconsider your transportation options. Maybe a train with a private car?

I'm just waiting for the glorified flying train. When will airplanes look like flying caterpillars? Someday . . . preceded, of course, by the airplane with the stretchy middle.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Etiquette at Work: the Workplace According to Me

As I near the end of my second year in the professinal world, I feel like I've been working in an office for a thousand years. I'm beginning to consider myself an old hat at this. In honor of my upcoming anniversary, I've collected some of my wit and wisdom, as well as the secrets of my success to share with the adoring public. Here you go:

1. If you happen to see a co-worker leaving or entering a bathroom with reading material, resist commenting. Sometimes you can let the context guide you. If, for example, your co-worker tries to hide their reading material in their shirt or under their arm, they're probably not ready to admit they were multi-tasking. In fact, it's best if you pretend this never happened. The question is: who doesn't read in the bathroom? The answer to this questions is: how much would it cost to attach magazine holders to the stall doors?

2. Tank tops at work? If you have to ask this question, you shouldn't be in a professional environment. Quit your job and sign on at Hooters or Christie's Cabaret or at one of Nashville's many "premier gentleman's clubs" where partial and full-blown nudity are encouraged. No one really gets to dress the way they'd prefer to at work. If we could do it, most of us would be here in our pajamas. Ideally, a professional environment should be a place where people can communicate and think clearly. It's difficult to hold a conversation when a woman's breasts are in danger of spilling out onto the conference room table. Everyone feels uncomfortable, not just men. So, do everyone a favor and save the tank top for the pool, beach, or Saturday yard work.

3. Caught your co-worker "scratching" their nose? This will happen. A similar phenomenon occurs when someone "scratches" their nose in the car while driving alone. The sensation of being alone and invisible is simply too real for some people. When this happens your best bet is to pretend it never happened. Just launch into your question or conversation as though you saw nothing. If your co-worker apologizes or brings up what happened, insist that you didn't see anything. Most likely, however, the nose "scratcher" will be wondering whether or not you saw anything. They'll attempt to pretend nothing happened and for the sake of everyone, just go along with it. And then, later, you can add that person to your list of people to never touch. And also, never touch their stapler or anything they've ever touched. And wash your hands a lot.

4. Occasionally, in a meeting or in casual conversation between two people in the workplace, someone will say something that could have multiple interpretations. Let's face it, just about anything could be misconstrued to have a sexual meaning. What really matters is how it's said. In any case, when a co-worker says something that you find to have a hilarious double meaning, please, remember we're at work. This is especially true when in a meeting. Not everyone is on your enlightened level of maturity, and besides, you don't know who else is listening. If you're 100 percent certain no one is listening, and you know you're co-worker will appreciate your singular take on the moment, by all means, cut loose. Just remember, the walls have ears.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

And Then Suddenly, Without Having Noticed, You Suck at Climbing

I went to the climbing gym last night. I sucked. I sucked even more than I sucked last year when I bought the pass. I only climbed once after I bought the pass. Possibly because I sucked so bad. It's easy to get down on yourself in the climbing world. Especially when you go to the climbing gym and you don't know anyone, and everyone else is climbing harder routes than you and doing it gracefully and you try a route a baby could do, and you clunk along the wall, like a square tire. That's a horrible simile, but what can I say? I suck at similes too. I have a terrible headache from those three baby routes I did last night. Can't think straight. Tight back muscles stymie the blood flow to my brain.

The climbing gym in Nashville isn't as sweet as the gym in Salt Lake. Last time I was there, The Front (the SLC gym) was one long continuous wall (like the Wasatch Front) and it was mainly about bouldering. Climb Nashville, the gym in (yeah) Nashville, is mainly sport climbs with a small bouldering area. Last night I focused on bouldering because that's the best for someone climbing alone.

But see, Climb Nashville seems to be built around the idea that if you're bouldering, you're hardcore and so you must require hardcore routes. Even the routes that are rated easy need to be technical and pinchy, with lots of overhang. Apparently, the gym just had a competition and hasn't been changed back to normal mode yet. That's why there is only one super easy route, which happens to be immensely hard for the mushy muscled like myself.

This brings me to the difference between muscle for muscle's sake (like a body builder) and applied muscle, like an athlete, a climber. I've been running, biking, and swimming a lot lately. And I've been lifting weights and doing core exercises. But none of this really prepares a person to jump on the wall and shimmy up it, Superman style. Whoa, there, Annie Oakley. Did I just say Superman style? I meant Spiderman style. Yeah, it's the headache talking again.

A good climber is methodical and measured. It's beautiful to watch, like ballet. A really new climber doesn't have the body control of a seasoned climber. They typically seem to see it as a show of brute strength -- which doesn't usually impress anyone. But that's not why we're there, right?

Climb Nashville was terrible for me last night. I have some muscle, but I no longer have the body control I once had. And the gym isn't really set up for someone who wants to work on developing their strength. Right now it's set up for conditioned climbers. And at 6 p.m. on a weeknight, it's too crowded to not be noticed. If you want to do a route, someone's going to be waiting for you to move, they're going watch you fall off the wall, and when you're waiting for your muscles to recover they'll pull the pad away from your spot, and then you'll have to pull it back when you want to try again, and they'll notice you.

Last night I felt like my body was made of sand bags. Sand bags for arms, sand bags for legs and ankles. I figure I'll go climb in secret at lunch, when hardly anyone is there. This weekend I'll be in Utah and I wanted to go climbing with Mike and Christy. But now I'm not so sure. After about three routes I'm finished, unless, of course, The Front still has the beautiful easy wall, like I remember.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Running in 100 Degree Heat and Other Stories

I went running in the hottest heat ever. I mean, hottest for me. It was 104 degrees yesterday. It might have been 103. And some parts of the run might have been even hotter because the blacktop's always hotter. I avoid really black blacktop roads as often as possible.

But the people of Tennessee have a thing for resurfacing roads. And the roads around my apartment are the blackest and the hottest because landscaping is the most important thing to the management. Not quality walls and paint on the inside of the apartments (our walls are like fax paper -- bump the wall and it leaves a black mark), rather things you can see like the gorgeous pool and the willows and pines.

On the run I thought to myself that if it was going to be this hot and this long without rain, I might as well move back to Arizona, where the plants and animals have adapted for survival in such extremes. Here in Tennessee the trees are dropping their leaves, the grass is brown, and I don't even want to wonder if the animals are surviving. But I do. In fact, because of my concern I've put a big bowl of water on the deck in case the birds get thirsty. Lame, I know, but the water in the nearby pond looks poisonous to me. I bet it's full of anti-freeze and vile green algae.

I'm not really sure if the birds are using my makeshift birdbath, but I hope they are. I worry about them. On my run it was the quietest it's ever been. Once in a while I'd hear a cricket, and at one point I heard a rustling in the woods. I stopped and looked for what was causing the noise. It was a gray squirrel (speaking of, check out this funny blog entry about an urban squirrel at war with humans) climbing around in the dead leaves. I wonder if he was looking for some water, because . . . I know a deck nearby . . .

In case anyone (anyone?) has been tracking my running progress for this month's goal, I haven't done too well. For about two weeks it's been extremely hot and uncomfortable. The heat is so draining it's sapped my desire to run. Yesterday I drew the line. To hell with caution! And I put on my running clothes and headed to the clubhouse to run on the treadmill.

But my apartment complex sucks! They closed the pool AND the workout room, because, you know, the indoor portion of the pool is closed too and blah blah blah. As soon as I move out, I'll be sure to post the NAME of the apartment complex so people who are moving to Tennessee and need an apartment, will know just how inhospitable the employees are at this particular joint.

So anyway, I was in my running clothes already and that's why I ran outside. There were only a few diehard runners like myself out there. Rain, sleet, snow, 104 degrees . . . that's us. We'll run in any temperatures, at any time of day!

It's not too bad, you know. I prefer 100 degrees and 30% humidity to 85 degrees and 50% humidity. I ran with my ice water and poured a good portion of it on me instead of in me. Good advice for running in extreme heat is to have two water bottles. One for drinking and one for splashing on your face and back.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Beginning Triathlete (Me) and Swimming

As you all know, I have joined a swim class in my journey to do at least three triathlons before the season is over. I may not make that goal, but I'm willing to do some duathlons instead of triathlons. Last swim class, I wondered (for the first time) as I swam, "Why the hell am I doing this?"

Up until this past class, the lanes have always been 25 meters long. But this pool can transform itself through a device—I'm not sure what it's called, but it's similar to a dock—that can be moved up and down the width of the pool. So in this last class, the lanes were 50 meters long. Once down and back was 100 meters. Because I regulate my breathing so poorly and because I'm still susceptible to panicking, I have needed the brief respite at the end of a 25 meter length.

During the 50 meter swims, I often had to keep my head out of the water for a few seconds, while swimming along in a backstroke position with only one arm extended. This way I didn't stop in the middle of the lane and cause a traffic jam or look incredibly stupid and wimpy. The group of swimmers most likely know I'm a wimp anyway. I freely admit my lack of swimming chops and am willing to be the last to launch from the wall. It's just embarrassing when the first person to go laps me. But it only adds fuel to my fire.

See, though it scared the hell out of me to look down that 50 meter lane, I knew it would push me. You'll never know you can do it if you don't have someone—a coach, a parent, someone who wants you killed—pushing you. Sometimes I think Dee*, the coach, wants me killed. She tells me that I need to breathe less. "Try one, two, three, breathe; one, two, three, breathe." She also tells me that I don't need to breathe until I feel my leg muscles burning.

This is good advice. But I have a hard time not making love to the air. As I swim along, I feel I must breathe with every right arm stroke. When I learned to swim, back in '84, they told us to ONLY breathe when our right arm came out of the water. And they taught us to do it with EVERY stroke. So naturally that's what I want to do. And when I took the swimming class in college, there wasn't a whole lot of coaching going on.

So, these are some of my tips for the beginning triathlete swimmer:

▪ Get a good swim cap.
▪ The less you breathe, the more calm you'll be and the better you'll swim.
▪ Breathing on the left side is as good as breathing on the right side.
▪ You should always have a hand in front of you—don't drop your left arm until your right arm is in the water.
▪ Your body should never be flat—that means your hips should be rotating as you move forward.
▪ As you kick, your legs should move from the hip, not the knee.
▪ The launch is as important as anything else. You can get a good 10 - 15 feet without actually swimming much. Learn to launch well.
▪ Swimming well is as much an exercise in controlling your breathing as it is swimming.
▪ Swimming is also learning how to not panic and trust yourself.

It's really hard to remember all that when I'm swimming. But I'm working on it.

I don't know how other people make it through a triathlon without someone to help them swim better. I wouldn't be able to. At the end of our most recent session, by pushing myself, I was able to go 50 meters without stopping. It nearly killed me, but I did it. In a few months, I plan to be able to effortlessly go 100 meters. Maybe more.

*Dee did the Panama City, FL Ironman. The other coach will be doing an Ironman in a few weeks.

The Beginning Triathlete Swimmer (Me) and the Swim Cap

I've been taking a swimming class as part of my triathlon training. The class is full triathletes. I think I'm the only one in it who hasn't actually done a triathlon. Some of the swimmers are training for Ironman races, and several of them have probably already done some Ironman races.

At our last swim class, I realized that my swimming cap sucks. Yeah, that's right, sucks. News flash: a swim cap not only keeps your hair out of your face, it also provides a slippery surface, so you glide effortlessly through the water. My swim cap has been creating drag. It's made from lycra, I guess. I don't know what I was thinking when I bought that swim cap back in '84. No really, I bought it in '99 or something.

In my college days I took some swimming classes. The Speedo lycra cap was easier to put on than the silicone or latex caps, especially when I had long hair. But now I have short hair, and either I'm less fit now than I was then and swimming is harder, or . . . . hmmm. That must be the problem.

No really, I'm sure the cap has contributed to my sluggish pace. Just a little bit. I'll let you know if I feel faster after my next class when I wear a silicone cap.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Has Anyone Seen My Aereogramme Album?

I lost it. How? I don't know. I probably listened to it a billion times and put it in a case with another cd. Then again, I have a sneaking suspicion that Stoker took it to the studio, listened to it in the control room while he did a set up, and then left it there*. Or perhaps someone took it. One of the session players, maybe.

But if they took it, that's OK. It's one of the best albums to have come out in months (probably years) and the more exposure I can get for Craig B (we're old buddies) the better.

OK, so that's not entirely true, that bit about us being old buddies. It's less true than that. It's hardly true. Once at a show in Salt Lake, I hung out with them for five minutes during the "intermission" and I told a horrible story (my forte). After I finished it Craig told me it wasn't a very good anecdote.

He actually said anecdote, a very unpopular word. His use of the word anecdote impressed me, though I'm not sure why -- he clearly has an excellent grasp of the language, as evidenced by the fact that he WRITES SONGS**. And besides, he's from the United Kingdom, and as we all know, people from the other side of the pond have always been able to wield the language more elegantly.

Or maybe it's just the accent.

I'm able to say I've quite nearly been with Aereogramme from the very beginning (yes, thanks to you, Bryan. No really, thanks). So when they finally become immensely popular I'll be able to claim that "I knew them when they had only put out one album and I've been telling you people for years that they rule." And I'll secretly fume that they're no longer "my band." But they deserve to be great and widely listened to and adored, and so I'm willing to make that sacrifice.

So I'm willing to have my Aereogramme albums stolen by new worshippers, but only if it leads to more album sales and more tour dates. Otherwise, if you've found yourself in "accidental" possession of my Aereogramme My Heart Has a Wish that You Would Not Go album, please give it back. If you haven't heard this album, I highly recommend it. Pay special attention to the songs "Living Backwards," "Conscious Life," "Trenches," and "You're Always Welcome." I'm in love with every song on it, but obviously I had to narrow it down for the uninitiated. You understand of course.

*Is it so wrong to blame Stoker for everything?

**Not that writing songs requires an adept wordsmith or anything, as we've seen with songs like "Love Me Do" and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy."