Saturday, May 31, 2008
Glutinous rice dumplings (粽子) are popular at this time of the year as the Dragon Boat Festival is fast approaching (this year on June 8) and there will be boat races all over the island. The dumplings contain sticky rice, peanuts, meat, nuts, and various other things. They are wrapped in these leaves, tied up with string and steamed.
Today, being Saturday, since I could not participate in the Honu 70.3 race in Kona, Hawai'i, I just went about my swimming as normal. Since I had a little more time, I more or less swam 6,000 meters straight (12 x 500m on approximately 10 minute sendoffs -only getting about 15 seconds' rest on some of the slower swims), so I completed the whole distance in exactly 2 hours and no more. This is still slow by any standards, but I have felt fairly tired this week, and a little worried at times about soreness in my shoulders. While that distance may sound like a lot, it is only 3.7 miles, so not even enough to be ready for a four-mile swim in the ocean. After I finished I applied the jets of water in the adjoining jacuzzi to my shoulders for a few minutes, before getting out my (smaller) hand paddles and doing 300 meters easy to get the feel of them again. Then time was up, and I had to go.
Lychees (荔枝) ready for eating on this tree in the neighborhood.
When I got beyond the 5,000 mark, instead of my shoulders feeling sore, I started to feel my stomach muscles ever so slightly. Occasionally near the end I would surge past someone who was sharing the lane towards the end, and so I probably used muscles that I didn't use much before, or else I was just a little tired. This makes me realize that if I want to enter a 6-mile swim race next year, then I'd better swim six miles in one go in practicing. It is not quite like running. If you have to run a long distance in a race and you don't train enough, you always have the option of walking if you can't make it running all the way. However, if you run out of gas swimming, there is only one way you can go, and that is down. I also need to develop a set of exercises I can do, preferably at home on the bed when I rest in the afternoon, in order to increase my flexibility and strengthen the places where I am still weak.
Chickens for sale at the local market. These are not fat ones reared in inhumane conditions and pumped full of chemicals, but ones that freely run around in the mountainous regions of southern Taiwan. At least you can see where the meat comes from.
Honu race coverage: Probably no live video feed, but there should be written news updates on Ironman.com, as well as an athlete tracking service, which will be updated each time the athlete passes a timing mat.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
View from the steps of the swimming pool after I finished today's swim. Apart from the last few days, it has hardly ever rained in the nearly 4 months we have been in Kaohsiung. The rain will bring a lot of good to this area.
There is a typhoon somewhere not far from Taiwan and there has been quite a lot of rain the last two or three days. The weather has been very changeable, it raining hard one minute and hardly at all the next. This morning I biked to the pool in my swimshorts and a T-shirt, some of it in the rain. There were a lot fewer people by the Golden Lion Lake doing their exercises (some did come to dance but under cover there), and there were also less people at the pool, so swimming was a little less congested. I was a little tired (mainly through lack of sleep due to being busy the last few days). My left shoulder was a wee bit sore, whether because of swimming or due to not doing the land exercises properly, I don't really know, and so I took it more easy and paid a lot of attention to where I applied force during the stroke. I felt I was swimming smoothly, and still managed to cover 5,000m in 1hr 42mins (that included a few relatively short breaks between sets), before racing my friends over 100m. I lost by about a body length and did not know the time. Probably low 1:30's, but not an all out effort. So today I covered 5,100 meters.
As I thought about all my friends getting ready for the Honu race in Kona, Hawai'i, and feeling a bit out of it as I could not be there or do something comparable to show that I might still be capable of a triathlon, I reflected on my former life in Kona and on my life in Southern Taiwan. I think what I like most about Southern Taiwan is the friendliness of the people, and that I feel valued for who I am and not just for the work I can expected to do. I think there is a lot of Aloha here, only that we don't talk about it in that way. When I am with people, I feel welcomed, and don't feel I am intruding into their lives. People are prepared to take an interest in me, instead of just ignoring me. Living here is a lot cheaper, and more comfortable, and there is a greater feeling of security. I don't feel I am at the mercy of a landlord or the chain smokers living downstairs (not here of course). If I wish to travel, Japan is a lot closer from here, and Hawai'i is quite reachable from here. So, while I miss my friends in Hawai'i and elsewhere, at least I feel happy being here.
Since I am busy these days, I am not necessarily able to write something in Chinese on the blog. The swimming requires that I have a more single focus - there just isn't the time to get good and be too involved in too many other things.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I am not trying to draw a connection between Alexander Popov's swimming technique and the way butterflies fly - just posting these two things on the same day - but if you stretch the imagination you can possibly see a link between the two.
As I swim by people in the swimming pool, I often notice they struggle with freestyle and while a few have good technique, most don't. Not having a good technique will often lead to soreness and discomfort, so that by trying to swim a lot, they may end up with a lot of shoulder pain. This is what I sometimes struggle with. Hopefully not serious, and possibly because I did not warm up well before swimming, or else I added a few awkward movements to my swimming practice. While on a short swim one may not feel very much, I find that when you get beyond the 3,000m mark in a workout, that is usually the time when you can feel some soreness. By then you may be feeling a little tired and the stroke loses its smoothness and firmness, thus opening the door to poor technique and possibly injury.
I often think that human beings were not primarily designed for swimming. A frog is a far better swimmer, and a fish moves rapidly with ease. For this reason, we need to learn good technique and by watching Popov and other swimmers we can observe how their hands move through the water and how the body rolls in one direction and then the other, in such a way so as to maximize efficiency and hopefully minimize injury. As I noted the other day, in the 400 plus days between now and next year's Hapuna swim race, I want to avoid missed practices due to injury as much as possible. To do that, I not only need to do appropriate stretching exercises, but also to focus on good technique as much as possible.
Today, I felt slightly more tired than yesterday, partly because I swam yesterday after having a day of rest and because of the busyness of work and a little lack of sleep. We cannot do everything, I guess. I also felt a little soreness in my left shoulder and so I took it more easy on my arms, using my feet a lot more when it came to accelerating to pass someone where I needed to be quick. That reminded me of the fish, which propels itself forward through the strength of the area around its tail. Our feet are in some ways like a propeller on a boat. I am unlikely to hurt my ankles kicking freestyle, although rash movements with my arms and shoulders may lead to damage somewhere in my upper body. While I was slightly slower than yesterday on the longer swims (finishing the 5,000m in about 1hr 42min), after a few minutes of resting (in the jacuzzi) and an easy "warm-up", I almost won the 100m "race" today, covering the distance in 1:29, while trying to keep my stroke flowing. My friend, who was not at his best today, beat me by less than half a length. He is someone with pretty good freestyle technique. If he trained more, he would get faster and faster. My friend and others here say that I am getting better. I am not really surprised, as I covered 5,250 meters today.
After the swim I stopped at the butterfly garden, determined to get some footage of them, and I was quite pleased with what I got. Watching the butterflies is a nice way to relax before getting ready for another busy day of work. For those of you doing the big Honu race in Kona this weekend, I wish you all the best and don't forget to be well-rested for it. Although it is only a "half" (Ironman), it is still a longish and tiring race.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Just when I thought I had my blog running smoothly just like my swim training at present, I need to rise to a new challenge as far as writing is concerned. Some friends have asked if I can include more Chinese on the blog for the sake of those not used to reading English, and so I have decided to include at least short summaries of what I write about in English for the benefit of these Chinese readers. Since I am also interested in Japanese, you may also see some Japanese emerging on the site. I am trying to be inclusive so that none of my readers feel left out.
With 404 days left to the Hapuna Roughwater Swim yesterday, I made the most of today and went down the pool as usual, having done rotator-cuff stretchers while eating a piece of home-made bread in the kitchen at home. Hence, when I started to swim at about 6:09 am, I got of to a fairly fast start and found that I was swimming slightly faster than last week. I was helped by Dara Torres' video yesterday with its emphasis on ankle flexibility, and I also watched some slow motion footage of Alexander Popov swimming freestyle, noting the extension of one hand as it entered the water, while he followed through properly with the other, while all the time getting good body roll. I think I knocked off one stroke per length just by watching and trying to copy that.
So, today may have been a typical workout: 5,000 meters in 1 hr 40 mins or so, chatting and joking with friends for a couple of minutes, then racing two of them over 100m. I only just missed winning today, and I went close to 1m 30s. Then, a 100m warm down to finish on 5,200 meters, and out of the water by 8:00 am, ready to start a new day.
As I went through the Golden Lion Lake on the way home, I saw my wife who was biking there to get some exercise, so we biked around there together, where she bought some lychees, and we also stopped at the market on the way home, where I bought potatoes, onions, bananas and a large pineapple. So it was a good start to the day, one that was fairly busy. While I wanted to sleep during the afternoon, I could only nap a little as I had a lot of work to get done.
Photos (Top to Bottom): (1) My wife haggling over lychees; (2) Stairway for running (what else would Bree do on that?); (3) Cherries at the market (yummy!); (3) A very amateur footage of the dancing that goes on every morning. No sound, sorry!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Having said that, I still have over 13 months to prepare (not such a lot when some people are already training for the 2012 Olympics and beyond). So a few missed training sessions here and there probably won't matter, and I can focus on making steady improvements and learning a lot of new things over that time period. I will also make a special effort to avoid unnecessary injury, as too much of that will set me back. And I will learn from people like Dara and others whose blogs I read to train sensibly, although with purpose and measured progress.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Seeing so many good-looking triathletes as I read other people's blogs, it has always been hard for me to post something of myself, as maybe looking at myself in a picture will discourage me. However, I know I am improving and so, having been warming up the last few weeks, I have decided to post of picture of myself as a kind of "Before" shot, as I get ready for my "real training". Just a passing note, I swam 4,300 meters this morning, which makes it 30,750 meters over the last six consecutive days (Monday is "pool closed" day). I don't feel any discomfort at all.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The water lilies greet the new day at the Golden Lion Lake
The upstairs of the green building is actually an air-conditioned reading room provided by the government as a free study area for students or anyone needing a quiet place to work. Since I pass it every time I go to and from the pool, it is another convenient place I can make use of to get my work done. It has fairly generous opening hours.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I pass these people every day on the way back from swimming. They are engaging in "normal" exercise - modern dancing. The Chinese are very good at doing things together, with everyone fitting in, and no one trying to be a "one person show". By contrast, I am just the opposite, swimming on my own, and trying to be better than others, if there is anything left in me to do that.
I ate about the same before leaving the house and started swimming at 6:13 am and reached 5,000 meters at 7:54 am, and then did a faster 100m in about 1m 35s on my own to finish at 5,100 meters. So what is there to write about? Two days in a row. I thought I would be more tired today. I was a little, but it did not affect my swimming. Today I also had more people in the lane to contend with, meaning that I had to frequently be looking out of the water. I even accidentally grabbed on to a lady's foot - she slowed down too quickly before the wall and, with me being a turtle, my reaction was too slow. Well, I did not get hit by her, so I guess she realized it was a mistake.
The rest of the day today was uneventful, just getting on with work, having a short nap after lunch. Maybe you would consider my life very boring, and I guess it is. Not a lot of excitement, even at the swimming pool. I miss the swims at the (Kailua) pier, when on most days I could actually swim with someone. Chris would ask me to meet her in the mornings to swim, so she could have company in case we met a jellyfish or something bigger. And she could swim about the same speed as me, so it was easy to stay together.
Tomorrow, I may not try to swim so much distance, but at least I will try to push it a bit more. I think part of the problem is that if I stop, say, to leave on a "send-off time", I will get more tangled up with the other swimmers. When I keep on swimming, at least they know what I am up to, and will usually accommodate me (which is probably sensible, as I am bigger than them).
Today, I looked through some of my early blogs (around 6 weeks ago) and, apart from realizing that I have written a lot over the weeks, I can see some progression, not just in my swimming, but in how I do the blogs (i.e., in terms of the usage of photos, and the written content). From writing and reading others' blogs, I have learned a lot, and will continue to learn. I also had a big achievement two days ago in that 4 different people (excluding myself) wrote comments on that day's blog. That does mean a lot to me. When I started I more or less just assumed I was writing just to myself. In my training and work I mostly spend my time alone and so do not communicate much with people. In addition, most of the friends I had in Hawai'i and trained with are not the writing kind and not necessarily very computer savvy. So I especially thank you youngsters for your patience in reading and occasionally responding. O, for the good old days!
For those who want to do something more slowly, just across from the modern dance is the tai ch'i group. Joining them would be a good way to alleviate stress. Again everything is done together. I guess it is like a Kona Masters' workout with one person orchestrating and the rest following, only a lot less rushed.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Yesterday I wrote about rest (implying needed recuperation), and mentioned a little about eating. I also felt quite lethargic, a state that one feels when one doesn't do any training and merely observes others being successful in the things they like to do, not that that is a bad thing. After all, we need to get the focus off of ourselves sometimes.
Well, this morning I woke up slightly earlier and that gave me several extra minutes that enabled me to do a few "rotator-cuff warm-up exercises" as well as eat half a large banana and drink a cup of water. Maybe not much, but more than I am used to. I biked to the pool and was in the water at 6:13 am, sharing the lane with three others at first. I felt comfortable, and swam neither fast nor slow, but comfortably. I managed to pass the slower swimmers fairly easily most times (without meeting another head on), and by the time I reached 1,000 meters, there were only three of us and soon after two. So I rarely had to "wait" behind someone to pass. For quite a while (at least for about 1,500m), it was just me and a lady who swims quite well and consistently, and so I was able to maintain the momentum. At 3,000m I still felt good, and so I continued. When I reached 4,000m, I realized that I only had 25 minutes left, and so I even tried picking up the pace a bit. I reached the 5,000m mark at 7:54 am. I then did another 50m (just in case), then rested about 30 seconds and swam a 100m on my own at a "light-moderate" pace in 1m 35s. Not so fast, but I wanted to stay in my comfort zone. Then I was "pau".
I have rarely felt so good over a swim like that.
The pinkish fruits in the wrappers are "dragon fruits" and I bought one today for about US$1.25. They were imported. The yellow fruits - I need to do more research and maybe eat one first.
Today I almost swam continuously and maintained more or less the same pace. I only occasionally stopped to rearrange my cap, flush out my goggles, or say Hi! to a fellow swimmer. I think in the past, including in Hawai'i, I was often hungry on long swims and even Masters' workouts. I did not eat such a lot yesterday, but I think over the past few days I have been eating more. For instance, for lunch today I ate, boiled potatoes, onions, tomatoes, chicken breast (which I fried), and two apple bananas, which I prepared myself. The cost of the ingredients was a little over US$3, and so I was hardly breaking the bank. My wife is buying meat at the traditional market from chickens that are skinnier than most, i.e., they are not pumped up like so many one sees in the supermarkets.
In the pool, the early morning lighting was not too good (or was it my eyes?) when it came to keeping an eye on the clock's second hand, and my googles were often quite misty, so I did not worry about what my splits were. I knew that I felt good and that was all that mattered. Of course, if I am getting better at swimming, then inside me there is a growing desire to go out and race some people, and so times are important there. However, I will probably have to go to Kona to do that, and so that is a long way off. For now I will try to find a happy balance between training, eating and recuperation, and hopefully out of that I will find a magic formula that will make me faster. Certainly, as the photos of the mangoes show, there is plenty of good stuff to eat round here, at relatively good prices.
Lastly, today was a rainy day in Kaohsiung. I was so pleased with this. It rained quite hard a lot of the day, but not when I biked to the pool, nor when I biked back. The house was a few degrees cooler today. When the sunny weather comes back, probably in the next couple of days, the air should be a lot fresher and I should be able to see the distant mountains from our house.
A mango tree that I pass each day on the way to the swimming pool.
Monday, May 19, 2008
When things happen, like someone accomplishes something we never thought possible, or we just feel a little tired and a little out of sorts, we may wonder what our goals and purpose are in life. People are not always up, and after the excitement of something passes, they may go down for a bit. Close friends are a great source of support, but in addition I think the circumstances or environment we are in plays an important role. Sunshine is important, and I think that there are studies that have suggested that sunny days make people feel happier and more optimistic (which in turn raises stock prices!).
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Being back in Kaohsiung today, I have still been thinking a lot about my trip back to Taipei, especially the couple of hours or so I spent walking and enjoying the hills. I referred to the "Garden of Tranquility & Recuperation" (靜修園) and here are a couple of photos of the various plants and flowers there.
On this occasion I took a photo of the Chinese calligraphy that is displayed on the little pavilion that is built next to the garden. It is a poem written by an elderly Chinese gentleman (a Mr. Tan (譚) as indicated on the left of the poem) to thank the younger person who created the garden (I remember visiting the garden almost 15 years ago, so it is not new).
The poem speaks of the tranquility of the garden, the jade-like verdure of the plant life, the variety of colors, the freshness of the air, the smiling flowers, the health and strength that the paths through this garden bring to those that frequent it, as well as the profound thanks that the poet has for the garden's creator. I also heard that the gentleman who built the garden and is now in his fifties had very recently had to be admitted to a hospital. I hope all is well with him.
As I walked further through the hills (about a good 20 minutes later), I noticed how the hills that I frequently visited (and sometimes ran in) in the latter half of last year often looked different. This was because of the many blossoms that no doubt only come at certain times of the year.
Lastly, near the end of my travels, I met up with "El", my buddy on many an occasion last year. He is a young, energetic and very friendly dog with two different colored eyes and he appears to still be growing. In the past he has followed me and stayed with me for hours on end as I walked or did my work in the hills. He has a good home at a small temple in the hills and likes to wander all over the place.
Coming back to the subject of swimming, as on Saturday I have a little more time to swim and had missed two days due to the traveling, I felt really good the first 2,000 meters of so and kept a pretty good pace over that distance, which I did 500m at a time. As I approached 3,000m I realized I was no longer so fresh, but I kept going anyway, despite feeling a little drained, and only at 5,500m did I go a get my hand paddles from next to the pool. I used the ones I am used to first for 500m (TYR Mentor 'M'), and then after just using hands for 100m, I tried a new pair of TYR Catalyst 'XL' paddles (a little big and to be used only with care), and it was good to get across the pool in two strokes less than with the normal paddles. After 200m with those paddles and the same with "hands free" swimming, the time came to close the pool and so I stopped at 6,500 meters.
What I learned today was that I might have benefited more if I had eaten something, say, half way through the swim. I did eat some breakfast about one hour before going to the pool, but then I trained in the pool 2hr 20m without consuming anything. So I kind of felt a little depleted the last hour and wondered whether I was doing myself harm or good.
After I got changed I biked 100 yards to the convenience store and bought a couple of energy/vitamin drinks (feels like frog's spawn), and ate more when I got home. However, I felt tired and slept about one hour. It reminded me of my longer workouts in Kona when I had to go to bed after I finished about 6 hours of training. I felt a lot better later in the afternoon, but will make an effort to eat more at least before I swim tomorrow morning (which will be an early swim).
Today I would have probably done OK if I had swum to the King's buoy and back had I been in Kona (1.2 miles). The last two or three days was a kind of forced taper, and I would have been flying at least given where I am at at present. The stroke, mechanics and breathing all felt really good those first 2k.
Presently, I am just experimenting a little, to learn what kind of things I need to do to get better. I don't really recommend these workouts to anyone. If you are aiming to achieve something, they might mess you up just when you need to be in good shape.
Friday, May 16, 2008
While in Taichung, I did get to visit a carbon bike manufacturer. They make nearly everything on a bike in carbon, except for the cassette and cables and a few obvious things like tires and tubes.
They even sell seats made of carbon. Perhaps OK for an indoor track race, and maybe not for Hawi and back. I don't know, but they are quite expensive. What's more, they have a 61cm carbon time-trial frame made to order, plus various styles of aerobars, brakes, cranksets, etc. Later this year, I hope I will be able to afford to buy enough parts so I can actually have a proper racing bike. If I get that to Kona, say, next year, I should be able to have some fun riding it.
After returning to Taipei fairly late last night, I got up fairly early and actually took breakfast with me on my walk in the hills. I visited the beautifully designed garden which is a long walk from anywhere and so very few people go there, but the flowers and trees are amazing. This is the one thing I miss about living in the old apartment in Taipei, which we will probably try to sell this year, as it is quite a lot of trouble to keep it. I will post more on this walk later.
It takes the best part of an hour to get to the middle of Taipei from our apartment which is on the outskirts of the metropolis. The older part of town, where I worked for many years, while very built up, is also quaint in places. For instance, in this relatively quiet alley just off a busy main street, the store owners have spread their bedding out over their bicycles to take advantage of the strong sunshine during the lunch hour.
While in Taipei, I had to sort out quite a few things related to our old house, like paying an overdue bill or two, visiting a police station to pick up a court document (fortunately just an action by a large group of neighbors that includes us because we own the property), sorting out my last year's taxes at the tax office, and going for a routine visit to the hospital, etc. Fortunately, I was able to get everything done in time to take a bus to the main train station where I caught the bullet train. Leaving Taipei at 17:00 hrs, it travelled 300 kph most of the way, and arrived at the last stop in Northern Kaohsiung, which is two miles from our home, at 18:36.
The reason I came back quickly is so that I can swim tomorrow morning, and get back to my "normal" workouts hopefully.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
View of Gu Shan from the Love River, Kaohsiung. I just love looking at the symmetrical relationship between the actual mountain itself and its reflection in the still water.
Today I made an effort to start swimming a little earlier as I will have to miss the next two mornings of swimming as I travel in Taiwan. So I got started at 6:10 am, and by 7:53 am I had completed 5,000 meters, all freestyle, and mostly relaxed swimming except when I occasionally "burned" by someone when passing. I did not try to do anything particularly hard. Once or twice when passing someone, the extra surge in energy and effort made me feel my right shoulder and triceps a little and so I mainly concentrated on swimming smoothly. While at times I was joined by slower swimmers at other times I had to maintain a pretty good pace just to fend off a reasonably good (and perhaps fresher) swimmer. So there was a certain amount of variety. I was not just on my own.
After a couple of minutes break, I raced three other guys over 100m. I did about 1m 3os, coming in second behind my friend who went about 1m 26s. I guess I did not feel very strong on the swim, my arms feeling a little tired. 50 meters more of easy swimming brought me up to 5,150 meters.
My former coach in Hawai'i, let us call him "Steve-O", was training at the pool there a few years ago for the Masters' world championship 100 & 200 fly and freestyle. I noticed he would do a lot of steady freestyle swimming, as a kind of conditioning as it were. Then, near the end of the workout, he would rest a little, and then a friend would time him on a few all-out sprints, or else friends (who were also very accomplished swimmers) would race him over these short distances. So I guess the slowish steady swimming is all helpful and, at least for people like me, there are no short cuts to getting faster.
Macca has a slogan on his website that reads "Chase Your Dreams". While it is easy for someone like me to think that such a statement only applies to world changers like him or Bree, I think it is well worth anyone spending time to think about. For me, it is not just about entering and finishing an Ironman race. Of course, doing well in a race of some kind is an important goal for me. However, being able to make a living for me and my family doing something I generally enjoy and also having the chance to combine interests (like learning an East Asian language and getting healthy exercise and seeing beautiful scenery all at the same time) are also worthy goals. It is not a matter of waiting until I retire to do things. In fact, I will never really retire, and I don't want to either. So I am now in a kind of state of semi-retirement, keeping busy doing things productive and that I like, and trying not to let my life be run by other things, be they jobs, volunteerism, training schedules, or debts.
With the necessary travel over the next three days, I will have less time to train, but perhaps a little more time to reflect, even though the nature of my work means that I can get on with it even when waiting at a bus stop or train station. Certainly, to "Chase Your Dreams" is important for all of us and I thank Macca for blazing the trail and giving me the inspiration.
"Have bike, Will travel." Don't wait for that US$6,000 bike. Just use whatever you have, and start biking and enjoying the outdoors.
Monday, May 12, 2008
As I mentioned yesterday, the Martyrs' Shrine in Kaohsiung (壽山上的忠烈祠) is a place with much historical significance. The Japanese-style architecture is a legacy of Taiwan's Japanese colonial past, when Taiwan was ruled by Japan for a period of fifty years (1895-1945). After that it was transformed into a shrine to remember the many patriots who fought and lost their lives in various wars, including resistance to the Japanese occupation.
Ever aware that there are many things that I need to do today (like most days), I tried to make the most of the relatively limited time I had to swim today. I started swimming at 6:21 am, and was up to 2,950 meters within one hour. I continued at that point, since there were fewer swimmers in my lane and I was able to keep up the momentum, until I reached 4,000m. Earlier on there were about 5 people at one time in the lane, and occasionally I had to stop at one end of the pool and just wait ten or more seconds while the ones in front of me got further away.
I generally felt relaxed the whole time, and mainly focused on an even consistent stroke, that remained the same even though I had been swimming almost non-stop for over an hour. In Kona, years ago, I would often swim fairly well getting out to the King's buoy, but often after I started to come home, due to weakness and being a little fatigued, my stroke would be poor, in that after my right arm entered the water, my hand would go down, and then up again so that I sometimes caught air bubbles before I pulled through. Sometimes when I pass another swimmer swimming freestyle, I see the same mistake that I used to make (and hopefully do not make now). No wonder they don't get much forward propulsion.
The last 15 minutes or so today were spent in the jacuzzi (about 5 minutes), and then a few easy "warm-up" swims, and then a 100m race against my friend. He was not that committed or focused today, and we finished together within 1m 31s. I got a pretty fast start today, but kind of lost it the second half and he caught me up. My total distance today was 4,425 meters. I still felt I could have continued, but the pool had to close as is always does at 8:00 am on these early morning swims.
Yesterday there was a huge 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan, China. I did not really notice anything while at home at 2:28 pm local time when it happened, but my wife who was attending a meeting on the 14th floor elsewhere in town felt a little dizzy, thinking she might be about to faint until she realized what it was.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I took this picture about 20 minutes from our house by bike in the middle of the city of Kaohsiung! To reach this point, I mostly followed cycle paths alongside the river. The small mountain to the left is Gu Shan (鼓山), which I partly climbed on my bike further on in the ride.
This morning I left the house only at 7:00 am, and as the pool was shut, rode my bicycle to a part of town I have not visited for many years, and the first time by bike (seen on the right). To get there, I only occasionally had to ride with the other traffic. Most of it was along bike paths next to the Love River in the main part of town, and then up a very quiet road as I climbed a small mountain. As you will see from the pictures, some of the scenery was quite beautiful. In the past I wondered if I would get a trainer and just bike on the lanai at home. However, unless I am really so concerned about what time I do in a race, maybe I will just go for rides like this.
I am used to seeing a lot of purple bourgainvillea (九重葛) here, but I don't see orange flowers quite so much. If you look in the distance, you will see large ships (click on the picture to enlarge). That is Kaohsiung harbor in the distance.
As I rode along the windy roads up the mountain, I reached the Martyrs' Shrine, again a place with a lot of historical significance. It was also interesting to meet a group of Japanese tourists who were visiting this quiet and restful place. I had the privilege of saying おはようございますand おげんき です か to a few of them. If I spoke more Japanese, it would not be hard to find opportunities to practice here.
Going up the hill, I was passed by a few mountain bikers, all of whom had nice bikes. Maybe I could eventually get a better MTB, and at least I could try to push it up the hill a bit harder. I also hope to look a little at the off-road trails and try and have a bit of fun without breaking my neck.