Welcome to my blog which focuses on my life in Taiwan.
(Photo: Cheng Ching Lake (澄清湖), Kaohsiung)
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Saturday Swim: 6,500 meters
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.
I was born and grew up in the south-east of England, and as a child was a keen golfer. During my first year at university as an economics student, I became very drawn to Asian students and their respective countries. This led to further studies in the economics of developing countries and later the study of the Chinese language in Taiwan. In 1985 I married Hsiu-chin, and while we made Taiwan our home, we also lived for several years in Hawaii. It was there that I took up triathlon, completed the Hawaii Ironman in 2004 and took part in many smaller races. While I have gained much experience as a translator of Chinese, over the years I have developed a passion for other East Asian languages and cultures, including, but not limited to, Thai and Japanese, as well as other Chinese dialects. We currently reside in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where I continue with language learning and triathlon training.