Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday Swim

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, as well as an athlete tracking service, which will be updated each time the athlete passes a timing mat.

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