Welcome to my blog which focuses on my life in Taiwan.
(Photo: Cheng Ching Lake (澄清湖), Kaohsiung)
Monday, July 28, 2008
Another Week Goes By
Surf's up! Nothing like a typhoon to generate some waves!
A typhoon has just passed through Taiwan, strong enough in parts of the island at least to close down businesses, schools and transportation services. In Kaohsiung where we live, although there was quite a lot of rain, the wind did not appear particularly strong, and I kept the glass doors leading to the small lanai adjoining my office on the 5th floor open all day. While a lot of offices apparently closed, I was able to get quite a lot of work done at home, since it was my off day from swimming, and there is not a lot else to do on days like this.
Apart from thinking about retirement recently and what I have got to do to be able to consider doing that one day, I have also been inspired by a number of people who have been preparing to swim the English Channel this year. Some have already made their attempt, not all of them successful, and others have still to face that extra special day in their lives. One guy who has already attempted it in the last few days (unless his swim date was postponed) is nearly 71 years old. You have to be that old if you want to be the oldest person to successfully swim across. In 2004, I believe, someone swam it after his 70th birthday. Not that it is easy. A lot of really tough and well-trained people aren't making it. If you are interested to know more, look at Mark's blog in my list of English blogging friends and he has links to many of this year's Channel aspirants. If you read around the blogs, you will find a lot of useful information especially about the mental preparation.
As for my own swimming, I am continuing to do my usual practices. Friday 4,700m, Saturday 3,850m, and Sunday 4,050m. Nothing particularly special. I did 200m in 3m 18s on Saturday and 3m 16s on Sunday when racing against my friend. I think I was a little tired, as I can only do them at the end of the workout when most people have left the pool and we can each more or less get a lane to ourselves. On Saturday the pool (meaning the few available lanes) was particularly crowded making progress very difficult. With about four others sharing a lane, I can usually steamroll my way through. When there are six or more, swimming at all different speeds, it is virtually impossible to do anything. Clearly, I need to keep my head down to maintain good body alignment as much as possible.
At least it is almost the end of July. I envisage August being a busy month for the pool, but after that the kids will need to go back to school and when the weather isn't quite so hot, attendance will drop. My total meters for the last week was 26,750 meters. That may sound a lot. I think it all depends on the surroundings. In Kona I could swim a lot of distance when the ocean was calm, but generally it was hard to do more than about 3,000m when attending a Masters' workout and trying to do a little extra myself at the end. Distance of course is not everything. I need more speed work. I seem to be swimming the equivalent of a slow jog - a slow, deliberate push off the wall, 14 to 15 strokes and then the same starting at the other end. I have read that at training camps in Canada, successful triathletes have been advised to focus on "process" and not on beating so-and-so or on the time each lap. So perhaps for me I need to (1) get a good push off the wall with my head down, hands slightly higher up and keep my feet still while gliding, and then (2) focus on 14 controlled hand strokes with good water entry and follow through, while (3) pretending I'm listening to a tempo machine so that I can coordinate my stroke turnover with an imaginary drumbeat. One thing I am going to do more is vary my swimming speed. When lanes are fairly crowded there are times when you get stuck behind someone just as he is approaching the wall, and other times you get a chance to overtake and race them to the other wall. So I can use all those annoyances to improve my swimming.
A couple of months ago I bought some TYR swimming trunks. They looked and felt good at first, but now they feel like the bottom half of a pair of pajamas. I guess I won't need to order one of those underwater parachutes swimmers train with. I still have a Kona Aquatics swimsuit (new and unused). Maybe I should change into it for the last 10 minutes of a workout when I really need to race against the clock. However, I think it is better to have a lot of drag when swimming. When I really get to do a race, and wear appropriate stuff, I should feel a little faster.
We currently have no working camera at home as the boys are still in Taipei with the only one that can be used and the sale of our old apartment has not yet been finalized. It seems like everything we need to buy or are going to do depends on finally getting rid of that apartment. Still, I don't intend to buy much except for things we really need. I am worried about getting old, and not having enough or my folks not having enough.
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.