Notes from the YMCA

• I mysteriously lost 3 seconds/100 yds recently. Depressing. Couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally, this morning, I found them. Today, sports scientists the world over are dropping their planned research to debate whether it was because I rested yesterday or had leftover quiche for breakfast. The peer-reviewed articles should make for riveting reading.

• Today’s swim workout. 200 free. 2×100 free. 4×50 fly/free, back/free, breast/free, free/free. Kick 100. 5x. 1-2 naked, 3-5 with toys. 3,500 yards. Perfect start to the day.

• There was an Olympic gold medalist (1984, Women’s 8 rowing) in the lane next to me who is also a loyal reader of the Humble Blog.

• Sadly, Free Styler has been missing in action this week.

• There’s another dude who has been completely overlapping with me on the pool deck and in the locker room every Tu/Th morning for YEARS, by which I mean DECADES. Note that I do not know his name. We are engaged in an epic standoff of introversion, each refusing to introduce them self to the other. He has no idea what he’s up against. Sometime, probably 10-20 years from now, he will break. Trust me on this, victory is assured.

Where’s the Romance?

LOVE this guy’s blog; however, I shouldn’t profess my fondness for his blog that way because “You can’t love something,” moms says, “that can’t love you back.”

But as brilliant as Ray’s blog is, there’s something lacking. The same “something” lacking from online triathlon forums like this one—romance.

Not the candlelight hot under the collar type for which the word is normally associated, but the unbridled joy that sometimes accompanies moving outdoors in nature.

Ray, sports science companies, and other triathletes are turning triathlon into a science in which every workout is endlessly sliced, diced, and analyzed.

As a middle adaptor of the personal technology the tri-scientists obsess over, I’m not immune from their privileging fitness science over the aesthetics, art, and romance of swimming, running, and cycling. Consequently, when I run there’s a gadget in my running shorts pocket that bounces signals off satellites so I know precisely how far and fast I’ve run. When I cycle, I lean on my bicycle computer to determine what kind of ride it was based upon whether I achieved a higher than normal average speed.

But there’s no computer that can capture the beauty of a late summer lake swim when the water is glassy and the perfect temperature. No reason to try to measure the rhythm of a long, smooth stroke. No counting of strokes and no measuring of heart rate required.

Nor is there any gadget on the market that can capture what it’s like to run at dawn on golden leaf carpeted Northwest trails in October in a foggy/low light mix. Why even try to quantify how alive I felt last Thursday on my pre-dawn solo eight-miler around Capital Lake. The Capital Dome was lit up and the lake surface was bespeckled with reflections of the Deschutes streetlights. Spectacular.

How do you measure what it’s like to run under the lighting of a full moon or cycle with a friend along the Sound on an unusually warm October afternoon? It’s these experiences with nature and good friends that make me feel alive, not my average watts. And it’s these experiences that clear my mind and strengthen me for day-to-day life.

I’m fortunate to have a great running posse, but lately, since I’m in marathon-mode, I’ve been getting in a few solo runs each week too which has been nice. During one last week, I spent a few of the miles replaying an argument the Galpal and I had stumbled into the previous evening. Reluctantly, I had to admit that the video replay in my head provided inconvertible evidence that I was mostly responsible for the dustup. So when I walked in the house, I apologized. The GalPal was so taken by my (rare) selfless gesture, she violated her strict “no sweaty” hug policy. All of which set me up for a candlelight hot under the collar type of evening. And that my friends is what’s known as the “running romance multiplier effect”.

Credit me when you use it.