Monday, December 24, 2012

In Which I Am An Idiot

distance- approx. 2.3mi
time- ?

Allow me to set the stage, my friends. First, you need to loosen your neck muscles. I don't want you to strain yourselves when you start shaking your head at me. Next warm-up your jaw. You may pull something as it drops to your chest.
I live just under a mile from the gym up a very steep hill. While my knee is giving me trouble I don't run up the hill. Instead I hop on my mountain bike and ride up the hill, then lock the bike at the gym and run from there, where it is more level and knee-friendly. I have the smallest version of my stuff in a little arm pouch, my Garmin on my wrist, and the bike lock wrapped around the cross bar of the bike.
When I get to the gym (your neck and jaw should be ready now), I turn on my Garmin and take it off. I take it off because it finds the satellite signal better when it isn't moving. So I take it off and I put it right behind my foot. Right behind me. Then I go about the business of locking up my bike. So I put my three hundred dollar watch on the ground and turn my back on it.
Guess what happened yesterday. Betcha can. Betcha can't believe it.
Turned around after locking the bike, went to pick up my watch. No watch. Gone. Empty sidewalk. Nothing there. I do the thing we all would do. Grab my wrist. Did I put it back on? No. My shorts have no pockets but I check them anyway. I look all over. There are some people walking by, but no one is acting like they just pulled off a sucker theft. I search the surrounding sidewalk in case the watch somehow moved itself. I run into the gym and ask if anyone turned in a watch they found on the sidewalk (hey, it could happen). No. Course not. It couldn't happen.
The surprising thing is I didn't tweak out. I thought I was going to, but there was no rush of anger. Just disappointment and frustration. This was totally my fault. I was stupid to put it on the ground and then turn away. Is it amazingly bold of someone to steal something from right behind me? Yeah. But I might as well have hung a sign on my back that read SUCKER.
I still went for my run. What else could I do at that point? And it was a good run. No pain. Not fast but not painful, so that counts. I muttered to myself for most of it.
Went home and emailed Garmin, asking if they can track it using the GPS. They say it isn't set up for that but to not take the registration off my Garmin profile so no one else can register it. So now I'm keeping an eye on craigslist hoping the thief will try to fence it. But that's my only option.
I'll buy myself another one. My awesome sponsor who I forgot to thank after the Christmas Biathlon (my bad, but there was a lot going on) has been helping me out and I think I have enough saved up to cover most if not all of a replacement. Big thanks again to Background Profiles. Please check them out.
Trying not to be too hard on myself, but this was a big Doi! common sense vacuum moment as far as I'm concerned. Also trying not to be too Fuck Everyone Ever because that doesn't help either and I don't need that negativity around Roland.
In fact, let's close with a Christmasy picture of him so we don't end on a downer.
Happy holidays from Dirtbag Fitness.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reasons Aren't Excuses

23 minutes

I did not run far today, and I did not do it fast. I was sucking wind by the halfway point and my inner knee started to give me trouble around then too. There's a slight climb early in the course that destroyed my pace. My form felt wonky.
And I should not be frustrated by any of that.
The last time I ran was 19 days ago, during the Christmas Biathlon. That day my son was born. I've worked out maybe twice since. I've been busy doing other things like learning about the new human in my house. So there has been quite a lot of sitting on my ass. There has been too much snacking.
Of course my run sucked. Garbage in, garbage out.
I'm in the unique, for me, position of trying not to be frustrated and put off by bad performance and by a feeling of high effort/poor result. Getting back into the groove after time off is always hard and I haven't seriously workout out since the Honu. Of course, the Honu seriously fucked up what my internal version of "serious workouts" are, so maybe that's not true. Either way, I don't feel fit right now, and I know it is going to take a lot of work to get back to what I consider baseline fitness. I think I might register for the next two events in the Biathlon Series. There's one in two weeks and one at the start of February. Maybe having those, plus the Warrior Dash, will help me get up and get moving.
But right now I'm interested in staying positive and trying to get back into a regular workout schedule. The hardest part of working out is putting on your shoes. I see the mountain. I've been up it before. I just need to put on my shoes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Confessions of an Active Parent-To-Be has just posted another article from your favorite Dirtbag. It dates itself right away, but that's ok. Confessions of an Active Parent is a series I plan on semi-regularly running. As in, when I have time and energy and something to write about. Please check it out.
Confessions of an Active Parent-to-Be

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Biathlon Race Report

This was an impulse race for fun. I have been feeling like I hadn't raced in a long time and once you get used to doing something like that you need to keep doing it. I'm addicted to racing. Which is funny when you think about how nervous my stomach gets before even the smallest and easiest of races.
So, even though training had been slim I decided to fork over some dough and knock out the Waikiki Swim Club's Christmas Biathlon, a 5km run/1km swim low pressure fun event. Anyone can run 5km, and doing the swim after the run for once sounds like a great idea. Then I can make up time on all the damn runners who can't swim. No surprise this event was thought up and hosted by a Swim Club.
The other reason for doing the event was Super Awesome Wife was due on the 11th of Decemeber. This might be my last chance to race for a while. Please keep the above date in mind for later.
Hanging around before the race was fun because I meant a person I knew only from the internet who was doing her first multi-sport event (and who placed in her age group!), a guy I meant at the swim meet and open water swim I did over the summer, and Team Bloody Mary (now Team Tri-Rita), who are at nearly every event hosted on the island. All great people, all really nice to see.
Tim swims and Anne run and neither care about racing. Good people
The race started with a 5km run around Ala Moana Beach Park. I purposely did not bring a watch of any kind to reinforce the idea that this was only for fun. Time didn't matter. Of course I had a goal time in mind, I know about what I can do a 5km in and what I can swim 1000m in, but I wasn't planning on sweating it. Haven't been running enough to sweat it. In fact, I was unsure of just how my knee would tolerate the race. Would it tweak and I'd hobble around for three miles? Would I get to run a fraction of it?
Turns out I ran the whole thing, went out a little too fast at the top and paid for it at the end, but overall a nearly pain-free experience. Well, knee pain free. You can't not run at all and then try/not try to race three miles without some pain. But that's more of a Bad Training Dumbass pain.
One thing I spent time thinking about was transition from the run to the swim. You never go in that direction. I needed to put a cap on, and I wasn't about to wear one on the run. So what to do? Stop and put it on? Do it while running? I went with the latter, tucking my goggles and cap into the waistband of my suit. And with about 100 yards to transition I took off my visor and glasses and popped the cap and goggles on without breaking stride. Easier than I thought. Then all I had to do was take off my shoes and drop the visor and shades and into the water I went.
The run-to-swim transition wasn't too bad. Slowing down to take off the shoes helped the heart rate adjust. The hardest part was pulling all the blood out of my legs and into my arms and shoulders. I'm not happy with how my swim went. It's not really fair because I haven't been swimming too much either, but expectations are high. There was no rhythm or smoothness in it. I just got it done. Was able to do decently compared to most of the other racers, but not what I wanted. It is fun to do my strength at the end of a race for once. Meant I got to swim from person to person. I'll catch you, now I'll catch you, now I'll catch you. That's a nice change.
The return was directly into the rising sun, making sighting difficult. I basically swam towards the sun. I sighted by blindness. Where can't I see? I'll go there. Which meant I didn't see the exit buoys until I was almost on top of them. Think I went in a straight line. Normally do.
Pro Tip for multi-sport athletes (and I know a lot of you need this): Swim as far in as you can. Seriously, until your hands scrape the sand. Because if you pop up too early then you're trying to run in hip deep water. That's slow. Swim until you're scraping bottom then when you pop up your in shin deep water and you can easily high-step out.
Run- 27:31
Swim- 20:16
Finish- 47:47
Age Group- 5th
Overall- 37th
47 second off my very own mug!

 Any normal day that would have been the big event. But when I got home Super Awesome Wife had a much more important event warming up. You can read all about it here.Want a hint? I wrote most of this post like this-

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Grey's Law (OR Join The Parade!) And MORE!

time- 2:56
distance- 40mi

Another ride and some swimming and running also

It has once again been forever since I've written anything. It has not been forever since I've worked
out, I just have fallen off the blog train pretty hard of late.
Like I've been saying for a while I'm struggling with motivation and injury prevention. Some runs still end in knee pain, some swims end when energy flat lines, and rides happen mostly when friends drag my lazy ass out the door. It comes, I think, from the proximity of Dirtbag Fetus making his/her entry to the world and no events on the near horizon. A dip was expected after the Honu, but this is ridiculous. I need to be better.
The last rides have been pretty good. On Labor Day the Grey and I hit the road for 40 miles, during which he shared what is now Grey's Law.
The Grey of Grey's Law
 Grey's Law states that Whenever the Road is Narrowest, This is When Vehicles Will Absolutely Have to Pass You Right Now. This is especially true on the short bridges which speckle the landscape here in Hawaii. If it will take me on a bike fifteen seconds to get across it odds are the car behind me will need to get across in ten seconds. Which means he'll pull into more of the center of the lane and jam on the gas, blowing by me. And nothing is more fun than the draft of a car and the wizz of a rear view mirror.
Also, when you ride with the Grey he will quote his Law at you every time it happens. On a bike this is done by shouting at you over the wind.
We got to the bottom and Kaena Point, rested, then turned around. This was basically the same route the Grey, Diesel, and I did this weekend.

What was unusual about our Labor Day ride was what happened on the way home. We have to ride through Wahiawa to get home. Apparently, Wahiawa holds a Labor Day parade. Who knew? And said parade was crossing the road right when we got there, stopping traffic. You may think to yourself, "But you are on bicycles. Surely you can easily cut through the parade without disruption." That's what we thought too. However, let me present Officious Guy in Orange Vest:

You have met him. You know him. He has An Orange Vest. This makes him Important. And he decided we could not possibly cross the road. We needed to wait. You know, in case we ran over a marcher or something. Which is completely true. Look at how close each group is to the next. There is no way we could possibly make it.

So we walked our bikes five feet away from Man In Orange Vest, then sprinted across the street. Suck it, Man In Orange Vest. Which led to some of the best riding ever. The road was completely empty. We may or may not have ridden right in the middle of both lanes, exulting in the openess. It might have been awesome.
As for this weekend's ride, the biggest note I have was that Pineapple Hill was the hottest it has ever been. Seems crazy to say in November, but we set out late so the sun was higher, there was absolutely no wind, and it just was beating down. I was melting. I don't know that I've ever been hotter during a training ride. It was pretty brutal.
Having the guys does do so much for getting me out on the bike. I struggle to find motivation to get in the pool. I feel good to start, then the wheels come off more often than not. And I can run for a while but eventually my knee beings to hurt, even with the rehab I've been doing. It's a process, and I'm trying not to get frustrated. Well, too frustrated. Sometimes positive is hard to come by. It's a weird time right now.
The biggest workout coming up isn't mine, it's Super Awesome Wife's. It's been on my mind quite a bit. I get to be active support, which will be fine. My struggle is not having a start time. We don't want to induce, we want to be natural. But that means I need to learn patience. Not good with that. I like to know the race starts at 6am on this day. Ready go. This whole it starts when it starts and even when it starts it might start and stop and hurry up and wait is messing with me pretty good.
...anyway, that's probably a post for another time.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tom Cruise Hard

(I can't wait to see the kinds of searches that title kicks up)

When someone asks you how hard you ran, tell them you ran Tom Cruise Hard.
When you go for a run, your goal should be to run Tom Cruise Hard.
All running is measured against Tom Cruise. He is our Greatest On Screen Runner.
Greatest. Movie Runner. Ever. You wish you ran this hard.

 Seriously, look at the intensity as he gets rolling. You want to run like Tom Cruise.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mean to Myself

dist- approx. 16.5 mi
time- approx 1hr

1 x 200- warm-up
10 x 100- 1:30
1 x 100- cool down

Knee rehab

Today in the pool I was mean to myself. And that was a good thing.
You see, dear readers, when I'm not totally feeling it I leave myself an out. I say to myself, "Listen, I promise to push these on the time standard. But if I miss one I get thirty seconds on the wall to rest and recover before getting back to it." That's a good deal.
Except I don't like missing my time standard and I'm a stubborn ass in the water. So for the 10 x 100 set I made the first few easily then started to slip, my poor training habits catching up with me. I was getting less than five seconds rest by number five and less than two seconds for eight, nine, and ten. Yeah, I'd hit the wall, look at my watch, it would read 12:28 and I would get a breath then hit it again. I spent these 100s thinking it would be so easy to fade juuuust a little. Just enough, Then I'd had thirty whole wonderful seconds to catch my breath. But it had to happen organically. I wasn't going to let myself miss. And I never did. Made all ten on the 1:30, getting barely any rest for the last three or four.
Swims like this are frustrating because I know I can do better but make me happy because I fought through a mentally tough workout, and I can draw on that the next time I get in the water without feeling it.
Been getting back out on the bike too. Knee gives some twinges still, right on the inside, but it's lessening. Hopefully the rehab is doing its job and I'm getting stronger. Haven't tried to run yet, but I was talking to a friend today who is thinking about doing a marathon soon and I started to get the itch. I got the itch to run. Triathlon has made me broken.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dirtbag Fetus' First Workout

 I have been doing some reading on birth, since that is what teachers do. Something coming up? Read a book about it! Super Awesome Wife has been thrusting Penny Simkin's The Birth Partner at me for a little while (SAW Note- SEVEN months! Seven! Five weeks away and just now you're reading it. Grrr.) and I've been doing my homework. Turns out there are exercises pregnant women can do to help labor! Hey, this is a thing that I can help with in a direct way! I am the Dirtbag of Dirtbag Fitness. I got the exercise thing down. Woohoo!
 She wants to labor as much as possible in the squatting position, which makes a ton of sense to me. I understand how gravity works (SCIENCE!) and I understand from which end the baby will emerge. Pushing down seems a lot easier than lying on your back and pushing out and slightly up. Yes, up. Take a look at the direction the Magic Baby Door (for the actual joke go to about 13:20, but watch the whole thing if you have an hour) is pointing. That, sir, is up. But squatting is not easy. That's some killer quad work right there. It needs practice.
Instead of going to the gym to swim and rehab today after school I came home, changed into workout shorts, and worked out with her. I did my four sets of single leg squats and during my rest time I sat on the foot stool we have with my legs wide and she lowered herself into a supported squatting position for a minute at a time. She said she felt stable and wasn't putting too much pressure on her legs. Which is good, she needs to be relaxed.
 Next I did three one minute planks, and between each plank she did three sets of ten squats with me holding her hands and helping spot her as needed. She started out going nice and low but by the end they were shorter and not so deep. Still good efforts, still making her stronger and preparing those muscles.
From The Birth Partner (Hey, there are two of us, who was going to take the picture?)
The last thing the two of us did was a set of ten Cat-Cow poses. On hands and knees, backs flat, we inhale and slowly rotate our hips beneath us as far as we can, arching our backs, and hold for a slow five count, then back to level exhaling through the move. Ten of those. At the end of that she was feeling done with baby workouts and I needed to shower and change to get to the theater to watch V for Vendetta because Remember remember the fifth of November.
From The Birth Partner
 I look forward to helping her workout and prepare for labor as much as I possibly can.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm Internet Famous!

*Post Not Fitness Related In the Least Warning*

About two weeks ago I posted a YouTube video that I made in this space. The video was created out of frustration with the lack of respect Hawaii's teachers are being shown by Gov. Abercrombie. The short short version is we have been teaching without a contract for a year and a half, he continues to offer us deal which are regressive at best. The problem is because he is making offers it looks like teachers are being greedy when we turn them down and when mediation breaks down, when in fact we are saying no to offers any sane group would laugh at.
Still, public opinion has swung hard against us recently and I wanted to try and inform people of the teachers' side through an open letter to the governor. So I spent a few days drafting one and then put it out there. As of today that video is sitting at 1,800 views. Which is crazy, since I was hoping for about 1,700 less than that and had decided after it started getting popular that I'd be happy with 1,000.
A big part of why the video continues to spread is social media. I tweeted and Facebooked that thing at every single person I could think of, including local news media in all forms. Well, KHNL Hawaii News Now picked it up. I talked a few times with a producer there who loved the story and pushed in the newsroom for some coverage. I made it very clear this was not about announcing a strike but announcing my willingness to strike and giving clear, thought out reasons why. If it comes to that public support will be paramount, and this seemed like a great way to start building that. Also, some teachers are feeling the same way I am but not willing to make the sacrifice a strike would call for, so I wanted to try and help them understand this isn't going to be a want, it is going to be a need.
I thought the story came out well and this is my space, so here it is.
Teachers question Governor over lack of contract - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL
Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Looking For Motivation

1 x 200- warm-up
5 x 100- 1, 2, 3, swim
5 x 50- 25 fly/25 free
1 x 100- cool down

Single leg squats
4 x 10

Stability ball curls
3 x 12

2 x 1:00

Your friendly neighborhood Dirtbag needs an event to think about. I'm so wanting to do something stupid I even looked at registering for the Honolulu Marathon in December. $140! So that ain't happening. There is the biathlon series coming up starting in December, and individual registrations for those are $25 or all three for $60. So that is probably where I'm going to put some money next.
 I also need my knees to cooperate. After yesterday's workout there for for sure soreness around the left knee. I'm not sure yet if it's the muscles responding to the squats and curls or is there is still an injury being worked out. But it is tight. I think I need to keep foam rollering it too. I've got single leg squat goals. I want to be able to do pistols, unsupported squats, so that's what I'm working towards. It's all about strengthening around the knee and stabilizing the hips. Eventually I stop supporting my foot back behind me and start kicking it out in front and sitting onto a bench.
Not me. Yet.
Also, I realize how rubbish the last few general posts have been, reflecting how I've been feeling about the workouts. And like the workouts, I fell out of the habit of doing this so now I'm in the process of getting it back.

Monday, October 29, 2012

15 Things A Beginning Cyclist Should Do


I have a new piece for online now. You have actually already read it, it's the Things a New Cyclist Should Do blog I wrote a few weeks ago. I liked it so I sent it to my editor, who also liked it and put it online. So even though you've already put it into your eyeholes and brain matter I'd appreciate if you clicked on the link anyway so active knows people read my stuff. Someday I will be famous. Then they'll see! You'll all see! Bwaahahahahahah!!!!
Seriously, click the link. This one here. Thanks.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Continutes for the Rehabs!


1 x 200- Warm-up

3 x 10- Stability ball curls

4 x 12- Supported Single Leg Squats

2 x 1:00- Plank (one on Bosu ball)

My swim motivation is still really screwy, and I don't have a good reason why aside from there is nothing to train for right now. Also, my focus is more on getting my legs strong and stable so that injuries become a thing of the past. So I'm swimming for maintenance and that sucks sometimes. Hopefully as my fitness comes back my intensity will too.
The squats and whatnot went well. I'm feeling the soreness, which is a welcome thing. Nothing is better than doing a workout and then the next day your muscles reminding you about it. My knees still wobble and my hips drop during the squats, but this is only the second time through. That'll improve.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Let the Rehabs Begin! (Finally)

1 x 200- warm-up
5 x 100- increasing intensity by 25

Single Leg Squats
4 x 10/per leg

Stability Ball Curls
3 x 10

2 x 1:00

Rode the bike up the hill to the gym and got a short swim in. 700 yards is barely a warm-up as far as I'm concerned but I was more interested in getting some of the rehab workouts in. I don't see many intense training days in my near future. I'm going to try and use this off season to get strong and stable so that when the next season comes around I can be fast and injury free.
I started the rehab workouts with single leg supported squats. I put one foot up on a box jump box (?) and then tried to execute slow, stable squats, keeping my knee tracking straight forward without too much side-to-side wiggle. This was harder than it should be. Especially the right leg, which had all kinds of wobble wobble. My hips also liked to drop to one side. Ah, all the little running issues explained in one short exercise. I'm going to need to do a lot of these.
Get him a body bag!
 The next piece of the puzzle is strengthening the hamstring and tendons behind the knee, again to strengthen and support. Laid on my back, feet up on a stability ball, raise my hips to the sky, and roll that ball to my butt, touch, and back out again, all nice and slow and smooth. It hurts my ego some to say that I felt both of these exercises. I'm a young, strong, tough Dirtbag. Couple of squats and curls shouldn't be a thing. But they were. This might be a long, slow road, but the end of it has Health and Strength and Speed waiting, so it's worth it.
And, because a strong core will mean better swimming, biking, running, and overall health, I brought in the planks.
Now all I have to do is keep this up on a regular basis. Like always, the hardest part of working out it making it a habit, especially when you have to break the couch habit to do it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

An Open Letter To Hawaii Gov. Abercrombie From a Teacher

This is a video I made expressing how I'm feeling about the current teaching contract situation in Hawaii. It has nothing to do with fitness or triathlon. It has everything to do with the rest of my life. Please watch it. If you agree, please share it. The public needs to know how teachers are feeling, and maybe more teachers will be inspired to share their stories.
The direct-to-YouTube link is here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Two Crappy Choices

**Warning- A lot of this post is me still trying to convince myself I made the right choice**

Today, in about two and a half hours, I'm supposed to be waking up and heading across the island for a fun Splash and Dash. It's a 500m swim/5k on the Marine Corps base I signed up for a few weeks ago to have something to look forward to. Military events are always well priced and Super Awesome Wife and I enjoyed doing it as a relay last year.
Thursday evening I went for an easy run. Planned three and a half miles or so. Every once in a while for the first mile and a half I'd get a sharp twinge on the inside of my right knee. By the time I was breaking two miles that twinge was pretty constant and getting sharper. At 2.25mi I couldn't run anymore. I cut my course short and walked home. Frustrated. Grumpy. Muttering to myself about being lazy and not doing the rehab like I should have been. A few times on the walk home, as you do, I tried running. Maybe it was a phantom pain. Maybe it was one of those sharp knee pains that goes away after a few minutes, like magic.
Or maybe it would be right there, waiting to pull me up short.
Yeah, take door number two.
So now I have all of Friday, which I spend popping ibprofen, wearing my compression brace, stretching, foam rolling, and oscillating back and forth between "I don't think I can run a 5k, and I don't want to walk it" and "Stop being a pussy, you'll be fine." And I mean hard swings back and forth. The mind argues, "It won't be any fun and you'll probably be stupid and try to run through the pain, which will probably just make it worse in the long run." "Shut up, wuss. You did a 70.3 and you're worried about three freaking miles?"
Yeah, I am. The difference between the pain of muscle breakdown over the course of a hard race and the pain of working through an injury is vast. One you feel like a champion for breaking through. The other you just feel breaking.
But that isn't stopping me from being up at 3am feeling guilty. It actually woke me up at 2:30, because it's nearly all I've been thinking about today (well, that and this, which I would appreciate you taking eight minutes to watch). So 2:35am found me pacing my apartment, running in place, and doing squats, waiting to see when and if the pain would kick in. I would do something, no pain, then I would walk a little and there was the dull throb in the back, waiting, taunting me. Will I become a full on sharp stab like Thursday? Will I ruin your race? I know I should argue back that I don't care, it is a $25 fun event and no one will blame me for walking if I have to. But I will. I didn't sign up to walk, to half ass it. I signed up to go.
So my choices are go and almost for sure hurt with injury pain, which will make me frustrated that I went and that I'm hurt, or protect my knee and not go and try not to feel like a bitch for it. It seems like I keep missing workouts and events.
I turned off my alarm. I'm not going to risk it. I'm not going to go. I'm going to stay home and be grumpy that I stayed home. I'm going to question my choice about a hundred times in the next 24 hours, probably beat myself up a little, and try not to be too much of a grump to pregnant wife. As I type that I check in with my knee and right now- no pain. But I'm pretty sure that's a myth. And I've got to trust myself.

Monday, October 15, 2012

An Ironman, A Half Marathon, Some Workouts, And A Request

It was a big week for Team Dirtbag. Not so much for me, but the team had a good week.
I did a few workouts, went on a run or two, did some swimming, and tried not to feel too lame. Right now every swim workout feels like the first swim back. Stella does not have her groove going right now and nowhere is that more frustrating than in the water. Ego says that is where I am always strong. Ego is sometimes a moron.
My lower back has been bugging me too for the last few weeks and I don't know why. But I have a theory now, thanks to Barefoot Angie Bee's Superhero Husband. He recently posted something on the Facebooks along the lines of, "Lower back pain? How have your core workouts been going?" Cue lightbuld. Core workouts? Normally swimming is my main core workout. But I haven't been putting in as much tiiiiheeeeey now! So along with today's swim I did two one minute planks as a way to kickstart the core strengthening. I bet that is a big part of the problem. The other part is our futon is kind of a piece of junk and I bet that isn't helping any.
The Grey did the Gunstock Half Marathon this Sunday. I guess he got lost and that is why he didn't win All The Things. But I'm hoping he will write a little thing for us about it. Anyway, way to go Grey! Runners are crazy.
Speaking of crazy (yes, I am the king of the segue) Diesel completed the Kona Ironman over the weekend. Last year I did an interview with him about it and I'll probably make him do something along those lines again because it was really cool last time. For now all of us at Team Dirtbag stand and applaud his efforts and dedication. When you're in the middle of training and doing big endurance things isn't a Big Thing anymore it's hard to remember what kind of accomplishment something like that is. So big congratulations to Diesel for getting in there and getting that did.
Pictured: Me
Now for my request- I try to be involved one way or another in charity things. I have this small soapbox and a few of you gather round to hear me shout, which I appreciate. Sometimes I'm going to try and sell you on something more than fitness. Almost always that thing is a cancer-related charity (I'd also hit you up for supporting Planned Parenthood, but that doesn't come up as much). Cancer is one of those things that touches almost all of us. And the most basic way of getting in there with cancer is giving to one of the many organizations out there. Right now, however, I've got another way.
The name Tig Notaro might be familiar to a few of you. She's a comedian who is, depending on your taste, really funny to pretty amusing. She's going through some heavy, rough stuff right now and, because of who is she and how she sees the world, she did what she knew to deal with it. She took it on stage. It isn't really a spoiler what she talks about. A few days before the stand-up show I'm talking about she was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. Then she went on stage at the Largo in Los Angeles and was as open, honest, and funny as any human could possibly be about it. The Largo tapes almost all the shows that happen there. Brilliant comedian Louis C.K. was there that night and after the show, with Tig's permission, he took the Largo's recording and now it is on his website. If you would please, take a few minutes and click on this link. Louis tells the story better than I do. Then, if you feel like it, please either follow the link on that page or this one and spend five dollars on the recording. One goes to Louis, four go to Tig to do with as she sees fit. I really recommend this. Trust me, it isn't a bummer. You come away from 30 minutes of a person sharing some raw stuff more confident in the human condition than you were before you started listening. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Running Hot and Cold

Super Awesome Wife and I did one last West Coast Tour last week during our Fall break from school before she gets too pregnant to fly. And yes, we used the hell out of the belly getting on to planes. Pre-boarding is the way to go. Getting on with the 47% is for suckers. Plenty of space in the overhead bins, no standing around in the aisle while Johnny Genius grunts, groans, and argues his over-sized carry-on into the overhead bin or Ilsa Illiterate tries to figure out which aisle is 16 and which seat is A.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, California was stop number one (numero uno for those Californians out there in the interwebs). Short stay, just about 48 hours, maybe a bit more. We red-eyed there Friday night, landing at 6am Saturday. Which meant Saturday was kind of a wash. Fight to stay awake, crash for awhile, forget what day it is. Sunday I went for a run in the morning before it got too hot. Yeah, because I grew up in Palmdale, which is in the desert, which is where it's 100* in October. So I went out right after I woke up. Did a little over three miles at a good pace, just under 10 min/mi. The course was flat, which helped. But damn it was hot and dry. Living in Hawaii you forget what dry really means. 
Possible use of hyperbole for humorous purposes
It was nice to get our and run, though. I rarely work out on vacation but I'm trying to be halfway ready for the Kaneohe Bay Splash and Dash in the 20th that I haven't registered for yet, and that means getting regular runs in, even on vacation. Felt good, felt strong. We also had a kick ass baby shower and got a bunch of cool stuff.
After California we hopped on a plane up to Seattle, where the Super Awesome Wife's family is. Seattle is having an unseasonably dry, warm fall. By dry I mean it has barely rained at all in a place famous for it's gloomy overcast and flannel. (By the way, Seattle Bingo is awesome. Your card should have Nirvana, Flannel, Dreadlocks, Ripped Jeans, and a lot of spaces for White People. A LOT of spaces.)

Seattle with Banana Overlord (Thank you, Google, for the gifts you give)
By unseasonably warm I mean it was in the low 50s most of the time. All of you who think that is warm can stop laughing right now. That's cold. Of course I didn't bring warm running clothes. Because I don't own warm running clothes. Because HAWAII. So I went out in my shorty shorts and sleeveless shirt and got about two miles done. A mile out I started thinking, "My ears and arms and hands are really cold. This will probably not improve. I'm going home." Still, I feel like I had a decent run and I'm proud I got out. Yes, I only got out once, but at least I got out.
Today I ran after school. Normally coming home to Hawaii is wonderful. But the tradewinds aren't blowing and there is vog (volcanic fog) just sitting in the air. I'm from Southern California, so I normally don't trust any air I can't see, but the vog right now is as thick and heavy as I've ever felt. And the lack of trades means its damned hot and still. The hill down and then back up from my house isn't terrible, but I'm still not used to running hills. I did all my running fairly flat so the start and finish with climbs is playing merry hob with my knees right now. I'm trying to figure out the best way to go downhill, which is harder than uphill. Thinking I need to relax and let the wheels spin.
Also, the Warrior Dash is coming back to Hawaii next year. I got my 9am registration in and I suggest all islanders get in on it too. It was a blast last year. Early registration is up for a few more days at $45, which gets you the race, a shirt, a warrior hat, and a beer at the finish. Can't beat that. The only complaint is they are charging $20 for parking, and traffic blows to get in and out. *Pro Tip* So do what we did last year, park a few miles away, and ride a bike in. Free, no traffic, easy in and out.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Things A Beginning Cyclist Should Know/Do

Yesterday I took a neophyte triathlete friend of mine for a ride. She's still very new to the sport, having only completed one super sprint so far (but she won her age group!). She's so new to cycling, in fact, that she is still in that New Scared Rider Stage. It's the same stage that six mile seems like a long ride, that hill at the end of your street is a granny gear mountain, and you're super uncomfortable trying to fix anything on your bike because who knows how you're going to break it. And she did great. Her tires were much too under-inflated so we took care of that with help from Diesel. Her seat post bracket was broken so we rode to a nearby bike shop and replaced it, knees hitting her in the chest the whole time, but she's so new she didn't realize how bad that was and how much harder she was making it on herself. But we rode probably eight or nine miles all told just around her neighborhood and she was fine. No complaining, game for different routes, and, most important, she listened to me babble at her.
It all got me thinking about a List Of Things New Cyclists Should Know/Do. I'm not the first one to come up with a list like this, but I want my swing.

Things A Beginning Cyclist Should Know/Do
  • Get Lost- Ride somewhere you've never been, or somewhere you think you know where you're going but you aren't sure. Explore. There is an element of childhood to riding a bicycle and before you had a car this was your means of exploration. Rediscover that. 
  • Fix a flat- On the road, mid-ride. It's going to happen. You're going to have to do it. Might as well get it out of the way.
  • Fix that same tire five minutes later because you didn't do everything quite right the first time- Welcome to the Most Frustrating Thing About Cycling. The learning curve on flat fixing can be brutally steep. You will miss something and that tire if going to go flat again. I don't care how many YouTube videos you watched. Failure is learning. Welcome to class.
  • Weeeeee!!!- Going downhill is fun. Enjoy it. Say, "Weeeeeee!"
  • Visit every local bike shop then make a list of best to worst by customer service- You are going to be close with these people, you might as well find the friendly ones. And Amazon is great when you don't need stuff in a hurry but when the race is tomorrow and you just discovered your tire is flat or you're out of air canisters these will be your saviors. Be cool to them and find the ones that are cool to you.
  • Make friends- Talk about riding. Be That Guy. Talk, tweet, blog, text, and find forums online. Make friends who also enjoy cycling. They are all over the place and will be fonts of information and motivation. Plus, it is safer to ride in a group.
  • Little Hills/Big Hills- There are hills in your neighborhood that look like mountains. That suuuuuck to climb. That have oh the hurtiness qualities. Attack them. Ride them. Graduate to bigger hills. Then, in six months, go back to that first brutal hill and zip up it thinking, "What the hell was so bad about that?"
  • Don't apologise for being new- Everyone was new once. Even Lance sucked for a little while (insert doping joke here). Ride in a group and try to keep up. If they are cool then they won't complain, or they'll drop you then wait. Everyone remembers their struggles at the start. Ride, don't complain, and try.
  • Adjust your own bike, do it wrong, then troubleshoot fixing it- It feels so good to buy a book or look online and get in there and make adjustments. Your instincts and this book say your seat should be higher? Raise it. Don't tighten it down enough accidentally. Slip down while riding. Fix it again, better this time. 
  • Let your insecurities about your adjustments get the best of you and take the bike in anyway- Make the adjustments, feel right but weird, talk yourself into being positive you did something wrong and a horrible tragedy is waiting around the next pedal stroke, take the bike in to the shop, and watch them make miniscule adjustments. A proper bike fit changes your life, but you won't know it until you feel it.
  • Fall over unclipping- We all have done it. You'll do it too. Forget to unclip, do the slow unstoppable fall to one side, get up, glance around like you meant to do that, and move on.
  • Find chain grease on a random part of your body after your shower- "What the? How did I get grease on my elbow? And I swear I scrubbed it off my calf. chain isn't even on that side of my bike!"
  • Conquer a small mechanical problem while out on a ride using only a multi-tool- Your seat slips. An aerobar loosens. Your chain gains sentience and tries to make a break for it. Bust out that multi-tool in your pocket or seat bag and fix it right there on the side of the road. Leave your helmet on, don't trust cars, then get back out there.
  • Keep a small version of your stuff with you- George Carlin did a routine about Stuff. Here. NSFW because duh, Carlin.

 You need a small Bike Version of your Stuff. Money, ID, cell phone. So you can buy a snack, a drink, or an emergency supply. So people know who you are. So you can call for help when you blow your second spare tube. Zip Lock baggie, back pocket, bam ready to go. 
  • Ride somewhere pretty- No matter where you live there is somewhere pretty you can ride to. Find it, ride there, take cell phone pictures and text them to your friends who slept in with snarky, superior messages about how awesome you are and how cool where you are is.
  • Have fun- Of course! This should be fun. Like I mentioned right at the start, you are basically using a grown-up version of a child's toy. Sometimes you need to stop and remember that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If Kipapa Don't Reach (I'm in Trouble)

Swim (Monday)
1 x 200- warm-up
100- 1:30
200- 3:00
3:00- 4:30 (fail)
400- 6:00 (fail)
500- 7:30 (fail)
1 x 100- cool down

Run (Tuesday)
time- 31:47
distance- 3.16mi

 Training isn't really the word for what I'm doing right now. Hell, it barely feels like maintenance most of the time. I guess going from the level of intensity I was at pre-Honu to what I'm doing now, which used to be intense when I started this journey, is weird. I feel like I'm not working hard enough, but with no near goals I'm struggling. Kinda been the theme of most of these posts for a while now. In October there is the Marine Corps Splash and Dash that I did with Super Awesome Wife last year and I'm thinking of registering for that. It is cheap, it was fun, and it gives me a reason to train.
We have moved and now live at the bottom of a gully. Well, we live up a steep hill which you have to go down to get to the main road which them climbs out of the gully. So every ride and run begins and ends with a steep-ish descent and then a steep-ish climb. Neither are long, it just isn't a fun way to start or end a workout. Finishing a long workout like that will be satisfying though. At the end of yesterday's run it did feel good to be able to quick-step it up the hill. Check out the link to my Garmin data to see what I'm talking about elevation-wise and determine for yourself if I'm being a wuss. I'm sure it'll get easier as I get used to it. And climbing = strong.
The title of the post comes from the name of one of the streets I ran along. I made a left instead of simply turning around and running back exactly how I came and then made a right on Kipapa, a road that I was pretty sure connected back to where I wanted to go. I was 95% sure. Just sure enough to do it. But then for whatever reason that song popped into my head and I started thinking, "If Kipapa don't reach I'm in trouble yeah..." That it pretty much all the song I know off the top of my head too, so that's not helpful.
Still paranoid about injury. Inner left knee was sore this morning, but not painful. Probably the climbing. I'll do a gait check.
And now, for all my Whovian friends, I present this:
OH! Also, please go check out my Active Articles page at the top. They posted my whole swim series as a really nice four-parter and it'll make me look good if you click over and read them again. it's good for ya! Thanks.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

4 Steps to a Faster 1.5km Swim- Active Edition picked up my recent A Faster Swim in the Key of S series. They will be posting it in four parts as I planned.
Now that the whole thing is up I have to say I'm really happy with how it came out. Much thanks to active for putting it up pretty much without interference.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fear of the Fat Dad- Dirtbag Parent Series

There was a swim and a run this week, but that is all. Neither were great, the run wasn't bad but I'm worried my leg problem from before is showing back up, which is strange because I've been doing so little to irritate it. Anyway, on to the post.

Dirtbag Fetus (aka Joe Batman)
Super Awesome Wife is just over six months pregnant with Dirtbag Fetus. The baby, and no we don't know if it's a boy or girl, is due in mid-December. At which point I everything in my life will change.
I'm more excited about becoming a father than I can express. I can't wait to hold the little bundle of Dirtbag Dough in my arms. I think about it a lot. My sister just recently had a baby, so I've been getting first-hand accounts of the life changes that are happening. It's one thing to have your parents tell you, "You just wait. EVERYTHING changes when you have a baby." It is another to have it happen in your peer group. And that is where my peer group is now. The wave of weddings has passed and we are now mid-set in the first wave of babies, bobbing in the waves, waiting for our ride.
Saying that you are ready for the change and actually being ready are two different things, though, and I recognize that too. I am well aware that things are about to happen to my life which I can only pretend at being prepared for. But (and be ready for a Circe du Sole-type sentence) knowing that there are things that I can't know helps me feel comfortable in my unknowing because I'm ready for the unknown. I'm mentally prepared to be flexible. I'm warming up for being upended.
And I have a slightly vain worry in all this.
I don't want to become a Fat Dad.
You've seen them. You might even know them. Dude was healthy and strong and then the baby came and his sleep schedule was wrecked and all that free time he spent working out became baby time. I want to be clear, I see these things as good and right. If I tried working out as much as I do now after December 11th-ish (due date is 12/11, so we'll see) it would be a toss up if Super Awesome Wife would kill me or divorce me first. And she would be right for doing so.
I am all about getting in there as dad and doing my job. She wants to be a stay-at-home mom, which means by the time I get home from teaching everyday Momma's gonna need a nap and a baby break and I'm getting tagged in. There goes those after after school runs and rides. She wants to breast feed, so while I'm not going to be directly responsible for those 3am feedings I don't expect for a second to be sleeping through them. I'm not getting up for a 5am pre-school swim after that. On top of that I'm going to want to spend as much time with Joe Batman (our placeholder in utero name for Dirtbag Fetus). When I weigh Three Hour Ride against Chill on the Floor With Baby baby is going to win every time.
Joe Batman vs The Burrito
 So how am I going to avoid Fat Dadness? Well, we are buying (read: we have put on our registry) a BOB Revolution Running Stroller, so that is going to be helpful. I will eventually get a bike trailer so I can bring the baby along on shorter rides. And Super Awesome Wife knows that working out is an integral part of maintaining sanity for me, so it's not like she's going expect me to put the kibosh on it completely. 
I've also taken advantage of the early registration rate for the Honolulu Triathlon, so I have a race on my calendar. That will help me get out of the house and stay active. I'll have Dad Adjusted expectations for the race, seeing as two-a-day trainings and the like will probably be out.
Tied in to all of this is that both of us want our children to grow up in an active household. We want the kids to know fitness from the get go. There is a whole other post in this little paragraph. 
The bottom line is I want to stay fit, I want to improve myself, and I want to be an excellent, involved dad. I know doing all those things is possible, I just don't know how it's going to come together yet. The next step of my fitness adventure is a big blind one, and I'm totally looking forward to it.
First Family Beach Picture

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lying About Your Times: Slightly Political Edition

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has recently been caught in a lie. I want to be clear, I'm not going to use this platform to jump up and down politically, so this post has nothing to do with the five provable lies he told during his RNC speech. This is about a lie he told on a radio show about his marathon time.
 Ryan, a devotee of P90X, went on Hugh Hewitt's radio show last month and told the host he ran a marathon back in 1990 in "two hour and fifty-something." Blazing fast for an amateur runner. That's holding a sub-seven minute mile pace for 26.2 miles. Super fast! Probably the fastest man ever to run (get it?) for national office.
Then this showed up. Runners World reported that Ryan actually ran that marathon in just over four hours. Ryan's response is that he should have rounded his marathon time to four hours, not three. I want to leave aside that I'm teaching rounding to fourth graders this week and they would faaaaaiiiiiil if they came up with an answer like that and focus on what I see as the more important aspect of this story:
A four-something marathon is a damn good marathon. A person does not complain about a four-something marathon. If I told my friends (and strangers because I would talk about it to anyone who even looked like they were going to ask) that I ran a four low marathon I would expect them to be properly impressed. It is impressive.
Here is the other thing: You don't forget times like that. You might forget the exact minutes, but you remember the basics. You can estimate your time pretty accurately. You don't misremember by an hour.
Example- My first half marathon was the Hapalua, and I did it in about 2:45. I don't think that is exact, but it is pretty damn close. You're going to have to trust me that I didn't look back and check. My Half Ironman time was, I think, right under seven hours. I'd guess 6:53. And the half marathon in that race was slower than the Hapalua, so it was probably about 2:50-something. Not fast. Not at all. My running race times have never been fast. If I was motivated to lie about a time, those would be the times I would lie about. I could stand to sound a little faster, and it would still be believable. I could lie about my swims, but even the swims I consider bad or slow aren't really. Lying about swim times would just piss off my non-swimmer friends more.
The thing is, I don't really care about time too much. I have yet to judge someone based on their time in any event. What a crappy thing to do. My opinion of you changes not one iota if you run a 5k off the bike in 18 minutes or 38 minutes. I don't think I'm alone in that.
So why lie about your time? And it is a lie. It was not a misspeak or a mistake. A runner remembers.
Fish stories are funny because you overestimate the size of your catch. That is part of the fun of fishing. No one can prove it, "Oh yeah, I had to throw him back. Already caught my limit." Everybody laughs.
Runners though, we know. And we care. Because, unlike fishing, we have a ton of control over the result. Training, nutrition, mental preparation, thousands of tiny things that need to be fiddled with and fine-tuned and corrected. The result of all that work is something we take pride in.
When a race doesn't go the way we planned endurance athletes delight in going into extreme detail about what went wrong! The second best thing* about telling a race story is talking about the damn cramp at mile seven, dropping your GU at the start, crashing your bike, having something to blame the time on! Complaining about race problems is humblebragging at it's best. "Yeah, I was right at the start of my HALF IRONMAN bike and the chain fell off the bike. I had to stop, fix it, and then worry about it happening again for the next 56 MILES. So that is why I was so slow during the HALF IRONMAN I DID THAT YOU DIDN'T DO."
So yeah, it bothers me that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time. I think it speaks to deeper self-dissatisfaction, dishonesty, and a pathological need to impress us. It wasn't enough that he ran a marathon. It wasn't even enough that with a low four he probably finished in the top 50% of the field. My earlier statement is probably still true. He is probably the fastest marathoner to run (get it?) for national office. But that wasn't good enough for him. Rather than train harder and do better next time, rather than be proud he accomplished something so few people do, he lied about it. And he got caught. Of course he did because come on, pain is temporary, but race results live forever on the internet.

*the best thing about telling a race story is talking about all the people you passed and choosing whether or not to mention that one of those people was an 81 year old woman with one leg who somehow beat you out of the water and off the bike. I would mention it, makes the story funnier. Ryan would not mention it, or she would become a 24 year-old Chrissie Wellington-clone in his version.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Figure Four

Bike (Tuesday)
time- 1:10
distance- 20.48mi

Run (Wednesday)
time- 22:42
distance- 2.38mi

Swim (Thurs am)
1 x 100- Warm-up
5 x 100IM- 1:45
5 x 200

Tuesday's bike was mostly a recovery ride from Sunday's 63 miler. I didn't put a ton of effort into it, and it was pretty flat because Ewa. And this morning's swim was really chilled out mostly because I wasn't feeling it. The IM set went ok, but it was quickly obvious that the 200 set wasn't going to be happening. So instead of pumping it I focused on swimming from my hips and that power generation. Then I got out and grabbed a Starbucks before school.
But my run, while not far or especially hard, was the most focused workout of the week thus far. I spent a lot of time thinking about the figure four.
No, not that one (Bonus points of you know who the blonde is and his signature noise). This one.

From my running clinic. I am a very visual person so I tried very hard to keep this image in my mind while I ran. The bent knee on contact, the mid/fore-foot strike happening directly under the center mass, pulling with the hamstring to create that 4 shape, and the slight forward lean. Those were my focus points. Especially the 4. If I can strengthen my hamstrings and pull evenly with both legs a lot of my running issues, I think, will go away. The pull and center mass contact also creates a shorter stride, which means a quicker turn-over. I'm still trying to connect quick turn-over with pacing with mixed results. But these things are part of why I'm running so short right now. I have no running races planned, no triathlons on the radar yet, so now is my time for fixing and fiddling. Run short, and get mechanics together.

...WOOOO! *trademark lisp*

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Holy Headwind, Batman

time- 4:56
distance- 63.5mi

Yeah, this was pretty much the slowest metric century I've ever ridden. My excuse is that I've been lazy recently. And wind.
The Grey and I met up at his house and off we went. This adds some distance to the route I used to ride back when we lived in Wahiawa, but it means I get to see how The Grey and Diesel, who is training for Kona and is doing waaay bigger mileage than we are right now, got to me every week.
Kinda hilly. Sucks a little. I could see sucking more in my future as we come back.
I let training mileage slip for a variety of reasons after the Honu, but now I'm registered for the Honolulu Century at the end of next month and damn if I'm going to go into that totally unprepared. So cycling needs to come back up to three days a week, with big days on weekends. Real detailed century training plan. I know.
Anyway, we headed straight up the coast to Pupukea, one of the best-worst climbs I regularly do. It's not as long as some on the island, but there are sections of a lot of suck. Makes you strong. Especially because now we come back down and keep heading out. Gotta stack miles into the legs.
Out to the north-most point and around is an adventure in Holy Crap It's Windy. The Grey and I took turns pulling. There isn't a nicer sight than the guy you are riding with pulling around you to let you draft for a while. Tough winds. Looked forward to the turn-around.
Partially from the winds, partially from being out of shape, but I was bonking pretty good for a lot of the ride back. Just dragging. I kept trying to get it going, and it would for a while, but I never was able to hold what I felt was an acceptable pace. Looking at the data we were hovering around 45mph out and up around 18+ with the wind to our backs, but I was tired. We took more rest stops than we normally do. At least Hawaii is a great place for a breather.

I knew before we got to it that Pineapple was going to suck. And I was right. There is something about that climb. You can pace it all kinds of ways once your in shape, but when it's the first time in a while there is a lot of Happy Place Just Get Up It happening. The Grey blew me away going up and I didn't care. Couldn't have ridden much faster. Took another break in the shade of a bus stop at the top.
From there it isn't far home, but there is one climb that, while short, isn't much fun. Got it did, got to the Grey's house, and Second Favorite (Hawaii) Wife had food ready for us because she is awesome. Diesel showed up too because he smelled food.
Looking forward to getting distance-strong for the century. Not much feels better than 100 Mile Confidence on the bike.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Faster 1.5km Swim in the Key of S- Part 4: Smart

Closing out my Massive SwimSplosion of Advice about a faster swim leg of your next Olympic-distance triathlon is some musings on swimming Smart. Strategy during the swim is very important, and you can be as Smooth, Strong, and Sustainable as you want, but if you don't swim Smart you're going to be eating wake.
Thanks for reading.


Smart strategies are things that are important but don’t have any real place in the first three categories. These will help you think about swimming and plan your race better. A good swimmer is constantly evaluating, tweaking, and planning.

Tip#1- Warm-up
Thou shalt warm up before the race. Try to time your trip to the Port-a-Potty early enough to allow yourself ten minutes if splashing around in the water before the race starts. Yes, a 1.5km swim is long enough for a warm-up to happen while you’re going, but you don’t want to do that. Your muscles will thank you for getting blood flowing through them before the mad dash of a mass triathlon start. You can shake out the tightness, get a feel for the water temperature, fiddle with your cap and goggles, and pee (everyone else is doing it). A good, short warm-up can make a huge difference in that initial push, and will help you settle in once you get rolling.

Tip #2- Your Kick
There has been only one mention of kicking in this entire overview. The reason for that is simple- You don’t need to be kicking that much most of the time. What are you going to do as soon as you hit the shore? You are going to start cranking on your legs. The water is the only time you get to use your arms, so use them. Not to say you should not kick at all, but it should be steady and light. Freestyle is about 75% pull 25% kick, and I would say triathletes are more like 80/20. A regular kick can fix your body position, but that is not what its purpose is. Looking back at Smooth, the way to a good body position is pressing down on your T-Spot to bring up your hips. Kicking to bring your hips up means you are kicking down. Kicking down means you are using energy in the wrong direction. You want the force going back so that you will move forward. Don’t use your kick as a Smooth crutch.
Flutter kick does not generate from the knee, but from the thigh and glute. The degree of deflection is very small. Too big of a kick ruins your hydrodynamic property and slows you down. You want to remain torpedo-shaped. Your feet shouldn’t be jumping out of that and causing drag.
Keeping these things in mind, you should kick hard at the beginning of the swim (if you are trying to get out ahead of the main pack), then settle in with a regular, propulsive-but-not-hard kick. With about 200m left in the swim start revving your kick back up. This will force blood back into those big muscles, preparing them for the run to T1.

Tip #3- Self-Seeding
Most triathlons do some type of seeding, even it is just separating the men and the women. Big races might divide you up by age groups. Within your own starting group it is important to find a good place to start. Be it a beach or water start, should you be near the front, mid-pack, or in the back? That depends on your skills and your goals. If you aren’t a comfortable swimmer, start in the back. If it’s a beach start, that might mean you let the crazy people go, then wade in with the cautious ones. You won’t be the only one.
Start too far forward and you’ll be an obstacle. You can’t hear other racers cursing at you like you’re a big rig in the fast lane, but they are. Some might go so far as to climb right over you. Start too far to the back and you’ll be the one climbing and cursing. Best to be honest and err on the side of caution. It is better to try and find open water and swim around people than it is to be in the way.
BE AWARE- Any race that isn’t a straight out-and-back will probably have a buoy turn after a few hundred yards. Swim wide. The crush of people trying to cut that corner as closely as possible aren’t going any faster. You might swim a few extra yards, but you’ll stay away from the white water mess right against the floating yellow pyramid (orange sphere?). If there is a turn buoy right after the start there will be a mass sprint for it. Not a confident swimmer? Let them go, hang back. It isn’t worth it and the time saved is negligible.

Tip #4- Drafting
Drafting is illegal in most triathlons. On the bike. In the water though it’s impossible to enforce. Hundreds of bodies all swimming the same direction at the same time equals plenty of chances to slip in on someones feet and go for a ride.
Drafting in the water follows the same principals as drafting on the bike. You tuck in behind someone else and they create a slipstream of water you can follow. They break the slow water and as it flows around them it will flow around you too, meaning the person in front is doing a little more work and you are doing a little less. Some triathlons are so full that you can’t help but draft. You want to be a few inches off your unwitting engine’s feet. NOTE- Touching someone’s feet for 1.5km may result in your getting punched in the face. Nothing is more annoying than tap tap tap tap tap while you are trying to swim. So be there, but give them some space.  

Tip #5- Sighting
Open water swimming sometimes means getting lost. There might be a point where you pop your head up, look around, and wonder how you got halfway to Hawaii. A good drill to do during workouts every once in awhile is heads-up swimming. Ocean lifeguards use this a lot. You swim normally, but every five or six strokes pop your head up just a little during your breath and try to look at the same spot on the wall. In a triathlon swim you’re looking for a giant orange or yellow shape. You don’t have to have a clear view, just a fuzzy idea of where you should be going.
Some races are so busy you will barely have to sight at all. Those become a case of I Hope The People I’m Following Aren’t Lost.

Tip #6- Swim Up the Beach
The swim does not end when you can put your feet down. I see athletes all the time get to a point where they can stand, put their feet down, and struggle through 20 yards of hip deep water. You're slowing yourself down and wasting energy. Swim until you're dragging your hands through sand. Then when you stand up the water level will be at your shins. It is much easier and faster to high step over shin-high water then it is to bull through hip-deep water.  The biggest danger here is being trod upon by fellow athletes you swim past in those last few yards. But that's not a real issue and the benefit of this small change is huge energy and quickness-wise.

Tip #7- Positive Self-Talk
Don’t get down on yourself during the swim. If you are not a strong swimmer it is too easy to notice how many people are ahead of you and how many more have passed you and how much further there is still to go. If you become mired in those thoughts the swim will become an adventure in pain and self-pity. Once you begin to go down that road off ramps are few and far between. That mindset can follow you right out of the water and it’ll hop onto your bike with you. Stay positive. The best way to do that is constant stroke check-in. Move through your body. How are your hands entering the water? How is your reach? Are you finishing past your hip? High elbow on the recovery? Powerful thrust forward on the reach? Good catch? The more you think about the basics of Smooth the better your swim will go.
Sinking into a rhythm helps too. Use the first three “S”s and repeat them over and over like a mantra. “Smooth, Strong, Sustainable, Smooth, Strong, Sustainable.” Self talk that often helps is to remind yourself to calm down and settle in, especially after something unexpected that might spike your heart rate, like catching a wave in the face or accidentally bumping into another swimmer. “Settle in,” reminds you to, like the British say, “Keep calm and carry on.”  

Following the Four “S”s of Smooth, Strong, Sustainable, and Smart will help you become a faster 1.5km triathlon swimmer. Do not expect immediate changes. Many of the drills in the Smooth section do not work overnight. And ignoring the Smooth drills and focusing on the Strong section will not help either. You will just drive bad habits deeper into your muscles. The Major Key to being a better swimmer is technique! Swimming is harder to master than cycling or running. There are so many moving pieces, and each of those pieces has tiny adjustments that can be made. This four part essay was guidelines to a better, faster, more efficient 1.5km swim. If possible, have someone look at your stroke for a more focused evaluation. A good, Smooth pretty stroke will make a world of difference.
One last thing- Enjoy the water. Love the swim. All good things love water. Water holds you up when you’re feeling down and massages your muscles when you’re hurting. Swimming is how we started. It’s the most natural thing in the world. You can’t win a triathlon on the swim, but who cares? You’re swimming!