For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pain Pain go away

the distal tendon is the most painful, but all the
attachment points are pretty darn tender....
I started out with a pretty good training week - solid 10 minute interval sessions on monday and wednesday on the stepmill and bike, respectively, followed on each day by a tabata style strength training session that takes 5 minutes.  Monday was a 'push' day - where i worked my upper body muscles where a contraction lengthens the limb or moves it further away from my body (chest, shoulders, tris in other words).  I hadn't done resistance training in a few months so i decided i wouldn't go too heavy - besides, i was pretty shot after the intervals.  It went well - i could still move the next day but felt the familiar soreness from my days as a gym rat.  Wednesday came and it was 'pull' time (back and biceps).  Again i was conservative - or so i thought.

Thursday i was pretty sore, particularly at the attachment point of my biceps.  Par for the course i thought, although i figured i must have went a bit harder than on monday.

Friday i was in agony. I couldn't straighten either arm without a lot of pain.  I was up in Pembina on a bike ride setting some of the course for the adventure race that i put on every summer and every bump shot tremors up my arms that would nearly cause me to lose control of my steering.  But i toughed it out, thinking things would get better eventually (they have to, right?)

Well, it's saturday and my situation hasn't improved.  It's comical really - with a 150 degree bend at the elbow i don't have any discomfort.  But as soon as i try to diminish that angle i'm acutely (obtusely would have been more appropriate mathematically, but alas it doesn't quite convey the right sentiment) aware that i've somehow screwed myself up.

Maybe i'll be better tomorrow.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stupidity (sociological extensions of Darwinism)

It's interesting how fine the line is between stupidity and legend, and how often 'success' delineates the boundary.

Jeb Corliss is a prime example - pioneer of the wing suit.  If he'd crashed into a mountain on his first 'flight', or ended up in a dozen pieces when he hit this ledge (, many people would have chalked it up as the inevitable outcome of a really dumb decision.  But as it stands, he survived, has made countless more successful jumps, and is widely heralded (by those in the outdoor industry) as something of a visionary, pushing the boundaries of what was previously thought possible.

Idiot and Legend are really just flip sides of the Darwinian coin - they are the different labels that we give to people when they try things that seem ridiculous, impossible, or just plain stupid - things that have never been done before or in some cases have never even been attempted.  Things that conventional wisdom and the the collective thinking of risk averse society suggest will meet with certain failure. 

And when the person fails, dies, or gets injured - these elements are affirmed and the coin lands on the idiot side.
200+ mph?  stupid or the stuff of legends?

But when the person doesn't - when they succeed, and then especially if they succeed again and again - conventional wisdom is forced to re-write itself.  We learn about the world and ourselves.  The coin shows Legend.

I was reminded of all this as i watched a great movie with my kids this morning - 'the worlds fastest indian'.  In particular i was struck by how nicely my thoughts on the subject are summed up by dear old Teddy Roosevelt, so i'll let him close for me:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meet Joe Vacek (a.k.a. looking in the mirror)

Joe Vacek, all dolled up
Joe Vacek teaches aviation law or something like that at the university here in Grand Forks.  He's a pretty good looking young guy and a reasonable athlete.  He does most of the events i put on and sometimes even places in them.  He's always smiling, a little bit cocky, but beyond that never really seemed like that much of a total bad ass.

I might have pegged him wrong though.  you see, Joe just got back from riding his bike across the united states.  no big deal there - sure it takes pretty good fitness (especially to do it in the time it took him which seemed fairly quick) - but lots of people go bike touring.  Good for Joe.  What surprised me, however, was when i got an email from him last night asking if there were still any solo swim spots left in the 27 mile downriver swim i'm putting on next weekend.

Here's a guy who's arms have atrophied over the previous two months - a guy i didn't even know knew how to swim - who seemingly casually enters a race that many of the people entering, people who have been training for months and have years of marathon swimming under their belts, probably won't finish.  And he thinks, with bravado, that he will.

Its like i'm looking in the mirror, only without the suit.

It's Joe's type of confidence (if it's real)  that i think allows us to get closest to our actual limit.  Because i think that you can do almost anything that you genuinely believe that you can.  And so if in Joe that bravado comes from a real deep seated confidence in his abilities - abilities (mental and physical) that he's tested over his years of life - then maybe he actually will finish.

Despite the fact that he hasn't swam in nearly three months.  And that before that he would swim less than a mile a few days a week at lunch.  This is my kind of guy.  My kind of challenge.

Joe - I for one will be rooting for you next weekend.  And if you don't finish, i for one won't think you were doomed from the start, or foolish for even thinking you might make it.  I think you can.

Don't embarrass me Joe, please?