Monthly Archives: July 2022

good books

How do you choose your books?  I have a bunch of different methods, but I always like to peruse the long and shortlists for the Booker Prize.  The Booker Prize is a prestigious literary award given to a writer who writes in English.  It used to be only for members of the Commonwealth but has since been expanded to the world.  Since the expansion, it’s been disproportionately dominated by Americans.

What I think is interesting is how little variety there is on the list.  The same authors get nominated over and over.  For example, Margaret Atwood was nominated for the Booker Prize for The Handmaid’s TaleCat’s EyeAlias GraceThe Blind Assassin, and The Testaments.  Now, Atwood is an amazing author, and The Blind Assassin is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but I felt The Testaments was mediocre to good.  In no way was it the best book of the year.  Why does the same person win over and over?  Why not mix it up a bit?

On this year’s list, we have NoViolet Balwayo, who has been nominated in past, and Karen Joy Fowler, also nominated in past, Graeme Burnet, nominated in past, and Elizabeth Strout, nominated in past.  In fairness, there are several new authors as well.  I think, though, once you’ve won the Booker once, you should be done.  Give someone else a chance.

I think I feel kind of the same way about people running for president.  If you’ve been a party’s nominee and lost, you should be done.  If you’ve run for your party’s nomination twice and lost, you should be done.  Give someone else a chance!

Book recommendations for the day: The Secret River  by Kate Grenville and The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld.

Triathlon race report

I did my second triathlon ever, and first in five years over the weekend.  I was so nervous about the open-water swim the night before, I couldn’t sleep.  I was also mentally exhausted from worrying about H’s trip back from NYC.  (He had some minor issues but was really worried just because he was traveling alone with two young children.  I worried along with him.)  Everyone ended up getting home super late, and I had to be checked in at transition by 7:00 am.  All this to say, I was feeling pretty unenthused about the triathlon on Friday night.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to back out at such a late stage.  Friday night, I got everything ready for both me and B.  Getting stuff ready for one triathlon is a huge pain, since you need to not only prepare for THREE sports but also to transition between the three sports rapidly. Doing this for TWO people was just a huge pain.

After waking up more or less hourly throughout the night, I was up at 5:45 to get ready for the race.  I headed to the local park the tri was in, and things were naturally chaotic, but after 15 minutes or so I was parked.  Transition was pretty information for the super sprint, without any assigned places, and I got my stuff set up and made friends with the first time triathlete set up next to me.  I then located another mom friend of mine who was also doing the race.  Chatting with her made me feel much better.  This is always the way for me at races.  I’m freaking out until I get there and find some people to talk to, and then I feel better.  The awful pre-race anxiety really deters me from big and difficult race, though.  It’s just so unpleasant.

After waiting and waiting and waiting – my wave was nearly last and was delayed by 30 minutes – we were finally off.  I was actually amazed how good I felt during the swim.  I passed most of the people in my wave and didn’t feel like I was trying particularly hard.  I *wasn’t* trying particularly hard.  I swam strong but paused every few strokes to have a good look at where I was going.  My wave consisted of women 40 and up, and it was much more low-key than the last tri I did, where my wave was a deep water start and included young and middle aged men.  During that start, I got clocked in the head quite hard, and it really set a negative tone for the whole swim.  This time, we all sort of strolled into the water, and gradually got going.  It was nice.

I’d decided to take it easy in transitions, and you can see me strolling out of the water here.  I look none too thrilled but I was mainly trying to avoid the rocks.

I got pipped at the finish line by one second, so maybe I should have strolled a little faster.

According to Strava, I swam 494 yds at 1:59 / 100 yard pace.  That includes a slow water entry and exit.  I think the wetsuit helped a ton, but trying to get it off during transition was a huge hassle.  Garmin clocked 4:23 for the first transition and I was sweating bullets trying to get the wetsuit over my watch and the chip.  (Yes, probably should have removed those first.)

I got my shoes and socks on and strolled some more with my bike and then finally heaved myself on and got going.  The first mile or so of the bike was narrow and twisty as we wove out of the park and it wasn’t really possible to pass.  Then we got going.  I had looked at my notes from my last tri and noted that I was destroyed after 17.5 mph on the bike, so I was trying to keep my effort more moderate this time.  I ended up average 15.8 mph, so I think I did a good job balancing working hard but not killing myself.  The course had a few hills which was unexpected since it had, I thought, been advertised as “flat.”  Things weren’t too congested and once I found my pace I mostly tracked behind this man.  Who was 78!  So awesome.

It was definitely a bit hot on the bike.  And it seemed to go on forever.  I was racing, after all, and an hour is a long race, especially compared to a 10 minute swim.

Finally the bike was over.  Again, I took my time racking my bike, taking some water and Gatorade, and getting my shoes on for the run.  When you bike and then run, it’s called (in triathlon parlance) a brick and for good reason.  My run splits ended up being 8:48, 8:25, 8:05.  I didn’t go to the well.  I could have gone faster, but it was hot and the ground was rough and I just didn’t want to make myself sick.  However, a women in my age group ran by me right at the line, so yeah.  I wish I’d gone just a little faster.  Oh well.  I was actually fourth in my age group, but #1 set a world record in the swim.  Eg – she either didn’t swim at all or only swam part way.  And #2 had no splits for the swim or bike and a very slow run split, making me think she skipped the swim.

I kind of love my trisuit!  I was afraid it would feel hot, but it didn’t really bother me.

After all this, I was more than a little bit tired, but it was time for triathlon number 2.  Well, almost.  After an hour or so of hurry up and wait, it was time for B’s tri.  She was VERY nervous, but like me, once she got to the startline and saw all the other kids, she was good to go.  She lined up right at the front.  That’s her in the wetsuit looking thing, which she actually wears for swim practice as well since she has no thermal mass and gets cold too easily.

Once they got going it turned out the “swim” was really a water dash.  OMG.  It would have been easier for them to swim than run 100 yards on the rocky beach.

I don’t have any photos of B on her bike, but she said it was her favorite part of the race.  She does love biking.  She wasn’t such a fan of the run.

The “run” was half a mile, which is actually kind of a long way for a 7 year old who’s already done the rocky water run plus a cycle and running around in and out of transition.  Nevertheless, B sprinted it in and was all smiles afterwards.

By the time B was done, we were well and truly exhausted and staggered home to rest and recover.  I highly recommend a tri for kids and for adults, but not at the same time.  If B ever wants to do a tri again, I think we’ll pick one I’m not participating in.  Personally, I think I’m good for another year or two.


triing and swimming

For a running race, I consider temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees ideal.  45 to 50 is nice because you can dress in shorts and short sleeves; for an easy run I’ll wear long sleeves or capris tights until it’s 50 or close to it, but for races that drops to 45 or so.   But for a triathlon, I prefer it to be warmer for obvious reasons.  For cycling, I’d say 65 to 70 and overcast is perfect, and for swimming, the hotter the better.

On a side note, we had a birthday party for B over the weekend at the pool, on 7/16, and it was mid 60s and overcast with a few rain drops here and there.  I had to laugh.  Where is global warming when you need it?  Fortunately, the kids had a great time, and we all enjoyed huddling in the hot tub.

My triathlon is Sunday, and I have a start time of around 8 am.  I estimate it’ll take me less than 2 hours to complete the race – a 400 m swim, 15 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  At 8 am, it’s supposed to be mostly sunny and 63 degrees.  At 10 am, it’s supposed to be 68 and sunny.  While 68 is definitely warmer than I’d prefer for a running race, overall I definitely can’t complain.  The water temperature at the lake is 72 to 74.  That’s warm enough that I could skip a wetsuit, especially given how short the swim is, but I’m planning to wear one at this point.  It’ll probably cost me a few minutes trying to get it off, but oh well.

Normally for biking hard in the mid 60s, I wouldn’t want or need any extra layers beyond a short sleeve jersey, but given that I’ll be wet from the swim, I’m not sure if it’s makes sense to add a layer.  Thinking about all this makes me nervous – triathlons are no joke.  So much more hassle and logistical challenge than just running a race!

The girls finished up their swim season last weekend.  L dropped her 50 free PR from 46 s to 41 s I think mostly by getting her flip turns.  She also improved her 50 back by 4s and 50 breast by 8 seconds.   She didn’t have much improvement on 25 butterfly, but she did very well in that last year.  Her best event was probably the 100 IM which she swam in 1:41 in her last meet.  L swims in the “B” division; there are two divisions, A and B.  To swim A you must achieve a time qualifier, and L is about 2 s off in 100 IM and 4 or more seconds off in everything else, which is quite a bit.  It’s interesting.  I think she’s quite fast, but obviously there are an awful lot of kids who are quite a bit faster, even in the casual, fun summer swim session.  L is eager to qualify for A, but I think it’ll be an uphill battle for her.  Already, she is way faster than I was at her age.

Briony improved most of her times by several seconds.  Her biggest improvement was in the 25 butterfly, which she improved from 54 seconds to 34 seconds.  She also no longer looks in danger of imminently drowning when she swims butterfly, which is always a plus.  More importantly, she got a lot of joy out of swimming this year.  She enjoyed swim last year, but she loved it this year.  She adores her coaches, and I adore them too for being so great with the kids.  I find it interesting how great teenage boys and young men can be with little girls.  I feel like there’s a stereotype that women and girls are better caregivers, but her coaches certainly are a great counterexample.