Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

August 31, 2014

August 2014 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 9:40 pm

August Highlights:

2014 USAT National Championships Recap

The Race
Sometimes, and maybe more often than not, you can’t find your A game for your A race. That’s the short version of what happened to me in Milwaukee this year. Ever since receiving my invitation to participate in National Championships, I had been looking forward to participating in this event. Initially, I did not have any really big goals for the race. The main objective was to go out there, do it, and see what it was all about. Well, that view lasted a few weeks, but as the new year approached, I got more serious about my training. I swam more, biked more, and ran more than I had in any other season. The results led to some record times for me in the pool, an 18% increase in my bike power level (which is huge), and a record sub 7 minute mile pace 5K in my third race of the season. I seriously began to believe that I could have a great race at Nationals which would place me in the top 90 or so in my age group based on the times. This would equate to a sub 2:20 time for a 1500 meter swim, 40km bike ride, and 10K run. I was even more pumped when a coach I respect told me that based on what he had seen there was no reason I couldn’t bag a top 18 spot and secure a slot in the World Championships. What place did I end up getting? Well, the one and the eight were correct, but you’d have to add another digit to that number to get my final result. I was 181st out of the 215 people in my age group with a time of 2 hours and 34 minutes — not exactly a world championship qualifying result.

What went wrong?  I could probably ramble for a long time on why I didn’t have my best race, but cramping on the first half mile of the 10K run was a pretty good indicator that I was probably dehydrated going into this race which means my pre-race hydration and nutrition strategy failed miserably. I pretty much stuck to the strategy I always use before a race — don’t eat anything weird, don’t over eat, drink normally, etc.. This approach has worked well for me in sprint distance courses, but in Milwaukee I would learn that this would not be enough, especially when you consider the other variables that contributed to my dehydration: plane travel, air-conditioned hotel room,  and standing for more than one hour in the hot afternoon sun waiting to pick up my bike on the day before the race. The morning of the race, I got a hint that my hydration was not right because about 60 minutes before the start I had no real urge to go to the bathroom — if you’ve ever seen the long lines of triathletes waiting to use the porta-potties before a race, you know how unusual this is. Starting an endurance event not properly hydrated is never a good thing, but when you also add in the fact that you’re participating in a race that’s twice your normal distance, and you’re starting at a really late time (which means racing in 73+ temperatures for the entire event), then you’ve set yourself up for a solid two hours of suffering.

I had a relatively good swim time, but I struggled mightily to maintain any power on the bike. Once off the bike, I got a little inspiration from someone I knew cheering me on at the start of the run (thanks Dusty and Karen). I noted that I was holding my pace nicely for the first half mile and thought I could at least be happy with two legs of the event — the swim and the run. But that happiness came crashing down hard when I started cramping shortly after the first half mile of the run. I tried to stave off the cramp by stretching my quad, but quickly had to bring my leg down as I began feeling the right hamstring cramp up too. From then on, I was forced to go slow because any time I would try to pick up the pace, the cramping feeling would come back, threatening a complete lock up. Luckily, I prevented the muscles from totally seizing up, but running in that state, and in the full heat of the midday sun, made those last 5.7 miles feel like the longest few miles of my life.

In summary, I didn’t have the greatest race, but I definitely learned a lot by just being there. I learned that if I really want to succeed at this type of race and against this type of competition (which represents the top 10% in the nation) my nutrition strategy has to be much better than it was, my biking has to take a quantum leap, my legs need to stay cramp-free, and I need a level of focus that is probably only possible if I travel to the event solo. Keep in mind, I’m not sure if I really want to do all these things, but going to a race like this really makes you open your eyes as to where you fit in the grand scheme of triathlon age group racing — something that is really good to know before attempting to do a race like this again.

Sometimes It’s Not Just About the Race
So the race didn’t go so well. That’s okay. The other reason for me taking this trip was the opportunity for my dad and I to spend some quality time hanging out together. I have to admit that I probably wasn’t the best travel partner on this trip because I was really trying to focus on what I needed to do for my race. As I already know, my dad is a pretty nervous traveler. Not in the sense that he’s scared to travel on planes or go somewhere new, but rather in his constant need to know everything about anything and anybody. This manifests itself in a litany of questions from my dad and these types of exchanges:

Dad: When do we leave?
Me: Sunday.
Dad: What time?
Me: Not sure dad…we just got here, why do you need to know that now?

Dad: Do they have these shirts in a large?
Me: No, this is all they have out.
Dad: Maybe they have more somewhere else?
Me: The lady already said that’s all they have
Dad: Well maybe you can ask that other guy?

Dad: David, why don’t they have food here like bagels, bananas, and oranges, like they do in your other races?
Me (exhausted having just crossed the finish line): Not sure dad, but we’ll look for food in a little bit.
Dad: What’s that over there? Are people picking up their bikes? Do you need to pick up your bike first?
Me: Dad, I just finished. Lets chill for a bit?

It’s a balancing act with my dad — part of me likes that he can still be kid-like and curious about anything and everything (including stuff that at the moment does not matter much), but when you are preoccupied with your pre-race routine, it’s easy to get a little impatient.

Nevertheless, we both had fun together, especially after the race was over. We found a nice little healthy Mexican food place on Brady street and spent a nice evening walking up and down the street checking out the various bars, shops, dessert places and people. This is when hanging out with my dad gets fun because I get to listen to all the unfiltered observations he makes about the people around him — the pretty girl with the “stupid” nose ring, the mom in front of us who “doesn’t look like she needs more ice cream,” or the crazy-faced “loco” in front of us who has to talk so loud on his flip phone. Of course he’s able to make all his commentary in Spanish so nobody knows they are the object of my dad’s comedic interludes. This is when pops is at his adolescent-humor best.

Interspersed with the humor are the occasional questions, but also good current stories about family back in Chile, as well as stories from his past. The time definitely goes by fast when I hang out with him, something that really helped when we were stuck at the Chicago airport terminal for 8 hours before our departure. The delay started off with a text indicating that our flight would be delayed by 30 minutes. Well, after about 3 or 4 more of those texts, I finally got one that said the plane would not be leaving for four hours. That left my dad and I with time to walk up and down the terminal, make a few pit stops for food and coffee, sit and people watch, and, of course, swap stories. One of the ongoing narratives that held his interest was whether or not we’d end up having to sit next to this 350+ pound man that was also on our flight — can you imagine if that happens Davy?  Some people might have felt more than a little inconvenienced by the long delay, but I have to say, being stuck with my pops was truly a great way to spend the day.

Kids Start School

Neither of our kids would fess up to being excited about starting school because as they’ve told us countless times, school is boring, school is no fun, and school doesn’t teach you anything that you’re going to use later on in life anyway. But despite the griping, there were little things the kids did that indicated that they might not be telling the entire truth. Lilah made sure she bought some new shoes (purple vans) and outfits for school. She also asked if she could purchase a “spiritwear” hoody from her new school during freshman orientation. Luke asked for a new chair for the desk in his room and a pair of Converse that he could pair up with his “first day of school outfit.” And for not “really caring” about the start of school, Luke’s inability to sleep well the night before school started showed that he was a little more concerned about beginning middle school than he cared to admit.

Lilah was happy that she seemed to get most of the “good teachers” at her new high school. The only gripe she had was with her honors English class which had way too much homework for her liking, including an assignment that was due on the very first day of school — a summary of a book she was required to read over the summer. She was also a little bummed that she didn’t know many of the kids in her classes. On a positive note, not knowing many people at school made her happier about rejoining the YMCA swim team where she is able to see a few of her old friends a couple of times a week. Lilah rejoined the swim team toward the end of summer (after a two or three year absence) to regain some of her aquatic fitness before high school swim team tryouts start next semester. She actually surprised me by saying she “looks forward to going to swim practice now,” something I don’t think she’s ever said before.

Luke also seems to be settling in. He doesn’t share a lot, but he did share the fact he has memorized both of his combination locks: one for his regular locker, and one for his PE locker. He also asked if a I could figure out a coding homework problem he had. Little did I know he already knew the answer, which he smirkingly showed after watching me struggle. Luke chose coding as an elective. He says it’s hard but that he’s able to work in groups to figure things out and that even though it’s a little boring now, later on they’ll be able to code their own apps. He seemed excited about this in his own understated way. He also elaborated a bit more by letting me know that coding might be something he would like to do when he grows up. Nice.

When I start to feel a little worried about the kids dislike of school, I always remind myself that often times the kids just like to vent and that sometimes the best thing you can do as a parent is not try too hard to guide them because this can quickly turn into a lecture, which the kids are very adept at tuning out. Instead, most of the time I find that all I need to do is listen and give them the space they need to find their way. Sometimes that makes you feel like you’re not “being a parent,” but from what I’ve observed this “non-parenting” approach can work wonders if you let it.

More next month…

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