Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Travel Bit: Maryland Flights

Not much of a post and not much of a punch-line, but it's what I have today.

On Wednesday November 22nd I headed to Maryland to visit JK and the rest of the Kamauff family for U.S. Thanksgiving. I had devoted a lot of effort to travel planning; it paid off, but not entirely as I had expected.

I avoided flying into MIA (Miami) from GCM (Grand Cayman). Lots of other folks share my aversion: MIA international arrivals can be a zoo - often flights have been delayed and sudden bursts of arrivals swamp customs/immigration and baggage.

I took an afternoon Delta flight into ATL (Atlanta), having scheduled a long (almost 4 hour) layover. I also flew first class, in order to have a shot at priority baggage handling (which rarely seems to do anything in the U.S., as opposed to Europe where I gather it almost always has an impact) and to get the speedy security line for my next flight after clearing customs/immigration.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the customs/immigration at ATL was emptier than I've ever seen international arrivals anywhere, and this on the biggest U.S. travel day. That was a breeze. Baggage came quickly, although the priority handling had no obvious effect - lots of regular baggage came through ahead of mine. The security line was easy, perhaps somewhat influenced by it being late afternoon (part of the planning).

One nice thing about flying Delta is that they are still recognizing my old (since cancelled) American Express platinum card, allowing me access to their lounges when I'm on their flights. They'll stop doing that when the card reaches its natural expiry date; maybe I'll have another one by then. Anyhow, that made a nice chance to sit, drink beer, and chat with a couple of friends who had been on the same flight.

My connecting flight to BWI (Baltimore-Washington) boarded on time, but was delayed in taking off. The pilot offered the explanation that the software had some out-of-date data and required maintenance personnel to upload updated datafill. That cost us going on an hour; ah well, it was another opportunity to sit and drink beer. Urp. The flight itself was uneventful, and JK was timely in collecting me at BWI (I'd updated him on our delay via cell from the tarmac at ATL and he doublechecked for flight updates).

On Sunday November 26th I took a morning U.S. Airways flight from BWI to CLT (Charlotte) to make a connection to GCM. Since I expected airports to be a bit quieter, and because I would stay behind the security line making the connection, I flew economy.

It was here that I received the unexpected payoff to my travel planning. I'd booked through Travelocity, and it wouldn't offer me the round-trip itinerary that I wanted; hence, I put together two separate one-way legs. It had slipped my mind that this pretty much guaranteed that security would want a closer look at me. Upon presenting my boarding pass they pulled me from the regular security line to a separate line, complete with the air-puff explosives detector. There was no one ahead of me in the special security line, as opposed to the long queue of people who had been ahead of me in the regular line.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Race Report: NCR Trail Marathon 2-person Relay 2006

I hesitate to label this as a race report because of my approach to the event - I determined that I would keep to the heart rate limit of 150 that I've been using for base training. Nonetheless, since the organizers label the event as a race and I paid an entry fee I'll stick with the header.

Back in 2003 I ran the full marathon. Since then I have run the relay with my teammate Jim Simpson doing the first leg me doing the second. While this sticks Jim with the cooler weather, it gives him a fair split time for a half-marathon (and on the two previous occasions let him run along with our mutual friend JK - JK missed this one as he tries to rehab his Achilles tendon).

My congratulations go out to Jim, who (on an unfairly long course) came in with a personal best at 1:59:22. This year I used his camera to snap a couple of pictures as he crossed the timing mat and ran up to me to pass along our timing chip, so we preserved the moment!

Almost immediately after the relay hand-off I had to throttle back - it's hard to start an event at such a slow pace. It was even harder to stay throttled back as runner chix blew past me; not only was I not going to impress them with physical prowess (if that were even an option), but I lost sight of them all too soon!

The day was fabulous for a light run. The trail is crushed stone, mostly running alongside a river in a protective depression/valley. It was sunny, and by the time I was running the temperature was around mid-fifties rising to a bit over sixty. There was no noticable wind. The volunteers were friendly at the aid stations and road crossings, and I had a lot of breath available to thank them. Water stations were a bit too far apart for me, so I had a water bottle with me; many other runners relied entirely upon the stations.

I did occasionally pass someone: there were some marathoners who flagged so much that I went by them, and some second-leg relay people who had had a faster teammate than mine but were themselves going at a slower pace than me. A few steps along after passing one fellow I heard him query: "Is that Brent?" I looked back and recognized Nav Mundi, a friend from Toronto. Neither of us had any idea that the other was going to be at the event, so that was a very nice surprise. Nav and I ran together for a few miles until somewhere past my mile 11 (his mile 24).

I had to walk the minor hills at the end of the course to keep within my heartrate limit. I had company - a few other people were too slammed at that point to tackle them at a run. My final time was 2:19:42, but I think the course layout mistakenly had the first leg a couple of hundred yards longer than the second. My Garmin said my leg was short, and Jim tells me that a lot of people running the first leg (including him) had theirs showing the first leg as too long.

My thanks to the organizers and all the volunteers.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Week That Was

It was a recovery week, it was a week with Thanksgiving, it was a week with travel, it was a week with a friend's full-blown birthday party with cake, it was a week with an office move: it was a week with very little training. One long run (just shy of a half-marathon done in 2.33 hrs.).

On the plus side, according to my scale this morning I didn't blow out my projected body composition trajectory; weight gain seems to be within the amount budgeted for the week of compromising choices.

I'll do a few separate paragraphs later on the NCR Trail Marathon 2-person Relay and the weekend visit in the Kamauff vortex.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blog-gone ('til Monday)

I'm punching out for my annual U.S. Thanksgiving visit to see my friend JK (he of outrageous number of airmiles) and family.

While I'm there I will be the second leg of a relay team doing the Northern Central Trail Marathon (so I'm doing a half); how I'll combine that with the current recovery week during a low heart-rate base training phase is... an interesting dilemma.

While I'm not here, other folks will be doing the local triathlon big show: the Bank of Butterfield International Triathlon. All the best to the participants!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


For anyone who may believe that I overemphasized last week's release of turtle yearlings, I note that reporting of the event is front page news on both of today's local papers, the Caymanian Compass and Cayman Net News.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Week That Was

Long run: 2.25hr. Long bike (indoor trainer): 3hr. 1 Masters swim session. Additional run: 2hr. Additional bike: 2hr. In all: 10.25hr. Better.

It was nice to speed up the treadmill a bit on Friday evening. Sunday's 3 hours on the trainer left my legs feeling properly loaded - the first time I've hit that state in cycling since starting base.

As I've mentioned, swimming is well-supported here. My sister pointed out this article from a local newspaper covering the 5K/10K sea swim of last week. A 10K swim - I'm impressed that Brigitte was able to lift her arm to wave after her win! All who attempted the 10K distance finished. Gerry Tyler was the last to cross the line - as he took longer than the original 5 hour cut-off (but under 5 1/2, if memory serves), he was quite thankful that officials and others stayed to support him.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Base: That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Go Longer

I just wanted to use that title for a post. I got nuthin.

OK, I have Friday's long run on the treadmill. It's week 3 of Base 1 and my heartrate was staying low enough to move the treadmill speed up .1mph three times. I know that's mainly a function of rest (took Thursday off) and neuromuscular conditioning, but it still fanned the spark of hope that I will respond to low heartrate training.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cayman Tri-Life: Pirates Week!

It's Pirates Week in the Cayman Islands, and there are a few noted athletic events going on.

I'm not participating in any of the events (Must. Keep. Heartrate. Low.)
but the roster sure is/was fun:
o Mike Lockwood Memorial International Swim Meet (both weekends);
o 5K run on November 10th;
o 5K or 10K (!) sea swim on November 11th;
o 10K run on November 19th - to Hell and back!
As previously noted we had a build-up triathlon on Sunday November 12th (not affiliated with Pirates Week).

For fans of turtles (and really, who isn't a fan?), I'll mention that the annual release of green sea turtles from the Turtle Farm happens today. 20 more yearlings head into the wild - go, yearlings, go!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Week That Was

The long run and the long trainer session are both up to 2 hours. I also logged a Masters swim session and an additional 1.5 hour run. Not enough. I can't claim that workouts are slamming me - low duration base workouts at low heartrate don't do that.

This week's lost-workout surprise was that my condo complex had an owners party on Friday night and the AGM on Saturday morning. Ah well, I am assured that I'm being added to the appropriate e-mail list to head off any recurrence of surprises from that direction.

On the plus side, I did volunteer at the local build-up triathlon held Sunday morning as folks prepare for the local big show, the Butterfield Bank International Triathlon. Karma points!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Perhaps prompted in part by the plethora of posts by my sister about toys, featuring two about watches, I finally got around to making a certain purchase.

With a new sport comes an opportunity for new gear.
Mmmmm... gear....

Over the summer I did the PADI Open Water scuba certification, and thus I could mentally justify a shopping spree. Yesterday I bought a dive watch, ostensibly as a backup for dive computers: the Omega Seamaster 2254.50. Correction: according to the marketing literature, it's not a mere *watch* it's a chronometer. I do have a minor attachment to Omega, as they were the top-of-the-line equipment for timing in meets when I was swimming as a child. This one is more to my taste than its cousin, the current James Bond watch.

I think the dive watch feature of rotating bezel qualifies it as a toy. I wonder if it's a toy that will have an effect on the behaviour of salespeople? I suppose I'll find out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Child Could Do It!

In my previous post I commented that "checking out equipment was more demanding than I'd expected."

Sunday I got up relatively late (7am) and headed out to the local coffee shop not all that long after its 8am opening. I managed to stretch out coffee and bagels long enough for one of the local triathletes, Larry Walters, to show up after his morning ride.

That was as far as I could let the procrastination go. I headed back to the condo to assemble my big-@ss fan and CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer.

The fan was quite straight-forward. The trainer, less so. It's just that the assembly instructions were too brief. Actually, I did much better following this post than I did the instruction sheet. I gather that my model is a little older (I ordered it at the beginning of June) - there were some small differences between mine and Paulie's. I'm pretty sure that the whole operation would have gone more quickly if I could have borrowed his two-and-a-half year old assistant!

Some folks may be shaking their heads at the thought of using a trainer as the local weather moves toward gorgeous as rainy season draws to a close. With the traffic, evening training rides just aren't a good idea on the roads 'round here.

Usually I let the pop culture references stand or fall on their own, but today I'll make an exception (maybe I should make it a new habit). For the Star Trek impaired, the title of today's post is taken from the original series episode Spock's Brain.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Week That Was

Last week I started Base 1 training.

First lesson: the next time I have an extended off-season I will schedule at least a week of preparation phase before jumping into things. Reshuffling my schedule to accommodate workouts and checking out equipment was more demanding than I'd expected.

Hours were way below what I consider minimum, but from Thursday through Sunday I did get in the pool for a Masters session, lace up the shoes for an 90 minute treadmill run, and pedal away on the trainer for 90 minutes. Have to start somewhere - but it feels as though I'm starting at the very beginning. At least that's a Glinda-approved starting point.

Hoping for positive empathic resonance, I was on the treadmill Saturday November 4th from 4:15EST to 5:45EST, to be with the IM Florida TBC peeps in spirit. Spokane Al put up an honour role. And someone else was out that same day, doing her thing too. Those folks were getting it done, inspiring more people than they know.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Swim Themed Post: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Yesterday at swimming I bit the bullet and had a word with Coach Mike. I explained to him that I'm in base training for triathlon, and consequently preferred to swim the hypoxic sets not hypoxically. He had no trouble at all with that, and was quite gracious and positive. I knew he'd be fine with it, but it goes against the grain to push back against something a coach has set down. I have no problem with giving a coach feedback, but this felt more like over-ruling, something that Just Is Not Done. BTW, I've also demoted myself to a slower lane for base training.

Today I'll attend the launch party for our new Masters swim club, Hammerheads. Appropriately, it's being held at Hammerheads Brew Pub and Grill.

Tomorrow my big sister makes her return to swimming in an official meet. Go Wendy!