3.14.2010

Today Was a Good Day

Because today was an unusually good and fun family style day, I thought I'd briefly try to capture how it went because I know, maybe years from now, I will want to look back on days like today and remember them.

My wife and I are training for a sprint triathlon at the end of April, a little more than six weeks away. A sprint triathlon, for those that aren't knowing, is a short distance triathlon consisting of a quarter mile swim (in a suck the breath right out of you cold lake), a 9.7 mile bike portion and then a two mile run. It doesn't sound overall challenging on the face of it. I'm already routinely riding 12 - 16 mile mountain bike rides now though the recent non-stop rains have definitely cut into my cardio. Anyway, it is a race, it does have swimming and running as key features of it, two activities of which I've done damned little of in the last ten years or so. I did used to run cross country in high school but gave it up when I realized how much faster and further and less impactful mountain biking was.

But we are now training for all three aspects of the race. Which means getting some pool time when possible. The first possible came earlier this week and I came up against the hard reality that bike fitness and pool fitness ain't got shit to do with one another. I grunted my way through 30 or 35 laps, I stopped counting and then stopped swimming when my calves decided they'd had enough and locked up on me. Let it be known that I've always had a rather large set of calves, probably from so much mountain biking throughout my life. They are a great source of power but they also have a tendency to cramp up and stop working if I go too far too soon.

Anyway, let's fast forward on to today, which was kind of the original point of the post in the first place and I've already rambled my way halfway down the page without even getting to the good stuff.

The good stuff for today included a trip to the health club/gym whatever you want to call it. This is unusual for me because I stopped going to health clubs a number of years ago after getting pretty well burnt out on them. But my wife has been going to one in Live Oak for a while now and really likes it, my kids also like it because they've got a cool day care space on the premises and everyone can have fun while mom gets a work out in. They even have a climbing wall outside with three auto-belay rope systems built-in for the kids and, as my wife found out today, adults to try out.

So we dropped the two boys off at the day care next to the club, they happily jumped in with their snack bag, they grabbed a table in the marked off area and had a snack. Around the room there were good fun things to play on or in, a small obstacle course crawly thing, a bouncy trampoline and more. It was pretty cool and there were a bunch of kids to play with and three staffers keeping an eye on things inside and another staffer outside helping kids try the climbing wall.

In the club one of the first things I noticed was the lack of blasting music. It was actually kind of peaceful, it wasn't empty, there were a couple of dozen people working out, on the cardio machines and in between. We talked with the desk staff, talked about a day pass for me, talked about possibly signing up, met the co-owner and then met the owner. I'd already met him a number of years ago when I was working at another gym in the area and he was opening the first of the local gyms. I even interviewed with him for a job once upon a time.

The owner took the time to talk with us, get to know me (again) and learn a little bit about us which bodes quite well. He gives a damn, has a great demeanor and personality and obviously loves what he does. He found out I'm a cyclist and a computer geek and took us over to three rather cool bikes near the stretching area. The bikes let you create an account, choose a ride (countryside, coastal, big hills, whatever) with distances, set your pace rider (who can be sped up or slowed down), you steer with the handlebars, you have a shifter to move up or down depending on the incline or decline, you have a heartrate monitor built into the bars, you have real-time data streaming across the screen, you have scenery, you have other cyclists out on the ride. It was, suffice to say, pretty damned cool. I did a 7 mile ride in around 25 minutes, worked up a very good sweat and enjoyed it. It helped that I could see exactly how hard I was working and dial it back a bit if I needed to.

After the bike ride, I did some calf stretching on the crazy stretching cage nearby. It was set up to allow a person to effectively stretch every part of their body. There was a chart of how to use it on the wall and it was pretty easy to get a pretty good stretch in quickly.

I didn't want to get too crazy on weight training since I haven't been lifting regularly for quite some time now but I wanted to do a quick circuit to wake my body up to the fact that slug time was over. I started with some shoulder presses, then to a butterfly machine, went to a bench press machine (with independent grips which was interesting), then some rows, pulldowns, tri-presses and standing barbell curls. Not anything super heavy, pretty minimal weights to get my machine started back up. Plus I knew that there was pooltime coming up and I didn't want to fry myself beforehand.

My wife finished her ride and did her circuit and headed off to the sauna or steam room to sweat some more. I gave a try to the climbing wall, scrambled up most of the way to the top before my hands starting to give out and, truth be told, the height I was off the ground kind of freaked me out a bit. I'd never used an auto-belay system so its hard to just instantly trust it. I climbed down and vowed to return when I hadn't already burned most of my energy up. And I will.

After some more good chatting with the owner including war stories from my old gym and how he'd come to take over the operations, I signed up to join the gym, adding myself to my family's membership. The price is good, the facilities are excellent, the day care is great and its a nice place to get exercise in. Not much like my last gym that wasn't taken care of as well as it should have, was over run with poser gang banger types and almost always had crazy loud crappy music playing.

From there we headed down to the swim center nearby. The gym and the swim center have a deal where we can get swim passes at a discount and they have a shallow warm pool for kids and parents to enjoy together as well as a large lap pool for more working out. We all started in the smaller shallow heated pool, the boys haven't been swimming in a while and had a total blast. There were other kids to play with some but they mostly wanted to swim and play with us, their parents. Which was fine and fun.

After everyone had had some fun, I went to the big pool to get some more work in. I'd planned on just a ten lap short session but stretched it out to 20, a quarter mile, before my legs sent up a white flag and requested some other activity. I headed back to the shallow pool to play with the family more. We did submarine rides, I pulled Sully through the water, we splashed, we laughed and we all had lots of fun. It was a good time and it was a really good family time together.

When we did end up heading in, my wife took Grady in to get him ready and Sully and I headed in to get showered up and dressed together. He had fun in the big shower room because all the showers were push button activated and he laughed as the warm water got him.

Once we were all cleaned up and dressed, we loaded into the Escape and headed out to get some food as I was approaching starving from not having eaten in too many hours. We ended up going to Pink Godzilla in Capitola and took over one of comfy eating rooms where you have to take your shoes off and there is a pit under the table and its cozy and fun. And the food was especially great today, the sushi we got was delicious, the salads with the miso dressing were good though I had to ask for more dressing. Grady expanded his normal order from the inari to trying everything on his plate and finding that he really like almost all of it. We were quite proud of his being open to trying the new foods and thrilled that he liked them. He's usually a picky eater but I've been using the Green Eggs & Ham story as a way to remind the boys that sometimes food may not look like something you'd like to eat but you will never know until you try it. And it works!

Oh yeah, before heading into Pink Godzilla, we ran into some friends and their kids who were all out on a bike ride together which made Grady want to get his bike out of the truck so he could show off his non-training wheel riding skills!

We had a great late lunch and headed home to a couple of napping boys, Grady kept napping after we got home, Sully did not but played pretty quietly. My wife went up to Target to do some shopping since she's been dropping weight and losing inches she needed some new bras. When she got back, they put in a kid's movie called Planet 51 which was cute and funny and entertaining. I went up to Target myself and got a pair of training tights that I've been needing for cold rides and some other goodies.

It was, all in all, a wonderful day. The kind I wish we could have everyday. With some luck I'll get some trail time tomorrow and we'll go into next week with more swimming, more gym time, an increasing fitness level and the upcoming triathlon weekend will be a great fun time for all of us. We're going to be camping on site with lots of other racers and I'm really starting to look forward to it.

In the meantime, I need to figure out if I want to try and race at the Sea Otter Classic a couple of weeks before. I'm starting to lean more and more towards a yes on it. Its a longer ride but its a great place to race and the whole Sea Otter experience is really fantastic. I hope to share it with my family this year and next and the next after that.

But, for now, I've got to get to bed. This has turned into a long, long post and I'm not sure I expect too many readers to read it all the way to here. And that's alright really. Sometimes blogging isn't so much about writing it for others but writing it for yourself (and your kids and wife) and if others enjoy it then so much the better!
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