Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rest Your Head

I love Peter Gabriel's music even though I don't listen to it that often. He has tremendous skill in writing emotionally heavy, touching lyrics. This may be why I don't listen frequently, I need to be in the right space to enjoy. I recently threw his album New Blood on my iPhone, thinking it was about time to refresh some Gabriel tunes. This album is an orchestral remix of some of his greatest songs, not necessarily the most popular in every case. Not one of the cheesy "The Orchestrated Pink Floyd" style albums, where a random full orchestra plods through a close instrumental version of the songs. This album is created by Gabriel with a fresh take on vocals with orchestrations. Some versions on the album are breathtaking, some leave you wanting to listen to the original.

The songs Digging In The Dirt and Darkness are personal favorites, and the new versions on the album are perfect. Invoking emotions I can remember from the first listen in 1992 and 2002 respectively, and lending new meaning for where I am personally today. Timeless connection is the mark of a great song.

What hit me today was the song Don't Give Up.I always forget about this tune. The original is a beautiful rendition featuring Gabriel and Kate Bush. the New Blood version features Norwegian Ane Brun in Bush's spot. Legend has it that the song was inspired by a dreadful newspaper report about a woman jumping off an apartment building with her child or that it was inspired by thoughts of folks in depression while unemployed and supporting a family. The theme Don't Give Up fits both. Gabriel was also getting out of his own depression at the time he wrote the song, and he points to the support he received from friends and family. The song really needs a listen to feel the true beauty within. The message is so pure, do not give up. Find someone you can rest your head on in times of challenge. Conversely, be that person for someone else. Connect with your friends and family and make sure they know you are there, and you can lend support. Sometimes I think this is assumed, but when someone is in a bad spot, it can be hardest to remember you have friends and family that will help you. Connect with them and help them never give up.

Don't give up
You still have us
Don't give up
We don't need much of anything
Don't give up
'cause somewhere there's a place
Where we belong
Rest your head
You worry too much
It's going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don't give up
Please don't give up

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Triple The Fun in 1:49

This past weekend I completed my first triathlon at the sprint distance. This is a three part race that featured 750 meters of swimming, 22K of cycling and a 5K run to the finish. For those stuck in English standard units this is approximately a 1/2 mile swim, 13.7 mile cycle and a 3.1 mile run. The race was really fun to participate in, the training was a nice break from my normal running routine.

Starting out I knew I could do any one the three events right away, separately. As my friend Greg indicated, I was wrong about the swimming. My first trip to the pool I was able to do 1.5 laps before stopping to catch my breath, then I did 1/2 lap at a time, stopping each iteration. Within four swims I was up to 18 laps straight, more than the distance for the triathlon, so that skill improved quickly. The running was not a worry at all, after all I ran at least 5K almost every morning this summer. More on the easy 5K in  a bit.

What I did not realize would be so hard was the cycling. Not necessarily riding 14 miles, but making time to train. The bike is the most time consuming of the three events, and I trained far to little in this skill. Now that I have my first triathlon under my belt, I will approach training entirely different the next time. Lots of cycling, a good weekly run, and 1-2 swims per week. The bike, while "only one third" of the race, is the biggest target for time improvement. My 16 minutes of swimming can be improved by maybe a couple minutes, same goes for the 5K, but the bike I could save 15 minutes or more with better training. I will also train going straight from the bike to running more. The feeling of this transition is weird, and not comfortable at first. Your legs feel 200 pounds each, and it take a decent stretch to get your legs under you properly. The first time I ran after a bike I thought I was going to eat the sidewalk.

Transitions are also a bigger part of the over all race than I thought they would be. The transition area is where you switch from the swim to your bike, and later drop the bike off and start running. I took my time the the transition area. Next time I will lay out my area a little bit better, and spend as little time in there as possible.

All said and done, I really like the triathlon competition. Like my friend TJ said, be careful, you will want to do more, he was right. I now want to do one more sprint tri in the spring/summer and significantly improve my time, Then double the distances and compete at the Olympic length race by next fall.

My biggest takeaway from the triathlon is never, ever let someone, or yourself tell you that you cannot accomplish something. I would have laughed a year ago if I was told I would finish a triathlon in 2014, but I did. Lots of work, lots of commitment and mostly I believed in myself. Now I am back to training for a couple more races in 2014, and my first half marathon in the spring.

Find your finish line, and get it!