Last year I was open water swimming nearly every day. I've done most of my summer swims in open water as well. As a result, I have more time inside the Orca Apex than it could handle. As I prepared to head outside for my last lake swim of the year, Amanda noticed that it was torn. The outer skin tore open, so it was still fine for a swim. You can see right inside the flap here. Now I know what makes it look like a golf ball. Oddly enough, of the many times I've swam to Turtle Island and back, I haven't been able to break 10:00. My best time was 10:12.9, but in my torn wet suit, I managed to go 10:10.3. I've been chasing that time all year.
This is the before picture. Well, that is if you don't count the 30 truck loads of various things we hauled out of the yard. It was like the Jeff Foxworthy joke. "If you cut your grass and find a car ... you might be a red neck." We literally found things after chopping down the weeds that we couldn't even tell were there. We also hauled several truck loads of yard waste to the recycling center. So although this is the before picture, it looks spectacular compared to how it used to look. Until I get my video transferred, this will have to be the "before" picture.
Although my maintenance badge indicates that I work in communications electronics (satellite, wideband and telemetry systems), I’ve been working full time as security police. Although there are some pretty cool perks to the job, spending hours a day either all standing or all sitting, tends to make exercise about as appealing as eating honey right out of an active bee hive (unless you’re a honey badger). So I was one of few to be nominated for athlete of the year. Normally I don’t compile my results, but had to provide race results for the nomination package. As it turns out, I raced 29 times. Actually I raced 31 times, but DNFed two: got sent out onto the marathon course in Las Vegas (doing the half) and pulled up at Birch Bay Marathon (planned on running a marathon this time) after a dog came at me and left me with a minor injury. The year started off slowly, with tough training and tougher competition leaving me in the dust. I finished with results well beyond my expectation. According to the fiscal year numbers, I set 10 course records and finished first 18 times. Without Amanda's help, I would have been much worse off in racing and everything in life for that matter. If I had been keeping track, I probably wouldn’t have been so hard on myself for the few races that went awry. Fitness Fanatics saved me from a couple disasters as well. I finished outside of the top three in just six of 29 races. Two were national championships and one was a world championship where I was beaten so badly that I was almost embarrassed to have been there.
This is what my yard looks like from the same angle. It looks like the yard was just buried in rocks, but it's far from that. We have stone steps up a boulder corridor, which takes you up along a four-tier water fall. It starts by a big heated pond with a big water fall and a fast lane for when the lake gets too cold or isn't warm enough. It will also allow for great video in and out of the water. There's actually a lot more open space than this pic reveals.
The lake was calm on a beautiful morning. More pics to come on that. This angle from the deck shows the stone bridge just after the second fall and before the last two and the pond. It's a cool mix of green, red, grey, blue, etc. To the bottom left is where a propane powered fire pit is being built. It will have stone benches and steps and a paver floor. On the far right, there will be a Trex deck with clear view rails. I can hardly wait to lounge out there. Our yard has been a dirty, rocky, steep and unusable place since we moved in. I don't like enjoying nature from inside the house. I don't want to just look at it. I want to be out in it.
My goals for next year include making a trip to USAT Sprint Nationals, the National Guard Marathon Championships, going top three at Armed Forces Triathlon Championships to earn a spot to Military Worlds where I hope to be destroyed by less than usual, and pick a couple other big races that I’m usually not able to make. If I qualify, then I’ll probably apply for my pro card for a different experience. That will probably require me to do longer races that are not draft legal, but it will be fun to try something new, even if it means being annihilated. Work has made this year extremely difficult, but I’ve managed to save up a lot of leave and am working on a deal to work less and train more. I’m a fanatic, so Amanda and I are in the process of turning our basement and yard into a big-time training center. We have or have access to everything this side of illegal performance enhancers. Nearly everything should be in place by the end of the month. With everything we need right here or starting from here, along with starting the training season in the best shape of my life, it feels like the stars are lining up just right for a really good year to come. Of course, such a major jump in training could make me lose my motivation all together. I might quit the sport completely and get fat since I have no self-control when it comes to eating. My usual training volume is about 50% to 60% of what most athletes of my caliber put in. More isn’t necessarily better, but I’m sure more time would allow me to get much better training. Showing up to a race after sleeping is also very helpful
This was a picture perfect day. Nature is inviting you in. What are you waiting for? On the left, you can see the start area for the Trailblazer Triathlon. It's 355m away, but I stop about 5m from shore for a 700m round-trip swim. Motor boats aren't allowed on the lake, so you can get in, put your head down and swim worry free. Well, that's if you don't worry about the sharks, whirl pools, seagull attacks, etc. I had this ramp custom made to allow us to walk right into the water 40' from shore. It gets us past the rocks and weeds. It also allows you to swim right into the chute and run right out of the water. Soon, you'll be able to take an evenly graded smooth path right up to the new patio where you can grab your bike and head out for a ride, a run or do all three. We have room for several bikes, so we'll be hosting some training races and plenty of training.
The house project should be complete by the 3rd of October. Amanda and I plan on having a yard party with smores and cooking on the giant flame. This is the first public invitation to everyone who’d be interested in celebrating massive debt … I mean a major project completion. If you’re reading this Steve (Anderson), I’m going to need your smore-making expertise on this one. We’d appreciate any other experts in smores, barbecue or other. Bring your racing gear and we can have a fall freezer triathlon too.To the right of center is Turtle Island, a granite quarry just off shore. This is adjacent to the Trailblazer swim start. To the far left, you can see the start of Troika and Kiwanis triathlons at Waterfront Park. Amanda and I are truly lucky to be able to see views like this from our house and yard. The sunsets are as great as the morning skies. Now that we have a camera (thanks Amanda ... I know it's yours), we'll be able to capture more days like this one.We don't just have trees on the other side. To one side we have plenty of smaller trees and natural growth. To the other side, we have the park and a camp-site like yard on the edge of the lake. To the right is Waterfront, which is 1200m from the edge of our property. I love it here and it's starting to feel more and more like home.