Recharging my Garmin is like playing Operation or singing in Carmen


When I first started making noises about thinking about doing an Ironman, my wife bought me a GPS watch, the Garmin 910XT.

It’s actually a pretty sweet device. It has a ridiculously long battery life, it connects to all sorts of gadgets that are useful and it’s got a familiar albeit unusable user interface. After twenty years you’d think we’d have something other than that annoying beep beep beep sound…

The on real source of irritation is the power-supply.

Garmin wanted something that would be water and sweat proof and ridiculously robust so it could handle bike falls, collisions etc.. so they need some kind of solution that would work in really rough situations.

Their solution was two contacts on the base of the device


and a castanet that you attach to the device. Every time I charge my device, I keep wanting to sing Toreador from Carmen




(just in case you’re wondering the garmin gadget is the thing on the right).


The problem with this is system is:

  1. Attaching the power-supply is like playing Operation just in reverse. You have to attach the power supply *just* so. 
  2. The contacts get covered in sweat and sea water and require periodic cleaning with rubbing alcohol. The first time I discovered this, I only had vodka – which turned out to work just fine.
  3. And sometimes even when you get the power supply attached correctly, you place it on the table in just the right way and it stops charging. Usually you discover that 10 to 15 minutes before you need it…

This is the one device that I really wish had a power supply with no cable….


Week 22 – Junior Triathlete

I’ve been doing a lot of training. A lot. And a lot of it happens on a bicycle hooked up to a trainer.

The green thing is the trainer, the orange thing is a power supply that I use to plug in my computer so I can watch some video or plug in the baby monitor when I bike while he is sleeping and the book is used to balance the bike.

Last week my wife found my son sitting on his tricycle and biking in place. She also noticed that he had moved the power supply close to him.

When asked what he was doing , he said: I am biking like daddy. When I cam home, he quickly started his work out again:

Later that evening, Nicholas took it to the next level.

First he worked to get the tricycle setup correctly in the trainer (notice the book). And then he went on his long bike ride.

The good news is that we got the bike training down pat, but I am a little bit concerned about his transitions…

Maybe next year we sign up for the Silicon Valley Kid Triathlon?

Week 21 – Reflections a third of the way in

Two months before my first Olympic Triathlon, and almost 60 weeks before my first Iron Man, I thought it might be time for some reflections on progress towards my goals.

So if the goal is the summit of Everest.

I think I finally made it to SFO…


My flight has not yet left for  Nepal.


And have a long way to get to base camp…


Before I make it to the summit

So let’s look at the plan…

  1. Bike 112 miles averaging more than 15 miles an hour… I have only been able to sustain a greater than 15 mile pace once in my life and that was for 1 hour… Today I can’t bike 10 miles an hour the day after my long runs…
  2. Swim faster than I normally swim for longer than I have ever swam
  3. Re-learn how to swim … My swimming technique is about 20+ years out of date.
  4. Do a marathon after 1 and 2
  5. Fix my cadence.
  6. Lose a lot of weight because there is this calorie consumption problem…

And where are we now

  1. Was able to finish 30 miles at a 16.5 mile an hour pace. Still not good enough, but tremendous progress. 
  2. Well I was looking at my swimming splits before I started training, and I am now doing 2:20/100m vs 2:44/100m so definitely progress there.
  3. I am killing it on my technique. Went from 16-17 strokes per length to 11-12 over 25 meters. Still a way to go…
  4. Haven’t lost much speed.
  5. Not quite there, but now was able to sustain 88 pedals per minute over 2:30
  6. Have lost 13 of the many pounds I have to lose.



Week 20 – An ugly week

Things at work got really ugly last week. It happens. Companies go through tough times.

The 9+ hours of exercise I was tasked with helped.

Monday night’s swim was about as cathartic as it gets. My bike ride on Saturday helped.

Looking forward to another 9+ hours to make the next week bearable.

Only two more months until my Olympic. I am starting to get very excited.

Also signed up for the Morgan Hill Marathon, because the Athens Marathon is looking iffy. Real life intruding and all that sort-a-thing.




Dealing with Stress

One of the best parts of all of this training is working through the stress of daily life, you know, like a riot in Montreal.

When you go for a run, it’s easy to focus on everything but the training. You move your feet and your brain races with the worries of the day.

When you’re training for a triathlon, every minute you’re out training is done with purpose and requires focus. That focus allows you to find sometime during the day where the reality of the world recedes to the background.

In fact, when you stop focusing on the work at hand, letting the world bleed back in, then your pace slackens, your form degrades and the Garmin monitor starts beeping at you…

The time away from the stress, the planning, the failures, the future, the successes and the pain help make it possible to grind through another day.

Definitely better than eating and alcohol.


Week 19 – Down Weeks and Time Trials

First him

and now me…

I broke 8 minutes over a mile. I did a mile in  7:44.

Fine, it’s not quite the first man to break the 4 minute mile, but hey… it’s my personal record.

My best recollection of my best time ever was when I was 17. I think it was over 8 minutes. So at 40, I have run my best mile ever. Man was I out-of-shape for most of my life…

After two up weeks, this week was a down week.

Down weeks, when you’re training for a triathlon are ridiculous. You back off your usual 8-10 hours of exercise per week to a more sedate 5-6 hours of exercise.

The down week was nice, however. At the end of my second up-week, I was ready to crash and burn. My body was exhausted, my brain was exhausted, and my family was exhausted. So thank you down week.

During this down week, my coach asked me to do some time trials. The first was a swimming time trial and the second was a running time trial.

What is interesting is that although I have lost weight and improved my technique, my times didn’t improve that much. Weird.

But it was still a fun check in.

My first swim time trial, I felt like I was barely able to avoid drowning as my technique completely failed me. In my second time trial I was able to keep my technique through the entire 500 yards. In fact, in my second time trial, I wonder if my obsession with technique got in the way of going faster. I was so determined to swim properly that I forgot that the point of the activity was to go fast.

What is interesting is that I went crazy fast in my first 100 yards in the second time trial before I settled into a similar pace as my first time trial. Basically I shaved off 19 seconds from the first 100 yards. And then because we care about efficiency, I was about 10% more efficient in my strokes during the entire interval.

Similar story in my run time trial, covered the same distance, at the same heart rate, but the first mile was 20 seconds faster. Not quite as ridiculously faster as in swimming but my technique and fitness have not improved as much.

Sigh. Tomorrow, the pain and suffering continues.


Week 18 – Teaching the Kid

After two up weeks, after Hawaii, I was exhausted. So exhausted I couldn’t come up with anything interesting to say.

And I was thinking – I am crossing some critical threshold of exhaustion?

And then my son did something incredibly cute. He started to swim freestyle in the bathtub. He was doing laps from one end to the other. Given our tub is about 4 feet long, they were short laps.

At first, I was like: what the hell is he doing? He was kicking his legs and throwing his arms over his head and moving his head from side to side…

Then I asked, and he said: Swimming like Daddy.

He was swimming freestyle (okay not really – but hopefully you get the point).

And then I realized, I am, I truly am working too much because my son is imitating my freestyle…