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Archive for November, 2008

How wonderful!  It has French undertones, but a great story based on the lives of two young Chinese men being “re-educated” in the countryside during the 1970s.  I don’t know exactly if it’s a true story or not, but I’ve met a few who have migrated to the U.S.  They never talked about that period in their lives, so catching a glimpse of what it was like was fascinating to me.

One was the son of a famous dentist, whose time at his father’s side turned out to be useful.  He became the village dentist as a result.  The other was a student at a music school, whose talent at the violin was strong; he got away with playing it by saying all the classical European sonatas were a tribute to Chairman Mao.  The people at this village were after all, simple country folk who knew the land but were never taught to read or write.

The story is told about how these two young men set about to educate a young woman by reading her foreign books that they’ve stolen from someone else.  The first of these was Balzac, and it turned out to be life changing for the woman–something about how a woman’s looks is her most precious possession.  She fled the countryside after seeing that her life was no longer fulfilling.  Of course, she’d learned how to read  and write at this point.

Years later, both men were now respected practitioners in their own fields; one was a concert violinist in Paris, and the other was a noted professor of dentistry in Shanghai.  What brought them back together was the flooding of the town due to the creation of the Three Gorges Dam.  The musician returned to the village and looked for the seamstress to no avail.  He found out later that his friend had returned there lately, but had searched for the seamstress in the early 80s as well.  He found out that she had moved to Hong Kong by then, and the trail was cold with the passage of time.

The dentist had an affair with the seamstress as it turned out.  But he had known that the musician loved her as well.  The musician said it best at the end of the movie, “we both loved her in our own way”.

The movie has fantastic images and stories within stories.  A testament to the power of the human spirit, to find such optimism during a historically “dark” period.   I couldn’t do anything  else but watch the movie once it started.

Please watch it at the first opportunity.

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Paying it forward

My running friend across the big pond, Bald Runner, has given me ideas as to how to reach out to others in small but effective ways. Instead of giving to charities once in a blue moon, we want to make the charitable act more consistent and sustainable. Here are some ideas that I can do on a personal level:

1) Project Pledge a Pair — pledge a new pair of shoes to our less fortunate running friends for each 26.2 I complete. As you know, I complete a lot in a year.

2) Project One Dollar a Mile — pledge 1 US dollar for every race mile run. Running a mile isn’t exactly easy, but knowing something else comes of it is a good deal.   I decided to pledge 25 cents per mile in training.

Accounting for it is easy, since I know exactly how many miles I cover and races I enter. The idea is to make it so much an integral part of my running that it becomes a normal thing.

I have already identified Bald Runner’s Project Donate a Shoe project as the recipient for my Project Donate a Pair activities. I will disburse the proceedings from Project One Dollar a Mile to charities as necessary.

The two projects will start in December 2008. I will make the counting retroactive to November 2008.

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Believe it or not, these are complementary.  Since the Ironman has a marathon segment, running faster marathons actually gives you an extra edge.  The issue unfortunately is one of TIME; that is, how to organize my schedule to fit it all in.

Regarding running–this is one case where to run faster marathons, I actually have to do less of these.  I need all that time to pick up on my tempo training plus faster intervals.  Since I already do long runs on weekends, the endurance component is in place and is not really a concern.  Just have to get faster.

Training for a faster bike segment doesn’t take away or interfere with the run training.  Time required outside is not really long this early.  Plus, I can jump on the trainer anytime.

Training for the swim is a little tougher.  Hate the chlorine, but I know I got to do laps.  I’ve been topside since Kona; haven’t ventured back to the fishbowl at all.  Signed up for a Total Immersion class in late February–that should help a lot.  While I am a fish by nature, I just need to change from a slow fish to a faster one to make it all work.

So I got twice the time available now for my next IM.  I think my lungs will definitely be happier this time.  My bike speed will easily get to 22mph by then.  It’s just the swim that requires the major overhaul.

My near term goal as you know is to reach my potential as a runner.  My longer term goal is to get faster as a cyclist.  Heck, I already jumped from 15mph to 18mph at my half ironman; I don’t see why it can’t be done.  If I develop my swim skills to above average, that will make for a very successful training in 2009.

I’m taking it all in…

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Luck sure is finicky

So two of my teammates got 6th AG and 8th AG this past weekend. Since only 80 slots were given at IMAZ, it didn’t even get to them. You pretty much had to be 1-3 AG to get in.

While I feel melancholy about my very deserving teammates not going to Kona this time, I feel twice blessed for having gone to Kona–especially because it was due to pure luck!

If I want to get to Kona on my own, it will require a herculean effort. My age group is simply one of the most competitive, and a 9:30 would probably have a 60% chance of being good enough for a slot. Trouble is, 9:30 is a tall order. 10:00-10:30 is achievable, and going under requires going into overdrive.

Do I have the focus to stamp my own ticket? Or do I just try to tempt Lady Luck each year? Hmmmmm…

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Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I am one happy camper!

Pretty quiet where I am.  Most of those who travel are gone, and even those who are around seem bored out of their minds.  Funny.

I think I’ll show up for spin class tonight like always, and then spend the rest of the week running!

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I asked the question after Kona and while watching IM Florida.  Did I have the fitness to have done IMFL two weeks after Kona?

The answer was a resounding YES!  So guess what–I signed up for IM Arizona too!  The great thing about this race is that I can drive to it.  Awesome!

Now I really have to train!  I got about 11 months before the double hits.  Items on the agenda–swim faster and keep improving on the bike.

Wish me luck!

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Probably less than two hours after it was opened to the general public.  I guess there are plenty of takers in the west coast, since you don’t have to travel very far.  Don’t know when community fund slots will open for this.  Plenty left for CdA, Wisconsin, and Lake Placid.

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