Not conclusive

My plan today was to see whether the Thunderbolt or the ski would be faster for the Fairport race coming up. The Thunderbolt is a little longer, a little narrower, a few pounds lighter, so I assume it’s a bit faster on the straights, but it turns like a tank. The ski turns very quickly, and would probably allow me to handle wakes and waves better. Since the race has three turns in 7.5 miles, the ability to turn might be critical.

What I decided to do was to paddle 1 mile downstream, do the turn at Turk Hill Bridge, and paddle 1 mile upstream, and do this in both boats to see which is faster. I was originally going to do the experiment at the upstream turn at the pylons, but that’s further away from where I parked so I would have had to paddle a lot longer on what is supposed to be a “periodization” easy week. If I knew how to get my boats to the boat house that the rowers use, that might be possible.

I did the Thunderbolt first. A boat came by and produced an extremely huge wake on the way down, but that wasn’t too big a problem. I tried to keep my heart rate under 160, although once or twice it crept up – the GPS reports my maximum heart rate on the first mile was 162. As expected, I had to slow right down for the turn. But I quickly accelerated again. But about half way up, I realized that my speed had been dropping – if you look at the graph it’s dropping steadily between 1.3 miles and 1.6 miles. I started concentrating on making a very hard catch and a quick exit, and my speed immediately jumped from 5.9 mph to 6.9, and stayed above 6.3 the entire rest of the way.

Second time was the ski. Again, tried to keep my heart rate below 160 and not work any harder than I did the first time. No boat wakes to contend with, but as expected I was ten seconds slower after a mile. I kept my speed up much better in the turn. But more importantly, I didn’t let my speed drop off and my technique deteriorate on the way up, so at the end I was only 7 seconds slower.

So here’s the problem. I didn’t go as fast as I could in the Thunderbolt, because I let my speed drop and my technique deteriorate. And I didn’t go as fast as I could in the ski, because I have my large rudder on it. I don’t actually know if the speed advantage of having the smaller rudder (and less drag) on the ski would be countered by the worse turning performance. So now I’m going to have to repeat the experiment again, maybe twice.

That was close!

The workout for the day was “Easy Distance” – I was to try to keep my heart rate under 135 and just go, but every mile do 30 seconds really hard. I wasn’t sure how far I could go, and it was raining, so I decided to go upstream for mile, then downstream for two miles, and just keep doing that as long as I could or until it started thundering – I’d always be within a mile of the dock, so it would be able to stop at just about any time.

I ended up doing 8 miles. But after I passed the dock and was spinning around to dock up again, I noticed something – my PFD (life jacket) was floating jammed up against the upstream edge of the dock. I have no idea when the bungee net that holds it down on the back of my boat popped off – it could have been when I first started, or it could have been at the end, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m damn lucky that I didn’t do my usual up and back and lose it up at the furthest point and then have to go back, or that it didn’t miss the dock and go floating downstream and get lost in bushes somewhere. Especially since my car key was in the pocket of it. And the pocket wasn’t totally zipped up, so I was also lucky it didn’t fall out.

So what exactly did you verify?

I spent nearly an hour on the phone with Time Fucking Warner (yes, that’s the correct name for them) trying to get them to set up an install of a CableCard for my new TiVo. They have to come out to do it, although last time the guy came out, plugged it into the TiVo, then called into the office, read them a couple of numbers, verified that it was set up on their side, and then left. Yeah, I couldn’t do that.

Anyway, getting them to set up the appointment involved 3 long times on hold, and getting transferred twice. The third guy once again asked me for my phone number, and then asked me for my full name, email address and billing address “for verification”, just like the other two people had done (evidently they can transfer a call, but can’t transfer the information they’ve collected on you). And yet, after talking to him for some time he couldn’t seem to understand that we already had a CableCard in the other TiVo, and some other details on what he was telling me about my account didn’t match up. Finally he calls me Howard, and when I said I wasn’t Howard, asks me what my phone number is. And then he says “oh, I had your number in as [number which is a simple transposition of mine]”.

Which left me scratching my head about all the other verification of name, home phone and mailing address. Had he even listened to what I’d said? What is the point of those verifications if they could end up sending out a technician to the wrong address because they got the phone number entered wrong? And they have the nerve to try to get you to dump the phone company and switch to them?

Owasco Lake Challenge

[youtube 4wGGQpa_TO8]

The Owasco Lake Challenge was a very different race than it probably could have been. Because it was only a week after I got back from England, I decided that I wouldn’t be ready to do the 12 mile long course. That lead to some other decisions – because I was only going to do the short course race and so I wouldn’t be racing for points, I decided that rather than doing everything I could to do the best I could at this race, I was going to make it part of my plan to get back into shape and try to get back some of the speed that I’d had in the early season races like Round the Mountain and Tupper Lake but which seemed to be missing in Armond Bassett.

So contrary to any logical tapering for a race, I went out and did the Bay Creek Time Trial twice on Wednesday, and on Thursday I did a slow 10 mile paddle. I did rest Saturday, but only because it was horribly stormy and rainy. Otherwise I probably would have gone out and done some more long slow distance.

The was a pretty good crowd at the race – Tom Murn, Stephen B and Matt and Julia T were all in the short course with me, and Jim M, Mike and Paul D all did the long course. As well as old familiar faces, there were a few I’d never seen before. Quite the biggest surprise was Roger Gocking, who is a bit of a legend of the 90 Miler as well races like the Mayor’s Cup. The guy is incredibly tall, skinny, and has a “wingspan” that looked like a foot longer than mine.

I brought both boats – I was planning to evaluate the conditions and decide right at the last possible minute which boat to take. But when Scott said that he was shortening the long course to 10 miles because there was a possibility of thunderstorms later in the day, I settled on the ski, just in case the wind whipped up the lake. In retrospect, I probably could have paddled the Thunderbolt, but I doubt it made all that much difference.

As I was getting the ski ready, I did something which in retrospect was pretty dumb – I figured that because there weren’t many waves yet, I’d tape over the venturi drain so I was sitting in tepid water at the start. I’d seen other ski paddlers do that, and it made sense to me. What I didn’t count on, however, was the amazing amount of splashing at the start of the race – before we had gotten out of the shallows at the beginning, I was swamped and thanks to that stupid piece of tape I wasn’t draining. If you watch the video, in the first part you can see me pause quickly and say “SHIT” – that’s because my first attempt at removing the tape was unsuccessful because my Camelbak had slipped over it. It’s not on the video, but a few minutes later I took a longer pause and got it off.

One thing I didn’t realize until afterwards is that Matt Tole had been riding my wake from the start, and on one of those pauses he’d tried to pass me. I’d started paddling, caught a nice boat wake, and dropped him and he never got close to me again.

Tom Murn was well ahead of me after the tape removal exercise, and I tried like hell to catch him. I was getting closer every time I got a good surf on a wake, and at the turn it looks on the video like he’s only 20 to 25 seconds ahead. But I lost too much time at the turn, and with just enough tail wind to make sure I wasn’t getting cooled off, but not enough to kick up any good surf, I faded fast. I ended up finishing several minutes behind him. Stephen B was also up there ahead – early on I’d seen him way off to the right with his son Erin, and I assumed he was paddling with Erin, but then he suddenly came back into my view right at the turn fairly close to Tom, and he stayed pretty even with Tom from my viewpoint all the way to the finish.

On the way back in Dan was yelling encouragement – he’d come, but decided not to paddle, so he was out on the course coaching us. He advised me to punch it hard just before the shallows at the last half mile, and then surf my own wake in. Nice plan, but I didn’t have the energy to punch it more than a tiny bit, and I didn’t feel any wake. I guess it’s good that even for a shorter race I managed to use up all my energy by the end, but man I wish I had a faster time to show for it.

After finishing I paddled around a bit to warm down, and watch the other finishers. And then I went to try out the Nelo surf ski that Janet the Nelo rep brought out to demo. It’s tippier than the V10 Sport, for sure, but after dumping it once I managed to keep it upright. I can’t extend the foot brace far enough forward for my tastes – my knees were quite high, probably higher than a sprinter would have. It seemed strange that you needed an allen key to adjust the foot brace, but then again I never adjust my foot brace after I got it right the first time, so I guess it wouldn’t be too big a deal. Anyway, I don’t see another surf ski in my immediate future.

While I was messing about in the Nelo ski, I got to see Jim Mallory win the long race, and Roger Gocking come only a few minutes behind. That was impressive. I think some C-2s came in between the two of them – three of them came in within a few seconds of each other.

Just about every participant got a “OLC” branded boat chamois, and a nice medal for top three finishers. As well, Jim and the two paddlers in the top C-2 got these really beautiful framed 1905(?) hydrological maps of Owasco Lake. Probably the nicest prizes I’ve ever seen at a paddle race.

Oh well, time to get serious and see about getting some speed back in time for Long Lake.

Same shit, different job…

I’ve written a few times (here and here) about how every time you change something, every bug anywhere near that area now becomes your fault.

In my current job, I was in charge of a system called “Entitlements” that controlled who could do what and could access what parts of the system. Which means that dozens of new defects come to me with a note from the business analyst or equivalent person saying “looks like an Entitlement issue”. And I have to look at it and say “no, the reason they can’t access that part of the site isn’t because of Entitlements, it’s because NOBODY WROTE THAT PART OF THE SITE YET”.

Side note: we’re using “Agile Development”, which is a short form way of saying “we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing from day to day, and we’re not sure what has been done and what hasn’t until somebody complains that it’s not done”.

The good part is that because we’re Agile, that means when I discover that the problem is that nobody wrote that part of the site yet, I get to write it. So yay me.