Monday, March 20, 2017

March Madness: BotCC- Round 1

I'm a science teacher by trade and one of the concepts I try to instill upon the youths is bribery for grades exists that there is an art to doing good science. It's nearly impossible to get every aspect correct but we do our best. While conducting the March Madness- Battle of the Crotch Creams, I wanted the competition to be about the lube in the tube so I eliminated as many potential irritants as possible.


Conditions kept constant:

  • Workout Duration- All cycling sessions will be 60 minutes
  • Workout Intensity- I'm doing my traditional warm up followed by 7 min at ~230 watts and 3 minutes ~120-150 watts (watts= how much work). This should end the workout at around 200 watts (NP for those of you who care about these types of data)
  • Workout Location- In the torture chamber
  • Cycling clothes- I actually purchased a couple of new tri shorts for this occasion (pictured here). And no, you have not seen that couch on internet auditions.
  • Level of Pansiness- I've tried to change this, unsuccessfully, for years now. I guess I'm stuck with it.

Conditions that varied:

  • Temperature- Hey, I live in the hell hole NY. It's out of my control.
  • Type of Crotch Cream- Hence, the purpose of this effort
  • Amount of Crotch Soreness- Measured several ways, but only a few will actually be reported.


Round 1- Assos versus Chamois Butt'r

The top seed in the bracket and all around tournament favorite is Assos Chamois Creme. (Technically, there's one of those accent thingies over the the first e in creme, making you think it should be pronounced something like 'krem-ay' with a pretentious, rich person accent. In reality, it's a product of Switzerland. Sorry, the tub of goo does not come with a wine bottle opener.)

I smeared on about a teaspoon of white sauce in the nether regions and did the following ride on Tuesday morning.

As you can see, it's everything that was advertised. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Enough with the ride, how's your taint?" As if I needed the encouragement, I felt down yonder. The previously smothered bits were still nicely slick. There was minimal to no soreness.

As far as I'm concerned, this sets the benchmark against which all other krem-ays will be compared. Which conveniently segues into the next test.

The second seed, or bottom, or last (depending on your level of pessimism, is Chamois Butt'r. Chamois Butt'r and I have a long history together. I have completed no less than 6 Ironman rides (which are 112 miles, in case you didn't know) while straddling the CB. But wait, there's more. See, you cannot just do those rides. In theory, you should also train for them. Chamois Butt'r has graced my crotch for thousands of miles. I don't really know why I switched, to be honest.

On Friday afternoon, which was St. Patrick's Day, I set forth on this ride.

As you can see, this ride was a smidgeon less powerful. This may or may not have been caused by some gluttony and imbibing with coworkers in celebration of our day of doing nothing the holiday. The ride started out with me wondering why on Earth did I even think to change lubes. With every move left and right, the slither was exquisite. The honeymoon ended right around the 40 minute mark. That's when the slip and slide effect wore off and friction started to build. By the end of the ride, it was clear that I needed to reapply or get a tougher southland. A quick fingertip fondle revealed that there was indeed soreness where none existed before. One would think that my blood alcohol content would have helped numb the senses but, alas, it wasn't so. And finally I remembered why I switched. (See comment on BAC)

At the end of Round 1, the clear winner was the #1 seed Assos Chamois Krem-Ay.


Stay tuned for Round 2, when the Banter tries out alternate options so you don't have to.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Get Your Brackets Ready!

View from my backyard
PSA- sorry for the delay in posting. In case you were unawares, the part of America that I currently reside apparently can't handle a little wind. We, collectively, lost several tons of trees, most of which decided to use local power lines as a way to slow their fall. This version of insanity happened last Wednesday. I have the luxury of living close to a major utility conduit, which has an in with the electric people. I  only lost heat for 2 days. Some people in the nicer parts of town are still without power. Whereas we were on the early list for moving electrons, we're on the late list for internet connectivity. I'm not that committed to attempt a post from my phone.

Now on to your regularly scheduled, albeit delayed, nonsense:

March Madness is here! With hundreds of collegiate athletes getting out of class to bounce a ball across a small wooden floor, the workforce of the country tunes in to the cost of roughly $4 billion in lost production. (Aside: For comparison, recent data conglomerates estimate that the lost revenue in the workplace due to the reading of tri-banter.blogspot.com tops $0.42 annually. /End Aside)

There are rumors around that some people just don't care about NCAA Basketball Tournament. Not many. In fact, it might be something like 48 people. You'll recognize them as the disgruntled blokes in the workplace. Why are they grumpy? Because they're the one's actually doing something resembling work, as opposed to the ones watching TV or the internet stream.

In honor of those who aren't interested in the hooping and might very well be interested in something triathlon related, I've got something useful planned. With my lack of running, I've been putting extra time on the bike. This is good until I noticed that my crotch isn't as happy as it used to be. And, brothers and sisters in the sporting world all agree, there's little worse than an unhappy crotch.

The Problem Clarified
The problem has more than one root cause. On it's surface, you'd think that the act of sitting delicate perineal skin on a tiny piece of pleather for an extended period of time is bound to cause bedsores. And you'd be right. That's why the cycling gods invented the chamois. For those who are reading this because someone forced you to or that Google Button "Feeling Lucky" accidentally sent you in this direction, "chamois" is pronounced "shammy" and it's the padding that they sew into the crotchal area of cycling shorts. It's almost like sitting on your own personal memory foam of magic. Chamois is also one of those words that doesn't change if it's singular or plural. It's one chamois or many chamois and they're all better than zero chamois.

So, it's not just the pressure that causes the issue, or else the story would be ended at chamois. There's also friction. If you're doing it right, you're not just sitting there on the bike. Your legs are spinning around in tiny circles roughly at a 17 cm radius. The left foot goes up while the right leg goes down (again, only if you're doing it right). That side-to-side motion slides you across the pictured above chamois. Once or twice, still not a problem. However, 80-95 times a minute for several minutes can build up some heat and remove some very poorly placed body hair.

Further, if you're anything like me, you smell badly tend to work up a sweat when exercising. Most of the valleys and gullies conveniently contoured into the human body lead straight down to the, you guessed it, chamois area. Sweat, as you may have gathered, is not that good of a lubricant. It's loaded with things like water, salt, and urea. The water is designed to evaporate off leaving behind crusty mineral deposits that are most uncomfortable to sit on.

"How does one solve all of this?" you pose to the Banter. The answer is simple- chamois cream. Chamois cream is a non-petroleum based goo that you smear between your legs before you get a ridin'. It takes care of the friction and displaces the depositions. Plus, who doesn't want a little bit of goo coming from their crotches?

Just like everything else worthy of use, there are options. In fact, there are a lot of options. My go-to brand for the past couple of years has been Assos Chamois Cream. As perineal lubricant, it's the Cadillac of sit bone heaven. Why even bother? Because it's expensive. Are there less expensive yet highly functional slip-and-slide sauces out there that may serve as a potential substitute? That's what I plan on finding out. I am pitting cycling creams versus skin creams. I choose 2 well know cycling products who are at the top of their game. In the Skin Care division, random research shows that there are non-cycling products that are rather crotch friendly. Can they stand the rigors of a ride?

The Cycling Creams Division

Assos is the #1 seed

Pros
     -Goes on smooth
     -No extraneous residue
     -No noticeable scent
Cons
     -Pricey
     -Has a hidden swear word in the title



Chamois Butt'r is the #2 seed

Pros
     -Cheaper
     -Less vulgar name
Cons
     -A little greasier (which could be a pro in the long run)

The Skin Creams Division
Desitin is the #1 seed

Pros
    -Almost looks like Assos
     -Top of the line in taking care of crotch rashes
     -#1 choice of pediatricians and moms (unconfirmed)

Cons
     -I'm not a baby (by age, anyway)
     -There's that diaper smell


Bag Balm is the #2 seed

Pros
     -Solid structure consistency
     -Smooth minty smell

Cons
     -Concerned about the 'moisturizing' properties
     -Mostly found in the pet section of the store




Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be doing field tests and reporting back on the happiness of my nether region. Fill out your bracket and see if you can project the winner.




Sunday, March 5, 2017

I'm Fastest When I'm the Slowest

Have you ever heard the saying, "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast?" Perhaps not. It's typically used in tactical settings, such as sniper sighting, Navy Seal instruction, picking up hotties, and other forms of military training. I'm familiar with none of these. I do, however, appreciate the conflict in the concept. Rushing around makes for sloppy technique, which in turn makes you slow. Being slow and deliberate in your movements makes you smooth, which makes for quality technique, which in turn makes you get the hottie's number faster without even trying.

I was thinking about this idea of slow being smooth, smooth being fast the other day while in the pool. Swimming is highly technical. When you rush it, your stroke gets sloppy. The better your form, the faster you'll go. Lucky for you, and maybe me (we'll see), swimming fitness and swimming technique climb the hill together. This is the reason that competitive swimmers will put in 10's of thousands of yards of swimming in an easy week. Sometimes, they'll reach 10k+ in a day. Every stroke is both fitness building and technique building. The more strokes, the more fitness and improved technique. Triathletes, especially ones that don't come from a swimming background, don't appreciate this as much as they should. We struggle to get to the pool 3 days a week and believe that 2500 yards is a big deal. Sadly, there is no shortcut to speed in the water...

...Actually, there is this one little thing. It happens when the Male Ego Gene thinks that a you should be superior than those around you even though you're not. As a result, you will go faster. Here's the catch, you will be trying. But, you won't know that you are trying. Which should make you wonder- if you are trying without knowing that you're trying, does it count as effort? (I, being a science guy, know the answer to this question.)

Here's how the situation played out in the pool: As always, lanes 4-6 were water aerobics people with silvery type hair (Aside: I must be inadvertently stalking these people. We are always at the pool at the same time, regardless of the day or the pool. Either that, or there is a never ending feed of classes. I really don't know. /End Aside.)

Lane 2 featured a 10 year old girl. She was wearing a blue competitive suit, odd in these parts (the competitive thing, not the color thing or the girl thing). She reminded me of a Sailfish (featured in the pic). She and the sailfish had a lot in common. Obviously, they're both sporting the color blue. They had thin, sleek physiques that slice through the water. Sailfish and the girl clock in at somewhere between 4 and 5 feet in length. Sailfish are known as the fastest in the water, reaching speeds near 70 mph. The girl wasn't far behind. There were a couple of notable differences between the two, in case you were wondering. 1. The girl's nose wasn't that long. 2. She was a lot smilier than shown in the image. 3. Her dorsal fin wasn't nearly as pronounced.

In lane 1, near the wall, was a college-aged dude who was a little soft in the middle but had big, beefy swimmer shoulders. He had one of those swim caps with an American flag and his name. Well, I assumed it was his name but I never got a chance to validate that assertion. There were some barriers towards that reading. First, I'm nearsighted and the writing wasn't large. Second, I typically don't check out the dudes spend that much time in a single spot, proffering to workout. This makes reading a bit more difficult. Third, he was doing a butterfly set. He slipped through the water like a bottlenose dolphin, smooth and undulating. It was a pretty sweet spectacle to behold. Why would I bother trying to read his cap when there was so much beauty in his stroke?

In lane 3 was the Banter. For those of you who haven't had the privilege, my aquatic spirit animal is a manatee. I hang out just beneath the surface with a perma-muffin top that refuses to disappear on it's own. Instead of swimming, I just hover inches below the surface yet still seem to move in a forward direction. People aren't really sure which of my body parts cause the propulsion. We both are super gentle and not that smart. In all fairness to the manatee, they are significantly cuter than me.

In sets of last week, I was holding my 100 yard repeats on the 1:40 and feeling accomplished (it really is such a sad state of mind). Well, it didn't take me long to notice that the 10 year old sailfish and the butterflying dolphin dude were both holding intervals at a much faster speed than my seaweed grazing sack of goo was capable of achieving. Much to my surprise, when I hit the wall on the first rep, the deck clock announced that I had arrived in a 1:21. Excuse me? I was certain it was a mistake. Well, the ego gene was firmly in command at this time so I made the decision to send off on the 1:30 instead of the 1:40. Typical progressions go in 5 second intervals, meaning that a smart guy would have tried for the 1:35, based off of recent training past. Remember, I'm a low IQ sea cow. The second rep landed on the 1:22, as did the 3rd and 4th. The fifth slowed to a 1:25.

I took a breather and recharged my mojo by watching the superior marine life in the lanes next to me practice their trades. Their techniques couldn't be any more different from each other and from mine. They were united in the notion that I would have been a significant roadblock had we been sharing a lane. I pushed off on the second set of 5x100s thinking that I'd be back in reality land. Nope. I held 1:23-24 for the lot and kept my interval at 1:30.

It was as it's always been. By swimming with people who are faster, the mind and body get stretched out past the limits they placed. In being the slowest person in the pool, a situation that I loathe, I became faster than I've been since my return to the drink. I wasn't even trying to go that fast. It just happened.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, yes, it counts as effort. How do I know? Later on that night, I couldn't lift my arms above my head. (Aside 2: I really didn't have much of a reason to lift my arms above my head. The only reason I know about the struggle stems from a yawn and attempted stretch. If it weren't for that, I'd still be thinking that I'm some sort of super-adaptor. Again, I'm not that smart. /End Aside 2) The unknowing effort caught up with me. Which is alright, since I spend most of the evening not moving and grazing. I'm a manatee on land, too.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Finding My Inner Dog

There's not much difference between dog culture and swimmer culture, in terms of seeing members of our species. Dogs are highly predictable when it comes to seeing other dogs. They choose between 1 of 2 reactions. They are happy to see another dog, which results in barking and tail wagging. They are grumpy to see another dog, which results in barking, raised fur, and sometimes tail wagging. Swimmers are the same way. All you have to do is replace barking with grumbling. (Note: The tail wagging is a thing. However, it's much less pronounced and people accuse you of being a creep if you go looking for it. Especially when they're females in bathing suits. Trust me on this.) Further, both are pack animals and follow the lead of the alpha in their vicinity.

Since I haven't yet recovered from my foot injury, I decided to get in the water. This is way out of character for me to be swimming at such a time of the season when my run sucks so much. (Okay- you got me. My run always sucks.) We had a day off of school, I went to the pool.

The Thing About the YMCA Pool
If you ever get the chance to swim at the Y, you'll notice something completely ironic. Lap swimmers are treated as second class citizens in the lap pool. Almost always, the pool people will tell you differently. They'll tell you that there is forever a lane reserved for lappers. But, what they won't tell you is how tedious it is to physically swim in that lane.

Take this recent Tuesday's swim. I stepped out onto the deck at 9:30. I immediately saw lanes 1-3, of the 6 available, cordoned off for the Active Older Adults' Water Bouncy and Raise Your Arms Above Your Head class (I think that's the published title). This class had 722 people (I counted the legs and divided by 2), all over the age of 60, and the pool water level was at an all-time high. Lanes 5-6 were posted as 'Swim Lessons', which included 2 people per lane. One was a kid and the other was an adult. It was unclear as to who was giving the lesson and who was receiving.

Lane 4 was for the lap swimmers. Upon arrival, I glanced down the lane to find two water walkers with those styrofoam dumbbell thingies (I honestly have no idea what they're called). I have dubbed these water walkers Ron and Nancy. Both looked to be somewhat more in-shape versions of the Active Older Adults that were still bouncing and raising their arms 3 feet to the right of where they were standing. And, both were smiling and waving at me to join their lane. Who was I to argue? My inner dog wagged it's tail, happy to be included.

The Different Reasons I Was Slow
When I go to the pool, I try to relive the good old days, ya know, when I was good. Now, I'm just old. Regardless, I go to the lap pool with a set in mind that's more than just going down and back. (Okay, it's exactly the same as going down and back, except that I know when I'm going to stop and look at the deck clock.) I'm a lot slower than I used to be.

Compounding the biology, the AOAWBRYAAYH class was a force with which to be reckoned. For one, they are highly distracting. The instructor is out of the water, on deck, and everyone in the class facing in that general direction. Therefore, I get lots of fabulous views at retired butts in lycra. (This is why I started counting legs.) For two, when you have 722 individuals all bouncing and raising their arms over their heads in unison, the disturbance on a non-compressible fluid such as water is immense. (Note: This does make for excellent open water swim training). And, since the tsunami machine is perpendicular to the path that I'm trying to swim, it's all resistance without the boost. (Aside: I wonder why they don't hold these classes at the water park. I bet the park could save tons of money in the wave pool. /End Aside.)

I think, at this point in the post, it's only fair to say that Ron and Nancy were not a barrier to speed. In fact, they were a couple of the best lanemates I have ever had. They were observant and readily made space anytime I came flailing by. They were vigilant in their work. And, every once in a while, they took a tidal wave in the face that was earmarked for me.

As if the undulations of a normally sedate pool weren't enough, crap I'm out of shape. This came glaring at me during a set of 100s. I used to be able to pop those babies out on the 1:20 without a care in the world. I set my sendoff at the 1:40. The first one was great. The second was a little less great. The third was tedious. I forget exactly which one caused me to pause due to all of the heaving and an incomprehensible feeling of numbness in my arms. I hung out on the wall looking like I was trying to chew the air. Nancy had just finished a walking lap and moseyed on up for a chat. It's the first time that I've actually taken a good look at her. She was in her 60s and in great shape. (Aside 2: If your hair is silver and you bleach it, what color does it turn? I think that's the hew she was sporting. /End Aside 2.) She was wearing a nice tiger-print one piece. My inner dog was wagging it's tail. (And I hoped that no one noticed.)

"How long you been at this?" she asked.  "This is my 2nd time in the water since September," I reply. Although, it didn't come out that smooth. It was more like, "This is <gasp for air> my 2nd time <breathe breathe> in the <breathe> water since <cough> September." It was so bad that I'm pretty sure that I could play the next wheelchair buddy in the Hollywood reboot of Malcolm in the Middle. At least I was telling the truth. I swam twice in September, both in races. The official last time I trained in the water was in early August, nearly 6 months ago. (And yet I wonder why I'm slow. Talk about irony...) "Wow, you're fast!" She replies. "We come 4 days a week." I reply back, "Well, it's clear you're in better shape than me." (See note on the speech patterns of the wheelchair buddy). Nancy turned and headed out for another lap. My inner dog barked and I followed the alpha down the lane.

Enter the Other Swimmer
As the set went on and I got slower and slower, the AOAWBRYAAYH was seemingly tireless. During a moment of weakness, I considered joining the class. If they ever have a triathlon that is water bouncing, biking and running, I'm there. Since that's not currently a thing, I continue to toe the line between training and a swimmer in distress. A door to the deck opened up and out came a middle-aged women who saw the exact same scene I did upon my arrival. Only she was clearly perturbed by what she saw. Protocol dictates that the non-lap swimmers must vacate the lane and make way for a lapper. Ron and Nancy initially side-stepped the protocol by sharing the lane with me. But, now that there was fresh meat for the lane, they were forced to leave by appearance of the new girl. My inner dog growled. I would have raised my fur if I had any recognizable body hair.

"Can you believe those people?" new girl says in a tone of indignation, "This lane is supposed to be for lap swimmers." I say, matter of factly, "They were some of the best lanemates I've ever had." And I push off for my next interval of shame without seeing the reaction from the new girl.

As I zoned back into my set, I noticed that Ron had gotten out of the water and headed for the hot tub. He's clearly a smart bloke since he knows that when the AOAWBRYAAYH ends, the population of said hot tub will increase exponentially. I went back to counting legs to see how much company he'll have. The number was pretty close to the last time I counted, with a minor change. My number had stayed at 1444, but I also noticed one tiger-skinned butt. My inner dog was wagging it's tail again.

Like any good pack animal, I followed the example of my new-found alphas. I've been in the water 4 days this week. I haven't seen Ron or Nancy again but I know that I've made them proud. RUFF!