Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Today, Fred and Al were sent to a "training" session at the factory. The training was designed to teach us how to use new machinery and maximize our worker-energy microwattage. At about 3 PM, I had had my fill of being trained. I did what any red blooded American would do. I faked a groin pull. I lay writhing and moaning on the floor while my co-workers debated whether ice or deep tissue massage would be appropriate. Now normally, I'd be all for the deep tissue. But Fred had his sleeves pushed up and was jumping up and down yipping, "I'll do it! I'll do it!" So I screamed, "for the love of god, get me ice!" My fellow cogs ran about like rats from a sinking ship looking for cold compresses to ease my discomfort. In the chaos that ensued, I made a hasty exit.
After high-tailing it out of there (leaving my co workers holding the ice bag) I went for a nice 6 in the woods. I did the 3 mile loop at Bethpage SP 2x. It was wet but not too sloppy. In all, a nice easy run where I held 8:15s for the 6.
Part II: Performance Enhancement revisited
If you've paid attention to the sports headlines, you've seen that since Speedo unveiled its new Fastskin suit, the LZR Racer, in February, 6 world records have been broken by swimmers wearing the suit. The Fastskin suits create a slippery and impermeable layer that dramatically reduces drag, compresses muscles to improve performance and efficiency, and improves buoyancy. Controversy surround this sort of enhancement and has been there since these types of suit were first approved for competitive swim. Another major issue revolves around licensing. Certain teams--countries--can not use these suits because of licensing agreements. Many argue that this gives some teams an unfair advantage. We all know that this sort of equipment "upgrade" causes controversy in any sport: baseball, cycling, golf even Tennis. But the limited availability of the technology may be the source of even deeper controversy than is typical. Thoughts?
This equipment reminds me of the wetsuit "issue" in triathlon (only tangentially but...) I won't say it is really an issue. It is more of a point of discussion. There are many weaker swimmers who rely on full wetsuits even in warm water swims because of the buoyancy enhancement that wetsuits give. Tri suit manufacturers play to this and build the most buoyant wetsuits out there; and, not surprisingly, the most popular tri suits are the lightest and most buoyant suits. In short, BUOYANCY SELLS when it comes to tri suits. The ITU (International Triathlon Union) has set guidelines for tri wetsuit usage. These revolve, primarily, around the water temp (taken 1 day prior to race). Essentially, there is a temp range for each tri length within which it is permissible to use a suit. If it is warmer than the range, technically, suits are not allowed. The thing is this...in most trithlons, this rule is not applied. Anyone can use a suit regardless of temp. Only in the most competitive USAT races is this rule enforced. The reasons for this revolve around "performance issues." Many swimmers would perfomr poorly (and probably wouldn't compete) without a wetsuit. Organizers might worry (legitimately) that some swimmers would get into trouble and need rescue without a wetsuit.
I'm not sure of my stance on this. I can say that I don't enter a tri if I feel I can't "do it" without enhancement. I can swim the length with/without a suit. I am not fast, but I can "do" all three legs in any race I enter. I guess I feel that this should be the approach of all competitors. But I understand how equipment may mean access for some. It is an interesting topic. Thoughts?