Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pillar of Fire Book Review

In a previous post, I'd written how I was reading "Pillar of Fire, America in the King Years 1963-65" by Taylor Branch. Well I finally finished it. Coach J had me take 2 weeks off and regroup after White Lake, so I've had some time to catch up on my reading. My "A" race, isn't until November so a mid-season break is in order. Like Wyclef says, "gone to November".

Back to the book review. I actually had purchased the book almost a year ago when I was visiting my Dad in Los Angeles. My Dad lives in an area of Los Angeles called Leimert Park. While I was out visiting him I heard some drumming in the distance and decided to go check it out. I walked the couple of blocks up to Leimert Park and come to find out on Sundays there's an impromptu group of drummers who come out and have what's known as an African Drum Circle.
There were about a dozen or so drummers putting in work and then ladies would enter the circle and dance to the rhythms. It was all very spontaneous and organic. This one older dreadlocked guy would start a beat and then the others would fall in. Then when the dancers would jump in, the effect was almost mesmerizing.

Anyway, there were a few vendors selling used books on the picnic tables and I picked up Pillar of Fire. I had read another of Branch's books on the King years, "Parting The Waters, America in the King Years 1954-63". Again purchased at a used book vendor. I enjoyed this book and learned so many things about the struggle for blacks to gain civil rights that I jumped on the Pillar of Fire. To top it off the price was right too.

Pillar of Fire picks up where Parting the Waters stopped. America is entering the thick of the Civil Rights struggle and Mr. Branch does an expert job in chronicling this history. I have to admit though, it was tough to read about the sheer terror that my forebearers went through just to do something as simple as register to vote. The terror wasn't just to black folks either, there were many white folk who bleed and died, because they joined the struggle alongside black folk to garner the right to vote.

The whole book was excellent and I feel a must have. The parts that stood out the most for me were the accounts of Freedom Summer, 1964 and the Nobel Prize won Dr. Martin Luther King. Oh man, I don't know how people endured what went on during that time. After reading the book, I have a renewed and profound respect for the people who fought the fight to make America a better place.

One love,

Friday, May 09, 2008


At my job I work in the WLPRD (wafer level package research & development) department, we used to be known as APD (advanced package development). We were also known as the TDT (technology development team) and when the group was first formed we were known as TIT (technology integration team). I don' t think TIT sat to well w/ the ladies in our group LOL. Oh wait there's another one (laughing out loud).

Well engineers don't have the lock on acronyms, athletes also have a few of their own. There's PR (personal record), PB (personal best), and PW (personal worst). You might ask what does this have to do w/ triathlon racing. Well my race at the White Lake Half ended being a couple of acronyms for me (PW & PB).

First off the PW stuff. I finished w/ a time of 5:28. I did this race back in 2005 & 2006. In '05 my time was 5:26 & 5:18 in '06. So I was kinda down on myself for that reason. Sitting around and talking w/ friends after the race, everybody commented on how much harder it was this year compared to previous years. The biggest challenge was the wind on the bike and raising temps on the run. I'm not sure what the windspeed was this year, but it did a number on me.

So the swim was 2 mins worse than 2 years ago w/ a 42 min time. I think some of that was due to navigation issues. I really didn't sight enough and at least it felt like I was not following the buoy line well at all. My stroke felt good and my energy felt good, but the the results just weren't there.

This is where I felt like I had the biggest difficulties was on the bike. The wind that was kinda swirling, so I didn't really get that consistent push when coming out of a headwind. Also I felt like I didn't have that extra gear to throw down. In past WL's I always felt like I could drop it down a gear and push the pace hard, but this year it was like I just didn't want to feel the pain. I felt like I was riding fearfully. Whereas in the past, I raced more w/ abandoned. Its weird but I somewhat felt old. I'm in the 45-49 AG now, I don't know, just a feeling like I may be starting on that age-related performance slide. I ended up w/a 2:50 bike split (19.7 mph).

Now the run is where I felt like I shined. The temps started getting up there, probably in the low 80's and people were suffering big-time. I passed a whole bunch of people and felt really strong. I had that feeling like I could run really as hard as wanted, w/ no fear of blowing-up. The last 2 miles were hard as to be expected, but overall I felt proud of my run. Based on the results I passed 19 folks in my AG. I ended up w/ the 18th fastest split for my AG w/ a 1:52 split (8:34 pace).

Coach J stresses being efficient and quick in the transitions. The transitions went really good for me out there. I had the third fastest T1 in my AG and fourth fastest T2. I'm definitely happy about that.

Now the PB stuff. Since the wind was kicking up and the temps were rising, the whole field had it tough too. I had PB's for rankings both overall and in my age-group. I had a major increases in placing, coming in at 22/89 in my AG and 134/570 overall-males. The previous rankings were 42/93-AG, 192/466-overall in 2006 and 41/96-AG, 186/489-overall in 2005. Secretly, I was hoping to crack the top-10 for my AG, I didn't do that, but I did move up quite a bit compared to previous WL races.

All in all it was a good race and I felt blessed to be able to participate and race to what were my best abilities that day. Plus it was very cool that weekend since I camped w/ a bunch of good friends at WL and we all had fun.

Lastly, big ups to Coach J for placing 13th in the pro class at Ironman St. Croix and even bigger ups to his girl Mandy for winning her AG and earning that most coveted of Ironman possessions, an invitation to race this fall at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pump, Pump, Pump It Up

"Don't wanna fight me bro,
I'm fast as lightning bro,
ya better use ya Nike's bro,"

T.I. -"What You Know"

I got "What You Know" in my Ipod and will have it playing on I-40 heading down to White Lake for the half this Saturday. This should be a fun trip, a bunch of folks I train w/ are all camping the night before and doing the race. I saw one of the guys last night at the open-water swim practice and he said there's over 20 folks camping.

Its kinda weird though, I'm not as fired up for this race as the HIM races I did last year. Maybe jamming some of that good 'ol hard-core hip hop at loud volumes on the road will pump me up. Here's a couple of pre-race songs on my Ipod that have the pump it up theme:

Snoop - "Pump Pump"
Joe Budden - "Pump it Up"

Then I'll punch up some Rick Ross - Hustlin' and if everything goes good during the race, I'll have to put on some of that Three Six Mafia - "Poppin My Colla" for some post-race jamming.

Alright I'm feeling more motivated already.