One foot in, one foot out

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So┬áI’ve had to adapt my training plan of late. After an interval session a couple of weeks ago in Chapelizod along the outside of the Phoenix park I felt some tenderness a nfew days later in my calf. A bit of a google and I’m fairly sure the area in question is my soleus muscle to the right side of my calf. Someone did suggest it might have been shin splints but the symptoms don’t quite match. Consequently I’m not running at the moment. The beauty of training for three sports is that while I can’t run , I can still swim and cycle. Last night I did 100 laps of the pool so got 2500 meters done in an hour, slow but that was with stoppages to let faster swimmers by. Tonight I completed 20 km on the stationary bike in the gym in just under 43 minutes which is an improvement. Did I mention I have also purchased compression socks. I had heard a good bit about this relatively new fad in the world of sport. Compression attire is essentially very tight fitting sports garments that aid recovery through increased blood flow, they also help to support the muscle and tissue they are covering. So right now I’m sporting a pair of knee length ultra tight compression socks. Trying to get the socks on in the first place should be a sport in it’s own right. I was huffing and puffing and generally getting strange looks in the gym when I changed into them.We’ll see if they aid my recovery or cut off my circulation completely ­čÖé

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Try a tri ? Well lets start with a duathlon, shall we ?

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So I am taking the plunge. Yup 2017 is the year I will do my first triathlon. Having started swimming 3 years ago and loved it from the word go I have worked my way up to doing 2500 metres in the pool. The next step will be to buy a wetsuit and literally take the plunge outdoors, something which I have actually never done before.

Now from what I heat a wetsuit aids one’s buoyancy in the water which is good. On the downside you are having to deal with waves, currents never mind the wind and the cold water. There is also the fact that there will be no lane markers below me and visibility in the water will be distinctly lacking. As a consequence I’m having to teach myself the skill of sighting which is the technique of popping my head up to see where I’m going. It sounds easy but is much more difficult in practice and that’s just in the pool. So that is a technique I am still perfecting at this early stage. I say early because it wont be till April / May that I do my first triathlon primarily because the season doesn’t start till then.

In the interim I am going to compete in duathlon competitions which instead of the familiar triathlon disciplines of swimming, cycling and running, in that order, just concentrates on running, cycling and running. I’m looking at competing in my first duathlon in Naas in a couple of weeks. Now when I say ‘competing’, I don’t really mean competing as such, in that I won’t be competitive. I simply want to get through the first one and take it from there. Having looked at the finish times for previous duathlons, I know what I have to aim at for me to be satisfied with my performance and not completely disgrace myself. There is also the added incentive of competing just against those in your age category which is something that I feel is eminently doable.

So I’m very much looking forward to combining the three disciplines of cycling, swimming and running over the coming months and building on the training I’ve done over the winter. Lets see what this triathlon business is all about ­čÖé

Dawn’s early darkness

women

So it actually happened. The moment that many thought wouldn’t possibly, couldn’t possibly happen actually came to pass. Trump took the oath of office and is officially the president of the United States of America. Trump, the┬áman who wrestled with Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 23, who became a tv celebrity through The Apprentice, who has been bankrupted multiple times, who sees no problem in making grossly offensive remarks about women, who has no issue with lying through his teeth about the most verifiable of facts and who has zero history of public service at any level, is now America’s commander in chief.

How did it come to pass? You could blame a variety of factors but you would need to start by looking at the American people and its society in general. In 2017 America remains sadly a deeply divided country along the lines of race, gender and socio-economics. There persists a deep division between African Americans and White America and specifically between young black males and law enforcement. As we saw across the world yesterday at the Women’s march and highlighted so powerfully by Ashley Judd in her speech, the genders remain very much divided. Women still feel oppression in a world where men still call the shots. Nowhere is this more evident than in pay inequality or the simple fact that while viagra is not subject to tax that women’s sanitary products are. Even in Ireland I’m appalled to say that feminine hygiene products which are essential are subject to tax, it is utterly ludicrous.

Economically America is still recovering from the recession of recent years which blighted the world but as is the case in Europe there are sections of society who have benefited less than others from the green shoots of recovery. The rich are getting richer and the poorer by comparison poorer. You then have the liberal left completely at odds with the conservative right. The latter it seems have grown tired of the ceding of their power to the former and have said enough is enough. The right wing conservatives have gone beyond their traditional republican values and adopted trenchant views regarding foreign nationals, be they illegal immigrants or those in China who have supposedly stolen American jobs by producing goods that were once made in America.

Within an hour of yesterday’s swearing in ceremony any mention of global warming or reference to LGBTQ were erased from the official Whitehouse website. So after years of striving for equality, recognition and for their voices to be heard members of the LGTBQ community might have the right to marry members of the same sex but the very act of removing any reference to this sector of society from the Whitehouse website suggests regression and potentially more division. Global warming is undeniable at this point. Only yesterday scientists warned of the imminent detachment of the largest ice shelf ever from the polar ice cap. Yet, Trump has peopled his cabinet with captains of industry which will attempt to ‘Make America Great Again’, like Rex Tillerson former CEO of ExxonMobil.

America stands on the precipice right now. Never before has there been such uncertainty about its future and by extension our shared global future. I really wish America wasn’t high on the agenda but it commands an unrivalled position on the global stage economically, financially and culturally that we can’t ignore it even if we want to. The early signs are not a good portent of what is to come. The 2 year presidential campaign highlighted the sheer dichotomy at every level in American society. It also highlighted the very flawed nature of the political / electoral system that gives such weighted importance to individual states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. The long campaign showed up the flaws in mainstream media and its coverage of the candidates and their policies. Social media took on a more significant role too and by doing so it lent credence to the notion that platforms like twitter and facebook┬ásimply add to the reactionary hysteria and rob us of any reasoned mature debate.

Ironically no one used social media to their advantage more than one of the candidates themselves. Trump eschewed the conventional methods of campaign advertising in favour of using the immediacy of twitter to spread his message and ┬áwhip up a media storm. In the process he garnered millions of hours of free advertising courtesy of the mainstream media’s coverage of his, at times, incendiary tweets. Trumps supporters foamed at the mouth in excitement. Here for the first time was a man who said what exactly they thought but were too afraid to express it during the Obama years. Trump’s opponents also foamed at the mouth, but in dismay, not just due to┬áthe litany of wildly inaccurate versions of the truth streaming from his consciousness and but also due to┬áhis inherent desire to ostracise women, minorities and the physically disabled.

Since winning the┬áelection in November Trump has persisted in┬ávilifying those who would oppose him, namely the mainstream media. Even yesterday his official spokesman was incandescent that the media should focus on the paucity of numbers at the inauguration, at the expense of Trump’s reputation. Sean Spicer launched a petulant attack on the press in his maiden address, listing blatant fabrications in an attempt to change the narrative and indirectly embellish his paymaster’s ego. The venom with which the Whitehouse spokesman attacked the truth yesterday was comical-ALiesque.

The greatest fear for me is that in all of this we see a ramping up of those divisions that brought America to this point in the first place. Yes Republicans and Democrats are guilty of being so engrossed in party political squabbling that they both were blinded by the American people and by Trump. America has inadvertently become Dr Victor Frankenstein and Trump the monster. At this point in time America needs grounded, mature and inclusive leadership, not an egotistical sociopath who has more in common with Putin than he does with may of his fellow Americans. It is also important to say at this point that Obama is not entirely blameless in Trump’s metamorphosis from celebrity clown to political demagogue. Obama, while an inspirational candidate was an ineffectual leader. Personally I think he was far too much of an academic and too professorial to resonate with the electorate after the euphoria and the significance of his initial ascension to power. I found him to be far too ponderous in his words and actions and this possibly stemmed from his youth and relative inexperience in the world of politics. Yes he was opposed at many turns by the republicans but I feel they played on his inexperience and indecision that perhaps a stronger more charismatic and worldly wise leader may not have enabled.

Trump’s election has started a conversation, of that there is no doubt. The portents are ominous. This is the age of the bully, the thug and the liar, when millions of Americans vote for a bankrupted billionaire whose face they recognise off the tv and who hates just as much as they do.