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Guinea Pig’s Water Workout #41

posted on December 11th, 2008 ·

Warm up:

  • 400 freestyle
  • 300 pull buoy with hand paddles

Main sets (drills included):

  • 400 freestyle
  • 100 flutter kicks
  • 300 freestyle
  • 100 flutter kicks
  • 200 freestyle
  • 100 flutter kicks
  • 100 freestyle
  • 100 flutter kicks

Do 2 rounds of the sets above.

Warm down:

  • 50 freestyle

Total distance (in meters): 3,550

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Guinea Pig’s Water Workout #40

posted on December 11th, 2008 ·

After watching myself on the videos from the swim meet and seeing my flaws, I have been back in the water and tried to correct my mistakes. Fixing my flaws will take a lot of patience. I am using muscles that I have never trained regularly, and I feel imbalanced and awkward gliding through water.

In the next few weeks, I am planning on adding few drills in between main sets and few long distance sets to improve swimming efficiency.

Warm up:

  • 400 freestyle
  • 3 x 150; 50 1-arm swim, 50 catch-up, and 50 long strokes
  • 200 flutter kicks

Main sets:

  •  4 x 50 freestyle - build up sets: 1:10, 1:05, 1 minute, 55 seconds
  • 100 flutter kicks
  • 4 x 100 freestyle - build up sets: 2:10, 2:05, 2:00, 1:55
  • 100 flutter kicks
  • 4 x 50 breaststrroke - under 1 minute
  • 100 breaststroke kicks
  • 4 x 100 breaststroke - focus of endurance and coordination
  • 2 x 200 freestyle - focus on finishing strokes all the way down to my legs
  • 2 x 200 freestyle w/ fins - focus of longer distance swum per stroke
  • 3 x 50 dolphin kicks

Warm down:

  • 100 freestyle

Total distance (in meters): 3,600

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Homecourt Advantage: Rutgers Swim Meet Day 2

posted on December 9th, 2008 ·

Day 2 of the meet was shorter; most of the events were 50 and 100-meter sprints.

Another big breakfast before the meet: Super Fluffy Pancakes, Creamy Steel Cut Oatmeal, and Fantastic Scrambled Eggs.

Food does bring people closer!

The body language tells it all; Dennis (left) and John looked a little tired, but they still got some gas left in the tank.

Hanna (in lane 1)  swam her first event of the day - 200 breaststroke. She looked relaxed in the water and finished in the top 8 of her age group.

Joel swam the 200 breaststroke as well. He has great techniques and earned himself a spot in the top 8 too.

I swam my 50-Meter freestyle immediately after the 200 breaststroke event. I placed 9th in my group, age 18 to 24. I shed 5 seconds since the last meet.

Standing behind the block, in lane 4 (with black speedo on), and trying to relax before my first breaststroke event. You can see my breaststroke event on video in the previous entry.

I placed third place(out of 3 people) in my age group, 18 to 24. I earned 6 points for my team by default. I wonder if I could beat anybody had there been more people in the group.

JJ, one of the coaches, swam in 100-Meter backstroke.

Michael swimming his first event of the day: 100-meter IM.

Our first relay race, men’s 4×50 meter mix, of day-2. The race started with backstroke, then went into breaststroke and butterfly, and ended with freestyle.

The first relay team, from the left: JJ (backstroke), Chris (freestyle), Joel(breaststroke), and Dennis (butterfly).

Women’s 4×50 meter mix relay. These women were fast!

The relay team, from the left: Sayaka (backstroke), Jess (freestyle), Chrissy (butterfly), and Hanna (breaststroke).

Last but not least, the co-ed relay team. They put up a great fight in the water! From the left: Jess, John, Michael, and Hanna.

Finally, the meet was over! We were tired and hungry, but we had a lot of fun competing over the weekend.

And the celebration began…we went to “Stuff Yer Face”, where celebrity chef, Mario Batali, started his culinary adventure as a college student, to celebrate with few beers and stromboli. From the left: Michael, Jess, Hanna, and Dennis.

The other side of the table, from the left: Joel, me, Sayaka, and Michael.

The Rutgers meet ended well; everyone won at least a medal (yes…even I had one, can you believe it? I guess competing at home court did give me some “advantage”). I was happy to see my time dropped. But I still have many flaws in my techniques; I need to work on my starts and turns, finish my strokes all the way, and kick harder with my hips. The next major event is in March, and I have 3 months to correct my flaws. Until then…back to the drawing board.

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Guinea Pig on Demand: 50 Meter Breaststroke

posted on December 8th, 2008 ·

My first time competing in a breaststroke event. I was also in lane-4 in this event. I felt great and wasn’t completely burned out at the end. I need to work on my kicks, and my goal is to finish under 45 seconds in the next major meet in March.

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Guinea Pig on Demand: 50 Meter Freestyle

posted on December 8th, 2008 ·

I was in lane-4. I shed 4 second from my old record. My next goal will be finishing under 40 seconds.

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Homecourt Advantage: Rutgers Swim Meet Day 1

posted on December 8th, 2008 ·

Finally…the final swim meet of 2008 arrived. The meet took place at Rutgers University, where I have trained myself 4 to 5 times a week since summer. Competing in my home turf gave me some confidence because I was familiar with the surroundings and had no problem managing my time going from one event to the next one.The Rutgers swim meet was a two-day event, and over 15 U.S. Masters Swim Teams (1 team came from Arizona!) ompeted.

Where I have spent 6 to 8 hours every week honing my strokes and building endurance. And I usually swim in Lane-6. Was I ready for the biggest meet of the year? We shall find out…

I served a loaf of sweet potato bread to my teammates, who stayed over my house for the weekend, for breakfast before the first day of the meet.

Breakfast menu: sweet potato bread, creamy grits, fantastic scrambled eggs, apples and bananas, and homemade cashew butter. From left to right: Joel (coach), Sayaka, and JJ (coach)

Relaxation…watching some TV and chatting.

Bearcats (team mascot) were sharing some laughs before jumping into the pool.

Bearcats warming up in the first lane. Each one of us swam 4 to 6 hundred yards.

Hanna, left, and Chrissy kept each other company between each event. Both of them can out-swim me easily.

Chrissy (lane 2) swam her butterfly event. She is our butterfly specialist and scored many points for us by placing in the top 8 of her age group.

Dennis (lane 5) and John (lane 7) also swam very well. Both of them scored some points to put us in contention for “top team performance”.

Hanna (blue cap), who has amazing breaststroke, hung tough and won second place of her heat in 100-Meter IM.

Our first relay team was outstanding; they won second place in 4×50-Meter Freestyle Relay.

Our second relay team’s performance was just as splendid as the first team. They broke the team record for Mix-team 4×50-Meter Freestyle Relay.

As for me…I improved my 100-Meter Freestyle by shedding more than 10 seconds since the last meet. But, I still have a lot of room for improvement. I placed 12th in my age group.

So far, 200-Meter Freestyle has been my best event; I shed 27 seconds since the last meet. I placed 7th in my age group, and earned 2 points by default.

Stay tuned for day-2 of the swim meet…

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Guinea Pig’s Water Workout #39

posted on December 3rd, 2008 ·

As the biggest meet of the year approaching in less than two days, I have shortened my distance swum in every practice since last week. I hope to recover and feel fresh by this Saturday morning when I jump in the water and swim in the first event.

I have consulted my friend, Connor, who coached Rutgers Aquatic Club briefly, for efficient tapering workouts. Connor recommended me doing “broken sets”, which are done fast with longer resting period, 15 to 30 seconds, between each set.

I tried his workout today and felt very productive by the end of practice. Although I spent barely an hour in the pool, I was able to have a high intensity workout without feeling exhausted at the end.

Warm up:

  • 2 x (200 freestyle & 100 kicks)

Main sets:

  • 4 x 50 freestyle, under 50 seconds
  • 2 x (50 1-arm swim & 50 slower pace swim)
  • 4 x 100 freestyle, under 2 minutes
  • 2 x (50 1-arm swim & 50 slower pace swim)
  • 4 x 50 breast stroke, under 1 minute

Warm down:

  • 1 x 250, nice and easy

Total distance (in meters):  2,050

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Guinea Pig Brings You a Simple Mexican Dish

posted on December 2nd, 2008 ·

Many people spend over 10 hours a day in front of the computers or buried in papers, and they are exhausted and agitated by the time they get home. These people often settle for fast food (taco bell in this case) or ready-to-eat frozen food. I am here to show you one of the comfort foods that can be made within 30 minutes and have you satisfied.

I am teaching you how to make refried beans…from scratch.



  • 1/4 bag of dried pinto beans, soaked overnight (or 1 can of pinto beans)
  • 1 medium size onions, roughly diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly minced
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper…more if you dare
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable (corn, groundnut,or canola) oil…or just enough to cover your pan



  1. Heat your pan for a minute and add oil to coat it
  2. Gently saute the onions with few pinches of salt on medium heat until softened, and then add garlic to enhance flavor (I don’t add garlic first because it burns easily).
  3. While onions and garlic are being cooked out, use a masher or fork to mash the pinto beans until they form paste (you can leave some beans un-mashed for grainier texture).
  4. Once the onions and garlic are done, add the beans, cumin powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir the onions, garlic, and the spices with bean paste thoroughly.
  5. Taste the food and add more salt if needed.


Done! That easy! You can add refried beans to rice or dip the beans with toasted bread…either way, you will be happy.


A small scoop of sour cream cools down the beans, if they are too spicy, and balances out the smoky flavor of paprika and cumin.


Go on…make youself this simple Mexican dish!

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Guinea Pig Climbs Great Smoky: Day 2

posted on December 2nd, 2008 ·

After 11 hours of sleep, barely enough after 16 miles of hike and 3,000 feet of climb on the first day…the trip continued on.

We heated canned pinto beans for breakfast. We devoured the beans in few minutes before they got cold. I normally don’t eat canned beans (because of the preservatives), but they were darn delicious when it was the only breakfast option.

We started our second day going uphill in the snow…how encouraging!

Our hard work was rewarded with a beautiful view. I could have stayed up there for a little longer had I worn a little more clothes (I only wore a long-sleeves and t-shirt when hiking to avoid overheating myself).

And I just kept climbing…

Another classic shot of Great Smoky Mountains.

That’s a bear’s footprint. I guess the park rangers were not kidding when they put up the sign to warn us (see previous entry).

One of the happiest moments on this trip…eating homemade granola bars and store bought beef jerky (will attempt to make jerky in the next trip).

At around 12 PM, we saw people for the first time after 30 hours into our trip.

We made a detour to Mt. Cammerer, where we saw a famous firehouse built from the ground.

The firehouse, where fire watchers used to stay and keep an eye on the forest.

I got a great view from the firehouse…what a soothing moment.

Hooray! 2.9 miles until the end of our hike!

I learned few things on this trip, and one of them was that the double line mark means intersection is within 1/4 mile. A sign of relieve…towards the end of each trail.

And we did it! We had planned to start at Newfound Gap. However, the road up to Newfound Gap was closed and we had to start at lower elevation and add few miles to our original route.

To celebrate our accomplishment, we went to The Cracker Barrel, a southern chain restaurant similar to Applebees, for authentic southern food. I ordered BBQ pork with rice and greens. I just needed something hearty…and a bit grease to help me recover.

35 miles later…I was spent.

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Guinea Pig Climbs Great Smoky: Day 1

posted on December 1st, 2008 ·

As I have promised in the previous entry…here are some highlights from the first half of my hiking trip.

Got picked up at the airport…North Carolina, here I am!

We brought a lot of dried goods to snack on for the trip. We left the house at 5:00 PM on Wednesday

We stayed in a hotel that was near Great Smoky National Park the first night. We woke up at 5:30 AM the next day to drive to our starting point.

The backpack I had to wear…it weighed at least 35 to 40 lbs. with accessories and food. My friend, Wally, was leading the way. The slope gradually became steeper and made us work hard.

After few miles of initial hike, we encountered an intersection. To get to the Appalachian range, we had to hike Hughes Ridge Trail, a 5.2 mile rout, first.

My shadow. The snow was from few days ago before we arrived…we lucked out!

We finally reached the Appalachian range, and we hiked Balsam Mountain Trail.

A great view of all the ridges and gaps.

After some difficult climbs, I was able to smile when we cleared the tree line for the first time.

My friend, Wally, puts it…”one of the classic shots of Great Smoky” - the blurriness of background resembled smoke.

At 4:00 PM on Thanksgiving day, we arrived our shelter safely.

Our semi-outdoor bathroom; it was a little too far from our shelter, but it does its job.

So I could have been attacked by a bear…

The water supply - all water should be boiled. We also had to put iodine tablets to kill germs when we refilled our camel packs.

I brought some homemade hot cocoa mix for this trip. Hot cocoa kept us warm while we waited for other food to be cooked.

We could not find any dry wood to start fire; therefore, we hid ourselves in the sleeping bag after we ate some food. I fell asleep at around 6:30 PM…the earliest ever. But the rest was needed, as you shall see in Day 2 of my hiking trip.

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