Sunday, May 27, 2018

Amazing Athletes - TYR Pro Swim in Indy

Last week I posted a little vlog all about my adventures at the TYR Pro Swim Series meet on Friday, May 19. This week I am posting the second part of that vlog, covering events from Saturday, May 20!

I know it's impossible to communicate with fans every single Olympic sporting event that is taking place all over the United States, but I feel like there isn't enough marketing out there for some of the smaller events featuring Olympic athletes. If more people knew that major Olympic swimmers were in Indianapolis last weekend, I think the stands might have been more full.

National championships are always a big draw and get big crowds, but it took me a long time to realize that there are so many other smaller events that these athletes do over the season - events that don't get the publicity that they deserve!

Make sure to keep your ear to the ground and find out about events close to your area. If I hadn't been watching the first round of the TYR Pro Swim Series in Houston a couple of months back, I would never have known that it was going to be in Indianapolis. I'm glad I got lucky!

Tokyo 2020 Prep

Two of my favorite YouTube channels, The Tim Tracker and Krispy Smore, both went and visited Tokyo Disneyland a few weeks ago and are posting highlights on their channels now. It makes me really want to visit Tokyo Disneyland...but not during the Olympics. If there was ever a time when that park (and Tokyo Disney SEA) would be insanely busy, the Olympics would be the time.

Mini Blurbs
  • The week's BlurbWatch:
    • archery
    • fencing
    • badminton
    • baseball
    • swimming
    • track and field
  • I was able to watch snippets of the Thomas and Uber Cup tournament in Thailand this week. Basically it was on every morning when I woke up and in the afternoons when I returned home from work! I was able to see a judge reprimand a team for not setting up quickly enough, and the same judge hand out a yellow card to a team that was delaying the match by trying to "wipe up sweat" from the court. (They were tired and needed a delay, basically.) I didn't know yellow and red cards existed in badminton! And if a player gets a red card, they can lose points!
  • The swimming event I attended was aired on the Olympic Channel a few times this week, and it was cool seeing it from the broadcast side of things. Best of all, I could finally understand what the athletes were saying in their interviews!

  • The Prefontaine Classic is held every Memorial Day weekend, and it's part of the Diamond League, too. Here was my fantasy team this week:No automatic alt text available.

      • Sam Kendricks won the men's pole vault on Friday night, and when he was interviewed by Lewis Johnson he spent 2/3 of the interview talking about how great Armand Duplantis is for the sport of pole vault. (Duplantis is the Swedish vaulter who just recently graduated from high school and is already competing with the big boys in an amateur capacity. He was at the Prefontaine and did really well!) This tells me two things about Kendricks:
        • Duplantis is the real deal, and 
        • Kendricks is an awesome, humble dude. 
      • NBC's camera angles for the field events was terrible. How are we supposed to follow the athletes when we can barely see their entire run? Not to mention that they only show one field athlete at a time in those field events. They showed Will Claye's three jumps in the triple jump but didn't show Christian Taylor's winning jumps at all? How annoying - they never get any better. I need to get the NBC Sports Gold app just to be able to watch the field events in their entirety. 
      • Fortunately, there was a point where no running events were going on and we got five minutes of uninterrupted men's shot put competition. (If I had to choose a throwing event to watch, it would be shot put every single day.)
      • It's interesting to see which athletes still use their Olympic uniforms and which show off their fancy sponsored digs. 
      • I need to start picking Marie-Josee Ta Lou in those sprint events. The sprinter from the Ivory Coast just keeps winning and I keep not picking her!
      • In the bell lap of the women's 5000 meters, the cameras were showing the bell being rung as the runners passed it, and the rope fell off the bell! Usually you hear the bell for each lady that comes into their final lap - not this time. 

      Weekly Cauldron Check

      Is the cauldron lit????


      I'm Claire Nat and you're reading Light The CauldronFollow me on Twitter and Facebook @CauldronLight and read my past Olympic articles! You can start with my daily recap of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics HERE!

      Sunday, May 20, 2018

      Amazing Swimming Live and in Person! TYR Pro Swim in Indy

      This weekend I headed down to Indianapolis for the TYR Pro Swim Series meet! Fun fact: they actually call it "teer" and I didn't know it!

      I took video of my time at the meet - both Friday and Saturday. In short: it was so much fun, and so worth doing! I wish more people had taken advantage of this great opportunity to see amazing Olympic-caliber athletes in person.

      I attended the evening sessions and then spent Saturday touring around downtown Indianapolis, which is beautiful! I parked on the IUPUI campus (there's plenty of parking in the garages now that school is out) and then walked around the park and Canal Walk. I almost walked eight miles yesterday!

      Because of that eight miles I am thoroughly exhausted today. I was able to edit the Friday video, but we'll save the Saturday coverage for next week! Sorry about the audio quality at the meet itself - I was speaking at normal volume but my phone picked up a lot of the sounds in the arena and I didn't know it!


      Tokyo 2020 Prep

      Final ticket prices are being set for the events. They've capped the price of the Opening and Closing ceremonies, so the maximum price that a ticket can be sold is $2600. I don't care what the high price is. What's the cheapest ticket I can get?!

      Another less important detail is that the mascot committee is trying to settle on names! Nothing has been announced yet, but they posted a cute picture of the meeting:

      Mini Blurbs

      • This week's BlurbWatch:
        • rhythmic gymnastics
        • triathlon
        • cycling
        • swimming (duh)
        • track and field
        • badminton
      • The international badminton championship is going on - titled the 2018 Thomas & Uber Cup. I watched a bit of it this morning and it's going to be airing all week long. It's happening in Thailand, and every time the shuttlecock isn't moving the fans are yelling and a drumset is banging! It makes for a very interesting atmosphere. I'll have to catch some more this week.
      • Rhythmic gymnastics still boggles my mind, but I think my favorite part of watching it is the male British commentator who just adores the sport and really knows his stuff! It's worth watching just to hear him. 
      • Dancing With The Stars: Athletes is already down to its final episode tomorrow night! Adam Rippon and Tonya Harding are still in the mix, and Adam's contemporary routine last week was great. He used his free program music ("O" by Coldplay) and my only criticism is that it was too short! Here:

      • I love the idea of the "street games" that Boston hosts in track (and field?). They elevate a track on Charles Street by the Boston Common and the fans just surround that track and see the runners up close and personal! 
      • Listen to podcasts? I was a guest on the Olympic Fever podcast for an upcoming show! Once it posts, I'll make sure to link it to you, so you can find out exactly why I was on their podcast! (No spoilers here!)

      Weekly Cauldron Check

      Is the cauldron lit????


      I'm Claire Nat and you're reading Light The CauldronFollow me on Twitter and Facebook @CauldronLight and read my past Olympic articles! You can start with my daily recap of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics HERE!

      Sunday, May 13, 2018

      A Little Late on the Fitness Tracker Phase (Weekly Wrap-Up May 7-13)

      It is often said that an idea is stupid when it's first introduced.

      Automobiles? Stupid. (Get a horse!)

      DVR? Stupid. (We have VCRs to do that for us!)

      iPhones? Stupid. (Flip phones are way cooler!)

      Eventually those ideas are integrated into mainstream culture and people don't designate them any longer as "stupid."

      I was one of those people that thought fitness trackers were stupid. Why would you need all that information? Those things are for people who are obsessed with fitness - not me! You wear it at night? How obnoxious that must be!

      Then I started gaining weight.

      If you've been a longtime follower of the blog, then you know I have done a lot of running. That really helped me shed some pounds and inches in recent years. Unfortunately, I stopped running and ate more than I should have. Even though I continued walking and doing workouts, my calories consumed didn't even out with the calories I needed to burn.

      I noticed this especially at the start of 2018. I tried to put more into my fitness regimen, but it didn't seem to work. After a visit to the doctor and a look at my BMI and how close it was to the "obese" category, I decided a major change was necessary.

      My remaining funds in my budget are currently being reserved for my summer classes and Tokyo 2020 trip, so investing in a large gym membership wasn't in the cards. Running would need to come back to the forefront, but there was more that I was going to have to do.

      Last week was my birthday, and I got some money as a present from my parents (which they don't need to do, but insist on doing every year, and I love them for it). I had noticed in a recent trip home that my sister was using the My Fitness Pal app, and I asked her if she liked it. She said she did, and it had helped her out. 

      All of these things were rumbling around in my head (and the money was burning a hole in my pocket), so I put it all together and decided that I could use the My Fitness Pal app and a fitness tracker to help me get to a goal weight.

      I spent way too much time in the electronics section of my local Meijer, deliberating whether or not to put down $120 on a fancy FitBit, which I've seen many people using. I also (very, very briefly) thought of getting an AppleWatch, before the pricetag (and its bulky design) made me say no.

      Then I glanced over and noticed a sale item. The UnderArmour Record band was on sale for half price - originally $120, but now only $60! I checked my phone and saw that they were discontinuing the bands but continuing the software, so that was why it was cheaper than the rest. If you're unaware, UnderArmour is the main company behind the My Fitness Pal app, so the band would sync with the app on my phone. I bought it!

      Once I put my mind to a goal, it's hard for me to stop. So as soon as I had the My Fitness Pal and UA Record apps on my phone, I got started logging in my food intake and counting steps.

      Yes, I started feeling like one of the people I rolled my eyes at when they mentioned their step counts for the day. But sometimes you have to avoid ignorance and see the benefits.

      Over this first week, I have noticed a big change. My sleep habits are pretty good, but my food intake was atrocious. I looked for ways to lower my calorie count and find snacks that were healthy, too. I also started carrying my Contigo waterbottle with me everywhere as I increased how much water I drank. My band kept track of steps and also could log my workouts, and that information transferred over to the My Fitness Pal app so that it could adjust my caloric intake for the day.

      I've kept pretty close to my calorie requirements, though it was hard on Monday because Teacher Appreciation Week began (donuts from a local group in the staff room) and the room moms celebrated my birthday (4 dozen cookies and ice cream for me and the kids), but I stayed strong. I ate only what I knew was worthwhile and didn't snack on a bunch of cookies after school, even though I really wanted to.

      I'm curious how this will work with dining out, which I've done only once so far. The app is definitely going to show that some places have thousands of calories for certain food items, and I'm just going to have to learn to enjoy sparingly or not get those items at all!

      The step count and workout log has been cool to use. Today, for example, I hit my step goal before 12:30 because I did some major workouts in the morning, and I walked to the store instead of taking my car!

      Will it result in weight loss and inches trimmed? I certainly hope so, but I don't expect to see results immediately. Will I be able to enroll in the Next Olympic Hopeful thing that 24 Hour Fitness and Team USA put together? Definitely not. But I'll feel good, and that is all I can hope for!

      Thanks for letting me personally indulge you. Now let's get back to the Olympics!

      Tokyo 2020 Prep

      I saw some websites that suggested waiting until closer to the Olympics to purchase airline tickets and hotel rooms. Man, I am not that patient. I'd spend all that time freaking out that everything is going to be sold out!

      It does seem like Tokyo is going to be a very popular destination for American tourists in 2020, as opposed to Rio de Janeiro or PyeongChang. That alone will make me purchase things way earlier than I need to. Patience, Claire! Patience!

      Mini Blurbs

      • This week's BlurbWatch:
        • triathlon
        • softball
        • track and field 
      • It sounds like Armand Duplantis is making a name for himself in Louisiana. He's a Swedish-American pole vaulter and is beating high school records all over the place. This weekend he broke the high school indoor/outdoor record by clearing 18 feet, 5 inches! He'll be someone to watch when he competes in the Olympics. 
      • The Lopez brothers were seen as shining stars in the most recent Olympic games in taekwondo, but now Steven Lopez has been suspended by the US Center for SafeSport and USA Taekwondo due to allegations of sexual assault. If SafeSport is doing stuff like this after the terrible things that happened with USA Gymnastics, I am happy. 
      • Russian figure skating silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva has broken up with her coach (who also coached gold medalist Alina Zagitova) and is going to Canada to work with coach Brian Orser. Orser coached Yuna Kim (South Korea) to a gold and silver medal, and coaches Yzuru Hanyu (Japan) and Javier Fernandez (Spain), who both medaled this year. I am reeeeally curious how this turns out, and if Medvedeva competes in 2022, I will be rooting for her!
      • Triathlon competitions are happening all over the world right now. I watched one that took place a few weeks ago in Bermuda, and another from this weekend in Shanghai. One thing I noticed: they are on their bikes forever. The swimming and running don't seem too long, but they are on their bikes for a large majority of the race. 
      • A Bermudan - Flora Duffy - won the Bermuda Triathlon and the Shanghai Triathlon. She won both handily, and I'm looking forward to seeing if she can continue her dominance. 
      • In Shanghai, the water was much colder, and the athletes needed to wear full-body wetsuits to do the swimming, which meant that before they could go on their bikes, they had to peel the wetsuit off. How annoying!
      • The Diamond League was also in Shanghai, and my fantasy team did a little better. I picked four correct winners (Omar McLeod in the 110m hurdles, Steven Gardiner in the 400m, Catarine Ibarguyen in the triple jump, and Timothy Cheruiyot in the 1500m), and that got me to 97 points overall. The high score was still 240, so I have no chance of ever winning, basically. But it's still fun!
      • Christian Taylor, who did the triple jump last week in Doha, tried out the 400m yesterday and got fifth place! It's cool when athletes can do the track and the field. Maybe he can just go all-out and do the decathlon!
      • In a non-Diamond League event, the 3000m steeplechase, there was a fight for first between Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech and Norah Jeruto. But right after the last hurdle, Jeruto slipped on the wet track and fell! It was a shame, but made for an exciting finish. 
      • The Team USA awards were finally broadcasted Saturday night on NBCSN, and they were fun! I thought that they were very well done and not self-indulgent. Athletes like these Olympians and Paralympians are much easier to relate to than actors and musicians, and they seem genuinely honest when they accept awards. (Well, maybe not all of them. Chloe Kim and Shaun White didn't go to the ceremony and sent video of themselves, which seems like more of an actor/musician route to take.) 
      • I liked how the Olympians and Paralympians got an equal amount of time. There were only five awards for each, but the Paralympic athletes didn't get relegated to the commercial time or something like that. 
      • Olympic and Paralympic superfan Mr. T was there, and he was awesome! He gets how much work these athletes put in, and appreciates them as much as the athletes appreciate his enthusiasm. 
      • I saw the full video the University of Oregon put out for the Hayward Field renovations, and wow. Usually renovations like this are reserved for the basketball and hockey teams - not the track and field athletes! Some people are lamenting the loss of the old bleachers, but if a university (and its donors like Nike - let's be honest here) are willing to shell out big bucks for a non-football stadium, I am more than willing to get excited and eventually go to see it for myself! Here's the video so you can see what I'm talking about: 

      Weekly Cauldron Check

      Is the cauldron lit????


      I'm Claire Nat and you're reading Light The CauldronFollow me on Twitter and Facebook @CauldronLight and read my past Olympic articles! You can start with my daily recap of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics HERE!

      Sunday, May 6, 2018

      Light The Cauldron - A New Venture!

      Notice anything a little different?

      For a few weeks now, ever since I started making the Olympic Blurb a more consistent item outside of the actual event, I have been thinking about rebranding my blog and dedicate it soley to the Olympic movement.

      While I have enjoyed discussing Star Wars and other items on this blog, I feel like those areas are well saturated with very talented writers, while a more casual, geeky take on the Olympic games doesn't have as much representation.

      Because of that, I have changed the name of the blog from Blurb Musings to Light The Cauldron, because it sounds like the United States Olympic Committee has some issues if you use the word "Olympics" in your work.

      If you've been following me on my regular Twitter feed, know that I now have a dedicated Light The Cauldron account that will be focused on Olympic news, retweets, and commentary. You can find it @CauldronLight (because @lightthecauldron was one character too long). Anyone from Facebook can find my page here. Facebook is still deciding whether or not it's okay for me to rename my entire page, so once that clears up I'll provide clearer information.

      So what is Light The Cauldron's goals? Here are some things I've been able to accomplish in the past ten years that I've been blogging:

      • Made a presence on the Internet
      • Created daily blog posts during the Olympics (starting in 2010 back when I just did it on Facebook Notes)
      • Recap various vacations and special events, including several WELS Worship Conferences (AKA a part of my day job), a Disney trip, and my massive 3-week trip to Europe last year. 
      • Make "Star Wars Saturday," a weekly blog about Star Wars that started at the 100-day countdown for both Episodes VII and VIII, and 
      • Develop quality relationships with several other quality blogs and podcasts specializing in various fandoms. 
      I have a short-term goal and a long-term goal going forward. In the short term, I want to continue a steady stream of Olympic content leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Games. Not only will this consist of book/movie reviews and commentary on recent Olympic sporting events, but also my preparation for my own trip to Tokyo to watch the Olympics for the first time in person. 

      In the long term, I want this to be a 10-year blog. I have grown so much in the first 10 years and I am excited to see how much I can improve from this point. The blog's endgame is the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, where I am looking to work as a volunteer. 

      I don't have too much planned beyond those two goals, but they're good enough goals for now. I'm sure that as I continue, smaller goals and opportunities will appear, and I'm excited to see what they are!

      Becoming an Olympic blog doesn't mean that I'll give up on all of my other types of posts. The three pillars of Olympism are sport, culture, and the environment, and I believe that travel blogs definitely fit under those pillars - I wouldn't be fulfilling my Olympic duty if I only covered the sport angle!

      Thank you for reading one, three, or all of my blog posts so far! I hope that you'll continue reading (and sometimes watching) as my love and appreciation for the Olympic Games continues to grow!

      Tokyo 2020 Prep

      I took a look at a few Olympic-specific articles like this this one (and this one, too) that says tickets for events usually go on sale 18 months before the Games. Since they begin in the end of July, that would have the approximate date of release around March of 2019. I know there are a few travel companies that have dates specifically for the Olympics like Bucket List Events, CoSport, and Jet Set Sports. I want to do a bit more research on the three and see if any of them stick out. It might be easier when I actually get there to go through a travel company, but it will be more expensive! If I'm well prepared, I could get away with paying a la carte. (But do I want to stay at a capsule hotel for two weeks straight? I have to sleep on that a bit.)

      Mini Blurbs

      • This week's BlurbWatch:
        • archery
        • triathlon
        • track and field
        • I joined the IAAF Diamond Fantasy League! Who knew that was ever a thing? It's a little easier than a baseball or football league since Diamond League is every couple of weeks. Here's my team for this weekend's meet:
          • Katerina Stefanidi (captain)
          • Kipyegon Bett
          • Dafne Schippers
          • Mohamat Allamine Hamdi
          • Caster Semenya
          • Christian Taylor
          • Agnes Jebet Tirop
          • Andreas Hoffman
          • Kendra Harrison
        • Harrison and Semenya secured me two first place finishes, but Tirop ended up just barely getting beat in the 3000 meters by her teammate while Taylor only took second in the triple  jump. And Stefanidi totally dropped off the map - she didn't look like herself at all!
        • In the end, I got 67 points, but the leader had 240! I have some work to do. 

        • I did watch Dancing with the Stars on Monday, and I think the right people went home. While figure skaters definitely have an advantage (Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon both had top performances), basketball players are not trained to handle dance moves like these. Both Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Arike Ogunbowale had back-up dancers along with their professional partners. I was surprised by both luger Chris Mazdzer and figure skater Tonya Harding - they looked great up there! I am looking forward to tomorrow's dances - plus the happy news that this is just a four-week cycle and it's not getting dragged out!
        • Farewell to Dawn Harper-Nelson, 100-meter hurdler and surprise gold medalist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I remember very vividly the night she won. The NBC crew had been heaping up all the praise on teammate Lolo Jones, and I found it annoying even at that time how much they were basically guaranteeing her a medal! But then Jones stumbled on the last hurdle and Harper-Nelson pushed through to win. I think the commentators were scrambling to find out more information about her because they didn't expect her to win at all! (Neither did she!) She continued to compete at an elite level for ten years, and that is impressive. I salute you!
        • I caught a World Cup archery event from a few weekends ago in Shanghai, where the athletes shot over a body of water to reach their target. It was a very unique setup. Plus, the referees all spoke English to all the athletes, even though the event was in China. 
        • The Koreans are clear favorites right now in the sport of archery, and they swept all the individual and team events in that Shanghai competition! One athlete in particular, Chang Hye Jin, hit three perfect bullseyes in one round - there wasn't any way she could have shot better! 
        • The Diamond League coverage was really nice, because it wasn't the normal NBC crew. Instead, it was an international crew, and they made sure to spend more time on field events than normal. It was great!
        • Sandi Morris has picked up right where she left off in the World Indoor Championships, winning the Diamond League pole vault event. I hope she can carry this over for another two years! (It seems like pole vaulters have good longevity, so I'm optimistic.)
        • I remember Croatia's Sandra Perkovic from Olympics past, and she competed and dominated the discus event. I need to remember some of these names for my next selections!
        • The Triathlon series was taking place in Bermuda, and it looked beautiful! They have to do a lot of loops in each discipline, though, so that must be difficult. The men had to do two loops of swimming, ten laps of biking, and four laps of running. How boring! (Well, as boring as it can get for competing in Bermuda.)
        And there's one more new item I'd like to start adding at the end of every Olympic blog: 

        Is the cauldron lit????


        I'm Claire Nat and you're reading Light The Cauldron! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @CauldronLight and read my past Olympic articles! You can start with my daily recap of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics HERE!