Author Archives: yaftab

Book Review – Gandhi

I must say that I was uneducated on Gandhi as a leader and person before I read his autobiography.

Here are the key things I learned:

  • Foundation of your character is foundation of life – his search of truth is a struggle that he goes with his life and people. It is amazing to see how this serves him in his life and forms the basis of his success in his own way.
  • Can’t be a leader without humilty and connection - it is important to connect with the people that you want to lead. However, it is not something you wake up with one day. You have to make the effort; you have to be able to see the struggles of the people you want to influence. You have to be able to live their life and be empathetic. Gandhi changed the way he lived; he dressed; he ate; he interacted – for the people he believed in. They saw him; they believed him and they followed him.
  • Walls are boundaries as you make them for yourself – you want to see out of box thinking. Look at his life and ideas. While they strike a pattern in some ways – he changed the way people thought about other people; how they influenced them.

Reflections – Escape from Alcatraz

While generally I would write a race report for an event like this. This particular crossing and course gave me so much insights about life that I have decided to share them.

To give everybody the context; Escape from Alcatraz is a very classic race that is also a unique triathlon. A number of people like myself also do the Alcatraz crossing which involves swimming from the island to either Angel Island or Acquatic Park. I ended up doing the crossing more than 4 times last year (twice in each direction) and also did the course once.

Here is what I learned:

  • Nothing is truly impossible – I decided to cross Alcatraz few years ago while showing my mother the view from the shore. She thought that I was joking. She would be rational to say that – I was barely a swimmer. Having little experience in the pool – and generally not comfortable in the water. Ocean swimming would have been far fetched. Why bother?
  • Your enablers and partners are as important as your effort – while I could take credit for all the effort my self; it would have been just impossible to have done it without having great partners and supporters. My first supporter would be my wife. She would let me drive long distance to downtown (could be 2 hour drive each way taking precious weekend time) to the freezing waters of Acquatic Park. Secondly; I found a great group of swimmers at world swim Alcatraz. They swim every Thursday and Sunday; and Coach Pedro makes this difficult swim look like a walk in the park. I don’t think that I would have known what to do without them – it really helped me focus on the core task at hand. While I would have still probably done the crossings without them. It could have easily taken me couple more years.
  • No step is small as long as you are moving forward – you have heard this saying before. I truly say that come to life for me. From my first 5k to the 1000 yards in the pool to my first ironman race. None of these steps were viable when I first started. However, race by race – mile by mile – I did march forward. There were a lot of moments of struggle in the middle but it was important to put that in perspective and keep moving forward.
  • Self awareness is key – there are so many people along the way that decide to live in a parallel universe creating their own sense of reality and success without realizing what is happening to them. The best example in this race for me to watch some swimmers trying to cross the ocean at the very end. They are not necessarily going anywhere since they are not crossing the tide at the right angle. The irony is that they don’t know this. They put their effort and keep working hard. They would run out of energy quickly and would eventually be picked up by a boat. It is critical as you March towards your eventual goal to know where you are going and if you are making progress towards SUCCESS!

Hope that you will put this crossing and course on your bucket list :)

Destination – Truckee (TRK)

Got a chance to fly into Truckee the other day with the family. We were looking for some snow which is hard to find these days.

It’s an excellent airport with great access to Tahoe and its north corridor.

Car rentals are readily available at the airport. Hertz folks were extremely friendly and helped us with a car. There is also a bus service in the spring.

We were able to go to North Star resort and enjoy the gondola ride up the hill and actually saw and played with some snow there. Perfect for this time of the year.

Book Review – Built to Last – Jim Collins

A unique perspective in looking at some of the thought leaders and trend setting organizations.

What looks obvious on the surface is not evident to organizations from deep inside and they miss the mark. Other organizations driven by sense of core values and purpose are able to cross the threshold and survive the swings of changing and evolving times.

A must read for most people trying to understand and calibrate themselves and their organizations.

Book Review – Good to Great

Jim Collins has produced some very interesting books rationalizing the long last success of some flagship companies of the last century. “Good to great” is one of my favorites since it focus on the fundamental principles which enable an organization and business to succeed long term.

The focus of “Good to great” in my interpretation is on my people; the immense focus on their quality and their ability to transform seemingly difficult goal to reality.

He also provides good advice to people by offering them a framework to advance themselves and intersect their very best with the organizational goals. This kind of alignment often creates an environment of mutual benefit long term exponentially accelerating growth and other positive outcomes around culture.

Stroke Rates and Strokes Per Length – Total Immersion

These days I have been working on improving my stroke using Total Immersion. While I have read the book before; this time I am taking an actual workshop to help polish all  the various details.

One of the keys is to think about reducing the number of strokes it takes to complete a length. I personally think that it is a controversial topic as a number of other people suggest that really look at the swim golf score and overall efficiency. Here is a link by Terry (The guy who is the TI Guru and Founder) detailing the SPL suggestions per length.

http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showpost.php?p=11446&postcount=12

I will write up my experience with Total Immersion Drills as I go along as a way of reinforcing it in my head as well as sharing my experience.

-Younus

Ironman – Race Report – Full Vineman 2010

I had started getting into triathlons this year; and did a sprint (april), 2 olympics (may, june), 1 half ironman (july 10th) and this would be my 5th race (July 31st).

Since I did not plan last year. This was the best (or really the only) option to do a full distance race before November. It was close enough to drive and looked like very well organized.

Objective

I really made a hybrid plan; it was mainly derived from the 13 hours to 13 hour ironman in the end. The objective was to have fun; finish around 13 hours and learn for the next races. My final time was 13 hours 14 minutes. So I kind of met my goal pretty closely.

Lessons

  • It is a mental race too :- Iron distance does test your mental distance as much as physical. My IT Band was stiff in the middle of the bike ride (and I had a lot of pain because of that in the knee). But I never thought for a second to stop and/or give up.
  • What Plan:- Any plan is a decent plan as long as you stick to it J But you should really add other items like strength training and flexibility to it as well …
  • Nutrition:- Nutrition is more complex that I thought. I had fun on the bike (a very nice ride). But I could not eat anything on the run. I did it drinking cola. Not the best thing in the world L
  • Planning:- I was over prepared and planned. The race was well supported so I could get some nutrition from the stops. I had most of my nutrition on the bike and the fuel belt. (unnecessary load as it proved to be). I stopped and helped 2 people on their bikes. First one had his aero bars loose and was looking for an allen ranch so I stopped and gave it to him. The other one did not have a C02. I really think you gotta at least have couple of these things with you J
  • Experience:- Race experience itself is very valuable. I could spend another year planning or preparing but just going out and doing it tells you a let about your-self and your deficiencies.

 

Race before the race

I could not leave before Thursday and drove all day on Thursday from Seattle to SF. Still had to drive on Friday. Something I really should avoid next time J

Swim (2.4 miles – around an hr)

My best swim ever. My new wetsuit actually fit me well. I have dramatically improved my swim over the last few months. The river is not deep enough so I was not afraid at all.

Bike (112 miles – 7 hours)

 

I started the bike well. But my IT Band got stiff towards the middle of the ride. It hurt really bad for the rest of the ride. Although I have done centuries before. It never happened before. I might need more work on flexibility. Stopped for few people on the bike. But I really enjoyed the venue. Chalk Hill is not really all that bad. This could have been much faster…

Run (26.2 miles – a little over 5 hours)

 

So I am done with the bike and about to start the 3 loop run. My IT Band hurts (really the knee is where I feel the pain but cause is IT Band). I cannot run. But I try anyways.  First mile in 7 minutes and remaining 7 miles in the first loop in 2 hours. I was basically dragging my left foot with the right. A fellow runner had some ibouprofin. I took that and did the second loop in about 1.5 hours. And third in about an hour.

The Venue itself (in case you are considering)

This was the most friendly, well supported triathlon  I did this year. Just amazing. I did some poorly organized triathlons like ocean shores this year and this was 1000 times better.

The venue is also close to SF and a reasonable drive to any place in calif. I combined my vacation with it so it was well worth it J