August 2011

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I'm learning how to float!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 8:09am (August 31st, 2011)

It sounds funny to say, but I've never been able to float in the water.  My legs always drop.  I figured it was always because I didn't have much body fat.  Today Coach Mark Hill taught us that it's actually more about body position than anything else.  I didn't believe it at first but he's right!  I got darn close to floating with my arms, torso and legs at the top of the water.  Some of the other guys got it quickly.  I'm talking guys with muscle, who typically sink, are floating like champs.  It's crazy to see!

Training Quote
"Air is the fuel of body position" - Coach Mark Hill

That was only 4 hours?!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 12:31am (August 31st, 2011)

Today was comprised of two 2 hour workouts.  It began with what I would call "the best of P90X", meaning, the hardest stuff.  At least we were outside.  After 30 minutes of dryland, we were instructed to run around Ann Arbor for 25 minutes.  I have to say, if somebody had said, you need to run (not jog) for 25 mintues, I would have told them, that's impossible, I haven't run for years.  Yet, with the implied peer pressure of being on a team, somehow I made it happen.  It was certainly a new experience.  I've only run in a pack (6 of us) a few times in my life.  We tore up the streets of Ann Arbor for a bit and I kept up with everybody.  When we got back, we were greeted with another 20 minutes of medicine balls and exercise ball work out on the track.  Afterward we went inside for a 1 hour swim.

A few hours later, we were back for more.  Another 2 hours in the pool, almost continuous swimming with short rest and relatively high intensity.

My muscles are desolated, this will be a long week.

Training Quote
"You looked good today, if we can put some muscle on you and you can keep your rates up.... (as he smiled)" - Head Coach Mike Bottom

There is NO WAY I won't improve training like this

Posted by Kevin Doak on Monday at: 5:41pm (August 29th, 2011)

I heard it from a few swimmers... "Today was the hardest day".  I could swear I was in basic training for the military.  My muscles was abused in ways I didn't know where possible.  We began the morning with a 1.5 mile run on the track which was interrupted every 200 meters by 10 pushups and boxing your training partner with boxing gloves on.  Each time we stopped, we would box in a different way, from twisting at our hips with left, right, left, right hooks, to sitting on our rear end and boxing upward to our partners hands.  It was a short set that certainly woke up my muscles.

We moved inside and began a 16 station training circuit.  Every machine and exercise was done.  Beginning ab twists against surgical tubing, to throwing medicine balls down 8 feet (we were standing on metal boxes), to squats and the swim bench, finishing up with as many pullups as you can do in 30 seconds.  I'm happy to report I was on par with everybody else however my last :30 second pullup attempt only yeilded 5 full pullups, wow.  It was the most rigorous training circuit I've ever done, I was dripping with sweat at the end.  Afterward we got changed for the pool and began what the coach said would be a "quick swim".  I don't want to get caught up in what "quick" SHOULD mean, but the 3,000 meter workout that followed redefined the word for me.  Again it was mostly aerobic on short intervals.  By doing backstroke, you could find me at the back of the group.  I hope my teammates realize I'm swimming a statistically slower stroke than they are, otherwise I probably look borderline pathetic.  I seem to hold my own in all the workouts.  As we ended the morning workout, a teammate looked at me, shook his head and said "see you in 3 hours".  It took the smile right off my face.  It really put the next 1 year of my life in perspective.  The workouts are scheduled 3.5 hours apart.  Really not much time to do ANYTHING, including sleep or eat.

The evening workout was a 2 hour swim practice.  We did aerobic swimming with lots of work on turns and starts, followed by a 40 minute set for just the post grads in the deep end which was a 4x circuit of:

25y no breather swim
50y double pulldown BR
4 x pushouts
25y underwater swim (yes, a full swim stroke)
50y kick on front, no board
3 x :25 on :15 off abs on pullup bars, lifting legs
25y blast FL
25y easy swim
200y hip driven free
3 x :40 on :20 off ab work (situps, etc) 

It was a manageable set because it was not on any interval, I found myself lagging behind the other 4 sprinters in the water but it didn't matter, I was doing everything as written, just not killing myself on the timing of it all.

Afterward, hot tub, food and sleep, followed by a night of work. There is zero chance I cannot improve my 100 Backtroke training like this.

Training Quote
"You all have to learn to push yourself without anybody yelling at you" - Coach Mike Bottom

Survival Mode

Posted by Kevin Doak on Saturday at: 1:23pm (August 27th, 2011)

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were difficult.  I'm doing my best to push myself in practice but the workouts have been so rigorous that it's tough to keep yourself motivated for hours on end.  We have been doing quite a bit of aerobic work.  This morning we began with a 30 minutes of ab work and stretching followed by a 2000 meter warmup and:

5 x [2 x 50 fast then 200 easy].  The 50's we wore random equipment to work different muscle groups

Followed by:

2 x 50 Fast from a push for time

I was pretty exhausted after all the 50's and 200's.  My last two 50's fast from a push were a sad performance.  I was a :29 and then a :32.  Certainly not impressive but I was about on par with the other guys.  At one point late in the workout I realized there were only 4 sprinters in the pool, each swimming a different stroke.  I was swimming alongside two Olympians and Bronze medalist from World Championships... yea... I clearly fit right in :)

Afterward, all the spinters went out to breakfast. I've made new friends and I'm learning things about other countries.  This has been a great experience so far, I'm loving every second of it.


P90X tore me up

Posted by Kevin Doak on Friday at: 5:00am (August 26th, 2011)
P90X tore me up

During my "lazy" 3 days off, I did a very simple P90X ab workout.  It's only 16 minutes long and I got through it just fine with good form.  The next day I started feeling it.  Today my demolished hip flexer muscles were creating a dangerous (and hilarious looking) walking situation.  I found it most comfortable to walk around bent significantly at the hips, sort of staring at the ground.  Probably pretty funny to watch.  I looked like a geriatric patient walking around.  I'm not looking foward to a weights workout this morning with Club Wolverine.  I'm already pretty worn down after P90X and a single 5,000 meter workout.  As we used to say at EMU:



Accepted to Club Wolverine Elite!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 10:15pm (August 25th, 2011)

Today, my first day back with the team after a full 3 days off.  It was the beginning of the fall training for a handful of the college team as well.  I was greeted with smiles and handshakes, it was really welcoming.  One of the pro's whom I've known for months jokingly introduced himself to me since I had taken a few days off... it was a lighthearted jab at me being lazy the last few days :)

It was a welcomed break and I'm glad to be back.

I had a good practice.  It was largely aerobic.  Lots of 200's and 300's; historically not sets I accel in.  I held my own on the freestyle stuff but when I chose to swim backstroke instead of freestyle (for my own benefit), obviously I couldn't keep up with the team who was all doing freestyle.  During the kick set, I was average against the rest of the guys doing flutter kick and among the fastest when doing butterfly kick.

Since I didn't want to wait any longer to know my fate on the team, I approached head coach Mike Bottom after practice and reminded him of our conversation we had a few months ago.  His comment in April before my tryout was "We'll see how it goes for the summer and if you fit in and can keep up with the team, great.... if not, no hard feelings and we'll go our separate ways".  Since then I've clearly made a significant effort to keep up with the team during workouts and make more than a few friends in the process.  My goal was to first achieve a Nationals Cut, I did so at my first International meet in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  My next goal was to achieve my Olympic Trial cut.  I traveled to Palo Alto, CA and tagged an Trial cut by 0.15 seconds.  The summer finished up with me feeling part of Club Wolverine as well as achieving a time that felt like I was on the same athletic level as my fellow teammates.  In my mind I had done exactly what was asked of me, the only thing left was to see if my efforts matched what Mike was looking for.  I started the conversation with "Mike, when I started a few months ago you said, we'll see how the summer goes, I was just wondering if I can continue training with the team".  He smiled and replied "well, you made your Olympic Trial cut with just a few months of training, I'd say a finals (meaning top 16 in the country) is a reachable goal, I don't know if it's a do-able goal, but it's a reachable goal.  Based on the speed I've seen out of you, you can go 55.xx at trials, thats a reachable goal".  I replied with, "I agree, I think I can do that, I know I have a lot of work to do".  He agreed and we shook hands, I ended with, "thanks Mike, I'm looking forward to it".  It was a nice exchange and I appreciated his honesty.  He didn't tell me anything that wasn't true about my abilities.  He conveyed that I have potential, it's up to me to make it a reality.

I'm happy to be part of a team again.


Still Repairing

Posted by Kevin Doak on Sunday at: 11:48pm (August 21st, 2011)

Here I am, 4 days after one of the hardest practices of my life and regular walking is still painful.  It's been a rough few days.  I'm struggling to find meaning in the ridiculously difficult practice we all endured last week.  Somebody smarter than me is going to have to explain why you would take a swimmer who hadn't run in years (like most of us there that day) and make them do sprints on a track.  It just doesn't seem to make any sense without a primer a few days before.  I'll be taking a few planned days off this week and getting away from the pool before the training starts back up for the whole team.  I'm still not sure if my nationals performances earned me a place on the team yet.  Perhaps a few days off won't increase my odds of that happening while this time is considered "extra credit" but I'm willing to take the chance to feel refreshed to continue training for the next 11 months straight.


Spiffy New Calendar

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 10:35pm (August 18th, 2011)

Since I'm sure I'll be competing in some meets coming up, I've added a meet calendar in the menu above.  Enjoy!


Almost Blacked Out

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 10:33pm (August 18th, 2011)

After a few solid days of training with a few fellow CW guys, today was the first day back in the water at Canham with the Pro's.  It was one of the hardest practices of my life.  I had no idea what I was in for when I showed up.

We started out with some core exercies and V-ups.  We stretched it out and moved into the athletic training room to ride stationary bikes and walk on the treadmill.  We alternated moderate intensity and easy paces on the stationary bike.  The coach combined the bike work with some body position exercies while we were working out.  Afterward, we moved outside.  It was a muggy 85 degrees out and had just started raining.  We did lots of plyometric stuff.  Jumping, side skipping, high knee running, etc.  The running was combined with some dips and back exercises.  At this point I was feeling exhausted.  It had been over 45 minutes of exercises I hadn't done in months, if not years.  All 5 of us were struggling, it was obvious.  We were dripping with sweat and overheating.  Our final set outside was 4 x 50 meter sprints.  I was already worn out, I wasn't sure how I would finish up.  The coach lined us up and yelled "go".  My performance was pathetic, I was tying for 3rd while the 5th place guy was running barefoot on the grass (he forgot shoes).  I was feeling my head throb after just the first one.  We walked back to the starting line and did it all over again.  After the second one, I noticed my vision was getting dark.  It was clear that I hadn't eaten enough before practice... combined with the fact that my body was entirely unprepared for this type of exercise.  The 3rd race was sad, I came in 4th behind everybody with shoes.  When I finished, I was out of breath, dragging my feet and my vision was almost entirely dark and I was feeling slightly dizzy.  I knew it wasn't entirely dangerous to finish up the set, even though I wanted to quit.  I walked back to the starting line and got ready for one last race.  This is when it got ugly.  The new guy with no shoes came over from the grass and lined up with us.  I thought to myself, "please just don't lose to the barefoot guy".  The coach yelled and we all started sprinting.  Seconds later, we were finished.  I came in last behind everybody including the shoeless wonder next to me.  Nothing quite says "you suck at running" as when you lose to a guy without shoes.

Thankfully we moved inside to finish up dryland.  We did medicine balls, jumping, more plyometrics, lunges and then... kickboxing.  At this point we were all looking at each other like... will it ever end?  We finished up with some additional core work on the rings.  After 1 hour, 35 minutes, we were done with dryland.

We hit the pool for a moderate workout.  Nothing too tough, Coach Mark probably felt slightly guilty for almost killing us earlier in the practice.  I was happy to see half of the workout as "kick".  We did some 25's, 35's and 50's underwater with fins.  I finished up with a 300m with full equipment (fins, paddles) backstroke in 3:34.  Not bad.

That dryland was probably the hardest non-water workout I've ever experienced.

Training Quote
"What were you waiting for" - Ian Hulme (after schooling me in running)

Working the legs

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 2:46am (August 17th, 2011)

Day 2 of all leg workouts.  We did 3,000 meters of kicking.  I mixed it up just a little with some swimming but for the most part, it was all kicking.  I really feel like I should be doing a FULL kick set every day.  If I move forward with CW this fall, I'll be adding this to my workload.  I really think my kick is where I'm the weakest in my races.


Hip Flexers, down for the count

Posted by Kevin Doak on Monday at: 1:40pm (August 15th, 2011)

I joined a fellow CW swimmer at Fuller to get a jump on training.  I was pleasantly surprised he had modified the coach written workout to be entirely kick!  I knew a 3000+ meter kick workout was overdoing it considering it was my first day back in the water.  We hit the legs from all angles from freestyle kick, butterfly, underwaters, sprints and endurance kicking.  I could feel my hip flexers start to burn by the time I hit 1000 meters.  A day later I'm certainly hurting however I'm excited to build up my legs even before the team starts training again!


Make that... a week off

Posted by Kevin Doak on Monday at: 2:50am (August 15th, 2011)

Well, I didn't intend to take a week off of swimming but I made catching up on life a priority.  I'm back in the water today!


OT's... yes, 10 pushups... no

Posted by Kevin Doak on Monday at: 2:31am (August 15th, 2011)

The irony is overwhelming.  Last Thursday I figured I would get the jump on some dryland training and begin with some pushups.  I used to pound out a few sets of 30 reps as a WARM UP to the rest of my weightlifting or dryland.  Today I figured I would start with 10 to get my muscles used to pushups again, then move on to additional sets.  I got to ten, stopped and realized, I probably couldn't have done too many more if I had tried.  I was literally maxed out at 10 pushups.  That's beyond pathetic.  Yet, not that surprising considering we did almost nothing for 5 weeks of taper, then I took a week off.  The ironic part being that I just got done quailifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and I'm incapable of doing more than 10 pushups.  wow.


Ah, a FULL day off!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 2:21am (August 10th, 2011)

I did so very little today athletically, it was a nice little break :)

Tomorrow I'll be back at it with some dryland and perhaps a quick pool workout.  I want to stay active during this month off so I don't lose any of my progress.  I forsee some rollerblading in the near future!


27.5 From a Push

Posted by Kevin Doak on Sunday at: 4:22pm (August 7th, 2011)

I was back in the pool today for a quick 2,100 meter workout.  The length of my practice was partially determined by my attention span (or lack thereof), and partially because my left shoulder was really bothering me.  Prior to Nationals, I did some manual labor, including deadlifting 80 lb boxes over my head.  The day after it felt as though I had just swam a few 10,000 meter swim practices in a row.  I definitely did some damage in there somewhere.  This week I will keep up with the core workouts but I may take a few days off of swimming to let it heal.

At the end of the workout I timed myself for a 50m backstroke from a push.  I was a 27.5 at the touch.  Not bad :)

Session Weight Information
Pre-Practice Weight: 170.5 lbs
Practice Information
Dist: 2,100 LCM - (Long Course 50 Meters)

Starting With Core

Posted by Kevin Doak on Saturday at: 1:18pm (August 6th, 2011)

Today I start training again.  I started with a core workout.  I plan on hitting the weights and dryland quite a bit over the next month and getting a jump on increasing my strength.  I'm unsure of what my future with Club Wolverine will hold but I plan on inquiring upon the coaches once everybody returns to Michigan.  I'm looking forward to some Masters meets this fall either way!

Training Quote
"See you back in Ann Arbor" - Coach Mike Bottom

I almost wore out a PDF

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 4:30pm (August 4th, 2011)
I almost wore out a PDF

I've had this PDF document open on my computer for months.  Looking at that number "57.59".  It's finally behind me and I'm feeling very relieved.  I can finally just hunker down and train without worrying if I will actually BE at trials next year.  I can finally tell friends and family that I'm going to Omaha next summer if they would like to come watch the competition.  It gives everybody a chance to save money on flights/hotels if they care to spectate :)

Today I'm taking a day off, letting my body rest while I catch up on some work.  Most of the team is still at Nationals and afterward, they will be taking 3 weeks off prior to starting training again.  Since I haven't been training as long as they have, I'll be in the water tomorrow.  No need for a break just yet.  I have lots of training to do!

I've gotten some very nice congratulatory emails and messages from friends and family, THANK YOU!


I really did it!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 12:18am (August 4th, 2011)

I'm still sort of in shock of what I've accomplished.  I dropped a full 4 seconds in 3 (broken) months of training in my 100 Backstroke.  I balanced life and training while joining a team, relocating cities and keeping up with work.  I set a goal of making a trial cut before the end of the summer.  This was the last meet I could swim the 100 Backstroke LCM at.  I prepared as best as I could while maintaining my workload, traveled out to Palo Alto, California and made it happen.  I achieved my goal.  I have about 11 months of training before the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.  I will be setting a time based goal soon.  I will develop a game plan on how to achieve it.  I hope Club Wolverine is part of that plan.  At some point in the next month, I will inquire upon my future with the club.  I am officially ranked 43rd in the country in the 100m Backstroke.  I feel I have demonstrated in a brief amount of time what I'm capable of with just a little training.    I hope the staff at Club Wolverine sees the same potential I do.

I'm Ready.


I'm going to the 2012 Olympic Trials!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 3:37pm (August 3rd, 2011)
I'm going to the 2012 Olympic Trials!

I'm surprised and happy to report that I achieved my Olympic Trial cut in the 100 meter backstroke this morning!  I was feeling great in warmup, had a few awesome starts, Coach Mike Bottom took my rates on a 35m swim and I was nearly at my ideal pace, just a little slow.  I did a bit more swimming, a few blast strokes to test out a faster pace and got out to warm up.  I watched my teammates swim the 200 Free while I talked to a few of the guys and stayed warm.  When the last heats of the 200 free were in the water, I chose to loosen up in the diving well prior to my race in heat 8.  I watched the first few heats of the 100 back, took off my warmups and headed over to the starting end of the competition pool.  As I passed Coach Mike Bottom, he smiled at me and asked, "how are you feeling"... I responded with... I'm ready.

I was prepared in every way possible.  My goggles were brand new, unscratched, and new bungie straps for high tension. I had a new Speedo Aqua-V, wrinkle free cap.  My suit was a new Speedo LZR jammer.  I trained with a great team for the last 2 months, learning about how to improve my stroke.  I tapered for 5 weeks, an amount of time I thought was too long, but turned out to be ideal.  I got 8 hours of sleep, a decent breakfast and arrived at the pool in plenty of time.  I warmed up exactly how I wanted to, actually found myself pacing Olympian Matt Grievers at one point.  I got out and was ready to go.

My race was as good as could be expected.  I hopped in the water, adjusted my cap and tested the traction on the pads.  They were the Omega pads, my least favorite to start on, but I was prepared.  The buzzer went off and I had a fantastic start!  Perfect underwaters and surfaced in 14 meters.  I purposefully came up early because the ref's were DQing everybody for anything possible.  I got right up and started turning it over in near perfect pace.  I flipped in a 27.09, my fastest split of all time, around 2 tenths faster than ever before.  I had acceptable underwater kicks and felt the pain set in as I passed the 25 meter mark.  I knew I was in trouble.  My old fashioned "fall apart at 75 meters" curse set in.  I felt my pace slow down and began to lose feeling in my legs.  By the 85 meter mark I couldn't feel my legs at all, I kept them moving but they weren't doing much for me.  My arms slowed down quite a bit.  A few guys in my heat passed me up.  I was giving it all I had.  I saw the flags pass by and knew I only had a few more strokes to go.  I did a shallow dive to the finish and touched the pad in:


I achieved the Olympic Trial cut by 0.15 seconds!  I did a quadruple take on the scoreboard to ensure I was seeing the right lane, as I looked to my right I saw my teammates and all three coaches with their arms up and huge smiles on their faces as they all realized what I did!  I had done it!  I gave a small fist pump when I saw that time, I just had to, it has been my goal for the last few years and I finally achieved it.

Thank you to all who supported me!  I'm headed to Omaha in 2012!


100 Back at the 2011 Nationals up next!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 12:33pm (August 3rd, 2011)
100 Back at the 2011 Nationals up next!

I'm warmed up and ready to swim the 100 back in heat 8 lane 6. I'm feeling good and I'm ready to race!


50 Free Time Trial Results

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 2:38am (August 3rd, 2011)
50 Free Time Trial Results

After quite a long morning of waiting around, I finally swam an hour after time trials started.  There was a bit of drama sorting out an error regarding which day I wanted to time trial.  After talking to 15 meet staff and officals, I was properly entered into the 50 free.  Since the 50 free starts at the opposite end of the pool, they needed to test the timing equipment at that end.  Add another 10 minutes of them blowing the whistle, me stepping up, them noticing an error, me stepping down... over and over again.  They finally gave up and gave me a verbal "step up" and just pressed the button.  I'd like to say I wasn't thrown off by it all, but I'm willing to bet it all contributed to sub par performance.

As I dove in, my hands didn't lock together in mid air, I hit the water and my arms crossed... a very bad beginning to a short race where every detail matters.  I tried to correct it and just surfaced to start swimming.  I felt like my stroke and tempo were pretty good overall.  I did drift toward the right of the lane at the end but I doubt that affected much.  I touched in a 24.00, slightly slower than my "I want to be faster than a 24.0" goal.  I had really hoped to be faster than my 2009 performance of 23.96 but I was right there considering the pre-race drama and horrible start.

I can't beat myself up too much, it was still among my fastest times and considering my start error, it was faster swimming than the clock represents.

Tomorrow (today) I have my one official event, the 100 meter backstroke.  I'm happy to report my heavily tinted goggles are performing just fine.  The overcast morning, combined with a mirrored goggle finish looks promising to help me deal with the bright California sun while swimming backstroke.  I know I will struggle with swimming straight without a ceiling to look at but I'll do my best.


At Stanford, Ready to Swim

Posted by Kevin Doak on Tuesday at: 1:00pm (August 2nd, 2011)
At Stanford, Ready to Swim

After a full night of rest and a good meal, the team arrived at Stanford University this morning. The facility and campus is beautiful. I have submitted a time trial request for the 50 free. Since the events swum in competition the same day get priority, there is a chance I will not swim. I will warm up in a bit and be ready either way!


California Bound

Posted by Kevin Doak on Monday at: 1:03pm (August 1st, 2011)
California Bound

Beginning with an early morning, I'm headed to California for the 2011 Long Course Nationals.  I'm excited for the meet as a new experience along with a team to support me.  I do however wish I was better prepared.  The last week was filled with quite a few physical demands outside of swimming.  These activities were my choice and the result of poor planning and basically just living my normal life.  I'm sore and my left shoulder hurts.  I feel the pain of an in-season weights and dryland workout.  I hope I can recover quickly and achieve both of the realistic time goals I've set for myself this week.

The trip has been mostly uneventful but very enjoyable.  I got to drive some of the other swimmers to the airport and save everybody money on a taxi.  I felt it was a nice gesture since I have a form of income that they don't.  They were gracious for the ride and we had a nice conversation.

I find it amusing how easy it is to spot a swimmer in a public place.  We just seem to have a certain look.  The way we dress (comfortable, lazy, sporty), the unmistakable hair (semi-bleached, but not in an attractive way) and our general build along with the swim backpacks are all dead giveaways of a swimmer.  I spotted at least one in the Minneapolis airport and introduced myself once we were on the plane.  He was from Minnesota and headed to Nationals with his father.  We had a nice brief discussion, part of which I was asked "so what year are you in college?".... a question I seem to get quite often.  I apparently don't look my age just yet.  I always chuckle when somebody assumes I'm perhaps over 10 years younger than I am, at this point in my life.  Still, it's always a good story about how I swam in college, took some time off and got back into Masters swimming.  It's a story I don't get tired of telling.

I'm writing this from the plane, soon we land in California and we will have a team practice and I'll get to bed early to catch up on my 4 hours of sleep from last night.  Tomorrow I will attempt to time trial the 50 Freestyle.  I'm armed with heavily tinted goggles, a new Speedo Aqua-V cap, some CW team gear and a new Speedo LZR Elite jammer racing suit.  I would have preferred a brief but I was peer pressured into wearing one of these watered down tech suits.  I don't think they make much difference but at least this one ties, unlike my suit in Montreal.  I'm excited to see Stanford and enjoy some California weather!  Looking forward to the meet!