November 2005 Archives

November Rain


My swim yesterday was awful. I felt flat and slow. I'll blame it on being forced to do lots of backstroke, but it could have just been one of those things.

The run last night was fine. I was a bit slow on the way out, but come home pretty hard. Felt good. Could feel my upper body stability helping me along. Only problem was the rain, but since it was 10 degrees, it was more or less comfortable.

This morning, my goal was 8km, at any pace I could muster. The rain had abated, but it was still damp. 5 degrees, though, is awfully nice for the last day of November. (Apparently though, nothing does last forever, even November....) I felt creaky right from the get-go, but settled into my 10-and-1s, and just did what I could. My left ITB might have been the tiniest bit tight, but all in all it was a fair run. I picked it up slightly over the last quarter, and finished in 48 minutes.

The warmth and the rain have washed all the snow away from last week. It's probably our last respite before spring, though, so I'll enjoy it all while I can.

The Season of Slippery Progress


It was the first run on snow today. There was about a centimetre (half an inch) on the ground, in most places.

We've actually had snow for a few days, but I haven't been running. I had plans Tuesday night, and forgot to run. It would have been tough to fit in, but was impossible by the time I remembered. Wednesday, I came home feeling sort of yucky. I decided to curl up under a blanket in front of the fireplace for a few minutes before I headed out. Minutes turned into hours, and I started feeling worse, not better. Thursday and Friday were total writeoffs. Saturday I considered running, but decided to take the extra day's rest to be safe.

I could be pretty upset about missing some training due to being sick. Unfortunately, having young children, sometimes being sick comes with the territory. So, I look at this week as a rest week - a chance to consolidate the training that I've done; a chance for my muscles to grow stronger, and heal up from last week's hectic schedule before diving right back in next week. Maybe in the long run, it'll work out for the best.

I did go to a friend's house party last night. I trained for my first and only marathon with L. She invited a lot of people that we both know from running, as well as people from her and her partner's work, and from their neighbourhood. Work and neighbours were well represented, but I was the only runner who showed up. Oh well. One of the work friends recognized me from the Hypothermic Half Marathon (where L's partner had been taking pictures) as "that salty guy". See? My moniker is well earned!

My run today was an easy tour of the neighbourhood. I took a brand new route today, and wasn't really sure how long it was. I ended up running just over an hour, and GMap Pedometer says it was 10.5km. I'll take it.

Onwards and upwards.

It's All Uphill From Here

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"It's all uphill from here" was what our coach said. She meant that we would only get faster, and that 400m sets would get easier. Maybe she meant downhill. Maybe she didn't. =|

We started with 100 free, 100 choice, 100 free, 100 choice. By the time we were done that, it was 100 kick, 100 pull, 100 kick, 100 pull. My first 100 kick was free, but for the second kick I mixed in breast kick in order to keep in touch with my lanemates.

The first set was 50 swim/50 scull/50 pull/50 swim, first as breaststroke, then as backstroke, then as freestyle. All with pull paddles. (They're flat boards about twice the size of your hand - they're designed to do for your pull what flippers do for your kick.)

The second set was 200 pull, 200 swim with paddles, 200 swim, which I think was choice but I did freestyle. We were really focusing on pull technique, but towards the end fatigue was making me sloppy. It's hard to pull solidly and well for all that time, especially when you've been using pull paddles (which tend to make the shoulders ache).

So, having done 2000m already, we were then given a self-timed 400m. 400 metres is long enough that it's hard to keep track of the laps. In the end, someone ahead of me did one too many, which threw the whole lane off. No biggie. I ended up doing 400m in 7:15 - nothing amazing. This is when the coach timed in that it was all uphill from here. She was making a point that that should be as slow as we'll ever go for 400m freestyle. When we do it again in the future, we should be better rested and stronger. Which makes sense to me. I wasn't exactly destroyed by this swim, but I'd say that I felt fatigued for most of it.

According to the graphs, November is now my new high water mark for distance swam in a month. The scary part is that I have two more swims to go this month!



I slept in yesterday, largely due to the fact that the rest of the family slept in. We had a baptism to attend in the morning. I had my breakfast, and started calculating how best to fit my run in before we went to church. In the end, I decided that any attempt to run before the ceremony would put everyone under pressure, so I decided to run in the afternoon.

It made the whole run a bit strange. Sunday morning is very much a habit for me - get up at this time, eat at this time, start to get ready at this time. On the other hand, it was nice to not have to watch the time. I was free to go as slow as I wanted.

I ran back down the under-construction rec path along Woodroffe again. It was 7 degrees outside, so I left my hat and gloves at home. This was a mistake, as the wind was fairly strong. Most of the run was along the edge of farmland, and there was little shelter from the biting wind.

I was mindful of my resolve to keep the pace nice and slow. I took a walk break roughly every ten minutes, and for the most part backed off the pace when I felt it creeping up. I ended up doing around 13 km in 1:16. I'm very happy with the pace.

All in all, you could say that it was a decent run. It was, except for one small thing. By breaking my usual running habit, I ended up forgetting one small part of my preparation. Bodyglide. The discomfort I've felt ever since has been a strong reminder to make sure I don't forget anything before my next run. =(

How Did I Do It?

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It's a milder day today. Above zero, with the patches of thin snow melting into thin streams. No wind, no rain. Nice.

I set out to do the same neighbourhood loop that I've already done twice this week. I'll get bored of it soon enough, but for now, it's close, convenient, and comfortable.

I felt good right from the start. Knowing that I could and would back off the pace tomorrow, I let myself go, trying to keep pushing the whole way. It felt good blowing my by fake first kilometer marker (I really have no idea how far into the run it is) in 4:55. But before too long, the pace started to get tough. Specifically, it got tough mentally.

I kept thinking about my 5km race back in September. "How did I go that fast?" alternated with "Man, I was strong back then!" I was pretty sure that I was going much slower than in that race, but holding up the pace felt five times harder. We forget quickly, of course, about the physical challenges of a race. Mentally, though, I knew I was miles from where I was a couple of months ago. Back then, I had my eyes on the runners in front of me, had a plan to pick it up in the second half, and the confidence that my plan would work. Today, all I wanted to do was back off until my breathing was more comfortable.

Sure, this was a workout and not a race, but I found myself marvelling at the difference. Am I really that much tougher in a race? Or was it just a really, really good day for me?

I walked for 15-20 seconds at the turnaround, something I've been doing the last couple of weeks. It's far too early in the season to be pushing pace for 25 minutes non-stop, and besides this will help me recover from pacing errors. Or something like that. Maybe I just like catching my breath. ;)

Coming back, I focused on my turnover/cadence. I wasn't going to pieces in the second half like I had in September, but concentrating was getting harder and harder. Into the "last kilometer" (again, true distance unknown) I picked up my knees and heels a bit, and tried to extract a bit of extra speed. I paid the price, but limited myself to a price I was willing to pay. I was short of race effort. Or should I saw I was short of race mentality.

I finished up in 24:32 for 5.4km, which I was surprised to see was the second fastest I've run that route. I knew sub-25 was fast, but I'd forgotten just how long it had been since I'd done it. I guess I'm pretty pleased with the run - it's more than I thought I had in me, and I explored the cushy, softer edges of my mental toughness. All too soon, my distances will start to increase, and I'll need to be living in my "tough" zone.

Flutter Kick


A short but tough swim yesterday. Only 1900 metres, but lots and lots of flutter kick work. 450m in total kicking, of which 400m was either freestyle or back. All of it timed.

As would be expected, I struggled mightily. We were given 45 seconds to kick 25m. At the start, I found that I was consistenly taking 53-55 seconds, which left me behind, and with little rest. Eventually, I got my back kick down to 43 seconds, which gave me more rest, which I needed.

I also did 200m breaststroke pull. That was hard. Breaststroke is really all about the kick, and trying to pull yourself along with it is an exercise in inefficiency. Or maybe that was just me. I found it more exhausting than butterfly.

Speaking of which, I did sneak in 50m fly, by choice. I'm getting comfortable with what I'm doing, but I'm still doing it wrong. Now that I'm gaining confidence with it, this would be a good time to try to correct my more obvious mistakes.


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The first words I heard at swimming this morning: "We're going to try for 2800 metres this morning."


I ended up doing 2650m. I'd say I ran out of time, but without my glasses I couldn't be certain that I was reading the clock correctly. Instead, let's just say that I did a 250m cooldown.

Speaking of cooldown, it was snowing when I left the pool. Not just snowflake, melt, snowflake melt, but accumulation. By the time I'd left work, the wind had picked up, and the snow had given way to rain. Oh boy.

This week was my first trying a Tuesday run. I aimed to be slow, since I wasn't sure how I would react (especially in a day or two, when it all starts to add up). The wind was out of the northeast. It was eerie; it seemed calm when running west and south, but running the other ways the cold water, drops on my glasses, and stiff wind made running less than pleasant. I made the turnaround in 15:20. I knew I'd been taking it easy, but was surprised that I was that slow.

Most of the return trip was into the wind. With a mile to go, though, I turned west, and all became calm. My glasses were still spotted with rain, but without the wind I noticed that I was moving fairly quickly. I guess I'd gotten used to exerting effort fighting the wind, and all of a sudden that extra push had nothing to fight against. Anyways, I finished up in almost 29 minutes - my slowest run on that course in ages. Of course, my running log puts that at a respectable 5:20/km pace, so I can't really get too upset about it.

The real test will be to see how I feel in the morning.


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For a variety of reasons, I decided to run from home this morning. Not the least of the reasons was the opportunity to sleep in a bit this morning.

When I finally did get outside, the air was even warmer than expected. I was glad that I'd decided to leave my hat and gloves behind. The strip mall sign told me that it was 6 degrees outside, but it might have been even warmer. Gone were the wind and rain of the last week. After slogging through some yucky runs, today was my reward.

I ran the rec path they're building on Woodroffe again. It's not much closer to being done than it was last time I ran it. It took me 20 minutes or so to get comfortable. I made the turnaround in around 32 minutes, more or less on a 6:00/km pace. At this point in my training, I'm more afraid of going too fast on Sundays than too slow. Still, on my way back, I found my groove, my pace picked up a bit, and I really started to enjoy the run. I tied my coat around my waist, and enjoyed above all else not being cold.

(Mark this day on the calendar - I might not be able to say that again until March!)

I was on a tight schedule, but had time to run to the school and back, which made the run come out close to 12km. Just what I wanted. I want to start pushing Sunday runs out to 12-14km this month. Most of my weekly distance progression will come from moving to 5 runs a week, and from adding distance to Wednesday and Saturday runs. Soon enough, my Sunday runs will get longer. Much longer. For now, I'm in no hurry.



I passed 1000km running for the year this week.

Once upon a time, I had aspirations of averaging 100km a month this year. I don't think I'll be attaining that. I blame this summer, especially August and September, for that. Of course, considering what I did over that time, I have zero regrets.

My plan for this morning was to take it easier than I did yesterday. I made the turnaround one minute behind yesterday's schedule, and finished one minute behind yesterday's schedule. Guess I picked it up a bit on the way home. Still, the last two days I've been comfortably close to 5:00/km. It's a good place to be starting out from.

Cheaters in Toronto


I got busy last night, but being on vacation this week I had no qualms about delaying my run until this morning. My aim was to go hard this morning, and while I ran sub-5:00/km, I wasn't overly impressed with my pace. Baby steps, I guess. My pace won't really matter until March, and I'm only at the start of a very long road.

After my run, I sat down to catch up on my local triathlon mailing list reading. Unfortunately, the subject of the day was upsetting.

Stroke is NOT Choice


This morning's swim focused on IM work - drills, kicks and sculling for all four strokes. We also did some diving.

Afterwards, we did 3x200 stroke. Once I'd decided that I was going to do free/breast/free, I was informed that stroke means anything but free, while choice means anything. Yuck.

So what to do? 3x200 breast is an obvious choice, but a bit of a cop-out. Back? Doable, but I'm didn't want to do back today. Most people were doing at least 1 I.M. set. But again, I didnt' want to do back. Butterfly?


I decided to do 200 breast/fly/breast. I got a few looks when that was announced.

I took the first 200 breast pretty easy, wary of what lay ahead. It still ended up being at a decent speed, but it stayed aerobic the whole way. I took a long rest when I was done, mentally preparing myself for what lay ahead while I waited for the rest of the lane to finish.

"Still doing 200 fly?" I was asked. "We'll see after the first 50," I answered, knowing that I could just turn it into an I.M. (200 I.M. starts with 50 fly) if I wanted to wimp out.

So off I went. I tried to take it easy, but that's like trying to take it easy while moving furniture. While holding your breath. I finished my first 50, took a deep breath, and continued on with the fly.

All in all, it wasn't quite as bad as I'd expected. I was very worried that my shoulders would give out, and that I'd have to give up before I finished. My shoulders and arms held out surprisingly well, though they lost a lot of power before the end. For the last 50-100, I was shortening my pull on any stroke in which I breathed. Once I noticed, I tried to breathe every second pull (what I usually do for fly), which allowed me to get a good pull for my underwater stroke at least. Sadly, while I felt strong when I did that, I always had to breathe three or four pulls in a row after one underwater pull. Obviously, I need a lot more fly work. Still, it was an encouraging start. It's easily the furthest I've ever gone with fly.

Unexpectedly, I even got a compliment on how fast my butterfly was. I ended up further ahead of my lanemates on my fly set than I had been on my breaststroke set, though whether that was me, them, or a bit of both I'll never know.

Of course, I think my shoulders are going to hurt all day, now.

Stormy Weather

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My 3 all-time least favorite running conditions:

3. Unbearably hot. 35C and humid is uncomfortable, and dangerous, to run in. Fortunately, around here, running early in the morning or late at night is a reliable way to avoid these conditions.

2. Unbearably cold. Yup, those -30C days do happen around here. Uncomfortable and extremely dangerous. No getting around them, either. Running at noon can help, but if it's -30C at noon, then that's as good as it gets.

1. Wind/Rain and near 0C. Spring and fall rains near the freezing point can chill me faster than any other conditions, even the one above. The problem is that layering is less effective once you're wet, and drying out on the run is impossible. Wind compounds this problem, and also makes brimmed caps less effective at keeping the cold water off your face and out of your eyes.

Today fit these conditions to a T. The only boon, and it was a stretch, was that the wind was in my face on the way out, meaning that it was at my back on the way home.

That said, it was a decent run. I've been surprised and a bit disappointed at how hard some of my 5km and 10km runs have been recently, but I felt fine throughout the run. I kept thinking that I should back off, but never felt the pressing need to.

A Farewell to Vincent


November has arrived. October was all about taking some active rest, but November will be about building a routine for the winter. I'm looking to try Hal Higdon's Intermediate-II marathon training plan this winter, but I need to know if running 5 times a week is compatibly with the rest of my life - most notably the Tuesday and Thursday morning swims. So in Novermber I'll build to 5 runs a week, all fairly short (for me), and see how I feel. If it works, I'll start to build distance into the Wednesday, Sunday and possibly Saturday runs, working towards the Hypothermic Half in January.

October was also noteworthy for its lack of consideration for time. It has been weeks since I wore a watch, or timed a run. This weekend represented a change to that philosophy.

Simple Circuit


Yet another mileage record in the pool this morning. After a 600m warmup and a 300m set, our main set involved a simple circuit. 50 metres freestyle in the main pool, lift yourself out (tricep press), dive into the dive tank, swim across, lift yourself out, dive in, swim back, lift yourself out, dive back into the main pool, swim 50m. The grand total for the loop was 125m. As soon as your lane was almost done, you started it all over again. We didn't have a fixed number of repetitions to do, just do as many as possible in the time allowed. Which, in our case, was 10. After that, all that was left was a 350m choice/cooldown. Total distance: 2500m.

Considering that it was at least 200m further than I've swum in an hour and a quarter session, the set wasn't that tough. Sure, for the last few circuit repetitions, I was breathing heavily on deck and between sets. Still, I could have kept going. It makes me wonder what I could do on a real endurance set.

That's not to say that my shoulders and sides won't be sore today....


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I went to bed quite early last night. However, instead of guaranteeing me some extra sleep, all I got for my troubles was waking up and being restless in the early hours of the morning.

The pool was busy this morning, with 7 people in my lane and 7 in the lane beside me. Because I'd arrived a bit late, I kept being inserted towards the back of the pack. I tried to take advantage of this to slow up and focus on my technique. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not.

After warmup, we did a 500m freestyle endurance set, alternating with pullbuoys and paddles. This part felt really good. For the last 100, I hit 18 strokes/length on the first and last 25. I can't quite keep my form together for a full 100 yet, but the results are still encouraging.

Less encouraging was the IM prep set. It was 6x75 focusing on IM turns. My very first 25, I was cruising along doing fly when I realized that part of the reason it was so easy is that I was "cheating", and keeping my body flat. I reminded myself to kick from the core. Chest press. Hip press. Chest press. Deciding I wanted to breathe, I stuck my head up and opened my mouth, having forgotten that I'd just pressed my upper body deeper than the last time I'd breathed. The reward was a sudden rush of pool water down my throat. Yuck. I felt like a water bomber dropping my scoop to pick up water. All that momentum let me pick up water very quickly. =(

I probably should have stopped there, but I was almost at the turn into backstroke. I turned, surfaced, and coughed out 50 back. I tried to continue the set, but ended up abandoning it. The whole set just got harder and harder, and my coughing wasn't done.

Even now, a few hours later, my stomach is still sort of unhappy with me. This was definitely a mistake I'll be looking to avoid in the future.


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Recent Comments

  • Cheryl: Right on Wendy! read more
  • Wendy: That swimming fitness will be back before you know it! read more
  • deene: you have to listen to your body, you probably needed read more
  • Cheryl: The heat, mixed with the humidity were extreme and it read more
  • Wendy: Sorry to hear you were so ill, Warren, but good read more
  • Cheryl: Sounds like a tough go! It's a shame that everyone read more
  • deene: anything timed in seconds and with repeats sound tough to read more
  • jank: Ease comes soon while riding in a group. As long read more
  • warren: Sadly, no. Nor did I delve into the Leguminosae family read more
  • jeff: WOOHOO! did you ever come up with a name for read more

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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