December 2005 Archives

2005 - The Year That Was

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So, the year is over. Like everything in life, it was some of what I'd hoped for, some of what I didn't want to see, and some of what I'd never expected. Here's how it broke down.

Stats:

2005-stats.jpg

Running: My goal was 1200km, so my total distance (1254 km) should be seen as a success. Still, after Around the Bay, my montly mileage declined every month until October. In that sense, no wonder I didn't put in the half marathon or 10km times I'd envisioned. Still, I PB'd in both distances, and it's not like there wasn't a good reason for running's decline.

2005-Graph-Running1.jpg

2005-Graph-Running2.jpg

Swimming: This turned out to be far more than I'd bargained for in January, and all in a good way. Somehow, I drifted from lane 1 (slowest of the slow) to lane 4 (fastest of the slow), started doing over 2000m regularly, and lowered my 100m times noticeably. Along the way, I tossed off a 750m swim like it was only 500m.

2005-Graph-Swimming.jpg

Cycling: The only one of the three that's seasonal. 866 km of training tells such a small part of the story. I commuted to work on the bike. I fell in love with the bike. I fell in love with The Bike. Cycling took over my thoughts. It stole into my dreams. It threatened to supplant running as my favorite sport. Is that a bad thing? Goodness no!

Cycling was such a small part of my overall training this year, but it was a huge part of my enthusiasm, my success, and my anticipation for next year.

2005-Graph-Summary.jpg

Highlights:

Best Training Run: So hard to chose. Ottawa remains a fantastic place to run. Still, if I had to pick a favorite route, I'd say Wolf Trail. I didn't make as many trail runs as I would have liked this year - they were just too hard to fit in, but every run in the Gatineaus was memorable.

Best Swim: *blush* I'm sure I had a more technically excellent swim this year. I'm sure I had a more fun swim this year. But I'm a sucker for big distance. 3000m is a mark I won't be chasing anytime soon.

Best Ride: You know what? None really stand out. All I can really think of is the commutes to and from work. And those shouldn't count.

So I'll leave this entry blank, with a mental note to make darned sure to fill it out next year.

Races:

Best Road Race: I set 5 PBs this year (well, ok, some more than once), so you'd think it would be tough to chose. And while some of them were pretty darned sweet (especially this year's Around the Bay, the choice is easy.

Well, easy now....

The race of the year, for me, was the Great Barrier Breaker 5km. I'm still a bit in awe of that day. I think that, for whatever reason, I was totally "on" on that day. I wasn't really physically ready for the run, having not done much speed work or even running leading up to it. And yet, I nailed it. My pacing was excellent, and I dug very deep. With preparation, I think I can beat the time from that race, but it may be quite some time before I have that steady and strong a run again.

Best Triathlon: So tempting to say all of them. Every single one of them was fun. Every single one of them was special. If I had to pick, though, I'd lean towards The Canadian.

It was my longest triathlon, and I nailed it. I exited the water thinking I'd nailed a 500m swim and had lots of energy left, when in fact I'd just nailed a 750m swim. The 30km ride, on my spiffy new bike, was decent. Maybe not my fastest ride, but my most fun. I was all excited about my 22:12 5km run at the previous tri, but the Canadian came it at 22:25, which isn't as bad as I thought it was. Especially in a longer race. Plus, I got to watch the Iron distance triathletes.

Yeah, the Canadian was a special, special day.

Highs and Lows:

Biggest Disappointment: The National Capital Half Marathon. No question. It hurt to be foiled again by the distance. It hurt that I'd gone faster in training. The half remains my bogeyman.

Biggest Success: Triathlons. The reason my running fell off this summer. I love being a runner, but it's possible that I love being a triathlete even more. I might never be a great swimmer - heck, I might never be all that great at any of the disciplines, but it's possible that I'll never be "just" a runner again.

If nothing else, all this added swimming and such that triathlons have brought upon me have me in (yeah, I say this too much) the best shape of my life. Never one to do weights if I could help it, swimming is conditioning my whole body. I only have to attempt a plank or try a few pushups to realize that I'm way stronger than I was a year or two ago. I'm in a great spot right now to resume my pursuit of endurance goals. The added strength and variety of training activities can only help me in my pursuit of "just a little bit farther".

Last Run

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Today was the last run of the year. Can't skip that now, can we?

Well....

It was cold outside. Like -15C cold. Plus, the glare ice is still there. Still, a day of rest (and christmas candy) had me needing to go for a run, in more ways than one. One went the extra layer of clothing, and out I went, hoping that the ice had been cleared away.

Right away, I could feel the cold. It felt like the wind was from the north, ergo right in my face. My face, especially my nose, were awfully cold. I was trying to tell myself to run faster so that the run would be over sooner, but of course, the sidewalk was covered in ice. Since I'm allergic to faceplants, I aimed for controlled speed.

Once the sidewalk ended, I ran on the shoulder of Woodroffe. I was hoping that this would be clear, but I found a mixed bag. At times, the whole shoulder was clear. At other times, it was all icy. At times, it was a mish-mosh. I did the best I could, trying to gain time on the clear sections, and trying not to fall on the icy ones.

I HAD to check my watch at the turnaround, even though it was buried under 3 layers of clothing. 26:00. Yuck. Well, maybe the footing will be better on the way back. Plus, I'll have the wind at my back, right? Hammer time!

Good news? I picked it up a bit. Bad news? The wind was still chilling my nose, especially once I broke into open farmland on both sides. Seems that headwind I'd been trying to shake was a crosswind. Yuck.

I tried to keep my effort up, reminding myself that I could stretch inside. Go, go, go! I checked my watch as I passed the gas station. This had been 50:00 on Wednesday. 47:00? Yay! That was all the incentive that I needed to hammer home.

And that's it. 2005, the year in (salty) running, is over. Next year is a clean slate, all ready for me to fill with new stories of failure and success.

2005-stats.jpg

Merry Christmas!

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Got 10 miles in this morning. Glorious day. Warm outside.

Hope everyone got what they wanted for Christmas. I didn't have to count the smiles around me this morning to know that I did.

Chasing the plows

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It snowed a bit yesterday, but I could tell it was mild today when I looked outside to see my neighbour shovelling his driveway with no coat on. Sounds like a day for a run!

The backroads were somewhat snowcovered and slushy, but I was hoping for better things on the main roads. The roads were fine, but the sidewalks were unplowed. The good news is that the snow as so wet and sticky that there was very little slipping on it. Still, it didn't take long before I gave up on the sidewalks, and started running on the roads.

My first 10 minutes was only an average speed, and I decided that I wanted to pick it up a bit. I had some success with the next segment, finishing maybe 10 metres ahead of where I usually stop for my second walk break. For some reason, though, after that it got easier.

Rather than run along Crestview, I opted for the less busy Cresthaven. The advantage that Crestview usually has is that there are no side streets, and the sidewalk is unbroken for more than a kilometer. Since the sidewalks were snow-covered, Crestview seemed the safer but.

Less than two minutes onto Crestview, my decision paid off in an unexpected way. I passed a sidewalk plow coming the other way. He was actually just finishing up, having already done the east side of the road. Hurray! Clear sidewalks!

There were still puddles and slushy spots to dodge or leap, but I was more comfortable on the sidewalk, and better able to get into the groove. I ran to the second traffic circle, ran around it, then headed home.

Despite the snow and slush, that was just about as nice a run as I can ask for in winter. The footing perils of above-zero conditions don't quite negate the joy of running and not being cold.

This run was a milestone of sorts. I exceeded 1200km, which is an average of 100km/month.

It's less than I ran last year, but I trained for and ran a marathon last year, which adds a ton of distance. 100km/month was a goal I set for myself this year, and it looked like it would fall by the wayside this summer, when triathlons devoured my attention. Nonetheless, I attained my goal, though with not much time to spare.

Big Distance

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So, on Tuesday, our coach promised us big distance this morning. Big distance? I "only" did 2400 metres on Tuesday. That's a mile and a half, in 75 minutes. If that wasn't big distance, what was?

Needless to say, I wasn't about to miss today's swim for anything!

When I got to the pool, the following was already up on the coach's chalkboard:

20x25m on :40

And we were off.

I'm pretty sure I did all of this set freestyle. The first few, I ripped off fairly quickly, going about 20 seconds, and giving myself a solid 20 seconds rest in between. Knowing that there was a lot more coming, though, I started easing off, and trying to maintain decent form without going crazy speed-wise.

The next set was up as soon as we finished:

10x50m alt pull/swim on 1:10.

We were told we had a choice of stroke. I chose freestyle for all the pulls, and mixed it up for the swims. Something like free/breast/fly/breast/free. Here again, there was plenty of rest between the sets. The next set wasn't so much fun, though.

10x75 (25 kick, 50 swim), any stroke, on 2:00.

The 2 minutes was generous, which was to the advantage of a guy like me who can't kick very well. Since I was leading the lane, I chose breast stroke fairly often, so as to not slow my lane down. I did both free and back as well, but those left me very little rest. Yes, my kick really is that slow. Breaststroke was used as a buffer to give me rest between my flutter kick strokes.

The next set read:

8x100

I was a bit disappointed. This was only going to get us to 2550m. Where was the distance? Then my heart sank, as she filled the rest in:

8x100 alt I.M./Free on 2:10

2:10 was reasonable for 100 Free. Even in the middle of a distance set, I can live with 2:10. Individual Medley, as I've said a few times in the past, is nasty. It's exhausting. And I had no idea how fast I could do a 100 I.M.

The first 100m was probably the turning point of the swim. I finished in around 1:45, but I was huffing and puffing. The work wasn't aerobic anymore. On the ensuing 100m freestyle, I could feel that my arms were starting to get tired. My pull wasn't strong and efficient, and my breathing was more ragged. I suspect that I was doing 2/3 breathing at this point. This would persist for pretty much all of the rest of my freestyle.

On the second 100m I.M., I decided that I wasn't having fun anymore. The thought of 2 more I.M.s was intimidating. I crawled into a survival mentality, and took each 25 metre lap as it came. I was still getting maybe 20 seconds rest between the sets, but I wasn't catching my breath.

I tried hard to conserve energy on the 100m freestyle sets, using them as active rest. Nothing was coming easy, though. On the third 100 I.M., I flubbed my breaststroke breakout. I was just too tired to stay underwater as long as I should have. Ditto on the fourth. The power was gone from my kick and my pull. How I even maintained 1:50s I'll never know.

Finishing that set felt good. It was an accomplishment. But what time was it? Was that all we had time for? After a long (?) breather....

9x50 alt pull/swim on :55

Choice, but yeah, at this point, and with that pace time, it would be all free. Off I went. At least we were getting lots of pull, arguably the easiest thing for me to do, even with dead arms. After the second 50, I realized that the pace times weren't going to be doable. Taking the pull buoy off and putting it on every 50 was part of it, but part of it was that my speed was gone. The third, fourth and fifth 50 all took around 1:00. Yuck. After a bit, I decided that I should be trying to kick harder on my swims, since my legs would get rest on my pull sets. For me, with my kicking, it was a desperation move, but it seemed to help. I started going sub-minute again. And I counted down the distances.

When I finished, about 15 seconds after I should have, I was happy. Totally, truly beat, but happy. I'd set a new high water mark for distance, and it was one that I wasn't anxious to challenge anytime soon.

Frozen!

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(Apparently, the BTT theme of the day is one word blog entry titles with exclamation points.)

It's beginning to occur to me that I'm going to be running tired an awful lot this winter. Way back when I would only run 3-4 times a week, I would typically be well rested between runs, and enthusiastic and ready to go again. Now, though, with 5 runs and 2 swims in a week, I'm typically still a little tired from my last run or swim when I go out for a run. In the grand scheme of things, it's probably good, but it does mean that I'm going to have to be extra disciplined. The temptation to skip a run is going to be omnipresent, at least for a while.

With that in mind, I did get out for a run last night. That's to jeff's awesome result this weekend, I had plenty incentive to run hard. Unfortunately, I never really felt like I was flying. Maybe it was the cold. Maybe it was all the extra gear I wear in winter. Maybe, just maybe, it was the 2.5km I'd swam that morning.

This morning, the net said it was -20C out Yuck. I searched the house for my ballaclava, but in the end opted for my hat with earflaps, along with nike long sleeve shirt with thumbholes, heavy fleece, and light gloves. I rolled my shirtsleeves down over my gloves, and braved the cold as best I could.

All thoughts of pace were gone pretty quickly, as all I could think about was the cold. My nose was running, and my face got numb pretty quickly. I tried putting my covered hands up to my face and blowing every so often, but as good as that felt, I'm sure it did more harm than good. It didn't occur to me until after that I should have put some vasiline on my face, to protect it from the wind. Fortunately, the wind was calm, and it was just warm enough and my run was just short enough that I wasn't too worried about my nose freezing. After a while, though, I felt my eyelashes freezing up, and I'm sure my runny nose and foggy breath were turning my beard white.

I finished up, and stretched inside the house. I usually stretch outside, but it felt so nice to be able to be warm. My time and pace weren't quite what I was hoping for, but on a day like today, just getting the run in is enough of an achievement.

Anti

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So, I was planning to have a relaxed, social run yesterday. So much for that.

I tagged along with K, K and E. I think they were doing 16km, but they might have only been doing 12km. Right from the start, though, I hung at the back and ran quite slowly. Some days you just don't have it, and that's how I was feeling right from the start of the run. Maybe it was just that I overslept. Maybe it was that I hadn't left enough time after breakfast. Maybe it was that I was a touch underdressed for the cold. Maybe it was that my ITBs were talking to me - not painful, but enough to be noticed. Anyways, whatever it was, it was enough for me to run dead slow, hang back, and be anti-social.

I ended up stretching my ITBs out a couple of times. I don't know if it helped, or if the pace helped, or if I just shrugged off my blues, but about halfway through the run I broke out of my doldrums and picked up the pace (or did picking up the pace break my doldrums?). I broke off from the group I'd been shadowing, and decided to take a path that would be less than the 16km I was afraid that they were running.

From there on in, I felt ok. I ran on my own, at a comfortable pace, until I hit fifth avenue, where I unexpectedly ran into M, who was just starting his run. We chatted until we hit Bank, then he crossed the canal to head for Quebec while I headed back to the store and headed home.

Sometimes, life is just like that. It wasn't even remotely the run I wanted to do, but in the end I did my run, and that's all that matters.

Sunny Saturday

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What a change a day or two can make.

After the midweek cold snap, Friday dumped snow on us. A lot of snow. It looks like 6-8 inches to the naked eye, but might be as much as the foot we were forecast to have. Today, though? One of those glorious winter days that makes it all worthwhile. It was sunny, and rather mild. I started out in jacket and a long sleeve tee, but ended up tying the shirt around my waist halfway through the run.

I'm still trying to make this a lower mileage week, so I wasn't interested in going too hard. I was aiming for anywhere from a 5:15 to a 5:30/km pace, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Tomorrow I think I'll plan for a social run - find someone I know who's doing 12-14 or so, and hitch a ride. Next week I'll pick things up again, though of course what I'll run Sunday of next week is anyone's guess.

Treadmill

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It was cold again last night. Rather than submit myself to another run in the cold, especially when my throat is still bothering me, I decided to finally try out my wife's new treadmill.

It felt like a bit of a cop-out, I suppose. I'm excited that my wife wants to spend the winter walking and running indoors, but by and large I prefer running outside. Still, I didn't feel like going out in the cold, and I wasn't about to skip another run, so....

I pressed the quickstart button for 8mph, and hopped on. It took me a while to figure out the display. Turns out I was running a 4:39/km pace, or 7:30/mile. This is slower than my 1mile, 5km and 10km PBs, so I figured it would probably do for a 5km pace.

One thing I always forget is how hot I get on a treadmill. It didn't help that I was in a small room, with not much circulation. Bleh. I ended up taking my glasses and shirt off, in an effort to keep cool. The treadmill has built in fans, which also helped. Still, it makes me wonder if I couldn't save money on my heating bill this winter....

Finishing What I Start

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Tuesday morning, my wife's PC wouldn't boot up. Lots of beeps and squeals, but no display. I ended up playing around with it after supper Tuesday night. At one point, at the height of my frustration, my wife suggested I take a break and go for a run. Partially because it was -20 out, but mostly because I can't stand not finishing what I start (my flaw is generally not starting at all), I worked on it until around 11pm, and didn't run at all. Which is fine. I wanted a lower mileage week anyways.

The long and the short of the problem(s) were this - my wife's PC is slowly dying, and Microsoft likes to hide devices which are no longer present, but still hogging system resources. Grrrr....

The morning temperature on Wednesday was a chilly -22. I decided I would run from work, during the day, when the temperature would climb up to around -12. This left be running on Terry Fox, which meant I had to stop at various stoplights. Still, the air was nearly completely still, which made the cold bearable, and the run turned out decently.

This morning's first set was a kick set. When I finished, oh, 30 seconds after everyone else in my lane, I was told "Bet you're glad that's done." You can say that again.

Our main set involved 6x175m, as follows:
100m moderate, 15 seconds rest
50m build, 20s rest
25m sprint, 30s rest

Somehow, I seemed to get more like a minute rest between sets.

The odd sets were done freestyle. The even were breast, then back, then back or fly. I chose fly for the last set.

Now, there' s a reason fly comes first in the IM. A very good reason. It's one thing to do fly when you're fresh, it's quite another to do it at the end of a long set. I really struggled on the 100m. After that, though, I actually got some good feedback on my fly technique (more like lack thereof). By the time I stepped up to do my last 25m, it sort of felt ok. Or maybe it was just that it was short.

I'm still very much learning butterfly, so it's hard to keep all the pointers in mind at once, but feedback is nonetheless a very welcome thing.

Cloudy Water

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We got to the pool today to find a note on the pool door. Main pool closed.

Yup. They'd been cleaning the pool overnight, and it was all cloudy. They said it would be open at 6:30. We were offered to either go home, or do our warmup in either the dive tank or the kiddie pool. To our credit, I guess, nobody left. So we crowded into the two smaller pools, and tried to carve out little straight lines for ourselves to warm up in.

Eventually, a maintenance guy showed up, did something, and proclaimed the pool safe for swimming. It was still cloudy, though. Nonetheless, after a quick vote, in we went.

Main set:
200m free pull on 4:00
50m back. Wait for lane to catch up
200 free swim on 4:00
100 breast. Wait for lane.
200 free pull on 4:00
150 alt 25 back/25 breast. Wait for lane.
200 free swim on 4:00
200 choice (free swim). Wait for lane.
200 free swim. Coach interjected to aim for 3:30.

I'm pleased to report that I completed the final 200 free in 3:25. I'm also pleased to report that my first 100m free pull was done in 1:30. 100m free SWIM in 1:30 is one of my goals for the year. Is this a good sign? Who knows. I should be faster on pull than on swim.

I was also asked by the coach if I would be participating in any swim meets this year. I answered honestly, stating that I didn't know. The main club meet falls on the single worst weekend of the winter. It's just too soon to tell if I'll even be in town for it.

Still, the next month or two will likely focus on preparing for a swim meet. This is probably a good thing, because I have one or two bad habits I could use to clean up.

Marathon Dreams

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Today's run was 16km, any way I could. I dreamt up my route during my run yesterday. My rough estimate, putting together two routes I knew to be around 10.5 and 5.4, gave me roughly the 16 I wanted. GMaps Pedometer reports it as bang on 16. It's always weird when math done in your head during a run is actually correct!

Since it's been months since my last 16+km run, I had no ambitions as to my pace. However, I knew that if my run was close to 16km I'd activate my parrot predictor (>marathon distance over the week). It's just a silly number, and at lower mileages less likely to be an accurate predictor. Still, like a geek with a new toy (which, let's face it, was exactly what I was), I was dying of curiousity as to what it would predict.

So an easy, pain-free run. But not slow.

The Woodroffe path was largely snow covered. Less than a centimeter, but it had that "one step forward, one centimeter" back slippy feeling that makes running on snow an extra challenge. I probably spent 6 of my first 8 kilometers on the snow. With the exception of one small slip for no apparent reason, this stretch of the run was relaxed and incident free.

Once I got off the snow, it felt like I picked it up a bit. This was probably inevitable to some extent - suddenly, for the same amount of effort, I was getting more grip on the road. However, my mp3 player, which had conspired to play songs which made me want to run fast on snow, started mellowing out, so I followed suit.

There was little wind to speak of, and the temperatures were mild, so it was a great day to be out running. I started to feel the distance over the final few kilometers. I wouldn't say that I was fading or struggling, but I could tell that the distance was more than I was used to.

I finished up in a reasonable, sub-6:00/km pace. An hour and a half in the snow, and I wasn't feeling the cold at all - the recipe for a perfect Sunday in December. 3:42:29. Wow. I have to say that I'd be awfully happy running that in May. Of course, the parrot predictor sets a lower limit for your marathon time, rather than a reasonable time. Still, the very thought that I might be capable of that, someday, is encouraging.

While I was gazing at my parrot predictor, it occurred to me that my friend J ran a marathon in Hawaii this weekend. I'll fully admit that he's faster than me, but I'm hoping to close the gap on him this winter. If I got his name right, it looks like he ran a sub 3:30 marathon. Wow. Good for him.

Now there's a dream time to chase! Forget my parrot predictor. ;)

Speaking of marathons, this week was a carbon copy of week 1 of Hal Higdon's Intermediate-II, which I'm planning on using as my training plan for the marathon in May. So between now and late January when the 18 week plan starts, I'll probably be running some kind of a holding plan. I'll push out a bit further in preparation for the Hypothermic Half, but still give myself a rest week or two between now and then.

I logged my entry, and checked my weekly distance. 43.4km. I checked my parrot predictor.

Beating Me Down

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I had an amibitious 8 on the plate this morning. I had some excellent reasons, however, to not tackle them first thing in the morning. For one, I have a party first thing tomorrow, and can't run until the afternoon - making running early this morning less critical. For another, I'm sick of running in the dark. Last, but certainly not least, Liverpool was on TV as the early game this morning. Clearly, I could not abandon my team in their hour of need.

As it turned out, it was a "pleasant" -1 out when I finally went out for my run (everything's relative). I opted for a short sleeve techincal shirt (opted being the term for it being the only thing I had that was clean), toque, gloves, and the all-important mp3 player. After two or three minutes of taking it easy, I started moving along at a good clip. It wasn't until I turned north that it became apparent that there was a stiff breeze at my back, and that I would be paying the penalty shortly. I hit my first turnound on the T at 12:50, knowing I had up to 17 minutes of wind in my face in front of me. Still, I was off to a good start, despite doing 10-and-1s.

Knowing that I wanted to go fairly hard today, I decided that I needed to reestablish myself at the 5:00/km pace. Some quick mental math, always treacherous on the fly, told me that I needed to run the complete the top of the T by 28:00, possilby 28:30, to make my 5:00/km pace. So I pushed. My walk break came when I was heading due east, into the teeth of the wind. I tried to catch my breath, and pushed on with resolve. The turnaround finally came, with an encouraging 27:50 on the clock.

Now, I had my last stretch with the wind at my back, before 5+ minutes straigh into the wind. Determined to make the most of the wind, I tried to really fly along this stretch. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was due a walk break short, since I'd been doing 10/1s up to that point. I decided to skip it. Now, skipping the walk break doesn't necessarily gain me a minute. It can gain me much less if I needed the walk. Nonetheless, I mentally had the bit between my teeth.

When I finally made the turn back into the wind, I was starting to tire. The first few hundred metres felt ok, but then the wind started gusting. I started sucking air, and felt like I was fading. All I could do was try to keep my resolve, and run to the finish.

I was very surprised and pleased to find that I finished up in 39:34. I had a feeling I hadn't gone under 40:00 too many times on that loop. I was right.

MerivaleStonewayGraph.jpg

And now, to reward myself with a few cookies. The neighbourhood did a cookie exchange last night, and there are a few kinds I haven't sampled yet.

21 easy, 2 hard

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Today's swim session was built around a very specific purpose. A very small amount of full-out speed.

The agenda was:
- 1000m warmup
- 50m free sprint
- 100m recovery swim
- 50m free sprint
- 600m free swim
- 50m non-free sprint (breast, for me)
- 100m recovery swim
- 50m non-free sprint (as before)
- 300m cooldown

Layers

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Last night was -6C, and fairly calm. I opted for two layers - my longsleeve Nike technical tee (with super long sleeves and thumb holes) and jacket. I thought I might be slightly underdressed, but resolved to move along quickly to keep myself warm.

I certainly went out strong, making the turnaround in 13:00. Almost immediately after the turnaround, though, I started feeling the beginnings of a stitch in my stomach. I backed off a bit, and let my concentration wander. The rest of the run was more comfortable, but I ended up with a small positive split. Oh well.

This morning it was -10C, but since I was going 8km instead of 5km, I opted for a third layer - a long sleeve cotton tee between my technical tee and my jacket. This turned out to be a wise decision. Though the air temperature difference was only 4 degrees over the night before, a bit of a breeze had picked up, and my hands and face were chilly. My core was nice and warm, though.

After the first turnaround, I was headed striaght into the wind, and I found myself briefly wishing I was wearing my ballaclava. Yuck. Even the slightest wind is yucky when it's cold. As I finally put the wind at my back for a stretch, the sky started to glow. I felt much warmer, though it probably had more to do with the wind I wasn't feeling than the sun I couldn't even see.

I ran the full 8+ kilometers using 10-and-1s. As I gain confidence in my midweek runs, I'll probably move to running straight through. For now, though, I prefer erring to the side of going easy on my body. I've got a long way to go, and things will be tough enough before the end.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I think a third bowl of cereal is in order.

Hat Tip

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I'll admit, I've been remiss in checking out Mark's cafepress store. Zatopek's quote, the runner's creeds - there's a lot of cool stuff there that I could have used for Christmas shopping. And maybe still can. Hmmm....

Anyways, Mark's done a great job on the shop. Thanks, Mark!

That Old Familiar Feeling

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This morning's warmup was a short 400m (although I did 500m). Always a bad sign when the warmup is short. Our first set was 500m. Then the coach wrote "10x" on the chalkboard, turned to us, and told us that since we did speed on Thursday, today was an endurance freestyle set. I immediately predicted that the "100 free" would appear on the chalkboard in the near future.

I was nearly correct.

The main set was 10x100m, alternating 25 not/75 free and 100 free. Our pace time was 2:05, and we got an extra minute's rest after the 5th 100m. (So basically, swim a kilomter, 875m of which is freestyle, in under 22 minutes.) Of course, while we were doing all of this, we were to focus on having the correct arm position in our pull.

For the first time this year, I had that feeling. This set was going to be a real challenge. I was going to get exhausted, be gasping for breath, and be forced to start swimming again while still winded. I don't think I've felt that level of apprehension since last year. I felt like I could do it, but I knew I was going to be pushed.

All in all, the set went better than I might have hoped. I'd say that I averaged 1:45 for my 100m, with a best of 1:40 and a worst of 1:50 (the last one).

I got called on at one point for my arm position, but in my mind at least, it came and went as I got tired. It's hard enough nailing down any part of a technique. To do so under heavy exertion is an incredible challenge, and my hat goes off to anyone who can manage it. Being a "technician" in swimming is a very tough skill.

I still don't think that I feel as strong as I did in October, but I'm not unhappy with today's swim. As my runs start to get longer and more intense, it will be interesting to see how they affect my swims.

Chatting Up an Old Favorite

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I was aiming for 14km this morning. Fortunately for me, so was the Running Room half marathon clinic. So I ended up doing the bridges route with some old friends.

I ended up running with a fairly large group, all of whom are training for the Hypothermic Half Marathon in January. Four of the runners were people I knew from marathon training last year. The pace was fairly easy at first - 6:00 to 6:30 per kilometer with 1 minute walk breaks every 10 minutes. Which was fine. I've pushed pace enough this week. Today was about getting the distance in.

We ran up the canal to downtown, then across parliament hill to the Portage bridge. As we crossed the portage bridge, I noticed the slightest of twinges in my left knee. I stopped for a moment to stretch out my left ITB, then kept going. The women that I knew were stopping at the Museum of Civilization for a potty break. Rather than run on with strangers, I decided to walk until they caught up, which they did as I was crossing the Alexandra Bridge. I ran most of the rest of the way back with K, just chatting, taking it easy, and never once noticing my ITB.

Once that was done, there was nothing left to do but stretch, buy bagels, and drive home. Mmm... Bagels.

Boiling Over

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I ended up running fairly hard last night. Much harder, probably, than was smart or wise. Maybe it was just the pent up frustration from a disappointing week of training. Maybe it was that, 15 minutes before I ran, my computer told me that I was about to lose all the work I'd just done. I didn't lose it, in the end, but I didn't appreciate being told that I would.

So when I finally got out around 10pm last night, I was in no mood for a leisurely stroll. I wanted to go hard, and get out of the rain as quickly as possible. My last couple of 5km runs have featured slow first halves and fast second halves. I was determined to put in a solid 5km, start to finish.

My cadence and breathing were up right from the start. Unfortunately, the faint breeze was at my back the whole way out, which meant I'd have the cold spray of the rain in my face all the way home. Yuck.

I hit the turnaround in 13:25, faster than Tuesday, but nothing special. I tried to pick it up on the way home. I was rewarded by shortness of breath, and blindness when a car's headlights would illuminate my glasses. I tried to pour it on as hard as I could for the last kilometer or so, and finished up in 25:25.

Truth be told, that's not a really fast time, by my standards. However, given that I swam 14 hours earlier, it wasn't too bad. Most importantly, it felt good to go hard, and I'm not feeling it this morning.

December 1st

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Well, my 2-month downtime for the year is done. Yup, October and November were all about rest, recovery, healing, and trying to figure out what would work in the future. All in all, they were a success.

So far, I'm still thinking of having 3 "A" races next year - Around the Bay (30k), National Capital Marathon, and the Canadian Half-Iron Triathlon. "B" races I'm looking at are the Hypothermic Half Marathon, and the Smith's Falls, Sharbot Lake, and possibly other olympic triathlons. Part of me would love to see my 10k and half marathon PBs lowered, but realistically that will be tough to fit in. At best, I may squeeze in a "C" half marathon in April, and a "C" 10k or two in July and August.

November was surprisingly busy. I put in over 110km of running, which is on par with my half marathon preparation back in April and May. I also put in my first month over 15km of swimming, soaring up to over 18.5km. The jury is still out, at least a little bit, on 5 runs a week, but so far I think it's the right way to be going.

The major change that's going to happen now that December is here is that my diet is going to matter again. No more chips at work. No more cookies and ice cream whenever I feel like it. I'm not a weight freak, and I don't care if I lose 10 pounds over the next 6-9 months or not. But I do care if my diet holds back my training, so starting now I'm aiming to be conscienscious.

My plan for the next four months is clear. Swim twice a week. Run five times a week. Be consistent. Add distance slowly. Try to capture and maintain speed, if and when I can. Avoid injury, always the elusive grail of training hard. I've proven to myself in the past that I can run distance. Now, it's time to ask harder questions of myself. How fast can I go? How hard can I work? How much better shape can I be in?

When the snow melts in April, and Around the Bay is done, I'll need to evaluate what my plans are with regards to cycling. I really have no idea how that's going to work out. But for now, my path is clear. There's something that I want very badly. This plan, if it's workable, is about giving myself what I want.

The gauntlet is thrown down. Like every good challenge, the outcome is in doubt. Let it begin.

Frustration and Frost

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This morning's swim started with a tough, 900 metre timed warmup, and got worse from there.

We did some flipper work. Unfortunately, the club didn't seem to have flippers in my size. I chose the nearest I could find, but after 200m of kicking it felt like I'd lost all the skin on top of one of my toes. After 250m, I stopped and checked. Guess what? I'd lost all the skin on the top of one of my toes.

/sigh

Using the flippers had been really good. It cleaned up my kicks, especially my dolphin kick. I've known for a while my fly kick is all wrong, but using the flippers, I could feel my abs working. That's how it should be. Unfortunately, the pain was just not worth the learning, and I threw the flippers off in frustration. So for the rest of the flipper set, I found myself chasing the rest of the pool.

The main set was a mix of drill, kick and speed word. First time through the list in stroke, second time through in freestyle. It must have taken me two minutes to decide what I wanted to do. Backstroke was out. I was tempted to take the easy route and work on breast stroke, trying to develop speed for racing season. Two things stopped me. For one, I'm not even sure I'm going to race this year. Secondly, I'm in masters swimming to learn, not to go fast and pad my ego. I added up the distance. 350 metres. I wasn't sure that I could even DO 350m of butterfly work (all timed), but since I'd had a mini-revelation with the kick, I decided I'd rather try (and possibly fail) than make the comfortable, safe choice.

This would be a great place to tell you how great I was, and how glad I was that I chose butterfly, and how it all worked out in the end. But this is real life, not story time. I huffed, and puffed, and struggled. I overran the pace times, got moved to a slower lane, and failed on my attempt at 100 fly build (I stopped for a long breather after 75m). The little bit that I'd learned about the kick faded pretty quickly as I got tired. I couldn't figure out how to kick while breathing, either, though I tried (when I could).

I'm not unhappy with my choice of butterfly over breast stroke, but there was just no Frost-like eureka as a result. Just hardship and struggle.

Enjoyment-wise, this morning's swim really sucked. Training-wise, it probably wasn't all that bad.

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  • 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 December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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