February 2006 Archives

30 minutes

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Unexpectedly, this morning we were all scheduled to take the 30 minute challenge. I did it last year, and managed to swim 1500 metres in that time. This year, the stakes were a tiny bit higher.

First of all, there would be no stopping this year. Secondly, the coach wanted timed 200m, 400m, 800m, and if possible 1500m intervals for us. So, rather than swim conservatively, trying to measure ourselves over the full half an hour, we were supposed to go fairly hard up front, and keep on going.


We started with a self-directed warmup. I did 4 sets of 100 free + 50 breast. After a short break, I did 250m freestyle. We rested for a few minutes, then we were off.

There were four of us in our lane, and I was suprised to find myself lapping people after 200 metres. That wouldn't last, though. I felt pretty strong at 400m (and was clocked at 6:46), but around 600m I felt myself weakening a bit. I tried to stay strong until the 800m mark (though, of course, I'd lost track long before that). Eventually, I settled into survival mode, and just tried to keep moving. I started noticing my 50m splits when I turned. I saw one or two that looked like 60s splits, so I got motivated to pick things up a bit. After 800m, I went through a long spell when I didn't pass anyone. It was nice, but I also realized that it meant that I'd slowed down. It motivated me to pick things up. I started focusing more on my split times, too. I got a couple of passes in, and was closing in on a third when I heard the coach say "three minutes!. 100 metres later I was right on someone's feet, but traffic had somehow congested up, so there would be no passing. I coasted home at whatever pace open water gave me.

The coach had me at 1725m for 30 minutes. That's 15% more than last year, which is awesome. It's also an encouraging sign for this summer's triathlon season. Sure, there's a huge difference between open water and a 25m pool, but at least I was capable of doing the distance. The 1500m for olympic triathlons seemed well within my abilities, and even the ~1900m for half iron doesn't seem too far out. I certainly could have kept going at the end.

Of course, my left shoulder was pretty sore when I was done. Actually, both were (are!) sore, but I think my left was sore enough to change my stroke. I wasn't really able to fully stretch it out in free, so I did mostly breast and back for cooldown.

It felt good to do an encurance set for a change.

The Best Laid Plans


This past weekend was not the nicest weekend in the history of winter.

Saturday, I ran in blizzard conditions. It was snowing, albeit not especially hard. It was also cold, -15C. There was also a fairly stiff breeze coming out of the east.

The first 12-15 minutes of my run were more or less straight into the wind. The first 10 minutes are usually the coldest anyways, so I spent the whole time wishing I was elsewhere. Or maybe that's elsewhen. Once I hit the first turnaround, I thought I would have the wind more or less at my back for 25-30 minutes. The truth was, as I ran south, occasionally the crosswind would feel like it was in my face. I don't really think it was, but it was chilly enough that I didn't entirely feel like I was getting a break.

Right before the turnaround, I ran maybe half a kilometer due west, with a downhill followed by a long slow uphill. That part was ok, but of course it meant that I'd have to turn right around and run the reverse, right into the wind. It was my last bit running eastward, and boy was I glad. It felt like my face was being assaulted by pins, needles, and cold water. It was absolutely unrelenting. I tried running backwards (too dangerous), I tried holding my hands in front of my face. At one point, I felt like I was being slowed down, almost pushed over by the strong winds. It was only a short leg, but it seemed to take forever for me to get to the corner.

I ran the same route as Wednesday, though it took me several minutes longer. Hardly surprising, considering.

Sunday, I was all set to do 20-22km, but my wife woke up feeling pretty sick, so I scuttled my running plans, and spent the day with the kids. The way the day went, there just really wasn't an opportunity to fit in the long run.

So be it.

I guess that and talent are what separates me from all those athletes who've been on the TV the last two weeks. When push comes to shove, there are more important things than getting in every last training run.

A month from now, I'll never even miss it.


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I woke up at 5:30 this morning, but decided it was too early to move. Finally climbed out of bed around 6. I ate, drank, and waited. Around 7:30 I was out the door, for a 7 mile run.

(What is 7 miles, anyways? 11km? I had no idea. Oh well. Time to improvise something.)

This morning dawned brightly, though it was cooler than last night. The temperature had dropped below -10C. Fortunately, there was little wind to speak of, so once I warmed up, I wasn't too uncomfortable.

The snow had stopped, but everything was dusted with maybe a centimeter of new snow. I was able to see, in the less travelled areas, excatly how many people had been by that morning before I had. Or, in some cases, how many critters. For example, the rabbit had been by my driveway this morning, ducking under the care before scurrying away to a neighbour's driveway. There had also been a rabbit (or was it a snowshoe hare?) along a quieter part of Leikin. I tried to see where it had come from/gone to, but the tracks ran parallel to the sidewalk for a long way, and running while facing sideways is a recipe for disaster.

I was running 10-and-1s, and the first part of the loop was one that I run quite often. My first walk break came fairly early, and from experience I figured to be running around 6:00/km. Based on that stop, I projected my second walk break to be at the same location, on my return journey. However, when I got back to that spot, I still had a minute to go before my walk break. I guess after the first 10 minutes I sped up a bit.

Unlike yesterday, though, I had no real intention or desire to run a particular pace. I ran whatever was comfortable, and enjoyed the taste of the cold air in my mouth.

I tired a bit towards the end, but managed to carry my pace through until the end. Gmap Pedometer says that I ran 10.25km this morning. Not exactly 7 miles, but not that bad an estimate.


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I opted to go curling after work. I guess you could say it was my Olympic-inspired activity for the week. I even managed to not be completely awful. I made a takeout, and a draw or two that were pretty much on target. Most of the rest was in play, too, which is all you can ask for.

Curling, though, meant that I ate late. Eating late meant that I ran late.

I left two hours after I ate before I got ready for running, but even at that my stomach was still unhappy before I even got started. Still, I need to be up early to run again tomorrow morning, so there was no putting it off any longer.

I did the first kilometer in around 5:30. Not bad, not amazing. Around the mile mark, my stomach was making its displeasure known. Frankly, I felt pretty awful. There was nothing to do but tighten up the stomach muscles and push on as best I could. By around 2km, my stomach had backed off a little, and I was almost comfortable.

When I got to the turnaround, I checked my watch. Almost 15:00. Once again, I was running way slower than usual.

Something in my couldn't take it any longer. Maybe it was my dreams inspiring me. Maybe it was that my stomach was finally settled. I picked up the pace. I did my best to push all the way home. The snow had picked up, so the footing got worse on the way in, but I was undeterred.

I stopped my watch at 28:20. I'd been hoping for a 13:00 trip home, and I was within 20 to 30 seconds of that. Decent. Acceptable, I guess.

It's still not the right time to worry about speed, so I won't. Sometimes, though, when you're running, you just need to GO. Tonight was one of those nights, I think.



Last night, I went into the storage room to scrounge for computer parts. The first thing that I saw was the road bike. I had to stop, and take a moment. I looked it over, touching the seat, the frame, the handlebars. I couldn't help thinking that it would only be a few more weeks, and the weather would start to turn towards cycling weather. I imagined what it would feel like to be back on the bike.

Last night, I dreamt about running. The dream was disjointed and nonsensical, but the enduring truths were that I was running fast, and that I loved what I was doing. I had confidence, I was strong, and I was enjoying every moment of the run.

Warming Quickly

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Yesterday, it was bitterly, bitterly cold out. I opted to put in my run on the treadmill, and avoided going outside altogether.

This morning dawned a chilly -18C. I put a thick flannel sweater on between my dryfit long sleeve and my windbreaker, put some vaseline on my face to cut the windchill, and grudgingly headed out the door. Treadmills, I'm finding, help make winter running more bearable, but sometimes they're no substitute.

We had a flash freeze earlier in the week - the temperatures soared to well above freezing, then dove down to -10 fairly quickly. Everywhere you go, there are huge, thick sheets of ice, covering everything. The footing along the pathway next to the canal ranged from fair to awful, depending entirely on how it had looked when the freeze hit.

I seemed to luck in with the group today, and knew more than half the group. We ran around the Governor General's, then most of us ran down to Bronson and back. Theoretically, that's 18, though M said his GPS put it closer to 19. The pace wasn't all that easy on me, which is really the story of my week, but we ended up running just over 6:00/km, which should be around where I want to be most weeks (I think).

The best part of the run was how quickly it warmed up. We were warned about -31C wind chills when we left the store, but by the time we got to the GG's the sun was shining, and it was pleasantly comfortable out.

This week has been pretty tough, both mentally and physically. Hopefully next week, things will come easier, and some of the speed and endurance that I had last month will return.

Willing Myself Back On Plan

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Last week was a bit disappointing, in terms of running. I skipped my Saturday run, due to the swim meet. I had plans to run on Sunday, but Sunday was extremely busy, and I ended up not being able to fit in a run.

So this week, the goal was to get back into my 2 swim, 5 run routine. The distances and the paces would be flexible, as I wasn't sure how my body would react to the load. It has been two weeks since my half marathon, and theoretically my body should be more or less fully recovered from that race. Still, I haven't run all that much in the last two weeks, so I wasn't sure how it would go.

By and large, I've been successful at getting myself back into the routine. The swims this week have focused on technique. Tuesday's run was slower than usual. So was Wednesday's. Last night's run didn't happen yet (combination of awful weather and awful mood), but I'll be hopping on the treadmill this morning.

For whatever reason, my motivation to run has been wavering for the last week or two. Hopefully, the main cause has been the other races (half marathon, swim meet), and as I distance myself from them I'll slide back comfortably into my training plan. Until then, every day will be a bit of a test of willpower.



The 50 metre pool sure is big.

I had my first ever swim meet today. I had no idea what to expect. Put me at the start line of a road race, I likely won't have much in the way of nerves. But today, there's no doubt that I was battling some nerves.

When you sign up for a specific event, they ask you to give a time. Originally, I left mine blank, but I was convinced last week to change that. They use the times to seed you. They try to put you in heats with people who are as fast as you. Ergo, it's to your own benefit to have a realistic time estimated. That way, when you're hammering towards the finish, there are people around you, and you can feed off them.

Of course, I've never swam in a 50m pool in my life. I've never swam in a swim meet in my life. Will I be faster? Slower? No way to tell.

I will say this - I'm awfully beat for a grand total of 200m racing. I guess all the warmups, cooldowns, and adrenaline added to that.

Fitting in the Training

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Tuesday was one of those days. I just did not feel like running. Plus, I worked late. When I got home, I was hungry. By the time I'd digested, it was time for the weekly online bridge game. By the time that was done (admittedly, this week's was short), I was beat. Time for bed.

Ergo, I had to run Wednesday morning. The good part was that I woke up just after 6am, which gave me time to get a head start on thigns. The bad news was that my youngest woke up that early, too. So I ended up trying to keep him quiet until the rest of the house was awake, which negated my head start. Such is life.

I ended up putting in 8km on the treadmill. I ran at a 4:45/km pace, and had the incline set to 2.0. It was a tough workout, but it felt good being able to keep that pace up.

This morning's swim was fairly light, and involved a fair bit of mental preparation for Saturday's meet. Surprisingly, my sides have been sore all morning. I didn't really think I pushed all that hard this morning....

What's going to be weird is that the meet doesn't start until after 1pm. Coming from the running world, I'm very used to early morning event starts. I'm not too sure how I'll handle it. Have a big breakfast? Have a usual breakfast, then a light snack late-morning?

I wish I could give rough predictions for how I'll do, but Saturday will be my first real swim in a 50m pool. I've put in some good swims this week, but they've been, as always, in a 25m pool. The added length means fewer turns, which is bad for me. It also means less changes of direction, which might be good overall. I really don't know.

Stay tuned!

1 Week, 2 PBs


I'm slowly recovering from Sunday's race. Swimming, though, isn't pausing to wait for me. Winterlude is in just over a week, and the workouts are definitely geared to working on our speed.

Today featured a lot of pace times, a lot of the word "fast", and a lot of repetitions where the goal was to get faster each time. With so many pace times, I more or less abandoned the other strokes, and focused on freestyle.

I got to play with a few different things, trying to see what worked and what didn't. One timely reminder that I got is that speeding up the whole stroke doesn't necessarily make you go any faster. No, effort and power aren't enough to make you go faster in the water. Efficiency and power is where it's at.

At the end, we were given one, single 100m set, fast. I hadn't been able to go under 1:40 all day, but I was determined to get back to the 1:35 I did before Christmas. So off I went, with 2100 metres already under my belt. Right from the start, I focused on 3/4 breathing, and on getting good power to the water, and on keeping my head low normally, and breathing by moving my head as little as possible. 100m is a long way in swimming, at least at this point, and my arms were protesting by the second 25. Still, in the second half, I felt like I was still getting good power to the water, which was a good sign. I tried to make my turns fast, too. My problem on free turns seems to be getting too deep; it's something I need to work on. Anyways, I came in at 1:33, which I was very pleased with. My seasonal goal of 1:30 seems to be feasible, all of a sudden.

Putting the Curse to Bed


Well, the half marathon curse is finally beaten. It took five races, but I've finally put in a reasonable half marathon race. No injuries, no sickness, no weather troubles, no bad decisions.

Hindsight is a funny thing, though. The curse looks a lot smaller in retrospect than it did at the time.

Sure, getting sick before a race is bad luck. But if you run enough races, it's bound to happen sooner or later. Getting negative about it is the wrong way to go. There will always be another race.

In the end, the reasons that this race was better than the others were twofold - training and strategy. I took last May's half marathon very seriously, but when I looked over my training data for March/April/May of last year, my mileage didn't really follow an obvious progression. Mentally, I wanted to peak at the end of May, but I don't think that the training that I did helped this happen as much as it could have. I've been much more disciplined and focused the last few months, not to mention faster, and running more distance per week. Put it all together, and I was better prepared physically to race a half marathon than I'd ever been.

Of course, I thought I'd been prepared in the past. Each failure had taught me to be more focused and committed the next time. Suddenly, rather than a string of failures followed by a success, I can see a process of learning how to run a half marathon well. Each race was a learning experience. I learned from them, and they helped me succeed in this race.

The other main contributing factor was my strategy. My plan was to run slow at the start. I really wanted a negative split. Even if that didn't happen, I wanted to avoid starting too quickly. This was my biggest mistake last May.

How did I do this time? On Monday, I estimated my times for each of the 4 5km loops:
Loop 1: 26:45
Loop 2: 25:30
Loop 3: 24:00
Loop 4: 23:30
1.1 km: 4:39

I'm thrilled that I was able to go faster the further into the race that I went. If I'd known that I could run sub-5:00/km the whole second half, I might have wanted to start faster. It's a tough decision to make, though, because once you bonk, you're done. Still, experience tells me that next time, I might be able to go out a little bit harder. There's room to go faster, I think.

My speed at the end blows me away. I likely ran under 4:20 for the last kilometer. I reallly WAS flying. If anything, maybe I had too much energy at the end. Not a bad thing to know about myself.

So when I put together decent weather, health, a good training plan and a solid race strategy, suddenly it all comes together. Surprising? It shouldn't be. I've learned my lessons, and I've applies my past experience successfully. That's all.


Today is the first day since the Hypothermic that I've been able to walk down stairs without grimacing, and making funny little expressions and sounds. My quads have been rather sore, but that finally seems to be dissipating.

I swam yesterday. I certainly didn't feel 100%, with my tired and sore legs. I think I might have overcompensted a bit with my arms, because my shoulders, lats and abs were all pretty sore yesterday, and continue to be this morning.

I had been planning on a light run today, but I might need an extra day or two to recover, at this rate. No worries.


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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 February 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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