June 2006 Archives

Life Intervening

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Life's been busy lately, as it sometimes is.

Saturday? Anniversary. No training.
Sunday? We rearranged the house. No training (although my back might disagree!)
This week? Busy at work, busy at home. I swam Monday and ran Tuesday, but Wednesday was the kids' end-of-school party. In order to make it, I had to be at work by 6am. I had planned on biking to work, but that would have meant needing to be at work before 5am. So I drove. By the time swimming rolled around, I decided sleep was more valuable to my training than swimming. Thursday I also cancelled my cycle commute, opting to sleep in, relax, and work late.

I did get a run in last night, though. I ate dinner around 8pm, and sat, listening to the rain. Finally, around 11pm, I decided I was ready, and stepped outside. The only sound and smell were from the rain, which curiously stopped five minutes into my run. The run was decent, a minute slower than last week's barn burner, but it felt fast. Running at night always does for some reason.

Now I need to pack my gear, and hit the road. I have my first triathlon of the season on Sunday, and there's a cold lake and a huge hill waiting for me.

Kids Triathlon

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"I feel terrible, but inside, I'm so proud of myself."

Video

Swimming on Empty

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What a day. Yesterday, we moved furniture all day. Plus, I did not get to bed early. Thus, it was hardly suprising that it was 7:30 before I could drag myself out of bed this morning.

Between work and chores, there just was not time for dinner before swimming. At 8:30, I sat down with a few chips and some salsa and a big glass of water, and watched the world cup. At 9:00, I was out the door.

The warmup was 600 metres. I remember thinking "Ugh, and I have to do 1000m on Sunday?" The next set was 800m by 200s, which I chose to do all free.

The final set, which the coach called triathlon prep, was 700m, all free. We did 300m with a weak, 2-beat kick, then rested a minute. Next we did 300m more, this time kicking hard for the first 2-3 strokes off the wall, before falling back to a weak 2 beat kick. The last 100m was all out kick. The whole set was built the way you might build a triathlon swim.

So now, it's 11pm, and I'm finally sitting down to dinner. Bon appetit!

Fast vs Philosophy

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The plan for the first part of this week was simple. Run 8km at a comfortable pace Tuesday. Run 5km fast on Wednesday.

I haven't been feeling all that fast lately. What I have been feeling is philosophical. I keep telling myself that if I work at it, the speed will come. I also keep telling myself to rebuild a bit of a base before I get too worried about speed.

Well, today was the day to benchmark myself. Just how slow was I?

I hit out on the local 5km loop (5.3 or so, technically), and tried to establish a quick cadence right away. This necessitated some careful attention to oxygen, because for the first minute or two I wasn't getting enough. I wasn't interested in huffing and puffing, so I tried to relax myself and get it under control.

Once that settled down, well as much as it ever did settle down, I started wondering how I would ever be able to keep up the pace. If this had been a race, I thought, I would run a positive split for sure. Then again, if it had been a race, I might have been willing to kill myself to keep the pace up. Since it wasn't....

I hit my imaginary 1km marker (I really have no idea how far in it is, but it's fun to pretend that it's exactly 1km) in under 5 minutes. Apparently, there was actually some benefit coming from all this exertion. I guess I'm stuck in a swimming mindset, where doubling your exertion can easily have no visible impact on your speed. I started thinking about how you're supposed to build a race - first third easy(-ier), second third maintainable, last third really pushing. Based on my current level of effort, that plan just did not seem possible this morning.

As I rounded my second corner, I could see two runners ahead of me. I made a mental note to try to catch both of them. This gave me some motivation on the front nine, and took my mind off of what I was going through. Probably broke up a bit of the negativity, truth be told. Anyways, I did catch them both, at the bottom of the small hill. I powered up the hill to the turnaround, and took the barest 5 second walk break at the turnaround.

My split was 12:25 or so, which predicts a 24:20-24:30. This of course assumes that I can hold my pace, which I wasn't placing any bets on.

The first half of the return route seemed to be dominated by the thought "I'll just wait, and pick it up at the turnoff." I don't really know how good that mindset is at helping keep my pace up. Strategically, it probably would have been better to have been focused on the present. I was feeling the effort of the exertion, though, and the current limits of my training. Somewhere in here, I reminded myself that I'm able to keep up that kind of exertion when I'm swimming. I don't know if that's true or not, but I told myself that it was. I'm not sure if that counts as positive or negative reinforcement.

When I finally made the turnoff, I focused on keeping my head up, and aiming for a point in the distance. My cadence probably picked up a bit, but I could not have told you if I was going as fast as I had when I started. I could feel that my will was a bit tapped, but still held on to whatever pace I could manage. If I'd believed that I was still on pace for sub-25:00, I would have been telling myself how rare and cool going under 25 minutes on this route was. But since I was far enough out of my recent comfort zone to have no idea how I was doing, I just didn't know.

There was no real sprint at the end. I maintained, maintained, then clicked the watch and slowed to a walk. 24:22. Nice. Unexpectedly, I had not lost a step on the way home.

Even better, it turns out that I've only ever run that route faster once, a 24:13 over a year ago. I guess that I can be philosophical all I want, but the speed that I thought was missing isn't really as far away as I'd thought.

Finding My Legs

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Swimming last night. Warmup was some freestyle. Main set looked awfully intimidating on the chalkboard:

25 fly kick / 50 fly drill / 25 fly fast
50 back kick / 100 back easy / 50 back fast
75 breast kick / 150 breast easy / 75 breast fast
200 free kick / 400 free easy / 200 free fast

For the record, I don't do back fast. I also don't do 200 kick of anything. Except, well, you play the hand you're dealt. So I did.

The fly stuff wasn't too bad. I used 1-arm fly to bridge the gap between the kick and the fast. Used my full 1 minute rest. Back was, well, interesting. I still cheat and use the ceiling (a no-no, in a sport with lots of outdoor competitions). Also, my backstroke only has one speed, and that's slow. So I muddled through that one.

Breast was a welcome reprieve. I zipped up and down the lane happily. Maybe even obliviously. I shouldn't lose track of where I am in a 200, especially one that broken up. But I did. :|

The 200 free kick elicited my first feedback of the evening from the coach. What a shock. I can't do flutter kick! So I followed the instructions, and actually worked on technique, rather than hacking my way up and down the pool.

Next came 400 free. Somewhere around 100 or 150, I lost track of where I was. It always happens at the beginning. When you're close to being done, you KNOW how much you have left. But when the end is a long way off, all you know is that it's a long way off. Or at least, that's how it works for me. Anyways, I guessed where I was and continued, but later on my lanemates accused me of going too far, so I guessed wrong.

Around 100m into the fast free, I got into traffic, so rather than muddle through 100 free I decided to do 2x50 free with breaks to finish off. It kept me out of traffic, and gave me a chance to go a bit faster. Probably not the point of the exercise, but I was being adaptable.

This morning, I settled on 6am as a compromise wakeup time. I was out the door just after 7, aiming for an easy 8km. I opted for 10-and-1s, especially when I was beat after 10 minutes. It was only 17 degrees out, so I had opted for no hat. Big mistake. Sweat was already dripping into my eyes, and I wasn't even pushing that hard. Ugh.

Anyways, the first 20 minutes was at a comfortable pace. Not slow, not speedy. Then I got into a groove. Mentally, I was in another world. I missed my scheduled walk break. After I finally did take it, something possessed me to speed up my arm swing. My cadence picked up, and I started moving along. I did not think that I would be able to make it home at that pace, but I did. Comparing my splits to the same run last week, I was 15 seconds behind last week at the second turnaround, but finished ~35 seconds faster. Obviously, the increased exertion and cadence translated into a real difference in speed. The best part was that I finished strongly, and felt great.

Now if only my bike was ready....

Happy Father's Day!

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I actually slept in until after 7am this morning. Had a quick breakfast and checked the weather. 20 degrees already? High of 31? I'd better get out there soon!

My goal was to run around the Jock - out along Bren Maur, and back along the Stonebridge trail. I didn't really have any goal pace-wise. Mostly, I just wanted to survive.

I did the first kilomter in 5:30-5:50 pace, which felt surprisingly good. I let myself fall into a rhythm, but resolved to take a walk break every ten minutes. By the time I'd reached my turnaround, I was sweating, and feeling very hot. I'd brought the MP3 player, and it was helping take my mend off things, but I was looking forward to getting to run in the forest for a bit.

Running under the canopy of trees was wonderful. It was a break from the direct heat of the sun. A bullfrog sang as I went by at one point, but other than an occasional walker or runner, I had the place to myself. All to soon, I reached the highway, and had to turn off for home.

The last stretch, back in the sun, was very hot. I had a feeling that my pace slacked a bit, but all that mattered was making it home. As I ran by the park, I thought that I didn't have a finish in me, but Guerilla Radio started on the MP3 player, and my cadence picked up all by itself.

It seems pretty sad to complain, because it was only 20 degrees, but I'd forgotten just how unbelievably hot and sweaty it can be to run in the summer. I was soaked by the time I got home. Cold water and a cool shower felt like the greatest gifts on earth, too.

Afterwards, the kids took me out to breakfast. So nice to not have to feed myself after a run! Happy Father's Day, everybody!

Whither Blogging

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I've been hit by the scourge of blogging - comment spam. Like every good thing out there, there's always someone who wants to come along and rain on the parade. For now, I'm keeping an eye on it. If it remains a problem, then I may consider blocking all comments for a time.

I've followed quite a few running/fitness blogs, off and on, over the last year or two. I've avidly hung on the words of everything from world class athletes to penguins. I get a great deal of motivation, inspiration, and wisdom out of my blog subscriptions. Some of that even pertains to running!

I've always been pretty clear, though, on my own target audience. Basically, the audience that matters most to me is me. I get value out of writing my thoughts down. I reread my own posts from time to time, wondering what I was thinking or doing that was working (or wasn't). Everyone has their own reasons for writing, and I respect that, but for me, if nobody else ever read my blog, that would be just fine.

That said, I know that friends and family do read the blog. If it helps them understand what training means to me, then all the better. While, in general, I don't write to them, I happy that they listening in.

As for the blogosphere in general, well, if I can give back any of the insight or inspiration I've obtained from my own readership, then all the better. If not, well, I can live with that. Maybe some people need the feedback that their blogs generate - I can understand this, and generally try to comment when I have something to add. Me, I appreciate the feedback, but I don't go looking for it. If nobody comments on one of my posts, I generally figure I've accidentally been clear and concise, for once. :P

Anyways, everyone has their own reason for blogging. There are some fantastic, generous, wise people out there blogging, and I'm glad I've gotten to interact wtih them. If things do end up changing around here, I certainly hope that the legitimate commenters do not take it personally.

Adaptable

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It's been a busy week.

I was glad I made it to Wednesday night's swim. Evening swims just feel odd, but I felt like I was starting to get my form back. I wasn't amazing, but I wasn't quite flailing.

Thursday I was up early to bike to work. My bottom braket (or possible left pedal) was creaking again, for lack of a better word. Making a bizarre, unhealthy noise. I've had this happen a time or two before, but it went away. Anyways, it makes me nervous.

So Friday, I brought the bike into the shop. They figured that water had gotten into the bottom bracket, but that it was nothing serious. Almost immediately after giving his diagnosis, though, the tech asks "By the way, do you have an appointment?"

My immediate response: "Oh, it's ok. I'm not in a hurry for this."

Relieved, he carried on. It turns out that they might not be able to look at the bike until next Thursday. He offered to let me take it home, and bring it back on Thursday, but I declined. The beauty of triathlon training is that I have enough things to work on that a week without the bike isn't going to be fatal.

Besides, better safe than sorry.

Ergo, I aimed for two runs this weekend, and headed out for a short run. I left around 1pm, on one of the few hot days we've had this summer. I knew 10 seconds into the run that it was going to be a good one. I was relaxed, fluid, and had a bit more speed than I've had in quite some time. I had no idea if I'd be able to maintain it, between the heat and my current fitness, but I didn't care. This was the feeling that I wanted to have when I ran, and if I needed to work on it over the next few months, well, it was time to get started.

The pace ended up being pretty decent, in the end, though I struggled over the last couple of kilometers, just as I expected to. No matter. I'll iron it all out.

Despite

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Despite the fact that I did not go to bed as early as I might have, I set the alarm for 5am this morning.
Despite the fact that I did not get as much sleep as I might have wanted, I got up shortly after the alarm went off.
Despite the fact that I had a lot of things to carry in to work today, I checked the weather, to see if it was bikeable.
Despite the fact that the weather was less than spectacular, I decided to ride in.
Despite the fact that my left knee was a bit achy from yesterday's brick, I rode in. (The knee was fine.)
Despite the fact that I never train on Mondays, I did.

I'm no hero or martyr, but at least I did something this morning I can be proud of.

Making Time

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This weekend has been the coldest, well, since it snowed three weeks ago. Not exactly June weather.

Despite the chill, I haven't been hiding indoors. Yesterday, we brought my wife to show her the Trillium trail. My youngest wasn't all that into walking, and kept asking to be carried. He also wanted to be put down so he could walk/run a lot, so he wasn't that bad, either.

The trilliums were no longer in bloom, but the daisies, buttercups and other flowers were there to replace them. The trees rustled constantly overhead, and the forest smelled...fresh. We ended up walking right past the bridge, and to the end of the trail. On the way back, the youngest faded quickly, and the eldest and I faded over the last kilometer. Still, it was a very good walk, and everyone enjoyed it.

Plus, you have to be impressed with how everyone went 7-8 kilometers, on a less than perfect day, with no complaints.

This morning, the alarm went off at 5am. It was 8 degrees out, with only a 40% chance of drizzle, and moderate 20km/h winds. Not the nicest of days, but not awful. After some cheerios and water, I dressed warmly (long sleeve technical, long pants, bike shorts overtop - dorky but functional, and windbreaker). Just after 6am, I was on the bike and rolling.

I headed down to Jockvale, and crossed over to Long Island. I took it easy in Manotick, just enjoying the quiet. At Bridge Road, I jigged back to Old Manotick Main, and headed south to Kars. This part of the ride was fantastic. There was a stiff breeze at my back, and I was enjoying having the road to myself. The decision to get up early was paying off.

In Kars, I turned west, partially into the wind, towards North Gower. The ride got tougher, as the wind started to take its toll. When I made it to downtown North Gower (you know, the stoplight), I took a breather, and drank half my gatorade.

The ride back up Prince of Wales was tough; rolling hills, a nasty, nasty headwind and probably tiring legs worked against me. I was pretty slow, but I kept moving. My spirits were finally lifted when I hit Bankfield, and the Manotick turnoff. Now, at least, I knew where I was, and home was in sight.

When I got home, I pulled my bike in, grabbed a watch, switched shoes, and headed back out the door. Almost immediately, I settled on a 5km run, as my legs were feeling pretty awful. They got better, but I'd been cycling for over an hour and a half already, so they weren't exactly lively. It felt good to finish up and stretch when I was done.

The best part is that I was showered by 9am, and now have more time than usual to spend with the family today.

Climbing Up That Hill

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Last night was the first night of summer swimming. I'll be swimming in the evenings in June, then back to mornings in July and August. I have to say that it was weird heading in so late. It's going to take some getting used to.

My coach was Steve, who coached me last summer. It should go ok. If I recall, he focused primarily on freestyle last year, which is exaclty what I need this summer.

This morning, I rode into work. It's been a few weeks since I did this, and I recall having the chain derail last time. It happened on an uphill, and I was very nervous about reclipping going uphill. Reclipping requires momentum or experience, and I have neither when I'm going uphill. In general, I'm slowly getting more comfortable clipping. I still fall, more than is comfortable or safe. Part of what I need to remember is that the pedals work even if I'm not clipped in.

Anyways, the morning was perfect for a ride, with the possible exception of the fact that I was running rather late. Did I mention that swimming at night will take some getting used to? Anyways, the wind was from the west, but I felt strong when I was headed north, and tried to get some experience in the drops when I was heading into the wind. On my big uphill, over the highway, my chain slipped off. Oh dear. I stopped, fixed it, and considered my options. Fortunately, there was a huge break in traffic, so I plopped myself in the middle of the right lane, and gave it a try. I ended up having to pedal three full cycles, but in the end, I clipped back in. What a huge confidence booster!

In the end, I was fairly happy with my commute time this morning. Hopefully, as the summer wears on, I'll get even faster.


Impromptu Sunday

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I didn't lift a, er, leg, all last week. Coudln't for a while, then revelled in not doing it even if I could for a bit longer.

Sunday morning, I slept in too late to meet up with anyone at the Running Room. Oh well. I got up, settled in in front of the computer, and schemed about getting my family out for a bike ride. Once everyone was up, I suggested to my wife that we bring the bikes down to one of the parkways, which are closed to car traffic Sunday mornings. Alas, she wasn't interested.

Determined to get out, I decided to ask my son if he wanted to tag along. He had his nose in a game, and declined. Surprising. I thought about talking him into it, but decided I'd let him decide his own path. So upstairs I went, and got changed into my spiffy new cycling gear.

In walks my wife. "I don't really want to go downtown, but I could do a short bike ride around here."

"Great!" I think, despite a slight lack of enthusiasm. I inform both kids we're going, bring my bike to the garage, and start inflating tires. I'm on my last tire when my wife finally comes out. Off we go!

We follow Forest Gate out to Leikin, and stop at the reservoir. After a short break to look at the water, we head back out. The wind from the east was pretty nasty, so my wife decides we're turning around. We duck into the JDS parking lot to do so, and I take the opportunity, since nobody is around, to stretch my legs. I leave my position as rearguard, and put on a burst of speed, just for fun.

Around the corner, we find huge, huge, empty parking lots. This appeals to my son (game long forgotten) immensely, and he starts riding around at top speed, aiming for the puddles, yelling "I'm soaked, and I don't care!" My wife gets into it, pulling the bike trailing with my youngest through puddles, until he decides that he does care. Me? I alternated sprinting in huge circles and riding alongside the one or the other. Suddenly, our voyage had turned into play, and everyone was happy.

Eventually, my wife and I took a break, sitting on the curb under some trees, while the kids ran around. The eldest, already soaked up and down his back, danced and hopped through as many puddles he could find, while the youngest just ran.

Eventually, we packed up and made our way home. My wife thanked me for "dragging" or "guilting" her into riding. My son's laughter every time we mentioned how wet or muddy he was was its own reward. Being flexible and playing by ear had led us to a better ride than any of us had expected.

We all ended up doing between 8 and 10km, too. Not bad, especially considering that it wasn't very long ago that the kids complained that a 5km ride was way too far.

Thank You

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I've gotten a lot of positive feedback over the last week. I've tried to address everyone in turn, to offer my thanks, but somewhere it just didn't work out that way. I always really appreciate feedback on my blog. I wish I had time to email everyone, personally, any time they contribute some feedback. Often, though, I don't, so take this as a general thanks.

I'm generally proud of the race I ran last week. My ego is a bit bruised, but that just serves to inspire me. I have unfinished business, and I can't wait to settle the score. I'll have to, though. Maybe my next marathon will be in 2007. Maybe it will be later than that. That's a family decision, and one I'll have to work through sooner or later.

For now, triathlon season is calling me. It's time to get on my aluminum horse and get to work.

Thumbs Up for the Family

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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 June 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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