Recently in General Category

Beneath the Keys

| 7 Comments

Bill and Jeff have issued a challenge to find something buried beneath my keyboard. Jeff's runner-thin body contains a hidden spring of limitless creative energy, while Bill's wit and insight completely fail to hide his appreciation for the finer things in life. I, on the other hand, have a writing style charitable referred to by an English teacher of old as "prosaic".

Alas, Bill and Jeff both wield the spirit of the moose over me, so I must accept the challenge.

The other weekend, we headed out camping with my sister's family. The weather forecast was decidedly mediocre, with intermittent rainfall throughout the weekend. While it rained on the drive down there, by dusk the skies were clear, for likely the only time that weekend. As the last rays of light faded from the sky, my brother in law, my eldest son and I, left the comfort of the fireside, and headed down to the beach.

When I was a child, growing up in a small city further north than most people ever go, I can remember the night sky. I loved seeing the glows of cities and towns when we would travel by night, peeking out my car window. I remember the Milky Way, faintly stretching across the northern sky.

In my early 30s, I finally got to look through a real telescope for the first time. Living in suburbia, the sky was lighter than the skies of my youth, and I would have to wait well into the night to coax the Milky Way out from behind the glow.

Earlier this year, finally living outside the city, I laid out in the back yard with my kids, watching the Perseid meteor shower. I tried to point out the Milky Way, and remarked that it was the clearest I'd ever seen it. It gave me a bit of a thrill when they would describe a meteor as "it went right through the Milky Way!" Clearly, they were really seeing it.

On the beach, that night, was another level. Of course, it doesn't hit you all at once. As your eyes adjust from the glow of the campfire, and the flashlight you needed to get there, the view just gets better and better.

It wasn't a question of whether you could see the Milky Way, but rather just how much detail you could extract from it. The Great Rift could be seen running through Cygnus. The glow seemed to thin out a bit as it passed through Cassiopeia, only to return in Perseus. The double cluster could clearly be seen, and turning a bit, the Andromeda Galaxy was also visible to the naked eye.

The longer we stood there, the more we saw. Binoculars were brought out. We went hunting for the brighter deep sky objects, and it was a joy to find that quite a few were actually visible. Jupiter showed 3 moons, even in the shaky binocular lenses. Even just passing the binocs over the Milky Way itself was a joy - there were just so many stars.

Eventually, necks got sore, and people got tired, and we reluctantly turned away from the spectacle, back to our campfires, and tents.

The Other Side Lives

| 1 Comment

Some places you'd just rather not visit....

Back in early july I had one of those cold/flu things that were going around. The adage is that, if it's "below the neck", don't work out. Since this was definitely below the neck, I didn't.

Eventually, with the help of a puffer and a few weeks convalescence, my lungs cleared up.

My chest, however, didn't. Not entirely.

Every so often, something would make me cough. When I would cough, it was intense, even violent. Worse, when I was done coughing, my first attempt to breathe in would fail. Totally. Mouth open, ribs expanding, no air. This would be followed by some seconds of wheezing and gasping as my airway slowly relaxed.

Now, a full 6 or 7 weeks after I first got sick, I still have awful coughing fits that leave me bent over. My airways aren't closing, but sometimes I need a pretty good pull to get my lungs full again.

I love aerobic exercise, but I've pretty much been unable to work out all summer. Ok, so I was a bit on the lazy side before I got sick, but it's different when you CAN'T. I watched the tour de france and longed for my bike. I went on vacation and took some short bike rides, and suffered. I kept telling myself I'd be back in the pool "next week".

The doctor is calling it "temporary asthma". All I know is that it's got me down.

July - Writeoff

| No Comments

The last 3 or 4 weeks have been a total write-off. Wednesday was the first day in over 3 weeks that I'd worked out at all (and I'm hating it!)

According to the doctor, I caught some kind of a viral thing in my chest. Breathing has been difficult, and I've been coughing. Yum.

I got to watch the entire Tour de France, but could never go out riding afterwards. And believe me, the more I watched, the more I wanted to ride.

We drove up north for a wedding last weekend, and saw no less than 4 people trek riding the trans-Can. It made me sad, maybe even whiny.

Still, August is a new month. I have ambitions - hopefully, I won't be tied down too much longer.

Rubber Legs

| 2 Comments

Still no return of the hip discomfort. Obviously I'm pleased with that.

The swims HAVE been much tougher lately. Lots of butterfly. That and the pushups are making my shoulders and lats stronger, I'm sure.

Saturday was a full rest day. It felt good, and I'm positive I needed it. Sunday I rode for an hour and 40 minutes. My legs felt like rubber at the end, but it was a pleasant feeling.

(It's just too bad I followed up with a piece of cake!)

Last Thursday's run was around 5.5k. It seems like I'm making good progress, but the race is in 2 months. Ugh. So far still to go!

Cautious

| No Comments

I rode outside for the first time on Saturday. I only went about 20k, but I averaged 28km/hr and more importantly felt stronger than I ever have for a first ride of the year.

Clearly, the trainer wasn't a complete waste.

Then again, I had some pain in the outside of my left hip for about 2 days after the ride, especially when standing up to walk.

I took it easy on Sunday.

Monday's swim was hard, but not in the way I expected. I expected speed work, but what we got was big mileage with a lot of "50 build kick". The kick work added up, and I was pretty winded.

Today, I was back on the bike trainer. I sweated a lot, but I felt like I could have kept going, probably the first time this year I've felt strong and competent on the trainer. I kept it to half an hour, mindful of the hip discomfort from the weekend.

Gaining Momentum

| 4 Comments

The weather continues to improve around here. The parks are wet instead of boggy. Daytime highs are often above freezing. And the training is heating up.

I had a 3 day weekend last weekend, and the lineup was as follows:
Friday: 40 minute ride
Saturday: 20 minute run
Sunday: 90 minute ride

I also finally graduated from week 3 of the hundred pushup program last week.

I'm not exactly sure when to schedule a day off this week, but I'm going to need one I suppose. This is kind of a dangerous time - one tweaked ITB, illness brought on by overtraning, and I can get set a long way back. I'm starting to really warm to all this activity, and I'm looking forward to my fitness improving, but it would be easy to overdo it, and have it all go wrong.

This week has already included 2 swims and a 5km run. I'm also starting on, and failing badly so far, week 4 of the hundred pushup program. I've probably got another swim, another run, and a couple of rides still to come. Maybe a brick will be in order this weekend.

I strongly suspect that next week will see a huge increase in intensity in the pool. Provincials were last weekend, and once the recovery is over I'm sure we'll be doing workouts designed to prepare swimmers for nationals.

I worked a bit on flip turns today, and will continue to do so. They're probably the single greatest speed gain I can get in the pool at this point. It's going to take some work to get my form down, but I may need it just to keep up!

What I Didn't Say

| 1 Comment

So last week, I announced that I had finally run for the first time. I was planning on running the next day, but did not say so, even when another traithlete announced that their second ride of the year would be "tomorrow".

I guess, by now, I just knew.

By that evening, I was in the vice grip of a head cold, one that basically knocked me out until the weekend. Another 5 days of training written off.

On the bright side, I have now ridden, run (#2!) and cycled in the same 24 hour period. If I can keep my energy levels and health up, I should be turning a corner fairly soon.

With the weather improving by leaps and bounds, and the snow almost gone, there's plenty of incentive to move outdoors, and increase my training levels.

State of the Union

| 1 Comment

Last week was a writeoff. I only swam about 40 minutes on Monday before coughing wore me out. I did not work out again until the weekend.

The weekend featured an hour ride on Saturday, and 30 minutes + some cardio on Sunday. I've worked out every day this week.

The swims were harsh. Monday was speedwork, Wedensday was the excellent but challenging +1 drill (my favourite one from last year). Friday was more tough work, then a 4x50 free relay at the end. My lane was under pressure to win, so I had to put in a good time. 35 seconds flat is very close to a PB.

The weather is supposed to be above freezing this weekend, so hopefully the running can finally start.

Losing/Winning

| 3 Comments

I'm now losing 2-1 in the challenge with my wife. I took last Wendesday off from swimming in exchange for a much-needed 2.5 hours extra sleep. Pretty good deal.

I seem to have dropped all of the strength/flexibility work I was doing (read: Wii Fit). I keep meaning to spend an hour on it Tuesday mornings, but after Friday Swim, Saturday bike, Sunday Bike, Monday swim, Tuesdays I seem to wind up sleeping in, and resting my sore legs.

Probably ok for January, but I need to improve my core strength fairly soon.

Actually, the rides are really kicking my butt. It only takes 15 minutes or so for me to have completely warmed up the basement, be dripping sweat, and unhappy. iTunes podcasts are helping, but the huge loss of aerobic fitness I'm feeling right now makes me sad.

I am not, however, so sad that I will be discouraged.

I just wish I could run a bit more regularly. It's been bitterly cold of late.

My swim technique is slowly starting to come around. That hiatus was way too long, but really, when life comes calling, what can you do? We did some dps (distance per stroke) and breathing drills this morning, and there's no question that they helped.

The best thing about living in a new house is that I have new areas to explore. Oh, if only it were spring, and the bike could move outside!

Happy New Year 2009

| 1 Comment

I consulted a venerable sage, then promptly ignored his advice and went my own way.

Interestingly, I think the lowest my weight has been in the last 5 years was when I was riding this past spring. All in all, I think I preferred being a regular cyclist to a regular runner, though obviously both would be even better.

Thus, 2009 started with a 20 minute spin in the basement. Nothing major, but surprisingly I've been feeling it for the rest of the day.

Another feeling I preferred was the feeling of being active over the winter. I'm still not keen on running outside regularly, but if I can start to build my fitness now, spring is only a few months away.

My Aching Quads

| 2 Comments

Swimming has started up again. Apparently, 2+ months out of the pool have really hurt. I start out ok, but fade quickly, and by the end of the practice I'm quite slow. It doesn't help that we've already done a 3000m workout, though I suppose in the long run that will help quite a bit.

I ran on Sunday, for the first time in a while. I've been having problems with my right hamstring, and my last run hurt a fair bit, so I limited myself to 20 minutes. It wasn't too bad, but I forgot to stretch, and my quads have been sore ever since.

I'm trying to work out every day, and have probably been succeeding 5 or 6 times a week. Unfortunately, there has been very little endurance work. I miss it - endurance stuff is my favorite, but it's the most time consuming.

These days, though, I'm doing well to fit in what I can. Hopefully I'll be able to ramp back up to it as the summer rolls along.

Still Alive

| 2 Comments

As the summer approaches, life is getting busier. I'm still alive, though, and still training.

Swimming attendance has been pretty good lately. I've gotten 3 excellent tips over the last month - two related to kick, and one related to freestyle pull. They're having a positive effect, and I'm working hard on trying to focus on them. The downside is they're kicking my butt, so to speak. More efficiency, more technique and more power sometimes mean more breathing, and slower recovery times. It's a process.

Boy, do I miss the aerobic engine that I had last year.

Still, I've set a few minor PBs, most notably breaking 3 minutes on the 200 and going sub-34 seconds on the 50 fly (albeit in a 25m pool). I'm hoping to get the courage (and better technique!) required to try a 100 fly before the end of the year. Right now, I'm a wee bit intimidated.

I went for a run on Sunday - the first time in weeks. I only made it about 13 minutes before I ran into some old friends. Skipping out on the rest of the run was worthwhile. Besides, my quads were plenty sore the next day.

This week I've been seeing cyclists everywhere. I need to kickstart my riding very, very soon. I'd love to see one good rain go by first, though, to clean up some of the dust and salt from the winter.

We've lost several feet of snow over the last few days, and there's water everywhere. I'm also starting to see patches of ground, though, and it can't be too long before they start turning green.

Literary List Meme

| 1 Comment

Thanks to jank for introducing me to this one. It made for an interesting read.

Rules are simple - Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you’d like to read. I'll follow in jank's footsteps and throw in some comments.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) - It's been spoiled for me, but I don't think I ever had any interest.
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) Bound to be a BBC adaptation or three out there, if I never get around to reading it.
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) Like so many others, I loved it. Avoids being saccharine.
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien) Loved them. Not the best fantasy out there, but engrossing.
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) I may be Canadian, but I'll still take a pass.
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) Never heard of it #1
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) Cool cover, but no idea.
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) Decent books, but maybe not quite worth the billions Ms. Rowling has made.
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) As per DaVinci
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) No idea #2
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) No interest.
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) No idea #3
18. The Stand (Stephen King) Stephen King has never appealed.
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling) Best of the bunch. They went slightly downhill from here.
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Like Austin, the Brontes are probably worth at least a watch, if not a read.
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien) Used to read this to my son, long ago.
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) No interest.
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) Saw parts of the movie, ergo really no interest.
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) No idea #4
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) No offense to the immensely popular Pratchett, but he's in Adams mighty shadow. I actually find that it's harder to make truly funny comedy from the ridiculous than from the mundane. Adams made it look easy.
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) Tried and failed. The movie was ok, but as a child this book did not capture my interest.
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck) I liked the move Of Mice and Men, but it didn't encourage me to go out and read all his stuff.
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom) No idea #5
31. Dune (Frank Herbert) Sci-fi at its best. A straightforward adventure story with a ton of depth if you look for it. I adored Frank Herbert for his willingness to challenge his readers.
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) Yet another movie I haven't seen, from a book I'll never read.
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) I won't close the book entirely on Rand, but from encountering her ideas second-hand I'm less than impressed.
34. 1984 (Orwell) Quite possibly the worst book I've ever read. Once Herbert wrote "the more control, the more that needs control", the world of 1984 fell apart before my eyes.
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) I'm so overdue on this one.
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) No idea #6.
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay) No idea #7.
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb) No idea #8, unless Wally was in Spandau Ballet.
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) No idea #9.
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) 10... wow, I'm illiterate!
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel) A friend introduced me to it in grade 8. Decent, but not outstanding.
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) I might see the movie someday, I guess.
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella) No. Thank. You.
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom) Intriguing title.
45. Bible Haven't read as much of it as I should have I suppose.
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) I'm curious enough to read it, and find out what all the fuss is about vis a vis the russian authors.
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) Would prefer to read it in french.
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) #11
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) See above
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) #12
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) #13
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) Started it, stalled. From what I remember, Dickens style was way too wordy for me.
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) Very good book. The foreword may be the best part of the book, though.
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence) I need to write in to my high school, ask for the hours I spend reading this back.
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) No to book and miniseries both.
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) Missed it, thank goodness. Not my cup o' tea.
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) Another intriguing title.
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) As per Tolstoy.
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) No to Rand, for now.
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) Movie made me interested enough to try one of her books.
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis) Go go Canadian lit class. It was ok, but I don't think that "literary" novels like this one are quite my cup of tea.
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) No idea, yet again. I've lost count of books I've never heard of.
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares) No thanks.
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) Unlikely.
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) In french, if possible.
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) Movie was good, but that was enough.
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay) Nothing has ever captured me like the Fionavar trilogy. Fast paced, and every one of the 5 main characters was completely memorable. Well, except maybe Jennifer.
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) No idea.
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) Saw part of the movie on CBC. DIdn't look bad, but Laurence is probably too literary for me.
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) Skipped it as a child. My "kid's books" phase was very, very short.
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley) After reading Findley's The Wars, NO THANK YOU.
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck) Enjoyed the movie, insofar as a depressing movie can be enjoyed. No intention of revisiting.
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) No idea.
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) Fionavar is my favorite, but this may be the single best crafted fantasy novel there is. The sequel was 95% as good, but nothing thereafter was even half as good. What shone through was the intelligence of the main characters.
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)> Good book, good movie.
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) Read on the heels of 1984, I was ready to hate it, too. Didn't hate it, but didn't love it either. I don't think utopian/distopian novels work for me.
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago) NO idea.
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91.The Skin of the Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) NO THANK YOU.
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) This was "in" when I was young. Never piqued my interest, though.
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) Probably not.
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) Someday...

My own list to add:

Germinal (Emile Zola) - Stupendous book that completley exceeded my expectations, and made taking that french course in university worthwhile. In a sense, this is what 1984 should have been. Should be required reading for anoyone who thinks they're an anarchist.

Anything by Molière. I've read Le Bourgeous Gentilhomme and Le Malade Imaginaire. Funnier than anything I've read by Shakespeare.

Chariots of the Gods? (Erich von Daniken) Interesting point of view. Probably helped me develop critical thought.

Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C Clarke) Perhaps the perfect sci fi novel.

Nightfall (Isaac Asimov) Perhaps the perfect sci fi short story. Wait, scratch the "perhaps".

Seed Stock (Frank Herbert) I love space operas as much as the next guy, but this short story is probably far closer to the truth than any spce travel vision of Asimov, Roddenberry or Lucas.

A Man For All Seasons (Robert Bolt) A lot like To Kill A Mockingbird, I guess.

Galileo's Daughter and Longitude (Dava Sobel) History. Smart people. Hooray!

Connections, or anything else (James Burke). History + technology = win!

Anne Frank's Diary Read it as a kid, after I saw a movie about her.

Stranger in a Strage Land (Robert Heinlein) While I generally dislike Heinlein, this one was decent.

Joseph Campbell - Read something of his in High School, forget what exactly. Always intended to revisit him. Someday, I guess.

Leg Pain

| 1 Comment

If last week's weather was an invitation to stay indoors and be lazy, Sunday's was an invitation to be outdoors. It was warm, with temperatures noticeably above freezing.

I laboured through another run, but was glad I was out. Glad, at least, until I stepped in a 2 inch deep puddle. The air may have been mild, but the water was cold.

I made a consciencious effort to stretch very well after the run. The IT and quads were particularly tense.

This morning featured a trip to a very full pool. The warmup had a lot of distance, and the main set was all timed. The times were fairly easy, but it was still a bit of a challenge to go on a fixed time, rather than when I was completely ready.

Unfortuantely, after a set of whip kick, I developed a calf cramp, and had to stop. I seem to be cramping more this year than in other years, and I think I'll need to start bringing water to the pool and drinking during the swim.

The back-to-back workouts are just the cure for holiday leisure. I just with my legs were as happy as my heart about it.

Cacophonic Symphony

| No Comments

I ran yesterday, for what was only the second time this month. Yes, I'm a non-runner. I can accept that, I guess. Certainly running 5km feels nothing like what it used to. So much has been lost.

I won't complain or grumble, though. I know where I want to be next summer, and I will get there. In the meantime, life is about so much more than just running. While I'm hardly juggling all my diverse interests flawlessly, there is a certain flow to the way things are going. If there are no shining moments of brilliance, at least everything is progressing in its own way.

Christmas was its usual mix of stress and joy, the former preceding the latter. I got a pull buoy and a Rabobank jersey. I spent a day helping family move (closer to us!), and a day or two on the continuing house rearrangement. I skipped swimming and ate too much.

In the grand scheme, I like where things are going. I ran yesterday, and will run again before my holidays are up. Swimming is a challenge, and is keeping me in shape. The house is getting in order, albeit slowly. The family is starting to converge, which can only be good. My card playing is slowly improving. Things are moving forward at work.

I'm genuinely excited about next year. Part of the focus will be on "faster", rather than "farther". The focus will also be more on "fun", and less on "training". Sure, I'll still be training, but hopefully the process will be better than slogging through five runs a week. The goal will be to stay fit, get stronger, but to better integrate the process into the process of living.

Crash Weight Loss

| 2 Comments

I got sick a couple of weeks ago - survived on saltines for a few days. Bleh.

Got out for a run on Sunday. It had been four weeks.... I was slow and sore. Small wonder.

Monday's swim I had to wimp out and leave early. I just didn't have it. I expected to be a bit off from missing 4 swims in a row, but it seemed much harder than that even.

Wednesday the car ran out of gas in the driveway. I kid you not. I had gotten up early, warmed the car up, and shovelled the driveway. Then it stalled. Fun times.

Today was a tough swim. I soldiered through the best I could, but got dizzy on a couple of the tougher 3x100 sets. Weird, but given the rest of my week, maybe I lost a bit more than I thought I had when I stopped eating.

My strength will come back, but I guess sometimes it still all catches you off guard.

Weak/Strong

| 3 Comments

Thursday's run just didn't happen. I went to work with my bag packed, but never got the chance to break away. It happens. I need to be vigilant and keep my good habits going, but I also need to be laid back enough to accept when my plans get preempted.

We had plans Sunday morning, which meant I had to postpone my run until later in the day. This is always dangerous, as my willpower has always been strongest in the morning. Maybe it's just that my willpower is built on habit. Whatever the case, the run again did not happen. Chalk this one up to me being chicken. After freezing my toes at the Santa Claus parade the night before, I wasn't looking forward to running in the cold. Not looking forward to running is a bad place to be.

This morning's swim involved more speed/pace work. The main set was set up as follows:

300 metre freestyle, taking 10 seconds rest every 50 (on 6:30)
300 metre freestyle, taking 15 seconds rest every 100 (on 6:30)
300 metre freestyle, taking 20 seconds rest every 150 (on 6:30)
100 metre ez
300 metre freestyle

The idea was to hold the same pace that you had managed on the previous 300.

I started out doing around 45 seconds per 50 (maybe a touch slower). This isn't a super fast pace for me (I can do under 1:30/100 when motivated), but it wasn't trivial to maintain, either.

The further I go into swimming, the more I'm missing my endurance. I'm finding that I don't feel as strong or as fit as I did last year. I guess going from 5 days running a week to 2 (oops! zero!!) has some negative effects on my swimming. These days, every time I get in the pool, I find myself withing I ran more (and further!)

The final 300 was obviously the real test. I pulled out the first 100m in around 1:35, which as I say is not fast, but not slow either. I had been hoping to push 3 minutes for the 200m, but I was around 5 seconds too slow to even consider that. At the time, I was thinkng that my 200m PB was close to 3 minutes (it's 3:08, which makes the 1:35 much more respectable).

I wanted to stay close to 3 minutes, but knew it was slipping away. I focused on strong, smooth pulling, and watched the clock at each turn. 150m went by in 2:20, which meant that I would have to sprint all out to have a chance 3 minutes. Obviously, that wasn't happening, and I passed 200m in 3:15.

For some reason, my mental math went away, and I was disappointed with hitting 250m in 4:00 even. Why swimming a 45 second 50 was suddenly bad I don't know now, but at the time, I was unhappy. Well, maybe motivated is the best word. I worked hard to try to close well, but came in at around 4:47.

At the time, I thought I'd slipped well off my usual pace. Looking at my PBs, though:
100m free: 1:21
200m free: 3:08
300m free: 5:25
(400m free: 6:33)
...my splits of 1:35, 3:15 and 4:47 look pretty good (especially for November).

What's important here is that I keep things in perspective. I'm swimming 50% more often than I was this time last year. I'm struggling, but I'm getting stronger. I need the endurance from outside the pool to complement all the work that I'm doing in the pool.

For now, I need to be less hard on myself, and take pride in the fact that I am still active (despite how I sometimes feel). As the winter rolls on, the motivation will start to build, as I look ahead to all of the amazing things that I want to do in 2008.

Identities

| 2 Comments

I spent a fair bit of time last week pondering moving to running 3 times a week. I've been running twice a week consistently for a while now (illness notwithstanding), and it felt like I needed a change.

It came down to identity. At twice a week, I'm officially demoted from "I'm a runner" to "I run". The distinction is small, maybe, but it's an identity crisis. So I pondered starting to morph my weekly routine to make room for another run.

The thing is, once I rewrote my identity in terms of triathlon instead of running, the perception changed. If I say "I'm a triathlete in offseason training", suddenly my 5 training sessions a week sound like a lot. It feels like a lot, especially since swimming has been killing me lately.

Monday's swim featured a while mess of reverse IM, and Wednesday's swim was a mix of fly sprinting and general work - strength, technique and speed. I did a short, hard run on Thursday, but even before I ran I was suffering.

It pays to put things into perpective. At this time last year, I was swimming twice a week. At this time 5 years ago, I had not effectively swam in decades. The overall progress level is fantastic, and the transition from twice a week to three times a week should be hard. It should probalby even be about as hard as it has been.

So, with my core muscles and lats aching, I purposefully and willfully took Friday off. So, for one week, I was an offseason triathlete training 4 times a week. This, I can live with.

Listening...

| 2 Comments

Sunday's evening collapse should have been a hint. Maybe the swollen lymph node and the lack of energy were hints, too.

What really hit home was Wednesday's swim. After dragging myself through the warmup, the main set was 14x100, starting with 4 freestyle, descending. I started at 1:40, and could not get any faster. I felt like I was stepping on the gas, but the Datsun wasn't responding.

I opted to listen to my body. I got out of the pool right there, went home, and went back to bed. It basically took me the rest of the week before I was feeling myself then.

To contrast, this morning we did a timed 400m. I opted for freestyle, and here were my 100m splits: (appx): 1:35, 1:45, 1:35, 1:35. A lot better than 4x1:40 with rest between each one, eh?

Slogging

| 1 Comment

So my average swimming distance last week was 3km. I swam my first ever 9km week last week!

The distance felt ok. My freestyle is slowly getting its power back, albeit slowly. It's still intermittent, but when it's there, it feels very good.

One of the main sets last week was;
800 fr mod
400 fr neg split
2x200 fr 100%

My 200m fr PB is 3:08.1, and I managed to swim ~3:08 and 3:11 for the last two. Given how hard we'd worked up until that point, I was pleased.

I was pretty sore after my run on Thursday, which is a fair sign that I'm more or less back to ground zero on my running. I ran again Sunday, putting in 5km then stretching out as well as I could. I didn't feel too bad afterwards.

Today's swim was a mixture of drills and speed. We did two hard 50 breasts, where I struggled to get down to 45 seconds. We then did a 100 freestyle at the end. My arms didn't have the stamina to go hard for a full 100 by that point, and I came home in about 1:27.

Work and home life have been extremely busy lately, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard slogging all around at the moment, and while I know I'm not flying through it as best as I can, I am moving forwards, at least.

It Wouldn't Be September Without...

| 4 Comments

I was feeling kinda low on energy this past weekend. I chalked it up to the new swimming schedule getting to me, and blew off the weekend run. Monday's swim was ok, but at work I again started to feel rather drained. By noon at Tuesday, I knew there was something more serious wrong with me, so I headed home to the couch. After sleeping Tuesday and especially Wednesday away, I felt a bit more like myself on Thursday.

Friday's swim seemed to confirm that. I wasn't exactly strong in the water, but I managed a 3:05 on my first 200 free. Alas, the second one was slower at 3:15, but I was able to finish the workout well.

I'd like to hope that I can come out of this and build my strength, but personal and workplace pressures seem to be building. The road ahead is going to hold far greater challenges than just training.

Chapters

| 2 Comments

I checked my monthly running mileage for August the other day. It looked like a bad week. Ugh.

That said, I haven't been completely inactive. I effectively biked to work twice last week. Got in a run on Saturday, too. Haven't been doing the pushups and situps regularly, but I have been doing them.

Really wanted to run today, but wasn't feeling great. It was 2pm before I finally gave up on the idea. I guess it was just one of those blah days. Oh well.

All this ends now, though. Swimming starts Wednesday, and it will become my focus. I'll continue to run when I can (hopefully a bit more often!), and bike to work on occasion. I'll continue to build on my core strength with my morning calisthenics. The more core and upper body strength I can build on my off days, the better.

If there's one piece of consolation that I can take from this summer, it's that at least when I'm being fairly inactive, I'm still much more active than I was five years ago. Plus, I'm not dropping out. I still have plans. Ambitions.

7 out of 10

| 2 Comments

So I only ended up bike commuting, or partially bike commuting, 7 out of 10 times last week. Once I opted out so my wife and I could have breakfast together, once it rained, and once I was just too tired. A couple of other times, I biked to someone's soccer practice and got a ride home, but that still counts.

A pretty good effort, I think.

Of course, I was pretty demolished this weekend. Did not do anything structured on Saturday. On Sunday, I did my pushups and situps, but couldn't drag myself out for a run.

Still, I'm already pondering riding in this week, so clearly, it couldn't have been THAT bad.

Overall, my approach to fitness continues to be unstructured and less than committed. It looks like the fall race schedule really is out of the picture. On the other hand, swimming starts in two weeks.

Habits

| No Comments

In the first two weeks back from vacation, I actually trained less than I had while on vacation. The problems seemed to start with my consistently forgetting to turn on my alarm in the morning. Waking up after 8am on a weekday is great on vacation, but not so great once the vacation is over.

Ergo, I went a disappointing 13 days without a run at one point. Yuck. Almost an Augustathon of my own, but in reverse to Ali and Bill.

Not that I want to be too hard on myself. June and July (at least!) were earmarked as the rest part of my yearly training cycle. Sure, I'd love to run a PB or two in the fall, but my fall focus will be elsewhere....

Anyways, I broke my duck last Friday, running a 5k that would have been humiliatingly slow if I was the type to get humiliated over this sort of thing. (Actually, not running for 13 days was worse, but I digress.) The weekend featured company, lots of plans, and laziness and excuses to match. By the holiday Monday, though, the schedule was clear. So I ran. (Again!)

I also did my usual 2x (15 pushups, 30 situps). I've actually managed to do that 5 days running now. When I first started doing them, pushups two days in a row were hard on my shoulders. I've been horribly inconsistent, but clearly I'm improving.

I also bike commuted on Wednesday, and ran again today. This may just be the start of something.

As for today's run, well, I pushed it a little bit. I didn't really think it was a good idea, but the pace was a bit faster than last Friday. How much faster? Oh, more than 2 minutes per mile.

I offer no explanation for this.

I Need To Stop Sucking (Air)

| 1 Comment

Vacation continues, as does my intermittent schedule.

On the brightside, I'm up to 2x15 pushups and 2x20 situps every alternate day (more or less). On the downside, 5-6km runs are still kicking my butt majorly.

I think I'm adjusting well to the altitude, but part of me hopes that it's influencing my mediocrity in some significant way. It probably has nothing to do with the pain in my shins when I run, though. Ergo, I strongly suspect that my current mediocrity is self-made.

My mind and body are slowly working towards being serious again. The summer is wasting away, so I'd better not take too long.

Naval Standards

| 3 Comments

So for the first time in 23 months, I'm not currently registered in swimming. It was time for a break.

While I haven't exactly got great definition above the belt, what little I do have comes from swimming. It would be a shame to lose what little I have over the summer, especially if I want to get even more serious about swimming again in the fall. So, in addition to whatever running and cycling I do over the summer, I need something a little more to fill the gap.

I recently came across this - the US Navy's physical test standards. The run and swim are straightforward, and I know that I can score well on them. However, 2 minutes of pushups and situps is very difficult for me. I've tried this a time or two in the past, and been humbled.

I tried this out yesterday. In 2 minutes, I was able to do 25 pushups. In 2 minutes, I could do 35 situps.

Yuck.

My thinking was to try to do situps and pushups every morning this summer, to maintain and build some strength.

OF course, this morning, I woke up with sore pectorals. Gee, I wonder why? Also, when I sat down to do the situps, my abs were a bit sore.

This could be tougher than I thought.

I'm also leaving more time between the situps and pushups, to try to pad my numbers this morning.

Pushups/Situps

Sunday, June 3: 25/35
Monday, June 4: 26/42

Tomorrow will be a rest day. I need it!

Inventory

| 3 Comments

Monday morning damage report:
- Left knee - pretty good
- Right heel - tight. Some pain has returned
- Elbows - sunburned

Highs and Lows

| 1 Comment

I'm not fond of summary posts, but time has been so tight lately....

Tuesday morning's swim: Tough. Coach asked at one point if our legs were burning yet. Yup, they were. I predicted then and there that the evening run would be bad.
Tuesday evening run: I felt slow. It felt like a bad run. Actually, though, I was pretty fast.
Wednesday morning run: Payback. Felt awful. Was awful. Had severe doubts that I would be able to break 4 hours in the marathon.
Thursday morning swim: Decent.
Friday morning run: After Wednesday, I knew I had to be awesome. I was. By the time I got home, I was in the best mood all year.
Saturday morning run: Woke up at 2am Saturday, and couldn't get back to sleep. I was at the track very early. At the start of the 5th of 6 repeat, I thought "Hey, this is easier than last week". 600m later, I retracted.
Sunday morning run: Ok, I REALLY need to work on nutrition. I was amazingly strong at 18km. At 22-23km, my stomach started to cramp up. I think jelly beans were a bad idea. My legs were good and I felt strong, but I battled stomach cramps all the way home.

I've drafted my plan for the next 6 weeks - 3 more of high mileage, then a gradual taper. My confidence is still yo-yo-ing. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and strong, and all this hard work will pay off.

Pressure

| No Comments

I knew all along that April would be a difficult month. The mileage is getting high, with personal records happening almost weekly. I'm trying to retrofit myself with a turbo button, now that there isn't always ice underfoot. Plus, through all that, I still have family, a house, a job....

My monthly routine has been established, basically, since October. Monday is my day of rest - no run, no swim. This past Monday, I really needed it. Tuesday morning featured a very hard swim, one of the hardest in memory. It was a shame that I had to leave early due to work. Right after work, I was back out, trying to do a fast tempo run. It wasn't blazingly fast, but I was quite happy with it.

Tuesday nights are bridge nights. Sure, I could probably use the sleep, but staying in contact with old friends is worthwhile. For the record, I lost. I blame my wife (after all, she beat me).

Wednesday morning, it's always a struggle to get up and out the door as early as I can. The goal is always to do a reasonably quick longer run. I was out the door less than 12 hours after the start of the previous night's run, and I was feeling it. I went as fast as I could, but I was definitely a little tired right from the start.

Wednesday night is always an oasis. After the pressure of Tuesday, it's a chance to relax. Of course, having run 18km in the morning and having to be up for 6am swimming the next morning, my relaxing free time is usually spent going to sleep early.

Thursday's swim was decent. I didn't feel fast, but I cranked out a couple of decent 400s before I had to leave early, again. It was nice to not be pounding the pavement on Thursday, but I did work pretty hard on my kick in the pool, so I wouldn't say that my legs exactly got the day off.

Friday mornings are again about distance with speed. The goal is the same as Wednesday, but the execution is always different. For one, it's harder to justify being up super early on Fridays. For another, my legs feel different. Tuesday is always harder to recover from than Thursday. Case in point, I ran the exact same route Wednesday and Friday this week. Wednesday's time: 1:44:12. Friday? 1:33:47.

Sure, that it was Good Friday helped. But really, that's how it is every week. Friday I feel fast, Wednesday, I feel like I'm surviving. If my marathon ends up being somewhere between a Wednesday and a Friday in how it feels, I won't be surprised.

I could resolve to work harder on my Wednesday runs, or I could pat myself on the back for my Friday performances, but the best answer is to do neither. I'll be back embarrassing myself at the track tomorrow, and Sunday will feature yet another punishing long run. And just like all the Sundays before, I'm sure at some point I'll do the mental arithmetic, and think to myself "man, if I was doing 42 today it/I would really suck."

Which is why April has to be so tough. Every run is about working with what I have on the day. Every run is about trying to do my best with a less than ideal starting point. As I take longer and longer to recover from my runs, and as I feel the pressure of my ambitious training schedule more as the month goes by, I know that all my suffering and discontent is just part and parcel of the preparation that I need if I'm going to run the marathon that I want next month.

Sprinting

| No Comments

This morning's swim was crazy. After an 800m warmup, we did some descends, then some more descents, then some easy, then a whole bunch of sprint, then more easy, then more sprint. I couldn't keep track of it all, it came by so fast. The set that really got our hearts pumping was:

25m fly | 25m free on
60s | 60s
50s | 50s
40s | 40s
30s | 30s
20s | 20s

I had an epiphany of sorts somewhere in this set. For the whole workout, I was trying to focus on improving my kick (inspired, no doubt, but all the footage on youtube of the 2007 FINA world championships - recordo del mundo Michael Phelps!). One one of the fly sets, as I'm struggling to hold everything together, I remember that I've been having some small success kicking twice per pull, but notice that I've fallen back on my old habit of once per pull. I correct it, and for a brief shining monent, I shot forward like I'd been shot out of a canon. Butterfly-style oxygen deprivation prevailed, and the moment passed, but someday I'll recapture that feeling.

I felt kind of blah at work today, so headed out for my run with some trepidation. I ended up putting in a killer run - 4th fastest on my home 8.3 km loop. Given the rest of the day, I'll gladly take the result.

Before blogging, I guiltily took a peek at my breakingthetape.com Parrot Predictor. I knew I'd gotten back on track last week, so was curious to see how it had impacted my parrot predictor.

Jan 01
Jan 08 3:45:36
Jan 15 3:50:48
Jan 22 3:43:30
Jan 29 4:1:12
Feb 05 3:50:47
Feb 12 3:51:51
Feb 19
Feb 26
Mar 05 3:58:7
Mar 12 3:47:40
Mar 19 3:48:42
Mar 26 3:13:23

In my dreams!!!

Trying to be Smart

| 1 Comment

The alarm went off at 5am Wednesday morning. I sat up. As soon as I tried to stand up, I felt it. My calf. It was still very tight. So, I lay right back down and went back to sleep.

No run Wednesday.

It actually continued to bother me on Wednesday, far more than I had thought that it would. Taking advil didn't really seem to have a huge effect. I decided that I wasn't even going to try swimming on Thursday morning.

Thursday I put in a call to my personal A.T. She seemed to feel that it was likely just a cramp, though it might have been a small tear. Either way, the road ahead was paved with heat, massage, and ice after usage.

I actually turned the full pressure of the water in the shower onto my calf Thursday morning, and really tried to beat on the sore spots. It was pretty uncomfortable, but it helped. I was tempted to run Thursday night, but was too hungry and tired to when I finally got home from work. Instead, I got out a can of peas and rolled it under my calf for a bit.

(And you thought runners only loved frozen peas!)

This morning I was awakened before 6am by the constant pounding of sleet (ice/rain/snow) on the window, and the gusting of wind. Ugh. The forecast called for a full on winter storm today, but I wasn't going to let weather stop me from running.

I headed out after 8am, with already a quarter inch of snow on the ground. The wind and ice were horrific - running into the wind, it felt like I was being assaulted with icy needles. Any exposed flesh, including eyes and lips, were susceptible. It hurt.

Fortunately, my shin didn't, and I knew that the wind couldn't be in my face more than half the run (more or less). So I told myself that I was happy to get as much of it out of the way early in the run as possible, and soldiered on.

My time at the first turnaround was laughable. Wind and footing hurt, but so did only running for the second time in a week. Oh well. Despite the wind, it was mild, and I was enjoying the run, now that the ice was out of my face.

After the run, having graciously forgotten to stop my watch (probably a good thing!), I got some ice from the freezer, popped an advil, and iced down my calf. It was a bit more sore than before the run, but not much. I spent 10-15 minutes alternating icing and walking it off, before jumping in the hot shower, and again having the water beat on my calf. It hurt far less than the day before.

It's been a bit of a disappointing week, but I feel as though I've learned a thing or two about muscle cramps. Yes, they can last more than a day, but hopefully now that I'm treating the problem, the worst is behind me.

It's March now, and while that doesn't mean that the cold is over, yet, it means that the end is coming.

Calf Cramp!

| 4 Comments

I now have the pictures from the swim meet. I'll post some of them, and a real report, when I can.

On Sunday, I woke to a rather sore hip flexor. I decided to skip the run, and to rest and recover. By Monday morning, it was better, but still not gone. So I rested

This morning was the first swim since the meet. We actually got a very tough assignment, including an imposing looking 50x50. At the 28th 50, my calf suddenly cramped up badly. I had to pull myself back to the end of the pool, and stretch it out.

It bothered me all day, and I got up and occasionally walked around and stretched it out. I really wanted to run tonight, not having run since Wednesday, but I was also a bit worried. By the time I got home, I could barely feel it, so I decided to head out.

It helped that it was WARM. Like, 0 degrees warm. It was also clear, with a beautiful sunset. I felt like a wild man, running out with only a jacket over a tee, with no hat or mitts. It was...liberating. Sure, after a while my hands were cold, and tucked into my sleeves. Still, I was happy.

The calf was fine, too, until I stopped. As soon as I went to stretch, I could feel it. I can still feel it. Ugh.

I ran fairly slowly, aiming to be comfortable and relaxed, both because of the cramp, and because I hadn't run in almost a week. There was no point in going hard today.

As for tomorrow's run, well, we'll see how I feel in the morning. I'll do as much as 16 km, if I'm up for it.

December?

| 1 Comment

Yesterday's swim was better than Tuesday's.

We did some backstroke drills. Somewhere in the middle of them, something clicked. I started feeling my catch a bit more, and getting more power throughout my pull.

The main set was a long set of 100m swims, on 2:10. The first 6 practices open turns - 3 freestyle (one-handed turns), and 3 alt fly/br (two-handed turns). After a minute's rest, we did 6 freestyle swims, descending. I started around 1:40 I think. The last two were done at 1:30, and that was as fast as I could get. After an extra 2 minutes rest, we did 4 IM swims. These were hard. There's just something about IM that is even more draining than the sum of its parts. The backstroke bit helped, though. I started out at 1:45, but managed to do the last one in under 1:35, which I was mighty pleased with.

I had a bit of apprehension about this morning's run. I haven't been sleeping well this week, and didn't feel like eating when I first woke up (which was unusual). When I was finally ready, I checked the weather only to find it was 8 degrees out. This is almost stupendously warm for mid-December.

I ended up running without a hat or gloves. It felt strangely liberating to not be bundled against the cold. I almost felt like I was flying, and was almost reminded of how carefree running can be in the summer. Running in the winter can be mentally tough sometimes, but today I was reminded that the payoff come spring is always worthwhile.

I didn't push the pace, but ended up finishing 10.5km in under an hour. After shaking off a bit of rust on Tuesday, I appear to be back in business.

Sigh

| 2 Comments

Another week, another setback. I woke up last Wednesday knowing I was sick. Didn't kick the bug until Sunday. Opted out of Sunday's run, figuring that, at this early point, two days rest and recovery was more valuable than one run.

Today's swim was far from my best effort. No, I'm not surprised. Still, I managed a sub-40 second 50 metre free, and a sub-1:30 100m free, in a set. Mostly, though, swimming was a struggle.

A month from now, this will have been less than a blip in the radar. The next few runs, though, could be a bit tough.

Week in Review

| No Comments

Well, I meant to be blogging. I blogged the runs in my head as I ran them. I just never got around to writing them down.

Wednesday: I ran in the dark, in a thick fog. It was beautiful. The trees were sweating droplets. The street lights made irridescent cones, all connected, holding back the dark. As poetic as the scenery was, my run was flat. I felt slow, I felt uncomfortable. I ran what I thought was my local 10km route in over 58 minutes. That I found out later it's 10.5 made me feel a little better, but not much.

Thursday: The swim kicked my butt. If one bad workout is a bad day, is two a funk? Maybe it was that I'm working my upper body harder on breast stroke these days. Maybe it was all the kick sets. Maybe I just sucked.

Friday: Same route as Wednesday, but a bit better. Unbelievably warm. It was 13 degrees, and I wore shorts. This late in November, it felt more than a little strange. The stiff wind from the south (undoubtably the carrier of the warmth) slowed me up a bit, but I was still a minute faster than Wednesday.

Saturday: One of "those" runs. Tried to go fast. Never felt fast, but never felt comfortable either. Ended up sub-25, the third time in 4 weeks I've run that route sub-25. The sub-4:40 pace is fairly encouraging. I don't think that I should be in shape to set my 10k PB yet, but my pace over 5+ kilometers was at least comparable. So I'm getting there.

Easing Into It

| No Comments

I ran on Saturday. Rather than the usual tempo run, I ran a longer, slower, easier run. It didn't feel too bad at all.

Sunday I did my usual 10 mile local run. I was completely uninterested in speed, and it showed in my final time. The wind was annoyingly stiff, and running into it was quite chilly. I coughed a lot more that I thought I would, but I made it through ok.

This morning my goal was to swim as much as I could. I still took it pretty easy on myself, trying hard to keep my breathing and pulse fairly slow. I felt much better than last Tuesday. I left after only an hour, but I'm fairly pleased with how it went.

The tempo run tonight could be interesting.

Coughing Fit

| 1 Comment

I coughed myself to sleep on Saturday. It's time, it seems, for my annual fall cold weather cough. =(

Sunday dawned cold, rainy, and with winds gusting to speed limits. I decided I was better off not running. I'd been planning to have a rest week this week, so skipping the run wasn't too bad. Then again, rest weeks should be something more than being lazy and skipping every second run. =(

By Monday evening, I was feeling a bit better, until I went to bed. I had to prop myself up to fall asleep, and did not get as much sleep as I would have liked. Still, I got up at 5am, and got ready for swimming.

Ah, swimming. Was there ever an exercise that was quite so much fun when you're already having trouble breathing? I struggled mightily, and ended up quitting and hauling myself out of the pool before the end of the session.

Surprisingly, this decision was praised by my coach. Apparently, the harder I'd worked, the more I'd coughed.

Instantaneously, I cancelled tonight's run. Tomorrow's is on, though.

I'll get through this. For now, though, this cough is annoying!

First Days

| 1 Comment

Another weekend, another head cold. Actually, the cold hit Wednesday. I had booked Friday off to go on a field trip with the kids, but instead found myself headed back to bed. When I finally woke up Friday afternoon, I knew the worst was behind me.

Still, it wasn't until Monday that I got out for a run. Given my nagging discomfort and general lack of consistent running, I took it pretty easy. I did the local 12km loop, but with absolutely zero concern for speed. I feel behind my usual checkpoints pretty quickly, but stayed focused on being relaxed. My left hip flexor bothered me a bit, but I did my best to do a good bit of stretching when I finally got back home.

This morning was the first day of the fall master's swimming session. We even had attendance taken, just like we were in school. Despite the fact that I've been swimming all summer, I felt pretty awful. Maybe it was just having my usual coach back. I mean, she wasn't even watching us (much - being more focused on the new people), but I could hear her going over all the things I was doing wrong. Guess I need to start smartening up. Anyways, she promised us a lot of kick work, which would normally be bad (hate kick work), but since I'm really looking to improve a lot this year, it's probably a good start.

With the buzz about school starting, it really does feel like I'm entering a new season. It's time to start taking running and swimming more seriously again.

Where I Want To Be

| 2 Comments

I had Friday off, so a family trip to Gatineau Park was organized. I haven't run there at all this year, unlike last year, when I went fairly often. Time and convenience have been the principal factors. The fact that I have barely run hasn't helped.

The goal was to hike Wolf Trail, my favorite trail in in the Gatineaus. At 8.5km, and with a fair bit of climbing, it promised to be challenging for the kids. They've been very good at the local trails so far, though. They've also been enthusiastic about walking "in the forest". They also loved visiting Champlain lookout last summer, and the prospect of a lookout or two was an ace up my sleeve.

We started out from the parking lot around noon. We opted to do the trail counterclockwise, which in retrospect might not have been the best decision. In that direction, the climbs are steep and tough, while the descent is more gradual.

Both paths follow small streams, and we took advantage of one crossing to take our first break. The jujubes came out, and some frogs were spotted. The climbs got tougher, but soon we found our first lookout, and a well needed break. To our left was the green expanse of the park. In front of us was a valley, with a forested hill on the far side. To our left, we could just make out the west end of Ottawa. We spotted a pair of turkey vultures circling over the park. After a drink, some trail mix, and some more jujubes, our spirits were raised.

As we got closer to the ridge, some more, minor lookouts came and went. Then we crossed ridge road, and I promised that the best lookout was "just ahead". Of course, I'd only ever run the trail from the opposite direction, and it seems the lookout was about a kilometer off from where I thought it was. It was worth the wait, though. The lookout, right on the ridge of the Gatineau hills, faces the Ottawa river valley. Farms seem to come right up to your feet, and the river ribbons its way from right to left. With the binoculars, we could make out the hockey arena in Ottawa, and a water tower that we assumed was in Carleton Place (which was maybe 45km away). We finished our snacks, took turns with the binoculars, and marvelled at the cows and cars that were smaller than the ants that ran around us.

The general consensus was that the lookout was well worth the work to get to it.

The kids faded a bit on the walk back, but it was a shorter route and, as already mentioned, consisted of a gentle(r) downhill. Still, I took the time to look, listen and smell on the way back, to soak it all in. I'm sure I'll be thinking of this hike throughout the winter.

Someone asked me a month or two back where in the world I would most like to be. Most people are quick to give an answer like Europe, or the Caribbean, but my answer was Wolf Trail. I'm glad I got to go this year. Hopefully next year, I'll go back again.

The Kids Are Alright

| 1 Comment

I'm barely blogging these days, which I regret, somewhat. Then again, for the last week, I've been barely training.

The kids were sick last week. I did my best to fight it off, but instead of a long ride Saturday and a long run on Sunday, I took long naps both days. Considering that I usually try to avoid napping when the kids are awake, especially after long runs/rides, napping AND skipping training is an ominous combinations. For the most part, I think it did the trick in avoiding full blown illness. Still, my energy levels haven't been quite right this week, and I'm still sleeping a lot.

So be it. I blew off the swims this week. Haven't run yet, either. I'm not happy about it, but I'm not unhappy....

The local triathlon mailing list had a large, multifaceted discussion a couple of weeks ago. One of the points it touched on was prioritization. Anyone can run, train, anyone can race, if they want to badly enough. It's a question of sorting out your priorities.

Of course, nothing is ever easy, and priorities can and should shift over time. Making training your top priority when you're training for a marathon PB makes sense. Sometimes, though, work needs to be the top priority. Sometimes, family does. Of course, family is a special case, because personal priorities always have to be compatible with what's going on with everyone else. This isn't always easy, and I'm no more pefect at it than anyone else, I suppose.

I sat down a couple of weeks ago, and tried to work out with my wife if doing the half iron triathlon in September made sense. We decided it did not. I could probably do it, and I could probably finish, but this is not the right time for me to do that race. The kids are getting better at attending my races, but a 6-8 hour race is still a lot for them, at their age. Also, while I've been training all summer, I'm not as prepared as I'd like to be. I've done the "to complete" race strategy before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. But I won't be doing it in September.

Honestly, I've trained a lot this summer, but it has never been a high priority. I run because I love running. I bike because I love riding, and because commuting to work on the bike is way easier on the family (and a bit easier on the wallet!) I swim because, well, *gulp*, after a few minutes in the pool, I suppose I enjoy swimming, too. But if the kids have an activity, or there's a guest in from out of town, or anything like that, I blow off training without a second thought.

And I'm totally ok with that.

Really, it has made for a fantastic summer. I'm in decent shape, I've had some great races, and I've had a lot of fun, both training and not training.

I've still got the fire in my belly, though it's mostly coals and embers right now. I will race again, and I will race hard. I will break 4 hours in the marathon, I just don't know when. I will do a half iron tri. I will break 2:30 in an olympic triathlon. I will break, no shatter, my 10k PB. I will break 20 minutes in the 5k. Someday. Soon.

Right now, though, I have no races on my agenda. I probably won't race anything, until the swim meet in February. I'd love to tackle my marathon goals next summer, hopefully when I'm out west, but that's something to think about in the spring.

I think I'll go for a run tonight. I don't need to, but I don't think that will stop me.

Short Week, Long Weekend

| No Comments

Other than one swim, I didn't train all week. It wasn't really intentional, it's just that life intervened. These things happen, and I can't say I'm unhappy with how the week went.

Besides as fate would have it, I had both Monday and Friday off. Three day work weeks are nice, three day work weeks in summer are special. So I hustled and bustled through the work week, and set out to enjoy the weekend to the fullest.

After a brief trip on Friday, Saturday was back to business. My goal was to bike "something over 60km". I had gotten directions to my great uncle's grave on Friday, and was determined to swing by on my ride. I spent a few minutes on gmap pedometer planning out something that wasn't too short (it's funny when you stop and think "I need to go THAT far?"). I finally chose a route that looped through Kars, North Gower and Richmond. Off I went.

I rode down the river, past Kars, to Dilworth Rd, then back up Fourth line into North Gower. I then headed west, along a surprisingly busy road, to the turnoff to the graveyard. As I approached the road, I found it ironic that there were cyclists there, so far out of town. After I turned, I saw cyclists coming the other way in a steady stream. I think the MS ride was happening, and I was going against the grain.

Anyways, after a stop at the graveyard, I was back on my bike, headed north. I was starting to get uncomfortable in the saddle, but the weather was just perfect. I was very happy to be out and about, and I was getting a bit of that empowerment feeling you get when you realize that the bike you're riding is making everything closer. Still, by the time I found the war memorial park in Richmond, I was pretty sore all over.

From Richmond, it was a short ride home, and I enjoyed the quiet, flattish roads. I also enjoyed watching my computer, especially when the ride ticked over past 70km.

Sunday I left for my run before the house was awake. My goal was to run "a little farther than last Sunday". Part way into my run, it suddenly occurred to me that my wife might have an engagement that morning, and that I had left my house keys at home. Not smart. As it turned out, I was wrong about the engagement, but it certainly put a spring into my step. Gmap Pedometer gave me a surprisingly short distance after the run. Since I know my pace changed at least a bit halfway through, I really don't know if the distance was right or wrong. Not that it matters.

Friday at the Beach

| 3 Comments

When I was riding with Bill back in April, I was commenting on how much better his local scenery was than mine. Not that Ottawa isn't the most beautiful city on earth (it is), but the south and west ends, where I tend to ride, are generally farmland. I think I promised him pictures, in a rash moment (thinking, perhaps, that I was jeff).

Anyways, after an insane couple of weeks at work, I was determined to get out for an early ride, before the heat set in. At the last moment, I thought of the above, and grabbed the camera.

I did not head in the direction of work (sick of that way), and while the pictures aren't super comparable, they give a rough idea, I guess. Ok, maybe not, but they're nice to look at, anyways.

A few weeks back, I rode down to North Gower and back; out along the river, and back along the highway. The wind was in my face on the way home, and I was pretty grumbly at the time. Today, I decided to ride the same route but in reverse. That way, if the wind was in my face on the way home, at least I would have nicer scenery (the river) for my struggles.

I headed out along the highway, and stopped beside a Llama farm to take stock of my surroundings.

Behind me:

To my left:

To my right:

At the south end of my loop, I turned east towards the river. I came back up the Manotick highway. The highway still has the occasional farm along one side (as opposed to the highway, which was pretty much open farmland). Along the river side, there were either trees, houses, or the occasional bit of open land between the road and the river.

The river is on the right, as I look back up the road.

As I was riding along, I came across a side street near Manotick that had a nice view downriver, so I had to stop and snap (and drink, of course).

After the ride, I checked in on the Tour. Then the whole family headed for the beach. While the city in general was fairly hot, our blanket was in the shade, and the water was cool. I did 2 triathlons at this beach last year, and I took the opportunity to get in some swimming. I only did maybe 300m, but it was still an important confidence boost.

While I watched the kids play, some people swam back and forth at the deep end, along the buoy lines. The full distance is maybe 300-400 metres. It made me want to come back another day, to do the same thing.

I've been avoiding some of the longer, early morning open water group swims around here, partially due to timing, partially due to inaccessiblity, and maybe partly due to the distance they swim. Maybe the solution to getting used to open water swimming is to rely on good old-fashioned techonolgy - beaches.


Life Intervening

| 1 Comment

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

| 1 Comment

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

Video

Finding My Legs

| No Comments

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....

Adaptable

| No Comments

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.

Making Time

| No Comments

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

| 2 Comments

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.


Thank You

| No Comments

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.

Oh dear!

| 1 Comment

http://www.ottawasun.com/News/OttawaAndRegion/2006/05/29/1603124-sun.html

THE RESULTS of the men's race in ING Ottawa Marathon were thrown for a loop yesterday after 14 elite runners accidentally took a shortcut early in the race on a tricky part of the course in New Edinburgh.

I feel pretty awful for the runners. At least they were compensated, I guess.

Pushing

| 2 Comments

Busy week.

Tuesday's swim hit 3000m, again, mostly due to 5 or 10 minutes of freestyle pull tacked onto the end of the scheduled workout. I was pretty beat on Tuesday, though. When I got home, I didn't have the energy to run before dinner, so I ate, and sat around until after 10pm for a run. I did a decent 10km in the dark. It was nice out, but I'd been hoping for a longer run. Also, I'd felt like crawling into bed around 8pm, so mentally I just wasn't into it.

The ride in to work on Wednesday was fantastic. I was fast, I was pain-free. The ride home featured left knee pain yet again, and strong headwinds. It took me almost 14 minutes longer to get home, though admittedly having the chain fall off didn't help.

This morning, our swim focused on speed. I really struggled, especially with anything that wasn't freestyle. I stole an extra long break, though, and went for it on the last 200m free. Came home in 3:17, which I think is a PB for me. It felt good, but it took SO much out of me.

I figure I'll run tonight, but probably no more than 5-8km. I just want to keep my legs moving. Tomorrow will be a rest day, and I need it badly. Next week the taper will start, and I'll be able to back off - a bit. For now, though, I'm pushing pretty hard.

Commuting

| 4 Comments

I came back from New England full of excitement. I had a lot on my plate, and suddenly I couldn't wait for the courses to arrive.

Tuesday, though, was a day of reflection. A day to spend time with family. A day of eating. Non-stop. A day of sleep. Basically, a day to balance the two travel days which preceded it.

Wednesday, I was up at 5am, and out the door just after 6. I was aiming for 8km, but had absolutley no ambitions as to pace. After the first 10 minutes, I found that my pace started to pick up a little bit. I let it, but did not push it. My time was reasonable, but unspectacular.

This morning, I was back in the pool. We did a fairly long set - 2550 metres. I finished in time to be able to tack on an easy 200, with plenty of rest between the 25s.

Then, after a second breakfast and a litre of water, I was on the bike, for the 13 mile commute to work. The wind ended up being from the north, so it was rather in my face. I didn't feel too awful, but nor was I flying. On the way home, same deal, but with wind at my back. I eased up on all the downhills, not aiming for speed, but for comfort and stability. I got plenty of clipping practice, and with the exception of a near fall when nobody was around, that part was uneventful. (Thank goodness!)

I think that commuting is going to influence me towards a more rounded, triathlon approach to training. I want to keep my mileage high, and I'll probably aim to run 20km on Sunday, if I can manage it. The bike can no longer be kept at bay, so I might as well put it to good use and save myself some gas.

Ok, so we saw some of the fastest runners in the world sprint by. Time to go home, right?

Not a chance. It was time to start the jeff watch. The running chicks had been given his expected timetable, so we knew when, roughly, he was hoping to come by. As the time approached, I got out the sign my kids had made for jeff's qualification attempt back in January.

I was up early Monday and, with a fistful of directions in my hand, I made my way to Framingham, Massacheussets.

Once I arrived, I scoped out the general area. I found Waverly Street no problem. Even though it was 10am (and the race didn't start until 11:30, with no runners expected until after 12), there were already people starting to line the streets, setting up booths and barricades, and generally being festive.

Waverly.jpg

Sober

| 5 Comments

Back in February, I remarked to my wife how 2006 really hadn't been a good year. It wasn't so much about us, but about people we knew. It's April now, and if anything, the news is getting worse, not better.

I heard yesterday that a member of my swim club had died over the weekend. He'd been cycling, and had collapsed.

I wasn't sure until today exactly who it had been, and if I'd known them. Turns out I did know them, though not well. If you'd lined up all the people in the pool, you'd have probably picked this guy as being the most fit. He was better at all three triathlon displines than I am. He was younger than me. His wife is pregnant with their first child.

It's pretty sobering when you first see someone your own age die. I'm still in my early thirties, and it has happened far, far too often already. Peter, Brian, Ian, Katherine, Chris. "Only the good die young" seems like a stupid saying until your collection starts to grow, and you're left to wonder why.

When a friend of mine got home from swimming yesterday, having heard the news, the first thing he did was hug his kids. There's not much else to say, is there?

Race Preparations

| 2 Comments

The ITB discomfort seems to have receded. We'll see how I feel at the 25km mark on Sunday, but for now, it seems like I'm in good shape.

Yesterday's swim was fairly tough, featuring three speed sets of different distances. I opted for a shorter run last night, deciding that 5km would be plenty. I was hoping to put in a fast run, but almost immediately I got a stitch in my side. It cleared up about 8 minutes into the run, and I managed a pretty fast return lap. It was the fastest I've run that loop in 3 months, though admittedly it still wasn't all that fast.

Instead of running this morning, I've opted to run tonight (8km or so), and I think I'll skip all of Thursday's and Saturday's festivities. I might try to get a brisk walk or 20 minute jog in on Saturday, after the drive. Other than that, my goal is to rest up, and prepare myself mentally for Sunday.

A key to that preparation is having a plan. Last year, I ran the race in roughly 2:44, or around 55 minutes per 10km. I'd love to be able to drop down to 50 minutes/10km (my recent half marathon pace), but that seems on the optimistic side of things. I think somewhere in the 2:30s is doable, if the race goes well.

I was really pleased with my pacing at the half marathon in January, and I want to emulate that run as much as possible. I started slowly, had an easy pace goal for the first 5km (27:00), and went from there. I also ran a strong negative split. The AtB course is one that really punishes going out too hard. I'm tempted to try for something like 28:00/27:00 for my first two 5km splits. That leaves me on last year's average pace, and 3 minutes slower than I ran the first 10km last year. It would make averaging 50min/10km awfully difficult to achieve, but hopefully it would leave me with plenty of gas for the rolling hills of the north shore.

Nothing's set in stone, yet, but these are the kinds of thoughts I'm thinking this week, as I look ahead excitedly to Sunday.

No Jacket Required

| No Comments

Saturday was, easily, the nicest day of the year. Friday was warm, but rainy. Great for getting rid of snow, but not so nice for actually being outside and enjoying the warmth. Saturday, though, dawned bright and sunny. The roads dried up a little bit, though the melt continued.

My morning run was the first run of the year where I didn't bring a jacket. I didn't miss it, either. Though it was only a few degrees above zero, the sun was warm, and I was able to relax and enjoy the run without giving the elements a second thought. It showed, too, as I reran Wednesday's route over five minutes faster!

Afterwards, the neighbourhood convened in various driveways, playing hockey, chatting, and/or meeting the winter newborns, as befitted their natures. I wandered around in pants and a T-shirt, which might have been a touch optimistic, but wasn't uncomfortably so.

Eventually, having watched the hockey for long enough, I went downstairs, brought the bike up to the garage, and put air in the tires. When they didn't immediately deflate, I decided that a few spins around the block were in order. This prompted a few other people to bring out their bikes, and stretch out their legs.

The snow is still pretty thick, and there's not really any grass in sight yet, but Saturday was a wonderful hint of what lies ahead.

Unknown Territory

| No Comments

Last week was the highest weekly mileage I've ever run. I'd better get used to that, because it'll be true fairly commonly for the next couple of months. I'm really entering unknown territory here. Last time I ran over 50km/week, my ITBs drove me nuts. I needed a lot of attention and therapy to get them under control. This time? I keep expecting something to happen, injury-wise. Every twinge, every funny feeling, and I'm nervous.

It's been cold this week, but less windy. Nothing like last week. I ran 6km on the treadmill on Tuesday, then 13km outside yesterday morning. Actually left the house around 6:30am. I'm starting to get used to getting up at 5am more consistenly, which can only help me cope with my busy schedule. The nice part is that the sun is starting to rise noticeably earlier, so my early wakeups have an added payoff.

Tuesday's swim was another huge distance swim. Today's was shorter, but much tougher. We did a ton of pulling, but we also did a lot of kick sets. Ugh. Kick sets, how do I despise thee? Let me count the ways. All of the fast women were in my lane today, too, and they all seem to kick faster than me, for most strokes. Yes, breaststroke kick is still my saving grace.

Actually, I led out the first kick set, which was 4x(2x25 kick on :50), IM order. Being in front of all these fast women has me working HARD, on the back and free sets especially. Perhaps because of the pressure of having all these fast kickers chasing me, I was able to keep up with the :50 pace time the whole way. I drew a few compliments on how my kicking has improved, which felt good.

Of course, on the next set, 4x50 kick IM order, two women offered to go ahead of me (I wasn't offended), and two more switched lanes. Improvement is, obviously, relative.

Still, my kicks ARE starting to get a little bit better. Maybe in the fall, I'll be able to start to put it all together. I did a 100m free pull in under 1:30 during warmup - a time I probably couldnt' have managed had I been kicking. If I can just figure out how to use the kick constructively in my swims, I may actually be able to turn the corner towards being a competent technical swimmer.

Dreams

| 2 Comments

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.

Willing Myself Back On Plan

| No Comments

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.

Fitting in the Training

| No Comments

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!

Sore

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.

Diving In

| No Comments

Yesterday's swim had more dive work. It's quickly becoming apparent that my dive starts are pretty bad. So, all in all, I was grateful of the added practice.

In between the dive sets, we had some pretty fast longer sets. We did two different 3x200m sets, each with pretty ambitious pace times. The first one was:
- 200 free on 3:50
- 200 breast on 4:15
- 200 free on 3:50
This proved to be fairly tough. I did manage to do one of the 200 frees in 3:20.

The second set was yuckier.
- 200 back on 4:15
- 200 free on 4:10
- 200 back on 4:15
Yes, I abhor back, but surprisingly I was able to keep up the pace times. Barely. Still, 200m is a long time to flail around the pool on your back.

After dinner last night, I went out for a 5km run. The air was nice and warm, around freezing, with a slight wind and light snowfall from the south. I wasn't interesting in hammering the run, especially since my stomach was sloshing uncomfortably on occasion. The warm temperatures had melted most of the snow away, so by and large I was running on pavement. Which was nice, for a change.

Despite the fact that I was overdressed and started to overheat, it was the kind of ideal run that makes me love winter running (sometimes). When the wind was at my back, it was peaceful, mild, and frankly beautiful. I pretty much had the roads to myself, so other than the crunching of snow underfoot, it was a quiet and peaceful run.

Taper Troubles

| 2 Comments

I've been suffering from some tummy troubles this week. Nothing too serious, but enough to be considered an impediment.

I had pencilled in an optional 8km run on Wednesday, but I blew it off. Thursday's swim got cancelled at 4am, when I realized I didn't want to get up in an hour. Insomnia was a partial culprit, there.

On the bright side, this is a taper week, so I wasn't too broken up about missing workouts. My appetite and energy levels haven't been a problem this week, so I don't think that any of this will severely impact the half marathon next weekend.

I did climb onto the treadmill last night. I started out fast, and picked up speed over the last 1200m. I ended up running sub-22:30 for the 5km. Granted, it was on a treadmill, but the pace felt reasonable.

I could contrast that with feeling slow on Tuesday, when I felt awfully slow. Tuesday was run on ice, the treadmill had great footing. I had to bundle up to run outside on Tuesday, but indoors I can run in shorts. (It feels faster!) Still, it is a treadmill, and it does do some of the work for you, doesn't it?

No matter. It's all good for me at this point.

This weekend should be nice. I'll do 10km Saturday. The path along Woodroffe is finally plowed. Yay! Sunday I'll do 6km, which will probably feel fantastic after all the distance in recent weeks.

The half marathon curse aside, this taper stuff ain't half bad!

Go Bumblebee Go!

| 3 Comments


Back To It

| 1 Comment

Yesterday was back to work, back to running, and back to swimming. A busy day.

I did, however, find time to buy myself a new pair of shoes. Yes, Grid Omni 4, marks 1 and 2 were dying, so hello mark 3. Actually, I was lucky they had a pair lef t. Saucony is on to the Grid Omni 5 now, but since the 4s may have been my best shoe yet, why mess with a good thing?

Since the swim was the first of the winter session, we had a few new people. The workout was sort of a back-to-basics one, with plenty of sculling and drills. Which was fine - my technique still needs work.

Last night, I tried out the new shoes on the treadmill. I didn't even notice them - the sign of a good fit. I was aiming to up my speed from last week, so I did 6km at roughly 13.5 kph. It was encouraging how easy it was to hold this pace, though to be fair it might have been the treadmill holding the pace for me.

2005 - The Year That Was

| 8 Comments

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".

Finishing What I Start

| 1 Comment

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.

Hat Tip

| 2 Comments

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!

Cheaters in Toronto

| 5 Comments

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.

October's Swan Song

| 3 Comments

I was up at 5 this morning, intead of the usual 6. I guess I opted out of the "fall bacK' extra hour's sleep. It was probably just as well, because the whole house did, too.

This morning's run was nice. I was hoping to do 12km, but I spotted M, who I haven't run with in forever. It turns out he and his fiancé were recovering from the Niagara Marathon. She opted out after 2km due to injury, but M and I did the shorter but popular NAC route, around the canal.

The topics of conversation ranged from marathons to triathlons to swimming (all of which M has more experience on than I do). It filled the time nicely, and prevented me from noticing that I was going a little faster than last weekend.

And the weather? Brilliant. October has featured wind, more rain, and even more dreary, overcast skies. Blue sky has been rare, and frost common. So to have the warmest day in weeks fall on a Sunday was a real blessing, and not one to be wasted.

Thus, after vacuuming out the car, I got changed, put some air in the tires, and took the-bike-that-must-not-be-named out for a spin. I didn't have anywhere I especially wanted to go, so I just wandered the neighbourhood. I ended up putting in almost 18km at a leisurely, tourist-type pace. Still, I would have hated to have been worried about pace today. Today was about savouring what might just be the last nice day of the year.

Bike Dreams

| 3 Comments

Last night, for the second time in about a week, I dreamt I was riding my bike. Part of me wants to issue a denial, explaining that I'm a runner, first and foremost. Part of me just wants winter to be over, so I can get back out on my bike.

The weather continues to be nasty. Cold and rainy again, though for a change not windy. Still, I'm anxious to get a run in today. Maybe not exactly looking forward to it, but want to get it done, nonetheless.

As for the dream, well I can't take it too seriously. After all, I'm pretty sure California doesn't really use snowmobiles to flatten out tall grass for bike paths. I'm also sure that jackalopes aren't native to California. So maybe the dream wasn't one of those deep, meaningful, "memo from your subconscious" dreams after all.

Ebb and Flow

| 2 Comments

Ran last night. Tried to focus on rapid turnover with a quick footstrike and relaxed shoulders. Somehow, I ended up running fast. I couldn't seem to work on those elements without tearing along. Fortunately, the run was only 5km, so it didn't kill me. On the other hand, it wasn't as easy as it might have been a month or two ago.

One thing that was nice is that I could feel my core and upper body strength (for whatever they're worth) helping me towards the end. I was able to keep upright, and my armswing helped keep my cadence high as I fatigued.

I think I really needed to run before dinner on Wednesdays. While I ran late enough to not feel my full stomach as I ran, I also ran late enough to feel how early it was when the alarm went off at 5:00am.

It was nice to see the stars this morning - it seems it's been overcast (and windy! and drizzling!) for ten days now. What wasn't so nice was scraping the frost off the car.

Our usual coach wasn't there. Instead we had Steve, who coached the summer session. Rumour has it he was a breaststroker, so when he offered a compliment and a tip on my breaststroke, I was all ears.

We had 5 in our lane, and for a change I led the way for most of the sets (the lone exception being the kick sets, where the ladies left me in the dust). We did one set of alternating 75s, one 25 breast drill/25 breast/25 free and the other 25 back drill/25 back/25 free. It was sort of funny. I would zip out to a huge lead in the first 75, but as soon as I got to backstroke the rest of the lane would reel me in. I think that says it all on how I feel about both strokes.

I'm continuing to scheme and plan for my slow build towards the start of marathon training. Right now, especially having been lazy about skipping runs this summer (generally because I was beat from swimming and cycling), the whole thing looks pretty daunting. I'm hoping to slowly reestablish a disciplined running schedule, even if my runs all start out fairly short.

Back to Normal

| 2 Comments

It's been a good week. I'm slowly recovering from Sunday, and I'm slowly getting back into my usual routine.

After a day of rest, apple-picking and turkey eating on Monday, I was back in the pool Tuesday morning. The sets were tough, and I was taking as much rest as I could between them. I did get a couple of excellent pointers on freestyle which should help me in the long run. Towards the end, we did a 200m build freestyle, which I thought might be more than I was capable of. Since we swam 7 across the four lanes, I could see how I was doing compared to some of the other swimmers. For the first few turns, my stronger turning (runners legs!) gave me a lead which was eaten up in the rest of the swim. After about 75m, though, I was on my own. Which was a bit weird, because I certainly did NOT feel as though I had my A game.

In the end, I did over 2km, and felt it all day. Still, since it was swimming, and not running, it didn't make my calves or quads much worse than they were. Plus, I slept well that night.

Wednesday, I got out for a 3km run with my sister. We might have done longer, but it was our first time running together in a while, and I was underdressed for the horrid weather we were having. Wind, rain, cold, yuck.

This morning's swim focused on flip turns (the less said, the better!), so the distance was less severe than Tuesday. I felt much stronger than Tuesday, though maybe still not 100%. At least my leg muscles had stopped aching.

I've been keeping an eye on the weather forecasts, hoping to sneak in one or two more bike rides before the snow flies, but right now those prospects are looking grim. Oh well, there's always next year.

Down Time

| 3 Comments

This week hasn't been very much fun.

I missed work Monday, but was well enough to work starting Tuesday. For the most part, work took everything out of me, and I came home exhausted. There certainly wasn't any extra energy for swimming or running.

The flu gave way over time to a chest cough that I can't seem to go very long without catching. I've run with that cough in the past, but since I don't have a pressing need to right now, I haven't.

I was planning on running the Run For Cure this morning, but my wife wasn't feeling well (she's been sick, too), so I ended up walking it. We had a big group of friends out, and I ended up being the adult who ran with the older kids across the finish line. It certainly seemed to make them happy.

Hopefully, this coming week will see me slowly getting back into action. This Sunday's race isn't being taken TOO seriously, but I'd still like to have a run or two in my legs before then.

Sunk

| 5 Comments

I've been sick all weekend. I had some great plans this weekend, including the swim club's duathlon and a charity bike ride. Instead, I got to huddle up in blankets and eat popsicles.

I'm bummed, but there's bound to be a silver lining.

Adaptation

| 3 Comments

Triathlon season is over, and I need to start adjusting my workouts to focus on running. I managed to put in four runs this week, including intervals and a Sunday morning long run (which is the best type of run there is), so I'm off to a good start.

Of course, focusing on running won't be easy. I have master's swimming twice a week, and a shiny new bike that calls my name all the time.

Inspiration

| 2 Comments

I'm tearing up right now. The Ironman Canada reports have started feeding into my local triathlon mailing list. I just read this one here. (NB: Link may only work on Aug. 31, 2005)

Whether it's Ironman, marathon, or something else, endurance events inspire me like nothing else.

...Because It Was There

| 1 Comment

I'm on vacation this week. Of course, the break from work means more time for training, not less.

meme me

| 1 Comment

jeff tagged me, so here goes:

q: what are you training for now?
a: I'm currently focused on triathlon season, which around here runs until Labour Day. My last triathlon of the year will likely either be a full sprint distance (half olympic), or an olympic distance.

Really, though, this year's triathlon season is just training for next year. I'm still on a mountain bike, and I'm still "learning" swimming (though proper form and technique may be years in coming), and so being "competetive" (with my own perceptions, not other people) is still a ways away.

Beyond that, I'm trying to keep my Sunday runs long, in preparation for a fall half-marathon. It will be attempt number 4 at that distance, and I have yet to have a truly "happy" race there.

q: if you are raising money for a cause, what is it and why is that cause important to you?
a: I'm not fundraising at the moment, though I've run more than a few charity events/races over the last few years.

In particular, we always try to do Run For the Cure. Based on the declining health of a family friend with breast cancer, I have a feeling we may do some fundraising this fall.

q: what is the furthest distance you've run in your training and what is the furthest distance you will run before your event?
a: The furthest training run I've done for any event was a 34km (21+mi) training run for my marathon last year. In preparation for this fall's half marathon, I'll probably do at least one run of 22-24km (~14 miles).

q: what is your favorite flavor of gu? (or other sports gel)
a: Vanilla Power Gel. Honestly, though, I'm lucky, in that I have yet to encounter anything food/drink-wise that I can't handle while running.

q: How many days a week do you run?
a: Right now, I aim for 3, and occasionally fall short. During the winter, when I'll be swimming twice a week but not biking at all, I'll aim for 5 times a week, but probably be happy with 4.

q: Are you injured in any way right now? if so,what are you doing about it?
a: I'm not injured, but biking each of the last two days has my quads a little tight. All-in-all, I've been super thankful for how little pain/injury I've faced this year. Unfortunately, the lone exception was in my big race.

q: what is one item of running clothing/gear (shoes don't count) you can't run without?
a: It's almost talismanic, but double-layer polyester socks. They do a fantastic job of keeping blisters and other foot ailments at bay. I'd probably be fine running in single-layer, but I've gone so far with double-layer that I'd probably be afraid to run more than a few kilometers without them.

q: do you have a talisman you are planning on taking to your event? if so, tell us!
a: Heh, I'd never thought about it before, but I supposed I do.

I have a lot of technical running shirts, and I'll wear pretty much any of them on a run. But for a race, there are generally only a few I'll wear. For a while, my running shirt of choice was my Bushtukah Booth Centre 10k race shirt, since I set my 10k PB there last fall. Since I broke that PB on Canada Day, I wore my HBC Canada Day Road Race shirt to my last triathlon.

q: Share one thing about yourself we don't know.
a: My continued endeavours into running and triathlon are effectively delaying the pursuit of another lifelong goal. It is my firm intention to become an ACBL life master, someday. For now, though, I'm happy enough devoting my spare energy into outdoor pursuits.

Catchup

| No Comments

I seem to be falling a bit behind in my blogging, so here's what I've missed.

Busy Week

| 2 Comments

I rode my bike to and from work yesterday. ~25km (15mi) each way. I wasn't terribly fast or strong. My legs felt a bit heavy, a sensation I attributed to my return to swimming the day before. The strong wind didn't really help, either.

This morning I was back at swimming. I was determined to focus more on pacing myself, and on technique and form. That, along with the fact that the sets were easier, led to a much more pleasant swim. I still feel that I've lost a lot of the arm drive that I had in May, but at least I wasn't out of breath quite so often.

After swimming, I drove home, had two bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios, then I biked in to work again. I knew that it would be a tough ride, especially when I discovered that the wind was nearly as strong as it was yesterday. I tried to focus on cadence, rather than power, keeping my turnover high, even if it meant being in a lower gear that I felt I could do. It didn't make me any faster, (and possibly made me slower,) but it kept my legs fresh, and I arrived in decent condition.

While my cycling still isn't terribly strong, being able to handle the commute, especially on back-to-back days, is giving me a huge sense of accomplishment.

Forgettable Week

| 3 Comments

Well, it's been a week to forget. Everyone's been sick. I didn't get a swim in. I didn't get a bike in. I ran yesterday, got a stitch in my side, and my legs ached all day.

Not the week I'd hoped for, in training or in life. Oh well, you play the hand you're dealt.

Taper Week 2

| 6 Comments

Well, except for a "loosen up" run Saturday, I'm done. My half-marathon training is complete. I'm ready.

Accoring to my training log, I've put in 555.8 km running so far this year, with an average pace of 5:21/km. Along with that, I've swam over 57km.

Volunteering

| 3 Comments

I volunteered this morning at the Ottawa Early Bird Duathlon/Triathlon. It was my opportunity to get familiar with the sights, sounds and stresses of a triathlon, while at the same time repaying all of the volunteers who've donated time at races I've run.

The race featured sprint duathlon, triathlon, and triathlon relays, along with try-a-tri. There were reported to be around 650 competitors all told, with a healthy mix of veterans and first-timers.

Taper Week 1

| 1 Comment

It's been tough backing off this week. By bike is talking to me, as is the nice weather.

It's been a strange lead-up to this race. For Around the Bay, I thought about the race constantly. This half-marathon is my goal race for the first half of this year, having greater importance placed on it than Around the Bay. Still, at the start of the week, I was strangely blah about the whole thing.

A Week to Forget

| 3 Comments

I think that I can say with reasonable confidence that I got sick twice in a row this week. First, the stomach flu that's been going around hit me, knocking me out Wednesday. By Friday morning, I was feeling mostly better, but my ear was bothering me. But only little kids get ear infections, right?

The good news is that daddies can take antibiotics too. =(

Off My Usual Schedule

| No Comments

The swim Tuesday morning was unremarkable. Of course, it's nice to be able to say that 2+km in 75 minutes is unremarkable, because eight months ago I would never have believed it was even possible!

Yesterday my wife had rather a rather stressful dentist appointment, which left me short on time. I'm going to try to do my hills run this afternoon, if the rain ever lets up, and skip the half-marathon clinic tonight. That way, I'll leave Friday or Saturday open for a possible bike ride, while still leaving time for intervals.

This morning's swim included 4 full effort 50m swims, with a dive start, and lots of active recovery between them. We had 4 lanes going, and did a race type start. While it wasn't a race, the format gave me a chance to peek beside me to benchmark myself against some of the stronger swimmers (in the novice side of the pool, anyways).

Boston Marathon

| 2 Comments

Good luck to everyone running today.

Alas, OLN Canada doesn't seem to want to show the race. =(

Heroic

| 3 Comments

Ran 7km last night, at sub-5:00/km pace. I wished it had been a bit faster, but towards the end some muscle in my butt was starting to burn a bit, so I guess it was enough.

After the run, there was a special guest speaker at the Running Room store - Lisa Bentley. Lisa was a gracious and engaging speaker, who spoke for over an hour about her personal experiences in Ironman, then answered every single question that the audience had.

Aficionado

| 4 Comments

It's a great time to be a fan of running events, which I certainly am. Canada's own Ed Whitlock is running the Rotterdam Marathon this weekend against another speedy septegenarian. Canada's Lisa Bentley won Ironman Australia this past weekend, using her amazing running leg. She ran the marathon over 17 minutes faster than any other woman in the field; her sub-3:06 marathon was 7th fastest overall on the day.

(It's easy to be a fan of both of these athletes, as they're so laid-back, humble, and positive. They're real inspirations, and exemplify why sports traditionally produce heroes.)

Closer to home, my swim coach is scheduled to compete in Ironman Arizona this weekend. I respect anyone who even tries an Ironman, and I'll be glued to the internet, looking for updates, I'm sure.

Finally, one of our half marathon group leaders (and at least one RBFer!) will be running Boston in a couple of weeks. Boston is such a prestigious event, that I'm excited just by this tenuous association.

Good luck to everyone racing this month!

Knee Update

| 3 Comments

I skipped my run this morning. My knee was a bit better when I woke up this morning, but the discomfort seems to be returning. I'm doing my best to stretch my hamstring, but I'm not sure if it's helping or not.

Four days to go, and I'm starting to worry.

Turning the Alarm Off

| 6 Comments

The overnight forecast was for lots of snow and freezing drizzle, so I was skeptical about making it to swimming this morning. Nonetheless, I went to bed around 9pm. I slept well at first, but after about 2am I was more awake than asleep. Sometime after 4am, I turned my alarm off, and officially skipped swimming.

It's disappointing, but not terribly so. It's less than 2 weeks to my race, so I'll make an executive decision that only swimming once this week is part of my taper. ;)

A Love Affair

| 5 Comments

No run today, but I did get some brisk walking in. It was a busy day, with the family pulled in different directions. My eldest son had a taekwon-do tournament in the morning. In the afternoon, my wife was off to a party in the west end while I was curling downtown. As a one care family, it seemed dicey, until I hit upon the obvious solution - the bus!

The Runner's Disease

| No Comments

I logged my character Ev into the online game World of Warcraft this morning, as I ate my breakfast. This is what happened.

The Cold Hard Truth

Les Sayer and the McDonalds Diet

| No Comments

Ok, I'll confess that I haven't seen Supersize Me! That said, Les Sayer has caught my attention. He's on the McDonalds diet, with vitamin supplements, and has lost 13 pounds!

How, you say? Exercise. Says Sayer, "The magic here is in the exercise...The average Joe doesn't exercise." Having watched inactive people churn through diet after diet, I'd have to say he has a point.

Sayer teaches college students, and is trying to make a point about media bias.

Link 1
Link 2

mp3s

| 5 Comments

My wife and I have been eying mp3 players for a while now. We'd both like them for running, treadmill or otherwise. Besides, we're both technophiles at heart.

Back in January, we finally entered the world of cell phones, thanks to a string of car troubles that made us decide that we'd rather be safe than sorry. Along with 2 cell phones, we were promised 2 free 64MB mp3 players.

We finally got them last night.

Reminder

| 1 Comment

As requested, this is an official reminder for Jeff that he is to run today!

(Yes, my alarm is set for 6am tomorrow. *sigh*)

Profile

BTT Details




Pages

Powered by Movable Type 4.2-en

Recent Comments

  • LewisMichael27: That's great that people can get the credit loans and read more
  • LAMBERTDAISY: When you're in uncomfortable position and have no money to read more
  • OlgaSaunders19: Don't you understand that it is the best time to read more
  • ColetteKnowles19: Some time ago, I did need to buy a car read more
  • SherryValencia21: The credit loans seem to be very useful for guys, read more
  • HobbsJewel30: Specialists state that personal loans help a lot of people read more
  • PARRISH23Rene: According to my own exploration, billions of persons on our read more
  • BURNSLenora: This is good that people can receive the credit loans read more
  • jank: Beautiful. Makes me want to drag the kids out of read more
  • Cheryl Hulme: I love to read anything you write, I love your read more

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the General category.

Bike Report is the previous category.

Pictures is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.