Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I don't really care for swimming without a coach, or a set workout. I love swimming, but not enough to just swim laps. I want to feel like I'm accomplishing something, like I'm getting faster. Maybe I just need to find a rhythm, like running.

But it's probably easier to just look up some workouts online, or get a coach. This fall, that's what I'm going to do--find a coach. N thinks it's a good idea; we discussed it while sitting in the hot tub after a strenuous-ish 30 minute swim.

I like the hot tub.
On Saturday before the race, we were standing around talking to some people from N's running clinic (Learn to Run at the Running Room), and were talking about how inaccurate the Nike+iPod is. "Well, at least it gives you an ish."

As in, "I ran 5-ish km" or "I ran for 30-ish minutes" or "last night I swam for 30-ish minutes, at a medium-ish pace. ish."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Busy Weekend: Commute by Bike, Open Minds 10k, and Fish Creek - Bankside Loop

The weekend started off with a lovely, sunny Friday morning, but of course because N had dropped me off at work with my bike to pedal home, Friday afternoon's weather was nasty. Around one o'clock, the sky turned dark... luckily it has cleared somewhat by the time I left at 4, and the ride proved very pleasant. I did manage to lose the path a few times (both accidentally and attempting shortcuts), but all things considered it was a great ride.

Since my office is just off Deerfoot and 16th Ave, I made my way across Deerfoot on the pedestrian overpass that lies halfway between 16th and 32nd. There's a rather nice path next to the CPR tracks along Deerfoot, and I was able to make better time than most of the vehicles on the Deerfoot, which was kind of gratifying. I followed that path all the way to Memorial, and picked up the Elbow River pathway at the Zoo, and followed it all the way to the Reservoir. I may have cut a few bends out of the river, but mostly stuck to the paths.

I made it home in about an hour an a half, including stops to look at the map. Not too bad, but I'm sure I can do better once I know the paths. N had ordered pizza, and I was sooo hungry (didn't bring enough food to work) that I ate about 3/4 of the thing! It's okay though, I had salad too. Then I passed out. Seriously-- I passed right out on the couch, woke up at 9:30 to go to bed. I must have been tired!
8:30 Saturday, we were at Edworthy Park for the Open Minds Run for the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta. N was there for the 5k (her first "real" race!), and I was there for the 10k.

I hadn't really given too much thought to my goal for the race, but so many people asked me before the race that I had to have a target. It's been a long time since I raced a 10k--I think the last one was the Forzani's Mothers' Day race, probably 10 years ago, when I was playing sports every day and running somewhat regularly. And would have weighed about 50-60 lbs less. I seemed to remember being somewhere between an hour and an hour ten. Plus, I've been running at about 5-6.5 minutes per km. So "under and hour" seemed to be a good goal.

Chip-timing is great, but you don't know what your time is until the next day. I was running without a watch or my Nike+iPod, and the large race clock over the finish was not working/ not in use. I knew that the race was supposed to start at 9, so when I got to the finish line, I asked N what time it was. 10:01. "I guess that's okay," I thought. "It's around an hour". I'd counted people at the turnaround, and figured I was about 25th overall, so that was something.

Well, yesterday I checked www.winningtime.ca -- good news! The race started at 9:10! My official time is 51:43... that's definitely a PR.
The plan Sunday was to go for a ride either at Eau Claire or Fish Creek Park around 2. I was a little hungover from 2 bachelor parties the night before, but I'm a strong advocate of exercise/fresh air as the best cure for a hangover, so I was actually looking forward to it. But we didn't go until after dinner, which was probably a good thing, it was so hot!

From our place, we rode east through Fish Creek, past the ranch, then north along the Bow. It's so beautiful through there! We rode past Bankview, to where Canyon Meadows Drive meets the park. We made it up the hill, then followed the "on-road-bike paths" through Queensland Downs, Bonavista Downs, past Lake Bonavista and home. It was a good ride, the hills being challenging but not impossible, and the weather just gorgeous.

Friday, July 18, 2008


With my last bike, I took it places that pretty much dictated I wear body armor. Although it was a hardtail mountain bike, not really designed for "downhill", I did it anyway, riding logs, 10 foot high rampways with turns in them, the odd jump and small drop. My shin and forearm armor came in handy many times, at somewhat high speeds.

Riding my road bike, I'm pretty cautious. I haven't had any actual crashes (especially not while wearing a yellow jersey!)

But my two spills on this bike have been almost as embarrassing. The first was because I was talking to N as we came to a stop to cross Canyon Meadows. The huge line of cars waiting at the light all got to see me topple over in slow motion because I didn't unclip my cleats. That was a few weeks ago.

Yesterday, same story, different setting. I unclip one foot at the parkade exit, to stomp on the sensor that opens the door. It's designed to open for cars, so you gotta stomp pretty hard! It wasn't working, so I started jumping on it with my one free foot, still straddling my bike with the other foot firmly attached to the pedal. Next thing I knew, I was going down.

The damage wasn't too bad... scraped knee, a couple scratches running the length of my calf, and a really sore butt-cheek. At least N was the only one who witnessed it...
Yes, I'm aware of the irony... if I hadn't written about it, N would be the only one who'd know.

For those of you not familiar with the Tour de France, if you're wearing the Yellow Jersey, it means you're leading the race. You can afford to not win a stage one day, and still maintain a lead, but you have to finish pretty close to the stage winner... crashing in the last 500m makes that very difficult!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

20 minute Challenge

Well, it was more like 40 minutes. I'm not sure though, you'd have to ask N, or "the woman with no heartbeat". (The HRM she got for her birthday doesn't seem to work-- but it does tell time and has a nifty stopwatch feature.)

We got to the Running Room at Glenmore Landing just in time to scoop the last two hats. We both thought that it was a little odd that they advertised that you had to pre-register to get a hat, but we weren't asked for any confirmation...

After a little pep talk and a group photo, the crowd (100 people at least?) set out for the paths. I was glad I wasn't out there on my bike! People running on the left side of the yellow line were oddly shocked to be sworn at by oncoming cyclists...

People were going off in all directions, but we decided to head south towards Heritage Park and the Hospital. N didn't think so at the time, but she was keeping a pretty good pace, even though she was chatting with some of the girls from her clinic who were there. While she chatted, I ran ahead, thinking to do intervals by pushing ahead, turning around and running back to N, running with her for a bit, then repeat. But she was kind of keeping up, so I didn't have far to run back, the first time.

At about the hospital, I pushed ahead once again, deciding to go all the way to Glenmore trail, and thinking N would turn around just past the hospital, and I could catch up to her pretty quickly... but it wasn't until I was past Heritage Park again that I even saw her! I think she does run faster when I'm not around.

Total time: ~40mins
Distance: ~5k

Gotta take it easy before Saturday! The plan is to bike for an hour tonight, then swim tomorrow, but I really want to ride my bike home tomorrow too. I'll just take it easy on the way home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Like New!

Did I mention how awesome it is to have a great bike shop next door? I've never been that great at taking care of my bikes, though for the most part, I know how and have the right stuff. But since my last bike pretty much rusted up from neglect, when I found out that Pedalhead offers 2 years of free service on any bike you buy there, I was sold.

I'd dropped the bike off on Sunday afternoon, and managed to just squeeze in the door as they were closing shop last night. They only charge if they use parts, which they didn't, so I just walked out with a shinier, well-lubricated bike. I just had to take it for a spin.

N decided to stay on the couch "so you can go faster". I took full advantage, pushing hard the whole way. I flew past four kids on mountain bikes, and a neighbor on a leisurely cruise on my way to the station and across Macleod, in the drop bars the whole way. As I navigated the wheelchair ramp at the station, a couple of the mountain bikers caught up to me (actually, I think it was two different guys), and I felt bad for making them slow down before they rode down the stairs. I used to do that! I don't think the TCX would appreciate it though.

As soon as I got away from the station, it was back to the drops, pushing hard but keeping a good cadence. It's tricky to find that balance between speed/power and high pedal rpms, but I got some good practice on this ride.

I've got a bell, and I use it often on the pathways, especially when I'm screamin' along. I use it on blind corners, whenever I'm passing someone when their back is to me even if they're already off to one side, just in case. And I do keep one hand (usually two) on the brakes. So I think my chances of actually crashing into someone are pretty low. But some people just don't understand the concept of sharing the paths. Pay attention, people! Stay to the right! You don't have to walk three abreast just because there's three of you, and if you do, pay attention! And in-line skaters... why must you wear headphones? I enjoy skating on asphalt, in fact for a few summers it was my primary means of transport. But be aware of the fact that you take up the whole path, don't skate side by side, and pay attention!

/end rant.

I'm not saying that all walkers, skaters or even cyclists are bad. In fact, most of the people on the paths are sensible, and more than courteous. But some people... well, need to pull their iPods out of their heads, and probably put on a brain bucket too.

Even more challenging than dodging people was the hill coming out of the park. This time, I went all the way to the ranch, and up the hill behind it. I thought it would be easier than the Acadia hill. Wrong. I'm pretty sure it's longer, and there's one section at the very top that has stairs parallel to the asphalt. Yeah, roughly 45 degrees. Only for about 10-15 feet, but it took my lowest gear and a lot of will to make it, even standing on the pedals.

From there, I looped back through the community on the "on-street bikeways". I feel another rant coming on about those, but I think I will save it for another post.

Time: ~45mins
Distance: 13km (?)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fish Creek Loop in Reverse, No Flooding

I've been running with N a lot lately, which is great, I'm super happy that she enjoys it and wants to run with me. But let's face it, my legs are longer! And with the Open Minds 10k this weekend, I figured I should get at least one longer, harder run in this week.

We started off together, heading down Lake Fraser for Fish Creek Park. The plan was to go across Macleod at Canyon Meadows LRT, into the park on our usual route. N would keep running for about 20 minutes, then turn around, while I kept going through the park and back up the hill at Acadia Dr., and back around on my loop.

I handed her the keys, and took off just before the station, thinking if I went fast enough, I might be able to catch her again before she got back home. Since my Nike+iPod isn't well calibrated, I'm not sure what exactly my pace was, but it felt good to let loose and GO.

By the time I hit the hill, I was keeping a pretty good rhythm, and managed to keep a good cadence going, even though the hill shortened my stride. I focused on lifting my feet, keeping my stride as long as possible on the steep hill. It was tough, but I made it, and kept going. Down by the creek, I'd entertained the thought of doing repeats on the hill, but by the time I got to the top, I decided that maybe I should save that for another day.

I never did catch N before she got home, but it's okay, because she did buzz me into the building.

Time: 46mins
Distance: ~7.4km
Avg Pace: ~ 6min/km

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bikeride Around the Reservoir

Sunday, we slept in a little (N's surprise birthday party on Saturday kept us out pretty late... in fact I'm sure N thought she'd be home by 10... heh heh heh, I'm so sneaky :-) ) but since we didn't really have a whole lot planned for the day aside from another birthday dinner, we managed to get out on the pathways for a nice long bikeride. (Yes, "bikeride", not "bike ride". It runs together when I say it, so why not when I write it?)

I remember going for bikerides with Mom and Dad and my brothers when we were kids. We used to go all the time in the summer, it seemed. In Lloydminster, we'd ride to Bud Miller park, or even just around the block. When we moved to Calgary, we'd cruise the pathways, stopping at parks along the way. When I got older, I'd explore the pathways with friends, with my brothers, or by myself.

This bikeride evoked a lot of those memories. We were riding pretty fast (after all, we are training), but at the same time, it was a leisurely expedition, a tour of the area.

We set out from our building, rather than trying to pile two bikes into one of the cars. It only took about 30 minutes from our door to the reservoir anyway, thanks to the pedestrian bridges over Anderson, Macleod Trail, and 14th Street SW. Since we didn't have a pathways map, I looked it up online and tried to memorize the route, but obviously didn't to a very good job. Nevertheless, we made it.

Since I'd never actually ridden around the reservoir, when we got to Glenmore Landing, I decided we should go counter-clockwise, because I didn't really want to have to go up the Weaselhead hill at North Glenmore Park. From the Landing, past Heritage Park and the Rockyview Hospital, the path is pretty tight and winding. Once you get to Glenmore Trail though, it opens up nicely. We didn't go all the way to the dam on the north tip of the reservoir, taking the path along Glenmore Trail instead.

Generally, the ride was pretty uneventful. N did a good job of keeping up, but like I told her afterwards, I think she took my "high cadence" advice a little too far, spinning her pedals faster than she needed to, sacrificing some speed. It's a strategy that the tri coaches I trained with last year preached: keep the pedals going fast on the bike, to keep the legs loose for the run. It worked for N, because she said her legs weren't sore at all the next day. I guess I'll just have to push her harder next time. *grins wickedly*

After stopping for a Booster Juice at the Landing, I decided to try a different route on the way home. We needed a pathways map, and no one seems to sell them except for Calgary Co-Op. We eventually found one, and lo, they had the coveted Calgary Pathways Map! I now have a copy in the wedgie bag under my seat. Hopefully I won't get lost any more.

In all, the bikeride around the Res took about three hours. But that includes about half and hour of me messing around with a flat tire before we started.

Props to Pedalhead for their amazing 2-year unlimited tune-ups policy. I left the bike with them after this ride... It's great being able to drop my baby off for a day or two and get it back squeaky clean, lubed and tightened.


Okay, I admit it. This post has been back-dated because I'm a little behind! Rather than write one reeeally long post to catch up, I'll break it into three.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You Know You're a Triathlete When...

... you'd rather go running than go to an amazing party;
... you'd rather spend $$ on "multisport apparel", aka training gear, than Guitar Hero*;
... your computer wallpaper (and facebook profile photo) is a picture of your snazzy bike;
... vacation plans begin to revolve around races;
... you start to think of food as "fuel" (as in "an apple is a better fuel source than a Big Mac snack attack")
... you miss the start of your favorite show because of training (we need a PVR!)
... you're still glad you bought the bike rather than the PVR

*That was still a tough decision. C'mon, it's the ultimate air guitar!!

Last night, ~4.5km run with N, 35 minutes
Monday night, bike to Sicome Lake and back home, 45mins

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hardisty Run and Swim

Okay, I know I've been bad with updating! A lot has happened since the last post, but I really have no excuse.

Anyway, this weekend we went out to Hardisty, AB for my cousin's wedding reception (which was a blast-- great to go back and see everyone, especially since I haven't really been in touch in the last few years). While we were there, I figured it would be a good opportunity to practice lake swimming, since my next tri will be my first lake race.

Saturday was a pretty full day, with breakfast at one place, then a mid-afternoon barbeque at another, then the party at the town hall. N wanted to get a run in, and Dad is always up for a run, so we decided to go for a lap around the lake at 8am. About 4.5km, it was a good loop, and N did really well, keeping up a pretty good pace. She's graduated from run 10mins/ walk 1min to full-out running for 30-40 minutes, and is getting faster all the time. She seems to be really enjoying running, and has even been getting me out there on days when I'm feeling lazy.

After showering and going for breakfast, the weather was still pretty nice, so before I could chicken out, I geared up and headed down to the beach. Wading in, the water was a bit of a shock, but really not too cold on my bare legs. I almost thought better of it, but I dove in, sprinting over the weeds and into deeper water.

Very disorienting! I learned to swim in this lake, but never with googles, and not being able to see anything but shadows was bizzare. It took me a while to find the right rhythm and pace, but all in all, it felt pretty good. I decided to practice sighting, aiming for the white buoys at the public beach. I don't know if it was from tying to look up every few strokes, the (relatively) cold water, or my pace, but by the time I reached the buoys, I felt a little dizzy.

I took a bit of a break on the beach, then decided I'd better swim back. I could have walked, but I knew I wouldn't be very satisfied with myself if I did that! So I just took it easy on the way back. N was sitting on the shore in the sun, yelling "faster, faster!" every time I stopped or slowed down. How nice of her.

The lake is much higher than it was when I was a kid, but that's a good thing, because it was starting to get extremely low. I think it was the town council (or maybe the ag society?) that started pumping water out of the river and into the lake a few years ago. The water goes to a holding pond first, to let all stuff that gets churned up in the river to settle out. It seems to be working quite well.

Tonight, we go to MEC to get some bike shorts. No more sore bum! Yay!

Run: 4.5km
Swim: 500- 1000m? (I really have no idea!)