Thursday, April 23, 2009

Running, Sunshine, Basketball and Karaoke

Finally had some nice weather! Until today, the weather in Ohio has been kinda nasty; cold and rain. (At least it's not snow!) After staying up late last night to watch the Flames beat Chicago (!!!), I made an early-morning decision to forgo the early run, and go in the evening. I'm sure glad I did-- it was absolutely gorgeous out!! I'm writing this at 1:30am, and it's still +14 C. Unfortunately, along with the sun came the bugs... mmm.... extra protein. I gagged pretty hard on one that stuck in my throat though. Not good.

40 minutes, distance 8km

I had every intention of stretching... until I saw the basketball game. Let me just say, it is not wise to attempt to play basketball in running shoes. I didn't get hurt, or break my shoes, but there were moments.

After basketball, one of my work buddies and I drove to an outlet mall (all the Americans we were hanging out with thought we were crazy-- but they take the outlet malls for granted, unlike us Canadians), then made it back in time for Karaoke. It was a bit of a long evening, but I won't go into any details here.

Tomorrow (or today, I guess), it's back on a plane at 4, and hopefully there won't be any delays, and I'll be home at a reasonable time. I'm spending half my time hoping for no delays, and the other half hoping the snow is gone when I get home!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Running with Faith and the Thin White Line

I've been meaning to write this post for a few months now. Down in Ohio again, and again, it's a challenge to find a place to run-- I'm realizing how great Calgary is, with all the pathways and green spaces. Where I am this week, it's hard to find even a sidewalk to run on sometimes. So I've found a default run.

Right near where I'm staying there's a whole compound of churches--there have to be 10 churches within the same small area. I'm sure it's busy in the evenings and especially on Sundays, but early in the morning, it's deserted. Clear, perfect pavement, great landscaping and pathways, and even a bit of a hill. It's well lit, too, unlike the residential areas.

Unfortunately, it's not that big of a place. So my 30 minute run loop ends up on a back country road. Nice, quaint houses, even a horse stable. The crappy part is that the shoulder is 2-3 inches wide. A good time to run into traffic, with one foot in the ditch. Still, I don't think local drivers are used to seeing a runner on the road so I end up praying more as I tightwalk-run on the white shoulder line than I do around the churches!

~30 minute run, 6-7 kms (?)

Also just updated the links to races I'm planning to run. Looks like the first one will be Try This Tri at Foothills pool, May 24th.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Adventures With Pedals

Growing up, I had two bikes (not counting the tricycle that I apparently broke). One was "BMX style", and the other was a mountain bike. I remember riding both of these literally ALL THE TIME. The mountain bike was an oversized birthday present when we lived in Lloydminster-- I will always remember the moment I first saw it in the basement cold room. It had actual gears! It seemed like a technological wonder-- and I fell off it all the time. It's a wonder I don't have more scars than I do; and I have quite a few scars.

That mountain bike, as much as I loved it, seems like a clunker compared to the bike I have now. I mean, I need special shoes just to ride the TCX! Sure, I've got a pair of "platform" pedals (which are slightly more advanced than "reglar" pedals, in that they are bigger, for a more stable platform), but as N has recently discovered, those don't provide nearly as much pedaling power as a pair of today's road pedals do. Yes, that's right-- she finally put the pedals Santa brought onto her bike.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there like myself who are willing to just hop on a bike, and bind their feet to the pedals without thinking. Speaking from personal experience, though it might work for some, I don't recomend this method. You're almost guaranteed to crash-- at low (no) speed, most likely, but still. N is smarter than that, and much more cautious.

Teaching and doing are two very different issues altogether. Though I've never been a bike instructor, I've taught snowboarding, and participated in course development... not that either of those skills were immediately apparent, seeing the fear in N's eyes at the prospect of locking her feet into her pedals on the first ride of the year!

After a little trial and error, we came up with a pretty good progression for learning clipless pedals. She'd had some experience with them on the spin trainer, but it's different when it's on your bike, even if I'm holding onto it, trying to keep it from tipping over. Anyway, here's what we came up with:
  1. Stand over the bike, in front of the seat. Space your feet wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Choose a leg to stand on. With the other foot, move that pedal to the bottom position-- closest to the ground. Practice clicking in and out of the cleat-- toe in first, then push down. Twist your heel out to disengage.
  3. Now, click in that one foot, and push off with the other. At this point, just put your weight on the foot that is in, and coast. Brake, and put your foot back on.
  4. Next, you want to push off, and sit in your seat. Don't worry about clicking your other foot in just yet-- rather, rest it on the pedal, and pedal with the foot that is clicked in. (You need a little momentum to be stable.) Maybe push down on the free pedal with your heel, but just practice gliding for now, and leave that foot free to set down when you brake to a stop.
  5. Do the same thing, except click your second foot in, pedal a few times, then click that same foot out. To do this, stand up out of the seat, with your first foot in the bottom position, put your weight back on that first foot.
That's a lot of steps, and a lot of words-- it's actually hard to describe! But panick and fear is a huge barrier to learning, and baby steps are the best way to get through the fear. (By the way, after about 30 minutes of nerves, and 2 ego and butt-bruising crashes, N was flying around the Reservoir, even tackling stretches of snow that I walked through)

After the fact, I found this video:

I almost forgot my own adventures... my tri shoes are cracked from using the CrankBrothers Candy pedals that came with my bike : (
Well, they're really designed for mountain-bike shoes, not the stiff plastic soles that my shoes offer. So I decided to spring for a pair of Look Keo pedals-- just the basic ones, though. I'm hoping they'll make my shoes last one more season. The catch is, they're taking a little getting used to! Went for a solo ride yesterday (Saturday) through Fish Creek park (Sicome and back, then west all the way to 37 St and back via residential roads). They were great-- better power transfer, less wobble, but a slightly different unlock, just because of the deeper toe cleat. Didn't actually crash, but was a little worried at times.

Back in Ohio this week, planning to log some miles.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2 Beautiful Mornings in Vancouver

Was in Vancouver for meetings the past two days, and brought my running gear-- just in case. I figured that there would be quite a lot of working and drinking (a bunch of sales guys getting together always is), but I thought I should at least try to get one run in.

I got in Monday night, and after meeting most of my team for the first time, we go for dinner and drinks. It wasn't a late night, nor a particularly crazy one, but drinks were had... nonetheless, I set my alarm early. I went to bed excited to run-- we were staying on Howe street, 2 blocks from False Creek, and I knew it would be a great day, and a beautiful time to run. That, combined with the fact that I had been stressing out all week about presenting my first sales plan (!) made it hard for me to sleep.

I woke before my alarm, got geared up, and out the door around 6:40-- blue skies, the sun still low on the horizon, the air crisp and fresh, perfect for a run. The concierge pointed the way, and I had no trouble finding the pathway, headed right. It was oddly familiar (I spent two summers living in the Lower Mainland, and spent a little bit of time downtown-- 8 and 9 years ago!) but still exotic, unusual, and a great adventure.

Past Granville Island, onto English Bay, I ended up at Second Beach. Did you know they have a new tide pool there? It's a manmade swimming pool that draws in oceanwater in the summer! All the way, there are beautiful parks, with huge trees, green grass (in April!) and lots of trendy little cafes, restaurants, marinas, and apartments. It was such a refreshing and wonderful run, I knew I'd be out the next day, too.

After another late night, this morning's run was equally spectacular. Rather than turn right onto the path, I went left. Much of the same, but more urban- new condos going up, quaint houseboats, more marinas, BC Place, and eventually, the Science Center.

View Interactive Map on

It was a busy few days, most of it spent inside the hotel conference room. The food, drink, and (most importantly) the company were amazing in the evenings, and I learned a lot at the meetings, but the real highlight of my trip were those two brief morning runs.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I don't like that word.

O-ver-gear [oh-ver-geer]:
  1. To shift bicycle gears such that pedaling becomes overly difficult, requiring more power, but resulting in more speed;
  2. To crank the tension on a spin trainer such that pedaling becomes overly difficult, requiring more power, increasing the likelihood of pulling right out of the cheap and loose clipless pedals;
  3. Torture;
  4. To use excessive resistance to build leg power;
  5. *%@$&!%#$!


After Moday's ladder session on the bike, Tuesday's long (and fast) swim, and Wednesday's Overgearing, my body protested at the Thursday bike-swim brick. The power-building bike session was great, it was the swim that didn't go so well.

About halfway through the workout, I was finally getting into the groove when I felt a pop in my shoulder. Nothing painful, and it does happen sometimes, but I was concerned enough to take a break, especially since I tend to really use my arms for a strong pull. Coach suggested I take some pressure off the shoulder by finishing the set in flippers-- good idea. Until I got the cramp to end all cramps 3/4 of the way to the other end! I'm talking full-on muscle lock for a good 15-20 seconds, and spasms after that!

Mentally calculating how much I'd done so far in the week, I decided my body was trying to tell me something, and climbed out of the pool.

Going to go for a short run today, and pull the bikes out of storage. Memo to Mother Nature: NO MORE SNOW, PLS. THX.