Thursday, December 30, 2010

Three Things Thursday (or Strawberry Beer is A Great Dessert)

Sometimes it's hard to post without repeating my DW Haute Runner... we do pretty much everything together!


1. Wednesday Hills - The weather outside was frightful, the fire was so delightful (sorry Keith, like I told you this morning, I'm not Christmas-ed out yet)... but we still went running. Hills, no less. The plan called for 7 repeats, family requested our presence for pizza and beer, and since pizza and beer only help you run faster as a post-run reward, we ran early. As much as I thought postrun pizza and beer would motivate me, the cold my poor layering choices and the lack of competition running buddies made it a tough slog.

2. SWAM again today!!! Since getting rear-ended at the beginning of November, I've been in a whiplash-induced swimbattical. I haven't been too happy about that. But I asked Dr. Dan last week, and he said go for it, so I WENT TO THE POOL THIS MORNING! Nothing crazy, just decided to do a bit of a pyramid to build up some mileage: 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, cooldown, all nice and easy, about a minute rest in between. The f200m set, or maybe the 300m was actually the most difficult! After that, I worked out enough of yesterday's snow shoveling to get back into my rhythm. And, I got to chat with Keith.

Not us, but we were there!
3. FANTASTIC dinner tonight. In my books, the perfect meal involves great friends, great wine, and great food, bonus if the food is local/ organic/ or both, but fresh and skillfully prepared is a must. Good service (attentive, but not overbearing) is also a bonus. We have some great friends in town from San Francisco, and we went to Farm with them and a mutual friend from here in Calgary. Amazing charcuterie, great cheeses (the owner also owns Calgary's premier fine cheese store) and the menu is an haute-cuisine take on rustic home cooking. Fine ingredients and refined touches to simple, right-sized dishes, everything obviously made in-house, from scratch. After the shared charcuterie selection, I had what could be described as a perfectly-dressed house salad with canola seeds on it (very nice touch), and a braised wild boar shoulder with carmelized cabbage that was perfectly seasoned and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The berry crumble and a taste of strawberry beer finished me off though! Highly recommended for any foodie-- bit on the pricey side, but worth it.

PS In case you were wondering, pizza and beer hard apple cider is not good postrun food. But we had to let our friends properly thank us for the move.

PPS "Pizza and beer" - the phrase always reminds me of Econ 101... for some reason, every supply-and-demand example was pizza and beer. Which was always confusing to me, because there's rarely just one slice of 'za, and beer comes in sixpacks. Whatever.

PPPS I thought I'd posted about the rear-ender, but I guess I didn't. We got hit at a red light coming home from running, and have been in chiro/ massage/ physio for the past two months. And I was told NOT to swim. :(

PPPPS I realize that the past few posts make me sound like a hedonist/ alcoholic/ foodie, but I swear I usually eat pretty well, and I don't actually drink that often... I'm usually pretty good.... besides, it's the holiday season. (enough justification for you?)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Annoyed At My Spin Trainer

So annoyed, I won't repeat what I said to it yesterday morning. So annoyed, it's going back to where I bought it.

I hopped on the bike, intending to ride for at least half an hour to 45 min. At ten minutes, the flywheel started to stiffen up, slowing me down, then it would ease up, and I'd be almost freewheeling... it did this a dozen times before grinding to a complete lockup. I had to get off the bike, wiggle the flywheel back and forth before it let go.

So mad!! Just bought it last year, I would expect it to last longer than this! We'll see if the shop can do anything...

The good news is, I got to try out my Real Rides Grand Canyon (even though I wasn't able to finish it)... and I did do some yoga instead, which I needed.

Still busy with the holidays! Helped some family friends move all day yesterday, had other friends over for dinner, working a few hours today, back to helping move, then having my cousin and her family for dinner! Crazy, but I'd rather be busy than not!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

16km and A Bottle of Scotch

Today, we skipped the boxing day shopping and ran 16km in beautiful weather (ranged from -5C to 5C). Our run club group was the only one to have people show up, even though we met at 10am instead of the usual 8:30am, and our instructor told me that I was the only reason she showed up, because I insisted that I would be there when I talked to her on wednesday!

There were certain parties who, at about midnight last night, thought I might not make it out in the morning...

When I was in my teens, my grandpa got a 25 year old bottle of scotch for his birthday. It was standing on the bar, next to a box lined with crush velvet and gold leaf...
"What's the big deal? I mean, I understand that it's old, but so what? What difference does it make?"
To answer my question, my grandpa pulls out two glasses, pours a little splash of the good stuff into one and asks me to taste it. I still remember the burn! Then, he reaches under the bar and pulls out some J&B scotch whiskey, and poured another splash into the second glass. I immediately asked to taste the good stuff again!

Every year at Christmas, my dad usually buys a decent bottle of scotch-- we enjoy a few glasses, and the bottle lasts for most of the year (if not longer). Last year, I decided to continue the tradition at our house. There's still some scotch left in the bottle of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban I bought last Christmas-- I've thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so, that I thought this year I'd buy the same brand, but for a few dollars more I sprung for a slightly better rated version, the Nectar d'Or.

Me, dad, and brother enjoying a glass of fine scotch
The three of us finished the bottle. Yep, it was that good.

Considering how much I drank, I was shocked at how good I felt on the run! I managed a 5:55 min/km pace, finishing in 1:35... my calves are a little sore, but otherwise feeling exceptionally not hungover!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve update

Yet again, I've fallen behind on my blogging. I seem to either have too much to write, or perhaps too little... and sometimes I just feel self-conscious about putting it all out here.

It's the morning of Christmas Eve. All week, I haven't been able to get up as early as planned, but today, I woke up wondering about friends I've made over the years and lost touch with. (Facebook just doesn't count). We had dinner last night with my best friend from high school--the one person from that time in my life I've kept in touch with--and I dreamed that I ran into a whole party of my old high school friends. It may have had something to do with seeing people's photos on facebook, and actually seeing and talking to another friend last weekend, too.The past few months have also seen me reflecting a lot on the past few years-- but perhaps I'll leave that for another post, maybe a "farewell 2010" post next week.

I'm not sure why I lose touch with people so easily. Does everyone experience this? My lovely wife seems much more able to maintain relationships-- or at least try to--partly because she spends so much time on FB, but shhh, don't tell her I said so. To me, I find myself constantly meeting new people, and I give myself the excuse that it's better to have a few friends that have shared interests and are "in the same place in life". I'm not so sure about that anymore. Am I lamenting a lack of friends, or feeling sorry for myself? Certainly not... especially since I'm sure at least a few of my friends are reading this... :)

I've been working on a post about how much I love my run club (I will post this before the new year!), and a big reason is it's such a great way to get to know people who ultimately have a pretty major common interest- running. In some ways, blogging is a great way to meet new people, on a strangely intimate, yet sometimes very surreal way. New jobs, new neighborhood, all bring new people to meet, and each time, with each encounter, you have to choose how much of yourself to give, how much you want to connect.

But I do really wonder about some people with whom I've lost touch. People I went to school with since childhood. People I once worked with. People I partied with. Sure, some of them are "on Facebook"... but really, I don't think that counts. At least not for me-- I don't check status updates regularly, and not everyone is inclined to post about themselves, and if they do, it varies from the mundane to the ridiculous, to the political, to the odd funny clip. Is it the same as sitting down and having coffee or a beer with someone and catching up on a few years of missed time? I think not.

So in case you haven't noticed, I'm feeling a little nostalgic. If any of my old (or new!) friends is reading this and wants to (re) connect, I'm always free for a coffee or a beer (but not at the same time). I'll buy. jarrett dot nixon at gmail dot com

... And in other news, the post-accident whiplash treatments are working, and next week I'm back in the pool. I can't believe how much I've missed swimming!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

10k PR

.... But it wasn't mine. I'm pretty happy with how (consistently) fast I've been running lately. That and the fact I was a little hungover :P was incentive to help someone else push themselves a little today. One of the ladies in the group has been pretty much on our heels for the past few weeks- and we've been bugging her to run with us. Today, she did, and even thought we were doing 10-and-1's, she kept up, and clocked her first sub-hour 10k! We'll find out Tuesday how sore she is...

Speaking of sore- this week has been pretty light on training, but heavy on the whiplash treatments. Monday and Wednesday were Chiro, Tuesday massage, and Thursday was physio, featuring about 6 needles for muscle release. It was great, I feel awesome now, but if I go back for another treatment, it will be late afternoon instead of mid-day. Even though he taped my back, it sucked to work another 7 hours after! Have you ever tried needling or acupuncture? what did you think? What's the best/worst treatment you've ever done?

Hopefully I won't be working as many long hours this week... We got most of the month-end agility sorted out now, so this week will be catching up on everything else- especially workouts!

PS I Think most of you read her blog anyway, but check out wifey's blog for a more detailed update!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone (Or at least I thought I did... until I checked it and it didn't actually post!!!! boooo....)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Calgary Running and Tri Blogroll

Busy week! Between the two jobs, Chiro, massage, accupuncture (later this week), running and yoga, it's gonna be crazy. But I'm sitting at home waiting for the furnace cleaner, so thought I'd post a quickie before doing some work...

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to manage reading all the great blogs out there. I've discovered inspirational and interesting blogs from all over Canada, the US, and lately even one from across "the pond". But some days I'm so busy, that I end up skipping a lot of great blogs. At the same time, I want more!

Reading Deb and Jen's blogs the last few days, they both wrote about meeting each other for the first time-- and there has been talk of meeting up at the Resolution Run on New Year's eve. I'm currently trying to arrange a coffee meetup with a blogger who lives across town, I live with another Calgary blogger, and used to work with yet another. I'm really enjoying the community that comes with connecting to other 'local' bloggers!

So, dear readers, I'm asking for your help and feedback.
  1. How do you manage to read (and comment) on so many blogs?
  2. How do you find local blogs and/or running buddies in your area?
  3. Do you know of any Calgary area running/triathlon bloggers? Are you one I've missed? So far I've manged to find (and follow):
I know there are a LOT more out there...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snowy Black Knight Army Virtual 10k!!!

I just squeezed it in! The plan for the running group today was 10k LSD (long slow distance, not the other kind), but I decided to push the pace (a little, it was pretty slippery), and do the BLACK KNIGHT ARMY VIRTUAL RACE!!!! (Doesn't it just sound epic?!!? It was.)

I didn't bring my iPhone, because it's bad when you slip and fall on it, so you'll have to take my word that I wore black tights, black turtleneck (under my sweater and jacket!). Oh, and a black toque, black gloves, and black neckwarmer. Kind of like what I wore for this run. Except it wasn't so cold!

That's right, it wasn't so cold today... but it is snowing. Not the lovely big, fluffy flakes that kiss your cheeks, the tiny little ice daggers that stab out your eyes. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but they do kind of hurt the eyes!

Still, the run was quite the adventure. As you can see from the details below from my Garmin, it's a hilly route, and not very well cleared of snow. In fact, the longest hill was punctuated with snow drifts-- only about 3-6 inches deep, but it was like running on river rocks- slippery, unsure footing. And the steep parts were particularly slippery!

Right now, we're just taking a little break from putting up the Christmas decorations... the tree is up! I'll post some photos later in the week. When do you put up your tree? Do you put one up at all?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yoga, Sushi, and Saturday Spin

...and I won a poster over at Because All The Cool Kids Are Doing It! (Thanks for voting if you did...)

Yesterday (Friday), I finally took advantage of the Living Social deal we bought a few weeks ago at Sanguine Yoga. I'll definitely be using up all 20 of the visits, and will probably be buying more after that! It's a really nicely laid out and newly renovated hot yoga studio that is about 5 minutes from my office.

The first time I did yoga was when I was living and working in Field, BC at the Travel Alberta visitor information center. It was a really tight community, and one of my friends was a yoga instructor, and she put on a weekly session at the community center. I was in decent shape then (lotsa hiking and mountain biking), and was terrible at the yoga, but I enjoyed it. I'm in better shape now, and yoga is still hard, but almost in a different way. There was less stopping, and I was able to keep up a little better. The class was Power Hot, and I sweat buckets! The muscles felt much looser by the end, and I think it's really going to help my back strength and flexibility.

What's the perfect dinner after yoga? Sushi! We LOVE Globefish Sushi - they have some really creative and delicious rolls! The only complaint is that parking is always difficult after about 5:00, as it gets pretty busy around then too. Still, it's worth the wait!

Spin Saturday
I would have liked to go to the spinnathon today, but logistically, it just didn't work out. I have to do some work later today, and am planning to visit my father in law later today. So I hopped on the bike around 9:30, made some adjustments to my handlebars, and rode Richter Pass.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. Oww!  I wussed out on the run last night because I was very tired, but also because my left leg was really sore. Kind of a weird feeling, almost an IT-band tightness, but more on the side of my quad. Nicole helped me roll it with the stick-- I almost cried. Feels like a massive bruise.

2. So busy with work! There are fewer people looking to build a garage lately, but those who are seem to be more serious about it. Also doing a lot of work on my presentation, and there's lots going on at my consulting gig as well. It's a good kind of busy though.

Even the Hulk Does Crunches
3. Did core work this morning! I know this is important-- I know core is my weakpoint, and that to get faster I need to get stronger. Also, a few weeks (months?) ago, I went to physio for some preventative work. Did some needling, and got some exercises to improve my posture and back issues. Shhhh.... don't tell my physio, but I haven't been doing them! But since we got rear-ended a few weeks ago, it's more important than ever to improve my core muscles! Did plank, bicycle crunches, and situps on the ball, and back exercises.

... And the bonus thing- weather's getting better! High of -1 (C)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Running in The Second Coldest Place On Earth

That's right. Today, Calgary was second only to Antarctica (where it is summer) with the recorded temperature at -27 C (that's -17 F for you 'Mercans). I read about the different injuries, personal hardships, and other challenges that so many in ye ole blogosphere deal with and train through or around, and I thought a little weather isn't so bad.

What does it take to run in this weather?
Well, as Keith says, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. 20 minutes to get dressed, in order:
Wool socks
Getting geared up!
Non-cotton skivvies
Fleece long-underwear
Thin turtleneck
Thin running tights
Windbreaker hiking pants
Two light fleece running sweaters
Neck warmer
Goretex Trail running shoes

I was happy to have all those layers, but I was actually a little too warm for our 5.5km run! The wind that made it so cold earlier in the day died down a little, and it was actually a little warmer in the evening after the sun went down. After talking to my chiropractor, Dr. Dan, about winter running, I was really focused on my posture. Running outside in the cold, we tend to hunch over a little, tucking our chin into chest, and the stride tends to be shorter and more out in front. So I was thinking open up the chest, shoulder blades together and down, head up, light on the feet, and leaning forward slightly. I'd say the run went well! Our pace was not as fast as it would have been on dry roads, but it was pretty good, especially considering the slippery footing. (This was a "tempo"run-- my pace buddies and I usually shoot for 5:20 min/km)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spin Saturday and Cold Run Sunday

... and a special bonus - kitty hopped up on honeysuckle. He likes it better than catnip!

Yesterday, I dragged my butt a little bit, but I did go downstairs to the spin trainer for an hour and a half  workout on the Keremeos and out and back sections of the Penticton Half-Ironman course. Of course, I live no where near there, but I've got a great DVD called Real Rides. It's a great workout.
If only my spin trainer would give me enough resistance. It's a cheap one, and it seems sometimes that it does pretty well, at others, it's like it doesn't have much to it.
Post-run frosties! A few eyecicles
This morning was fun... couldn't drag wifey out of bed for our 8:30 group run, so I was a little late too. I bundled up (toque, tech shirt, fleece hoodie, light running jacket, gloves, my Sugoi compression running socks, tights, windbreaker pants, and my Salomon trail runners) and zipped over to the Running room. I was late, so I headed out down Harvest Hills looking for the group... and I found them, running the other way. A quick chat, and I found out the planned route, then caught up with them again partway around the second loop!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

100th Post - (roughly) 100 Things About Me

I started this post about 2 weeks ago, and was planning to do a numbered list, but that's just not how I roll. Or so I discovered. So thus the "roughly". Hopefully this won't be too long/boring to read... if you do get through it, please comment- maybe answer one or more of the questions.

I've been blogging since may 2008... sporadically, which is why it's taken me so long to hit 100 posts! I think it's mostly because  I over-think stuff, and always want to post longer than I should, so I start a post, but never finish or post it because something more important/urgent comes along. So I've decided to change my approach a little, and try to write shorter posts. More often. And yes, this is one "thing" about me... I'd rather post more detail about a small number of things. It's the English lit portion of my education overpowering my Communication Studies. If you blog, how long have you been at it? How often do you post?

How I Started Triathlon
Board shorts and long hair - 2008
I love triathlons. I love training for triathlons. I started training in January 2007 because I couldn't quite reach my snowboard bindings... and not because of my limited flexibility (although this is also a problem). I first signed up for a snowboarding/skiing weight training class at the YMCA, but this was cancelled because I was the only one who signed up! When I showed up for the class, and found out it was cancelled, I asked the girl at the desk what other classes were good: "The triathlon class seems to be very popular. And it's a good workout!" A few years prior, my Dad did a sprint triathlon, and I wasn't able to do it with him, and always wanted to do a race, so I signed up. The first day of swimming, I showed up in board shorts and long hair, no goggles or swim cap, and what I did could hardly be described as "swimming". I didn't drown, but boy did I flounder. It's a lot different than swimming in the lake! The coaches were great, and between the first day in the slowest lane (almost the walking lane) to somewhere in the middle, complete with goggles, cap, and speedo. Today, when I go to the city pool, I'm usually one of the fastest! Crazy. How did you get into your sport of choice?

I bought my road cyclocross bike in May 2008 (Giant TCX 0), after borrowing a mountain bike for my first race the prior season. Before that, I had a (relatively) cheap mountain bike of my own that I used to do some crazy downhill and singletrack- with front-suspension only and platform pedals. And body armor. I still have the body armor somewhere, but the mountain bike rusted away because it didn't have a garage to live in one winter. :( Now, my road bike (which is really a cyclocross bike with slick tires) gets ridden year round, though strictly inside in the winter. Going fast is way better than going scary. Because you can go scary fast without worrying about hitting a tree or falling 10 feet off a catwalk. On the other hand, if I had limitless budget and time, I would probably get into mountain biking again. Do you mountain bike? What kind of trails do you ride?

Running in Canmore 2010
When I was a kid, when most of the neighbors were playing hockey, I was playing basketball. When I first started running, it was to cross-train for basketball. Now, I use basketball to cross-train for running. Funny how that works! Talking to some of my running partners now, I realize how lucky I am that my parents put such an emphasis on sport. (Although I'm not sure how else they would have survived three oversized, energetic boys!) Those first runs were with my dad--he's run a minimum three days a week for about 25 years, pretty much without fail. As long as I can remember, he's been in great shape. For most of my adult (and even teen) life, he's been in better shape than me. At this point in my life, that's another motivation to keep up my training, whether it's running, biking, swimming, or other. Lately, I've been enjoying the camraderie of my running group, as much as the zen of running in silence, or the feeling of running along to a great tune on my iPhone, and most of all, I love those hard runs, where you just GO. I LOVE LOVE LOVE trail running. It combines my love of the mountains with my love of running. Just such a great feeling of freedom. You have to be light on your feet, and conscious of your footing, yet also conscious of your surroundings (watch for wildlife!).I've never run as much as I have in the last four months (which explains why my run was always my weakest link in tri races), and I'm really seeing the results- body and mind. If you run, what do you love the most about it?

(Other) Sports
I have tried a lot of different sports and hobbies. I definitely don't have time for them all! I've done more than once/bought equipment for: basketball, fastball, soccer, ball hockey, triathlon, swimming, biking, running, snowboarding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, hiking, backpacking (to huts only) snowshoeing, indoor climbing, mountain biking, golf, tennis, badminton, waterskiing, snorkeling, ultimate frisbee, yoga. I've tried windsurfing, diving, dog sledding, wakeboarding, frisbee golf, horseback riding, whitewater rafting... there's probably some more in there. But there's just no time to do it all! What sports would you do or try if you had limitless free time and/or budget?

My first race... and a few pounds ago
My first triathlon was the Vulcan Tinman in 2007. It was so much fun! After a few months of training, we were sitting around the hot tub after a swim workout, and one of the other triathletes (extremely lean, twice my age, swim/run/bike circles around me) asked me what my race plans were for the year. I hadn't even considered it! They suggested the Tinman, and I've signed up three times, ran it twice, and got turned away at the start line once due to lightning on the course. I love to race. Yes, I'm competitive, but mostly with myself and anyone who I think might be close to my fitness level. But mostly, I just love the community and camraderie, the food, and the festivities! And it's such a great reason to train.

If I can remember this correctly... I've done 5 Sprint triathlons (DNS one due to lightning), 2 Olympic (2:42) (and one DNS due to a missed flight home), and one Half Ironman (6:20). I've run 5 km (24) races two or three times, 10km (48) races two or three times, (both of which include some races as a kid), and I've raced two Half-Marathons (1:53). My next race is the Resolution Run on New Year's Eve, then the Hypo Half in February. In the next couple of years, I plan to tackle a Marathon, and eventually an Ironman.  What are your PRs?

Baby Molly...
I'm married, No kids, just a fat cat who likes to make my nose run... when we picked him up, my mother-in-law signed the adoption form saying she was our landlord and allowed pets; I couldn't say no to my wife! She picked out the cat, choosing the light-colored girl, so the hair wouldn't show on our light furniture. "Molly" the cat looked very cute in "her" pink collar, riding around in "her" little pink carrier. A few weeks later, he went in for the snip-snip, because "girls don't have THOSE!". Now his name is Milo, he wears a black Harley Davidson collar with studs, and he wouldn't fit in that pink carrier if you stuffed him in with a plunger.
As for the human family, we're lucky because most of them live here in Calgary-- we even both have extended family pretty close by. And what's more, we see them often, and we all get along really well. (Except when they bug us about having kids, but what can you do.) I do miss my baby brother, who has been in Australia since December 2009, and is now in South East Asia (Borneo right now).

On the one hand, I believe that it's important to have quality equipment, even just for "recreational" athletes. On the other, I've had to tell a triathlete decked out in well over $15k worth of gear that he was done for the day before he was finished the bike course. (PS An aero helmet won't help you if you haven't done the work. PPS Especially if you yourself are not very aero. PPPS Just sayin'. PPPPS I don't wear an aero helmet.)
Giant TCX 0
Most of us have finite budgets, sometimes more than others. It can be tough to prioritize what to spend money on, and it all depends on what your goals are. My $1500 bike is fine for the races I have planned, and it even got me through a half-ironman! But I know if I'm going to do an Ironman, it would be worth the investment for a tri bike. A tough one-- I tend to be hard on gear. I've been through two pairs of triathlon bike shoes; my first pair pretty much split in half across the ball of the foot, where the cleat goes-- on both shoes. Bike shoes shouldn't flex, these did by the time I was done! My current tri shoes are LG, and the sole is carbon-fiber, not plastic, and I've also switched from basic Shimano SPD mountain bike pedals to Look KEO road pedals. What a difference that extra surface area makes!
Running shoe-wise, I've gone from the Nike Max Moto to the Nike Vomero (lower heel, better midfoot cusioning), and I'm thinking of going the next step to the Nike Free. Maybe someday I'll try the Vibram Five Fingers, and maybe even completely barefoot. I definitely believe that we were "born to run", and that we can improve our biomechanics and efficiency, and that we might not need shoes at all, and that they might be doing more harm than good. But for now, I'll leave the barefoot running to others.

A few of the products that I really love:
- My Garmin 310XT -- it's amazing. I love the Garmin Connect website, and how simple it all is. I've got the heart rate monitor, the speed/cadence sensor for my bike, and a quick-release strap and mounting kit to go from swim to bike to run really easily. A+
- My LG tri bike shoes. One velcro strap, quick, snug, stiff. Fast transitions!
- My bike (Giant TCX 0). Maybe one day I'll put the nubby tires back on and do a cyclocross race
- My CW-X Pro Tights. They make me feel fast. And I think they do work as advertized. Also, compression socks. Right now, my faves are Sugoi, but they ripped...
- My Solomon XA 3D Ultra GTX trail runners- they keep my feet dry, lots of great traction
What gear can you not leave behind?

TravelsUnlike some people I know (including my little brother), I never did the backpacking around the world thing. Before this year, the farthest from home I'd been was Mexico, or maybe Disney World as a kid. I've always wanted to visit Europe, and this spring, Nicole and I were able to go to Paris, Provence, and Barcelona. It was only two weeks, but it was a trip of a lifetime. We have several hundred photos, of course no room for them here! Where's the best place you've been to visit?
The Gardens at Versailles

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Goals for the Offseason, or No Excuses

After reading recent posts about Goals, (here too) and Excuses, I thought it would be a good idea to get one big excuse out of the way and write down a few goals I've had floating around in my head.

After the Calgary 70.3 this year, I decided I wouldn't be doing it again anytime soon, BUT:
- I will do another 70.3 within the next 5 years; and
- I will do IMC in the next ten years.

I haven't picked my actual goal race, but I know I want to focus on breaking 2:30 in an Olympic distance tri.

I've decided I need to continue to improve my running and my biking, and to that end, I'm planning  to run at least two half-marathons and I'm hoping to do the Golden Triangle in the spring, and the Kelowna GranFondo in July. And:
- I will run a Marathon in the next three years. 

As for the swim, I'm pretty happy with my times lately, so I'll stick with maintaining my speed and fitness in the water by swiming at least once a week.

I've dropped a few pounds in the past few months, and I'm hoping to keep that going. I've resigned myself to the fact that I may have to start counting calories, or at least keeping a food journal. For now, I think I mostly need to focus on not eating any fast food (which is tough for me because I'm often on the road). I weigh 240 right now; I will be at 230 by New Year's, and 220 by my birthday (March).

Compare some of this to my first post... 100th post is next! Hoping to have it up sometime Friday!!!

Tonight's run was fun - we're still doing shorter distance stuff, but that's okay because I'm still sore from last night's workout! I was running with Jeff, who just joined the Half-Marathon group after doing a 5k clinic... he seemed to be doing okay, but he got a bit of a stitch in the last km, so we slowed down for the last km, as you can see in the splits:

And one final note... If you haven't already, go check out the latest contests:
Barefoot Neil Z's Poster Contest over at Because All the Cool Kids are Doing It
Forward Foot Strides' is giving away an Allied Steel Fab Medal Hanger!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time to Get a Headlamp!

Tonight's Running Room clinic was a "field trip" to Fitness Fix for a little cross-training. This was my first time to this particular class, and let's just say that core, stability and strength are not my strong points! My pace buddy, Charles was loving it, because I'm usually pushing him hard on the runs (even though I tell him to take it easy because he's about 15 years my senior...), but I was grunting and groaning more than, well, anyone else in the room! Like I said, core is not my strong suit.

We had a full house for the workout, and let me tell you, it was not easy. Stuff like one-legged squats, lots of posture, core, and resistance-band stuff. We had probably 30-40 people at the class, some "regulars", but mostly clinic members. I was torn between being glad we don't do it every week, and contemplating signing up for a class.

Most of the group elected to forgo the planned 4k Tempo run, but work was stressful, so I decided to go, along with about 10 others. It was dark! We ran along the Nose Creek Pathway, which is not lit. At all. Well, except by the lights of the cars on the Deerfoot (a freeway), a few far away street lights, the occasional airplane, and the stars. It was really nice, actually. The wind in the long, dry grass actually wasn't too cold. I was running smoothly, thinking about being efficient, tall, with good posture and alignment. Until something moved in the grass and I jumped four feet up and four feet sideways!  I'm still not sure if it was a coyote, a large dog, or a person napping, but I know that something was there, and moved.

I went a little farther, then turned around, and on the way back, I slowed down to run with the group. Look, I'm sure it was nothing dangerous--besides, I'm the biggest guy in the group!  It made me think more about the possibility of turning an ankle in the dark, and not having any help. Isn't that the whole point of running with a group?

Has anything ever freaked you out while running/ biking? Do you run outside in the dark? Do you have a headlamp?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Costume Pics

I didn't run in any Halloween races this year... but we did go to a party. Can you guess what I'm supposed to be?

At some point this week I'll be posting my 100th post... took me a while to get there, but to commemorate the "occasion" I'm working on a 100 things about me post... it's hard to come up with that much!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Four Facts Friday

Since I missed Three Things Thursday, I thought I'd just add one thing...

1. Wednesdays with the Running Room clinic is open Practice Club- it was busy this week! Because we're back to the start of the clinic, we're doing short runs again on tuesdays and wedensdays. Tonight was the 'short loop' - basically around the block. Didn't push quite as hard as Tuesday, even though the run was slightly shorter. Should have waited until after the run to eat, though! Averaged around 5min/km for 3.47k

2. Finally figured out my Halloween costume... it's a little lame, but punny I mean funny. At least, I think it is. Maybe I'll post some pics next week and you can guess what the costume is!

3. We have sun! The weather's been so gloomy here for the past few days, that I just don't feel like doing anything. Add to that the fact that the daylight hours have suddenly vanished (its getting dark around 7:00), and it's tough to be motivated. Although I've lived in Calgary my whole life, I think the past few years, I've really been affected by this. There's even an apt acronym for it - SADD. I've decided I suffer from this. (Yay self-diagnosis!) and have started to take Vitamin D-- it's working so far.

4. Got out to the pool again today! Twice this week! Even saw a fellow former UCTC buddy there. She did IMC this year, which is pretty awesome. Sounds like it went well. She's now working with a private coach (not sure who), and offered me her workout since she was leaving as I was getting started. Didn't try it, but stuffed it into my gym bag for next time.
Instead, I did a warmup, then some more kick drills, then a solid 750m free (medium). Wasn't wearing my garmin, but got 14mins from the wall clock. Not bad. With the kick drills, I'm focusing more on keeping my legs more streamlined-- I was taught a 2-beat kick to save the legs for the bike and run, but I was tending to sort of scissor on my glide. Plus it's good conditioning, and those dolphin kicks with fins are pretty tough on the ol' abs.

Happy Halloween, all!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Post-Run Pasta!

Thought I'd post a recipe I made tonight- simple, from scratch spag sauce! This version has a little bacon and ground turkey, mushrooms and some herbes provencal I picked up in Provence this spring. (Don't I sound snooty!)
Pasta sauce was probably the first thing I learned how to make (thanks dad!), first by just browning some ground beef, and adding a jar of sauce and maybe a few extra dried herbs, but growing up, we added a lot of extras. Pretty soon, it's just as simple to skip the pre-packaged sauce (who knows what's in that stuff!) and make it from scratch. So here it is. Modify to your liking.

3 strips bacon, diced (or about 1 good glug of olive oil)
1 onion, diced
3-6 cloves of garlic, crushed (there's no such thing as too much garlic!)
1 lb of ground turkey
2 glugs of red wine (1/2 cup?) I used my homemade Valpolicella
2 cans mushrooms (or fresh is good too better, cans were on sale this week!)
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
Fresh ground pepper and salt
About 1-2 Tbsp dried herbs of your choice (not THAT kind, although that would ensure all the pasta gets eaten, even if it would taste a little off...) I like my herbes provencal, or italian seasoning (be careful though, some mixes have salt), or basil, thyme and oregano.

mmm... look at that yummy stuff on the bottom of the pan!
In a large pot, brown bacon on medium heat. Once some of the fat starts to render out, add the onion. Stir occasionally. If you're adding any other fresh veggies (carrots, celery peppers), add them at the same time as the onion. Crush the garlic into the pot once the onions start looking a bit clear. (Garlic burns if you put it in too soon!). Add your ground turkey, stir every so often to break it up as it cooks. I like to add the pepper and half the herbs at this point.

Ground turkey- this stuff was labeled ground dark meat

You can add the garlic after the meat if you forget!

Despite the fact that I use oil/fat, that's more for flavor, and the fact that it's good for you in small quantities. I expect that my onions are going to leave some brown stuff on the bottom of the pot. The meat should too. Why? Flavor, baby. Plus, it's a good excuse to use wine, which adds its own unique magic richness to the sauce. It's called deglazing- toss a glug or two of wine into a pot once the meat is cooked, and scrape all those lovely bits of flavor off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. (My wooden spoon is special. I bought it in the open-air market in Arles, France this spring. The same place I got my herbes provencal. It brings back good memories. But you can use any kitchen-appropriate utensil you like.)

The final product - season to taste!
Back to the pot. Once the alcohol in the wine has bubbled  away (pretty much immediately), it's time to add the canned mushrooms, and the canned tomatoes. Stir, and turn the heat all the way down. Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes, but the longer you can simmer it for, the better. Stir a few times ala Goodfellas, so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Just before it's ready to serve, taste it. Does it need any salt? More herbs? Add a little at a time, stir, taste. This is why it's important to have a good wooden spoon.

Serve with your favorite pasta! We had spagetti tonight after our 4k tempo run. Despite another wrong turn, I managed to average a 4:47-- that's minutes/km... (that would be pretty fast for miles!!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big Fish

Today, I got back in the pool.

Like the bike, I haven't been back in the pool since the Calgary 70.3, but needed a bit of a break. I decided to head to Renfrew pool on my way downtown to work at my buddy's office, who I'm doing some contract work for. Thorncliffe is on the way too, but there tends to be a lot of walkers.

I didn't get out the door as soon as I would have liked, took me a little time to get all my stuff together-- that's what happens when you're starting a new routine! (Wifey will probably remark that I should have got my stuff together the night before, but that's the difference between her and I). To be honest, I was also a little intimidated to try Renfrew... I know that Keith swims there sometimes, and I didn't want to get bitten by any sharks.

Well, I didn't need to worry, because by 8am when I finally hit the pool deck, I was the big fish in the pool. :D

Warmup ~500m, easy free, kick with fins, pull
Main set of 500m, thinking about being smooth, imagine pulling myself along an underwater ladder.
Hard kick sets- 200m flutter with fins, 200m dolphin kick with fins (ow, my abs!), 100m no fins
200m cool down

I figured I'd take it relatively easy the first time out in 2 months, so called it a day after 45 mins.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Fall Spin and LSD Sunday

...What happened to autosave? Writing this for the second time. :(

Yesterday (Saturday) was the first non-busy weekend we've had in months! I'd finished the deck, built a bench in the garage, got the new shelves built in the basement, and we didn't have any plans. Amazing. But of course this left me with no more excuses, so after dragging myself out of bed, and spending a few hours bumming around, I finally got my bike set up in the basement on the spin trainer.

I used my Real Rides IMC course DVD a few times last winter, including once at a friend's house. I have to say, watching it at eye level is so much better than trying to look at the screen on the floor in front of you. Well, maybe not easier-- in the middle of a tough set, I've usually got my head down-- but it is so much more "realistic". Or at least it encourages me to look where I'm (not) going.

The New Shelves (built from deck scraps!)
The old "TV on the floor" setup. Even Milo the cat questions this.
The spin itself was nothing epic- 1:11, the first DVD in the Penticton set, so they're still going easy on you. But since I haven't been in the saddle since the Calgary 70.3. I'm not sure if it's possible to develop actual calluses *ahem* down there, but after riding consistently for a few months, an hour is no biggie, so there must be some toughening up of some sort that happens. But I'm telling you, two months is apparently enough time to lose that posterior padding. I preferred to stand for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning was the first LSD run of the new Running Room clinic, so it was (only!?) 7km. When I phrase it that way in conversation, I seem to get a lot of "What do you mean ONLY 7k?! That's a lot!", but on the other hand, I know that for any marathoner, 7k is a break. And it's interesting to be kind of in-between those two groups. Although I've run (casually) for many years, I didn't do very much distance, probably 3-5km for most of my runs. I've now done 21.1 + exactly 3 times, with a few training runs that got close. I can't quite yet wrap my head around doing the type of training distance required to do a Marathon, or Ironman, but I know some day I will.

More on those goals in another post-- to summarize this morning's run, it was chilly and foggy, I ran with my pace buddy Richard and two others that I hadn't met before. It always takes me a few times to remember people's names! We set out to do 6:00min /km, doing 10 and 1s... and did pretty well:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hoops and ice-baths

Last night, I got an invite to play pickup ball with my dad and his buddies. Now, although I am about twenty years younger than these guys (excepting another son who showed up), I knew I wouldn't be running circles around these guys. They all play a lot, usually once a week, and they also play on a senior men's team together (the Cementheads), some of them for 10-15 years.

At this point, it's probably important to note that from the age of 7 until I graduated from high school, I lived for basketball. I played Calgary Minor Basketball instead of hockey, my first job was reffing, my second job was at Forzani's (now Intersport) so I could get discounts on basketball shoes, and during junior high, I played on the school team, helped coach that same team, and played for my community league at the same time. I played for my High School, and was co-captain of the 'Junior' team in grade 11. My first year of university, I volunteered to help coach a community team, and ended up the sole coach. Since then, I played a little in university intramurals, but I really haven't touched a ball in about 5 years.

Although I'm in the best shape I have been since high school, I also knew that "basketball shape" and "triathlon shape" are two very different things. Basketball, especially full-court, is about short bursts of speed, jumping, lateral mobility, quick hands, and leg strength. So while my endurance is much better than it was, I haven't run too many windsprints lately. 

Fortunately, basketball is also about court-sense, that ability to see the play developing, and anticipate what your teamate will do on offence, and what your opponent will do when you're defending. From that standpoint, it was like riding a bike. From a fitness standpoint, I held my own, but wow did I ever sweat! I may have also been panting like a dog a few times, trying to catch my wind...

Fortunately, sweat is good, and a short break is all it took to roll my tongue back into my mouth and stop wheezing like an old man. But just like when I played competitively in high school, the worst part was the blisters. I'll spare you the gory details, but long story short I never found any combination of shoes/ socks/ moleskine/ tape that prevented basketball blisters. So when I got home, I immediately ran the cold bath, hoping that the cold would help reduce the blisters, and soothe my calves and hammys. I think it worked a bit.

I recommend a good cold bath to anyone playing any sport-- especially runners and triathletes. I did ten minutes in the tub after both the Calgary 70.3 half ironman, and after my half-marathon, and it works. Far less recovery time, and far, far less soreness the next few days. I know some people like to put actual ice in their baths, but I prefer to just run it as cold as possible.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Short update...

Despite my lack of posts, it's been a good summer. The Calgary 70.3 was a bit of a wake up call-- wasn't quite ready for it, especially the bike... well, and the run, too. Since then, I got a new job, and started training with the Running Room in Country Hills. Thanks to Penny and the Pacemakers Half-Marathon clinic, posted a great time at the Canmore Rocky Mountain Half-Marathon. 1:53 was 7 minutes faster than my goal, and I feel like I could maybe go faster than that even.

The last clinic ended a few weeks ago, and between turkey (cooking and eating), and work, I've missed a few workouts.

Fortunately, the new half-marathon clinic started this week, so I'm getting back into it now. Missed the clinic run last night, so made up for it this morning, then ran with the group tonight. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bootcamp Carnage!

Have been really consistent with training and the job hunt, (even doing some consulting in the meantime), but that hasn't left much time for blog posts!
Quick recap of the last week (or two?)
- New shoes arrived in the mail (woo!) Didn't realize how bad my old ones had been pounded down!
- Almost had my calf chomped off by a dog-- the owner had him sit as we went by, but didn't pay close enough attention, and SNAP! inches from my calf. Not so bad, until I turn around, and he's giving the dog a treat! RAGE!!
- Same run a above, I pointed out a pile of (garter) snakes sunning themselves on some rocks to Nicole: cute little scream and she sure picked up the pace!
- New Adamo saddle on my bike, thought it was good, but I think it cuts off circulation. I'll save it for when I have a tri bike.

So last night was bootcamp night at the Running Room. It was a ton of fun, but we were crammed under the gazebo to stay out of the rain... I managed to strain my elbow doing pushups, and my pace buddy fell twice playing tag-- the second time, he slipped and hit hit head on a bench, and opened up a cut right next to his eye! He's gonna have a real shiner!!!

The good thing about my "tennis elbow" was that I had  great conversation with the guest trainer afterwards, and learned a lot about where my muscle imbalances are, and how to improve my posture. I sort of know about these things, but when you talk to someone knowledgeable about them, you're that much more aware, and are more able to make changes!

Physio and Chiro for me!

Friday, July 9, 2010

TDF Fever, and Crazy About Riding

I don't know if it's the nice weather, or what, but I'm really loving riding my bike lately. True, I'm feeling the pressure of the 90km ride at the Calgary 70.3 Half-IM, but when I do get out on the road, I feel so FAST!

Here's a couple of recent rides: home from Chestermere, and home from Edworthy Park after a few hill repeats:

Then I watch the Tour de France, and those guys are so much faster than me! Still, it would be awesome to ride in the Tour... even as a domestique (the guys who do all the work to help the guys like Lance win). It's gotta be a tough job- riding 3-4 hours a day, plus warmup and cooldown, for three weeks, plus all the bumps and crashes, but man, it would be incredible to be a part of that. Sadly, I'm already too old to get into it (and really, I'm not THAT fast!) Those guys average 40-50km an hour, and that's my TOP speed!

Top 5 tour moments so far:

5. Crash coming down the last descent on Stage 2 (!)... not pleased that people crashed, but to see the look on Andy Schleck's face, I would have bet money that he'd snapped his collarbone, and he just gets back on and rides back into the field. Heroic.
4. Sylvain Chavanel's breakaway ride on Stage 2 to bring the Maillot Jaune into France on the shoulders of a Frenchman. Great ride.
3. Allez-Jet (Allessandro Petacchi)'s sprint finish on Stage 1... although it was kind of marred by the fact that Cavendish, Freire, Farrar, and others all crashed before the final sprint, he showed it wasn't a fluke by winning the sprint again against a mostly intact field at Stage 4
2. The crazy lead-out on Stage 5... and Mark Cavendish, the Manx Missile's first stage win of the year. I was rooting for Tyler Farrar of Garmin, who had a great lead-out, but tried to sneak to the outside instead of coming inside to get in the slipstream of Cavendish... he might have had a chance?
1. Ryder Hesjedal's herculean ride over the cobbles to ALMOST take stage 3... I don't know how long it's been since a Canadian won a Tour stage, but I was in agony when he got caught. Still, he finished 4th, and got himself into 4th place in the GC. Is he going to be the new team leader for Garmin, now that Christian VandeVelde is out? Doubtful, because he's such a big guy (like me, but skinny), that he probably doesn't have much hope though the Alps. :( I'm still cheering for him! Maybe he'll find another break and get that stage win?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Exceeding Expectations

What a great week. Busy, but great. I've been training hard, and consistently for over a month now, and it's already starting to pay off! I set a new 10k PR on Saturday at the Race for P.A.C.E, and rode home from Chestermere on Sunday, setting a great time (just over 40km in 1:22).

The job situation is starting to come together, too-- I spent all last week doing some consulting for a good friend. It's contagious when someone gets re-excited about their business, and I'm glad I could help him! It's also looking like I should be able to sort out something permanent by the end of this week-- keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Edworthy to Bowness Ride and Half-Marathon Run Clinic

After poisoning my body all weekend, I've surprised myself by how hard I've trained already this week, and by how great I feel! The job hunt is going very well, and I put in some great workouts in the last two days: 6.64km run on Monday morning with an avg pace of 5:25/km, Tuesday morning pathway ride with two respectable hills (see below), and a fast 4km run with the Country Hills Running Room Half-Marathon clinic that we both joined yesterday.

The ride was great-- I dropped N off downtown, then went to Edworthy, planning to do hill repeats. The idea was to warmup with a ride to the west, into unexplored territory... well, unexplored in terms of the bike paths! I made it to the Stoney Trail bridge, saw the nasty switchback pathway, and decided to tackle it-- tough! It's not as long as the Edworthy hill, and not quite as high, but it's definitely steeper and waaaay more technical. I was really breathing hard when I got to the top! On the way back, I got a little lost a few times, as I was trying to head back on the south side of the river through Bowness, which doesn't really work that well.

I eventually made it back to Edworthy (I don't get lost for long in Calgary), and immediately tackled the hill, hitting the lap button on my 310XT. I felt really strong, and was able to stay in the saddle for 98% of it, and stayed in 2nd gear for 75% of the hill. Got to the top, hit "lap" again, hydrate, then headed back down for another go. Got to the bottom, hit lap again, but the damn thing was frozen!! I figured it was a sign to call it a day.

Apparently these fancy little wrist computers have been known to do that-- freeze. By freeze, I mean they stop at whatever screen, with whatever numbers it was showing when it hiccuped. None of the buttons worked, but I ended up holding the power button, and it shut down and started up again a few minutes later when I tried it. Fortunately, my workout data was saved. I probably could have resumed the workout if I'd "rebooted" it earlier. (Makes me wonder, does it run on Microsoft?)

Running Room Clinic
That's right, both N and I are running with a club. I didn't mean to, but I ended up being the fastest of the group, because I was feeling so good! (5:02/km over 4.25km) I don't know what it is, but I get 10 minutes into a run, and I start to feel invincible-- like I can either run forever, or run faster. On Monday, I tried this new warmup routine that I saw in the latest Runner's World. I need to do this more often, because I think it's why I don't really hit my stride until 10 min into the run!

Plan for today is another run with the club- 3km steady. I don't think I'll pile on anything extra to that, because N wants to do hill repeats at Edworthy tomorrow.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FAR Trail Run - Epic Weekend

What a weekend. 11 guys who have all been known to enjoy a drink (or ten) for a weekend away without chaperones... I'm a little surprised we didn't get in more trouble than we did. Beers were shotgunned, golf was played, a phone was lost (then found), someone got run over by a golf cart, shots of hard liquor were consumed, steaks and pizza were devoured, and someone may or may not have jumped a fence to hot tub at 3am. Aside from cameras of strangers we met in the bars in downtown Fernie, there were approximately 5 photos taken the whole weekend, three of which are of a golf ball buried halfway into a green.

And somehow despite all this, Dr. Dan and I managed to run 8km Saturday morning. On the mountain. Without puking. The wonderful restorative powers of fresh mountain air.

Friday, June 18, 2010

5k Friday, and Fernie Golf!

It was great to run without getting soaked this morning! All week, it's been so drizzly and rainy- combine that with the fact that I've been a little under the weather, and I wasn't too keen on running much this week. But, I did manage to make this my third run of the week... not bad!

Taking Monday and Wednesday off does mean that I have to run both Saturday and Sunday-- which should be interesting, seeing as how I'll be hungover both days. A bunch of us are heading up to Fernie this weekend for a bachelor party, and although golf is the plan, I know that we'll be downing a few tonight and Saturday night, too. Exercise is the best hangover cure-- that's my mantra for this weekend, anyway!

The reason that I have to run on the weekend (aside from the Race For Pace 10k in two weeks and the 70.3 in six) is that I made a deal with N that if I workout 5 days a week, I can get aero bars in advance of the 70.3. "How do I know that you're actually going to run this weekend?' she asks. I explain that she can just look at my Garmin data. "You'll just take it with you on the golf cart!" So trusting.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Finding Consistency

In the past few days, I've been skimming through some of my old posts. I've had such a hard time being consistent with both my training and my blogging! But I'm a silver-lining kind of person, and although I can't say I've trained consistently enough to be at my best, I have trained enough to see improvements. (Lake Chapparral 2008 results vs. Wasa Tri 2010 results, for example). I also see the silver lining in my pending unemployment-- more time to train for the Calgary 70.3.

Yes, that's right, my last day at work is tomorrow. Because I've read so much about people losing their jobs by blogging about it, I've had a strict no-work policy in this very public journal. Which has made it difficult to write anything, because my headspace has been so consumed with work-- some good, most frustrating. I'll leave it at that.

Now, I am looking at a few promising opportunities, and I don't think this will last more than a few weeks. I'm really trying hard to make sure that I find something that I can balance mentally with training. As great a meditation that running can be, too often I find myself running around in circles mentally, trying to solve a customer problem, or put together a strategy for a meeting. I'm sure that will be the case with any job I end up with, but I really hope that the next role will allow me the flexibility to actually resolve those problems!

I am on the right track, at least-- both professionally and with my training. I've managed to train consistently over the past two weeks, and did run this morning:

Still loving the Garmin! It was great for the race-- the Auto Multisport mode was super-easy, and I also really like the Virtual Partner, which goes beyond a pace-of-the-moment to tell you how far ahead or behind you are compared to if you were exactly on your target pace.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wasa 2010 Olympic Tri

Well, now that I've had a day to decompress, stretch out the aches, and slather my sunburn with aloe, I suppose I can make time for a race report.

If you follow me on twitter, you already know that I posted a PR by almost 30 minutes! But I do have to temper that by saying that the last Oly I did was two years ago, and it was a hilly bike course, and a hot run without much water. Wasa was a great course, with tons of water stations, and perfect weather. I really have to hand it to the organizers, it was a very well-run race.

N and I stayed at a friend's cabin on the lake (awesome), so on Saturday, we got to try out our rented wetsuits (highly recommend Tri It to anyone in Calgary). There were 6 racers staying at the cabin, and two more friends at the hotel, and we all decided that we'd better make sure to spend some time in the water to warm up before the race!

Unfortunately, on race day, those plans went out the window, for me. The downside of staying at the cabin was that I (mistakenly) thought that I could go grab transition spots early, then come back to pick up N. Well, by the time I got back, we were rushing, then I sort of lost track of time. I kept getting distracted, running through my mental checklist, then wanting to go see friends, not wanting to get too cold waiting, etc.

I also didn't realize how soon the Oly men started after the Sprinters. So I'm heading back to my bag to drop off my sweater and sunglasses, when I realize that the BM I've been planning hasn't happened yet. I don't know whether it was nerves or the pasta dinner, but my usual clockwork digestive system wasn't really cooperating. I went to the porta-potty anyway, thinking I had enough time. I didn't. By the time I got back to the beach, the other racers were in the water! Some kind stranger ladies helped my zip up my wetsuit, and I plunged off, about 2:30 behind!!

What followed was undoubtedly my worst swim ever. Jumping in cold is something I'll never do again, after sputtering, splashing and flopping my way through the first half lap. By midway around, I managed to calm somewhat, and managed (according to wifey and friends) to make it out of the water for the first turn somewhere mid-pack. The second lap was much better, sighting well and swimming strong, if not smooth.

As I pulled my wetsuit down around my waist, I realized that I hadn't put on the top of my tri-suit singlet! I got my arms into it, flopped down for the wetsuit strippers, and as soon as it was off, so was I, screaming volunteers in my wake: "YOUR WETSUIT!" One of them caught me just before I hit the timing mat (at 32:22).

T1 was pretty quick, I slapped some sunscreen on my face and neck OWWW! ... and that's when I first noticed how raw my neck was-- wetsuit must have rubbed. I forgot to hit the lap button on my Garmin, but pretty sure I got through the transition in about three and a half minutes, which I was pleased with.

Also very happy with my bike... I was sure I was behind Dr. Dan (we had a friendly wager on the race-- dinner), so I pushed hard on the bike, keeping my cadence up without over-spinning. It worked out great. I kept leapfrogging with a few guys, and had to really focus on staying out of the slipstream; I didn't need a 5 minute penalty for drafting!

After I didn't see Dr. Dan at all on the bike, I figured he must be behind me. I did see Keith ahead of me, which was not surprising, because I know he's a shark, and I know he's a pretty strong cyclist. I was a little surprised to catch him near the end of the course, but he kept with me and even passed me coming into Wasa, so he was pretty close coming into T2.

T2 was extremely quick for me-- even though I put on socks, which I don't normally do in Sprint races. I knew that my Nikes wouldn't be nice enough to my feet over 10k to go sockless. Although I was battling a bit of a diaphragm cramp for most of the run, it still felt good. I'd set my Garmin's virtual partner to a 5:30/km pace, and managed to keep to that for the whole race, despite taking a spill on a tree root at about 3km (going to lose a toenail to that one, too).

I kept looking for Dr. Dan on the run, still telling myself that he was either not too far ahead, or maybe just behind. I finally saw him (and Keith again-- he's gotten fast on the run!) just after the turnaround, about 4.5km. I also saw for the first time the first and second-place women, which was another motivator! Physically, I didn't get chicked: I managed to finish about 10 seconds ahead of the first woman, but technically I did, because she started about 30 minutes after me!

All in all, I have to say it was a very well run race. I do have to say that we could have done without the ridiculous meeting on Saturday-- to me, it was a waste of sunshine to spend an afternoon listening to someone read from emails everyone was sent. 10 minutes on parking, 5 on the swim course, and we could have been out of there. Save the rest for the race-day meeting, and be more strict about that.

(official times below)
Unofficial splits from my Garmin (started when I got in the water, not the official start):

Official Results:
Overall place: 207
Place among all men: 148/255
Place in Age Group: 14/26
Swim Rank - 242
Swim split - 32:22
Bike Rank - 166
Bike Split (includes T1 and T2) 1:16:13
Run Rank - 255
Run split - 53:36
Overall Time: 2:42:09.60

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Running with Giants

The redwood trees in Stanley Park are pretty amazing - almost makes me wish I lived in Vancouver! Nothing gets me through a day of meetings like a good early morning run.

Was in Vancouver for work-- but since I don't write about work here (there are sooo many examples of reasons not to blog about work, and so few examples of that going well), all I'll say is that I ran hard the first morning, and did a shorter tempo run the second day. Going from Calgary to Vancouver in the spring is so invigorating-- everything here's still pretty brown, but Vancouver is so lush and green, and the seawall is just such a great place to run.

Back in Calgary now, and hoping to get some work done in the yard this weekend, although I doubt it will be significant. I think the deck will have to wait until we get back from out trip (we leave one week from tonight!) It's not really sinking in that we're actually going, after being so excited only to have to rebook, it just doesn't seem real yet. I'm sure by the time we get to the airport, I'll be too excited to sleep on the overnight flight.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Long Overdue Update - Volcano, Bricks, Yardwork and a Comedy Show

Haven't really felt up to posting much lately, and pressures with work and all have cut into the training a bit. But there's quite a bit of news, so here goes.
A while back, I posted about our trip to Europe-- we're supposed to be just getting home now, but we were supposed to leave the day after that volcano erupted in Iceland, shutting down air traffic over Europe for the better part of a week. It took most of the day to sort out the flights and hotels, but we re-booked for the end of May instead. Originally, we were to fly into Paris, spend 5 nights, then a few nights in Lyon, on to Arles (in Provence), then Barcelona for 5 nights and home from there. Because of the change in dates, we couldn't get flights home from Barcelona, so we've had to cut out Lyon and make an extra leg to Madrid. We'll rack up a few more miles this way, but we get to see another great city (albeit for only a day and a half). Luckily, it's not going to cost us any more than the price of a few train reservations--which are only a fraction of the actual ticket.
In other news, we went to the Laugh Shop on Saturday for my sister-in law's birthday. Haven't been since it was Yuk Yuks-- I didn't even realize they'd changed their name! Normally, it's a great deal, ticket's aren't too expensive, and they'll serve you mini-jugs of highballs at a decent price too. The mini-jugs were still a good deal, but the tickets were double the price because Tom Green was the headliner. He was pretty funny at times, but other times he would go on these rants-- mostly about how much he hated the celebrity culture, Hollywood in general. Mostly because the crowd wanted it, he'd fall back to some of his famous movie lines. But most of us hadn't seen any of his movies!
Nicole and I have been taking advantage of the basement setup these past two weeks, doing brick workouts together on Sundays. Pop in a Real Rides disc, and go-- today, I got on the bike first, and rode Richter's Pass for just over an hour. I get the feeling that our wind trainer doesn't have quite enough resistance, but oh well. After the bike, I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill, while Nicole got on the bike. Felt good.
We've also been running through the community quite a bit-- unfortunately, we're not really connected to any other pathways, and Sage Hill is pretty small, so we've run every single road-- in fact, it's hard not to overlap on a single run! Things change so quickly with all the new houses being built, that it's entertaining just to run or walk through the neighborhood (watch out for dumpsters and building materials!)
I've been spending a lot of time on the backyard. The plan is to build a deck, then finish the fence, prep the flower and shrub beds, plant some trees, and sod. I think that some of the shrubs and such will have to wait for next year, but hopefully we'll have a yard we can use by the summer. I've been doing quite a bit of digging in the garden and beds, getting rid of some of the clay, so that there's more room for good soil. The neighbors think I'm crazy for doing all that digging, but being outside in the yard has been a great way to meet them!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Waterlogged and Violent, Untimely Illness

I'm doing the swimmer dance right now... head tilted to one side, shaking my head to try and get the water out. Good way to get a sore neck!

Workout tonight was tough-- speedwork in the pool. My first day back in the pool after missing last week due to a stomach bug (bacterial, I think). After 200m warmup, the workout was:
4X 50 descending to 80% (that means each 50 is faster than the last)
then 2 sets of:
3 x 50 descending on 1:10
50m ez non-free
2 x 100 at 80% on 1:50
50m ez non-free
100 m 90% (!)

We finished with a 4x50m relay - my team won! (I think some of the really fast guys tried to do 'fly for fun... I went all out!)

15 minutes of tough ab work/pushups to finish off, as usual.
In other news:
I signed up for the Oly at Wasa today! June 13, 2010 - look out!

We booked a trip to France and Spain last night! (Yay Airmiles) The plan is to fly into Paris, spend 4-5 days, train to Lyon, then Avignon or Nimes, then Barcelona for another 4-5 days. We'll be there for the last two weeks of April-- coming up soon!

I mentioned I had a stomach bug last week-- there's a bit of a story. I'm in sales, and call on million-dollar businesses, always talking almost exclusively to the business owner. Last week, my boss and his boss (VP sales) came to Calgary to visit customers with me. I lined up 5 meetings over a day and a half, and we'd planned to spend some time strategizing, and I was looking forward to even socializing with these guys, if only for dinner and windshield time. I've only been in the job for just over a year, and this was to be the first trip to spend time in Calgary with me for both of them.

Well, around lunch time on day one, my stomach was gurgling and not feeling that great. I thought I was just hungry, but didn't really manage to eat much. I thought it was gas or indigestion, so popped a couple of tums. Got through the second meeting just fine, but in the middle of the third meeting... I got that water-in-the mouth feeling. Just as the customer was telling my VP what a great job I was doing, I puked all over his floor. Luckily(?), there was a bathroom attached to his office, and so I finished in there, making horrible retching noises as I violently lost my lunch. What a way to make an impression!

Fortunately, everyone was more concerned with my well-being than the carpet or the interruption. I made it through the end of the meeting, handed my car keys to my boss, and that pretty much ended my week. I still have my job (if not my pride)...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Busy Weekend - lots of training!

Whew! I'll have to post more tomorrow night, but here's the hilights of the weekend:
  • Ran on Saturday
  • Spin on Sunday
  • Did a really yummy broth and fish fondue on Saturday night for friends
  • Clarified the Valpolicello we have, and started yet another wine kit, a really nice Gerwurztraminer
  • Reading Ironstruck?, and I think I'm Ironstruck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Remembering What to Pack

Well, we made it through week 1 of UCTC 2010. Don't tell coach, but it was easier than I expected. Don't get me wrong-- I'm very sore today (Thursdays are a bike/swim brick, 2 hours of training), but the toughest part of the week was remembering what I need in my Tri bag.

Tuesday, I forgot to bring a towel and shampoo-- as I grabbed my fins and paddles, I had a nagging suspicion that I was forgetting something, but I was imagining myself in the pool: goggles, cap, trunks, fins and paddles... okay, I'm good. Well, my gear closet is now stocked with a few towels, and my travel kit stashed in my bag.

Had to skip Wednesday's workout because Mom and Dad needed some help with their rental property-- they're cleaning it up, doing a few minor touchups, and we had a little reunion with a friend we haven't seen in about three years. Had to meet her Aussie fiance (great guy), and they asked me to be an usher at their wedding this summer!

It's been massively busy at work this week, but at least I'm in Calgary, and I have so much more energy. Next week I'm off to Medicine Hat and Lethbridge to visit clients, but probably just for Monday and Tuesday night. I'll just have to run on my own, I guess! No more trips to the US this year, hopefully.

Today's an off day, but the plan for the weekend is to go for a longish run tomorrow, then do a bike/run brick on Sunday. I was all ready to do Super Sunday with UCTC, but it was canceled this week due to a swim meet -- and there's something going on at the track, too.

Tuesday: 2100 m
Thursday: 2500m, got some great tips from Coach Tony (better roll without crossing over, more streamlined legs!)

... And I'm sure you've seen this, but I love this list of reasons to do Ironman!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First UCTC Workout of 2010 or Time To Read The Manual

Monday was the first UCTC workout of the year, and it was tough, but fun. It's so much easier to get through a workout when you've got to pay attention to the coach. Being in a big group helps, and although there are times where it's not possible to talk (spinning at 110 rpm, or standing for 2 mins...) but when you can, it sure makes the time fly by.

As great as it is to get back with the group, I sure am glad I've done the little bit of running and spinning that I have.

The workout was 1 hour on the bikes, doing three "hills" after a warmup. Start at 100 rpm, adding tension/a gear every minute, last two minutes standing, then spin back up to 100 rpm, then 110, then 120+, followed by a break. Run was on the track "at your own pace"-- I went pretty hard, but not so hard I couldn't chat. There was a lot of catching up with team-mates, and meeting new ones.

And I have my first major criticism of the Garmin. Well, actually it's more a self-criticism, because I didn't bother to set it up for the workout, and it became more of a nuisance than anything. What happened? Well, I thought about turning the GPS "off", but figured I'd test it to see if I got reception in the Jack Simpson at the University. I do, BUT... only on one half of the track. So when I was running, the thing kept beeping at me that it was losing signal. I would have turned it off, but somehow when I was trying to switch it from "bike" mode to "run" mode, I managed to lock the keys. Oh, and it's still running this morning-- according to it, the workout hasn't ended.

Like the title suggests, I really need to read that user manual. Even downloaded it. We'll see if I can find time today.