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.