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!