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