Wednesday, December 30, 2009

T Rex, revisited, not by choice

I heard something great on the radio today as I was driving home from Red Deer. "Alberta for Newfies is like a litter box for cats. You go there to do what you've got to do, then go home." I laughed. Alberta, Calgary in particular has been home for nearly 30 years. This particular house has been home for almost that long. Clearly I don't think of it as a litter box. Yet I want to bury today's workouts in the litter box and forget them.

First I suppose I should talk about why they go in the litter box. The swim first. 2 K, 40 minutes. Almost from the very first strokes I knew it was going to be slow. It was like wearing a parachute. Several parachutes. I could not get the feel of the water at all. My catch sucked. My kick was feeble, except for a few laps in the middle. My elbows were mostly up, and my chest mostly down. I think. I hope. I shudder to think how slow I'd have been if I didn't have that much right. Picture T Rex trying to swim in the tar pit. Did another 30 minutes of deep water core.

Drove to Red Deer to pick up a wine kit. Highway 2 in the winter is interesting. This is a 2 or 3 lane highway running from Calgary to Edmonton. The speed limit is 110 Kph (68 mph), and most people set the cruise at 123 or 124 Kph (76 mph) during the summer. They get passed a lot. You'd think winter would be different, but it isn't, much. It's not like there aren't reminders. Today, I saw 4 cars that had just been driven into the ditch. You could still see the swerve marks on lanes where they lost it. One guy was backwards into the centre median in about 3 feet of snow. That van had just passed me a minute before, and I could see the sweat on the guys face. In addition, every few hundred metres there was a set of tracks heading into the ditch with varying degrees of sideways, and you could see where they had driven or been towed out. One set of tracks looked like the car rolled. These are of varying freshness, but still clearly visible. Today it was light snow, and slippery enough that my traction control came on a couple times. I spent most of the trip at or a little below 100 Kph, getting passed a lot. Including during a snow flurry with crap visibility. During one trip a few years ago, I counted more than 100 vehicles in the ditch in a 300 K stretch. About half SUV's and big 4x4 pickups, about a quarter regular pickups, and a quarter cars.

My old running form (T Rex in the tar pit) visited today. I hope it's just a visit. My tummy and chest were bouncing all over the place, and I was beginning to regret lunch, even though it was nearly 2 hours before. It took about 15 minutes to find a smooth pace, and that only lasted for 5 minutes. Then I felt my left leg beginning to cramp up, hams and calves, and shut'er down for the day. Walked another 20 minutes home. My hip feels fine, but I had no strength in my legs. No running form.

Gets out the shovel to start digging in the kitty litter.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Better, but still not right

The Monday swim was pretty good. Only 45 minutes, lots of different stuff. My flip turns were a bit sloppy, and I attribute that to my sore hip. I could tell from the feel of it that deep water running wouldn't be good, and actually running was right out. Too bad, it was nice out. I did some stretches and gentle twists trying to relax the tight muscles. You know how it feels when something 'clicks' then feels better? I got a 'THUNK' that echoed up and down my body a few times. Things felt better after that, but still not totally right.

Today I was on the bike after some loosening exercises and easy stretching. My hip feels much better. The spinning was going ok, though it was falling apart at 120 rpm. If anything was hurting, it was my calves feeling a bit tight. The second part of the main set was a seated/standing climbing set. Seated was fine. Standing was the subject of an urgent stop work order posted by my hip flexors and some other muscles. I guess the different degree of stretching was too much. After that even the seated pedaling was sloppy and starting to hurt so I did a few minutes of easy cool down, for 45 minutes total.

I wasn't sure how the core routine with the one leg squats would work out, but I was pleasantly surprised. The entire core routine was just fine. Even the one minute plank wasn't bad. Did some additional stretching for 45 minutes overall, but there wasn't any rewarding clicks or obvious improvements. With any luck I'll sleep well tonight, and can try to run tomorrow.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Well, that was almost painful

Saturday we went for a nice walk down through Fish Creek. It was a beautiful day. All was good.

Sunday I woke up to an achy painful right hip. Lots of sore and creaky muscles around it. I did a bit of of easy stretching and massage to try to loosen things up. When I finally got on my bike I warmed up really slowly, really easily, trying to see if I could get things to loosen up. After 25 minutes things weren't much better but I started into the workout anyways.

I very quickly bailed on anything over 100 rpm for more than 30 seconds. I could feel myself fading on that, and things were getting very jerky. The first part of the main set was 5 min at 90 rpm. Picked one gear easier than what I'd normally do for this, and found I was struggling to maintain the rpm. I was sweating a bucket, even though my heart rate was well below what I'd think of as normal for that. The sore muscles were starting to burn so I gave it up. I didn't even consider running.

Even the stretching was painful, and didn't seem to help much. Here's the difference between legs. Lie down on your back, one leg stretched out straight, and the other bent with sole of the foot on the mat. Rotate the straight leg inwards so the toes roll sideways toward the floor. My left leg will go almost to the floor. My right will go barely past the vertical, and it's an ouchy going that far. Even trying to get into pigeon pose was painful. So I'm not sure what's happening there. I sometimes have these things flare up and go away as suddenly as it comes. Hope it's better tomorrow.

Weekly Summary
Swim 1.0 hrs
Bike 4.5 hrs
Run 2.66 hrs
Walk 2.0 hrs
Core 1.75 hrs
Total 11.9 hrs.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A natural run

I've come to believe at any particular time during a run, there is a natural run pace. That if you let your body run, it will find an optimal balance between a number of factors. What are these factors? They include:

Hard physiology factors (things that don't change, or change only very slowly over time)

  • Length of your bones
  • Flexibility of your joints
  • Muscle strength and conditioning
  • Health of ligaments and tendons and such
  • VO2 Max and other factors relating to bodily process efficiency
  • Basic running skill
  • Your weight
Soft physiology factors (Things that change from day to day, or even hour to hour)
  • What you've eaten recently and other nutritional issues
  • Hydration
  • State of your emotions or mindset (probably the most important of these factors)
  • Tiredness from a recent workout
  • Fatigue from previous workouts
  • Application of new running skills or mental discipline
  • Trying to impress a hottie (which probably belongs under mindset)
Environmental factors
  • Weather (temperature, humidity, wind, precipitation)
  • What you're running on (road, path, trail, open field, ice or snow)
  • Incline of running surface
  • Elevation above sea level
  • Traffic or pedestrians
There are so many different factors that it's impossible for our minds to consciously process it all, and come up with an optimum pace. Yet somehow, if we let it, our body will settle in. We'll find a stride. Sometimes it's harder to settle in than other days. Some days the training plan calls for going faster, or slower than that natural pace. That can get tough very quickly. Too often we get sucked into the mindset that we *ought* to be running faster, and try to push it, which takes us down the road to injuries.

That natural pace will change over time.  To some extent a natural pace is trainable. As you become more fit you'll become faster. As you become a more efficient runner you might not go faster, but may be able to go further more easily. Your stride might change as your hips or ankles become more mobile.

I've gone through lots of running changes over the last couple of years. When I started, just over two years ago, there was no such thing as a natural pace beyond walking. Picture an injured T Rex (poor thing) trying to run through a shallow tar pond, and you've got a good idea what I ran like. Changes have been a long time coming. Even as late as last summer I didn't run particularly well, and certainly not quickly, and didn't get any special enjoyment out of it. Enjoyment came from swimming or biking. 

However, just recently, in the last few months things have come together and I've had a bunch of good runs. I've been running faster than ever with less effort, and I've been looking forward to running. It seems that my body is finally finding a natural pace because I can actually run at the minimum speeds required to actually run at. That probably didn't make much sense. Most of us can probably walk 6 K per hour (a hair under 4 mph). Now try to imagine running that slow. Mechanically it simply doesn't work for the way our bodies are put together. My problem was that I didn't have the skills, conditioning, or strength to be able to make the leap to an actual running pace until recently. (I'm fully aware I'm still on the slow end of the running pace.) 

Probably the single clearest illustration of the difference is a photo of me and Cath taken by her husband Jase, during the Canmore Oly. Even if all you know about us is what you see in the picture, you can tell instantly who is the faster runner. (Her 10 K time, 49:04, mine 1:06:10 and it damn near killed me.) (And if you're looking for a great place to stay on a vacation to Fernie, (skiing, hiking, fishing, ect) check out their B&B. )

As a side note, I think this is where many people go wrong as they try to get into shape. There is actually a huge chasm between a fast walk and a slow run. The mechanics are entirely different. I've felt them, I know. Lots of people get injured trying to make the transition, and I consider myself fortunate that I've had only minor injuries. What's fascinating is that once you find the pace, it becomes easier to find it again, and when you run at that pace (which might be different speeds, strides, ect) your body starts making the changes to be able to do it better and longer in a wider variety of conditions. Which gets you into a great positive feedback loop. 

The plan today was to go for a run, and have fun. I went down through Fish Creek on a 7.75 K loop. I didn't wear a heart rate monitor, and didn't try for any particular pace. Today I wanted to concentrate on what a beautiful day it is out there, and let my body find whatever pace it wanted to run at. Started off slow and easy, and gradually built up. At one point I was running south, and the path looked like it was made out of diamonds, all sparkling rainbows in the sun. Wow. 

I kept a nice pace up the hill out of Fish Creek, then slowed down again when I got closer to home. That's the only time I thought about pace. It's cold enough I didn't want to be walking far for a cool down. Even then it was tough to slow down. My body wanted to run. I don't think I was quite going through this semi-mythical "runners high", but I was feeling great! Stretched for a while after, till I started getting cold. I suspect some of you guys will have a tough time believing the coldest part of the workout was stretching in my basement, but it's true.

Oh, and I couldn't help myself. The run took 54 minutes. And you thought I'd forgotten. (hahahaha)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The HARD night before Christmas

Twas the spin before Christmas, And all through the set
No one was resting, not even a pet
The plan was writ out in neat text with care
In hopes that big fitness would soon be there
With me all clipped in by my feet
While seconds slipped by at a really slow beat

And why did they slip by so slowly??? Because part of the main set was marked as 3x5 min HARD!!! I'm not kidding. I used some geeky high tech tools to go into the Word doc, and look at the previous versions of the plan. There was a comment about having a bucket just in case, but it got removed for the final version. (Kidding!)

Big chainring, half way down the cog, maintaining high 80's, and 90 for the last. The heart rates ended up at 138, 140, 139, 142, and 144 bpm. I was a little lightheaded at the end of it. Of course just before this set was one leg drill, and guess what? More one leg right after. oof. 90 minutes overall, even though I was on the bike a few minutes longer.

Then 30 minutes core, per the plan. I was feeling stronger today. In the evening we decorated the tree. Here's a photo of some of the ornaments. Maybe later there will more photos of Christmas stuff.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Me and numbers

There was some comment about me and numbers in my last blog, and over my blog history. The word geek has been used, affectionately, and I have to say, at least somewhat accurately.

Here's why. Numbers don't lie. Numbers measure progress, or lack of it. Numbers mean something real to other people, like a coach. Numbers build knowledge and confidence. For example, today over 20 minutes, I ran 3.25 K at a heart rate of 140 bpm or a little more. That's the top end of my aerobic range, and works out to being a 6:09 pace or 9.75 Kph. That is real data for me and my coach. It tells her a great deal about where I am in terms of running fitness. It's repeatable, so I can compare that to last month, or next month when it comes around. It means nothing to me, nothing at all, if other people are faster, or slower. These numbers are about me.

But numbers aren't the only thing. Feelings are important too. Knowing I ran that and felt great during and after gives some context to the numbers. If I'd said I ran that but nearly spewed after, that would be something else again. Knowing I had a good stride, my feet and legs felt strong, and that the weather was cold and clear, with good footing tells more again.

Imagine how a coach would react after a training run where I said that I wasn't sure how long I ran at each of the paces the plan called for because I didn't start the stopwatch, and I don't know my heart rate because I wasn't wearing the monitor, and I don't know how far I went and there weren't any landmarks to Google Map, and my breathing was ok, not too hard, not too easy, and my legs felt ok during and after. How on earth would the coach know if the athlete were making any progress? How would you?

Today I ran up the 37 St path to the reservoir, and part way to the boat docks. The idea was to run easy for 10 minutes, then run zone 2 for 20, zone 3 for 20, and zone 2 again for 10. That is exactly what I did. This is probably the closest I've ever followed a run plan. Nice stride all they way, and it turned out I got back to the start, and another .37 K besides in the one hour. It worked out to just a hair under 9 K in the hour.

This aren't the best tusks I've had, and there's no rim of frost around the hood. But it's what you guys get. After all, it's only - 16 C (3 F) with a wind chill of -27 C (-17 F) today.

Did a little bit of stretching in the basement afterward, but was getting cold and hit the shower. We're going to do some yoga together a bit later, since there is no formal yoga class till next year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 12 swims of Christmas

My coach put a lot of thought into a fun Christmas swim for Monday. Just like counting off the 12 days of Christmas, this had 12 different things in the main set. It made for a lot of writing; I filled up two of the little pages I stuff into a baggie. Numbered them, and placed them back to back.

It was a lot of fun working through the sets. Lots of different things. The only thing I didn't do was the 25 m where I had to breath every 9 strokes. That was after 25 m of every 3 strokes (no problemo), 25 m of very 5 strokes (ok), and 25 m of every 7 strokes (a bit of a struggle). I tried for 9, and my body said breath!!! on eight strokes. I got some water while doing that, and the rest of the length was a bit of a shambles.

I was sharing a lane with a lady that swims really slow, but we each had our half so it wasn't an issue. How slow? She's churning away on front crawl. We all know I have a pathetic kick. Even so, I passed her while doing kick only. Easily. I saw one of the guys from swim camp and said hello, on a 5 second break, but I can't remember his name. (If you're reading this, I'm sorry, please leave a comment, and I'll do better next time.)

It ended up being an hour, not sure how many m, then another 15 minutes of core in the dive tank. I timed it perfectly. The floaties were coming in just as I was leaving. The number is still 228. I think my days of easy weight loss are over, and I'm going to have to get serious about this.

After some breakfast I was out for a secret mission. Nearly got gezzered a few times, and watched the start of a geezering. As you exit off 14th st southbound, there is a one lane road into Glenmore Landing parking lot. I came in that way, and there is a geezer sitting patiently in the lot with her right signal on. I turn left out of the ramp, and she turns right behind me, onto the road I just left, so she is heading against the stream of traffic, though there was none at the moment, where she would soon end up facing the very busy southbound 14th St going about 80K. Somebody was going to get a nasty shock much sooner than later.

Later in the day (ie, daylight, which is in short supply here these days) I was out for an easy run, 40 minutes. I was thinking of making it an even 45, but it took a little longer getting around the block than I thought, and when I passed the house with the watch showing 38 minutes, and me getting cold, that made it easy. I did the two minutes out and back, and went inside. It was quite a bit colder than it had been in the morning, and I turned out to be just slightly underdressed. Some frost on the moustashe, but nothing worth photographing.

Just for the geeks among us, I found the sunrise, sunset, and total daylight hours for Calgary today.
Dec 21, 2009, 08:38 AM, 04:32 PM, 7h 53m 53s. Less if it's cloudy. And you guys wonder why the fake n bake industry exists up here.

Tuesday bike took a bit of working up to. I haven't been sleeping well lately so I was slow to get moving. However, once I got on I had a really good session. 2 hrs, lots of it at 90 rpm, and some of it gradually moving into harder gears while trying to maintain 90.

Then the core. That wasn't so good. In fact, it was pathetic. Only 15 minutes before I gave it up, and it was a shambles from the start. Maybe I'll have another go at it later; it couldn't be any worse.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Running with the herd

Well, sort of running with the herd from spin class. The slower parts of the herd. In fact, the very slowest part other than me. This is with my heart rate up in Katie territory, and lungs about to explode out of my chest seeking air. Everybody else loping along going chatchatchat. Well, let's just say there's a bit of poetic license there, and you can guess where. I caught one guy only because he was running backwards, and I was barely up to it. Interestingly enough, my legs weren't having any problems at all, and could have run faster. The first half of the run was high 130's bpm, and the last half was low 150's. Almost made it to the bridge, and got back to the store with a big negative split. It was -10 C (14 F) in light snow, with ice underneath it in places. Fun for 30 minutes.

Spin was the usual fun times. Katie planned a CHRISTMASS workout, with each letter representing a different set. I can't remember what they were now. But they were 2 hours worth of fun. Core was the usual brutality, with me sitting out part of the plank. Did a bazillion pushups (really it was 42) all of them from my knees

Then comes the fun part. Now Shannon will really regret not coming to class. Chocolate chip and cranraisin muffins, something like Nanimo bars but crunch and with caramel, crackers and home made antipasto, chocolate dipped strawberries, and Manderin oranges. All very yummy. This was our last class of the season, we're off till the 10th. It was fun mingling and chatting, though you had to move quick to avoid having fingers taken off; the herd was hungry and determined to nibble.

And now, some random photos from the last little while. I finally plugged my camera into the computer. It's almost like when we had a film camera. We'd take the film in to get developed, and it would be no surprise to see photos I took a year ago.

This was during the major snowstorm we had. We've never had the front windows snowed up like this.

This was one evening. I'm not sure what made me look out the back window. I think this is a mama and 2 kids. I've seen them a number of times heading into the cul-de-sac behind us. I think one of my neighbours must have the remains of some yummy flowers that they are after. Here mama is checking out our back garden.

This is what Linda whipped up one day. The cinnamon pinwheels didn't last long. Neither did anything else. That's a cherry pie with a moose on top. What Linda calls quiche of the house, and a beef tenderloin stew with lots of goodies in it.

Linda says hi to a dear friend.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.0 hrs
Bike 6.0 hrs
Run 2.5 hrs
Walk 1.5 hrs
Core 3.25 hrs
Total 15.25 hrs

Friday, December 18, 2009

Running progress

Another beautiful day for a run. It's just about zero and sunny. This temp is actually kind of difficult to dress for because it's just on the verge of running without any winter gear. Wear too much for a sunny calm day and you'll cook if you run hard. Go light, and run a bit slower with some wind and overcast, and you'll be really cold. I could probably have gotten away with wearing two long sleeve tech shirts, but I wore a vest, Susi has one like it, over a long sleeve tech shirt, and all was well. I hate to wear too much and have to end up with my jacket tied around my waist. That just looks so tacky, like you didn't check the weather before going out.

I ran exactly the same route as Wednesday, only trying to keep a steady pace after getting warmed up. This time I got a little further. Wed was 9 K in an hour with half the run going fairly hard. Today was 9.5 K in 1:02:30, with my heart rate in the low 130's for most of the run. It went up to just over mid 130's for the last (uphill) 15 minutes. The average was 131 over the hour, and I was never breathing really hard.

My feet and legs were really happy to be running again. We were in the groove. I was paying attention to posture and stride and arms, and all that, but wasn't having to think about it to make it happen. My body was doing it for me, with occasional reminders to straighten up, or to keep the arms moving, or relax the shoulders.

If I'd brought a Gu, and there was a place for water, I could have kept going for quite a bit longer at this pace. In less than a minute after stopping, my heart rate was down 25 bpm, and my breathing back to normal for walking.

I am so pleased at how the running is coming along. It's easy to see your progress on every run. Keep track of time, run a route you're familiar with, and think about how you feel, and there you are. Swimming, if you keep track really carefully, you can see the progress, but it's harder to do. Biking on the trainer it's almost impossible to see if you're making improvements, unless you have a power meter and really keep track. There are so many variables. Is your bike in the trainer tight or sloppy? What's the tire pressure? How tight is the resistance set? How's the chain lube situation? Your heart rate, breathing, perceived effort can vary quite a bit from day to day in any given set of gears. It's hard to know if your just having a good day, or if you're really making progress.

I'm still not sure I want to talk about chafing. On the last couple runs I've been getting a small patch of chafing in a very, very unlikely spot. I don't think it's from fabric rubbing directly; I think it's from the way certain bits of anatomy are positioned in these particular tights. No, not that. I said unlikely.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My basement smelled like a pool

My swim was scheduled for Friday, but fitting it into the schedule was looking a bit complex, so I moved it to Thursday. This was something new for me, 5 x 400m with 20 seconds rest for the first two, and 30 seconds rest for the next two, and different stuff happening for each 400. I was enjoying sharing the lane with a guy that didn't swim all that fast, but was putting a fair bit of power into it. During warm up, and I really was going slow, I blew past him. After that, every time I was coming up behind him he sped up, or tried to. Didn't matter, I passed him anyway. The last set was the fun one, 8 x 50 on 1 minute. These were all 53 seconds, except the last, which was 50 seconds. I was in the pool almost exactly an hour.

On the way home there was an interesting situation in front of the Safeway, where we turn right. This right turn is notorious for being slippery. It's very common to see tracks bouncing off the centre median, and sometimes even going across the point of the triangle that separates traffic going straight from that turning right. But this guy didn't even get that far around the corner. He somehow ended up high centered on the triangular median, right beside the pole for the signals. It's as if he had stopped normally at the lights, and a giant picked the car up and moved it to the right a car width and a half.

A bit later I got onto the bike, after some debate about shuffling around the rest of the workouts. In the end I decided that it was still best to do my run tomorrow, and get the regular stuff done today. The bike workout was a bit longer than usual. I may have done one whole set twice, rather than just a couple of elements of it. I was on the bike 2.25 hrs, feeling pretty strong throughout.

I went upstairs for a quick snack after the bike. When I came back downstairs it smelled like a pool. I guess I was sweating all the pool residue off my skin. Then 30 minutes of core, including some yoga stretches. Still trying to loosen up my shoulders. The left is way tighter than the right.

Just before supper time I got the pool sniffles really bad, to the point I'm almost totally stuffed up. That's the only downside to swimming.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pity it wasn't race day

Above zero!!! Yahoo! Although it wasn't quite warm enough for shorts and a T shirt, I was tempted. I ended up wearing tights and a long sleeved tech shirt. That was just barely warm enough for when I got down into Fish Creek. It's always colder down there.

For about the first time I made a gradual build work for me. It's still not quite what the plan said, but fairly close. Close for me anyway. Plan was 10 min easy, 10 min a bit quicker, 10 min quicker still, 10 at half marathon pace, last 10 at the same pace as the second 10 minutes worth.

What I actually did was 10 min easy (~120 bpm), 10 medium (~130 bpm) then settled into a really nice stride at ~140 bpm. I lost track of time and didn't turn around at 25 minutes, but caught myself for 30. Kept going at the same pace for 30 minutes because it felt so fricking good! That and to be running outside in warm sunny weather. Did the last 10 minutes back at the 130 bpm pace, and got back to my starting place within a few seconds of 60 minutes, for almost exactly 9 K, per Google Earth.

I found a good stride right off, and had a good comfortable stride for the entire run. My legs felt relaxed and strong. It turns out I had good landmarks for the 30 minutes of the fastest part of the run, and my pace turns out to be just a hair slower than a 6 minute K (4.95 K). Keep in mind that 30 minutes included running out of Fish Creek, up the hill. Yet I was running easily, with light feet, good breathing, nice stride, and could have gone on much longer at that pace. I almost had to force myself back to a slower pace for the last 10 minutes.

For a nice bonus, I saw two deer in the park. They watched me carefully, but didn't run away. They were maybe 10 feet away. And, even better, I panicked a geezer! In Coop, he was doddering along ahead of me a bit. A lady came out of an aisle somewhat ahead of me and to my right. She was walking quietly, and fairly quickly. I was walking at my normal get out of my way or I'll trample you pace, with my wet shoes squeaking firmly with every step. A few steps back, as she and I closed in on him like sharks after prey, he heard me, and darted to the right, and mostly bumped into her, since she was a step ahead of me. I think she gave him the elbow, but I'm not sure. This time he shoulder checked before jumping out of her way, and saw me bearing down on him. He turned sideways, and tried to make himself small, while muttering an apology to the lady. Both of us sailed past. She headed for the deli section, and I headed for the cashier. Life is good.

Yoga tonight, and last week we got to put in requests for poses. So tonight shouldn't be too brutal at all. I'd asked for the pose that's a really good psoas stretch. Pigeon pose? I think that's what it's called.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On our way to balmy

Another spin session today. I was sort of wondering how it would go given what happened last time, but all was back to what I think of as normal. Chugged through in 1.75 hours, felt pretty good. Then 30 minutes of core. That got a bit shaky towards the end.

Walked to the local DVD rental store this afternoon because it had warmed up so much. It was only -10 C (14 F) so I didn't bother with hat, scarf, or gloves. It was nice being out for 30 minutes of brisk walking. Tomorrow is supposed to be just above zero. I might be running in shorts if there's no wind!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Short update.

Swim day. 100 m intervals. Three sets of them. Each with less rest between them. The second last one I essentially arrived at the departure time. Things were getting sloppy. I'm glad there wasn't more than what there was. Shoulders feeling better. Swam 1 hr, deep water running for 30 minutes.

Still cold here. The water had mist coming off it at the end closest to the patio door. Tomorrow should be nice, only -9 C (16 F), and Wed above zero! We'll be in shorts and T shirts here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A weak and feeble spin in -wtf weather

And that was inside the store. Outside was colder.

First things first. The registry office. KK asked about it. This is stuff the provincial government used to do, but has since been privatized and farmed out. The service is much better now. These stores are everywhere. I go there to renew my drivers license, and get new registry tags for the car. I later found out you can pay speeding tickets (damn photo radar anyway), and do business incorporation stuff. However, for the purposes of this blog, I looked it up and admit to being astonished at all the things you can do there. Here's a link to the catologue (yes that word has a u in it no matter what the spell checker says) in pdf for those interested.

So, what could Julie be up to, other than the services already mentioned? It's not her drivers license because that expires on her birthday, which isn't anywhere close to now. There's vehicle registration searches and related products, Land Title searches and related stuff, Cemeteries search, registering corporations and other corporate stuff (and Julie used to own a business so it could be fallout from that), there is marriage related stuff like attachment or enforcement orders, liens, marriage licenses (though why we should pay to get married which is none of the governments business but they should be licensing being able to have children), death certs, name changes, genealogical searches, various health care insurance stuff including a gender change of all things (which is much more up to date than I thought Alberta would be) and lastly, raffle licenses. I had no idea they did all that stuff, so I learned something today. I guess, if we wanted, we could speculate what Julie was doing in the office the other day, that was so compelling it was better than digging out an eye with a spoon (why not a fork, you'd think that would work better). So guys, feel free to speculate in comments about what she was up to.

We all know it's brutally cold outside.

I decided running in that was foolish verging on stupid, so I didn't take any running stuff. However, the store we use for spin class was brutally cold inside. As in almost see your breath cold, no matter what the thermostat says. I was wearing a sweatshirt for the first half hour. My fingers and toes never did warm up, and my calves were getting a constant draught from the windows. I'd have worn my running tights if I'd had them.

Just about every time I thought about my perceived exertion and breathing, then looked at my bike computer, I was at least 10 rpm below where I thought I should be. My heart rate was about 20 bpm lower than where I thought it should be based on effort and breathing. I couldn't maintain a steady rpm at all. I'd think I was, then I'd look and I'd have drifted down. I never got above 115 rpm at all, in any gear. My legs simply wouldn't do it. Even getting to 90 rpm was a bit of a struggle. I was typically working at least 2 gears easier for any particular set, and still having difficulty getting the desired rpm. Normally given that I'd say I'd been dogging it, but I was getting the lactic burn, and my legs are tired now. So maybe they were really tired going in, I don't know. I didn't feel bad or anything, just weak and feeble.

Core was a toughie, and I backed off some of the plank stuff. It was really hard lying down in a cold store, even on a yoga mat. The muffins were to die for. White chocolate and cranraisins!!! That was worth going out in the cold just for those.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.0 hrs
Bike 5.75 hrs
Run 1.83 hrs
Walk 1.0 hrs
Core 4.75 hrs
Total 15.33 hrs

Friday, December 11, 2009

The geezers were out in force today

How's that song go? "Hope I die before I get old" Yeah, I know where they're coming from.

Back to Thursday.
I'd been hoping to get on my bike early, but somehow it didn't work out that way. I was reading the plan, and thinking it was going to be a tough one. Warmed up, cadence work. About here I realized I wasn't terribly focused. I was wanting to settle in to a pace or cadence, and just keep going. The problem is the plan had things changing up, every minute, or 45 seconds, or 30 seconds. During the first part of the main set I was always a few seconds behind on standing up or sitting down. However it wasn't hard to keep track of the 110 rpm sets, and I finished those on the second. The gear building started taking it out of me but I pushed through. I'm glad I didn't have to go one gear harder though. Then everybody's favourite, one leg drill. 3x1 minute each. Ug. Last one was getting sloppy. Cool down. 1.75 hrs. My legs were like rubber getting off the bike, and I nearly took a spill. This was a surprise, they seemed to be happy pedaling, and I didn't think standing up was going to be a problem.

Tried the core, and the ham curls weren't curling, and I was too unsteady to do the stair steps, so I deferred core until later.

Linda's sister visited in the evening. She lives near Ottawa and comes out on business every once in a while. Duck breast in orange sauce for dinner. mmmmm.

The theory was to run for an hour, then swim. We have to leave the house for yoga at 8:30. The pool opens at 5:30 and I was expecting the horde of high school kids at 7am. My brain is normally pretty good at scheduling this sort of stuff, but it flat out refused to calculate when I had to leave the house to make this all work.

So I'm sorry if I've messed up the plan, but I swam first. I had a lane to myself for most of it, and the girl that joined me actually swam surprisingly quickly given her crappy stroke.  600 m as 50 easy, 50 hard. Then 400 as 25 easy, 75 hard. 200 hard. 100 all out. There was some non-free stuff in between all that, plus some warm up and cool down.

I was in the pool for an hour and had an adventure. I was done the workout, and was doing a few easy lengths to fill out the hour and work on flip turns, when I remembered some advice Cath had given me about coordinating the hips with the recovery and catch. So I tried it. It was faster than I thought it would be. I forgot to tell my lungs about the potential change in timing and ended up inhaling more pool water than I've ever done. I had to stop, stand up, and cough my brains out. I guess I'm lucky the staff didn't think I was vomiting and evacuate the pool. I'll try that again another time, and think about it a little more first.

I've been doing that shoulder stretch that Sara showed us. Between that and the change of stroke my shoulders have been really stiff and tired lately. Today was the first swim in a while where I didn't get into a relaxed stroke right away.

So what do we get at yoga? Downward dog. For the entire 1.25 hours. Or so it seemed. We got through the first sun salute, and that that was all she wrote. There was a bunch of arms over the head stuff, and they simply wouldn't go. There was a twist for the legs that involved the arms being on the floor above the head, and both my shoulders and right elbow let out some alarming cracks when I tried to do it. The instructor told me to stop whatever it was, that those sort of noises aren't allowed in her yoga class. There was a balance pose that surprised me. No idea what it's called. Bend over and put fingers on floor. Shift weight and lift up one foot behind you. Then wrap both hands around the ankle near the floor. Relax. Breath. No problemo.

Then came the attack of the geezers. Yes, it was snowing. Yes, the City of Calgary is probably the worst city in North America at cleaning snow from the streets, and trying to set new records of badness lately. So the streets were slippery. Still, there are limits. When the light turns green I expect people to at least TRY to move forward. In the Coop parking lot a geezer came out of an aisle, didn't look, and turned right in front of me. Good thing I was paying attention. That geezer eased his way out of the parking lot, in the way I wanted to go. Which means a right turn onto 24th St. Then a left onto Southland. Slowly. Bastard. Right onto whatever street that is beside the strip mall, then a left into the mall. Even more slowly. Bastard! Then he cruises through, looking at parking spaces. Maybe he was a parking space inspector, but none of them met his standards. I found one, and watched as he cruised through the parking lot and turned right on Braeside Drive. Slowly, but at least I wasn't behind him anymore. What that did was put me behind another geezer on the way into the barber shop. I will freely admit this barber shop is a geezer magnet, but where else can you get a hair cut for $16?  This guy nodded at me, opened the door, and stood in it. And he stank. Cigarette smoke, body odour, sour food, and well, what food becomes. He says hi to the barber he wanted, then turned around to hang around outside frightening small children and dogs. I'd been trying to figure out which direction was upwind, and didn't think it through fast enough. At least he wasn't stinking up the joint inside till it was his turn. It was bad! But that wasn't all! I'm trying to get out of the lot afterward, and I'm being assaulted by pedestrians. I can't really fault them for walking carefully because it IS slippery and uneven, but I CAN fault them for not walking in a herd for mutual support. Then, at the bank I'm trying to deposit a cheque into the bank machine. A geezer pushes the outside door all the way open, and slowly totters in. They (gender was indeterminate because they had on so many layers) opened the door and decided to lean on it for a while, no doubt pondering if this was a good time and place to drop dead. Meanwhile there are people trying to get in and out, and there's a wicked breeze blowing right through the bank. I could hear paper fluttering. It was like a wind tunnel in there. Then I'm back to coop to pick up Linda. Holy Moly inside is geezer city. If I'd had to be doing the shopping I'd have probably slit my wrists. No, I'd be smarter than that, I'd fling myself under a full shopping cart and try to frame one of them for assault. Just to be clear, not all old people are geezers, and not all geezers are old.

I was so happy to be home again with nothing more difficult than an hour run in fresh snow, and -18 C (0 F) wind chill. Walked a few minutes, started easy, and built slowly to an easyish pace. It was sort of odd. My legs and lungs didn't want to run any faster, but my heart rate was crazy low. It took a long time to find a stride. I was really working on balance, trying to land squarely on my foot, and picking it up again without it slithering around under me. This run was down into Fish Creek, so it's downhill all the way out, and uphill all the way back. I stopped at 60 minutes, and had to walk 4 minutes to get back to my starting point. Once back at the house I stretched for 30 minutes. I looked at yesterday's core workout, honest I did. Maybe later....

Dark now, and it's not even 5pm. Snowing harder. Getting colder. The forecast for tomorrow is -28 C (-18 F) again. I don't want to know about the wind chill. We got more DVDs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First cold hard run

Here's what I saw for weather this morning. At 7am it was still -21 C (-6 F).

I was hoping to get out after the cold and before the snow. Missed on both. It was snowing when I got going just after noon, and still cold. I wore two pairs of tights, the infamous man-bra, long sleeve tech shirt, heavy hoody, wind breaker, hat and gloves. It turns out I dressed just a bit too warm, and should have opened the vents on my jacket. Oh, -11 C is 12 F, and I don't think it was that warm here. Felt like about -15 C (5 F) or so.

Walked 15 minutes briskly to warm up, the starting an easy run for 10 minutes at Anderson and 37th. Then 3x7 hard with 3 easy after each. Hard as in not able to talk. I got my heart rate up to 150 to 155 bpm, and past that I start gasping so I slowed down a bit. The run was excellent! Legs felt good and strong. Not terribly fast, but I've no real idea of speed. I made it to the path around the reservoir and got one minute along that before turning around. There was less fast time on the way back so I didn't get all the way back to my starting point. I'm glad there wasn't a fourth set. Ran easy another 10 minutes, heart rate around 130, then walked another 15 back home. They had plowed the path so footing was good. There are still a ton of residential streets that are essentially impassable.

I was soaking wet with sweat. There was a rim of frost around my hoody and hat. My moustashe and eyebrows were all frosted up. I could barely see out of my glasses. Stretched a bit at home.

Yoga had lots of good stretches tonight, though the Downward Dog during the sun salute nearly killed me. I simply don't understand how people can say Dog is a relaxing pose. My arms are trembling and a couple times I've nearly fallen on my face. Lots of lunges, and twists and a shoulder stand. Very nice. Now I'm happy to be going to bed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Clay Oven Indian food

Spin session today, once I worked myself up for it. Coming home after dropping Linda off I curled up with Amelia the cat and snoozed for 3 hours, then shambled around trying to get my brain going. Eventually got on my bike for 2 hours. Lots of good stuff. Mostly fun until my ipod quit just as I was going into the cool down. It does that every now and then and I have to reset it.

Then a half hour of core, all per program, except push ups. Even those were to plan - 2x(10-8-6-4-2) except for doing them from my knees. I ended up doing the heels thing as 3 x 20 seconds rather than 1 x 60 seconds.

Linda's sister Kelly is in town this week. I picked them up at the hotel and we went up to the Clay Oven. This is the best Indian food in the City, or so we think. Though the service was a bit slow tonight, and the Naan bread wasn't as good as usual. I think they were a bit short staffed. Bagnan Bartha, Lamb Gosht, and Butter Chicken. mmmmmmmm Guess what I'm having for lunch tomorrow.

It's still cold.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Still effing cold

Good thing today was a swim workout. The problem is that when you go from nice cold dry air, into the pool, the water feels like really warm treacle. Did a good warmup, going a bit longer than the plan, just to be sure. In fact it's odd, I was trying to cool down a bit so the water would feel cooler. I swim better in cooler water.

Then into lots and lots of 50 m intervals. I learned something today. It's much harder doing 50 m intervals by yourself, than doing them chasing cute Jenna toes, and trying to avoid being caught by Tish. Especially when the pace clock is essentially invisible, and the second numbers on my waterproof watch are really tiny. But that went really well. Flip turned most of it, and I think I'm getting the hang of it. It's tough watching the surface go by a few inches up, while your lungs are wanting some air. I did some very ungraceful surfacing.

Made up the rest of the hour with medium speed swimming thinking about technique, and working on the turns. Then into the dive tank for another hour, starting with 15 minutes of core, 30 minutes of deep water running, then another 15 minutes of core.

Then out into the still very cold.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Crappy footing

That's right, wind chill of -30 C (-22F) out there today. Even now, with the sun shining, -30 C. Even for us rufty-tufty Canadians, that's something to think about a bit before going out in it. Especially for a run, when you're certain to be running into the wind, dropping the wind chill even more. However, my objection isn't the temperature. I've run in very cold weather before, and will do so again I'm sure. It's the footing. We've had a bunch of snow lately, the wind has sculpted it into interesting drifts, and I have some lazy neighbours. We had a slight thaw just before all this started so there are icy patches underneath the loose snow. It's not unheard of here for people to have what would normally be a minor fall, banging their head on the ground or a car on the way down, and freeze to death. Not me.

Today is normally the day for my weekly dose of Katie-tude. She is so much fun to take spin class from, she's always up and cheerful, has the most, shall we say, interesting, tunes. She gets her kids to select them and burn them on a disc. There's about 25 kids to pick between, but I don't know how she does it. Some of them have strange thoughts about what people they think of as geezers will like. I've really liked some of their choices. Watching Katie dance on her bike to tetris by dacav 5 was quite the experience.

But I didn't really want to go out in the cold to shovel the driveway, then put the bike in the car, then drive the crappy roads to get to spin class, and then reverse the process. So I found out what the plan for the class was and did that here. Warmup, lots of cadence stuff. Added to a part of the main set, and put in a steady aerobic set of my own to drive the total time to 2.5 hours. I'm very pleased with it.

Then a half hour of core stuff, some of which I made up on the spot. And yes, it included some plank. Just because I have trouble with it, doesn't mean I don't recognize that it's good for me. Mostly ab stuff, some arm stuff too.

Then an early dinner, with Linda making chicken in a red wine sauce with tomatoes, celery, and rosemary all over arborial rice. Yummy!

And yes, we watched ALL the DVD's. So there.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.0 hrs
Bike 6.0 hrs
Run 1.3 hrs
Walk 1.0 hrs
Core 4.25hrs
Total 14.5 hrs

Friday, December 4, 2009

Swim. Run. Yoga. Snow!

It's been a busy morning. By 10:15 I'd swum, run, and yoga'd. Regular, not Bikram. Told the instructor the story about one of my blog buddies trying hot yoga for the first time in cheap pants and what with the cut and sweat, ending up showing off her fallopian tubes. She laughed and said different strokes for different people, and that some have needed some gentle advice about clothing.

When I started it was nice out, just above 0 C (32 F) clear skies, no wind. The nearly full moon was very pretty. At the pool I shared a fast lane with a guy that swam medium fast, and I was stuck on the wall half. Somehow he was always just in front, or just behind as I came to the wall, and I'm not quite that confident yet, to be able to flip turn with the ladder and another person right there. He left part way through so I did flip turns from then on. I'm learning that if you firmly look at your knees as you turn, you don't go as deep.

I was in the water at least 45 minutes for 2100 m. Maybe more; I didn't wear a watch. Lots of drill. Lots of easy/hard. Most importantly, lots of concentrating on catch and stroke and elbows up. At the end my arms felt like they were falling off for the first time in a long time. I am certainly swimming faster and it's really nice.

From there I drove home and realized I just had time to get my run in before leaving for yoga. Quick change. It's still nice out. It took a long time to find my stride. It still hadn't come at the half way point. I was running my 3.1 K loop, figuring that twice around would be pretty close to the planned 40 minutes. Holy doodle I was slow, 22:15 after the first lap. I picked it up a bit, mostly found a stride, and completed the run in 42:15. In the meantime the wind had picked up and the temperature dropped to the point I would have stopped to put on more clothes.

Quick shower and breakfast, then off to yoga. It was just starting to snow. There were some good stretches in yoga, one of which nearly killed my shoulders. They're feeling really tight after the swim. It was snowing pretty hard for the drive home. We figured to settle in for the rest of today, and all day tomorrow, so we picked up lots of DVDs. Rome season 2 episodes 1-4, Battlestar Galactica season 1 discs 1&2, 300, Termintor Salvation, The Maiden Heist, Inkheart, and The Tudors disc 1.  Think that will keep us out of mischief?

The snow and wind is making for near whiteout conditions, though it isn't terribly cold out. I'm so glad I hustled this morning and got it all done before the weather closed in. Linda is baking cookies, some of which have to go to work on Monday. I got a mental email from Susi this morning. They're having great weather, and she had no sympathy about the snow at all. I've been thinking about her and how she did in IM last weekend. I followed her time as best I could, but I've been look at her blog waiting for the whole story. Then I realized, given the choice between lying on the beach having attractive people bringing you fruity drinks with the little umbrellas, and updating a blog, which would I do? Easy choice, and the beach girls wouldn't even have to be topless.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Linda wins the race!

Linda is so proud of herself. Every year women put on a race. No advertising. No prizes except for social esteem and bragging rights. No timing chip. No starting line, for that matter. What is this race? It's the race to get your Christmas cards out.

This year Linda went through a diligent training routine. Getting her lists prepared. Checking her addresses. Making sure a big roll of stamps was on hand. Putting a date and time onto my calendar to sign cards, and hand deliver a few where we don't have an address. (We know where these people live, we just don't know the actual address.) There were a few odd sized ones that needed to go to the post office to be checked to see if they need extra postage. And what do you know? She got them ALL sent BEFORE the first one arrived in our mailbox. Yay Linda! For the record, the first one arrived in our mailbox the day after I dropped off the last one. My buddy BJ's was first to arrive. I have to say that if it was up to me, there would be no Christmas cards sent.

We changed up my schedule a bit this week in response to the camp. Yesterday was deep water running for 45 minutes. That was sort of odd, churning around the dive tank, not thinking of anything in particular, trying different strides. The only thinking I can recall is wondering if the time should go down as swimming or as core. I'm going to call it core. I was wanting to be in the pool, working on my stroke.

I weenied out of going to yoga, but I'll go on Friday. Last night I was feeling tired enough that I wanted the sleep more than the stretching. I haven't been sleeping well the last week or so, and this looked like a chance to get caught up. I was in bed, and asleep by 7:30 pm. Even when I woke up I managed to roll over and go back to sleep again, which is unusual.

Today was a tough spin workout. 1.75 hours of fun and watching my heart rate and cadence. A couple of the sets were right up on the edge, but it felt really good after. All the core except plank was good. Managed the front plank ok, up on my hands this time, though I just barely made the times. My left arm collapsed about half way through, and I can't do it all on my right side. I'll need to work on that.

For my American friends I experimented with a temperature conversion gadget in my sidebar, but they're all ugly and take up too much space. It's easier for me to write out both temperatures, and probably easier for you to read. That way, when I say it was -17 C (1.4 F) this morning, you'll know how impressed I am with my neighbour that lives in the cul-de-sac behind our house. He rode his bike to work today. Like always.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First post-camp swim

I was not awake last night, or even this morning. Normally I look over my plan for the next day and get myself organized for it. I figure I'm paying for it, and my coach went to the trouble or writing it out, the least I can do is, well, do it. I knew I had a run today, that was fine. It was only just before getting in the car to take Linda to work that I scrolled down a little further and realized there was a swim for today too. And that it was too late to get myself all packed up to swim at FOMC. Maybe just as well. I wasn't really with it yet.

It slowly turned into a nice day. I spent some time in the basement doing some gentle stretches and joint looseners to get ready for the run. This was the first real winter run of the season with maybe 4 cm of snow on the ground, and -5 or 10 or so. Nice and crisp, sunny. The sidewalks were pretty good, but the streets were a bit slippery.

Started very slow, and let my legs decide when they wanted to pick up the pace. The very fastest I was going was maybe my half marathon pace, very aerobic. Eased off about 10 minutes before the end of the run, for a total of 40 minutes. Worked on posture, especially the lean. Not to go faster, but to run with less effort and reduce the chance of slipping. If your weight is solidly over your foot it's not going to slide out from under you. Did more stretching after. Legs were feeling a bit tired, but not too bad.

Went over to the local pool for lunch time. My main thought was to work on my catch, keep my elbows high, and try to play with my balance by keeping my chest and head lower. Oh, and to start doing flip turns.

There were intervals for several distances, but I really paid attention to the 100's. I was supposed to go on 2:10 first two easy, then next two harder. I would normally do these in 1:50 relaxed, and I'd have to work a bit to be 1:45. Today, relaxed, thinking about stroke and form, but going easy, I banged out 1:40. Then did it again. Not breathing hard at all. Then 1:35, breathing a little harder. Then 1:31 or 32 and still not going all out.

The 150's were on 3:00. Each one was to start easy and build throughout. Each one was 2:40, giving me 20 seconds rest. The last one was a bit sloppy and I had to hustle to finish it in the same time as the others. The last 50 was sub-50 seconds, and it didn't feel like I was pushing that hard at all.

I counted strokes several times throughout the workout, and was consistently at 18. Normally that's where I start and gradually degrade to about 20 or 21. As you might imagine, I am totally gobsmacked by how much the times dropped, just by making some small adjustments to my stroke! And that's on my first try, without doing the flip turns during the workout. I did the flip turns during the warm up and cool down, during the easy strokes between the main sets, and during some easy swim after the workout. I learned that you have to be looking straight at the wall and not to one side, or you'll tumble sideways. Swam an hour total.

Given these results, I have to say the camp was a total success for me! Between my coach watching my swim a few weeks ago and fixing some stuff, and the more detailed analysis available using slow motion replay, and trying to swim mindfully to apply the lessons, I've seen an amazing improvement in my swimming. I am very impressed and pleased! There are still lots of things to fix. I've got this weird twitch part way through the pull I want to work on once I get the catch totally nailed down. Can't wait for the next swim!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Post camp stuff

Oddly enough I didn't sleep particularly well through the camp, and even last night wasn't good. Once I woke up about 4 am I couldn't go back to sleep. I have high hopes for tonight though.

Met Julie and Tessa for breakfast. Julie had a meeting with her coach, so we went to the Nellies just across the street. We were there for about 2 hours laughing and talking and drinking coffee. Good times.

At home I shambled around getting up the ambition to get on the bike, and finally made it by late morning. At this point the sky is clear and sunny, and its a typical crisp fall day. My thought was to do the bike, core, then run some errands. Part way through Linda called to ask me to pick up something for her. About that time I could see that it had been getting darker out. Then I started seeing some snow. I finished up the bike to see a nice snow flurry happening and the sky totally overcast. I figured that was going to get worse before it got better, so I zipped through the shower and headed out. It wasn't too bad at all, though gradually getting worse.

When I got home I was ready for a nap, and settled in with Amelia the cat for a while. I woke up at one point, looked outside, and couldn't see anything at all. Not even the neighbours house across the street. Total whiteout, just as rush hour was starting. Peachy. I'm sure glad I wasn't out in it. Linda said later that it was much worse here than it was in downtown.

The bike was 1.75 hours, and I trimmed the cool down by a few minutes. Lots of cadence work. It was slow getting started, with it taking 10 minutes before I hit 80 rpm. For a while a set of muscles on the outside of my thighs were jiggling like a big layer of flab. That felt really weird, but it went away after a while. I had to stay focussed on the workout, and push to get through it on tired legs. They felt good getting off the bike.

The evening core was about 45 minutes, including some gentle stretching and lying there with my feet in the air. All of it except plank was good. (Where have you heard this before?) I can plank a minute and then things fall apart pretty quick.

I had to download a program called VLC to be able to view the movie files from the camp, but that all worked out well. There was a ton of still photos as well, and here's one of me surfacing for air while giving the 'live long and prosper sign'.

Sara's swim and run camp Sunday

While our American friends were eating themselves into oblivion, and the football fans were working themselves into an emotional lather, us hardcore tri junkies were at the pool. In fact, two of us, me and another guy, were in the water 20 minutes EARLY. We chose to defy the fat and mouthy City foreman at the pool that told us she deigned to let us use the steam room or hot tub, but our lanes wouldn't open till 8:30. Bah. I say bah.

Sara and Clint led us through some dryland drills for review, then Sara lined us up for our swim lanes. I followed Jenna. Our lane was swimming 50's on 1 minute, or most of our lane was. A few people thought that was a bit brisk for a warm up, but Jenna kept going with me then Tisha in hot pursuit. Not sure what the other lane was doing but there sure was a lot of splashing.

I was working on my catch and pull, then Carrie gave me a tip. That worked really well, changing my position in the water. Same effort and I was nearly eating Jenna's toes, which are very cute, btw. Then we got started with flip turns. I have been officially told that I do them well enough to be doing them all the time.

We were in the water only an hour, then down to Carrie's place for breakfast, talks, and run video analysis. I was all ready to hide my eyes, and crawl under the sofa when I came up on the video but it wasn't that bad. I'm still leading with my chin, my arms are too low and I don't move them enough, my hips drop. That's what I remember right now, though I have some notes in my bag.

Then we set out for a nice 90 minute run. I haven't run that long since 70.3 in August, and don't forget the hard run yesterday on the track. True to my expectations I was the slowest in the pack. We ran from near the Talisman Centre down the Elbow River pathway. I've ridden this many times, but never run it. I got to the water treatment plant and back, which is 12.7 K. My main goal was to keep a steady pace and stay aerobic. I kept my heart rate at 130± 2 or 3 bpm the entire time, except going up Sandy Beach hill, and evenly split the run. My form was starting to get sloppy about the 1:10 mark, but I don't think I slowed down much. Some of the rest of the campers can really run!

We got our CD's of video and photo, which I haven't looked at yet. Why? I came home after the hugs and goodbyes, showered, and went straight to some friends for dinner. The football game was on in the background. There's lots I don't understand about football. The Riders led the entire game, then with no time on the clock, they let the other team keep trying to kick field goals till they got one. Shouldn't the game be over when the clock is done? I'm just asking.

Today my legs don't feel too bad. I banged my heels a bit during one of the flip turns and with all the running, my lower calves are a bit sore. I'll do some stretching a bit later, and do a good spin warmup on the bike, then more stretching. But first the important stuff. Breakfast with Julie and Tessa.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.5 hrs
Bike 3.5 hrs
Run 3.0 hrs
Walk 1.5 hrs
Core 3.0 hrs
Total 14.5 hrs

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sara's swim and run camp Fri & Sat

Friday night traffic was a living hell. There was a bit of rain/snow, and the temperature dropped to just below zero. You couldn't get a better slippery surface on the roads if you used a zamboni. It took me 45 minutes to make a 20 minute drive, and I got lucky. Crowchild trail north turned into a parking lot at 33rd, but I just managed to escape and wiggle up the side streets to Killarney pool. Even so, I saw two accidents, and there were a zillion more around the rest of the city. It didn't help this is Grey Cup weekend in Canada, and the big game is in Calgary. (For American's, think Superbowl, only bigger, relatively speaking.)

I was surprised at how murky the water was. It looked fine looking down at it, but when you look through it to the other end of the pool, you couldn't see the other end. On the video playback (small TV) people appeared out of the murk about 2 body lengths out, so you could only see a couple strokes. I dig too deep, and my hands wiggle around.

When we weren't swimming we were doing some dryland exercises and stretching. My traps are really really tight. I was shown some exercises to work on that.

Traffic was still really bad. People trying to get out onto 17th were going to be waiting a while. I saw the cop lights and went back out the way I came. We have an early start in the morning.

I have now seen high quality video of me swimming. It's isn't quite cover your eyes bad. I have a page full of notes of things to correct. Perhaps, once I get the DVD, and I master the technical expertise required, AND I get suitable bribes (cookies, wine, good chocolate...) I might clip out the sections with me, and put them on my blog, so everybody can see just how bad it is. It wouldn't be fair to just put the whole thing up. Some of the people on it have their own blogs (Julie, Jenna, and Tisha that I know about) and if they want to put their thrashing bodies on the internet they can do so themselves. Coach gets to come over, take a sedative, and watch the whole thing.

We warmed up 1200 m various stuff. It wasn't so long ago that if I swam that much it was a good workout. Then 2 x 200 m intervals. Then 4 x 100. Then 6 x 50. Somewhere in there we got filmed, I think after the 100's. In between we did some easy 50's. Cool down. At one point I was tickling Julie's toes, trying to make her laugh while swimming. Another point during the 50's I was trying to keep up with Jenna. Geez can she swim! I treasure Clint's comment "You pull good water for an age grouper." That was before he saw the video footage.

The video commentary was excellent. Excellent! Lots of tips on what people are doing wrong, and how to correct it. Also pointing out what people are doing right, which is important too. It is astonishing to see what your body is *really* doing, as compared to what you *think* you are doing. I'm a convert. If you're a swimmer, and want to improve, go get yourself videoed.

We had a mid day break, and met back at Mount Royal College. We did a warm up K or so. Then were filmed from both sides, front and back. Then Sara led us through some drills, swinging arms, jogging on the spot, and lean on someone to build up a head of steam and burst out of the starting gate. Then we ran 4 x 4 laps, with one lap easy between each set. At 221 m per lap, that's about 4.4 K at what was supposed to be our 10 K race pace. I didn't time myself. It's sure boring running around and around and around. I had to count laps on my fingers for fear I'd forget. I need to do a bit more stretching, and my feet hurt a little bit. I did this in my indoor shoes, which are really a miled out set of outdoor shoes that were washed, and should only be used for gym stuff.

We haven't seen the run video coverage yet. I think I'll sneak a stiff drink into my water bottle to prepare myself for how bad it's likely to be, and to console myself after. Back in the pool bright and early tomorrow.

We've had just about a full time photo/videographer clicking away, and they say everything will be on the DVD. So I haven't taken any photos myself.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Last pre camp workout

Yoga last night was good. Very good. My legs feel great.

A two hour spin today. Lots of cadence pyramids and one leg in warm up, then lots and lots of cadence stuff in the main set. All was good.

Core was between 15 and 30 minutes of goodness, well, except for plank. I did some of it, the first front and side set, though I cheated on my right arm a bit. For the second set I didn't even get that far, and left well enough alone. All the rest of it was good.

I'm looking forward to the swim and run camp, and hope the video isn't too embarrassing. It will be nice to see Jenna and Julie again, and meet the other campers. I may even know some of them, but probably not.

I got my computer back, and the backup worked. (snoopy dance of joy happening here!) About the only thing I'm missing is a few sent emails between the 10th and today, none of which are of earth shaking importance. The few document updates I did are still in mind and have been done again, or are on a USB drive. The moral of the story is, back up your data!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Inner sharks always use their core

Today one of the errands was to hit Coop for a few odds and ends. Naturally, ELF had blogged about her grocery issues. That was going through my mind as I was dodging the geezers though I didn't have it quite as bad as she did. No stalkers, for one thing. I eyed one woman methodically examining every single one of the broccoli stalks. Good thing I didn't need any. Without a cart I managed to fake out another geezer. She thought I was going for the fruit cups, and I managed to get the cherry tomatoes without incident. Two old dears were having a conversation in front of the milk. The two of them, and their two carts formed a long line, but not quite long enough. I was beginning to think of the potential solutions considered by the Cameron Philips character played by Summer Glau, but things got better around the meat counter.

Without entirely meaning to I ended up having a super run today. I wanted to try out the new tights and gloves, and wanted to have a run that was a bit faster than my comfortable pace. Walked 15 minutes to warm up, then started my 8K route. I called the weather perfectly, cool and a bit windy, maybe 0 C. Started easy and found my stride very quickly, within a few hundred meters. Even better, my inner shark showed up. He explained how sharks do everything from their core, especially swimming and biting. We had a nice chat.

I could feel my core working, but wasn't having to pay much attention to my legs until the very end. They felt light and strong. I thought about my posture, and played with my lean a bit. Mainly I ran at the pace where my lungs were just staying on top of things. No panting or gasping, but deep, even breaths. I would have had to time my words carefully, especially towards the end. My legs could have run faster, and I didn't wear a heart rate monitor. If I'd put a time to it, I'd say I was aiming for a 6:30/K pace.

What made it easy to feel my core was where the front waist of the tights goes. It's right at the natural fold when I'm touching my toes, and is maybe a cm lower than other tights I've worn. So there was a small patch of skin that was feeling shirt instead of pants, which changed how my core felt. The legs were snug on my thighs, and fit really well. MEC didn't have any in Large tall, and I think that would have been the perfect fit. These are a few mm short in the legs. They don't seem to want to slide down, which was my second biggest concern. The biggest was plumbers crack, and there's none of that by a healthy margin. There is extra material for the seat.

The route goes down the 37 st path and through Fish Creek. Not many people out. I was feeling really good here, running steady, fixing little things as my inner shark pointed them out. Keeping my back straight, shoulders relaxed, elbows back, chin down, all that sort of stuff. Even then I could tell I was having a good run. Coming back up 24th St is a big hill and I slowed down there a bit, but tried to keep my feet moving fast by taking little steps. Just behind the Safeway is a yellow pole that is darn close to 6K. I looked at my watch then, expecting to see 37 to 38 minutes elapsed. It was 36:06, which is what I'd thought of up till now as race pace or nearly so. Yet I knew I could be running faster if I had to.

From there it's mostly path running along the berm, with lots of uphill. That got a bit tougher, and had to push my legs. I wanted to try to maintain the same pace, and also maintain the smooth stride, and relaxed feel I'd had so far. That was a bit of a struggle, and I could begin to feel it in my legs. My shark encouraged me by telling me how they mostly view themselves as the centre of the world around them, and the world brings stuff to them. That they stay aware of everything around them, and let their desires bring them lunch. They keep things smooth and even, doing everything from the core. They don't think about pushing harder to go faster; they desire the world to move a bit faster and it does. That helped relax my legs and find my stride again about the 7 K mark. Finished the 8K in 48:30. It wasn't so long ago that 8K in an hour damn near killed me. Today was a mostly relaxed run. I could have run longer at a slightly slower pace. I'm super pleased!

I walked another 15 minutes home, and stretched for another 15 minutes or so. Pigeon pose felt soooooo good! My legs feel fine this afternoon, no burn, no stiffness, just a little bit tired. My lungs can feel it a bit, I think I expanded them a little.

Yoga tonight has to be better than last week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Delayed gratification

My buddy Jenna posted an interesting video on her blog . Some comments came up pretty quick, and I have to admit I was a bit surprised. I kind of figured all you ironpeople would be champs at delayed gratification. Here we all are, putting in hundreds of hours a year into training. Time that we could be drinking wine, eating cookies, hanging out with friends, chasing the opposite sex.

What for? There seems to be as many reasons as there are people. But what they all have in common is we've picked a long term goal, and almost every day we choose to train for several hours rather than do the infinity of other activities that are calling our name. It seems we value the ironman experience so much that we rearrange our lives, our families lives, in many ways to achieve that goal.

What makes it harder is that the results of that goal are mostly intangible. Sure, we're very fit in comparison to the general population, which is good for our health and extends our lives. But if fitness was the goal, we could spend a lot less time at it and still get good results. We don't get paid for it. A large segment of the population thinks we're nuts actually. We typically don't make the news, and the only reason anyone else knows about our results is that we tell them. For some of us, the "reward" is to do it again, in a time and place that is really hot, humid, and windy.

Some other activities simply must be done, or we'd get hungry pretty soon, and shortly after we'd be wandering around naked and smelly. Not good company. We all struggle to find the time for the various activities in our lives. Sometimes we give in, willingly or otherwise. We eat the marshmallow, or sleep in, or skip that workout to go to a party. Or do laundry. Nobody told me about laundry before starting this training.

I guess what I'm saying is that most of us seem to be able to demonstrate the ability to delay our gratification. Most of us can choose to eat that marshmallow, or not. Maybe we're only one marshmallow worth of hungry, and getting two in a little while means nothing. But some people can't seem to ever delay their gratification. Not at all, not for any payback. It's like they think the future isn't going to happen, and depending on how short sighted they are, "the future" might be a time less than an hour from now. There is one description word these people have in common, and it's poor. The rare exceptions are those who inherited wealth, and they haven't worked through it all yet.

There are other causes of poverty, and once you're in it's hard to get out. The ones that escape all demonstrate the ability to delay gratification. There might be other factors as well. I can point to the bankrupt pro athletes. They have more money than most of us can dream about, and access to people to help them manage it. Or some people that win the lottery. They should be set for life. They can afford advice. But no, some of them spend it all, (admittedly, there are some thefts and investment failures in there too) and in a year or two have nothing. It boggles my mind.

I don't know if we can teach how to delay gratification to people that can't do it. If we could, it seems like a good idea, and would be good for those people, and good for society in general. But I admit it starts verging into social conditioning and raising nightmares about Skinner's rats and Pavlov's dogs. At what point do we start over riding choices that people have made? Even if they aren't really a choice, but fallout from what some people call a mental illness?

The sound track for today's workout was post Pink Floyd Roger Waters. Very nice. Got on the bike promptly, warmed up. Lots of cadence work, some of it pretty high speed. It was a very sweaty workout for me, even though most of it was aerobic and I was in control of my breathing. At one point my glasses were so covered with sweat trails I could barely see the bike computer or watch. That was 90 minutes.

Then the core, 30 minutes. That all went well, except for the plank. Plank and me are not friends these days. Today was straight arms, front and sides. I can't do the right side for more than few seconds before the arm collapses. Sigh. Lots of work to be done there.

I've got some errands to do in a little bit, and I'll be meeting Susi at MEC. Kelsey put me onto the tights, so I'll look for those. Maybe some winter gloves or mitts. I look like a old bag guy when I run, all mismatched stuff. A Big Rock toque or a City of Calgary cap, an Oil and Gas jacket or one from a big bank. Most of it is too big. But I have it, most of it was free, it works well enough, and mostly I don't care what I look like when I'm training.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nice swim and walk

Today was a peaceful day at FOMC. There was a long hard swim on the books, and I'm glad I essentially had a lane to myself. Lots of warm up, then into the main set. That started with a 400 m swim, but I lost count and given the time I'm pretty sure it was 500. Worked hard on thinking about keeping my stroke even and smooth. Then some intervals, getting shorter, and harder, with less rest between them. My arms were beginning to start falling off by the time I got to the 100m sets, but I was stronger than I thought I'd be. Most of them were about 105 seconds, and one of them was 100 seconds on the nose! I was really pleased with that, once I could breathe well enough to appreciate it. Cool down. That was an hour altogether, not counting chatting to my buddy Deb that I see once in a while. I haven't seen her since Chinook, having missed her at IMC.

Then 30 minutes of core including 10 minutes deep water running without the sissy float belt. That felt really good. Chatted with my lifeguard buddy for a while. Later in the afternoon I was out for a 45 minute brisk walk around the neighbourhood while it was still nice.

KK, this Katie is the coach leading the Sunday am spin, run, and core sessions I'm attending. I'm in awe of her, really. She's about half my weight, I'm guessing, and could totally kick my ass.

Julie, I wasn't planning on going to the restaurant before the swim session. Swimming in the evening is going to be tough enough, so I'll want to control when, what, and how much I eat as much as I can. I'll see you at the pool!

Glaven, s'up?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Technically, *last* week was the rest week

Though this week felt like the rest week because I skipped so many workouts.

Saturday was a nice day, but on the advice of my coach I didn't try to make up Thursday. Instead, Linda and I went for a nice walk down through Fish Creek. Not many people there so it was peaceful and quiet. Just a nice fall day for a 1.25 hr walk.

Sunday is Katie's brick session. Two hours spin, lots of cadence stuff, a bit of one leg drill, some hill climbing, and a bit of leg pulling. Katie is cute when she blushes. I was feeling a bit twitchy on the bike, not my normal reasonably fluid spin. Today 120 rpm was hard, and I was bouncing a bit. More oddly, I was getting these muscle twitches at the wrong times. Almost like the muscles are willing to help out, but just not terribly well coordinated.

Running wasn't bad, but not good either. Only 20 minutes, not clump clump clump, but not smooth and light. Kept it slow and easy. Core was only 30 pushups, but after the initial 10 I was back on my knees again. I weenied out of the plank stuff and did some other stretches and core work instead. That was 20 minutes or so, with tropical muffins after.

Not really a good week at all. I think I was fighting off some bug or another, and I'm feeling much better now. The guy at the Apple store nodded as I told the story of woe, and said there wasn't anything he could do that I hadn't already tried. The hard drive has been slowly failing, and it's easier to replace it than fuss with the old one. Especially since I have a fairly recent backup. Yay! I'll get back my computer with a new hard drive and the latest OS installed, and all I have to do is import the data from the latest backup, which by all accounts works very well. I should be able to get the computer on Tuesday. Crossing fingers for luck.

Weekly Summary
Swim 1.25 hrs
Bike 3.5 hrs
Run 1.9 hrs
Walk 2.5 hrs
Core 1.8 hrs
Total 10.95 hrs, and I suppose I can round that to 11 hours.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Swim time trial

I'm glad I went to bed early last night. Slept like a rock. Feeling much better today.

Last time I tried a 1000m swim time trial I think I choked or something. That was Friday April 4, 2008, when I swam 19 minutes almost exactly and it damn near killed me. A couple days later, almost without intending to, I swam 18:38. Since then I've broken one arm and pulled or strained some muscles in the other arm. You can imagine that I've been fairly cautious about pulling hard.

I had no idea what to expect today, given the week I've had so far. It didn't help that with one thing and another I had to do it at Canyon Meadows. The initial signs were not good. I walked into the locker room to see that all the big lockers we could put our own locks on have had the locking mechanism removed. I got lucky to find one of the few remaining coin operated ones. I found out later that a couple days ago someone snuck in with a bolt cutter and got 3 wallets.

This pool has had the next door high school kids in pretty often, and the lifeguard confirmed they'd be starting at 7am. It was 6:30 so I hustled my butt over to an empty lane and got started. I didn't have time to do the full warm up, swim, and cool down, but I did warm up 300 m. Then, should I be like Jenna and tease you all by saying I had a good swim? No, I'll share the number. 18:44, which I'm pretty darn pleased with. Pacing was fairly even, though I started a bit strong, and ended strong. In control of my breathing and my stroke, and nowhere near puking at the end. I didn't look at my watch at 500 m so I don't know if the second half was faster or not. I was at the top end of my steady pace, and could have gone on, though I'm not sure for how much further.

I did some cool down before the kids showed up, and stretched my legs a bit. I also snuck into the dive tank for some water running, maybe 5 minutes, and a bit of stretching, before the kids took it over. Went upstairs for that number. 228 again. I sure seem to be consistent. Walked 35 minutes home, changed, and headed out for my run.

Walked briskly, then broke into a reallyreallyeasy jog 10 minutes to get to the Anderson crosswalk. From there I ran 25 and some seconds north, almost to the reservoir, and back. There's some small hills along the way. Oddly enough, coming back into a strong wind was a bit faster, maybe 30 seconds or so, than going out. This was about 7K in 50:30, running easy on tired legs. This is about the same pace as the Wed run, but it felt harder. I didn't really care about pace or heart rate. I let my lungs and legs negotiate a pace that felt comfortable. Walked easy a little over 10 minutes back.

I'm glad Susi wasn't with me, though. It was a doggie convention out there today. I ignore dogs when I'm running, unless they bark at me, or I think they're going to bite me. It was a nice morning for a run, cool and clear. I spent part of it thinking about running stuff, posture, how my feet were landing, keeping my shoulders relaxed, trying to find my core, and that sort of stuff. The other part was almost mindless happiness. I was happy to be out running, enjoying the scenery, enjoying the feel of my body moving and the wind on my face. I didn't have a big foolish grin or anything, so maybe it was more contentment than happiness. Snack, stretched and rollered when I got home. Showered, ate a real lunch, and had a quiet early afternoon. Now for some errands and stuff.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday night

This has been quite the week so far. Better than not having a week at all, I suppose, but I'd rather not do this again any time soon.

For Wed morning, I doubled checked my gear, and did what was supposed to have happened on Monday. I parked under 8th St again, for the first time since July this year. Back then, it took 27 minutes easy to get to 32nd St, today was 25 and a few seconds, taking it really, really easy. Walked 10 minutes to warm up, then started with an easy run, trying for light feet and a quick turnover. It was pretty cold, maybe -5C, and I'd wondered if I'd under dressed. But I warmed up soon and settled into a nice pace. There were bits of micro-climate; for a while I was almost warm, then going past the golf dome the temperature dropped quite a bit. Coming back I was beginning to get tired, but was firm about keeping the pace till the 16th Ave bridges, then I settled back into a slow jog back to the car. 49 minutes up and back. Walked another 5 minutes to cool down, and stretched a bit. My legs are a bit tired, but I'm really happy with this run.

Then to FOMC. Started off sharing a lane with Backstrokegirl. I see her lots. She does about half and half front crawl and backstroke. Though she swims a bit slower than I usually do, she's really good about sharing. There was a really fast guy in the next lane, and I didn't feel like trying to keep up. He left part way through, and she moved over. Then it gets complicated. A couple really slow swimmers joined my lane, so I moved over. Fast guy had disappeared, and there was another guy exactly as fast as I was, and someone else. We did circles happily. Then a couple other people joined us. By then me and the other fast guy had figured ourselves out, and he adopted my intervals, and we took turns leading. (I hope that's not cheating.) The rest of the lane had the wit to get out of the way, though the guy with fins was startled that we caught up to him. Only thing of note is that I cramped my hams really bad doing breaststroke during cool down. Ouch. Otherwise the 45 minutes of swim was good. Another 15 minutes of careful core.

From that good start the day descended into shite. I was still considering trying to catch up on the core I missed on Tues. Did some rollering and gentle stretches in between fighting with my computer. I think the stress of the computer issues wasn't helping me to relax. By booting from the original disks I managed to repair some issues with the hard drive, and some permissions problems. I managed to get it up again, but I knew things weren't totally right. I started to change for the core, then realized I was really cranky, my legs were tired, my arms still hurt, and I simply wasn't in the mood. Napped a little, but it didn't help. Started trying to install a software update.

Yoga was a horror show. I'd like to know what sick sadist decided that tree posed needed a bend. I can barely do tree at the best of times. The bend is right out. I got a bit of a hamstring cramp trying. Nothing else went well. The teacher is really good, and I like her, but that was not my night for yoga.

Came home to the update still happening. Very slowly. Left it overnight. Can you believe it was STILL running in the morning, 97% complete and only 1 hr 43 minutes to go. Over breakfast it crept up to almost 2 hours. After dropping off Linda and then going back to bed for a snooze, it was over 3 hours. I pulled the plug on that, and went to reinstall the original OS, while archiving my old stuff. That failed after the first several attempts. Then I tried to scrub the whole hard drive, and the computer spat out the disk even before I could boot. I gave up and called Apple. They say there's a hardware problem, and of course I can't run the diagnostics anymore. I have to bring it in for them to look at so it's all packaged up. Computers are such fun. This is the first problem I've ever had with a Mac in more than 15 years of constant use. The astute among you are asking how I'm posting this. My faithful old cube is still running, 8 years on. It's what I use to display my workout plans, or play workout DVDs. Hooked it up to the internet again, and Bob's your uncle.

In the meantime I was supposed to do a spin and core session today. I napped after doing some errands instead. Linda thinks I'm fighting off a bug, since it's extremely rare for me to need this much sleep, and I'm dragging myself around like a horse on the way to the glue factory. You can bet I'm chowing down on the multi-vitamins, Echanicea, Vitamin D, with lots of orange juice. I'll be going to bed early tonight too.