Sunday, May 31, 2009

Slapped across the face with a banana peel in Black Diamond

Yes, there really is a nice little town called Black Diamond. The bridge going into town is almost exactly 50 Km from my driveway. And that's where I went today.

It's been a nice week off, and I needed it. By Friday I was getting a bit itchy to get out there, especially since we've had perfect weather the last little while. I've been out in it a bit, at least, trying to get the upper hand on the lawn and flower boxes.

I wasn't sure what to expect today, but I was really eager to get out there. Started easy, almost just riding along, trying to keep the rpm up a bit, pedaling easy and smooth. My left leg is weaker than my right, that was clear right from the start. I got a few twinges from my left calf, and a few from my left thigh, which is sort of unusual.

As you might imagine, I was paying attention to what was going on. I did not want to over do it, but neither did I want to settle back into a life of fading decrepitude. As long as it was periodic twinges, and feeling a bit weak, I was prepared to push on. I was trying to visualize the blood flow through my legs, washing away all the stiffness and soreness, and little muscle foremen waving their batons to get everything firing together. It took over an hour before I felt warmed up and able to pick up the pace a bit.

This route doesn't have any major hills, so I didn't anticipate any leg pounding, lung burning ascents. It's just a nicely paved highway with gently rolling hills winding west, then south and east through the foothills. There's often a very nice view of the mountains. There's nice bike lane almost the entire way, though there's a bridge near Millarville that has horror show storm drain grates. Huge slots lined up with the road. They would swallow mountain bike tires. I think I'll take my camera out there and send a photo to whoever the MLA is for that riding.

The wind was from the SE with some good gusts. Even so, I made it to Black Diamond in just under two hours, with my legs still feeling pretty good. I'd brought along a banana for a mid-ride snack. I'd eaten most of it and was just taking another bite when a big truck passed, and the wind eddies and gusts wupped the banana peel across my face. At least it didn't get under my glasses and into my eyes.

Turned around, and headed home. Now the wind was blowing me along, and I made super time. Plus, I knew I could push a little bit harder.
90 K rolled by in 3:13, and 100 K in 3:33, for an average speed of (tada!) 28.1 Kph.
My heart rate was under control the entire ride. I was trying for zone 2 for most of it, peaking into zone 3 for the last bit coming across 22X into the wind. That was a bit slower.

One thing that was clear even during the ride was how fast it was going by. The whole 3.5 hrs went by in a blur. I was trying to eat a chunk of Clif's bar every 10 minutes, and it seemed like I was always eating. I started with 3 bars, started eating at the 1 hour mark, and should have had 3 or 4 chunks left, but I have 5. I took 2 bottles of energy drink and got through about 1.25 of them. I also had 2 water bottles, and drank only one of them. I could have kept on riding for much longer at that pace or so it seems. It's like the fresh air blew all the cobwebs out of my brain.

To say nothing about the remains of a wonderful meal of Indian food from the Clay Oven on Friday. Shannon, Mel, Susi, Dale, Keith, Linda, and Kelly (Linda's sister) met there, and I made a total pig of myself. I actually didn't sleep that well because I ate too much. It's nice the ride got the last of it out of my system.

T2 3:24
Then a 20 minute run, firmly in zone 2. My legs took a bit of doing to settle into it, but still felt pretty good. I could have biked and run further, but I think this is a good start. I've got 3 weeks till my first Tri this year. The bike course is out and back 22X, which I've been riding on a lot. I'm hoping for a big improvement over last year's time.

Stretched a lot after. Had a cold shower on my legs for a while, and that felt nice. I'll stretch more in a bit.

I didn't see many other riders at all, which had me puzzled. It's so beautiful out, warm, but not too hot. My legs feel naturally a bit tired, but not bad at all. What actually hurts is my shoulders. Yesterday, I'd done some mobility exercises to see if I was ready for a swim, and things felt great. Now, after the ride, both of them are sore, especially the motion to bring your arms up in front of your body to over your head. The left more than the right. Now, nothing about my bike setup has changed, and I didn't think I'd changed my positioning THAT radically. All I've been doing is trying to keep my elbows in, and tucked down a little, rather than straight armed. Can it make that much of a difference?

Weekly total. The math is really easy this week.
Bike 3.5 hrs
Run .33 hrs
Total 4 hours (I'm counting a bit of stretching here, just to make the math come out even.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hard at recovery

Kelly thinks my swim is off on vacation with her swim. That's good. Maybe when it comes back, my swim will have learned something from hers.

What I've learned in the last couple days is that I needed a rest. I had been wondering why my swim fell apart after doing so well a few weeks ago, and yet the bike and the run were doing well. I am assured that you can't be overtrained in one discipline and not in the others. But some of what I'm feeling is a bit like being over trained, or at least tending in that direction.

I came up with this. I've been doing really well the last little while. The extra time working out has paid off in better performance. However, our bodies aren't machines. I've been pushing mine pretty hard the last bunch of weeks. I suspect the swim fell apart because my shoulders are sore and tired, so my stroke efficiency and power is off, and that shows up instantly in swim speed. Or the lack thereof. If you think about it, your swimming muscles are not as big as your running and riding muscles. No wonder they're the first to go.

Even so, my legs were feeling kind of achey. It's hard to describe. Normally I love getting out on my bike, but the thought of doing hill repeats, or even just riding on Tuesday made me go ick. So I spent a bit of time exploring why. It didn't take long to find out I just needed to do something else for a little bit. So I've been puttering about the house dealing with some odds and ends that have needed doing for a while. As always, there is no shortage of those.

I feel no guilt. We all know and accept that if we do our workouts we get stronger, faster, able to leap transitions in a single bound. But the rest is important too, and that's harder in some ways. Part of it is the thought that if you are 'resting' you're being lazy. And part is if you overdo the rest, you turn into a slug.

The mental aspect is so important trying to figured out if you're just normally tired and that the right thing to do is get your ass out there again. Or if it's more than that, and give yourself a break. Fortunately, I'm not trying for a Kona spot, or trying for a podium finish, or anything where workout choice could be critical. In the last couple days, I just remembered that this whole thing is supposed to be something I enjoy doing, something that adds to my enjoyment of life.

Monday, May 25, 2009

If anyone finds my swim, please send it back.

I'm really not sure what's happening. My swimming ability has gone AWOL. Today's 'workout' was such total shite I'm not even going to count it as such. The warmup was fine, if a little creaky. Drill was ok. Tried a couple golf drills, and got 82 and 83 which is in the ballpark. Started my 100 m intervals with 20 seconds rest, and started struggling really quick. I like to aim for about 105 seconds or so. The first one was barely there, and I was still breathing hard when I started the next. It was about 115 seconds and my heart rate was through the roof and my arms were getting tired. I tried to smooth out my stroke and push a little harder. That was bad. The result was 120 seconds and I was gasping at the end of it. I went on 20 seconds rest, and didn't even make 120 seconds. I stopped. I gave it a full minute, and tried another. I was barely under 120 seconds, and ready to rest again.

A couple weeks ago I'd have thought a 2 minute 100 m pace was slow and relaxing. My only consolation is that I remember my swim falling apart last year during training peaks. I did go into the dive tank for core and mobility work, till the aquasize people kicked me out. It just makes me laugh that they all gather in the hot tub for 10 minutes, then complain about the pool water being cold. I'm not poking fun, just being factual here, but most of these people have enough blubber on them that they shouldn't care even if there was ice on the surface of the dive tank.

The run was nice. I went 40 min mid zone 2 or so, and pushing hard with some strides. I lost count, I think 5 or 6. I struggled a little bit at first. My stride felt choppy and vertical, especially when I was going slow. The quicker strides weren't so bad. The last 10 minutes or so I settled into a nice comfortable stride with easy breathing, and it felt fast. Lots of stretching after, and I should do more. My legs felt fine during the run, but feel a little heavy now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Millarville, via Nepal

The only fitness related thing I did yesterday was give Estela a shower and shampoo. She's been rode hard a lot and put away wet a couple of times, so I thought it was time to show the love. She's been a total champ so far.

Everything that can easily be taken off was taken off. I set up on the driveway and popped the chain off. That went into a jar of degreaser to soak. It was filthy! Crusty. Black. Gritty. Yuck. More degreaser on a brush went over the gear teeth, and left that to soak in. Shook and swirled the chain around, and watched the jar of degreaser turn black.

Using a garden hose set for a very light spray I rinsed her down to get light road grit off, then washed the frame with soapy water, and rinsed. Scrubbed at the gear teeth front and back with soapy water. Cleaned the rims and spokes, and rinsed it all again. Scrubbed some of the spots I had missed on the gear teeth and cassette. I count myself lucky; I only got one small cut on my hand.

When I fished the chain out of the degreaser, it still had lots of guck on it. A stiff brushing took some of that off. Then I scrubbed it with dish soap and got this black fine gritty slurry off. Rinsed that, and decided to do it again. This time the slurry was gray with no perceptible grit in it. Rinsed thoroughly and left it to dry in the sun. At this point you could handle the chain without getting your hands instantly filthy, but it was still a little sticky.

I inspected the gear teeth and chain for signs of wear but didn't see any. Threaded the chain back onto the gear teeth and put it back together again. Next time, I'll be a bit more careful about the two little half links; for a little while I lost one of them.

I tried to oil the chain lightly, but probably ended up with too much lube. One website I consulted suggested using a toothpick to apply a dab of oil to each link rivet. Who has time for that? Ran the chain forwards and back, wiping off any excess lube, making the chain go through an S as I did it. Next time, I'll wear rubber gloves. I didn't think of that until my hands were already filthy.

It was fun going through the various websites, including the link that Leana sent me. There are lots of opinions on cleaning bikes, and chains. What do you do, and how often do you do it, or do you pay someone to do it? I was a bit intimidated by taking the chain apart, but it was easy as could be.

This morning is Julie's Half IM in Victoria. Go Julie Go!

Today Leaha and I went down Road to Nepal. Actually, we went further than that, turning right, and going on to Millarville. It was a perfect day for a ride, starting cool and warming up. Also starting calm and getting gradually windier. I have to note that shifting is quieter, and the whole experience is quieter and smoother. There was a clunk I used to get sometimes, but I couldn't get it at all today.

We weren't in a rush. My legs felt pretty good, but it was only Friday that I had done a long hard ride. Leaha was still a bit tired from the long ride last week, and she's never done this ride. Still, we made excellent time to 22X and down to 543. There were lots of riders out and we even passed some of them. Uphill even. Maybe it's juvenile of me, but I still get a kick out of being able to pass someone. It wasn't so long ago that I was exclusively the passee, not the passer.

The wind picked up as we headed west, so we were looking at a fast return. I'd forgotten how rough that road is. We stretched our legs at the General Store and headed back by the same route. It shouldn't be a surprise anymore, but we were going into the wind again. Both of us were getting a bit tired, and I think we were a bit slower coming back than going, though I wasn't really keeping track of distance and time.

In the end, my distance is 85 K, watch time is 4:01, and the bike time 3:46 adds up to an average speed of 22.4 Kph. Max speed is nearly a land speed record for Estela, hitting 87.2 Kph. Love it! I rode back for Leaha a couple times, so don't assume that's really how far it is. This is still faster than even a short while ago on a day when I was really pushing it. I worked hard on spinning up the hills trying to stay light on my feet. Maybe next week I'll try a speed run to the bottom and back to see if I've improved.

Leaha seemed to like the ride, and is impressed by the hills. I suspect she'd like to tackle it when she's feeling fresh and strong. We both agree it's a much tougher ride than the 70.3 course.

We took a short T2, and ran for 20 minutes. I could have run further and faster, I think, maybe, but it's a great confidence booster to get off the bike and find your running legs right away.

Came back, did the recovery drink, some stretching, shower, food, ect thing. I need to do a bit more stretching later, especially calves and hams.

This is as good as training gets. A perfect day, some of the best scenery in the world, a wonderful ride, and good company. No wonder I'm in a good mood.

Weekly summary
Swim 1.25 hrs
Bike 9.25 hrs
Run 3.8 hrs
Total 14.3 hrs

Friday, May 22, 2009

I suck at building slowly

Building slowly over 15 minutes running. Building slowly over 8 minutes on the bike. Who knew it was so hard? Especially on the bike, with hills and wind. Lots of wind.

Today was beautiful out, starting at 0 C this am, but by 10:30 it was getting nice enough to ride. Almost by accident I wore a long sleeved tech shirt, mainly because of the sun, but it turned out to be a good idea.

I wanted to go out for a nice long ride and test my legs. They're feeling much better today. I tried the building over 8 minutes thing and it just didn't work out for me at all. I'd either peak too soon and realize I wasn't at a sustainable pace, or I'd have a hill and getting up it would take priority over the build. Once I started, and then totally lost track of what I was about, what with dealing with some interesting traffic.

In the end, I decided to push fairly hard, aiming to go well above my regular pace on this road, but holding a little back so I wasn't quite at race pace. I tried going out James McKevit instead of 37 St, and what a mess it is. Construction everywhere, and lots of gravel. Not just the pea gravel the City strews around by the mega-tonne during winter, but actual gravel, the kind on roads, and used as a base for concrete and such. There was a bit of an adventure dealing with a huge dump truck, but that all worked out ok.

I didn't push too hard till I got to 22X, not far from Spruce Meadows. Mentally, I cranked up the output and headed off. At this point I'd say it was a fairly stiff wind, mostly across the road, but I think pushing me along a little. I was astonished at my speed; the first hour was 29 K, and that includes the slow bits and some stops before getting to 22X. That got me pumped, and I carried on. I reached the 45 K mark in 1:39 (27.3 Kph), and kept on going west. I was attacking the hills like an animal, trying to be much stronger, in a harder gear than usual, and pushing hard over the top to get back up to speed again.

It's been a long time since I'd been out that far. I went past McLean Creek, past Paddy's Flats, and turned around at the 60 K mark, which was the top of the hill just before the Elbow River Launch. It was windier than ever, it had clouded over, and it was getting cold. Everybody else had on a jacket, and I was wishing I had one too.

Normally, going east on 66 and 22X is a fast affair. It's mostly downhill, and usually the wind is from the west. Today it was mostly from the south, so it was a stiff cross wind, and a bit from in front. Mentally, I bared my teeth at it and pressed on. I was a bit cold and was beginning to feel it in my shoulders of all places. There's 3 big hills on the way back, and I pushed hard up them. I was getting a few twinges from my left calf, but it was hanging in there. The wind made me tuck and lower my elbows, which changes my position on the bike a bit, hopefully for the better.

Going back was ok. Stopped at the info station for a civilized pee, and to be in a warm place for a minute. Tried to stay strong and maintain my pace. However, I did fade a bit during ride back, especially just before the turnoff for 37 st. I'd like to blame the wind, but I was getting a bit tired.
80 K in exactly 3 hours (26.6 Kph)
90 K in 3:23 hrs (26.6 Kph)
96 K (Chinook bike distance) 3:35. (26.8 Kph) Last year at Chinook my time was 3:46 for a similar ride, maybe not quite as windy. My ride today was a bit further west than the full Chinook course, so the times aren't exactly comparable.
115 K (Done!) 4:19 by my watch, and 4:16:29 by the bike computer
The bike says average speed is 26.9 Kph overall
It was sure nice to turn north on 37 st, and let the wind blow me home. The last hour or so of the ride was windier than the top of the hill above Cochrane last week.

T2 4:48
5 K run 35:30, nice and easy, mid to high zone 2.
The first few hundred meters were pretty tough. I settled into an easy stride for most of the second K, then things fell apart for the next couple K. The last K was wonderful. I found a fairly fast stride that still kept my heart rate in Zone 2, and my legs felt great. I could have done another 5 K of that, I think. Maybe. I don't have the experience that many of you do, but I suspect the wheels could come off the wagon with startling speed.

I didn't have a big enough breakfast, and was getting a bit hungry by the middle of the ride. Maybe that's why my speed faded a bit on the way back. I cut my Clif bars into 6, I took 3 bars, and ended up with 2 pieces at the end. I drank 1.5 bottles of energy drink, and one bottle of water. I had an extra water bottle if I needed it, but I sure didn't sweat much today.

After the run I chatted with one of my neighbours who was busy cleaning his road bike in prep for a ride tomorrow. I asked if I could bring mine around, and he says that everybody should clean their own bike. Home, and inhaled a banana and some V8 juice. Put my feet up for 10 minutes and did some stretching, then showered. Linda made me a great lamb sandwich on Turkish bread, with Havarti cheese, specialty mustard, mayo, with some sweet red pepper jelly. mmmmmmm. There will be beer a little later. Like, real soon now.

I'm really pleased! I pushed myself a bit today and had a great ride. For the longest time I've been all about just surviving up the hills. Now, I'm pushing harder, and feeling better. Life is good.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The run took more out of me than I thought

I'm becoming quite a fan of naps, especially with a cat. Just lately I seem to be on the ragged edge of getting enough sleep to feel rested. Even with going to bed early and the naps I've had almost every day this week.

The swim today was ok. My shoulders felt fine, and my pace was good during warm up. I did lots of drill, and some shorter intervals, but I could tell I had nothing in the bank to push hard. I decided getting a good half hour in was better than trying to push for the longer, faster times, and going bonk, or break. I did another 15 or 20 minutes core work and stretching in the dive tank.

Then, as far as workouts are concerned, my day stopped there. I was supposed to go for a ride and a run, but my legs said no way. I did manage to get some yard work done, and washed the outside of the windows. And napped for a bit, lets not forget that. My legs don't hurt, but they are tired and I just feel depleted here. This is one of the first times we've had ok weather for a bike where I've passed on it. Ok means cloudy and low teens for temp.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice, and once the frost lifts and it warms up, I'll go.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ho-hum, another snowy run

The plan called for a swim today. I didn't. My massage therapist warned me that my arms and shoulders might be a bit sore today because she really worked them over last night. At one point, I'm reasonably sure that she did a handstand on the table, settled her elbow into part of my shoulder, then put all her weight on it. I took Linda into work, then came home again. A few minutes later I was cuddled into one of the chairs, under a blanket, and under a purring cat, and I stayed there for the next 3 hours or so. I must have needed the sleep.

I'd been looking forward to the run. Once I woke up I got some lunch and started preparing. It was 3 C out. Potential rain and snow, with a thunderstorm forecast for later afternoon or early evening. Dressed carefully, and drove up to South Glenmore Park again. Same route as last time, around the Weasel head and along North Glenmore park. I got to about 8.5 K at turnaround.

The plan called for a long easy warmup, and then 15 minute sets where I gradually build to slightly above goal half pace. I'm not very good at gradual building. The first one started down at the bottom of the Weasel head near the bridge. I built too fast, and was going up the hill too fast. There was a class full of little kids, shambling all over the place. A couple kids got out of my way just in time. This one little kid was told to move to his right, someone was coming. He panicked, turned around, saw me bearing down on him and nearly wet himself. He didn't know which way to go. I ripped his soul out with my eyes, tossed it into the ditch and told him to chase it. He practically dived after it, and just as well. I was quite prepared to trample him. I was feeling very Darwinian today.

Shortly after that, near the top of the hill I checked my heart monitor, and it said 160 or 93% of max heart rate. No wonder I was breathing hard. I got to the top of the hill with another 5 minutes to go in that set. I walked for a minute, trying not to spew. Then I got a gel (Clif Shot energy gel) and some water into me and started an easy run again.

The next one started a bit easier, but I still built too fast, and spent a long time running at the very top of zone 3, and even a bit above. There was a slight urge to spew here as well, but not as bad.

The next one I tried really hard to be careful, and managed to spend only 3 or 4 minutes at the very top of zone 3. Slurped another gel here. If you open them carefully, the little tab stays attached to the main packet, which makes it easier not to litter. Nice. There's lots of garbage cans along the path here.

The last one I was getting tired, and ended up topping out a little below the top of zone 3. About here it started snowing. I didn't care. Running in the snow is ok. I ran nice and easy back toward the car. I stopped at the two hour mark, and walked a few minutes back to the car. Stretched in a picnic shelter, watching it snow. I was soaked, inside and out. I think I really had worn too much but it's hard to tell. Being new at this fitness stuff, I don't have much selection for workout clothing yet.

The Clif Shots went down pretty good. They seem just a bit thicker than the Gu. MEC only had three flavours, Moka, Razz, and Strawberry. I'd also picked up a bunch of Clif bars as well last time I was there. Only a few flavours, including one I don't like. I guess there's still a problem with that peanut issue. I like to use them on my longer bike rides, along with my home made energy drink. I'm still going to bed early tonight.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I hit the window!

Depending on how you read my blog, you might not notice I've added something to the top left corner. Periodically I'll ask a question, or suggest a topic, and let you guys comment on it, and comment on each other's comments. Generally I'm not trolling to get anyone upset, I'm just asking a question. It might be provocative, but you get lots of room to respond. They will be labeled as Discussion in my Labels section. Imagine that. Here's a link to the first one.

Monday was cold and rainy. The plan called for a swim but the City pools are closed on Stat holidays. Or, if they're open, it's not lap swimmer friendly. The plan called for an easy run with some strides. So I did. It was sort of a heavy mist, or light rain, and about 2 or 3 C. Warmed up for about 1 K, then started strides, short and not too hard at first, building to longer and faster as I went along. Jogged easy between them, and as soon as I had a minute of fully recovered jogging, I was off again. It felt really good. Forty minutes.

I also notice a small triangular patch on my right ankle where I missed putting sunscreen on. It's about the size of a toonie, and quite red. That makes me glad I got sunscreen everywhere else.

The Tuesday swim was total shite. It was weird. I felt fine, reasonably well rested, I had the regular breakfast, but once in the water I felt weak and feeble and FRIGGING SLOW! Right from the first strokes I knew I'd be slow, but I figured I'd warm up and things would come around. Five laps in 5:15. Ten laps in 10:30, and feeling no better. Not winded or tired, just weak. Did a bunch of drill work hoping to work it out. Tried a fast lap just to see what would happen, and was appalled at how slow it was, and how hard I was working to get even that. Did some more drill, then some laps where I was really concentrating on my stroke to see if I was doing something wrong. It seemed fine, but to quote Ruby Rhod "It was BAD! It had no fire, no energy, no nothing! "

What's interesting is that I didn't feel bad about the swim. I accept it as an off day for one of the disciplines. Next time will be better. I was supposed to go an hour, but cut it back to half an hour, rather than practice bad stuff. I remember some golf pro being asked about how much he practices, and it was a much smaller amount of time than anyone expected. He said something like "Too much practice might make things worse. What counts is perfect practice." I figured, why practice swimming slow and poorly, especially if I don't know exactly what's wrong.

I dropped off some DVD's on the way home, and considered stopping in at my fave breakfast restaurant for some comfort food. But there was nothing I really wanted there, but I wanted something. Then, on the way home, I was going past my fourth fave breakfast place, and one of their menu items popped into mind, and I WANTED IT! Not sure what you'll think of this. Take a nice cinnamon bun, slice it in half horizontally, and then treat it like a slice of bread being made into French Toast. With their variant of hash browns on the side, and some fruit. Oh! Yummy! That hit the spot. And of course, coffee, though it isn't as good as I remember.

At this point it's still cloudy and cold. Once home and puttering around, I'm keeping a weather eye out. I was taunted by some sunshine about 10, but it clouded over again. At noon it warmed up and cleared off a bit, so I dressed and went. The plan called for hill repeats. I didn't want to go a long way for these, since there was still lots of cloud, and things change fast here. I rode down to Fish Creek and when up and down the hill to Bebo Grove. The hill portion is almost exactly .5 K, and going up easy was usually 3 minutes, and going up hard was 2 minutes. I got 10 repeats in, with it getting colder, windier, and cloudier each time. The gusts picked up. One of them nearly stopped me on the way up. I was hoping to get 12 done, but ran for home and made the 1 hour mark. Less than an hour later it was raining again. For once, I timed that right!

As of this writing, it's two hours till massage time! ooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is pain a brick wall?

First of all, if you haven't, you need to take an hour and 16 minutes to See Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. Go ahead. It's well worth your time.

If you've seen it and know what he's talking about re: brick walls, I ask you, is pain a brick wall? Yes or no, but WHY? The floor is yours. If you don't want to set up a Blogger account so you can comment, feel free to send me an email, it's in my profile, and I'll add it for you.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Calgary 70.3 bike course preview

I don't get a cool title like Shannon can have, given his adventure with a CO2 cartridge during the ride. No, he didn't get a flat. But I'll give him the opportunity to tell the story himself.

Leaha and Shannon joined me to ride the Calgary 70.3 bike course today. Or I joined them. However you want to look at it. Here we are just about ready to ride.

It turned out to be a perfect day for a ride, sunny and warm, so we slathered on lots of sunscreen. We had an interesting time assembling the new bike carrier Leaha bought. It's one that mounts on the back bumper and rear door of her truck. It worked well, once we had it figured out. What do you expect from 2.5 IT geeks? As you might imagine, we were all extra careful double checking everything. All three of our bikes cuddled together for mutual reassurance during the ride, but all went well.

This is a super course! Don't be spooked by the elevation profile. There's a small hill coming out of transition, but generally it's downhill, nice pavement, and a wide bike lane all the way to the turn for the Grand Valley road. You can't miss the sign. This is a long gradual uphill with one steeper bit. The pavement is nothing to write home about. You will want to make sure the various bits attached to you and your bike are FIRMLY attached. There are some good potholes along the way; pay attention. The scenery is incredible. For a while we had some hawks hovering above us. I nearly rode into the ditch once because I was paying more attention to them than the road.

Up to the turn onto Township road 280 goes quick. Across to Horse Creek Road goes even quicker since we were totally with the wind. Horse Creek road is a mix of more crappy pavement, and some really nice pavement. This is all generally down hill, with a bit of up, and should go fast. I hit 70 Kph at one point along here.

Going through Cochrane isn't much fun when you don't have course marshals looking out for you, and police stopping traffic. The hill on 22 isn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I'd pictured myself in the granniest of gears, dying all the way, but no. The cop with the radar gun said I was doing 22 Kph, which was faster than what the bike computer said. However, from the top of the till to the turn off for township road 250 was brutal. It's a gradual uphill, and there was a very stiff cross wind the entire time, with small gusts. I had to pay attention to my bike handling, and was very careful about digging out nutrition.

From there to the airport there is a bit of an uphill, then mostly downhill, with the wind. We flew. Pavement is a mix of ok, so so, and crappy. Just past the airport you turn right, and contrary to the little dogleg shown on the map, you just turn right, and go over the main highway. Pavement is good, but there was still lots of road gravel to watch out for.

I goofed here, and take full responsibility. I turned left onto Springbank road, rather than going all the way down to Lower Springbank road. So I think we got an extra big hill in there. That's the only time we were really hot on the entire trip. Mostly the breeze kept us cool. Eventually I found 85th, and took it down to Lower Springbank. I figure this added about 8-10 K to our trip, which wasn't a problem. About here we clocked up 90 K in about 3:35. Considering that we weren't trying for anything special with time, and had stopped several times to regroup, we were all pretty pleased. I can't say what the pavement is like along Lower Springbank.

From there we got out 69th. Beware, there are a couple choke points along here from those concrete traffic dividers, but by this point, the pack should be spread out. Along Glenmore to Sarcee is good, mostly with a nice lane to ride in. Today was with the wind. From where Sarcee turns into Glenmore is up a little hill, but there is no shoulder to speak of. I hope they close a traffic lane for us.

Down 37 St, which is a very bumpy road from cracks in the pavement to where T2 will be. We rode down through Weasel head to our place on the 37 st path at a nice easy pace. I've run and biked through here lots, and it's going to be a nice run for the race. We took about a 9 minute transition to get ourselves a drink, visit the bathroom, and other T2 issues, then went out for an easy 2 K run, in about 14:40, chatting all the way. Here we are after the run. And yes Kelly, while it's not a wineglass, it is a drink in my hand.

I actually rode 107 K. My stopwatch says 4:19, but the bike time is only 4:02.
Bike average speed from the computer was 26.5 average, which I'm quite pleased about. If I use stopwatch time, the average speed comes out to be 24.8 K. I felt quite strong after the ride, and could have gone on for quite a bit longer. I was moving around on the bike a bit at the 3 hr mark, but settled down again. I didn't wear my heart rate monitor, but most of the ride was thoroughly aerobic, I'm guessing top of T2. There were a few times I was chasing Shannon to try to draft, but I think with the wind, aero position shows it's huge advantage. His bulging thigh and calf muscles have nothing to do with it, I'm sure. (hahaha) If you believe that one.... That and some of the hills where I was trying to stay strong up and over the top pushed up my heart rate.

I think the course designers have picked a winner of a course. You couldn't ask for better scenery; the mountains are visible from lots of the course. There's enough hills to challenge most riders at least a bit. Most of the pavement is at least ok, though 37 th St and the very north part of the course are the worst. Today was windy, and it's a good assumption that race day will be windy as well. We didn't really look around the areas where T1 and T2 will be, but there's lots of room. I'll be surprised to see a big long run out of the water to T1, and the same for T2.

The three of us had a super time today. This is what getting out on a bike with buddies is all about. Pity that the weather is calling for snow tomorrow.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.25 hrs
Bike 7.5 hrs
Run 2.86 hrs
Total 13.6 hrs

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hail at 60 Kph hurts

I think Chuck is the toughest rider this spring. Better than me, since I turned around when it started hailing.

It's been just crazy weather up here. Snow is in the forecast for Monday. SNOW!!! Today was supposed to be nice, but every time I looked, it got worse and worse. The day stared off perfect, sunny and cold. Cold as in see your breath on the air. While it warmed up I puttered away tidying in the front flower boxes.

It gradually got cloudier and cloudier, and I decided to go. I faced my fear. It looked like cold rain. Rain is always cold here. I wasn't sure what to wear, and settled for tights over bike shorts, and two long sleeved tech shirts. On the way south I was wondering if I'd worn enough, or too much. My legs were too warm, and my top was a bit cool. Pressed on.

I decided to work hard on the hills. Not that there is much choice, unless you feel like walking. So maybe, working harder. I got a good chunk of the way down, and was working my way up one of the steep hills. All the way along it's been getting darker. Then the hail started. I was thinking about finishing the hill and turning around, but I looked up, and could see a wall coming. I turned and pedaled like there was no tomorrow. I got some hail, then was out of it. I was afraid there'd be more, so I pushed hard all the way home. Got rained on with a touch of hail for a minute, then rode out of it again. Ended up riding 1.5 hrs.

My legs were killing me when I got home. My feet were the only part of me that were really cold, oddly enough. My hands in the fingerless gloves were fine. But I could barely feel my toes. I decided to get out for a short run, regardless. The first K was brutal, but found my legs and settled into a nice pace. I'm glad I didn't have to keep it up long, though. Ran 15 minutes. Stretched a bit, ate, showered.

Average speed down and back was just a hair under 24 Kph, which is the best I've done on those hills. It's probably just as well I didn't wear my heart rate monitor. I was puffing pretty hard sometimes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Delayed, complicated swim

I had a good tired going last night, going to bed. This morning I woke up and knew, knew in the bottom of my heart that I did not want to hit the pool first thing in the morning. Greg had a complicated workout set up. I read it about 3 times, and each time my response was WTF???

I didn't feel bad, and while I was a little tired, I wasn't exhausted, or feeling beat up. I wasn't feeling like I wanted to go back to bed. Part of it was having a nose full of swimming pool. But mainly, I just didn't wanna. At least not right away. So I didn't.

Did about a half hour of yoga and stretching this morning. That felt really good, and was something I think my body wanted instead of another swim. Nothing beyond the usual went crickle crackle, but I sure felt better when I was done. Ran some errands, including going to MEC for some Clif's bars, and such. They've got all sorts of goodies there at a really good price. I was browsing for some full finger gloves because it's been so freaking cold out here lately. But all the ones I liked weren't available in my size. Plus, I kind of figured that if I bought the gloves, it was like giving it permission to be cold for a while yet.

I'd brought my swim gear, including writing down the work out. Actually writing it down, can you imagine? On a little piece of paper stuffed into a baggie. I felt like this was proof of my inability to remember some simple numbers, but I know lots of other people do it too. It was my first time.

Warmed up a good long time and did some drill. This was going to be some hard swimming, and wanted to be ready. I got in just before the lanes technically opened at lunch time. I'd done some warm up laps when a girl I sort of know joined me. She swims only slightly slower than me. We hatched a plot to swim fast and keep the lane for ourselves. We'd tell anyone that joined us we were doing some timed fast stuff, and they'd have to keep up or be swum under. That got rid of 2 people, but the third nodded and said she'd been watching us, and thought she could keep up. She did. No problemo. I love swimming with people that are considerate about lane swimming.

Here's the workout. Yes, I know, you all do more complicated workouts, but I'm just a poor simple men creature. This is a lot of numbers for me.
4x50 golf, 83 each time, at least I'm consistent.
4x200 base (30rest), I think I lost track and did at least one 250 m set.
4x100 pace (20rest), Some of these had less than 20 seconds rest so I'd fit into the swimming pattern.
4x50 fast (30rest),
4x25 all-out w/ 20sec rest, I've never done these, ever. And because I couldn't see the pace clock from the other end of the pool, I've no idea at all how fast I was.
good c/d Oh yea, baby, I love cool down. I swim easy and relaxed until my time starts going slower than 60 seconds for 50 m, then do a few more as I gradually slow down. At first it seems like you're putting in hardly any effort and still going fast.

Overall I was in the pool an hour or so and figure I swam maybe 2500 m. The swim felt good and I felt strong throughout. Times weren't brilliant, but were consistent. The pool was very choppy from the walkies in the next lane, and a couple of the swimmers in the other lane splashed a lot. But it could have been worse.

It's been cloudy and overcast here, and cold. At first they didn't forecast rain, but it looked, and smelled like rain. After the swim I had some lunch and was catching up on email. It started to rain. Hard. I'm looking at my schedule and seeing if I can rearrange, since I didn't really want to hit the trainer, then do a T run off the bike, into the rain. Which turned out to be a good idea. Depending on exactly when I started, I'd have been out in a pretty good hailstorm. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice, and I'll do things then.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Running with tummy gurgle

This is a two part post.
Part 1 - Swimming with the floaties.

My inner shark was out big time today. BIG TIME! I thought I'd check out Acadia pool this morning. The people at the front were nice, and on the deck they told me which were the fast lanes, and that people would be nice. NOT! I'm in, getting warmed up. I'm blowing past one geezer flailing away with fins and paddles. Another geezer joins us and starts swimming all over the place. Then they stop me and ask me to swim in a circle. Fine, no problem. After I lap them a couple times, they both go swim somewhere else. I carry on. Then some other geezer joins me and at least has the wit to stay out of my way. Mostly. Then she goes away. Then another one joins in, and is both slow and stupid. She pushes off right in front of me, doing breast stroke, slow. I swim past close enough that she touches me as she thrashes along. Next lap I pass her again, leaving a bit more room. That bit more could be measured in millimeters. Next time she's waiting for me and starts complaining. Wants her own lane. Doesn't want to touch me. "Lady, you're in the fast lane. I'm swimming fast. Swim in circles like we're supposed to, if you like, and I'll pass you when I need to. Swim against traffic and I'll run you over. Bye". She swam straight up and down in the lane next to me. I passed her a lot. My inner shark snapped his jaws every time we passed. Throughout my swim the aquasize class started gathering in the walkies lane. My inner shark was tempted, but I told him that much blubber wouldn't be good for him. Even though they were in the next lane, they were right on the lane rope. I felt like the Titanic dodging icebergs.

About my swim. There was a plan. I read it several times. Then when I got to the pool, it disappeared out of my brain. So I just swam. 3 Km, 59 minutes. I'm sure it would have been 58 if the chatty floaties hadn't stopped me. I was working on feeling strong and smooth in the water, with slightly different paces. Trying never to be slower than 1 minute/50 m pace. I think it mostly worked out.

I won't be back to that pool, unless I don't have any choice. The locker room is small and cramped. Showers aren't nice. No hot tub or dive tank. There are two pace clocks, but in weird places. With the fast lanes in the center, I can't see either of them with my eyesight. And the floaties. That was no fun.

Part 2- Running with tummy gurgle.

Today is one of those days where it looks warm. Looks being the operative word. I was getting dressed to go out midmorning, and was thinking shorts and a t shirt. NOT! I ended up in tights and a long sleeved tech shirt. The Police half marathon shirt if you must know.

I wasn't sure how this was going to go. I was feeling a little stiff and heavy. Supposed to do 7 x 15/1. Stretched a bit. Started slow, and used most of the first 15 min to warm up and find a pace. I wanted to settle in at the top of zone 2, and run easy. I managed that, and the only times I went above it were the two big hills, and, well you'll see. I got around to where the driveway to the rowing club, maybe 7.5 or 7.6 K in 56 minutes, then turned around. I got back to the car at 1:51. Walked a bit, and stretched for about 20 minutes. I brought a bottle of my home made energy drink with me, and slurped on that during the walk breaks. For the first time ever during a run, I had a bit of tummy gurgle happening. I took that as a sign I was on the good side of the hydration level. It was amusing to listen to it gurgle, or not, depending on my stride. I was a bit bouncy or choppy, but parts were really good, where I just flowed along.

The last 15 min interval I wanted to pick it up ever so slightly, and nudge it into the bottom of zone 3, just over the line. I ran like there was running form judges watching me, tried to get back into that float, running smooth and easy. I was imagining myself with really light feet. Remember that guy that fastened a zillion balloons to his lawn chair and floated away? I was picturing myself with some balloons taking the weight, but leaving enough for traction. This felt really good.

Over all the run is happy making. I've still not ever had this runner's high that people talk about. I just chug along, thinking my thoughts, trying to stay calm and relaxed. It ended up warming up a bit, but not enough to regret what I had on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Big deposit at the fitness bank today.

Here, look at this

And this is what I saw from the front of our house this morning, out toward the SW where I normally ride. Plus it's colder here than at the airport, it's maybe 5 C. Plus, if anything, Calgary weather rolls in faster than is expected.

Tell me true, would you have saddled up for a bike ride? I didn't want to. I didn't sleep well last night, and feel very much like going back to bed. Still, I'm trying to be good, and follow the workout schedule. I dressed about the same as last week, and it worked out ok, though I should have worn another pair of socks.

Warmed up for 30 minutes, heading down 37 st, and west on 22X.
6 x 5/3, with the 5 being hard, cadence 65-70. Turns out I misremembered that part, was was trying for the 60 to 70 range.
Cool down another 20 minutes, back at the house in exactly 100 minutes.

This was a tough ride. Quite windy, and riding so much in a harder gear or two than I normally would. Maybe it's just as well, I couldn't spin worth beans, even going downhill. Tried to pedal smoothly, and stay strong. This wasn't hard on my heart or lungs, but was brutal on my legs. When I got back I was wondering if I'd underdressed a bit. My legs were chilled, and didn't want to stretch at all. Had a warm shower instead. I'll do some yoga after running some errands.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fast company in the pool

I did something new and radical after dropping Linda off at work. I went to Canyon Meadows instead of FOMC, and it turned out to be perfect timing. I got into the pool to see a whole crowd of people standing around at the end. Then they all hopped out, leaving essentially an empty pool. I got the primo centre lane where I can see the pace clock. That's the only think about FOMC that I don't like. The pace clock is way off in a corner by the floatie lanes.

Warmed up and did some drill, feeling a bit clunky, but getting better. Golf 82.
Then 4 sets of 4 x 100 m intervals at pace, with declining rest times. I was aiming for 105 to 110 seconds, and mostly nailed it. There were a couple where I couldn't do the math in my head, and got confused where I was on the clock. Good thing I wasn't doing more than 4 each. I can keep track of that much, anyways.

Part way through I was joined by a girl that was swimming almost exactly the same pace as me, or just a bit faster. That was great. There was a couple times where one of us was drafting off the other. I'm beginning to see how this works. A couple times there was someone standing at the end, watching us. She'd do a fast tumble turn, splashing them a bit, and I'd do an open turn, looking at the clock and muttering last slow, now for the good stuff. They swam in another lane. Toward the end of the workout they started taking away swim lanes to make room for an aquasize class. We ended up being just next to them. There were some big waves being produced, so that end of the pool was a bit rough. I got through the swim sets ok. It was nice having someone just as fast or a bit faster in the same lane.

In the next lane was a guy cruising along a bit faster than me. I was seriously considering getting out of the pool to walk back and forth to watch his stroke. He had a really strong pull, and you could see him accelerate each time.

I finished the sets, and did some more drill, and another slow golf, and cooled down with some easy stroke, for a total of 1.25 hrs. No workout in the dive tank, it was full of a class too. Abba music playing, with an artificial thumpa thumpa bass track put onto it. Canyon Meadows hot tub is only luke warm, and shallow. Sigh.

Ran about lunch time. It took a while to find a pace my legs could settle into. It was supposed to be an easy run, but it ended up being a out a 6:15/ Km pace for just over a half hour, and I could have gone on for a while longer. Still, it seemed a bit faster than what an easy pace should be, but trying to run slower was really weird and felt funny. Did some strides along the way. It's clouding over now. I was thinking of swapping today's run for tomorrow's bike, since it's supposed to rain, but it looked like it was already raining to the west. So I figured I'll deal with tomorrow then. Who knows, with our weather it might be nice after all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Still tired

Had a nice day yesterday. Well, except for more struggle trying to get the photo out of the phone and into the computer. Turns out you need to buy some special service from Telus to pay through the nose to transfer photos. Let me get this straight. I pay for the phone and airtime already, it's my photo, and I have to pay extra to transfer it somewhere useful. I was buying a wired keyboard and mouse yesterday because the wireless versions were making me crazy, and I came THAT close to getting an iPhone at the same time. But you don't care about any of that. You hate your computer already, and don't want to know about my computer difficulties.

Yesterday would have been a crap day for a ride anyway, windy, cold, and periodic rain, with some hail thrown in. Yuck. Today was much nicer. Lori and I went down the Road to Nepal, though we didn't go quite to the very end. I worked on pushing harder up the hills, trying to spin, and go up much faster than usual. The ride ended up being a hair under 2.25 hrs.

Then we ran around the block after a short transition. For the first part of it her Garmin was telling us we were doing 6 minute Km pace!!! Neither of us believed we were going that fast, but we slowed down a bit anyway. 20 minutes. It felt pretty good. Nice long stretching session after. Chatchatchatchatchatchatchat.

Weekly Summary
Swim 5.0 hrs
Bike 4.5 hrs (this was down a little from what it should be.)
Run 4.0 hrs.
Total 13.5 hrs.

Even looking at that and I can't quite believe it. Some of the workouts were very intense, so this wasn't a week of long easy stuff. Not sure what next week is bringing yet.

Darryl still, STILL hasn't written about his ride last weekend. And I'm all excited for Julie in her Oly, and hope things went well for her today. I'll be stalking her blog till she posts. (hint hint) hahahahahaha.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I turned into a floatie

Today's workouts were going to be a struggle; I knew that as soon as I got out of bed. It's been a long workout week, and I was bad last night, drinking a beer and eating too many crackers. The only good part was watching The Sting. I love a good con man movie.

Started the swim looking at a pool that was mostly empty, which is odd for that hour at Canyon Meadows. As always M was swimming in her fave lane. Next to her was another girl I didn't know, swimming faster. I used to swim not quite a fast as M, then about the same speed, and now faster. But I wasn't sure if I was going to keep up with this other girl. Decided to go for it. She had a pile of swim toys, and I figured we would be doing drill together.

Warmed up. Creak. Some drill. More creak. 15 minutes later I confirmed that the struggle was on, and I'd best be at the main set.
4 x 500
The first was slow, 9:50. It was like I was breathing with 10% of my lungs, all at the base of my throat. Stroke was crap. Tried to relax and my body wasn't having any. Tried to regroup during the break.
Second, even slower, 9:59 and 9 tenths, only by thrashing my way down that last lap. I'd managed to relax my stroke and breathing a bit.
Third, better 9:45. Got my groove on a little. M had put on flippers, and the other girl was pushing the pace a little. I relaxed my stroke a little, and pulled harder. I wasn't quite seeing stars at the end, but my arms were complaining. At least my lungs were mostly working.
Fourth, where the wheels fell off the wagon about lap 7. Started ok, but quickly slowed down, then slowed down more. Realized there was no way I was going to make 10 minutes. My lungs seized up, and my arms turned into limp noodles. Thrashed and flailed my way to the end. I'm so glad the pool was almost empty and nobody was watching. Lets just say it was 10 minutes and a lot of seconds. Lots.

Took a few minutes to get my breath back, and swam a lap each doing different drills, and a slow backstroke. It was a few minutes over an hour, but I'll say an hour. Oddly enough, I don't feel bad about the swim. I knew I was tired going in, and it wasn't going to be good, but I just wanted to get'er done, and I suppose it could have been much worse. Did another 15 minutes core and stretching in the dive tank.

Got a rude surprise with the number. 229. Last week I looked and felt bloated. This week my tummy is smaller and the belt looser. I've been eating pretty good, and I'm up a pound? The charitable among you will say I'm building muscle, but I only wish I knew where.

Puttered around the house a bit, surfed the blogs. Napped with Amelia. Watched the thunderstorm go by. Didn't really feel like running, but I knew I was going to. I was just hoping I wouldn't have to run in the rain. It's a very cold rain. It finally stopped, and we had sunshine.

Dressed, stretched a bit, walked to warm up. 6 x 8/2 nice and easy around the neighbourhood. All sorts of little nigglies and minor complaints from my legs. Ran slow and tried for smooth. It took until the 4th set before I felt like I was running half way decent at all. I made it back to my starting point with a minute to spare. I was happy to stop. Stretched lots. Feet in the air felt really nice.

This has been a long workout week and I'm beat. I'm not sure how many hours, but I've pushed harder than usual. I feel tired and achy, but oddly enough, I also feel strong, and think it's been a good week. It's looking like rain tomorrow, so it's going to be a rest day. Yay!! I'm looking forward to a nice ride on Sunday.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Riding, running, at 4C in the rain, in the wind.

Cloudy out there. Not looking good.

Greg took mercy on me this am, 40-50 EZ and drills. There was another medium sized dog in the pool that I shared a lane with. He was a bit faster than me, and we soon punted a slower swimmer. I was having a good day in the pool. I couldn't quite keep up, but he only lapped me once in the first K.
1.0 K 18:45
1.5 K 28:37
2.0 K 38:32
Then some drills and cool down to bring it up to 50 minutes. Another 15 minutes in the dive tank, but mainly stretching and mobility stuff, not serious core.

Home, and prepare for a ride. I really don't want to ride the trainer anymore, and I have to learn to ride in the rain sometime. Dressed warmly, tights, armwarmers under long sleeved tech shirt, fleece vest, wind jacket, gloves. Parked down at 37 St and 22X again. Rather than ride down the entire Road to Nepal and back, I decided to stay on the first two hills and go back and forth. Just in case it started a torrential rain so that it was clearly not safe to ride; this way I was only 2 K max from the car.

Here's what the hill workout looked like. This is the first 2 hills, down, then up again. Just to get you warmed up for the hills to come on the rest of the road.

Back and forth, 4 K per lap, 4 laps. The first two weren't bad, though the wind was starting to pick up and there was occasional spatters of rain drops. It started actually raining about half way through, and getting colder. I could see my breath on the air. By the beginning of the 4th lap it was still light rain with darker clouds rolling in. I decided to go for the one more. By the end it was raining harder and the winds were getting kind of gusty. That was enough for me.

I was supposed to do 8-12 hills, and I got to 8. I'm not sure if Greg was expecting me to do this on a trainer or not. Given that he also said 2-3 minutes per hill, and a round trip was taking an average of 12 minutes each, I think I got the hill part of the workout done, even if I wasn't on the bike as long as the plan said. The ride was 48 minutes. I think I get moral points or something for being out in the cold and rain even that long, to make up for the shorter ride.

I took a pic of myself right after the ride. It's in my phone, and I CANNOT get it out. I can't send it to myself or anyone else. My computer Bluetooth is all set up, and works for other devices. The phone finds the computer, but they can't talk to each other to share the file. Stupid Telus phone. I bet an iPhone wouldn't have this problem. (And yes, Melissa, I'm totally jealous!) So you miss out on a photo of me all wet and moist, unless I figure it out later, or someone tells me the magic sequence of steps.

Took about a 4 minute transition, including playing with the phone. There are 17 photos that are totally black. Apparently I somehow managed to take 17 pictures of the inside of my pocket over the last couple of years. Yet today, I had to go through some stupid rigamarole mickey mouse set of steps to get a photo. Click. How do people do this when riding a bike? I wouldn't dream of trying it. And now I can't get it onto the computer. Sheesh. The difficulties I go through for my faithful audience. I still don't know what genius thought of putting a camera in a phone, and not have any way of getting the photos out.

Then ran 16 minutes down the highway and back. The first 8 minutes were really clunky, with calves sending stiff notes of complaint. Then they settled down, and the next 8 minutes rocked. Out to the turnaround point in 9 minutes, back in 7. And, the way back was uphill into the wind. No doubt the drivers were alarmed at the maniacal grin on my face. I'm just lucky nobody called the cops.

Nibble a really healthy bar that Julie gave me. Crunchy. Tasty. Came back to some V8 and almonds. Stretched. That is enough for today. I'm hoping for nicer weather on Sat, when I want to try the whole road, maybe with some buddies, if we can put it together.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Glenmore Reservoir Travelogue

Today, like it or not, you get a tour of the Glenmore Reservoir from the running path. You get maps, but no photos.

First the swim. Warm up and drill for about 15 min. 2 golfs, 80 and 81
4 x 250, where 100 easy, 100 medium, and 50 fast, mixing up the order. These were sort of fun. All got done in 4:55 or so.
More drill and golfs, 83 and 83, though I thought something was going to come apart on that last one.
Easy swim for a while gradually slowing down to finish right on the hour.
Then a full half hour in the dive tank, doing core stuff. Including Susi's arse exercise. I thought I was going to cramp my hams on that one.

After eating and doing a bit of stretching, I drove up to South Glenmore park. I've ridden around the reservoir more times than I can think of. At first, I thought it was a pretty significant ride to ride up, around, and back home again. I think the first time took me nearly two hours. I got it down to well under 1.5 hrs on the hybrid. I took Estela around it once in about an hour and scared the crap out of myself. There's lots of tight, obscured corners, rough pavement from tree roots, and no shortage of dogs walking their idiot humans.

Today is the first day I ever ran around the reservoir. Sure, the Police half uses much of the path, but it's not the same. And for the people that have signed up for the Calgary 70.3, the run course takes the path from about where I started, around to about Km 7, going back and forth.

Here's the map showing my route. You might need to click on it to see it bigger.

Here's where the reservoir fits into the overall scheme of things here in Calgary. It's part of a phenomenal wonderful bike pathway system that goes all over the city. The 70.3 route comes in from the west side, just off the map.

The weather was perfect, sunny and warm, 13 or 14 C. The plan was 15/1. I started and felt a bit clunky. My heart rate monitor was all over the place again. Chugged along, and gradually settled into a pace. I wasn't trying to go as fast as the Police half, but I was trying to go faster than I used to. My goal was to try to keep the pace consistent and smooth.

At first you're running west. To your left is some open fields with long grass. Nothing much ever happens there. To the right is the reservoir. About 1.5 K is where the path turns off if I were to go home. Shortly after that you start running through a mainly birch forest. The path is paved all the way around. To the left you can see Native land. So far the path has been pretty flat, with tiny ups and downs you'd hardly notice. I finally got dialed in.

Just before the 3 K mark you start going down to the Weaselhead. This hill is well known in the Emergency Services community from the number of roller bladers that lose control and wrap themselves around the railings. I'm still learning how to run down hill. I took the opportunity to shake out my legs a bit. At the bottom you turn left and go over a small bridge. The deck is wood, and it's claimed a few cyclists, especially in wet weather. Now you're just about down at water level, but you don't see the main body of the reservoir. It's more like wetlands. I could hear lots of birds going about their business. There's a group of beavers hard at it. I saw lots of trees gnawed down, including one more than a foot in diameter. They had dragged it off.

There's a long straight stretch. This is often a bit boring because there's really nothing to see. In hot weather it becomes very still, as the wind usually doesn't make it down to the path. I really grooved along here. It's like my legs had a mind of their own, and felt great. Just as I got to the bridge over the Elbow River (point A on the map), my watch hit 31 minutes. (6:53/Km) Then comes the famous hill out of the Weaselhead. It's really not that bad anymore, but I remember the first times on the bike my heart rate went to scary numbers. The run up was just fine.

Once on top you run through North Glenmore park. Yes, I know, very imaginative names. Nobody has ever accused the City of Calgary of being imaginative. This is much more sculptured. All the grass is cut, and there are small clumps of bushes everywhere. The path is split here, cyclists and roller bladers on one, walkers and runners on the other. There's at least one place where there is a long set of stairs going down to water level. It's quite a ways, and you sometimes see people running, or hopping up. There's quite a view from here. In fact, the whole circuit is just littered with views of the mountains, the reservoir itself, the city skyline, and other stuff. I ran along feeling pretty good. There was a huge group of school kids, all looking at the dirt. Very intently. Lots of geezers up here too. A group of them walking on the wheels path just about took out a really cute roller blader. You warn these people, as she did, and they do a little u turn to the left to find out what's coming. Geezers!

I ran past one of the swishy golf clubs. One of my favourite things is to shout encouragement at the geezers. Just when they are about to swing. (hehehehe). I was so disappointed there was nobody there today. My feet were starting to hurt a bit here, and things got clunky again for a bit. The long diagonal bit is a utility corridor. Again, the grass is cut, and it's used like a community park. A crew working on a home owners fence had just done something bad, and there was a string of loud cursing. Just where that comes to a road (point B on the map) was 63 minutes. (6:55/Km overall).

There's a private school there. All I saw were teen girls in these gray plaid skirts. Or rather, mainly, I heard them. I haven't heard so much screaming since the Beatles came to America. Now you leave the natural part of the course, and run beside Glenmore Trail. Not much to say about this.

Up, and behind the Rocky View Hospital. And yes, you get a great view of the Rockies. There's a bit of woodland that the path winds between, and then you're behind the hospital. The main activity you see is people smoking. Right beside the heli-pad (point c) was 78 minutes (6:56/Km overall).

More up, then down a narrow path between two houses. This used to be a death trap because there was a pair of bedsteads at the top and bottom. They're gone now. Then you run through a very ritzy neighbourhood called Eagle Ridge. The cheapest home is probably $1,000,000+ and some are more. Then through Heritage park's new parking lot/construction zone. This is where I crashed last year.

Then you're back right beside the reservoir again. I like this part in the summer because there some sailboats moored. I just happen to think that sailboats and sailplanes are some of the prettiest and most elegant of humanities creation. This is a flat and busy path. I was feeling tired by now, and was pushing hard to keep my pace up. You can see the end point of my 96 min run (6:58/Km overall). This is another bit of light bush, and you can see the back yards of another swanky neighbourhood.

I walked back to the car, drank, and inhaled a banana. Did some stretches. Drove home, stretched more. I'm really pleased with this run. I hope IG is as well. The pace seemed pretty steady, though gradually slowing down, but no big fall off at the end. My breathing was strong and steady throughout, and my heart rate was usually top zone 2, bottom of zone 3.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

There was a young lady named Bright

This is the only clean limerick that I know, and it relates to todays ride.

There was a young lady named Bright,
whose speed was much faster than light.
She set off one day
in a relative way,
and returned on the previous night.

Take a look at the weather forecast just before I went outside.

I really, really don't want to go on the trainer again till near the end of this year. If the choice is cooler and dry, or cool and maybe wet, I'll take dry. I need to learn to ride in the rain sooner or later, but not today. I drove out to 37st and 22X to get a last chance of seeing what the weather was really doing out there. The forecast is for the airport, and that's a very long way from where I was going to be riding, and things change fast in the Foothills. I brought several choices of stuff to wear.

In the end it wasn't that bad at all. No rain. Wind 20 to 30 Kph. I think that temperature is about right. I wore two long sleeved tech shirts and my reflective wind breaker that flaps in the wind, tights, gloves. My toes were just getting a little cool at the end of the ride.

Started out heading west, nice and easy to warm up. Into the wind, I might add. Rode 46 min, started workout set, turned around at 1 hour, having gone about 20.8 K. I was back at the car 35 minutes later. ZOOM! The wind was really something. I was treating it as a training exercise, trying to keep a good line in spite of being buffeted, and staying strong going into it.

Training set was 4 x 4 min hard (peaking into Z4), then 3 min easy. Let me tell you, it's hard to be 'easy' going uphill into the wind. But such is life. The rest of the ride was warmup, steady aerobic at comfortable pace, which I interpreted to be faster than just riding along, but slower than race pace, and then cool down. That last doesn't take long.

Had a snack, then stretched. My calves are a little twingie, and I promised them some love. Rather than put down some crazy decimal number of hours, I'll say 1.5 hrs.

Monday, May 4, 2009

If you loved Lord of the Rings

Follow the link to The Hunt for Gollum. This is superb, and then you find out it's done by fans on a shoestring. Take the next 40 minutes that you have free and watch this. You will not be disappointed.

First things first

There was some feedback via Julie's blog about the BBQ sauce we used. Here's the evidence.

Not that we have that taken care of, and it's really not that hot of sauce at all, coming or going so to speak, but it is a great phrase, now we can get back out our regularly scheduled blog activities. And just think, if this was Glaven writing about this sauce things could have got a whole lot more graphic.

The pool was almost empty so I had a lane to myself most of the swim.
500 m warmup, gradually ramping up the pace.
100 m intervals. The first batch was 5 x on the 120 seconds. The first one was 100 seconds flat, and the other slowed down till the last one was at 115 seconds. Took a bit of a breather doing some easy stroke, some one arm, some fist, and some catchup.
Then 5 more 100 m, this time on 150 seconds, but trying to keep the pace faster. The fastest was 100 seconds, and the slowest was 108 seconds.
Did some more drill, and some easy stroke, cooled down. .75 hr.
Then into the dive tank. Really pushed the core work today. Did things more slowly, and more of them. 20 minutes or so. My abs could really feel it.

The weather was perfect for a run, again, sunny and warm. All the windows in the house are open. We could still get some snow, and probably will, but we're likely to have nice weather for a month or so. We have to take advantage. That's why you see Calgarians out in shorts and a T shirt in 0C weather, because it's so nice out, at least in comparison. It's 15 C out there now, so this is a close approximation of heaven.

Ran for an hour down into Fish Creek, working up into high zone 2. My heart rate monitor always gives me wacky numbers at the beginning of a run, for about 10 minutes. Did some strides, including one long one up the hill out of Fish Creek. Tried to run lightly and easily. My feet and legs felt great! Stretched after. More BBQ chicken for supper, using the last of the famous sauce.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A small group tackles the Road to Nepal

Julie and Darryl met here, and we saddled up for a big ride. Not long, particularly, but hilly. There are no flat spots on this road, at least none that measure more than a few meters in length. Julie has been down it before, and wanted this route because her schedule calls for a hilly workout. Coach, if you're reading, she got it! The road was new to Darryl. Here's Julie's and Darryl's version of the day.

The weather was perfect. Warm and sunny, but not hot. I slathered on lots of sunscreen, and didn't get burnt. We rode mostly together down to 22X, regrouped, and headed south. We were together till the bottom of the first hill, and they both gradually pulled away from me. Did I mention the IM time for Darryl is 10:46, and Julie 13:28? Zoom is how it looked from my perspective.

I actually had a really good ride. I was trying to keep the rpm up going uphill, and overall try to push as much as I could. I made it down to the south end of the road in 1:08, which includes the short stop at 22X. I think that's quickest I've ever done it. They were well on their way back, of course. I made it back to the top of the road by 2:00. That's a bit of an improvement for me.

They had turned around and headed south again, and I followed. Of course you have to realize they are kilometers in front of me by now. I just rode to the T intersection and turned around. I'm not totally sure how far they went on the second lap. We met back at 22X again, and rode back home together. For me this was a 3.25 hr ride. I reset my bike computer so I don't have any other numbers for you. My lungs have the hollow feeling, as I think of it, that tells me I've given them a good workout. My legs are tired, but not beat up.

Darryl and I went out for a run, about 20 min. My calves felt stiff and tired, and my run felt slow and clunky. Darryl would get ahead for a bit, and come back. I think that was so he wouldn't get lost. Toward the end I tried keeping up with him for a while, and quickly sent my heart rate into Z 4, and he still pulled away. Walked to cool down, and stretched. Julie had already stretched and showered, and was looking cool and relaxed when we got back.

Linda put together a great meal, yummy salad, BBQ chicken, buns, and Darryl's wife Lisa brought a fruit tray. We pigged out, and had a great time laughing and chatting. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Weekly totals
Swim 3.0 hrs
Bike 3.75 hrs
Run 1.33 hrs
Total 8.0 hr
Overall, I'm feeling pretty good. I've been sleeping well. My swim and bike have gone really well this week, and if my run is a bit clunky, I just point to the half marathon last Sunday that was very close to as good as i could have hoped for.

Oh, and if they don't blog about the ride, yank their chain! You deserve more than one viewpoint of such a great ride!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Working on the new normal

Back in the pool this am for some 400 m intervals. I went in planning to swim these hard. Earlier this week I scrambled off the plateau and into a new space. I want to make sure my body understands this is the new normal. Plus, I wanted to work on some mental toughness in the pool. I have (used to have!) the bad habit of slowing down to my 'normal' pace during intervals, and just getting through it. Well, no more.

Warmed up, and did some drill. Then, HARD AT IT!!
1st - 7:32
2nd - 7:33
3rd - 7:40
4th - 7:35

For whatever reason, the third one was the toughest. I could feel myself slowing down, and for a lap I lost my form. I was pushing really hard to keep my speed up, and was seeing stars at the end of it. Oddly enough, the fourth was much easier. I got lucky in that a girl in the next lane pushed off at the top of the clock with me. We were swimming exactly the same speed. I was a bit ahead after the first lap, then she slowly gained, then I poured it on the last lap, and pulled about a body length ahead. I thanked her for pushing me, and she thanked me for being the rabbit. I think her stroke is prettier than my, and she probably wasn't working as hard.

What's interesting is that this is about the pace I was swimming at earlier this week, and it seemed I could keep it up longer. Here, the 400 m just about did me in. Not sure why. My first 50 m in all the intervals was 51 seconds. This feels strong. Then I gradually get tired, and a bit behind on breathing, and slow down a bit. What I'm really happy about is that during the middle of the swim, I was still pushing, and kicking harder, and mostly keeping my form good. Plus, there was a mental Julie walking along the side of the pool screaming encouragement at me. Plus, there was a coach Greg at the end of the pool holding a stopwatch. Talk about incentive! I'm in the process of setting some new swim goals for me to aim at, both as a pace, and as a goal time for 1K, 1500 m, and 2K.

Did a bit more drill after, and cooled down. 1 hour in the pool. Another 15 or 20 min in the dive tank really working on core. oof! Then I walked home from Canyon Meadows pool. Had a quick snack, did some stretching, then headed out for a run.

Started easy, and could feel the rust falling off my legs. I was in no rush, and took my time warming up. The point of this one for me was to find a nice smooth running gait, trying to recall how it felt during the race.

My legs haven't been tired or sore since the race. There have been previous shorter 'easier' workouts that left me feeling worse. But I can tell I'd put in a significant effort, and they were happy to have the rest. Maybe what I'm feeling is them building more muscle. I can only hope!

Today, I started with an easy jog. Gradually I picked up the pace for a while, then backed down. I ran slower and faster for most of the run. After about a half hour I was settling into it again. It's funny, what my feet wanted do is is from the old Road Runner and Wyle E. Coyote cartoons. Remember how he'd just be getting close, and the Road Runner would bounce up, wave his (or her) feet, do the tongue sticking out insult noise, and disappear. Well, I can't quite do that. Not even close. But my feet wanted to try. During the last faster section, I could feel my thighs and butt working in ways that I don't recall noticing before. It wasn't quite heavy, and didn't feel bad, but it didn't feel light and easy either. Still, for a first run after my first half marathon, I'm pretty pleased. Ran 45 minutes.

Walked to cool down, grabbed another snack, and stretched for a long while. My feet were up for 15 minutes, and lots more besides. Is there some rule of thumb for optimal number of minutes stretching per minutes of run? Anybody?

That number, for the first time in a while is 228. Ick. More than I'd like. And 7! Seven whole pushups!

Tomorrow 4 of us will be biking down the Road to Nepal for some serious hill workouts, so I hope my legs are up for it. I'm not sure how it's going to work out since I don't know our relative speeds. But I'm guessing we'll each do our own workout on the road, and encourage each other as we see them. You can bet that I'll be pushing hard up those hills!