Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My legs are back

The swim this am wasn't much fun. You will recall I banged my elbow when I fell over at Chinook. Other than a slight scrape, and a small bit of swelling and soreness, it didn't really bother me. Till today. You know the muscles in your arm you use to swim, catching the water, getting your forearm vertical, and pulling? That's what hurts. It started kind of dull and got worse. To be fair, I was trying to pull medium hard, but I bailed after only 600 m. I did some massage and stretching, and did a little bit more, but I'd be surprised if it added up to a K in total. So that was about 20 minutes. Soaked in hot tub waiting for the dive tank to free up. Did about a half hour of stretching and core work there.

Dragged my butt upstairs to the gym. It was dark. Nobody in it at all. No machines in use, and no killer core class led by the woman who can belly press 500 pounds with her abs. Repeatedly. Often. The scale says 228. Sigh. The good thing is that my weight is stable. However, I had hoped it would be trending down again. I guess I have to work harder at this food stuff, trying to limit quantities just a tiny bit.

My ride turned out surprisingly well, which made me very happy. My legs came back from where ever they've been for the last month or so. Maybe they were on vacation with my inner shark. As soon as I got on, my legs felt better. I rode out 22X, turned around at 22, came back to 37 st (flying all the way!), and was feeling good enough to turn down 773 to do the first hill, then headed home. No cramping, no feeling weak. Really, the only thing I've done different is to realize I hadn't been drinking enough water, and started back on my multivitamins. They're still a bit tight (the calves, not the multivitamins), but nothing like they were.

The wind was fairly strong from the north, but it didn't matter. I made it out to 22 in just under 41 minutes, which is a new record for me. What's funny was that I wasn't trying hard. I was just trying to pedal smoothly, and it worked out really well. I pushed hard up the little hills on 22X, and was good and warm for 773. I powered down, hard up, back down, and hard up again in 10 minutes, which is two minutes faster than my first set of hill repeats way back when. My average speed was exactly 29 Kph at the start of the hill bits, and was 28.6 Kph at the end, so I maintained speed fairly well.

By now I could start to feel my legs getting tired, but it was a good tired. I pushed fairly hard home, then spun it out when back in the neighbourhood. 1.5 hrs total. Did some stretching after, and will do more.

I tried the Clifs shot blocs. Cran Razz. Sort of like a giant gummy bear. It was ok once, and might be ok for variety, but by the time I went through 6 of them, I was a bit tired of the taste. The hardest part was digging them out of the plastic container, and hanging onto them.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A recovery run in the sun and wind

My legs weren't sure what to think about going for a run today. Even though I've been gently stretching and massaging them, especially my calves and hamstrings, they are still feeling a bit weak and tight.

Started off with an easy walk, then a slow run. Talk about clunky and heavy. Thud thud thud. The houses were shaking, I'm sure of it. After a few minutes it smoothed out. I deliberately kept it slow, and tried to run smoothly and lightly, focusing on my posture. I was trying to make sure I was aligned vertically, with my legs centered underneath me.

After about 20 min I let myself gradually speed up a bit, and varied my speed up and down, trying to keep a nice smooth stride, and find something comfortable for my legs. There was about 10 minutes where it was really good, then my legs started getting tired and heavy again. I pushed it for about 10 minutes more, then dialed it back for 5 minutes, then walked to cool down. Lots of stretching and massage after. Total 45 minutes running, and at least that much again warmup, cool down, and stretching.

Now, walking around the house, I can still feel the tightness in my calves, and my achilles area. Linda is on vacation this week, and gave me a nice massage. That seems to help.

Since I started doing this a while ago, my calves have consistently been the tightest muscles, and the ones most likely to cramp. Especially the left one. I don't know if the problem is my running stride or my bike fit, or my weight, or if it's an age and lack of conditioning thing. In any case, it's something I should get figured out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A recovery ride in the wind and sun

I've been a bit of a slug this last week. A lot of a slug, actually, and it was good. Beautiful weather out and I've hardly been out in it at all, except for some yard work. Today I felt like riding for the first time in a while, even though my legs, especially the left, still felt weak, and kind of crampish.

With my skin and colouring I have to be careful about getting sunburnt. It happens very easily. I've just finished working through a huge tube of SPF 50 cream. This stuff works ok, but it's a pain in the butt to put on, feels really greasy, and bugs stick to it. I've sometimes thought of myself as a mobile fly strip when I'm out riding. Are any of you old enough to remember that stuff, dark orange, you pulled it out of the container like a strip of film, and hung it from the ceiling? Everything stuck it it.

Now I've got an SPF 50 spray. It's Banana Boat Ultra Mist, UVA and UVB. It sprays on really nice. My skin actually looks sort of reflective in places, which could be a cool effect if I put enough of it on, I guess. Today was just a short ride, but it seems to work really well. Certainly much less muss and fuss than the cream. Even better, it's the same price as the 30 ml pump spray I bought at a tri store, and this is 180 ml. I suppose I should keep track of how many applications I get. (Yes, Julie, Susi, and Jenna, ANOTHER spreadsheet! I love spreadsheets! Bahahahahaha)

I didn't want to go too far, or too hard today. Headed down 24 st to 22X. This is a much better route than James McKevitt. From there pushed west, then south a bit on 22, turned around at 50 minutes, then back the same way. Going back 24 st isn't as good. It's a tough left turn onto 24, and there is a series of left turns all the way back.

Even though I started easy with a good warm up, and was heading into a pretty good wind, my average speed was well up around 28 Kph on the way out. Coming back with the wind was fun. There was lots of other riders out; most of them waved. Once back in the neighbourhood I settled down to an easy spin to cool down a bit and try to flush out my legs. Even so, I'm really pleased with how it went. My left leg still felt a bit weak, and I had one good twinge during the ride. I think the ride did it good. Stretched and massaged it after the ride.

45.6 K ride
1:33 elapsed, or so, since I didn't stop the watch right away.
29.5 Kph average speed
81 rpm average cadence overall

I was looking for a steady ride today, moderate effort, mainly trying to spin smoothly. My spin was much much better today, way smoother than earlier in the week. In comparison to Chinook I wasn't working anywhere near as hard, and was going much quicker. Except for a couple hard pushes up hills to maintain speed, my breathing was under control the entire time. I felt relaxed and happy to be out. I could have gone on further at the same pace, though I'm not sure how much longer. I'd only brought enough water and nutrition for a 2 hour ride. I finished off the Clif's bars I didn't eat during the race, and you know, they went down just fine.

No weekly summary, since the numbers are too small to be writing down. And yes, now I'm planning on doing the Canmore Oly. The final straw was finding out a buddy of mine is moving that day. Sorry Gord. We've got a B&B arranged in Summerland for IMC, and I've got my volunteer number. My thought was to ride part of the course on Sat, and volunteer on race day.

What now? I'm going out to barbeque some duck breasts rubbed with brown sugar, maple, hickory, beechwood, sea salt, roasted garlic, mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, and ginger, then finished off with a honey lime and orange sauce. Which wine will go with that? Decisions, decisions.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Not much to say here

Swam the other day, a little bit. Didn't push hard, and seemed to have a good feel for the water, but I didn't go far. Didn't feel strong. Did some core work. As soon as I got home, I had a power nap for 3 hours.

Walked about 45 minutes fairly quickly on Wed. I ended up running to catch a couple lights and could feel that in my shins a bit.

Rode today about 40 minutes easy spin around the neighbourhood. My spin sucked, very jerky and clunky. Not smooth. The stretching and core work was ok, but my legs still feel weak. That's the best way I can describe it. Nothing actually hurts, but there's no endurance there at all.

Overall I feel fine, as long as I don't tackle anything too ambitious. I think the next thing to try is a moderate ride, maybe 2 hours max, on a fairly flat course, and see how things are. Such nice weather, it's a pity not to be out running or riding, but to all things there is a season. And at the moment, the season is to give myself a bit of a break.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thank you everyone!

I've had some very kind emails and comments on my race day blog. Thank you everyone who took the time to write a few words. It means a lot to hear encouragement from other people that have been in the same place. I'm normally a pretty positive, forward looking person, so being that down is a very unusual experience for me. I am feeling much better now. Really.

Well, except for one thing I want to get off my chest. I understand that the volunteers and spectators want to cheer on the athletes, and encourage them. The races are impossible to put on without the volunteers and I certainly appreciate their efforts. I've sent a thank you email to Mike Bock to pass onto his volunteers; they did a great job. But why do they say "Good Job!" or "Good Work!"? I was very grumpy about this during the race. I get paid at my job to do work. I get told what to do, I do it, and I get paid regardless of how I feel about it. I do triathlon because it's fun. Almost all the time I enjoy it. Certainly I'm doing work, in the physicist sense, that much is true. But I'm not 'working.' And telling me I'm looking great, what's that about? I'm reasonably certain I looked like a zombie last weekend. I saw a photo of me getting out of the water at a tri last year, and I've seen corpses that look better. Or is this something about triathlon that I don't know yet, that there is a conspiracy to lie to the athletes to help them through? (And yes, this para should be read in an Andy Rooney voice.)

No, really, I am feeling better. It still isn't a good race, but I'm not so down about it. I've started to think about what happened in a more analytical way, rather than just an emotional way. It's been suggested to me the whole day was one long semi-bonk. If my breakfast didn't get digested I was behind the nutritional 8 ball right from the start. After some reading I found this on bonking. "You become irritable, lose focus, and find it difficult to concentrate. You feel dizzy, disoriented, and may even hallucinate. Your vision closes in, and it may be difficult to keep your balance." That certainly describes some of what I was feeling.

The training front has been pretty quiet. I've been trying to get some good sleep and mostly succeeding. My wonderful massage therapist worked me over Monday afternoon, and it felt great! Lots of time spent on my legs, of course, but also my shoulders, and believe it or not, my jaw. She thought from the way I was carrying my head and periodically clicking my teeth that there was some tension there, and by golly, she was right.

My thought for this week is to get my legs back to 100% through some rest, a bit of stretching, some yoga, and maybe walking. Some of that walking is going to be pushing a lawn mower; the lawn has turned into a jungle. No running, though oddly enough, when I was doing some BBQ on Sunday night I was watching someone run by, and knew that if I changed my shoes, I could run faster and smoother than I ran during the race. I didn't, of course. I've been invited to ride the 70.3 course again next weekend, and I'm going to have to see how I feel. That might be too much too soon.

Congrats to Shannon on his great race! He's such a modest guy he only said he had a good day, and it's only when I saw the results that I realized he'd placed second in his age group. Susi and Lori had tough races, but gutted it out and finished. I haven't seen Chad's blog, but his time looks super! Amy and KK had a great race. I was thinking it must be super to race with someone you know that well.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chinook 2009 Horror show

This isn't a happy post. I did not have a good day at all yesterday, so if you're looking for an upbeat race report to start your day, you'll have to go somewhere else. I feel a bit better today, but I was very grumpy yesterday, and I'm very unhappy with how I did. The only good things I can say about it is that I finished, and my cheering section was awesome.

The day didn't start out well. My breakfast went down sideways or something, and shortly after my tummy was talking revolt and uprising and rebellion. Which is unusual. It did that pretty well all day.

Here's some numbers for comparison, then I'll talk about what happened. These are my stopwatch times.
Last year...........................................This year
38:39 out of the lake ........................38:53
43:55 out of T1 (5:16).......................43:28 (4:35)
4:29 into T2 (3:46:xx).......................4:19 (3:35:43)
4:31 out of T2 (2:36).........................4:21 (2:24)
7:37 finish (3:04)...............................7:25 (3:04)

Essentially, it's the same result as last year. Oh, I took 10 minutes off my bike. Pardon me for not getting excited. Given the distance, and that course, that's practically the margin for error. The official results are here. I'm last in age group by a long way.

The swim went about as well as expected. I felt pretty good in the water. I had my toes tickled a few times, and at one point the people on each side of me zigged in opposite directions trying to squish me, but other than that there was no fuss and bother. Trying to sight between the first and second buoys was very hard. I followed the splashes and it worked out.

My spectators said my second lap was faster than my first, but I beg to differ. My watch says my first lap was 18 minutes and change. I didn't really swim all that hard, and thought I was in control of my breathing. However, once I stood up and headed for the strippers, I was really dizzy and out of it. I got my suit unzipped, they stripped, but I had a lot of trouble getting my cap and goggles off. I staggered off to T1, veering to the right the entire way. I should have taken that as a warning.

T1 was ok, till the mount line. I fell off my bike. I got my right foot clipped in, and started going, sort of, then started wobbling to the right. Part of my brain was trying to pedal and go faster, another part was trying to get my left foot clipped in, and yet another part was screaming "CURB!" and "YOU"RE FALLING OVER!" and trying to get my right foot unclipped. I bounced off a median curb and knew I was going down on my right side. Onto the elbow I broke last year. You can believe I tucked it in as hard as I could and rolled as best I could while still clipped in. Right in front of a volunteer. They helped me up. (Thank you!) I got going again, a little more carefully. All the way down to 22X (about 3K I think) I was listing to the right, sort of like a drunk. Normally I go where I'm looking and go in a reasonably straight line, but I nearly bounced off the curb about 3 more times.

As I was going up the slight grade over MacLeod trail my gears starting doing weird stuff, skipping from gear to gear. I looked down, and realized my fall had bent my derailleur inwards. When I got to a safe place I stopped and pulled it out a bit. That didn't answer, and very quickly after the chain popped off the big ring, and onto my pedal. I nearly fell over again getting stopped and unclipped. Pulled the derailleur out a bit more, and carried on. It didn't give me any more trouble, but I started getting a weird tick tick noise and I never figured out what it was.

Susi was just behind me out of the water, and we traded places a couple times. She got ahead while I stopped. By now I'd figured out that I hadn't broken my arm again, at least I didn't think so. There was a bruise and it's badly swollen, but I still had all the range of motion and enough strength to lean on it. (This morning, using it to drink coffee is ok, if I'm careful.)

And here's an embarrassing incident for you. Somewhere along there I ran into a road sign. One of the big portable ones that tell motorists there's a road race and drive carefully. The vertical edge caught my hand slightly, my forearm, and by then I had tucked in my elbow, and my shoulder. I missed running Estela into the base by a tiny fraction.

I was trying to get myself focussed back on the race again, and soon figured out I had no legs. I felt slow and weak, but carried on, hoping it would get better. It didn't. I've been using Clif bars as my main nutrition on the bike. They tasted like chalk, and I could hardly bear to eat them. I cut bars into 6 pieces. I started with 18 pieces in a baggie, and there are still 8 now. I'm surprised I ate that many.

My buddy Deb caught me just before the turnaround, and Susi was just behind me. I didn't mark the time, but I think it was just over 2 hours from the start. Normally heading back in is fun. You're going downhill mostly, and often in the wind. I pedaled along. By now I wasn't getting passed much. One poor guy broke his chain and was walking. I later heard they got it fixed for him and he finished. I saw my buddy Jarrett at an aid station.

I took a Clif's Shot goo just before getting into T2, and nearly spat it back out again. I've had these before and liked them. T2 was without incident, though I was worried because someone moved my wet suit. They picked up my cap and goggles, moved the suit, and put the cap and goggles back. For the entire run I thought someone had stolen my suit. It turned out someone had just moved it. Not sure why.

The run started going past the cheering section. Linda, Jenna, Shannon, Susi's dad Bob, and her boyfriend Dale. I did not feel good. I was depressed the bike leg was so slow. Way slower than training on that same course. My arm hurt, and the swollen area felt like it was on fire. I found out later several people had taken bad falls on gravel to end up with major road rash. Maybe I was lucky.

The bike was bad enough, and the run was worse. The course goes down the bike path, and it leads between back fences. I was attacked by a dog. A small one that ran out and nearly bit me. I'm sorry Susi, I tried my best to kick it. That's what one does to dogs that rush out and try to bite you. Susi caught me about 2.5 K into the run, and bounced on ahead. I couldn't find my running legs at all. I was in a choppy clumping stride I hated. It hurt, and jostled everything with every step, and I couldn't break out of it. I didn't even try to run up the hill out of the park.

I got to the end of the first lap I think at 1:20. I was seriously considering handing in my chip and calling it a day. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to run the second lap. Last year I got down into the park before I started walking, and this year I didn't even make it that far. My left calf locked up, my knee started screaming, and that was it for running. I stopped at one point to take my right shoe off to fix my socks. For some reason it had decided to try to strangle my baby toe. It didn't look good yesterday, and I'm afraid to look at it this morning.

As you might expect, I'm walking on the very right side of the path to leave room for other runners, and the general public that was out enjoying the wonderful path system on a hot sunny day. One kid on a bike passed me on the right, and clipped my arm. Ouch. I was a bit surprised that not many people passed me. I guess they all did that during the bike. I was good about taking the gels, even though they nearly choked me. I waited until just before the aid stations so I could wash them down.

I didn't even try to run across the finish line, in spite of people cheering me on. I felt horrible. I was disappointed in myself, in that I didn't have the race that my training told me I could have. I thought a goal of 6:30 was very reasonable, and hoped for better. I didn't even consider that I'd be as long as 7 hours. The volunteers were great, and I tried to thank them, but I'm afraid I wasn't particularly responsive. The tech shirt is really nice, and I can see it becoming one of my fave's.

After the race the 8 of us went out for dinner at Joey Tomatoes. The food was good, but the service was slow slow slow, and it wasn't particularly busy. I mean, how hard is it to deliver 8 glasses and a couple pitchers of water? The pitcher of beer than Shannon and I shared went down really well. Afterward I went straight to bed, but didn't sleep well. I'm going to try for a nap later today.

I don't know if I just had a flat day or what. But it's clear I need to get my legs figured out. Maybe I never really did fully recover from the Police half. Maybe I've pushed them too hard over the last several months. I would hate to think that an entire year of diligent training made essentially no difference in my time. It's hard to remember a year ago, but I'm pretty sure my limits then were how hard my lungs and heart were working. This year, once I got settled down on the bike I was never out of breath again, but I couldn't get my legs to go.

I'm trying not to be negative here, but I'm going to have to sit down with Greg (my coach) and figure out what's happening with me. I may need to reconsider my goal of going for IMC in 2010. You cannot imagine how happy I am that I took the advice from a number of people to not do IMC this year. As it is, I'm pretty well decided I'm going to bail on the Canmore race. I really want the 70.3. to be a good day, as that's my milestone to judge how I'm doing and I now see the Canmore race as clutter.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chinook #342

babble. babble. babble. That's my brain talking.

I'm having a very unproductive day here, although Amelia the Cat is pretty pleased with it. She not only got lots of lap time, she even got a bit of yogurt when I was done with lunch.

Don't try to look up interim results for the race on Saturday. Their timing is pretty primitive, or was last year. The only timing mats were into T1, out of T2, and finish. I think I'm as ready to go as I'm going to get. Things are a little creaky and sore today, but I'm liking the rest. I'll do a bit of yoga and light stretching at some point to see if I can get my calves to relax. There's a big knot of tightness in them.

I picked up my race package yesterday. There are numbers for helmet, bike, and bib, a water bottle, a couple tiny containers of body glide, and some advertising. We get our shirts at the finish line. Most of my tri-stuff not in daily use is still packed neatly away from last year, so it shouldn't be difficult to round it all up and get ready for race day.

Forecasts for race day weather have been all over the place, as is to be expected. So far it's looking pretty good. It's going to be very interesting to go through the race knowing there is a cheering section at the finish line. Last year Kelsey was the only person I knew in the race, and it did NOT take her the whole bike to catch me. This year Susi is doing the half with me, and Shannon and Lori are doing the Olympic distance. Any luck at all they'll stick around to see how we do. Susi has imported a cheering section from far and wide, hopefully they won't mind waving a pom pom at me.

I'm looking forward to having some fun, and maybe actually racing a bit! I'll tell you all about it on Sunday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A taper workout

Now we're settling into proper June and July weather. Cool in the morning, hot (25 C) by late morning, possibility of thundershowers during the late afternoon or early evening, then a nice evening. Nice, if you time your life well.

I'm feeling pretty good after the swims on the weekend, though I found it hard to go to sleep last night. I normally swim in the early morning, so it's my wake up call. Even after a shower, I can still smell lake. My left shoulder is a bit creaky, but I think that's from mostly swimming while breathing to the left.

I was out on my bike early today to do a 60 minute workout. There is a nice 4.1 K loop in my neighbourhood that's good for this. You only have to blow through one T intersection stop sign the good way, and make one left turn. The curving roads do all the rest. It's not quite flat, more of a gradual slope all the way down and all the way back. I was supposed to warm up, and gradually build every 10 minutes. And we all know how I suck at gradual builds.

1 - 9:52 (24.9 Kph) Warmup, nice and easy
2 - 8:15 (29.8 Kph) Picking it up a bit, still spinning nice and easy.
3 - 7:54 (31.1 Kph) Pushed hard.
4 - 7:51 (31.3 Kph) Pushed harder, fighting a bit of a stitch in my side. Don't normally get those riding.
5 - 7:59 (30.8 Kph) Backed off a little, and had a tough left turn.
6 - 7:50 (31.4 Kph) Pushed really hard, wanted this to be the fastest. Could have got a ticket in the school zone.
7 - 9:22 (26.3 Kph) Easy pedal, took off gloves, got out of shoes on bike in prep for T2.
All together 28.7 K - 59:05 (29.1 Kph)

T2 1:02
3K 18:12 My legs felt a little slow at first, then picked up. The middle K was 6 min even, and I think the last was even faster, but I'm not sure of the numbers. Stretched a bit, showered. Tapering is good. Planning the after race festivities.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Here in Calgary swimming in open water is a treat. Firstly you have to wait till well after you can't walk on it anymore. That's most of the year shot, right there. Next, all the lakes in Calgary are private, well, except for Sikome. I'll get to it. These lakes are put in by the developers who then sell very, very expensive housing around them. The community association takes care of the lakes, and typically only residents and their guests can get in. I, unfortunately, do not know anyone that has lake privileges, or if I do, they haven't mentioned it. Sikome is City owned, and is famous for the diaper catch and release program, and recurring episodes of various ailments infecting the water, and is tiny. I suppose, technically, one could swim in the Bow River, but it's glacier fed, very cold, and very fast moving. Plus you'd get the fire department rescue squad all excited. Nobody willingly swims in the Bow. The Glenmore reservoir is huge, but you aren't allowed to swim in it. The City has all these funny rules about protecting the quality of our drinking water supply.

However, the various triathlons cut a deal with a community to host the swim, and they graciously open their lake to the athletes that want to practice their open water swim. Here's a big thank you to the Midnapore Community association!

Sat am at 9:30 I showed up, along with maybe another dozen swimmers. The water was cool, but not cold, at least not once you got in. My buddy Lori was supposed to join me, but I never saw her. Perhaps she went to the other entrance where transition will be and I missed her. I swam about 45 minutes and did two semi-circumferences of the lake. Note exactly hugging the shore line, not just swimming to the middle and back. It took a while to settle in, and had a few good minutes of swim.

Sunday evening at 5:30 Shannon and I met up and we did essentially the same swim again, with a bit more of a tour of where the actual race start will be. This was another 45 min on a beautiful evening. Mostly steady pace swimming trying to tweak my stroke. For a while I tried to draft, but he gradually pulls away from me.

I have decided there is no way I'm getting the same reach as the pool swim and will only tire myself trying, so I've come up with a slightly shorter, choppier stroke that keeps my elbows up and my hands on their own side of the body. As for actual speed compared to last year, I have no idea at all. I am reassured that last year I was breathing one side and barely keeping up with breathing. Today I can breathe bilaterally and carry on just fine, though my direction becomes a bit erratic. So if I get out of the water in the same time as last year, but with a lower heart rate and less energy expenditure, I'll be happy.

What's making me happy, and unhappy at the same time, right now, is that I'm drinking the very last bottle of a Riesling Auslees that I bottled Dec 7, 2003. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Picture diluted liquid gold. That's what colour it is, and it's going down smooth as silk. Oh my goodness.

Weekly totals
Swim 3.75 hrs
Bike 2.75 hrs
Run 2.6 hrs (I ended up counting Monday's run that was so horrible.)
Total 9.0 hrs.

Next week I'll be tapering hard, looking forward to the race.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Amovin and a'groovin

Once upon a time, I made fun of runners. I couldn't see the point of it. I didn't get it.

I have atoned. I have begged forgiveness at the feet of Susi, since she's one of the people whose chain I yanked.

Now, running is fun. Running is nice. Running relaxes me, and makes me feel better.

That's not to say I felt bad this am, not at all, even though I didn't sleep all that well last night. Something about Linda snoring a duet with the Hawks police helicopter kept me up. Even so, it was nothing that 3 cups of coffee couldn't fix.

Only an hour run today. (Only an hour!!!! Once upon a time I'd have slit my wrists rather than run 60 seconds, let alone 60 minutes.) I did a nice warm up, then 3 x 5 min hard. That turned out to be really hard, hard, and really really hard. Then ran 10 minutes medium hard trying to stay strong and steady.

During the warm up I got into a groove, and had a nice relaxed run without having to think about it. During the hard, and the really really hard intervals I got into the groove there too. I could feel my pace pick up, and my breathing got easier. It felt like I was floating along with my legs moving under me.

Walked after, nibbled, stretched, showered. I feel great! Our friend Kate from Edmonton is coming to visit. It will be great to catch up with her; it's been a long time.

First open water swim tomorrow morning!

Oh, and that's the last time I'll wear just the man-bra when I'm running. During my shower I found some chafe marks where my sweaty flabby arms were rubbing against my flabby sweaty body.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The bugs! And not the software kind

The swim this am was good. 45 min, plus another 15 in the dive tank. I had a lane to myself for most of it. Did a nice warm up, trying to swim a good stroke. Then some drill, and that went a bit better than yesterday. Golf 81, 82, 83, which is better than I've done for a while. Did some intervals, and that was so-so. Didn't seem to have much wind for swimming today.

The bike was a nice 70K loop out 22X, down 22, across 549, and up 773. It was another windy day, and it was in my face just about the entire ride. The bugs were in my face too. And arms, and legs. I ate a few. I had a bumble bee bounce off my hand. I've no idea what happened to him, since I didn't stop. There was something big moving around inside my helmet moving around for a while. I couldn't do anything about it as I was going up that big hill just before turning left onto 773. Nothing flew out when I took the helmet off at home, and nothing dead washed out of my hair, so I guess that one ended up ok. Washed lots of bug guts off my exposed skin. I guess they hit me and stick on the sunscreen. It drowns them if the impact doesn't get them.

Pushed the ride fairly good, trying to stay steady and strong. Average speed ended up being just a hair under 26 Kph, but that includes an easy warmup, and a bit of a cool down. 2.75 hr for the loop. Totally beautiful day for a ride.

I'm not really happy with how my helmet fits. No matter what I've done it slithers around. My last Bell helmet just popped onto my head and stayed there, no fuss, no muss. I almost didn't need the chin strap. So, anybody looking for a new large Louis Garneau helmet, red?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Feeling much better today. Some rest, some stretching, a good session of rollering and late yesterday my legs felt back to normal, or almost so.

Today's run was nice. It was warm and sunny, like it's supposed to be. Ran 80 minutes. Warmed up running easy for 30 minutes, legs feeling great. 3 x 8 minute hard aiming for half IM pace. Only, I goofed on the middle one. (Hangs head in shame.) I went 9 minutes on that one, since the run was so smooth and strong I didn't really notice how the time passed. Ran easy for 3 minutes in between. The route was an out and back down into Fish Creek, but I've no idea how far I went. At one point I was a few steps away from a deer of some kind. It didn't run from me, but didn't take it's yes from me either. It was very small, and I think quite young.

Took a bit of water, and slurped a gel at the 29 minute mark. My legs felt strong throughout. Had a bit of a niggle on the outside of my left heel, but nothing much. I'm pretty confirmed as a mid sole strike, so it's not as though I'm pounding my heels into the ground with every step. However it could be a new thing I tried. I finally got around to putting the elastic laces into my shoes, and they might have been just a smidgeon tight, so after the run I loosened them up. I've never had a problem with the New Balance laces; they've never come undone on me. But it's very possible that race day will be chilly, and it's hard to tie laces with cold fingers.

Stretched well after, and did some self massage, working on calf and heel. As I write this evening, my heel is still a bit tender, and my legs don't want to stretch forward, but that's pretty typical.

Monday, June 8, 2009


So flat a pancake looks high.

I was part way through my swim this morning, cruising along, not fast, but better than I have been recently, when it suddenly came to me I'd slipped back to the 'old' normal, and part of the reason was that I was taking little tiny baby breaths. I started rolling a bit more, breathing deeper, and trying to put a bit more effort into it. Of course, when you start concentrating on one part of your stroke the rest goes to shite. Then I noticed my hands were crossing the centre line big time out front and I started wondering how long that had been going on. Things sort of fell apart after that, so I was just under 30 min for 1500 m. Tried some drill. Blah. Nearly drowned. Balance in the water is totally off. Golf scores 84 and 85. The pool felt really long today. Really really long. Suffered through an hour in the pool, and 15 minutes of core work in the dive tank.

When I got home again I went back to bed. I don't often do this, but even getting good sleep most evenings I am not as rested as I'd like to be.

The run, if you want to call it that, was total, utter, and complete shite. I didn't particularly want to go, but drove myself through my normal pre-run routine. I figured it's gotten better before. There I am, running easy at a relaxed warm up pace, wondering:
  • why I'm breathing so hard, as in almost gasping

  • if I'm going to puke.

  • why my feet hurt, when they have never complained before during a run.

  • why one spot on my left shin keeps feeling like a bee stung it. A BIG bee.

  • why my left knee is going squeak squeak squeak.

  • why I can't focus on the run, and my brain keeps wandering away. Good thing I've got it on a leash these days.

  • why I can't get any rhythm, no flow, no groove.

  • if they did some subtle construction on the path because my feet keep tripping over stuff.

  • why I'm being such a weenie about the temperature; it's either too warm when the sun is out, or too cold when its not.

  • why I can't even run up a small hill. Like a teeny tiny hill. The one from 37 st back into the neighbourhood.

  • how long I'm going to put up with feeling like this before it either gets better or I call it off.

I lasted 18 minutes and walked back to the house. That's probably one of the very worst runs I've ever had. I'm not even going to count it as a workout.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I still can't draft off Susi

But at least I can keep up with her now. Last year when she dropped down onto the aero bars she was gone. Now, I have to pick it up a bit, but she doesn't drop me. However, being behind her doesn't get me anything. A 6'3 guy on 700 wheels without aero bars isn't going to have much luck drafting someone 5'2 on 650 wheels in aero.

Here it hailed and snowed and rained and everything in between yesterday. Highwood would have been a potentially fatal mistake. Today started nice but very cold, and it gradually clouded over. It was about 10 C (50 F) when Susi and I were dressing. And windy. I wore a toque under my helmet for the first time, and just as well. For a while I'd wondered if I'd worn enough. At least the roads were dry.

We scooted out 22X along the Chinook half route, looking for about a 3 hour ride. It's hard to judge when to turn around because the wind can play havoc with your plans. Today was a stiff wind out of the south so we had a cross wind most of the ride. We ended up turning around in the Priddis valley. We started easy, and pushed along at a comfortable pace, since the west bound lanes have a great bike lane till the 22 turn off. We rode and chatted, as best we could between the wind noise and passing traffic. From the 22 turn off we picked up the pace a bit.

After the turn around we picked up the pace more, pushed hard up the hills, and tried to maintain speed on the flats. Susi clung like a burr and actually led for a bit. We got back in 2:44, averaging 25.1 kph overall, which is pretty good given the wind and our easy start.

6:45 transition.
20 minute run for 3 K run nice and easy, chatting most of the way. I just went back through my blog and that run after a bike used to take 30 minutes a year ago, and I remember it damn near killed me. Today I found my legs right away, and maybe could have run it faster if I'd been willing to push hard. I'm never really sure how hard to push these T runs. Less than a half hour after the run, a brief rainstorm swept through. That would have been miserable to still be on the bike, so I think we timed the turnaround pretty well. Snacked and stretched. Showered and ate. Sushi, BBQ chicken, salad, and ice cream with fresh raspberries.

Weekly summary
Swim 2.0 hrs
Bike 6.0 hrs
Run 3.5 hrs
Total 11.5 hrs plus another hour of yoga and stretching if you want to count that.
Not bad for coming off a rest week and not wanting to pile it back on too suddenly. My calves were still a bit achey for most of the week. The yoga workout on Thursday helped a lot, and the bike and run today has them feeling pretty good.

I picked up the book Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer, and read it through in one go last night. It certainly seems like there is some good stuff in there, and I'll be going over it more carefully. Have any of my faithful blog readers had any experience with it? How did it work out for you? It seems very practical and sensible.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A nice run in the hail

The good thing about hail is that you don't get wet. It bounces off you and goes somewhere else.

I walked a bit to start, then ran easy. The right amount of clothing was a tough call today. I was expecting rain, and it was certainly cool and windy out. I realized I'd got it right when I started running, and also realized I was going to have a good run. I warmed up for 15 minutes, nice and easy, going at a pace that would have left me winded only a couple months ago. I'm going to have to recalibrate my runs. It started hailing during the warm up, though it didn't really last long. It sort of snowed and hailed and rained throughout the run, as if it couldn't make up it's mind.

Did 3 x 10 minutes hard, with about 3 minutes rest in between. The plan was to run my goal half IM pace, which I can't quite do yet for a whole half IM. So today I just tried for max speed over the 10 minutes. This goal pace is not something I anticipate achieving this year for an entire half IM. I admit some uncertainty as to my exact pace, since I don't have a Garmin. The 10 minute segments felt faster than the Police Half pace, but that's very subjective.

The first 10 minutes started with a good downhill, then flat, followed by a rest at a very easy jog that dropped my heart rate by almost 30 bpm. The next 10 min was flat, then up hill ending about 3/4 the way up. It's hard getting your breath back at a jog when it's going uphill. The next 10 almost got me back home, running hard enough for the last 2 minutes to begin to think about regretting my breakfast. However all was well, and I jogged easy to fill out the hour run. Walked to cool down a bit more. I could see my breath on the air for most of the run, and at the end I was steaming a bit, so I took care not to cool down too much outside.

The ride up Highwood pass is off. (boo!) Here's the weather forecast for the town about 30 K east of the start of the road up the pass. The pass is more than 7,000 feet high. It seems all too likely there will be snow or ice on the road. It didn't take much discussion to decide that taking our skinny tire bikes up the pass would be dumb. We were prepared to deal with rain and cold, but snow and ice is a bit much. Another time! Longview is only a 60 K drive from here, and we're expecting to get snow overnight. What fun!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

oops. But it turned out ok.

I know you all want to know about the oops. But first things first.

The last few days have been pretty intensive on the wine front. I bottled the white, and had to make space for that on the racks. At the same time I had to do quite a bit more shuffling to make room for the red. I only have space for 464 bottles, and with the latest bottling, there are 424 bottles, so it's hard to find space for a block of 28 or 29.

While I was getting ready to bottle the white, I noticed lots of the bottles had some water spots, or a bit of guck from the labels, and some had a bit of cork residue, or a faint film on the inside of the bottle. I'm really fussy about my glass. Although red wine is normally bottled in green glass, I use clear. The commercial wines are in green to help mitigate the effects of storing wine in direct sunlight. That's hard on wine. My wine is stored in the basement where it never sees direct sunlight. Plus, and more important, you can glance at clear glass and know if it's clean.

Here's a photo showing the white and red ready to rack into another carboy and then bottle. You can see how clear the white is, and the layer on the bottom of everything that settles out. What you can't see is the glass of wine I was drinking while bottling.

I ran a big batch of glass through a bleach solution, then a cleanser to clean the bleach, then rinsed. The bottles go on a rack to dry. Yes, that's Estela in the background.

The trickiest part of the whole process is racking the wine into another carboy in preparation for bottling. You want to get all the wine, and none of the sediment. What makes it tricky is that you can't see where the bottom of the siphon is. When you're done, you're left with this.

Here I am, all ready to start bottling. Once you start you can't really stop till you're done, so I like to make sure everything is all ready to go.

You can't really see the siphon wand, but it's clever doodad with a little valve at the bottom of the tube. As long as it's sitting on the bottom of the bottle, the wine will flow. As the wine fills up the bottle and the level moves into the neck, you lift the wand and the flow stops. It's at the perfect level.

Here's how you get the cork into the bottle. You can see the bottle underneath, and the top of the cork. As you press down the lever it compresses the cork and inserts it into the bottle. You saw the corks sitting in a bit of water in an earlier photo. Being wet helps the insertion process.

Here's the 29 bottles I got, plus there is another 3/4 of a bottle. I normally get 28 bottles from a kit. They say it makes 30, but that's only happened a couple of times. You'd have to be really really good with your racking to do that.

Now I'm putting on labels. They are provided in the better kits. There are different ways of doing this, here I'm peeling off a backing paper, and the label is already sticky. I suspect it's going to be a bitch to get the label off again when I'm cleaning the glass. The general rule is that the easier the label goes on, the harder it is to get off. Some just soak off. The Australian Verdhelo is a plastic label that just peels off, sweet! Some I soak for a while, then use a tool that is normally used to apply cement for ceramic tiles to shred and scrape it off.

Here's the label stuck to the bottle and ready to be pressed down.

Last is a shrink wrap cap to go over the cork. Some people don't bother with this, but my thinking is that with the shrink wrap cap, you KNOW the cork and glass rim is clean, regardless of how dusty your basement is. And I have to admit (hangs head in shame) our basement is dusty. Plus, if you ever give your wine as a gift, having the shrink wrap on it makes it look nicer. Every now and then we let our financial advisor drop by and pick out a case. Lisa K, if you're reading this, don't think about us giving gifts, and your upcoming wedding. (Fans of a recent blog by Julie, look in the background.)

There it is on the rack, to sit for 3 months or so. We're sampling the 3/4 of a bottle I mentioned earlier, and it's pretty good. A bit sharp and raw, but it would be perfect if we were having something spicy for supper, like an Argentine steak in chimichanga sauce. Which, oddly enough, is on the menu for tomorrow. You can see the dust on some of the bottles. This is the rack where the last few bottles in a batch end up. I think our oldest wine is more than 5 years old, and in some cases, it's almost heart breaking to drink the last one.

And now the oops. No, I didn't forget to put on my swim shorts. I forgot to take the bag that has the swim gear, towel, ect. I dropped Linda off, then drove to FOMC, and was staring stupidly into the back seat after parking. It took a minute to sink in. After I got home I did an hours worth of yoga/pilates/stretching/massage stuff. The more I had thought about it, the less I liked that wooden feeling my legs had yesterday. I figured something different would be good, and it was. ooooooooohhhhhhh. I needed that.

After some breakfast and puttering about doing wine stuff I headed out for a bike ride. This was an hour of easy spin at low effort and trying to keep my heart rate down. Over the entire hour my average rpm was 85. I didn't care about speed and rode around in Woodbine, Woodlands, Canyon Meadows, Oakridge, and Cedarbrae, just looking at the world and having fun. While I never got lost, I did spend some time on streets that I've never been on before. It was beautiful out, warm and sunny. People are out enjoying it while it lasts. The forecast for the weekend sucks big time. Can you see the S word? But the bike ride will go ahead as planned, unless it actually is snowing. No such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing choices.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pinocchio legs

As soon as I got in the pool I promptly forgot the workout plan. I knew there was stuff in it, drills, golf, intervals and such. Maybe senility is approaching; that's twice now I've totally spaced on the workout. They aren't THAT complicated.

Maybe it's just as well. I was mostly done my warm up and was thinking about what to do next, when the pool big dog got into my lane. Not surprising, I was swimming along in an orderly way, just a hair quicker than 2 min per 100 m. Everywhere else was chaos, with lane walkers, people trying to swim, the talkers (who are well behaved, btw), and some people trying to do something else.

The warm up had gone well. I'm still not feeling really strong, but I was feeling smoother. Once he started, I picked up the pace a bit. I was lapped quickly since he had started just behind me. I got into his draft, and hung on for a length. He does a fast flip turn, saw me right behind, and grinned. The bastard GRINNED at me. And stepped on it. I was slowly slipping out of his draft at the end of the next length, and that was all. I slowed down a bit. Then we did it all again next time he lapped me. I caught a look at my watch and did a 45 second 50 m lap, with him slowly pulling away. That's pretty close to my top speed, and I don't normally do that in the middle of an ongoing swim. I called it done after 1 K, 19:30. That felt fast for today, though I've gone faster. Did some drill, and one golf 84. Yuck. Cooled down. Long session in the dive tank working on core and stretching. This was about an hour overall.

I feel a bit smoother, so maybe my swim has learned something from hanging out with Kelly's swim. My arms and shoulders are still feeling a bit weak. During my last ride, I was paying attention to my shoulders and arms. I think I might have been tensing them up, and that's why I ended up with that soreness.

Breakfast and puttered about the house for a bit, then dressed for my run. I looked at the plan. More slow builds. Oh Dear. It turns out I still suck at slow builds. I warmed up with a walk, then a slow run, and gradually found a nice pace. But my legs felt like wood. It felt like a very stiff run, there was no flow. There was also no gradual build. I could pick it up a bit, but it was a jump from one speed to the next, and today I didn't have it to keep that faster speed going any longer than a few minutes. I've no idea how fast these paces actually were.

Once I got going, I warmed up, and it felt ok, but no better than that. My feet felt fine, but my legs were heavy and stiff. Normally, I'd say the run was barely ok, but I was doing a route where I used to get to a certain point in an hour. I added an out and back in Fish Creek to this route, right at the very west end of the park, up the escarpment. When I'm doing serious hill run repeats, I'll come here. It's steep enough I have to walk my bike up and down. Anyways. I'm not sure how much the out and back added, maybe another K. Even after doing that, I got back to the place where I normally ended at the hour point, and ended there at the hour point. Which made me pretty happy. Improvement has happened.

What the run ended up being once I got going was alternating between my faster pace, and slower one. One of the things that did go well was running up the hill out of Fish Creek. Last time I ran this it was a high high zone 3 plod. Today is was a fairly springy low zone 3 or so, based on my breathing. After an hour I walked the rest of the way home, and stretched lots. Had my feet in the air for 15 minutes or so. I'm going to call this a 75 min workout, since there was a brisk walk to warm up and cool down in addition to the hour run.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wind + Hills = HARD!

It was windy today. Or so I found out *after* I started my bike ride. I went down Road to Nepal to get in my hill workout, and the way down was wind wind wind all the time. I tried to keep my head down and power through. It was strong enough that I was about 25 Kph slower than normal going down hills into the wind.

I wasn't feeling strong, so it was turning into a bit of a suffer fest. One hill I was barely making 5 Kph and a sudden gust had me ready to unclip because I nearly stopped. All I could think about was that the way back I'd be able to sit up, relax, and be blown all the way home.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. I still had to pedal, and it didn't help me downhill as much as I thought it would. Max speed was only 84.6 Kph. I'd been getting a little chilled riding into the wind, and was warming up a bit coming back. The very last part of the ride I could feel my legs coming back and starting to feel a little stronger.

It took 1:17 to get to the bottom of the road, and 1:01 to get back, for 2:18 total, which is 22.3 Kph average. Except for the wind, it was a beautiful day for a ride.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting back at'er

The swim was pretty good today. I did a long warm up and some drills. My shoulders are still a bit stiff from the ride. I didn't push the pace, just tried to relax in the water. I didn't feel strong, but was fairly smooth. Tried some 100 m intervals. These were mostly 110 seconds, and there were some good laps in there. I could feel the scales of rust falling off. I tried a golf and ended up with 85, which is certainly nothing special. Called it at 45 minutes, then did another 15 minutes of core and stretching.

Run was good. 60 min easy with strides. Did a bit of stretching first, especially my calves. Ran really easy for 15 minutes, settled into a comfey pace, and started strides. Started easy, and gradually built speed and distance. Some I ran really fast but for a shorter distance, others were a strong run for a little longer. Ran easy the last 15 minutes, and did a cool down walk. Stretched while chatting with a neighbour.

My legs felt really good. I think the rest did them lots of good.