Monday, August 31, 2009

IMC 2009

Here we are, home safe and sound again, with Amelia the cat only moderately annoyed at us.

I decided at almost the last minute not to take Estela with us. Originally the plan was to ride part of the course before the race. Then I found out the mandatory volunteer orientation was Sat at 2pm. So much for a long ride that day. Then I was figuring how how many K it was from Osoyoos to Penticton via Richter and Yellow Lakes. It turns out to be about 90, just for the record. Then I started thinking about it. I just had the bike fit done, and it radically changes how it feels. Sat was about 31C. I've never been up that road, and I'd be riding alone. I'd be getting done about sunset. I'd have a really long day on Sunday, what with seeing people off in the morning, and my volunteer shift ending at midnight, to say nothing of an early am line up the next day. Once I put it all in a line like that, not going for the ride turned into a sensible decision. Call me a weenie if you must. There will be camps next year for me to discover the course.

We stayed at a wonderful B&B in Summerland, about 15 or 20 minutes from the finish line, plus time to find parking. We had a relaxed drive out on Friday, plus lots of construction. Saturday we scoped out Penticton to get the lay of the land, since I'd never been there before. I think maybe once I drove through, many years ago. Nice place. Reminds me a bit of the Fraser Valley during my childhood.

Sunday I was there to see people off, and was close enough to the ramp I could see a few people finish. I hadn't known Katie F was there, and what super day she had! Darryl was by in a blur almost hiding behind other people. Julie came out of the water with a huge smile on her face. Susi looked determined.

I hung around to watch the last two people out of the water. Sad there was at least another swimmer churning away that was not allowed to continue. A little bit later I met up with Jenna for coffee, then Alan and Dwayne (sorry if I didn't spell that right.) Linda had slept in, so I went back to get her, and had a very nice nap.

Walking in we saw Darryl heading out for the run, looking strong. We found a great shady spot just before the last left turn on the bike course going into dismount. Once settled we saw Julie in and out, and I'm sorry if I broke her concentration. She actually looked over her shoulder and smiled, but that could be just a reflex. Heather had a huge grin. Susi had had a tough bike, and we were beginning to worry about her. She chatted for a second heading out for the run. She'll put the detail she thinks is appropriate in her blog, but it's fair to say she wasn't having the day she hoped for. It's kind of tough to watch for riders coming from the right, and runners from the left, all in time to cheer. Us spectators have such a hard life.

We both enjoyed watching it. You can tell some people are counting the seconds to get off the bike. Some are just coasting in, others are pushing it till the last second. Some are getting in the last bits of nutrition. One guy nearly crashed trying to get his shoes off. The running is fascinating. Some gaits I don't know how they do that for a marathon. Some looked like they were floating along. One guy I fear is me, pounding nails into the pavement with every step and he's bigger than me. I could see quads and calves rippling with every step. Ouch. I watched one guy find his stride and relax, all in the space of a few steps; it was almost like looking at two different runners. One girl was headed out like her ass was on fire, and I'd love to know how long she kept that up. Linda didn't want to stay till midnight, so I took her back to the B&B, then came back. Since I was there, and couldn't get a better view, I started my finish line duties early. All you can eat pizza, and I was hungry. Turns out that Grant that taught Chi Running, and Brian from Tri-it were also catchers. I met and chatted with lots of interesting people during the evening.

Catching was fun, in a strange sort of way. For readers new to triathlon, the athletes have just spent all day and part of the evening involved in intense activity, and are covered in a variety of bodily fluids and lotions. They gave us rubber gloves. Catchers are there because some people get across the line on will power alone, and a few steps across the line it's like someone cut the puppet's strings. There are all sorts of reactions as people cross the line. Most have a huge grin, and rightly so. Some are in great shape and look like they could go dancing. Others haven't collapsed, but they aren't far from it. We make sure they get their medal, finisher T shirt and cap, some fluids to drink, and get the timing chip off them. Then it depends on what the person wants. Some people go straight to the med tent no matter what they say they want. Others want their photo. Some want food, or don't want food. One guy said nothing but a very sincere "thank you, massage tent please". About 6 times. One guy wanted to go into transition to get his bags so he could towel off. We take them where they want to go and make sure they will be ok.

Most of my 'catchee's' were in great shape. There were a few that were disappointed with their time, or were in rough shape. For all of these it was their third Ironman. My guess is that they did the first one, then did the second to show the first wasn't a fluke, then tried to race the third. I saw a few people carted away in a wheelchair. One of my catchees got all the way to the food tent when her legs started going wonky.

This was my first triathlon volunteer experience, and I'm going to have to do it again. Maybe not catching next time, but something that needs doing. We all need to remember, and I've said this before, without the volunteers the race wouldn't happen. My goal is to volunteer a race for every one that I'm in.

I somehow missed Julie, Chuck, and Heather, even though I was working the finish line when they crossed. I was probably already helping someone else. What was important to me is that I caught Susi, and didn't even have to trample anyone to get to the front of our line. I just happened to be there. This was a tough run for her. What amazing grit she has! I am in awe. I took her into transition for her bags, and Sherpa'ed for her. While I was there I heard my name and it turned out to be Kelly R that I've raced with a few times! I was confused, thinking it was Kelly B, but thinking I'd have heard if she was going to be there. We got Susi's stuff and I handed her off to a buddy that would take her to her parental unit. She was firmly clutching a tin of special cookies Linda made for her, and I hope they have the same effect as at Chinook.

Sometime later in the evening I sat and chatted briefly with Katie and then Verna showed up. Katie's such a humble girl, I only found out just a few minutes ago just what an awesome day she had. Can you say first in her very competitive age group??? Way to go Katie!!!!!

One of the high points of the night was watching Sister Madonna Buder cross the line just before the cut off time. The crowd went crazy. A 79 year old nun, running an Ironman triathlon. For about the 36th time. What an inspiration!

This parking in a bunch of different places is for the birds; I nearly got lost after my shift. After not enough sleep, I was back down to the Expo first thing in the morning. The line up is out the gate, but that's for finisher swag. Looked for Julie in particular, since I was pretty sure that Susi was still in bed. Ran into Verna there. Then there was a long line for people wanting to sign up for next year. Then, at last, (deep breath!) the much shorter line for volunteers to sign up for next year. Chatted with one of the guys from spin class, and I'm sorry I've forgotten his name, and since it was pre-coffee it took a bunch of time to clue in that this familiar looking dude really was familiar.

I have to admit the IM corporation is very efficient at extracting money from your credit card.
$603.50 later, and I AM SIGNED UP FOR IMC 2010!

There is no doubt the next year will be amazing. I'm looking forward to the training, and from what every other triathlon blog or triathlong buddy has said, there are sure to be some adventures along the way. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Easy relaxing swim

It's been a while since I was in the pool. I haven't particularly wanted to swim the last little while. It's been a good mental health break. I had a lane to myself, nice! Swam 45 minutes at an easy relaxed pace, never breathing too hard. Paid a lot of attention to how I was feeling, how my stroke was doing. The only real muscle complaint was down the inside of my forearm. For a while I was trailing a stream of rust behind me, but after about 20 minutes I settled in and things smoothed out. Played with the stroke a bit, and counted strokes per lap a bunch of times. It was mostly 20 or 21 per length. The swim was a bit slow, but I didn't care, since I wasn't counting lengths.

After the floaties in the dive tank cleared out I did core work for 30 minutes. All is good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sneaking up on 120

No, not Kph, I think that will be a while yet. And no, not rpm either, at least not for more than about a minute or two. I'm talking about heart rate. Now, I realize some of you pass 120 bpm just thinking the word exercise, or workout. But somewhere around 120 bpm, maybe as much as 130 bpm is where I cross the line between easy and starting to work and beginning to breath harder.

So the theory was to try the new bike fit out on the road, AND stay around 120 bpm, certainly no more than 125. That's tougher than it sounds, given the wind and hills. I thought about how far and how long, not knowing how the bike would fit, or how my legs would feel. I figured play it by ear, heading out 22X, then down 22. These are fairly moderate hills that I figured were appropriate.

The fit felt a little strange at first, especially in the legs. The saddle is much higher, and tilted a little more forward. My back is straighter, and I can see better. I was riding cautiously and a bit slower, trying to see where my heart rate was going, and I wasn't caring about speed or pace at all. At first it didn't seem to take much to get to 120, and then I'd back off. As expected my breathing was really easy. I was trying to relate how my legs felt, with how my breathing was doing, with what my heart rate was.

The first hour was feeling things out. My legs were still getting used to the new motion and I couldn't spin very well, though it gradually got better. I was able to keep my heart rate where I wanted it or even a bit lower. I turned around at Plummer's Road, which is a hair over 25 K from the house. It's right at the bottom of a hill of course. I was able to ride on my drops for quite a while, and could have kept on, where as before it was just too uncomfortable to do for more than a few minutes. My legs started to feel stronger, and I could push a bit harder while keeping my heart rate the same.

In fact, for a good part of the way back I was well below the target heart rate. However, I was getting some numb bum, since my sit bones were taking more of the weight than they used to. At the 1.5 hour mark I was feeling like I normally do at the 3.5 hr mark. I'm not sure how to describe how my legs were feeling; it was sort of odd. They felt like they were on the verge of actually working, but not quite there yet. It might have been the new motion, but they didn't feel particularly strong. It felt like warm up, I guess. Toward the end I was spinning a bit better, even though I didn't really want to be sitting anymore. My legs weren't tired, but it was like they wanted to take the next step and either go harder or get off.

All in all the fit seems like a big step forward. I need to be aware of my posture a bit more to make sure I don't slouch back into a hunchback position. I'll give the legs a few more trips to get used to it, and continue to work out the tightness in my calves. I rode nice and easy spin for a hair over 50 K in 2.25 hrs, with a max heart rate of 126 when I got a bit carried away making a left turn in highway traffic. The average heart rate was 112, though I'm not sure how accurate that is given my very slow start.

There are lots of people taking a deep breath and getting packed up to travel to IM Canada or Louisville. It's a huge day to be looking forward to, and I hope it meets or exceeds all your expectations. I'll be spectating and volunteering at the finish line between 7:30 and midnight, so I won't be able to follow you on athlete tracker. However, I'll be cheering you on in person or in spirit.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bike fit

Today was the day. I was pretty much a slug yesterday, just did an easy walk around the block. My calves are feeling better. In fact my left leg is now feeling better than the right. Two firm massage sessions in a week sure helped. Today was a longer, brisker walk, 40 minutes around the block. In the last 10 minutes the heat hit me and I came in all sweaty.

I got both a bike fit and a lactate balance point test. Luke did a bunch of measurements. Both of us were mildly astonished to find out my legs are only a mm away from being the same length. It's more typical for most people to be more like 5 to 10 mm different. He tweaked the cleat fit on one shoe. After a short ride on the bike he moved the saddle way up, and fiddled with the positioning a bit. A bit more time on the bike, and he replaced the stem. The difference in position was amazing. I'd never realized I'd been riding hunchbacked. No wonder my neck hurt sometimes and I was always looking out of the top of my eyeballs. This will also open up my lungs, and change the weight distribution between my butt and hands. Now I get to ride a bit to see how it feels. I may need to get the bones in my butt measured to see if I need a different saddle.

For a while I was spinning while looking at the compu-trainer graph that shows power output at each point of the pedal stroke. This was very very cool. A perfect graph is a circle. When I first got on the bike, before any adjustments the graph was like a figure 8 like the kids draw in grade one. Two perfect balls balanced on top of each other. I had to work to just start to even it out. After the adjustments it was much easier to get a circle-oid. Not quite round, but much better. I really enjoyed tweaking the pedal stroke and watching the graph change. I wouldn't need to put a movie on if I had that in front of me.

Then the lactate balance test. In short, I tried to keep the cadence steady against slowly increasing resistance. He tracked heart rate, my respiration, something measured by a clip on my finger, and stabbed another finger for blood that went into a little gizmo. At the end of an hour (I think, things were kind of blurry by then) I was done, bathed in sweat, with tired legs that were ready to fold. For a little while right at peak effort I was actually beginning to feel a bit queasy, but that passed.

There are numbers and graphs! Fascinating. It was very interesting looking at the graph comparing watts against heart rate. I did ok for a while, then started to lose it at 200 watts, and made it up to 240 bpm before having to back off. This is a good baseline to measure future improvements against. My LBPwatts/Bodywt ratio is 1.6. At the moment this is just a number, but I shudder to think of what it might have been had we run that test two years ago. The testing confirmed my hunch that somewhere around 130 bpm is where I start breathing harder and enter effort levels where the clock is ticking on sustainability. My heart rate recovers fairly quickly, but I'm not good at getting the lactate dealt with. It has become very clear that once I get even a little past an aerobic state the effective end of my race is coming quickly.

He's given me stuff to work on over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Spend lots of time on the bike, some swim, and easy on the run for now. It's a year till next IMC, after all. We talked about coaching philosophy and training for IMC. All in all an excellent way to spend the afternoon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cam, Lisa, and the elusive Mike

Between now and last Wed is the longest I've been without updating my blog in a long time. It's been an exciting few days. Firstly, the title is somewhat untrue, since Mike has nothing to do with Cam and Lisa. Oh, there's a Mike that does, but he's not elusive. Well, actually, for me he has been since he's been friends with Lisa for 30 years, and I've been friends with Lisa only about 16, and yet somehow we've never come to the same party till now. Where was I?

Thursday I was feeling a bit out of sorts, and took a quiet day, not doing much, just puttering around the house getting ready for our trip. I've been driving by the Rothney Observatory for nearly 30 years now, and have been intending to drop in almost that long, since they have regular open nights. Yet somehow the timing never works out. It turned out to be a beautiful clear night, though the wind was cool. There was someone using a laser pointer to to show where various stars and constellations are. There was a replica of Galileo's telescope to look at Jupiter with, and right beside it a modern telescope of the same resolution. Even the replica gave a good image, but the modern was much better. I was surprised at how much detail there was. Lots of other telescopes to look through, and some really interesting displays. We'll have to do that again.

Friday we finished packing and we got ourselves out of the house by 11am. It's two hours to Julie's house, and she was kind enough to let us drop in. We finally met the elusive Mike! I've spoken with him once on the phone, but hadn't met him yet. Thanks for the coffee and cookies! As you might imagine it was wall to wall chatchatchat! We'll have to do that again too.

Then we drove the rest of the way to Island Lake Lodge, just north of Fernie, after a bit of a detour through Fernie itself. The road up to the lodge is a bit of a fright, but the lodge itself and the scenery around it are stunning. We got checked in just in time to make it down to the spa for our appointments. I got a deep tissue massage on my legs, and it was wonderful in a 'hurts so good' sort of way. Then we explored the grounds a bit, and hung out with our buddies waiting for dinner. The food was drool. Totally completely drool. Amazing. My steak was melt in your mouth perfect. Then we hung out on the deck and mingled and chatted. There were some people that we knew already, and a bunch of people from both families that it was nice to meet. A great mix.

The next morning, after a drool breakfast, Linda and I walked down the Old Growth Forest trail. Just a nice stroll for a couple hours, listening to a nice stream while walking through an old growth cedar forest. Very peaceful and calming. My thought was after that I'd go for a swim in the lake. I had been assured the staff swim in it daily and it's cool but not cold. So I didn't bring my wet suit. Pardon me, but it was effing COLD!! Much colder than Ghost Lake! I stood mid thigh depth, and rationalized that this was at least as good as an ice bath. I did get all wet, and swam for a few minutes. Just barely. My fingers were going numb, so I got out again, and dried off in the sun. Lunch was drool.

We had some time to ourselves during the early afternoon, so I mostly camped out in a comfy chair and watched the world go by. The view is incredible. Cam and Lisa had chosen to get married down by the lake. Here's what it looks like.

It's slightly overexposed so you can't really see the peaks in the background. If you want to see wedding shots of people you don't know, send me an email and I'll give you the link. After some more formal shots we all went back to the lodge to drink and eat little drool treats. There were about 4 or 5 different kinds and they were all drooling good. Then dinner; most people had the duck breast. We had to wait, as everybody but one person at our table got their plate, and we had to wait briefly till the last person was served. I don't think I was the only person who's tummy was growling with eagerness.

The toasts were short and sweet, with no boring wedding stories taking up valuable drinking time. Then the dancing started and a good time was had by all. We hit the hot tubs by 11:30 or midnight and called it a night. Other's closed the dance floor and the party moved to the hot tub till about 2:30.

Today was breakfast and goodbyes or see you laters. This is a seriously nice place to stay, and with the wedding package it was a really good deal for what you got. We'll be looking for an excuse to go there again. (Mike, if you're looking for a nice place to take Julie, hint, hint. Come to think of it Jase, same goes for you too. No, not Julie, Cath.)

Home again, waving at Julie's house on the way through. Nice to be home. Amelia wasn't even too choked at us. BBQ steak, corn, and fresh blueberry cobbler for supper. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I was given a bug shower

I rode my hybrid to the Chi Running class, up the 37 St path and through the Weaselhead to North Glenmore park. It takes about 25 minutes nice and easy one way. I probably couldn't drive there that fast. Class starts at 7 and ends at 8:30. Or so. Today went a little long so I was riding home in twilight. When the bugs are out. One of the bits of advice is to breath through your nose when riding and running at a training pace. I had to on the way home or I would have blown my diet on bug protein. It was a constant stream of bug impacts. So we'll say 45 minutes easy spin.

The main part of class was running back and forth, working on all the fine points. Charles offered feedback while Grant had us run in a semi circle to video us. It turns out that much about my run is good - nice mid sole strike, pretty good posture, heels coming up well, good hand and arm position. The main thing is that I lead with my chin, leading me to arch my back, then my arms start going up and forward, and my posture goes to hell. I need to be sure that I'm aligning my column, not just bending forward and poking out my butt.

There were several times when I could feel myself in the sweet spot, running with soft legs, quiet impact, feeling relaxed, elbows hitting the buttons behind, head aligned with chin tucked. For about 6 steps. Much practice needed.

My next book is The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, by Colleen McCullough. It's the sequel to Pride and Prejudice.

The big adventure today was reinstalling a glass pane in a screen door. Of course, it was the stationary pane that broke. Somehow. There is a surprising amount of fiddling to get everything back together. The wind trying to blow the door open, or closed didn't help. I ended up propping it open by dorsiflexing my foot, which stresses sore muscles. What puzzles me is that all the screw holes are filled, everything works, and I have two screws left over.

Lastly, I'm signed up for a bike fit next Tues done by a guy recommended by both Katie and Cath. Thanks guys!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not too hard, not too far.

But not as far as I thought would be ok.

Once it warmed up I headed out 22X, trying to spin nice and easy. I got settled in ok, but there was some weird stuff happening in my left leg. There was an odd pulling sensation in my calf, just at the widest part on the inside. As well, whichever thigh muscle connects to the top inside corner of the knee was feeling really sore. It was ok for the ride but had the feeling it could get worse if I went too far.

The odd thing is that I had put off the running to give my calves more time to recover, and the run yesterday doesn't seem to have bothered them. They actually have been feeling a bit looser since. However, I could feel the bike ride today stressing some of those muscles. So I think a bit more recovery is indicated. I also think I need to get my bike fit checked sooner rather than later.

I rode for an hour, and just about 2 K from the house I flatted. Of course it's the back tire. Since I didn't really feel like changing a tire just then, I decided to practice pushing my bike by the saddle and walk home. I also walked barefoot rather than in the bike shoes. I even (gasp) ran a bit. That all felt good and was a good cool down.

Once home again I put my legs up for a while and stretched carefully. Things are still twitchy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A hurried blog

The reason I'm hurried? There's a nice post-run bowl of BC blackberry cobbler waiting for me. We had some after dinner last night, and it was mmm-mmmm good.

Easy run today. Half hour warm up walk gradually increasing speed. Ran 5 K nice and easy, with a break in the middle to talk to a buddy I haven't seen for a while. Then a 10 min cool down, followed by some stretching. A significant part of the run was done breathing through my nose as a way of keeping my speed down. A comfortable pace for my legs was just at that transition between nose breathing, and needing to breath through my mouth every now and then. I wanted to work back into this running thing nice and easy. My calfs have felt tight ever since the race, and haven't particularly felt better from the rest. If anything they are tightening up even more. The run felt good.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.0 hr
Bike 1.5 hr
Run 2.5 hr
Total 6.0 hr

I suppose I need to annotate that a little. The bike was all easy spin pretty well. The running was a Chi Running class that included some standing around, but also some hill running. Overall, the running was all easy effort.

Next week I'll increase the time a little bit more; I'm still looking for some longer rides. *IF* the weather cooperates! It's been cool and cloudy with periodic showers. I'll put up with that on a ride if the workout plan calls for it, but during my off-plan period, when I'm supposed to be having fun? NOT! But neither do I want to get back on the spin trainer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blackberries rule!

And some of you thought that I'd upgraded my phone. Sheesh. Look at the size of these!

And they are sweet and just a little bit tart, totally perfect! Linda will be making another blackberry crisp or cobbler this weekend. I'll pause here for a moment so that some of you can go wipe up the drool.

Hmmmm, why do I suddenly think we've greatly increased the chances of people 'just dropped in to say hi' this weekend?

Yesterday I was feeling a bit creaky. The bit of hill running we did really tightened up my calves. I'd been so looking forward to my massage session, then it got moved to today. Essentially, I didn't do any workout stuff yesterday. Today isn't much better, unless you call a massage session a workout. Maybe for Kate, my wonderful therapist. I put my feet up for a while after and did some stretching.

After a bunch of people were tipped off that my birthday is about now, and they very kindly sent me birthday wishes, I should say thank you very much. I've had so many of them I don't much pay attention anymore.

Still hoping the weather clears up and I can get in a nice ride this weekend. Not too hard, not too far. Any takers for company?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another chi class, slowly easing out of recovery.

This morning I drafted off another swimmer, and made it work. I've always been dubious about the swimming draft. My reasoning is that if you swim through still water, you have to force yourself through it, and it will flow around you. But if you're in someone's draft, you're swimming in turbulent bubbly water that's already flowing against you to some extent. It should be harder for that turbulent water to flow around you and you have to overcome the resistance of whatever is flowing against you.

Yet the lady I was sharing a lane with has proved me wrong. She was back and forth like clockwork, slowly gaining on me. I could push harder and stay ahead for a bit, then I'd ease off and she'd gradually close the gap. Eventually she caught me and I let her by. Then I got on her feet and I was going to swim my brains out to stay there as long as possible. Colour me astonished to find I didn't have to work all that hard to keep up. I was clocking faster laps, and not working as hard. Then she stopped. I said thanks for the draft and kept going. All of a sudden I had to work harder again, and I slowed down a bit.

It still added up to a 19 minute K, and 1550 m in 30 min. Except for the draft laps, 5 or maybe 6 of them, this was between a medium and strong effort. Then another 30 minutes of core work with some deep water running, again, without the sissy belt. I'm impressed; this is more of a workout than I thought it would be.

I was a bit worried about tonight's Chi Running class because this afternoon was cool and cloudy. However, that cleared and it actually got hot when it came time to ride up to North Glenmore park. The ride up and ride back was about 45 minutes altogether, putting a bit more effort into it but still working on keeping an easy spin.

Lots of good stuff in the Chi class, I'm counting it as 1.5 hr workout. These are mostly notes for myself based on what Grant said. You can read Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer and get all this as well. I won't say it as well, so the rest of this will likely bore you.

Review posture, feet straight, weight balanced, soft knees, elongate back, set head, neutral pelvis, align column. Did loosening exercises, ankles, knees, hips, pelvis/low back, shoulders. Get an electronic metronome and check running to be sure cadence is 85 to 90 rpm. When I've checked this using a stopwatch, I'm around 85. Don't count using feet, pretend you're pushing a button with your elbow. Cadence always stays the same, to run faster lean forward and the stride will lengthen.

Three paces normally, warmup, training, and racing. Running from bears doesn't really count; you'll know when to use it. Long warmup, slow walk, medium, then brisk. Then warmup run, very slow. Training pace should allow you to breath through your nose. Cool down, reverse of warm up. Stop and do loosening exercises if anything is still tight. Running should be relaxed.

Up a gradual hill. Lean forward, pump arms up almost punching self in chin. Short strides. Make sure heel lands on ground, maintain mid-sole strike. Down, allow stride to lengthen, pick up heels, allow hips to move and absorb impact.

Up steep hill, turn feet sideways, pump bottom arm hard, upper arm less so, maintain posture. Down, peel up heels, roll ankles, take tiny fast steps.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coming back from recovery

Easy spin today, timing it before the rain, 45 min nice and easy around the neighbourhood, visiting my bank and checking on a buddy's house while he's on vacation. I felt so virtuous riding instead of driving. Then a nice half hour walk. Calves are still a bit tight, so the running will wait a bit. Trying to be better about the amounts I eat. It will be tough tomorrow, I'll be having coffee with a buddy at one of my fave places to eat. Their squares are nearly the size of your head, and very tasty.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another first!

The swim was a routine 20 minute K, nice and easy, concentrating on a smooth stroke. Pushed hard for a few lengths and relaxed for some others. I've decided that I need to start working on core strength a bit more so I upped my normal pool core workout from 15 to 30 minutes. I can feel it in my hip flexors as I write this evening.

Since I'm now officially off-season, off-program, and on-fun, I decided to try something different. Deep water running! I want to work on my running skills, but I don't want to really do any actual running for another week or so. Naturally, I didn't use the sissy floatation belt. At the end of 10 minutes of churning, I was done. This was surprisingly hard.

I'm reading a really good book called The triathletes guide to Mental Training, by Jim Taylor and Terri Schneider. Their idea is that just like we train our bodies to be stronger, faster, and tougher than nails, we can train our minds to deal with fear, build confidence, and race with more intensity and focus. This is not some new age bullshit chanting to yourself or wishing things better. There is a ton of practical step by step advice about removing the mental barriers between your present self, and the athlete you'd like to be. I got it from the library almost by accident and will buy it if I see it. I wish I'd read this before my Chinook horror show.

One section that was interesting relates to my discussion question about pain. They point out different meanings of the word pain. By pointing out that people suffering from cancer, for example, are suffering from intense, unremitting, life altering pain, and that what we are undergoing is more like optional discomfort. We can choose to stop at any time, and after a short recovery are back to normal. This is assuming that we haven't actually injured ourselves to the point where pain is a valuable signal telling us to stop. They have some techniques to deal with the discomfort.

All in all, a good read. Any other good books on triathlon or overall fitness you'd recommend?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A spectator / sherpa virgin no more

Today I actually watched my first triathlon. Oh, I've seen bits of races before, mostly races I was participating in, but I've never watched the whole thing. Nor have I ever really sherpa'ed for someone.

Last night Cath and Jase came to visit, and Cath did the Chaparrell Oly today. We first met them out at Canmore and had a great time hanging out together. Last night we chatted up a storm and it was only when we all yawned at once that we remembered one of us had a race the next day.

We were down to race site in good time. Spectators could go into transition, so we watched Cath get set up. I was very interested to watch her put her shoes on the bike, and use elastic bands to hold them in the right place. The female Oly athletes were the first off at 8am. Cath was second out of the water, a few minutes back of this girl we figure is part dolphin. She struggled a bit in transition, then was off for the bike.

It was interesting to sit and watch the 5 lap course happen. You could tell who was an experienced rider and who wasn't. Cath traded places with another girl for 2nd and 3rd a few times, then left her behind on the run. We could see people going past the finish line for the first lap. Again, that was surprisingly interesting watching the different running styles. One girl we thought was in the Oly must have had a really slow swim and bike, but was eating runners alive. Maybe she was part of a team.

I also saw Adrian and Alex starting their Oly, and later I saw Dan running. I didn't see him afterward so I don't know which race he did. Cath earned second female overall! She won some prize money which had all of us excited. There were a ton of prizes given out, but none for Cath. Oh well. We humped her stuff back to the car, and to a wonderful lunch at home.

It was really enjoyable helping someone else and watching their race, and not have to pay particular attention to course details or other race stuff. I could pick up the atmosphere without any of the race jitters. It was a nice day to hang out and watch, though I fear I would get a spectating fail grade from Susi, since I haven't lost my voice. I can see where the winning female would feel a bit bummed out. Jase and I were the majority of spectators when she crossed the line. No photographer. No announcer. A couple bored volunteers.

My recovery is going well. My calves tightened up a bit standing so much today, but I stretched them out and I'm feeling itchy to get back on the workout trail. There are some swims and bikes on the agenda for next week, but no running aside from the Chi class.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm in the video! Twice!

How cool is that! The first time is 34 seconds in, look in the bottom left corner. Then about 6:54 I'm in the background on the run. Here it is. What's neat is this isn't the usual pro-fest video, it's mostly age groupers doing their thing. You might be in it. I thought I saw him and her, but am not sure. You'll have to look for yourselves. If you find yourself, please post about when so we can watch and cheer.

For people that would click on a link to see some photos of me, but wouldn't go through the results page to get them, here you are.

Rainy recovery

Shortly after the race ended it started raining, and for all intents and purposes it hasn't stopped. Plus it's been cool. No, strike that, it's been cold. I actually broke and turned the heat on in the house yesterday. Even wearing slippers and a sweatshirt, my fingers were going numb and my legs were cramping up. It's August for crying out loud!

Wed morning saw me at the pool for an easy swim. Chatted with several of my lifeguard buddies about the race. Then we noticed a guy in the next lane wearing the blue cap from my age group! Chatted with him a bit. He placed third in our wave. We got out of the water about the same time, he blew past me in transition, then he rocked the bike, and totally kicked ass on the run. His run time was right up there with the pros, and I think his run was the 5th fastest age grouper! I felt honoured to be in the same water as him!

He's doing Kona so he settled into a serious swim. I kind of putzed around, doing easy stroke, stretching out, working on my water feel and stroke mechanics. Did a few fast lengths just to see how it would feel. Not too bad. Spent lots of time in the dive tank stretching and working core muscles.

During the day I was browsing race photos, mine, and my buddies. Mine are nothing special to look at. I might get one of the finish line ones just because.

In the evening it almost stopped raining. I rode the hybrid up to the Chi Running class in North Glenmore Park. Easy spin, going much faster up the path than I ever remember going on that bike before. It started raining part way there, but so what. I was having fun getting used to the feel of a different bike. Susi kindly let me put the bike in her car, and the class was moved indoors because of the rain.

The chi running class is going to be good, and I think it will really help me. You see, even after a couple years of "running", I still lumber along like a dinosaur trying to get out of a shallow tar pit. My mantra for the race was "light fast feet", and it worked on the bike, and somewhat for about the first 5 K of the run. It is crystal clear that if I want to improve my tri race times, the single biggest fruit is my running form. Some of my run photos show me hunched over like a troglodyte looking for nuts and berries. No wonder I'm not going anywhere.

Last night's class talked about posture (feet, legs, spine, head, pelvis), learning to fall forward from the ankles, and what to do with your arms. We ran across the gym a bunch of times, trying to make it quieter. Then we took our shoes and socks off to try again. Amazing how much quieter it could get. My basement has a clear path at least as long as the gym. Later today will see me down there, barefoot, working on my posture, trying to run quietly. Should be fun.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another way to look at the 70.3 results

Here's what athlete tracker has to say. They calculate speed based on 90 K and that's not true. It's weird looking at the non-metric pace units.

Went for a walk yesterday and looked at all the broken branches from the big wind the other night. Just as well that rain and wind hadn't happened the night before, or there would have been expensive bikes scattered from hell to breakfast, and a lot of unhappy athletes. It's been pouring buckets pretty well ever since. I'm still hoping to get out for a walk and do some stretching. Any easy spin is likely to have to be done on the trainer. In August. Boooooo!

I feel great overall, and my legs are pretty good, though I can still feel some fatigue. There's a bit of a twinge in my left hams and calf. My resting heart rate is back to normal. The blister is behaving itself.

I've replayed the events of the day in my head a few times and I'm still pleased.

What I did right:
Got in a good breakfast, granola with fruit, then a peanut butter and honey sandwich. This was 3 hours before my wave start. About half an hour before my wave started I nibbled a Clifs bar, though I didn't have water with it.
Paced the swim and the bike so I didn't feel knackered before starting the run. I knew it would be hot.
Stayed on top of my hydration throughout.
Kept my focus and a good mental attitude all race long, and never worried that someone passed me that "shouldn't have". I didn't care about my place, or even my time, particularly.
Even during the slow parts of the run/walk I was still enjoying myself. I knew I could run more, and that I'd run across the finish line with a smile.
Took a gel before getting into T2, then took 5 gels with me on the run to take just before getting to an aid station.

What I didn't do right, and what I learned:
The spray on sunscreen mostly peels off with the wetsuit. I missed a few spots when spraying myself in T1, and you can see where. Try lotion sunscreen pre swim.
I couldn't find my wetsuit lanyard coming up the ramp, then ended up holding stuff in my hands when the strippers were trying to take my suit off. Next time get the sleeves off before getting anything in my hands. I really need to practice getting the wetsuit off quickly.
This was the first time doing a bag transition. Practice this before the next one.
Practice running in bike shoes, pushing my bike by the saddle.
I need to do more of my runs, particularly the long runs, during the heat of the day. Such as it is in Calgary. This will help me to better calibrate just how hard I can push.

The race organizers did an excellent job for a first event, considering how big it was. Yes, there are some things that could have been done better, but I think it was done good enough. All the volunteers that I dealt with were excellent!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A super day!!

Let's begin at the end. I am so pleased about how things went yesterday! I had a great day, and pretty well raced my plan. I felt pretty strong throughout. I'll put the formal results number a little further down, but here's a teaser - SOLID SUB 7! This is a major improvement on my previous half IMs.

I'd set our one alarm clock for 3:45. It turned out the batteries are dying and it never went off. Fortunately Linda was up and woke me a few minutes later. One of my problems at Chinook was shorting myself on nutrition so I pigged out on breakfast. Almost everything was in the car already so I ended up leaving the house almost exactly when I'd planned to. It's still really dark at body marking. The nice volunteer says that she needs to write on both arms and both legs. I'm still getting used to dropping my pants in public, outdoors, in mixed company. She looks at my tag, and writes the bib number on both arms and down my shins, then says she needs my age for my calves. I turn around, and I'm waiting to feel the magic marker. Nothing. "How old are you hun?" she asks. Duh. Once on the bus I zone out and just tried to relax. It turns out my buddy Kelly that walked me in at my very first tri last year was sitting just across from me. We met later milling around and chatted. She had recognized the moustache.

Once I got nutrition loaded, and bags dropped at the appropriate place I wandered around looking for people. I hung out with Julie and the famous Kelly B that I met at last. Saw lots of other people as well, and chatted briefly.

Our wave started at 7:30 into very warm water. The swim course was a bit weird. We started on the left side of the boat launch, swam out between moored boats, turned left, swam under the bride, then had to find the next buoy. It was a long way off. I could see two orange splotches way off in the distance. The splashes in front of me were splitting the difference, so I did to. Later I realized we really were aiming for the left hand one. Coming back was hard to sight as well. I started passing people from previous waves. When we got to the last buoy we had to make a hard right and aim for a yellow sailboat, then cut the corner and go back to the left a bit, except there was nothing to sight off. I was aiming for the timing tent, and ended up almost in the lane of the people swimming out.

The swim went well. I wasn't trying to kill it, just stay on top of my breathing, with a nice relaxed stroke. I'd be swimming with someone and then they'd disappear. I actually passed a few people in my wave, which was nice. I ended up out of the water at 40 min exactly. The results say I was just at the end of the first third of my age group. This is about where I usually am, or maybe even a bit better than usual. A good start.

Coming out of the water was just fine. There was a bit of a gong show with the strippers because I couldn't find my suit lanyard going up the ramp. Then I got eye glasses. So I took off my cap and googles and was ready to put on my glasses when 4 wetsuit strippers pounced on me. They're trying to get my arms out, while I'm holding stuff in one hand, trying to put on my glasses in the other. Someone else grabbed the stuff, and they just about had the suit off me before I was on my back.

This is the first time I've done a transition out of a bag. It went ok, then realized I had to stuff things back into the bag, and carry it off to a drop point near the bikes. T1 was about my typical time.

After my crash at the mount line in Chinook, I took a second to straddle the bike, look around, get a breath, get one foot clipped in, and start. I got clipped in and away just fine. It was a perfect temperature for riding. I got settled in. This is quite a rural area. An amazing number of people were camped out at the bottom of their driveways, clapping and cheering. The funniest line of the day came as I was passing one of these. Mom, Dad, teenage daughter, two smaller kids. I can hear a race wheel coming up behind me. The daughter says, "Oh Mama, write HIS number down!" I somehow knew they weren't talking about me. A few seconds later this young guy, thoroughly ripped and buff passes me.

I am super pleased with my bike, though I was planning for a 90 K ride, and it turned out to be 94 K officially, and my bike odometer said 95.4. My plan was to stay solidly aerobic and leave lots in the tank for the run. I came in just under 30 Kph average, on a fast course. Lots of new pavement, mostly downhill, though the race profile looks pretty formidable, and a light but favourable wind. Some of the kids going by were just flying. There were a ton of people watching the race in Cochrane. Toward the end of the ride I was getting an odd feeling in my stomach. I'd been pretty good about staying on top of nutrition, water, and my energy drink, but I think I was getting a bit full.

There was a huge number of people at T2. It was almost like watching one of these European bike races with a narrow lane to ride in and people on both sides. I had visions of a kid or dog darting in front of me. I was a bit nervous about this since I had no idea how it was set up or where I'd be going, but the volunteers made it easy. T 2 is usually fairly quick for me, and I was out on the run.

The first thing to notice is how hot it is. I felt pretty good for the first 5 K or so, trying to go easy but still ending up at 30 minutes or a little over. Then things started slowing down. My legs were ok, but I couldn't stay on top of my breathing and my heart rate was really up. Just as well I wasn't wearing the monitor because I probably wouldn't have liked the number. Somewhere along the Weaselhead I started walking to get my heart rate down and my breathing under control. Then I'd run again. That went on for the rest of the race. I could feel a blister starting on my baby toe, but I didn't care about that. Lots of people passed me. I passed a couple people. It went on forever.

There was one bright spot during the out and back down the 37 st path. It's a guy thing. A girl almost my height floats by, wearing small shorts, a smaller jog bra, and a great tan. I perked up when I realized we were near the turnaround point, and I'd see her coming back. She was beautiful. Wow.

For most of the run I felt like there was an enormous belch waiting to happen, and if I could get it out I'd be fine. There was a bit of tummy slosh and gurgle, so I took that as a good sign that I was on top of the hydration. I timed my last walk so I could run the final 500 m or so. Given the heat, I'm pretty pleased with the run. I'd been hoping to run more and walk less, but still, it's about 15 minutes faster than previous half IM runs. I'll take it.

The finisher medallion is actually a belt buckle.

And here we have Susi, Julie, Kelly, and me not doing a good job of hiding behind them.

Here's the formal results.
Place 843 (out of +1600 who signed up, or 1088 listed in the results)
Bib# 614 (but number one in your hearts I'm sure)

Time 6:47:31 (more than a half hour quicker than Chinook!)
Category M50-54
Category Place 61/76 (there were 112 who were listed to start in our wave)
1.9 km SWIM
Cat Ovr Time /100m
29 422 40:00 2:07

94 km BIKE (My odometer said 95.4 K)
Cat Ovr Time km/hr
58 758 3:09:36 29.7

21.1km RUN
Cat Ovr Time /km
66 927 2:49:30 8:02

Tr1 6:18
Tr2 2:09

I'm super happy with my day. I had fun, I kept my focus, and I didn't hurt myself overdoing it. A toe blister doesn't count, and despite Julie's request, I'm sure none of you really want to see a photo of it. Given that I didn't collapse and puke at the end, some might say I could have pushed harder. Maybe so. I suspect that yes, I could have pushed the run a little tiny bit harder. But given I'm still new at this, and I don't deal well with heat at the best of times, I also suspect there isn't much room between where I was, and over doing it, and I'll bet the difference comes quick. I don't fancy a visit to the med tent.

This is the end of my racing season, going out with a bang. I'll be going out to IMC to volunteer, and the plan is to sign up for next year. (Takes a deep breath!) I'm going off plan for a while. I'll still post because I want to be out riding and running and having fun. Today I'll do a recovery walk. We had an amazing thunderstorm last night so I didn't get much sleep. I think a nap is in the works as well. A big shout out to my various buddies that were in the race or volunteering. I think everybody had a good day. A HUGE shout out to the volunteers. They were all awesome!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Now I'm waiting.

I have been banded and released back into the wild. Maybe they want to track my migration habits.

I have all my stuff packed in the bags, except for what I'm going to wear in the morning. I sure hope I haven't forgotten anything.

Since T1 and T2 are an hour's drive apart, there is lots of logistics in getting stuff ready for us. I have no idea what's going to happen when I get to T2. The theory is that someone will take my bike, and lead me to the bag with my running shoes. This is very different for me, since I'm used to setting up my stuff, and walking through where stuff is and what's going to happen.

I was out to T1 to drop off Estela, and scope out how things are going to work. Seems well organized, but lets watch when a bunch of wet hurried out of breath people all try to get into the same space to get their bag and get into their bike gear. There is a small chance of rain tonight, so some people have wrapped their saddles in plastic bags. I don't quite get this. Isn't your butt wet from the swim?

The drive out was a walk in the park. On the way back I decided to drive the north part of the course and see what's been paved. Essentially all of Horse Creek Road is paved now. That should be very nice. There is new pavement on half the road in one section, the half we'll be on. I just hope they don't decide to pave tomorrow. The drive was nice, except for the person at the front of the line driving their little red car about 50 K. There was just enough traffic nobody could pass. The rest of the way home I was bedeviled by little red cars driven by people escaping the geriatric ward. Slowly. Geez. Good thing the air conditioning works or I'd have boiled over.

Once home I made my energy drink, cut up the clifs bars, and am now essentially ready to go. Or as ready as I'm going to get. Except for a few important things, like two more meals, a visit from Jenna's fairy, and trying to sleep in a really hot house. Maybe I'll sleep in the basement, with the alarm set to go off no later than 4am. The buses to T1 start running at 4:30.

To pass the time I took another run at interpreting the cryptic poem that Jenna left on Julie's blog the other day. Last time, what I got came to me right away. So in fact, that meaning is probably another decoy put there by Jenna to obscure her real meaning. When I tried to subject the poem to semiotic analysis I quickly realized that Jenna had laid several booby traps. There was no uniboob. I was led further and further astray, till I was hopelessly confused, a state I'm quite familiar with. I know better than to try again.