Sunday, January 31, 2010

Steady state ride

We went to a friend's 50th birthday party last night. That's one of the clues I'm not a spring chicken anymore. It's 50th birthdays or anniversaries, or retirement parties, or funerals. One of those tomorrow. Sigh. The party turned into a bit of a runaway with me getting to bed much later than I'd like for a spin class starting at 8am across town. I was awake, sort of enough to feed the cat at 7am, then I went back to bed.

But I was good, later. Well, I'm good all the time, but you know what I mean. After coffee and breakfast I lurched downstairs and did 20 minutes of core. Everything done very slowly. 5 superslow perfect pushups. Some side plank with leg lifts. 10 deep tricep dips. 6 single leg squats, and later 10 slow deep two leg squats. Plus other stuff.

Then onto the bike. I'd originally thought to do one of the workouts I missed when I was sick, but after a good warmup, I realized I wasn't in the mood to keep track of things changing every minute or two. I wanted to settle down and do something for a while without having to think too much. What I came up with was 6 x(9 min steady, 1 min standing) The steady part was big ring, third biggest cog which is usually my time trial gear. I was trying for 85 to 90 rpm, and settled for 83 to 85. This held my heart rate between 120 and 125 bpm the entire time. It was great. All I had to do was pedal and periodically make sure I was still in range. Standing was 2 gears harder, but it was mainly to stretch my legs and give my butt a rest. Warmup had some cadence drill and one leg drill, and cool down had some easy gear easy super spin stuff. Altogether 1.75 hrs.

Transition was 12 minutes, but then when Environment Canada says it's -13 C (8 F) with a light breeze and snow you don't go rushing out any wetter than you need to be. Transition included checking the weather, drying off, eating a cookie, sweeping the front steps and walk, and putting on more clothes. My calibrated nose says it was colder than the weather report by a few degrees. Wind chill was at least -20.

Ran easy for 24 minutes, keeping heart rate low and trying to be nice and smooth. Maybe a cm of snow had fallen, making it a bit tricky to see where the ruts and icy bits are. I do just fine running, but walking you'd think I was spastic the amount I slip. Stretched 10 minutes after.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.75 hrs
Bike 5.0 hrs
Run 3.5 hrs
Walk 1.0 hrs
Core 4.0 hrs
Total 16.25 hrs

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The dive tank workouts

Jenna wanted to know what exactly I do in the dive tank. Thank you for asking.

I started doing all this stuff a while ago because I had a weak and flabby belly and I'm still working on it. Once upon a time I tried a pilates class but nearly puked after. Seriously. I fully recognize that it's good for me, but it damn near killed me. I need a pre-beginner pilates class.

The idea with my exercises is to take some of the yoga and pilates moves, and translate them into water since I was at the pool anyway. Some are to build strength, and some are to develop mobility. I figure it's much harder to hurt myself in water, and I can control how much effort goes into it. These can be done in any order and I usually mix them up to keep from working the same muscles too much at once. I try to do all these slowly, feeling the water resistance and how my muscles are working. I do variable numbers of these depending on how I'm feeling, or how long I want to take. I don't think I've ever done all of them in the same session.

Most of the pools here come with a little lip at the top of the vertical tank wall, then a bit of a slope to the actual gutter. The lip is just big enough to hook your fingers on, but not enough to get a real grip on. Here's a not to scale cross section drawing to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.

With your back to the wall, stretch your arms out along the lip, and hang on with your fingers. I usually have my elbows in the water, not on the lip. Heels against the wall. Keep your legs straight and slowly lift your toes out of the water in front of you. Leave as much of your back against the wall as possible. Do not use your arms; your fingers should be relaxed. Try to pull your legs back down to the wall while keeping your back against the wall.

Same pose, lift legs to 90 degrees from wall, so you're in an L position. Rotate your legs to touch the wall, first one side, then the other. I try to keep my shoulders flat against the wall, and again, keep your fingers relaxed. Make your core do the work. I'll usually let my hip slide along the wall a bit to keep my spine straight. If I'm feeling really strong, I'll get my toes out of the water, and then swing them to each side in turn. Slowly. Very slowly.

Same pose, now draw small circles with your toes, legs together, then gradually make the circles bigger till your toes are out of the water at the top, and nearly touching the wall at the bottom, then gradually make the circles smaller again. Then go the other way. Slowly. Breathe.

Same pose, starting with your heels against the wall. Slide your legs apart moving your heels up the wall. When they won't go any further, let them go away from the wall out in front of you, keeping them as high as possible. They should meet in front of you near or above the water surface. Go back the same way. Keep your tailbone against the wall.

Same pose, tuck your heels under your butt, and bring your knees up to your chest, slowly, while keeping your tailbone against the wall. Do not let your knees float up by letting your back curl. If I'm feeling ambitious, when my knees are tucked up, I'll straighten my legs then tuck, and lower my knees again. Do this one very slowly. Keep those knees under control.

Hook one arm over the wall, and dangle your body straight down against the wall. You are looking along the edge of the pool. Move the leg closest to the centre of the pool backwards, then around outward as wide and high as possible, then around to the front and back down again doing a big circle. Keep the leg straight and point your toes. Keep the other hip against the wall. Repeat as often as desired, then go the other way. Then swap arms, and do the other leg.

While one arm is hooked over the wall, slowly pedal the leg closest to the centre of the pool as if the bike was 10 x too big for you. Lift your knee up high, then leg forward, then down, and and then reach back. Then do it backwards. Then swap arms and do the other leg. I just started doing this one and almost always get a cramp somewhere.

While one arm is hooked over the wall, push the leg furthest from the wall out sideways and up toward the surface as hard as you can, using the muscles on the outside of your thigh. Use your other leg to anchor against the pool wall. Pull back in, working the inner thigh muscles. Repeat. Then swap arms and do the other leg. You should see a little swirl of water on the surface.

For this one, I hang onto the gutter so my elbow is just over the lip of the pool with my arm straight. I'm hanging down with maybe a foot between the wall and my armpit, facing along the side of the pool, body angled toward the wall, with the outside edge of my foot touching the pool wall. Then I move my hip out toward the centre of the pool, while moving my feet up the wall. My legs are kept straight. I'm arching my body sideways, with my arm relaxed, using the muscles in the side of my body. Then I move my hip in to touch the pool wall, and slide my feet down the wall a bit. Repeat. Do both sides. Its sort of like side plank touching your hip to the mat, but there shouldn't be any stress on your arm.

Face the pool wall with your chin on the side of the pool, arrange your arms comfortably. I rest my chin on my wrists. Body straight down, toes touching the wall. Now slowly move the toes of one foot along the wall up toward the surface of the water as high as they will go, then back down. Do the other leg. Make sure your hips stay against the pool wall, not necessarily touching, but don't let your butt poke out. Keep the other side of your body straight, you shouldn't be doing anything weird with your hips. Do nothing with your arms. Then move both legs together out to each side, toes sliding along the wall. Keep your butt in, and your hips centered vertically under your shoulders! This one is really hard to do without getting your arms involved.

Same position, bend one leg at the knee so the shin is horizontal. The other points straight down along the wall. Push the toes of the bent leg toward the centre of the pool, sliding your shin horizontally away from the wall. Use your butt.

Same position, bend one leg as much as it will go, as if you were going to reach back to pull the foot for a quad stretch. Now move the knee away from the wall. Carefully, or this will be cramp city.

Face the pool wall at arms length, arms along the surface of the water, toes against the wall, almost in a push up position. Move the toes of both legs vertically up the wall as far as you can with your legs straight, then back down again. Fold your body at the hips, almost like a diver's pike position. Make your core do the work. Keep your arms still.

Same position, only this time, move your toes sideways out along the wall, and up the wall toward the surface. Keep your arms at the surface and keep them relaxed. If you've got the core strength to curl your butt under while keeping your legs straight, go for it. Use core muscles only to move your legs. Your toes will draw a semicircle along the pool wall.

One arm pushup position, similar to above, elbow out to the side. Do the push up movement as fast as you can push against the water. Then move the elbow so it goes down instead of out, and keep going. Swap arms. I'm doing this one to build strength and mobility in the arm I broke last year. Sometimes it takes a bit of fidgeting to get the positioning right so you're not rotating around.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Swim TT, and accidental run TT

Last week I was supposed to do a 1K swim time trial, and was sick. I moved that workout to today, and was hoping for a good swim. Funny how knowing the clock is ticking puts the pressure on. I was hoping to have considerate lane mates, and not be inflicted with some bozo breast stroker.

So there I was, standing in the middle lane. There's a fellow there trying to tell me there's a girl going to join him in that lane, and she swims really fast. I think he was a bit unnerved when I said, good, I'm glad because I want a fast swim, or at least people to stay out of my way. She joins us, verifies what we're doing, and promised to let me through if I caught up, and we start swimming in circles. We were both still warming up and we ran the other guy off. She never passed me, and I think I saw her once at the end of the lane putting on fins or playing with pool toys. It all worked out good.

I'm a little disappointed in my result in that it's about the same pace as the last time I did this some months ago, but not crushed or anything. Then, I had a stellar swim, good water feel, and was almost ready to pass out at the end. Today, I had a so-so swim. It happens. I lost focus in the middle, and lost count of my laps for a while. I even forgot if I'd started at the top or bottom of the clock and that had me all messed up. Still, I got myself sorted out and back on track. At the end I was breathing hard, but I wasn't ready to pass out. I'm pretty sure I can take another second per lap off just by fixing my flip turn.

A bit later I headed out for a run. The plan said to run faster than Wed, and to run like I feel. My thought was to do a short walk and easy run, 10 to 15 minutes or so to warm up, then start the real run on my 5 K loop, then maybe another 3 K to round out the 45 minutes or so. The run started well, even though I wasn't feeling particularly light footed or smooth. Still, I had a half decent stride going, and things felt pretty good. I couldn't really settle into a consistent pace because there's a lot of ice on the sidewalks, and crossing the alleys is a rutted pain in the butt. About 3 K I started feeling it, and dug in. My pace might have slowed a bit, but I hung on and finished the 5 K in 29 minutes exactly. That's huge for me. Ran every easy another 10 minutes to cool down. My legs felt fine with the run, though they were a bit heavy throughout. My breathing was at the top of my aerobic range. I'd like to be able to run this pace and be breathing a bit easier. Still, only 8 months ago, I noted that a 36 minute 5K seemed fast for me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I got lucky this morning

Sigh. You guys. I know what some of you are thinking. Yes, you. Plus you, and you, and maybe you too. Don't you know Linda is sick?

I came upstairs between the core and bike workouts, and found this amazing sunrise, and thought I'd share it with you.

Of course, the actual view was a much brighter orange. Calgary has some of the nicest sunrises and sunsets.

I had lunch downtown with a buddy today, (thanks for the invite DT!) so I wanted to get started early. Slept in till about 6am, then had coffee and granola while looking over blogs. Left a rant on Missy's blog that might amuse you. Shortly after 7 I was downstairs coring away. The tough thing was the mountain climbers. The last few seconds were brutal. Everything else I got through ok. I think my body has finally clued in this core stuff is going to be happening, so it's doing that building and strengthening thing to the point I'm seeing some results now. That was about 40 minutes overall. Then I came upstairs for some water and saw that sunrise.

Then it was back downstairs onto the bike. I knew this one was going to be tough, and I wasn't disappointed. After a good warmup, it was right into cadence work. At least there was no one leg drill today. I find it tough to switch back and forth from hill climbing to high rpm, and there was lots of that. Even though I can't do gradual build worth beans while running, I can do it just fine on the bike. I think it's because I can see my heart rate and rpm, and its easy to step it up a bit at a time.

Overall I was working pretty hard and sweating a bucket. Didn't inhale any this time, in case you were wondering. But it got me thinking about when I started these bike workouts a couple years ago when I was fat and totally lacking in anything even resembling fitness. I got a bit damp then, yes, but not like now. Certainly I'm working a whole lot harder, but my fitness has increased as well. At the end of the workout today I sat up and realized my shirt was entirely wet. I sat up during the cool down, took it off, and actually wrung a few drops of sweat out of it. That's a first for me! One of these days I'll have to weigh it, dry and wet. Has anyone ever done that? Weighed themselves before and after a workout to determine how much they've sweated out?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A new pool

I didn't quite burst out of bed and rampage off to the pool, but it was close. Once I realized that it was swim club day at Canyon Meadows I started looking for alternatives, and ended up going to Glenmore. I haven't swum there for quite a while now. It was quiet. I was happily sharing a lane with another fellow, both of us doing circles. They have the fast lane set up in the middle as two lanes. Swim up the rope back the middle. I'm all ready to flip turn in the middle of a long set, when I get this kickboard in my face. The life guard was all in a panic about 4 people being this double lane, and wanted me to swim circles. Told her me and buddy had been doing that just fine, and it was odd she hadn't noticed. And left. Later I was talking to a guy that I see at FOMC every now and then, and he said he was amazed I'd escaped her so easily. She's a chatty one and loves to talk to the patrons. At anytime. But not to me in the middle of my set.

The swim went really well. I think the post-camp stroke is coming along fine. My roll for breathing is getting better coordinated with the catch, and getting my chest lower in the water is starting to become a habit. Still working on the flip turns though. I need to straighten out my hips a little sooner; I think that's why I'm going so deep during the turns. One hour total, then another 15 minutes in the dive tank.

Driving home there was a major collision just where 14th St N merges onto Glenmore west. That means 14th was a parking lot all the way down to Anderson, and even Anderson was clogged. When we went to yoga in the evening there was all sorts of new and exciting tracks on the sides of the road. I was just thinking how nice it is that I haven't been stuck in traffic for a while now.

The weather was perfect for a long run. Clear, sunny, not too cold. Only -13 C (8 F) with a bit of a wind. Which wouldn't matter because I was running down in Fish Creek, surrounded by trees. It was actually quite a bit colder in the shade and out of the wind. I walked 10 minutes then ran very easy for a good warm up because I was feeling a bit off, and a bit heavy footed. The path was in good shape, mostly packed snow covered with some ice, and some bare spots. Started the clock where the path crosses 132nd Ave, and nearly made it to MacLeod Trail. No idea how far that is, since I'm not in the mood to point and click a zillion times to find out. I stopped really briefly to tell a maintenance crew they do a great job on the paths. They look pleased and surprised.

The idea was to run 80 minutes, gradually getting faster, aiming for a negative split. I turned around at the right time plus a few seconds, and made it back to the start at most 1 second before an even split. I was running nice and easy for the first 30 minutes at a low 130's heart rate. Picked it up to 140 bpm or so, and was running at the high end of my comfort zone, breathing strong but not needing to think about it. For the last 20 minutes I was running about as fast as I can (or so I thought), heart rate very high 140's, breathing right at the top of my aerobic range, thinking about almost every breath (in, step, step, out, step, step) and trying to run well. However it was starting to get clumsy and I was getting tired. Which probably explains why the trip back was essentially exactly the same time, at most one second into the negative split. The big hill out of Fish Creek near the very end of the run had nothing to do with it, I'm sure. My legs were happy to stop at the 80 minute mark, and walk an easy 20 minutes back home. Stretched 15 minutes. Overall an excellent run for me.

Cath knows how liquid those gels are she gave me. Well, picture them the same consistency as Gu. I had them in an outside pocket this time. Kind of refreshing.

Yoga was fun. Fiona has been really good about choosing poses that are helping post-run. Tonight was 1.25 hrs of back bends, bridge, shoulder stands, and the regular stuff. The whole day zoomed by in a blur, and it's time for bed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The sun is shining, but it's not a run day

So I shoveled the driveway and sidewalk instead, trying to do a good job of getting the compacted snow off of it. Darn these people that walk on the sidewalks after it snows but before I shovel mine!

I didn't quite beat Jenna out of bed or onto the workout, but then, she's on major drugs. That's the only explanation. I mean, who else could believe in January that winter in Toonville is going to be over "soon." Yes, I asked her if there were any to share.

Started with some stretching then into the core workout. This was a gooder, as my buddy Mary that I used to work with would say. There's one Sara showed us from camp, lying on your side with your arm out above your head, elbow BEHIND your head, trying to get your armpit close to the ground. My right is fairly close. Amelia the cat can almost walk under my left. Lots of pushups and plank and squats and wall sit and and and and for an hour. I still can't side plank for very long, even less time than I used to be able to, but somewhere along the way I acquired the ability to do leg lifts at the same time.

Normally I start my workouts by reading over the plan and getting it into my head. Mental preparation, on the theory I need all the preparation I can get. Well, not Preparation H, none of that so far. Somehow, reading it over I got the idea it wouldn't be so bad, but once I got into it, wow! At one point I was sucking sweat up my nose because I was working so hard. Weird way to hydrate, but it felt kind of good. This was the first time the plan has had 130 rpm on it. There was a five minute set (x4) near the end that went from time trial gear, to 110 rpm, to time trial gear plus 1 and maintain 90. I'm glad that was the last really hard bit. Took a good cool down for 1.75 hrs altogether.

Stretched another 15 minutes, a good chunk of that was simply having my feet elevated. I really like that one. After eating, showering, and a brief nap (Amelia snoreonerated me so it's not my fault!) I was out to the driveway.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back at it

This was what I ran in today. -14 C is 7 F. Linda took my cold from me, so I'm feeling pretty well back to normal now. We aren't going to talk about how she feels.

Swam this morning a little over 45 minutes, pushing fairly hard, feeling strong. I'd have swum a little longer to round out the hour, but the aqua class took over 4 lanes, not the usual three. My lane was flooded with slow swimmers. I'm learning I really have to time it carefully to get in there as the first thing in the morning gotta get to work crowd leaves, so I can leave as the 8am floaties move in. I think the pool is catering to the floatie crowd, since it was in your face warm. Blah. The hot tub is still off limits for me, but the steam room was nice.

It's been snowing here again. There's about a cm or two of new snow on the ground. Ran easy, getting my legs used to it again, 5 K in a hair over 35 minutes, and another 10 minutes a bit easier. At the end of the run I back tracked a bit to look at my footprints. It turns out for most of them I'm landing so evenly that it's a nearly perfect track. No smearing or smudging. Toes pointed straight forward. The sun came out a bit during my run so it was really nice. Pity we can't run our races in this temperature.

Stretched 15 minutes after the run. Looking over my schedule for the next little while. This is going to be fun and interesting.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

We have a winner!

Aka Alice managed, after two attempts to complete the phrase, got very close. In fact she went over a bit, since I didn't actually cook anything first. I was just doing dishes like normal when I realized the stove had some spatters from the last thing that got cooked on it. All wiping did was streak it, so I decided, what the heck, it's no big deal to actually wash it. I'm kind of bummed about being too sick for good workouts, so I have a bit of extra time on my hands.

As always, it's a slippery slope. I needed a bit of space for the racks, so I was tidying up the counter, and had to move some stuff that doesn't get moved much. There was a tiny baby dust bunny lurking behind the dried flowers, but I had no mercy. Then I had a bit of techno curiousity about the auto-clean, so I looked up the instructions and gave it a go. Not that the oven was filthy or anything, since Linda is pretty careful about baking, but there was a bit of stuff. It's been six years, after all. This was the first time, and it worked like a charm. The whole experience was kind of fun actually. Several other people had grasped the activity, but couldn't put it into that phrase. Like I said, I think I melted some brains.

It turns out that taking a photo of a black stove is actually quite difficult. I have come to believe those gorgeous photos in the decorator porn magazines have been photo shopped to within an inch of their lives. So there's the stove top, cleaned. From the photo, it it looks like a bag full of lint has been dumped on it. I went and looked again, and yes, it's clean. Tried more photos, from different angles, with and without the flash. It makes no difference. Every slight discolouration, every scratch or scrape on the racks, every shiny spot, every flake of dust, every contour in the metal racks shows up as a glaring white mark. Sigh.

Thanks for the nice comments about sitting area. That's the front of the house, facing south. We get lots of light, and it's our favourite spot for reading. The quilts are to protect us from Amelia. She's a twitchy cat some days, and takes into her mind to SPRING FOR COVER TO GET AWAY FROM THE TWO TONNED TUSKED CARNIVORE THAT IS ABOUT TO EAT HER THIS VERY SECOND!! Or so we figure. She must have interesting dreams.

Saturday I did half an hour of core, and was on the bike for an easy hour, but that was about it. Gradually feeling better, but not back to normal. Saturday evening I went to a retirement party for a buddy. When you're young you go to weddings and baby showers. You know you're getting old when it's retirement parties and funerals. It was a lot of fun to see a group of people I worked with a few years ago, and get caught up. It turned into a bit of a late evening, but not a runaway.

Sunday spin was excellent. I had a crappy night's sleep, wrestling with Amelia the cat for space on the couch. For whatever reason I was hacking and coughing a lot, and wasn't the slightest bit sleepy, so I read for a bit, then snoozed in the media room. It took a bit of doing to warm up in class, then it kept on getting better and better. I felt quite strong for some of the sets, and could breath well, even if I still have a bit of a frog in my throat. Ended up going 2.5 hrs. Bailed on the run though. It's about -7 C ( 18 F) and windy. I didn't want to take my poor throat from a warm moist room, to a cold dry outside. Bailed on the core too. I mean, I wouldn't want to overdo it right off the bat.

Weekly Summary
Swim .75 hrs
Bike 4.0 hrs
Run .5 hrs
Walk 0.0 hrs
Core 1.0 hrs
Total 6.25

Friday, January 22, 2010

An extremely rare thing

Something happened today. On a whim. You'll never guess what it is. Here's a photo to help you guess.

I'm betting that nobody will correctly complete the phrase below. Even if some of the readers might be able to guess the activity the problem will be writing it out. Their brains will melt when trying to consider the very concept. They will be unable to do so because your guess has to be in the form of completing this sentence. "A non-gay married man voluntarily, of his own free will, without spousal hints, suggestions, requests, orders, entreaties, begging, threats, or the ultimate weapon - tears, has ... "

This is gonna be good.

In other news our dinner club (this time Shannon, Mel, Katie, Chris, Jill, Susi, Keith, Linda, and guest Kelly) met at the Highwood at SAIT. This is part of the curriculum for the students learning the hospitality industry. They plan the menu, cook, serve, clean up, and do whatever else happens. Some of you may be envisioning a filthy dump, serving Kraft dinner, pizza, and beer. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a classy place. Very classy. It's a great place to take your better half for a special dinner out, if you think of it far enough in advance to make reservations. The food and service were superb! Here's the menu (that link may expire, you can get to the current menu through the overall site for the Highwood.) Shannon's desserts, he got the sampler, were so elegant that Chris was taking photos. I think between us we had everything on the menu, or nearly so, with some of the people getting special stuff because of dietary restrictions. I've never seen staff so willing to cope with said restrictions, and explain the options. For what you get it's extremely reasonably priced. We were all very impressed.

I'm feeling better, almost back to normal. Today was supposed to be a swim and run day, but I knew I wasn't up for that. Within a few minutes of hopping on the bike I knew I wasn't quite ready for a normal spin session either. My lungs and throat could cope with warm up, but that's about all. My legs felt a bit stiff, and I could feel some calf muscles protesting once I got over 100 rpm. So rather than push it, I just settled in for about a half hour at an easy warm up effort. The plan is to go to the Sunday session and I'd like to start reminding my body what this workout stuff is all about, before Katie takes us through the wringer in her last session before her trip.

Lastly, for those that care about such things, this is post 600. Whodathunkit?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ten things, or Cacglarch!#@*(cugcugclachtch!

That's about the sound I've been making starting this afternoon. I had a few coughs before, but nothing worth talking about. These are so impressive I've decided not to go to yoga class tonight. I'm sure the rest of the class appreciates me not disturbing the deep peace of shauvasana for them. To say nothing of the instructor wanting to wash everything I got near.

Yet oddly enough I don't feel too bad. This is the weirdest cold I've ever had, and I'm still not convinced it's really a cold. Usually those start with a tickle in my through, I start coughing, and my nose starts running, then everything tapers off and I start feeling better. This time it started with pool snuffle on Friday and it got worse. Saturday was ok and I thought I was over it. Sunday was not too bad, and if it hadn't been for other things I'd have probably got through a semblance of the workout. Monday morning I was ok enough for the swim, but the run was a shambles. Tuesday I was down for the count, nose running like tap, head stuffed up, though it cleared up late in the day, but I could feel things migrating toward my throat. Wednesday morning wasn't bad, and I got through a half hour of core feeling not too bad, then the slide down hill started. My nose is fine, but the coughing is getting out of hand.

I was tagged by Copiaverborum to come up with ten things that make me happy. Unfortunately between her (complete with photo's too) and LooseMoose , they took all the good answers. So I'll just do the best I can.

1. A chunky peanut butter and crunchy honey sandwich on fresh whole wheat bread with milk. What can I say? I'm a man of simple tastes and this has been a staple of my diet since before I was a teenager. There were days my mother despaired about the peanut butter bill. This is probably top of the list for comfort foods for me. Did I ever tell you my grandfather kept bees on his farm, and I know what pure clover honey at the perfect stage of crystalization tastes like, on home made bread, with fresh farm butter.

2. My wife Linda, only in second place because I've been on the peanut butter for about twice as long as I've known her. I don't think I'd be here without her. I wouldn't like it, but I could give up peanut butter if I had to.

3. Being at home to enjoy the peace and quiet. Puttering about, or relaxing. Not having to go anywhere, or do anything for a while.

4. Making and eating a restorative double chocolate chip mint cookie. Or swiping a raw one (Look, a polar bear!) off the tray for QA purposes when Linda makes them. Second only to #1 for comfort food status.

5. Making, and drinking wine.

6. Discovering that chocolate was an acceptable, even recommended recovery food. There is a place here in town that roasts their own chocolate beans, and makes their own chocolate mixtures, and will make truffles to order, so you can pick them up only minutes old. I'm not kidding. It's a good thing this place is inconvenient for me to get to. I'd need help if I were to get a job near there. I'm serious. Following that link is almost certain to lead to chocolate lust, which unfortunately for most of you, will have to be satisfied with inferior chocolate.

7. Getting enough sleep. This is very difficult. My sleep patterns were disrupted years ago by working a rotating shift. It took about a year to start getting hungry and sleepy at the right times after quitting that job. The workouts have helped with this, but it's rare that I get more than 6 hours good sleep in a night, and I actually need a bit more than that.

8. Good coffee. Not the swill served at most commercial establishments, and you all know who I'm talking about. Yes, them too. We're a bit fanatic about keeping our coffee maker clean, and grinding good beans fresh.

9. A great workout. One that pushes me, leaves me tired, but not falling down exhausted. One that is a bit further, faster, or longer than I've gone before and still feeling like I could go more. Seeing the improvement over time, and knowing more will happen if I continue to work. I love getting out on my bike and riding towards the mountains, any time of day, because they're always different, and always beautiful, stunning, and impressive.

10. Writing. I get a big kick out of writing. Just the act of organizing my thoughts and getting them onto a computer screen, or written out in ink. That's why my blogs and blog comments are so long sometimes. I have often thought that the single most effective thing people could do to make their lives more efficient is to actually learn to type. I could retire a rich man if I had a dollar for every poor typist I've seen trying to use a computer.  No wonder email isn't an efficient form of communication.

My mom made me take typing in school and it's probably the most useful course I've ever taken in my life. At the time, of course, I thought the class would be full of girls. Now, I almost can't take notes by hand. My handwriting is an unreadable scrawl, though the slate that work gave me did better at deciphering it than I did, and oddly enough better than my printing. Given a choice, I'd always take notes by typing.

I've got a novel part written, involving a murder mystery love story (sort of) set in the plant I worked shift work in. I love writing the first draft to reports because that's where the easy part of writing happens. Ok, I'll tell you. Barf it all out onto the page. That's the easy part. The hard part is boiling it down. I have The Elements of Style advice on this memorized. (If you don't know that book, you almost certainly are not a good writer. Sorry. Have mercy on your readers and read it.) The advice? Omit needless words.

I don't know if I'm supposed to tag other readers. Probably 10 of them, for symmetry. But I'm not gonna. My readers are an ornery bunch and some know where I live. They're too busy working out (Hi Julie), taking their kids to Hawaii (Hi Jenna), trying to get a house sold (Hi Susi), trying to juggle three projects and a life and workouts (Hi Shannon), running her tail off (Hi Amber), (training for an insane May race schedule (Hi Missy), feeding hordes of guests breakfast (Hi Cath), juggling the kids hockey schedule (Hi Kelly), trying to get through the new coach break in period (Hi Darryl), and cooking up a storm (Hi Leana), to say nothing of some others who are too eclectic to be summarized so easily. If you're one of the usual suspects for reading, and you feel like it, you can consider yourself tagged. Or not. Let me know and I'll come read. Except for you who tagged me, and you who took the other good answers. You know who you are.

There. I have written. I am happy. Now I'm going to bed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Under the weather

Friday with Susi here was great, and we didn't even go that late. I had pool snuffle pretty bad. Saturday was busy getting ourselves ready for our first SCA event in a very long time; it's been about 15 years we think. Although there is a local newsletter from 1999 in the box holding our feast gear. None of the events listed ring any bells. The local Barony is celebrating the 30th running of it's 12th Night, and they had the nice thought of inviting some of the inactive people who were prominent locally. Yes, that would be me, making a hairy nuisance of myself for a bunch of people. The Baron and Baroness sent a very nice calligraphed invitation and comped us the event, so how could we say no? It was kind of fun digging out jewelry and garb, and getting ready to go. We ended up seeing some people who were dear friends that we've gradually drifted away from, and it was very nice to get caught up again. Thus the photo in the article below of us in strange clothing. Little pool snuffle, but we stayed up late.

The Loose Moose was the first person to mostly get it right. If she sends me her address, I'll send her one of our famous restorative chocolate chip cookies. Apply to Mr. Moose for an explanation of any of the words above that didn't make sense. Irontish got pretty close. Toontown is small enough that she probably knows some of the locals that are involved. Copiarverborum got it bang on and we've exchanged email about it.

Sunday is normally my brick at Try-it, but we had a book club meeting. The timing is just such that I wouldn't be done in time for the meeting. Yeah I know, the hard core of you are going, book club, what book club? Get with the program and get your ass on the bike! Life is balance, guys. I've been friends with these people for nearly 20 years now. Besides, I had every intention of getting up a bit early for the bike and run. My body thought otherwise. I wouldn't call what I did sleeping in, but I'm not sure what I should call it. This has gone beyond pool snuffle, and I now think I'm fighting off a cold. We had a nice book club meeting. We've just started a blogger book club , you're welcome to drop in. No, really, we've just started so don't feel that you've missed anything. We're still figuring out how it's going to work. Your comments are welcome.

So, the hardcorista's of you are saying (I can hear you, you know) why not get it done after the meeting? Well, it turns out that Linda's sister is coming into town for business, and we don't get to see her that often. The plane arrives at 4:30. I picked her up, and Linda made supper. Yes, we were all drooling. So no workouts on Sunday. Maybe just as well.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.0 hrs
Bike 3.5 hrs (down ~2 hrs)
Run 2.75 hrs (down ~.5 hr)
Walk 1.0 hrs
Core 3.0 hrs
Total 13.25 hrs

Monday, a new week.
Still snuffly and fighting off a cold. Headed for the pool anyways, thinking that maybe a good sinus back flush with pool water, rinsed with a steam bath would feel good. Maybe so. Felt weak and feeble through the 45 minute swim. Turns out 50's on 65 s are nice, on 60 was a bit of a struggle, and I barely hung on for on 55 s. I was seeing stars at the end, and breathing every other stroke. I'd given up on flip turns because I needed the air. Most of them were between 45 and 50 s, with things getting a bit fuzzy toward the end, so I don't know exactly how long they were.

What had me wondering if I was really up for a swim at first was seeing a gorilla in the change room. Yes, a real live low land gorilla. That's what my eyes were telling my brain. It took several minutes of covert peeking to realize it was just an unusually large, unusually hairy guy, not a well behaved gorilla.

The run was a shambles. I haven't run that slow or that badly for a long time now. Even running slow and easy I was out of breath and my heart rate was way up. Easy is a bit of a misconception too, since I was plodding along in a very ungraceful way. Called that a day at 30 minutes and walked back to the house.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some random photos

I unloaded my camera this evening, and decided to put some of the photos here for your enjoyment.

Amelia liked the little cave under the Christmas tree.

One of the ornaments.

Look Kelly, no wine glass in my hand! Anybody care to make any guesses as to the occasion was for this photo?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gluten free cookies for Susi et. al

Hi all: This is Linda & no Cath, the cookies you had were the chocolate chunk with peppermint. Susi has wheat allergy issues & mentioned one day how she always felt left out at the end of a race, in that she could not eat the cookies being given to the athletes unless she wanted to be in pain & worshiping the porcelain god big time. So I went on the web to find a gluten free cookie recipe & made her a batch for her next race. Since then I've made her cookies on several occasions & today I actually measured quantities, because Susi wanted the recipe so when she moves to B.C. she can have cookies any time. For those who don't know, I tend to be the kind of cook who plays with her food, so recipes tend to be modified on the fly & I tend to be visual - if it looks right, it will work so measurements are not my normal modus operandi. Anyway, we wrote down quantities & for Susi (& anyone else who wants) here is today's recipe for gluten free cookies.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar (I like demerara), 1/2 cup white sugar (I like extra fine berry sugar), 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder & 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Mix in 1 tbsp. powdered (dry) ginger & 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger (you can buy ginger already minced from most stores, look in the asian food section). At this point, I add any combination of fruit/nuts/chocolate that I feel like combining & happen to have on hand. Today I added 1/2 cup dried blueberries, 1/2 cup pecans & 1/2 dark chocolate chunks (we buy Bernard Callebeaut dark chocolate chunks from Real Canadian Superstore - you can also get milk chocolate & white chocolate from there). Now, if this was the NON gluten free recipe, I would put in 1 cup large flake rolled oats & 1 cup of flour, standard wheat variety most people use. But since Susi can't have wheat, today I put in 1 & 1/2 cups large oat flakes & 1 & 1/2 cups chestnut flour (I found this at an Italian supply shop & never having used it before, was eager to see how it worked). In previous recipes baked for Susi I used potato flour. The trick to remember is, if your mix is too 'wet' your cookies will spread out when baking & you will be cursing & prying flat cookie tortillas (that break into tiny bits as you pry) off your cookie sheets. Edible crumbs perhaps, but not much fun to clean up. Plus because they spread out, they also tend to burn so maybe not that edible, either. 

So, once you have a mix that is not too wet, you drop spoonfuls of batter on your cookie sheets. I don't grease my sheets but people can if they want to. I pop the sheets in the preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes (note: altitude makes a difference as does atmosphere - Calgary is high & dry, so you may have to adjust cooking time depending on where you live). As Susi can testify, today's cookies came out just fine, they were very soft when first they came out so I let them cool about 2 minutes before I slipped a spatula under the cookies to loosen them from the sheets. Because of the chocolate chunks, I find that if I let the cookies cool too long they tend to stick to the sheets, but greasing the sheets may prevent this from happening. Susi & Keith test drove the finished product & Susi ordered Keith to step away from the cookies & mentioned her black belt in martial arts, so I am confident that the cookies were acceptable.  

Cath, if you want to make the chocolate chunk with peppermint just use the non-gluten free version of the mix, I would not put in blueberries but pretty much any kind of nut can be used. Also, make sure you do not put in vanilla but only put in peppermint - if you mix vanilla & peppermint flavours you tend to get an odd taste as the flavours clash. Enjoy!

There was an amazing sight during the run today

Friday's schedule for me depends on what Linda's schedule is. She doesn't work Fridays, but ends up scheduling stuff. So I got dropped off at the pool at 6:15 am. I shared a lane with M, who's a regular, swimming almost every day. It used to be that I could barely keep up with her. Today I passed her even though she was wearing fins and paddles, though I had to work at it. I had a good feel for the water, so that 600 m set ended up at 11 minutes exactly. I'm really liking the pull these days. Worked on stroke mechanics and seemed to be doing fairly well. I did an extra 100 m of backstroke to make it an even 3K in 64 minutes.

From the pool I walked 45 minutes home, changed, and headed out for the run. It was still cold enough to see my breath on the air so I put a wind breaker over the long sleeve tech shirt. The first half was with the wind, nice and easy to start, then into a half marathon pace. The way back was into the wind, and I was aiming for a 10 K pace. For some odd reason my heart rate was 5-10 bpm lower than what I expected based on my breathing, pace, perceived effort. That made it difficult to hit my expected pace, but then I went with it and went more by perceived effort. This was 60 minutes of fun goodness on tired legs. I had to push to finish.

The amazing sight was a guy on a unicycle on the bike path. The hilly, ice and snow covered bike path. He was going along pretty good, gradually pulling away from me even during the fastest part of my run. I was seriously impressed.

At the moment Linda is teaching Susi how to make the famous alternate wheat ginger recovery cookies. [Look, a polar bear! Snatch. QA purposes, of course.] We've pigged out on sushi already, the cookies are baking, and a bottle of wine is open. This is gonna be good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hey! What happened to Tuesday?

I missed blogging about Tuesday. How could I do that? And none of you noticed. Hmpf.

Tuesdays are really similar to Thursday's so you'll have to pay attention here.
The push up plan said to put my feet on the bottom stair. That lasted 4 pushups. Amazing how the smallest change has a big impact. I didn't quite fall on my face, but it was close.  Went back to normal pushups, from the toes, and got through the sets. Everything else was good, even plank on hands for 90 seconds. It took a couple goes to get through heels 6 inches up though. 30 minutes or so.

The bike was 1.75 hrs of goodness, lots of interesting stuff, with different times to keep track of. Trying to see through sweat infested glasses hasn't got any easier.

Headed downtown to have a beer after work with a buddy I see once in a while. I used to work with him and it's good to stay in touch. That threw my evening schedule off, so that's probably why I didn't get my blog done.

Thursday now, talking about today. Which was ugg right from the start. Wed is a big workout day for me and I didn't sleep particularly well. Once I got home, I couldn't face going right into core, so I had two cups of coffee while dealing with blogs and email. Life in blog land is a little slow these days, so get with it guys!

Stretched a bit, then got into a tough core routine. Several new moves. I was supposed to go through the routine twice, but ended up doing parts of it for a third time to get the time in for wall sit with fit ball, and planks. The problem with wall sit is that my feet start slipping out from under me. I tried the padded mat but that didn't work. Maybe the yoga mat might work. Tried a leg lift once during side plank and that worked better than ever. Improvement does happen. 45 minutes of core and stretching.

Then onto a tough bike workout. Lots of big gear work. Lots and lots of sweat. Legs, especially hip flexors were tired when I got out of bed, and they're even more tired now. 1.75 hrs of bike, and another 15 minutes of stretching after. All right, 5 minutes of that was lying there with my feet up. Love it.

Lamb, spuds, and corn for supper, with Mourvedre red wine. I think I'm going to go to bed early. Another big day tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No swim toys at all this time

The swim plan was more for drills today, not needing the pace clock so much, so I went to FOMC instead of CM. Shared a lane for a while, and ended up swimming with Mr. Beautiful Stroke. He swims just a hair quicker than me, but takes about 10% fewer strokes doing it. What with the workout and a bit of extra swimming I was in the water 60 minutes. Then into the dive tank for 15 minutes of core and some stretching.

It was 5 C (41 F) and sunny today. Perfect running weather. For a while I was actually hot in tights and long sleeved tech shirt, and wishing I'd worn shorts. Then the wind picked up a bit near the reservoir and it turned out to be just right. Walked 15 minutes warm up and cool down. Here's the run route, 11 K altogether, 76 minutes. Average heart rate 133!! Right where I wanted it.

This was a nice steady pace for me, slowing down only slightly to slurp down 2 semi-gels that Cath sent me. She gets them from the UK, and they don't need to be taken with water. They're about twice as long as Gu, and are more liquid. They taste really good. Took one at 20 min and the other at 40 minutes. Worked on keeping my arms swinging and my stride nice and relaxed. Stretched 15 minutes after I got home.

Yoga was a perfect followup, with good shoulder stretches, and good hip opener stuff. That's 1.25 hours, and if it was like that all the time, I'd go every day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

All the pool toys, and a short resolution

Today's swim workout called for all the pool toys that I'm willing to touch. Pull buoy, paddles, kick board, and fins. After seeing where geezers and kids put pool noodles, and what they do with them, I'm never touching one of them. This was the first time I'd used fins since I was a kid. I was supposed to do 4 x 100 on 1:50, and did the first one in 1:20, even getting a lung full of water the first time I tried to breath. The bow wave is much bigger when you're going faster. Then I settled down a bit trying to figure out the optimal amount of push for the amount of breathing needed. This was kind of fun. What depresses me somewhat is that there are lots of people who can swim 100 m in that time *without* fins. Sigh. Flip turns are much much easier to do when wearing fins, which was a bit of a surprise for me.

Second from the end was 4 x 50 on 60 seconds. That was ok. Then 100 m easy, then 4 x 50 on 55 seconds. Turns out I need that 5 seconds of breathing. I'd like to have another go at that without someone trying to talk to me about joining the lane. I was in the water 67 minutes.

Skipped the hot tub again, and sat briefly in the steam room. There was only a mild bought of the snuffles about 3pm. Just outside the steam room door is where the shallow water aquasize class instructor does their thing. I kept shaking my head trying to get the water out of my ears, because all I could hear her yelling at people was "assholes, hard, harder!" Lots. I didn't think the City would continue to hire such a person for the people in such a class.

The run wasn't quite shorts and a T shirt. I was *that* close. Tights and long sleeve tech shirt. It was just above zero C and the ice on the sidewalks was just beginning to melt. Oddly enough, I didn't slip once while running 5 K, 35 minutes nice and easy. But twice I was nearly on my ass while walking for cool down.

The great shorts saga is over. Found. They were behind the chaise lounge, snugged in between the leg of the lounge and a briefcase. It was in a shadowed spot, and it's tough to spot black shorts in a shadow. What's odd is that I had looked there twice, and I think Linda looked once, and we never spotted the shorts. Maybe it's time to get the prescription for the eyeglasses checked. I've already got the trifocals, how much worse can it get?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Brick, Geezers, Shorts

For once I wasn't the first person to show up at Katie's Sunday spin brick. There was a couple people waiting for rides to go to the spin-athon. So I guess I was the first real class person. However, I sustained a brutal disappointment along the way. I was waking up slow and steady, but during the drive to class I had a sudden yearning for good coffee. No 7-11 or Starbucks swill. Real coffee. There's a good place just past Try-it called Lazy Loaf and Kettle. (all worship and sprinkle rose petals.) I was going to get a coffee to go, and maybe one of their squares or cookies to sustain me during the ride. But they don't open on Sundays till 9am. Boohoo!

I think a coffee would have been perfect to give me a bit of zip during the spin session. I felt a little slow and flat, and could feel myself start to run out of gas at the 90 minute mark. I pushed through to 120 minutes, though the last sets were a bit of a struggle, and I was in much easier gears than normal.

One of the things that I find really amusing about spin class is how people set up their bikes. At Try-it we usually end up in an L shape along the outside wall, then toward the middle of the store, with Katie on the stage facing us. Once about 10 people have set up this way, it's totally impossible for anyone else to get in. Or out to get water. Why do people do this, blocking the path to the exit? There's lots of other places and ways to set up. The spin class at Speed Theory did exactly the same thing, though in a different pattern. Do other spin clubs have the same problem?

During the run it felt like a layer of flab had been surgically inserted on the outside of my thighs, just below my butt, and I could feel it moving around with the muscle for the entire 30 minutes. I worked really hard to stay at the top of zone 2 and keep good running form. It was a beautiful day for a run, about 0 or just above, very little wind. I saw a couple people running in shorts. I had tights with a long sleeved tech shirt over a short sleeved shirt, and was just about right. Lots of people on the path, including several sets of people walking 3 abreast with no consideration for others. Or the two really really slow joggers (I look like Mirinda Carfrae in comparison both because of my speed AND good looks.) that insisted on going down the middle of the path.

Then I totally weenied out of the core. The first thing was a brutal plank /pushup combination. We were doing one or the other for what felt like about an hour of subjective time. I think if I'd been fresh I might have got through more of it. Maybe. Then some other stuff. Everybody else did a half hour or so, but I'm only counting 15 minutes of it because of the time spent flopped on my mat.

On the way home I passed a geezer wearing a fright wig, driving a tank from the 70's. Buddy behind me was in the middle of passing when the geezer simply moved one lane to the left. He was lucky there was a lane to move into. There was an indignant honk. The geezer looked to the left with a blank expression, as if to ask what's the big deal? She never looked before changing lanes. Guy sped up a bit to get away from her, and we exchanged glances as he passed me. She moved over another lane without signaling, and turned left onto Heritage without signaling. No idea how many people she frightened. Maybe she was going to take the next left to visit her children in the nursing home there. I seriously believe we need to start giving people drivers tests before automatically renewing their licenses. One of the conditions of renewal is that everybody should have to take a safe drivers or defensive drivers course during the 5 year term of our licenses. Then once you hit 65, say, or be the cause of a serious accident, you should go on a yearly renewal. I will cheerfully waive these requirements, if someone can come up with a reliable geezer-ometer. Then we relate the geezer score to your freedoms and responsibilities, or lack thereof.

The swim shorts are still AWOL. Both me and Linda are puzzled. We haven't torn the house apart or anything, but we've done a pretty diligent search. We now suspect Amelia the cat of having dragged them somewhere totally random, even more random than I could be. We aren't slandering Amelia; I had one cat that used to go into my hockey bag, dig out the socks, and drag them about the house. So the possibility *is* there.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.25 hrs
Bike 5.0 hrs
Run 3.0 hrs
Walk 1.0 hrs
Core 2.5 hrs
Total 14.75 hrs

Friday, January 8, 2010

The case of the missing swim shorts

Those who've actually met me can attest that I'm just a little vague around the edges. Forgetful, in an amiable sort of way. So I rely on routines to get me through the day. For example, I always hang up my car keys, and running house key up on a set of hooks near the front door. That way I know where they are, as opposed to any number of jacket or jean pockets. Or somewhere else.

More to the point, I've learned that when I come home from swimming I need to unroll the towel, hang it over the stair banister with the swim shorts, and prop up the sandals near the heat vent so they dry out. Then at a convenient time when I'm going downstairs, the towel comes with me to be left near the washing machine. The shorts go back to the bedroom ready for the next days swim.

Except yesterday, the last half of that process went awry. I clearly remember picking up the shorts, and then, and then, things go all vague, in an amiable sort of way. I have wandered around the house several times looking at the tops of various surfaces where I could have put them down so I could do something else. I've done more diligent searches through piles of laundry, excavating layers of stuff on the chaise lounge in the bedroom. I've even looked in somewhat unlikely places. I have no idea where they are. Perhaps they discovered the hiding place where one Ironman sock hid for months on end.

Ran an hour today, with 10 min warm up walk and the same cool down walk. Easy 15 minute run to get the blood moving, then some faster intervals. Supposedly fast, faster, and fastest, each for a shorter time. That didn't work out so well. The first was good, but the second ended up being fastest, and the third was more reasonably faster. No, not faster than fastest, just faster than fast. Fast by my standards, of course. Easy in between, to say nothing of dodging dogs and stupid owners.

Snacked, then off to the pool for a swim. I was astonished when I got there. For the first time EVER I had the whole pool to myself. Nice. I could get used to that. I was about half done when a few other people showed up, but not as many people as lanes. Very nice. Actual time in the pool was 66 minutes for 2800 m of lots of different fun stuff. In addition to the swimming I really concentrated on the flip turns. Really focussing on tightening the core, pulling legs around, trying for a nice tight fast turn and surfacing well. 80 times. Abs are sore and tired after but things are better. I did some open turns on 100's to keep track of time, and some of the drills and choice didn't have flip turns.

A theory about pool snuffle was proposed to me. I usually hit the hot tub after a swim. These are festering vats of excess pool chemicals, which I knew, and didn't care about. I like the warmth. Still, the theory is that the excess chemicals, together with the froth of the pumps, means that I'm breathing in more fumes from pool chemicals. So I'm going to skip the hot tub for a while and see if that makes a difference. I'll keep you posted.

Oh, and any ideas about where the shorts could be, will be gratefully accepted.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Post-breakfast and coffee this time

Today I tried breakfast first, then dropped Linda off at work, then core. Well, to be truthful, there was another cup of coffee inserted between getting home and doing the core. There was the lure of reading blogs. Darn you all for having such compelling content!

Still, I had an appointment downtown for 9:15 and I had to hustle to get through 30 minutes of core, shower, and drive there. Core was all good. For the first time ever, I manage to lift the top leg while doing side plank! Twice even! I'm not hearing much applause, so I guess you're not impressed, but I'm thrilled!

Blood donation went quick as always. The actual draining is the fastest part of the whole process. They said this was the 41st time for me, so I guess I'm getting used to it. One of the blogs I follow mentioned her blood as being A+, and therefore perfect. She has perfect blood she says. Well, mine's almost perfect. A neg.

The bike was a very sweaty 90 minute ride. At one point I had pools of sweat sloshing back and forth on my glasses. That's just a bit distracting, if you haven't had that experience. Plus it makes looking at the bike computer or stopwatch just a bit tricky.

We went out to Route 40 Soup Company in Turner Valley for our anniversary dinner. mmmmmm. I'm ready to waddle off to bed. It was so yummy. Anybody living near Calgary should eat there at least once. Check their web site or phone for hours. Yes, it's worth it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pool snuffle

Long swim this am. I'd been mulling over the choice of FOMC or CM, and chose CM because I can see the pace clock. My heart sank when half the pool was booked. Kids. Bah! Turned out there weren't so many of them, and these kids could really swim. I found out later it's the Cascade swim club, since their normal pool is undergoing renovation.

The fast lane had 2 people in, so I got them swimming circles. At least they were fast, or reasonably fast and considerate. Near the start I got a bit of water, and spent the next while wanting to burp. Eventually that came out just as I finished a set. I'm sure it echoed off the walls. I messed up and did the 4 x 200m at the end instead of near the beginning, so I didn't quite make the times. This turned out to be just over an hour of swimming. Still trying to surface nicely after flip turns.

I had a chat in the hot tub with a nice Chinese gentleman. To be blunt, he swims very badly, but asked about how to do better. We talked a bit about how to swim faster. I'm trying to find a nice way of suggesting he swim in the slow lane, but so far it hasn't been a problem, so I haven't worried about it.

It's snowed about 4 cm since my run on Monday, and some of my neighbours are slack about shoveling their sidewalks. The roads are getting polished up very nicely, to the point I was running very carefully, more concerned about balance than speed. It was only -15 C (5 F) so not too cold, but I made sure to warm up slow and easy. Ran 10 K, 69:15 overall nice and easy, second half was a minute quicker. K9 was brutal. I was getting tired, it's deceptively uphill, and no shoveling had been done. Walked a bit to cool down, and stretched inside.

Aka Alice posted some nice pics of the weather she has to put up with these days. Visit at your peril. Weeping, wailing, and teeth gnashing are likely to occur.

Yoga class is on again, instructed by Fiona. She promises lots of hip opening stuff over the next 12 classes. Tonight was good. 1.25 hours. Brought some kleenex since pool snuffle struck late this afternoon. I don't understand this. I swim in a salt water pool, though I know there is still a slight bit of chlorine in it. But I don't get snuffle right after the swim. Typically it comes on hours later, often many hours. Sometimes it's not bad, sometimes like tonight I'm sneezing my brains out (which doesn't take much work but I've installed elastic cords so it just snaps back into place) and blowing my nose a lot. It's a royal pain. Anyone have any ideas how to deal with this?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pre-breakfast. Pre-COFFEE even

Yes, I know that anything pre-coffee is weird and unnatural for some of my readers.  My brilliant coach had an idea about my core sessions, and why some of them don't go so well. It turns out that I'm always doing core last, after all my other workouts. No wonder I'm tired. So she suggested that I try doing some of them first and see how that works out.

Today core was first. Like really first thing, and it all went well, though push ups within 5 minutes of getting out of bed seems a bit odd for me. Got through all three sets, though the very last pushup was a strain. I only got through it knowing it was the last one. Everything else went pretty good, other than struggling with my ipod's stopwatch "feature". Core was about 20 minutes or so, and I did another 10 minutes of stretching after the bike. Thursday I'll try the core after breakfast and see how that goes.

The bike session was super! Lots of good stuff in it. One set pushed my heart rate up to 145 bpm. That's the highest I've seen it on the bike in a while. Total bike was 90 minutes, though I was actually on it for a bit more.

Today is a rather special day for us. 25 years. Wow. It's gone by so quick. It seems like just a short while ago I woke up from the initial part of the BDD, and according to Linda I've been a work in progress ever since. Oh, BDD stands for Bonk, Drag, Domesticate, which I recommend as a marriage strategy for all my single female friends.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Shoveling the garage once again

One of the unintended consequences of Calgary not ploughing many of the roads is that a lot of crud builds up on the bottom of your car and in the wheel wells. There are people that have frozen their cars to the driveway. They go out for some reason in the morning, park in the driveway, the afternoon warmth softens things up so that it slides down a bit. It ends up wedged against the tires and the wheel well, and the driveway, and that's the way it freezes overnight. The driver is SOL in the morning.

Similar things happen in the garage, even if it's unheated. Glop falls off and builds up. And up, and up. The first time it happened I had some naive belief that it would melt and I wouldn't have to do anything. This is exactly Calgary's attitude about ploughing roads. I've learned when this happens that you have to stop the car on the drive way, shovel out the garage, shovel off the car tires and wheel wells, then park in the garage, then shovel the driveway again. This is much worse than shoveling snow. Most of the time snow is easy to shovel. This is a messy dark brown slurry.

The swim today was not messy for me. The pool was no worse than usual, but things would be much better if the other swimmers understood what fast, medium, and slow meant, and where they were on the scale. Or had some consideration for other swimmers. Or understood that you can put 8 or 10 really slow swimmers into one lane no problem, but once you get past 4 fast swimmers in a lane there needs to be some pretty careful organization, and perhaps, actual conversation about what's happening. And realized that one slow swimmer with a bunch of fast ones just makes for a lot of unhappiness as everybody has to start keeping track of the other swimmers rather than concentrating on their stroke.  An actual Masters swim session is a different game, they are all doing the same thing, swim like sharks, and like swimming nose to toes. I'm talking about random people (and some are pretty darn random!) showing up at the pool.

I was fortunate enough to be sharing the lane with some pretty good swimmers. The workout was really good, lots of drills, lots of intervals, lots of metres. It was just over an hour, I'm pretty sure. Toward the end I was getting tired enough that I was barely getting 26 second 50's starting on 30. I'm glad there weren't any more in the plan. There were some interesting body balance drills. I did these barefoot, but as suggested I'll try with fins next time. I only figured out where the pool keeps fins after my swim.

Lunch was a good time for a run. Sunny and cool, about -11 C (12 F). Started easy, and ran easy, concentrating mainly on keeping my arms moving. I tend to let them hang, which doesn't help my stride. 5 K, 34 minutes. My feet felt light and happy, with a nice smooth stride. No heart rate monitor, but it would have been low 130's the entire way.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday brick

We were watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica last night. Overall we really enjoyed the series, seeing how people dealt with a near impossible situation with no right answers. Lots of action, and no shortage of character driven story leading to watching the people change and grow. What I really liked is seeing a gender neutral society, where the shape and location of your reproductive organs doesn't limit your role in society. I thought it a bit odd that the "rag-tag fleet" could produce amazing quantities of booze and cigarettes, but have trouble producing toothpaste. I admit to being a bit disappointed in the choices they made during the final episode; I think they could have been smarter. Very well worth watching, if you haven't because you remember the dreck version from the 70's.

Onto the important stuff, my Sunday morning brick.
On the bike for 1.5 hrs of fun goodness and sweating a bucket. I ended up backing off the one leg drill a bit, doing it in 30 second chunks instead of minute chunks. Then a 20 minute run. It took a little while to find a good stride as my legs felt a bit slow and heavy. It used to be that getting around the block in 20 minutes after a bike was a major effort, now I can keep my heart rate at the bottom of zone 2 doing it. I call that progress. Still frigging cold here, -23 windchill, so the transition from bike to run has to be done carefully.

Then 3 sets of core. First was all good. Second was a just barely state of affairs. Third was a shambles, essentially going to failure rather than the time suggested on the plan. But it's all good.

Weekly Summary (rest and semi-sickish)
Swim 2.5 hrs
Bike 2.25 hrs
Run 1.5 hrs
Walk .5 hrs
Core 2.25 hrs
Total 9.0 hrs

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The gong show started early

The gong show on Saturdays at Canyon Meadows pool reliably starts about 8am. The serious swimmers know this and are waiting for the doors to open at 7. Today there were 5 of us, plus some other floaties. I see the two guys often. They take over a lane and do some pretty tough sets. I know better than to try to share a lane with them, but I think today was a rest day for them. The two girls are rockets, both swimming much faster than me. For a few minutes I thought one of them was Julie. We all got in and started with no nonsense.

I had a lane to myself till the end of warm up and a guy joined me. We split the lane and carried on. I had two sets of 4 x 150 m as a main set. Midway through the second set, as I'm pushing off the wall, a girl with fins on tried to cut me off. No idea where she came from. I swam over her and finished that 150 as she floundered back and forth. Then I gave her a lecture about telling the people in the lane about joining in, and making sure everybody knows we're swimming in a circle now. She was brutally slow, even with the fins. I think she's the first of the resolutionistas for this year. I wasn't expecting them until Monday.

The first one in each set was 2:40, the rest were 2:45 or maybe a couple seconds quicker at most. The plan was to start on 2:45, but I revised that to starting on 3:00. That worked pretty well. Swam a few additional laps thinking about form and working on my turn to bring it up to an hour. Overall the swim is pretty good again, though I still need to work on surfacing after flip turns. That is sooo not graceful, or smooth. At this point my open turns are still faster than my flip turns. No surprise, I've only done a few hundred flip turns, and I've done a bazillion open turns.

As I was getting out of the pool the gong show was well under way. The fast girl was still doing her thing and somehow had convinced everybody to stay out of her half lane. I suspect my inner shark was hanging out with her, and maybe that was why. Other than her, the pool was filled with people that swim so badly it hurt my eyes to watch. I went upstairs for the machine of truth and found more gong show in the weight and cardio room. Two people were arguing in Cantonese over one of the machines; it sounded like murder was only a few seconds away. My number is 231, which considering it's Christmas and a rest week, isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

At 11am the weather page said -17 C (2 F) with a wind chill of -23. I ended up over dressing a bit since the sun had come out and there was no wind till near the half way point. Walked briskly then jogged very slowly for 10 minutes to the start of the path to Glenmore Reservoir, then ran an hour, trying to stay at the bottom end of zone 3. It drifted up a bit while going up some hills on the way back. I got as far as the Outfall Duct 21, not quite 100 m from where the path splits near the kids playground area. At the end I had to do a really slow jog for 2 minutes to get back to the starting point. Walked 15 minutes home, stretched 15 minutes.

I'm quite pleased by this. My run felt good and smooth. It's only during the walk at the very end that my left calf started complaining a bit. So it seems (cautiously) that T Rex has moved on. Let's hope he finds someone else he likes better than me, and preferably not anybody I know.

Friday, January 1, 2010

I had a witty title but lost it. Sigh.

Thursday was a rest day. Literally. After dropping Linda off at work I went back to bed and stayed there till she called about 11 saying she was getting off work early, and come get her please. I must have needed the rest because I feel much better. We did some shopping on the way home, puttered about the house, and settled in for the beginning of Battlestar Galactica, season 4. We're loving it. We didn't make it till midnight though. Call us old fogies if you must.

Friday is still cold, and the pools are closed, so I moved my run and swim to Saturday, and took today as a rest day. Except that I bleached 3 doz wine bottles to get the remnants of label goo, or water spots, or wine film off. That's fun. Started a new wine kit, a German Ehrenfelser, which is a nice dry white.

Then I was good and did a half hour of core and stretching. My hip feels fine, but I'll be sure to warm up well before the run tomorrow.

Sometimes I get all sentimental and maudlin talking about the year just past, or the year coming up, but none of that this time! It was a good year overall, but there was some shite too. It's done. Gone. Looking forward to 2010.

About the only thing left to do is to thank my readers for showing up and commenting, and hope to see you here regularly.