Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This sitting all day is hard work

Work training is hard at it. Hunched over in a dark room, concentrating on small print, complicated processes, and trying to keep up. I'm feeling it. My shoulders were feeling brutal during yoga, and I nearly cried when she said, cobra to plank, and back again, a whole bunch of times.

The swim lanes were a bit of a zoo this am, even by standards, and I just wasn't up to it. Did my stretches in the dive tank, then deep water running, just over 30 minutes.

This working for a living sure gets in the way of training. Bedtime now.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Talk about taint!

Today I smelled like a geezer for a couple of hours. I was so grossed out. That story started when I needed to comb my hair the last couple days. My rule is, when I need a comb, what I really need is a haircut. Not that there's much hair to cut, and I'm considering getting a buzz for the summer. Anyways, I went to the usual shop, with two barbers. A really nice lady, and a nice geezer. I prefer the lady, she's quick and does a really good job. The geezer is slow, and the job has been getting less good. There was a wait, and then I ended up with the geezer. This isn't the best haircut I've ever had, lets just say that. And he put this stuff into my hair, in spite of asking him not to, since I had a bike workout coming up soon. Well, crap, I think that stuff was white glue, or something similar. It smelled bad, geezer bad. I had to go into Co-op for a few things, and I swear, a little old lady was following me around with a hungry look. Sheesh.

Walked 20 minutes in the morning. Really good core session after work, 30 minutes. Smelling like a geezer. I continue to feel better, but I think the reason core went so well is that it did not include my faves plank, pushups, wall sits, and the held squats thing.

Then onto the bike, and I quickly realized this wasn't going to be as good as last time. It felt like I was at least one gear harder than normal, and my legs weren't happy about spinning above 100 rpm. Still, I started into the workout, cadence set and one leg drill, but started getting some odd feelings out of my legs. There was a periodic click at the top of my knee caps I didn't like at all, and it felt like there was an elastic band taped to my shin, over my knee, and to the bottom of my quads. The first main set was to be time trial gear at 90 for a while, and neither my lungs or my legs were having it. There was a heart rate goal too, but the battery in the monitor has died. Still, I'm not upset. While it isn't an improvement over the other day, that had been a big step forward, and I'm not surprised they're a bit tired today. That was just over 30 minutes, then another 15 stretching and rollering.

Part of the reason I ended early is that I couldn't stand the way I smelled. As I was beginning to sweat, the old geezer smell was getting stronger and stronger. Even all sweaty, my hair still felt like a hard hat. I had to wash my hair twice afterward.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And now, a pretty good run

The swim this morning was a bit shorter than planned due to a hard back end. No, not my back end. A firm 8am meeting time, with people that are paying me well to respect their time. I don't want to be late even more than I normally don't want to be late. Though I did take a few minutes to chat with my buddy Deb.

Warmed up, then did 10 x 100 on 2:00, with 100 m backstroke break in the middle. I was pleasantly surprised that all but the last couple were 1:45 or so, and even they were 1:48 and 1:49. Cooled down, stretched. 30 minutes only, I wish I could have gone longer.

Walked 15 minutes at lunch, communing with my legs. Communed with them on the drive home, and puttering about the house after getting home, seriously wondering if I should try to run or not. I had a good bike yesterday, and my hams are feeling tired and pre-crampish. During the swim I had a few ham twinges during the flip turns, as I was really trying to power through them.

Annnnnnnnd, to draw out the suspense, I dressed, did a bit of loosening up, and headed out. Walked a brisk 10 minutes then into an easy run, communing with my legs the entire time. This isn't what I'd call a bouncy easy run. It was more like a heavy footed slog, though not quite like the T Rex of history. I had to vary the stride a bit, as there was some odd twinges along the way, and I wanted to try to break things up a bit. Normally I clump along, same stride. My hams complained a bit if I did that.

I actually ran 35 minutes with no pain! Yahoo!! That was 5K nice and easy. That's the first time that's happened since mid Feb, so I'm pretty pleased. In the great scheme of things it wasn't the best run I've ever had, but so much better than recent ones that I'll happily put it in the bank. After all, it wasn't so long ago that a 35 minute 5 K was a hard run. Did a really good stretch and roller after. Hams, especially the left, are still feeling a bit crampish, but that's ok. Everything is feeling much better.

There is an acupuncture appointment next Monday. Maybe by then everything will be all better, but who knows. It won't hurt to get it done anyways.

Now, back to the stalking in progress....
I found these two images. Not what I'd call pretty.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Improvement has happened

I did nothing at all yesterday. NOTHING AT ALL. Unless you count combing a cat who loves to be combed, reading the papers, and going to a dear friend's goodbye party as activities worthy of blogging about. No, she's not dying, she's only moving to BC.

The last several weeks have been the biking pit of despair. Being on the bike has sucked. I had no idea what to expect today. My legs don't particularly feel any different, but woooo-weeeeeee! They sure behaved differently! Within 5 minutes of getting on the bike I was up to 100 rpm and it felt great, which is a big change from struggling for 20 minutes to get there last Thursday. Still, I knew things weren't "fixed" and things could go off the rails pretty quick, so I still did a good warmup, with brief spin ups to 120 rpm. Lots of one leg drill, more than what the plan called for. Lots of cadence pyramids and ladders, mostly topping out at 110, because 120 still wasn't totally comfortable for longer than about 10 or 15 seconds. All this was in an easy gear, keeping it thoroughly aerobic. My legs were very happy to spin at 90 rpm, without me even trying to go there. Stood for several minutes, still in a fairly easy gear, just to stretch and see what my legs thought. Not bad. For just a couple minutes I got into a time trial gear, just to see. Up to about 85 rpm was ok, but didn't want to push it. Did a 15 minute cool down, for 90 minutes total.

Before and after did 15 minutes of gentle stretching and rollering. The plan called for some core, and to run off the bike, but I thought that was being just a bit optimistic. I decided to take a good solid bike and call it a day, rather than push too much and hurt something that is just beginning to feel happy again. Walked later in the afternoon, since it's practically summer here. (Today. There is still more snow to come.)

By the standards of the last month, this workout was over the moon. By my regular standards this is a good recovery spin workout. So I'm very, very pleased. I'm hoping the legs are finally coming around, and the run will improve too.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.66 hrs
Bike 2.25 hrs
Run 0.5 hrs
Walk 1.5 hrs
Core 2.75 hrs
Total 9.66 hrs

Friday, March 26, 2010

The 6am water is not calm

FOMC opens late, at 6am, but the door is open a few minutes early. I got there just in time to be the third one into the pool. The plan called for 2800 m, but I think I did 3000. There was a bit of pull that felt so good going back and forth I kept on going. Just a few minutes over an hour. No drama today, so the llama would have been fine.

Fairly strong swim for me. The two girls in the next lane, I found out later, were doing a 1500 m time trial. One kept me on pace in that my moderates were a hair faster than her regular pace. The other cruised along somewhere between my hard and sprint pace. Great flip turn. I need to be opening my hips up sooner and engaging my abs more.

After the swim I was into the dive tank for some stretching and a bit of deep water running. I'm feeling pretty beat up these days. The shoulders are good for swimming, once I warm up, and feel good during swimming, but after they are sore. My legs are shite right now. Even the 15 minute walk at lunch time was painful. My right hip flexors were protesting.

Given that it's been a training week, I've spent a lot more time than usual hunched in a non ergonomic setup, and I can really feel it this evening. What a party animal I am. It's 8pm; I'm going to hit publish in a minute, chug some vitamins, and go to bed. Tomorrow is going to be sleep in as much as possible, and enjoy not doing any workouts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trying not to be a whiner, or a weiner, but...

Do you remember the start of Wide World of Sports? The announcer intoning "the agony of defeat" as the ski jumper pinwheels off the side of the ramp? Well, at least I haven't pinwheeled off my bike like that. Can you tell I'm clutching at straws here, trying to find the good parts of the workout?

Grading the half hour of core is an exercise in relativity. By the standards of what I was thinking of normal, it's pretty pathetic, but given recent performance, it's pretty good. At least I got through all three sets, only dropping one of the exercises. Held squats - my quads weren't having any of that. The rest got done, more or less. More was butt lift, and steps. Crunches and tricep dips were about the same. Less was plank. Geez, let's not talk about that.

The bike was a long slow warm up. My legs felt like noodles. I checked the gears again and again. It felt like big ring. It took 20 minutes to build to the point my legs would do 100 rpm. My legs weren't happy about this, and did not feel strong. Even at this mild effort I could feel them weakening and getting twitchier with the hams feeling like they were going to cramp. Worked with that for a bit hoping they would come around. By the time 30 minutes rolled around and I was trying for 105 rpm, I started getting the same pain in my left knee I had during the half marathon. Sigh. Grrrr. I gave up. I got off the bike. I could see no reason to continue pushing into pain to do what should be a trivial effort. Didn't even do a cool down, since properly speaking, I wasn't even warmed up.

In the morning walked for about 15 minutes before work, and for about a half hour at lunch. I had been thinking of taking my work clothes and running before work, but within 5 minutes of waking up I could tell that would be a bad idea. Plus, it was -5C!! (23F) Do you have any idea how cold that is after you've been having nice weather?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No fun yoga

Swim in am cut a few minutes short, and not quite what the program said. But when there's a gong show going on, you'd better be banging the biggest and loudest gongs, or you'll be getting your gongs banged.

There were 4 people in the lane most of the swim. Mr. 25 m churn, could swim at a respectable speed, 25 m at a time, sounding like a heart attack, even worse than Julie used to, after every length. And churn! Holy cow talk about bubble city. One girl swimming moderate speed, but slow about getting the message people want to pass her. One guy about my speed, then switching to fins and kickboard. One really slow breast stroker giving the rest of them a bad name. Nearly ran over her once totally by accident. And me, trying to keep ahead or catch the pack. Or a full speed burst to pass, and stay passed.  So after a warmup it was a pretty intense 40 minute swim. For the record, it takes exactly 20 minutes from hopping out of the pool, to walking in the front door at work.

Yoga was kind of brutal. My shoulders are killing me. We were doing leg circles with the strap, and Fiona was talking about doing smaller circles if anyone's hips were clicking. Well, my hams were clicking. No shit. Around, and I could feel a tendon, or ligament or muscle pulling against other stuff, then snapping past. It's a very weird feeling. I did smaller circles. Other stuff would normally be good, but I wasn't quite in the mood.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Too Soon After Eating

Still figuring this out. If I'm going to get on the trainer after work, I'm going to need to eat before I leave work. If I eat at home, there doesn't seem to be time to let my stomach settle, and get in a workout, and relax a bit before going to bed.

Even giving it a bit more than an hour my tummy was complaining just to start the core. Which mostly sucked by the way, just in case you were wondering. Forward lunges were very wobbly to start and got worse, especially with the right leg forward. Pushups were a horror show. Plank flopped out much sooner than expected. Wall sit, even without the fit ball had my quads just above my knees threatening to rip themselves out of my body and snap up into my eyeballs. The heels up 6 inches was very bad, my abs were killing me for that. Upright rows were ok.

I pushed on to the bike, and this is where I realized it really was too soon after eating. A warm up effort had me beginning to wonder if I would make it through the workout. Trying to get over 100 rpm, even after 15 minutes of warmup, made it clear I'd lose my dinner even attempting the workout. I bailed.

Rollered and did a bit of gentle stretching. There is still a bit of a cough happening every now and then. It feels like there's still a layer of guck on my windpipe. Most of the time I don't notice it, but once I start relying on getting lots of air in and out, or it's toward the end of the day, it seems to get much worse.

Tomorrow will be busy. Swim in am, testing us at work on the material we learned today and then get more, supposedly an hour run (no way), and yoga. Looking forward to yoga.

Monday, March 22, 2010

working in workouts around work

Yeah, I know, blah blah blah, work work work, suck it up princess, HTFU, and get on with it. Well excuse me puhlease, I'm enjoying the novelty of trying to get workouts done around a work schedule again. For the next few weeks I'm on a fairly regular schedule while I'm going through training on the systems and tools. I think it will be ok. Once the training is done, I can work my own schedule, so I'll probably start a little later to get in longer swims and runs, and not have to hustle so much on changing and showering. For now, an 8am start gives me about 1.5 hours after dropping Linda off to do about 15-20 minutes of driving and get a run or swim done out of Renfrew pool, better known to my fans as FOMC.

In fact, it probably isn't better known. Several people have asked, so I might as well explain. Renfrew is a very social pool. There are two communities that show up, the Italian and Chinese. They get along perfectly, lots of multi-lingual chat happening. There is a third community, one of large elderly men. Some very large, and very elderly. Most of them seem to be well to do. I tell all my single female friends that if they want to be a well off widow fairly soon, show up and be prepared to chat. The only thing I don't like about this pool is that the pace clock is badly placed for the people who will actually use it.

Today I swam at the Inglewood pool, since I had to go south for the first part of the orientation day. Inglewood is very old pool. It has about a foot of wall above the waterline, and the shallow end is really shallow. Really really shallow. As in 2.5 feet at most. I can easily touch the floor doing front crawl (but I'm keeping my elbows high, so I don't). I concentrated on my flip turns very carefully and banged my tailbone only once. One hour, lots of drills. I could feel the rust coming off during the swim, and the water feel coming back. Not a fast swim particularly, but very enjoyable. Worked the lungs a bit harder, and they were fine with that.

After a bunch of internal debate about what I should do this evening for a workout, I ended up doing the scheduled run. About 3/4 of it. The plan called for 40 minutes, and I did 30. My left calf and knee started hurting again. The last few minutes were a walk run thing. I really must mention this at my doctors appointment in April. Stretched and rollered really good after. Yes, Julie, I'm probably holding stretches for 30 seconds. I know the ones in the pool are if I can see the pace clock. Pigeon pose is at least a minute by the watch. Maybe I should look at the watch for all of them. Rollered and stretched more after dinner. oooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

As for removing dust bunnies, I'm soft-hearted about them, till I'm bullied into it by Linda, who is just brutal on the subject. Poor innocent dust bunnies; they make such a tragic shriek as they vanish into the maw of the merciless vacuum cleaner. We suspect Amelia the cat of contributing to the well being of the dust bunnies.

Not sure if ELF reads my blog, but her recent post on what people find themselves free to say about and to pregnant people is extremely funny. It was even funnier when I was introduced to my new coworker Sharon who is due in August. My head INSTANTLY filled with all the things I couldn't say to her. I don't think I slipped up.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First brick in a while, or, the great dust bunny hunt

Today's workout was pretty good, all things considered. Not as good as I had hoped for, but only about 5 minutes off that. Much better than I feared.

This last week has been for some cross training, and taking a break from triathlon. It dovetailed very nicely with my shaking off a cold, and trying to get my legs recovered. Yes, they're still a bit sore, but improved dramatically over the last several days. I finally figured out I wasn't drinking enough water. Within a day of chugging it down, my legs were feeling quite a bit better. All the rest, rollering, and stretching is finally having an impact. I've been a bit bewildered by this, since I didn't think I'd overdone it THAT much during the race a few weeks ago, but I guess I've stressed something.

I really wasn't sure how it would go today, so I started cautiously, with a long easy warmup, letting the legs spin, concentrating on form. That went ok, so I slowly ramped up the speed, settling in at each new level, dropping back to 85 or 90 to relax. There were a few twinges now and then, but nothing serious, and the spin was pretty smooth. Peaked out with short bits at just over 120 rpm. Did a little bit of standing to stretch out and work on the motion, but not with any real effort. Took two short breaks to stretch during the bike. On the bike for 1.25 hrs, easy to moderate effort. I think I can get back into my normal bike workouts next week. Yay!

Then outside for a run, in shorts and tech shirt. So nice! A perfect temperature to run, maybe 15 C (59 F). Started easy, really concentrating on my stride and what my legs thought of it. Definitely more twinges running than biking, but nothing that had me worried. Settled into a nice stride about 5 minutes in. Not fast, since I didn't want to stress my lungs. Today was about what was right for the legs.

Experimented a bit with different strides, but mainly tried to relax and run easy. Stopped at the 16 minute mark for a brief stretch, mainly as a preventative measure. I was hoping for a 5 K run in about 35 minutes, but about the 30 minute mark I started getting a really odd feeling in the back of my left knee. Similar, but not quite the same as what I had during the Hypo Half. Not "stop running this instant painful" but more than just fatigue, so I stretched it for a minute, and ran again, but after a minute it came back.

During the walk back to the house I thought about my stride, and if something had changed to produce the pain. I ran a bit more, this time rolling up onto the ball of my foot, and trying to relax my ankle during the swing forward. That made a bit of a difference to my stride and I found I was taking bigger steps and maybe landing a bit harder. Something to work on. The "aha!" moment came when I realized I'd been locking up my knees and ankles during the swing forward, trying to keep my feet flat to the ground. Something to think about for the next run.

After some stretching and a quick shower, there was roast duck for lunch, on a bed of rice with carrots and veggies. Wine. Gelato for dessert. Yummy. I apricated.

Saturday was a kind of fun day. It's spring, and the weather is nice, so we had all the house windows open and I got started on spring cleaning. The breezes were blowing some dust bunnies out from their cover, so I got out the vacuum and started the hunt. In addition to the floors, I vacuumed the furniture, lamps, window sills, window and door jambs, all the baseboards and electrical fixtures, stereo components, the computer cable nest under my desk, and here, which hasn't been done for a while.

The ultimate lair of the dust bunny. Anybody care to take a guess where that is? This was taken after the biggest dust bunny was taken out. It almost choked off the vacuum cleaner. It took a bit of doing to get the spawn.

Linda had found some e-cloths some place. These ones said they were made for cleaning barbeques. Those of you who feel I demeaned my manhood (such as it is) by vacuuming have never met the treacherous hose that bites and attacks me. Still, in any case, cleaning a BBQ is a manly thing to do, so I guess I redeemed myself, especially since I shoveled and swept out the garage, and tidied. (To say nothing of belching and scratching myself. hahaha) But back to the BBQ. This cloth is amazing. It is almost like one of those late night infomercials. It cleaned things up faster than anything else I've ever tried. Filled up the propane bottle, so I should be good to go for most of the summer BBQ season.

That whole day was good for me, stretching, bending, reaching, twisting. I thought of it all as a core workout, but I didn't count as such.

Back to today. Iced the back of the knee. It's not hurting, but the left calf is feeling tender again.

Weekly Summary
Swim 0.0 hrs
Bike 1.25 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Walk/hike 3.25
Core 3.25 (lots of water running)
Total 9.25 hrs

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are you still in suspense?

I knew that if I titled this chapter "The Good News" all of you would think I'd turned into one of those semi-Christian people that go around banging on doors disturbing honest decent folk, and trying to convert them. As if! But the long promised really really good news has arrived! As I think of it, you are all likely to think it's even better news than I do.

The actual news is that today I signed the contract for a business analysis job at Enmax. I've had a bunch of different jobs doing various elements of business analysis, along with lots of other stuff. I'd always said once I reached the age I am, or just a bit older, I wanted to start looking at part time work, and try out this semi-retired gig. I've done the no-regular-work thing for a while now, and I'm not ready to totally retire yet.

I'd been hoping to get some contract work using my various (some say eclectic) skills, and this is looking like a really good fit. The initial contract is 4 months, which is just perfect for IMC training. It might extend, or it might not, and in any case, they are willing to work around IMC. The really good part is that the person I'll be working for doesn't particularly care about our hours of work once the initial training and orientation is done, and is happy with us working from home at least part of the time. I'll be one of a team of 3 working to improve and map some of their data processing. They're using some new SAP modules, so I'm really looking forward to adding some new tools to my inventory.

Between work, working out, sleeping, eating, keeping my blog updated, keeping the wine production going, and finishing off my course paper, I'm going to be a busy puppy. From what I've read about other people training for IM, what little social life I have is going to disappear totally. I can see some of you dancing for joy here, figuring that there will be fewer senile Kanadian semi-literate ramblings strewn in the comment sections of your blogs. You might well be right. Or I'll comment when I'm asleep, and it will make even less sense than it does now. Will you even be able to tell?

Today I went for a two hour hike in Fish Creek Park. I used to know all the major trails in this end of it, but there was a flood a couple years ago. The area shown by that video is normally less than a foot deep, and if you're careful you can cross it without getting your feet wet. It washed out many of the pedestrian bridges, rerouted the river, and wiped out kilometers of pathways. They've put things back and made lots of improvements, but I haven't been down to explore much off the main paths.

My thought for today was to rent some roller blades since the main path is good pavement, but it was 3 C and windy. Roller blades didn't sound like much fun, so I went hiking off the main path, exploring areas I hadn't been in a long time, and in some cases, had never been. Lots to see. Up and down the hills. Surprised four big white tailed deer. Had a really good time. Should have brought the camera. (Yeah I know Julie, it's hypocritical of me to break your stones about not posting photos.) Stretched and rollered after. My calves are really feeling it today, especially the left one.

Yoga last night was excellent! Fiona has been giving us some really good stretches and yoga moves. During corpse pose that we always do at the end, I was visualizing myself on a beach, with a warm but not hot sun shining. The gentle waves were splashing up my body, bringing the life of the sea to me, then washing back out taking stress and tension with them. It was wonderful.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I have ellipticated

In fact I don't know what the verb is for using an elliptical machine. So I made one up. If you don't like it, or know the correct one, you can email me at It's all part of cross training week, where my coach has given me a bit of a break from the swim bike run in preparation for the load to come. None the less, using the elliptical machine was brutal. I stuck it out for 30 minutes, and thought I was doing pretty good.

My legs and arms were getting all trembly in a way I haven't experienced in a while, and it's not because I was working super hard. (Or because, contrary to the imaginations of some of you, I was having deviant sex.) I had my heart rate and breathing in a nice place, so that was good. What wasn't good was the limited range of motion the machine forces on you. My body was getting super tired of that limited range of motion, especially my calves, and wanted something different. I was beginning to get odd jerks as I tried to go against the rhythm.

My running is all subtly different paces, stride lengths, balance changes, arm changes, and body posture changes as I react to changes in the footing, how fast I want to run, and how things are feeling. You can read that as being a lousy runner if you want, but I'm a people, not a robot. The elliptical machine is trying to turn me into a robot. Part of the machine, and I rebel against that!

This is a very low tech gym. It's the cardio room at Canyon Meadows pool, and there are no TV's or magazines or anything else to look at. The killer core class was just ending as I started, so that was the end of entertainment. I swear, the woman that runs that class makes Rebecca Sweeney look like a wimp. I wouldn't last 5 minutes. The gym has windows to look into the pool area, but this machine wasn't placed for the view, mores the pity. It was the swim lesson day for the next door high school kids. They need to be using much bigger bricks. Oh, and you have to weigh yourself to use the elliptical machine. With shoes I was 229.

After that I was supposed to do a mini core workout consisting of lots of plank and push ups. Normally it's been my arms that protest. Today it was my legs. I've never really had them collapse like that before. I did a bit of stretching, then called it a morning. Once home I walked for 30 minutes and my legs gradually started feeling better after that. Did a bit of stretching and rollering but my calves were still recovering. I'll have a go at it later, (I didn't, call me a slacker) and there's yoga class tonight. We've have a couple weeks off yoga classes due to some administrative issue at the studio, but it's all straightened up now. Yoga was excellent! Love it.

Paperwork should be signed tomorrow on the really really good news, and I'll share then. Try to live with the suspense. Sunny today, and nice for spring, but still not warm. I probably wouldn't have ridden outside, and I admire those that are getting it done. Thing is, while driving home from dropping Linda at work, the traffic announcer was saying there was a whiteout (snow!) at Scott Lake Hill, and another at Bragg Creek, which is only 30 K from here.

I couldn't believe the amount of garbage on the lawn! I was out picking it up and filled up a kitchen garbage bag. With a 7-11 just across the road, next week I'll have to do it all over again. Normally, this would set off a rant about littering, but I'm thinking of having a nap instead.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I hope this isn't a foreshadow of our summer

They said today would be 19 C (66 F), which easily passes for summer here. I was just out for a walk, and I can say for sure it's nowhere near 19. Maybe 10. Looking at the sky doesn't fill me with confidence that it will get any warmer. And get this??!! The forecast for tonight includes the possibility of snow flurries. That's springtime in Calgary for you. I bought something to BBQ tonight, and dammit will still do that, but it will be regular run of the mill winter BBQ. Summer is different, somehow. Wait, are those snowflakes?? Shit.

FOMC has never before had an aquatics class in the dive tank when I've been there. So today, when I'm showing up only to do deep water running, what's happening in the dive tank? You guessed it. The timing worked out just fine, since I did about 10 minutes of stretching and mobility work while they finished up. Then as they all cleared out I started my deep water run. I looked at my watch 44 minutes and 48 seconds later thinking it was maybe 30 minutes, but no, 12 seconds and I was done. The running was a combination of short fast "strides" and long stretchy strides, some of which had me pulling like front crawl and some with a loose fist. Then another 10 minutes of stretching and core work. Sadly, the hot tub was pretty luke warm, and normally it's nice.

During the nice part of the day I was out for a 40 minute semi-brisk walk. It sure hurt at first, as all the massage pummeled muscles were sending frantic messages about the state of life, but it all calmed down and turned into a nice walk. There's a bit of coughing so my lungs haven't cleared out yet. Then a half hour of stretching and rollering with the stick, and pigeon pose.

No slips or falls today. You should have seen the look Linda gave me yesterday when she realized there were some missing bits. Not much, nothing important, and nothing that won't be replaced soon. But that's not the way she looks at it. The swelling has gone down on my arm, and no bruising is showing up yet. Maybe tomorrow. Though I'm not going to win anything showing off any bruises in the locker room. There's a regular that's looking the the Biggest Loser of several bar fights. Two big huge black eyes, a swollen nose, and you can see where his lip has been cut. Plus a really bad scrape on a cheekbone. Or maybe he sassed his wife once too often, that's a possibility to keep in mind.

Oh, and speaking about slips and falls. I ordered my Road ID, and it should be in the mail today or tomorrow. Even better, for all of you, is they sent me a discount code. Yay! Now you too can join the people with a stylish wrist band containing info about what to do with your remains after Chester the Molester dumps your body, or some nice person comes across your unconscious body strewn across the road at the bottom of a hill after you wiped out dodging a moose or something.  By clicking on the link below, you get a dollar, a whole American dollar off your order placed by April 15, 2010. Which will just about cover the shipping costs. Click here. The coupon code, if you want to do it that way, is "ThanksKeith627384". Just do it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some slips, some falls, some blood

The schedule called for a hike in Fish Creek today. It's cross training this week so there isn't much, if any swim bike run. I decided to hit some trails on the south side of the river. This is a very pretty area, lots of evergreen trees on a steep slope, crisscrossed with trails of various sizes. Now, steep slope is a bit of an understatement in some places. This is an actual escarpment. Fall down it and you end up in a mostly frozen river.

I decided to follow some of the smaller paths up and down the hill. This was more of an adventure than I had anticipated. There's been a lot of melt lately and the path is usually a bit of a gully, so it's pretty icy in places. I had a couple of falls where I was expecting it, so I landed on my hands. The tricky part is that the sides are icy too, but only as a thin film. You can see the ground, so you don't think there is ice. That led to a couple unexpected falls, one of which wasn't good at all. There's a spot on your hand where most people rest it when they're writing. That very spot has a gouge in it about the size of a dime, although with surprisingly little blood. My right elbow has a big bruise that I'm icing. I don't think my tailbone is bruised. I'm just glad nobody was watching.

The rest of the walk was really good, since I had decided I was going to be very careful about how I went down. In the end, down was down a paved and cleared path. All this was just under 1.5 hours. I figured get it done in the morning while the ground was still frozen. Later today some of the places I went will be a bog.

A quick lunch and shower later, I was in for my massage. Things are better, though the top of my right hip flexors is in tough shape. She advises icing and working that in some very specific ways. I'm feeling a bit like I've been whacked with a frozen wet cod, so I think I'll go do some icing and rollering, then get on with the project at hand.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Did I? Or didn't I?

Zoomed up to the Red and White club in good time for the start of the 10 K. Ran into Leana, and once again, my elusive race buddy Kelly R snuck up on me. One of these days I'll see her first. In the end I decided not to run. The problem was that I was feeling good enough that I was pretty sure I could get through it, but that wasn't the point. The idea was to work a 10K into my workout schedule and see where I was for fitness. Between a lingering cold, and wonky legs the results wouldn't have told me anything I don't already know. And that was the best outcome.  It would be reasonable to assume I'd trash my legs and put off my recovery. At worst I'd actually injure myself in the attempt. If this had been my A race, I'd have had a go, but my goal is Ironman Canada. Let's keep things in perspective, shall we?

Weekly Summary
Swim 1.75 hrs
Bike 0.5 hrs
Run 0.15 hrs
Walk 0.65 hrs
Core 2.0 hrs
Total 5.0 hrs

I am seriously pissed at this lingering cold. Most of the time I feel fine, just a little hollowness in my lungs and knowing I'm still a bit congested there. But as soon as I try to put out any real effort, like what I'd normally consider a warm up pace, my lungs start sending protest notes. And my legs still suck. More massage tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Better, but still dubious

The swim this morning was supposed to be 3K, some of it quite fast. The pool was a bit of a zoo though, with fast and slow people mixed in. I thought I had my two lane mates tuned in about who was the faster swimmer, till she stopped at the end, saw me right there, and pushed off in front of me. Yeah, you know the ending to that story. I didn't swim over her, but swam right down the middle line THAT close to her. Then left her in my wake. By the 35 minute mark I could tell I was running out of steam, and called it at 45 minutes. Form was getting sloppy, and I was starting to sound like Julie, even though I wasn't working THAT hard. I think it's the remnants of the cold.

From there I joined the zoo in the dive tank and water ran for 30 minutes. Discovered, totally by accident, a great catch and elbows up drill to do. Then a few minutes of stretching.

Then really, really good news happened! Once a few details get nailed down and some paper is signed, I'll share the details.

Back at home I decided to do a short easy run to see what my legs think. Brisk walk 5 minutes, easy run 10 minutes, with a couple of strides near the end. My lungs weren't so happy about it, and there were some interesting aches and nigglies and sore bits. Maybe, if I'd continued running, they would have worked themselves out. Maybe. Some of them felt pretty darn sore. Walked another 5 minutes, then down into the basement for a half hour of stretching and rollering. Pigeon pose forever!

Am I gonna run tomorrow? I could leave you in suspense, but won't because I'm so good to you all. Especially Jenna because she introduced us to all the hot people in those photos. Yes, I will run tomorrow, at least around the block to see what my legs think. Then I'll decide about the race.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I am chipped and dubious

This cold is clinging on, teeth, toenails, and suckers. What, you think an octo-mucous monster doesn't have toenails? You should meet mine. Mostly I feel pretty good, just with some coughing fits every now and then.

As soon as I got home I started in on the core, and it went pretty well. Oddly enough it was the very top of my hip flexors that were sore. Rollered them in particular. That was half an hour, and I could feel the effort. Once on the bike I could feel the rust. I wasn't feeling strong, and my spin was very clunky. A half an hour of steady pedaling mostly about 90 rpm and I was still getting funny twitches in my legs and going over 100 rpm was contra-indicated. Rather than push, I got off. Stretched for a little bit and rollered.

Later in the day I went for a fairly brisk 35 minute walk. At first I wanted to run, but by the end of it I could start feeling some pull in my calves. More stretching and rollering.

In the evening I picked up my race package. The cotton T shirt is nice, bright green and long sleeved. It actually fits me, which is a bit of a surprise. The other surprise was picking up my chip. I'm used to getting the chip on race day. Nothing else but advertising in the race package.

I really don't know if I'm going to race or not. I probably won't make the final decision until Saturday morning. Still, I have to go up there, at least to return the chip, so maybe I'll start with the herd. I can always bail out at 5 K if things are hurting. Besides, I have to meet Leana sooner or later.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I apricated briefly today

No, that's not a misspelling. Yes, that's a real word. What's more, I did it outside in our front patio, in front of the world and everybody. Make of it what you will.

The massage yesterday was a pummeling that wiped me out for the rest of the afternoon. It was a good and thorough, deeeeep massage. Wow. Nothing really wrong with my legs that stretching, rollering, massage, and a bit of rest won't cure. However, I'm getting more dubious by the hour about running in the 10 K on Saturday. I'm pretty sure I could do it, but the plan was to make it part of my regular workouts, and see if I could crack 1 hour. I'm not going to try it, and put off a full recovery for some indeterminate amount of time if my legs blow up. So you may well see the story of my first DNS this weekend.

Today was a forgetful day. It's a good thing my brain is permanently installed inside my head, but now I need to get a grip on my mind to keep it from wandering away. Older readers of my blog.... I mean, let me rephrase that. People that have been reading my blog for some time have a hint about what's coming.

It's true. Once again. Sigh. There I was, taking off my pants at FOMC, looking forward to my swim, when I suddenly realized I was lacking a certain essential gear. Not essential for swimming, per say, but essential for swimming in a public pool. My shorts were still on the corner of the chaise lounge in our bedroom, where I had walked past them several times while getting dressed, after having written out my workout plan, and got my swim bag all ready. About all I could do was shower and head off to where the car was going to get serviced, and hope they could start early. While waiting I got some real work done on a course I'm taking.

Just after lunch, I carefully packed again, and headed for Canyon Meadows. I got in a nice swim, working more on my form than anything else. No problems breathing this time. I was getting a really good grip on the water, and my flip turns were the best they've ever been! I was actually surfacing smoothly, like I do with open turns. I'm sure the good flip turns took some time off, because I wasn't really pushing for a fast swim, and I ended up doing a 19 minute K. Added in some pull, backstroke, and kick only, for a half hour total. Then another 20 minutes of water running, till my calves started to complain a bit. Then 10 minutes of core stuff. All good.

No, I'm not going to tell you what it means or what I was doing. No more hints, either. That would spoil all the fun. I want to see what you guys think it means before you go looking it up.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Swimming clipped in

Today was certainly a first. As most of my faithful readers know, when I restarted swimming about 4 or 5 years ago it didn't bother me at all. Then every now and then I'd get some pool snuffle. I'd blow my nose a few times and that would be it. Over time it has gradually become worse. Lately one swim produced about a day of pool snuffle, with the taps turning on about 6 hours after leaving the pool. Several yoga classes were made miserable by this. Twice now in recent weeks pool snuffle has developed into a full blown week long cold. I usually get about 1 cold a year, so this has become flat out unacceptable.

Several of my buddies have allergies, and have been generous about sharing what treatments have worked for them. I've never been allergic to anything, and given the usual delay between the pool and the snuffle, I'm a bit reluctant to think I'm allergic to the pool, or more precisely, the chemicals in the pool. My latest theory is that my sinuses were mildly irritated by the chemicals, and responded by making my nose run. Over time they have become more and more irritated or more sensitive, which perhaps has increased my sensitivity to something else that didn't normally bother me, or it's taking longer and longer to flush out the irritant. Several people have suggested neti pots. The first thing I thought when I read up on this is that it sounds like a good way to drown using less than a cup of water. Next, there is the undeniable ick factor. I figure if we were meant to snort water up our nostrils and spray it around, we'd also have a long and mobile trunk so we could get some fun out of it.

Neither was I thrilled about seeking actual medical attention. Our doctors look good in comparison to the care that was available in the middle ages, but that's about it. They can cope pretty well with clear and simple cases like broken bones, cuts, or organ transplants. Anything much subtler leaves them out to sea without a compass or a watch. The medical system here is badly frayed, and doesn't serve the needs of the populace very well. Neither does it well serve most of the people providing the services. (hint, there could be a rant coming on the medical system.)

I'd always known that some people swim with nose clips. Personally, I thought they were weenies, or hadn't mastered control of their breathing. Well, I apologize to them. Clips were about $6 at my favourite tri store, so I figured that was cheap enough to try before enmeshing myself in the coils of the medical system.

I had no idea what to expect. For a while I thought they might slide or pop off, but they seem pretty firmly anchored. First thing I noticed was that I had to roll just a little further than usual, and the subtle timing of breathing has changed in a big way. I had not previously known how much breathing I actually did through my nose. It turns out that as my face turns towards the surface, I'd started breathing in through my nose a fraction of a second before changing how my jaw and tongue were interacting so that I could breath in through my mouth. Neither had I understood how I used breathing out through my nose to help my body balance in the water.

Clip flips, as I was thinking of flip turns, are a total piece of cake now. (Chocolate, of course.) It's much easier to concentrate on the turn, when you don't have water surging around in a bodily cavity next to your brain. (To forestall the half-wits out there, I'm referring to my sinuses, not the alleged cavity between my teeny brain and my skull.)

In fact, the only problem with today's swim was that I was swimming like a floatie. Part of it, a small part, was adapting to the changed breathing, but I have apparently forgotten how to swim in a week. Intervals that I should be hitting easily were a real struggle. For the first time in a long while I was getting pain in my right elbow again. I'm not sure what my legs and feet were doing, but it sure wasn't providing any propulsion. My catch sucked, and I had no feel for the water whatsoever. My only consolation is that I'm still not quite over my cold and I wasn't expecting much. I broke off part way through the main set when I realized I was going to exhaust myself trying to make the intervals. 30 minutes of that, then another 30 minutes of water running.

The water running was another adventure. It felt so good to get the clips off! There was one person in the dive tank when I got in, which is pretty typical for that time of day. The breast stroking circle swimmer followed me in. I see her all the time, she swims slow laps around the edges of the tank. I'm not sure why she doesn't swim in the lap pool. I started running, and she started swimming. 30 minutes later she had just caught up to me. Considering I'm going through the water vertically, and she's going horizontally, you can see what a fast swimmer she is. What got crazy is that a whack of other people joined us. The two Italian gentlemen regulars were not a surprise. But four other women joined us, all strangers to me. Plus another gentleman, making 5 people who had no idea what the traffic patterns were. They are sort of cute, treading water in their float belts, waving their arms and legs in a feeble way. A couple more floaties were working up the courage to get into the freezing cold water, as they put it, just as I was leaving.

It's been 9 hours since leaving the pool, and I have haven't had the least bit of pool snuffle. So my initial reaction is that they've done what they should. They kept the water out, and the pool snuffle away. Now I just need to get my breathing and roll nailed down, get my stroke back, and see what I can do with the flip turns.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A modest day

Guess what we had for lunch? Doesn't this look yummy? We decided to have our main meal of the day now, and eat lightly later.

I'm still not feeling up to snuff. The Octo-Mucous Monster is weakening, but fighting hard for it's life. Stretched lightly, then got on the bike to see how that would work out. Warmed up gradually. In the end I decided to do an easy spin, thinking about form while trying to pretend my shoes were made of eggshells. Think spinning smooooooothly. Also think trying to minimize jerky wear and tear on my muscles. I can barely call this aerobic exercise, since my heart rate probably didn't get into zone 2. One hour. Half an hour of stretching after that. Pigeon pose, soleus, hamstrings, squats, single leg squats. Rollered calves and IT band firmly after that.

Today is totally beautiful out, 13 C (55F) sunny, no wind. Lots of people are out on their motorbikes, and I've seen a few out on their road bikes. Still dressed warmly, once you get going there's still a bit of a chill in the air. We walked around the neighbourhood for half an hour, then I called it quits while Linda went on. My knees were feeling a bit twingy.

Weekly Summary (a sick week, again. Grrr.)
Swim 1.0 hrs
Bike 2.0 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Walk 1.5 hrs
Core 2.0 hrs
Total 7.5 hrs

Now, lets see if this posts automatically for when I set it too. It didn't.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wine and the promised shopping rant

Look what will keep me out of mischief for the next little while!

And look what kept me out of mischief today! (Julie, look carefully in the background.)

All this was after a quick drive up to Red Deer and back to pick up the wine kits, then bottle the white, then start the Meglioli. It's a Pinot Grigio. I've done that before and we really liked it. As always there is part of a bottle left after corking all the others, so we drank the Ehrenfelser with dinner. Very nice right out of the carboy!

So why, you are asking, do you drive all the way to Red Deer to buy wine? It's simple. Valentine's sells a ton of wine, and they don't have what you'd call high rent premises, so they can and do discount it. Significantly. I saved enough today to pay for the gas, and if I had wanted, to buy another expensive kit and lunch besides. I don't count my driving time; it's relaxing highway kilometres all the way. Plus, shopping there is a treat. I've ordered in advance so it's set aside for me. They help me collect it, get everything else that is on my shopping list, check me through efficiently, chat nicely all the while, almost always toss in an extra goodie for me since I'm a good customer, and provide good carts to help get the kits out to the car. They've always been able to help me with any questions, and have great advice about which kits are really good. Why wouldn't I shop there and tell my friends to shop there?

As opposed to some of my other recent shopping experiences. You need to know that for me, shopping is about as desirable as getting the slippery finger of life from my doctor once a year. A necessary evil. I'm more likely to put off shopping than the doctor visit. I'm a buyer, not a shopper.

Lets start at Costco. There isn't much we get there, but there are a few things. It's an ordeal no matter when you go. First you have to scavenge a cart on the way in, then fight your way past the people who have frozen in the undersized doorway because they have just realized there isn't a cart there waiting for them, or that they have to show their membership card. Why does this happen in the frakking doorway, and why does it take them so long to decide what to do next?

Typically they hand out some advertising at the door. Again, there is a whole pack of fools who stop to read it, just inside the door. They join the herd drooling in envy at the big screen TV's. Both are in the way of the people that have at least some clue of what they want and where it might be. Which is much more of a crapshoot than it needs to be. Costco, along with every other retailer like to move things around, so that you have to look for what you want, and increase the chances of looking at something else that you might end up buying.

I would certainly pay for an iPhone app (if I had an iPhone) that automatically downloaded a map of whatever store I walked into, cross referenced my shopping list, and gave me the most efficient route to get through the store, while displaying in big letters then next thing I was looking for. Then I could say to myself, up to there, get the cheese, then down one aisle past the freezers and look for nutella. And so on. I fully realize the retailers would fight such an app tooth and nail, or would burden it with forced advertising.

Instead of that, the determined shopper must weave around the people wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles, one thumb in their mouth, and the other up their ass. They've never heard of keep right, or pull over to pick up an item. Nor do they shoulder check or signal their turns. One geezer was nearly run over, and he had the nerve to tell me to stay out of his way! They are totally oblivious to the world around them, with one huge exception. They are attracted to the little kiosks offering samples of oil fried, fat laden, food-like substances with unpronounceable ingredients. Just like moths to a flame. They cluster around, blocking two aisles and the main aisle as they increase their waistlines and cholesterol count.

I must admit that Costco gets a better class of shopper than Walmart does, at least going by the pictures Susi insists on sending me. LairdTunderingJazus, as the Newfies would say. I console myself with the thought that it could be much worse. As you might imagine, there is nothing that could persuade me to shop at Walmart. I'd be afraid of catching something. While I'm admitting stuff, I'll be the first to say that Costco gets top marks for their parking lots. The spaces are huge. Pity they don't pay some homeless people a small fee to return the carts to the store rather than people leaving them all over the parking lot higgledy piggledy.

Banks do a great job of lineups these days. Does anyone remember the days of walking in and trying to pick which line up to join? With your teller bailing out for a cigarette just before you got there, or some geezer doing some obscure transaction that takes up an appreciable fraction of their remaining lifespan, and all of your remaining lunch time? Now you join one line, and you're taken in turn. Why on earth can't the supermarkets do that? In Costco the pretzel shaped checkout lines often stretch into the product aisles, making life hell for everybody involved. Bad design, and stupid planning. Or vise versa. But wait, there's always some idiot at the head of the single line setup who couldn't get off their cell phone long enough to pay attention to the clerk that wants them to come to the till.

Sometimes Costco have these helpful people with portable scanners. They zap your stuff in the line up, and when you get to the front all you need to do is pay. Way quicker, and the stuff doesn't even have to be taken out of the cart. The clerk counts items to make sure the total number matches. Why don't they do that all the time? Why don't they have a 10 or less dedicated checkout? Complete, of course, with armed guard that beheads people with 11 or more items that look like they might be thinking about joining that line, and puts their head on a pike as a warning to the others. Why haven't people figured out that the clerk wants your membership card, right effing now. I'm just about ready to throttle the people that don't have their stuff ready for the clerk. Or keep up with the line.

Co-op has these automated checkout kiosks, and I love'em. Totally love'em, unless I'm buying some of the few products they can't deal with, like magazines. But for most stuff I can put it through faster than their staff can, and now that I've got some practice, I'm usually faster than the oral prompts for the machine. The first time, however, was a different story. That was humiliating, but it was a sort of hybrid system. When they put this system in, they had people there explaining it. I can't help but think that Costco should be able to do the same thing, or something similar.

Not that Co-op doesn't have it's own problems, namely the high geezer quotient. I'm getting used to it, and we've long since learned to avoid Geezer Mondays, when they have a sale on. Here, at least, I'm mentally prepared for the onslaught of the geezers; somehow at Costco, I'm not.

The Farmer's Market is a different experience entirely. It's usually crowded, lots of all kinds of different people, mainly yuppies from Garrison Woods, but geezers too. The difference is that it's so crowded that the geezers aren't slowing anyone down. Most of the booths are cash only, and it just takes a while to manipulate that much money, especially since the children doing it don't know how to count change. I want to slap them when they pile the coins on the bills, and put it flat onto my hand with the bills lined up with my fingers. That's an invitation to lose coins. They look at me blankly when the bill is 11.39, and I give them 21.39, or 21.50. I had to explain to one pimply child. One was going to get out a calculator to figure out exactly 20 dollars of change.

There are two modes of shopping at the Farmer's Market. Blitz or Bucolic. Blitz is to go in knowing exactly what you want, and where you're going. You have a list, arranged in the order of purchases. The shops rarely change, so this is possible. You look at nothing else. You have cash. You bring your own bags. Your list isn't too long. You have eyes only for the open spaces on your route. You are prepared to bodycheck adults and trample small children. You are alone. Bucolic is to join the herd, wandering up and down, looking at stuff. There is lots of interesting stuff to look at, and it's worth doing every now and then. But don't be in a rush. You will not escape the Kettle popcorn. And probably not the fudge samples.  The gelato is probably the best in the city.

Shopping for clothes is hell for me. I really really hate doing it. I put it off, and put it off. I'm busy putting it off right now. I'm just big enough that finding stuff that fits nicely is hard. I rarely find colours and fabrics that I like. It's always too expensive, but spending more time to find something cheaper that I'd buy is the worst of all possible options. I'd rather work more to be able to afford it. Most of the time, if I'm looking for, say, jeans, I'll try a pair on, and if they don't fit, I'll leave the store. I grind my teeth in fury when the size numbers, my measurements, and how the clothes fit have no relationship to each other. I hate fashion changes. Once I figure out something that is right for me, I want it to always be there. But no, people want their clothes to look different all the time. I will go ballistic if two identically numbered and sized shirts, for example, fit differently. Like one fitting properly for arm length and the other shorter or longer by an inch. It's happened lots. That's probably enough to end a shopping trip right there.

I really hate the club cards. Every frakking retailer wants you to carry around a card to track points, or get air miles or some effing thing. I already have too much shit in my life to keep track of. I hate the extra step of them asking if you have their card, your reply, and them asking if you want one. I usually just look at them. Somehow they get the idea that raging seething fury is about to melt their face and they get on with the transaction. Shoppers Drug mart is really bad for this. If a retailer wants to offer a discount to people that buy lots of stuff, then keep track of it in your own database. I love it when Rogers tells me I've got enough points that the DVD rental for tonight is free and do I want to pay for it that way. That's the way to fly.

Now, I don't want you to get the idea I'm a total curmudgeon that hates the people involved with shopping as much as I hate shopping. Not so. I fully realize the clerk is suffering that hell for much longer than I do and probably isn't being paid very well. They probably hate the shoppers more than I do, unlikely as that sounds. I smile and say hello. I offer whatever info is needed by the clerk. I have my purchases in an orderly pile. I know how I'm going to pay for it, and it's ready to go. I am not talking on the cell phone. If a sales person accosts me in the store, I give them a polite 'no thank you', unless I do have a question. Which happens from time to time. Then I know what I'm looking for. I hate having my time wasted, and assume that other people hate having their time wasted too, even if they are being paid by the hour.

Occasionally I get a clerk that sees stuff I've picked out and suggests other things I might be interested in, or points out a deal if I pick out something functionally identical to what I have but might be a different brand. There used to be a guy at Megatunes that was demonically good at doing that. He'd eye your stack of CD's (back when music came on CD's) and would suggest something, or would change the store soundtrack so you just had to ask what it was. He would typically double our purchases, but we didn't mind because it was all good stuff that we might never have known about. I will nearly kiss the clerk that takes my side, and points out how I can get a better deal, or offers inside information that helps me.

I'll make a point of thanking someone who has been helpful or just offered efficient service. Several of the places I like to eat it's easy to talk to the cooks, and I'll tell them I liked their food. (Plus, I tip good.) There is nobody in the world that doesn't like to hear thank you, or that they've done good. I try to be patient with people that are new on the job or who've made a mistake.

Generally the store staff aren't so bad, (except for electronics people trying to upsell you extended warranties) especially considering what they have to put up with. Namely, the other shoppers. There are days, and you only think I'm kidding, that I want to set up a licensing system for people before they are permitted to shop. That's right, you would have to pass a test before being able to shop. At the very least the test would include how to drive a shopping cart in a grocery store, how to count change, how to line up efficiently, dynamics of crowd behaviour, purse and wallet management, how to create and use a shopping list, hygiene requirements for being out in public, demonstrated abilities to control small children, and parking lot etiquette. There is probably more I could add.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The octo-mucous monster in my head

Even by triathlete standards, I'm hard to gross out. After all, once upon a time in my feckless youth I used to operate a big waste-water treatment plant. Most of the time you could eat off any visible surface it's kept that clean, hard as that might be to believe, but there were exceptions. I could go on about barminuters, for example, but won't. No, you can't imagine.

Like Jenna, I'm getting better. Slowly. The problem is that the octo-mucous monster in my head the last few days is very resistant to being removed from its habitat. It struggles. It clings. After I blow most of it out into a kleenex, there are still long ropy strands leading back into my nose and moustache. I can feel inside tugging on my sinuses and ear canals and eyeballs as I try to clean up. I almost need a shower afterward. There are days I wish I had a scale for an accurate before and after weighing. That's right, being a guy I'm fascinated with size, and often think that bigger is better. With one uncommon notable exception. There are days I want a medical fiberscope so I can see what's going on up there. Track the monster back to it's lair, as it were, and deal directly with the heart of the problem. Sounds like a Conrad novel, doesn't it? Hmmmmm.

Speaking of internal tugging, I've been effectively deaf most of the time since Tuesday evening. My ears didn't clear as we were landing. No wonder that kid was screaming, it was almost painful for me and I know what's going on. They'd clear for a bit, then plug up again, and have been doing so for several days. Now, Linda would say that I'm essentially deaf most of the time anyway, at least to things I don't want to hear, so it would be hard for any outside observer to tell the difference. But it does lead to odd results. For example, I know what noises the car makes on Deerfoot at 100+ Kph. Our car is much quieter than the cheap rental we had (an Elantra, whatever that is) and is much smoother. I was paying more attention to traffic than to my actual speed, till I noticed I was past 120 Kph. Oops. The short bit of biking I tried my rpm was all over the place because I couldn't hear the whir of the trainer, so I had to look at the rpm to maintain the desired pace.

The weather has been beautiful and it's just killing me that I can't run or bike outside. I mean, 10 C (50 F) is practically summer weather for Calgary! I tried walking yesterday and even that got my lungs going enough that I didn't even consider running. In fact, I went back to bed for an afternoon nap. I suppose this is a good thing overall, since it's also giving my legs a rest. I've been rollering them and doing regular stretching exercises for the IT band issue, but I don't know how much better they actually are. No point trying to do a serious workout till I can breath properly.


After some brisk walking during a big grocery shopping expedition to Co-op, Organic Planet, Costco, and the Farmer's Market, (and you can confidently expect a rant on shopping soon) I decided that I just had to go for a really really easy run, and see what my legs thought of it. I mean, it's 11 C, (52 F) some girls are in summer dresses, and it's sunny and warm. That's a quote from the weather people, sunny and warm. Here in Calgary you take summer when you get it. Yes, summer days can have melting snow, as this one does. After a couple big struggles with the octo-mucous monster, my lungs and sinuses are feeling pretty good. For now.

Started very easy, almost a pitter patter rather than a run. Kept the pace down and the turnover a bit quicker than normal, making sure my lungs aren't working hard at all. I know perfectly well that feeling this good will last a few hours, then it will be back to hitting the Nyquil. Ran 30 minutes very easy, feeling a bit of tightness in the back of my hams, down low just behind the knees. Just at the very end of the run I started getting the twinge that came on during the Hypo Half, so I walked the rest of the way home, stretching it. During the middle part of the run, it felt like my left toes were drifting outward a bit, but I watched and they were tracking straight ahead. Maybe that's related to the IT band issue. Stretched and rollered after. A massage is booked for Tuesday, and you can guess what I'm going to ask her to work on.

Supper was BBQ chicken (how can you not BBQ when it's this nice out?), salad, and roasted potatoes, with a berry tart for desert. Yum. Life is good, even with a cold.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fun stuff

One of the fun things about flying West Jet is their departure terminal in Calgary. For example, look at these two whirli-gigs.

Aren't those seriously cool? At the base there is a giant key that needs to be turned to make it all go around. There is no shortage of children of all ages to turn the key. I have myself, several times. The propellers all turn in the wind of the planes going around. There is no cheesy music. It is peaceful and soothing to watch them go around.

Even better, the guy who made them is a buddy of mine named Jeff de Boer. He is probably the most famous person I actually know, and is an impressively talented artist. He is perhaps best known for his authentic cat and mouse armour, but his chainmail ties, exoforms, the Children's Hospital, and other work is well known too. I met him before he was an artist. Linda gave me a piece of his artwork as a prezzie one year, unique, totally unlike anything he's ever done, and now astonishingly valuable.

Best of all, there's an easter egg. Tell me when you're flying West Jet into or out of Calgary and I'll tell you what to look for.

My father was an airline pilot. Some of my earliest memories are of airplanes and airports, and I've been interested in airplanes and airports all my life. I took air traffic control training at Malton International, before it was renamed to something else, but it's really YYZ. My brother is an airline pilot for Virgin Atlantic. Yet I learned something new on the flight to Ottawa. The West Jet flight attendant says that in the unlikely event of the cabin losing pressure, the overhead compartment will open and ferrets and oxygen masks will drop out. We are to put on the masks and ignore the ferrets. They are trained and will do what they are supposed to do. I never knew that. I have no idea at all what the ferrets will do, and I'm almost willing to go through a loss of cabin pressure incident just to see the ferrets in action. Once again, more evidence, if any more was needed, that I have led a sheltered life and need to get out more.

The pool snuffle that blew up into a cold and made me miserable for a couple of days is now almost gone. This is like a cold on fast forward. I was determined to get onto the bike and do Tuesdays workout, since I knew I wasn't ready for a swim and run.

But first was lunch. And these eyes.

Aren't they beautiful? Lunch at Route 40 Soup Company, or any meal for that matter is a wonderful experience. We pigged out. I knew it would be a few hours before I could get on the bike, but it turned out to be nearly 6 hours later. Stop and eat there; it's worth the trip.

Core and stretched for 30 minutes. The core schedule included pushups, but since they were actively painful I substituted chest presses instead. All else was good. I knew my legs were a bit stiff and worked gently on my hams and calves. Warmed up carefully on the bike. This is were I really noticed the stiffness, but I wasn't worried since it had been a while and I figured if I let them, they'd work out the kinks. All was good for warm up, one leg drill, and cadence drill.

However on the first main set I knew I wasn't ready for a full workout yet. Only 6 minutes at 90 rpm in the same time trial gear as my last rides and my heart rate was a good 10 beats per minute faster than normal, and my lungs were working over time. Since my sinuses just cleared earlier in the afternoon I figured it's probably best not to push. I went into a good cool down, for an hour total on the bike, then another 15 minutes of rollering and stretching my legs. There's some really sensitive spots on my calves. First thing on my to do list for tomorrow is to call the nice massage ladies and see who can take me first.

I'm going to buy nose clips before I swim again and see how that goes. Any advice or feedback on such clips?

Monday, March 1, 2010

I felt like Buzz Lightyear

The Brockville Y is very nice, considering what it could have been, and considering the geezer quotient. It's about a half hour drive from Linda's sister's house, where we are staying for a few days. I was determined to get in at least one workout. Today was the day.

Linda dropped me off. They have a short track square upstairs. 18 laps to the mile, 11.25 to the K. I didn't bother counting, just ran easy for half an hour. I'm hoping to get through this whole winter without going onto the dreadmill. I went aroundaroundaroundaroundaroundaround, ect, till I was a bit sick of it, and my right knee got sick of turning right. You're not allowed to run in the opposite direction until tomorrow.

I was dodging geezers every lap. There were 3 lanes, slow, medium, and fast. It took a little while to realize this meant something different to them, than to me. I started in slow, because I'm a slow runner and was warming up. Then I realized slow was for people new to walking after graduating from their wheelchair. Medium was for those gradually being defeated by life and trying to stave off being plopped into a wheelchair. Fast meant what I would consider a slow walking pace. One of the geezers wandered back and forth in his lane, elbows out. I was careful around him. Most of the people on the various machines or getting stuff from storage nooks just wandered out onto the track. I startled a couple of people, and they apologized. They weren't used to people actually running, and having to look if the track was clear before crossing. I was weaving around them like nobodies business. After a while they clued in and stayed somewhat right.

Then 30 minutes of core. Plank, and pigeon, and stepups, and feet up, and other stretches. Then down to the pool where I got lucky as some floaties were getting out and me and another guy were getting in. He was a bit nervous, wondering if I could keep up to him. HA! That shoe was on the other foot. I ended up doing a fairly fast (for me) 1500 m swim, though it was considerably slower than Jenna. I'm still pleased at my consistency. For a while I was chasing a coach in the next lane, which helped my speed. She normally swam just a bit faster than me. Then some fast 100 m intervals on 2 minutes. They were all faster than 100 seconds, though the last was just barely. Then some drill, and easy swim thinking about form. Tried a couple of golfs and got 78 each time, which is great for me. Swam 60 minutes altogether.

Chatted with E from the local running and swimming group, and was invited to join them next time I'm there. Which given the reasons I'm here, I'm hoping it's along time before I HAVE to visit again. It's clean and well maintained. Expensive by my standards, though if I lived here I'd suck it up as it's one of the few indoor pools around.

Then we visited with Linda's sister in her new house, and had a wonderful chat. (Hi M if you're now following my blog!) Then back to the hospital to pick up another sister and take her home. Yes, this is lots of sisters, K, A, and M so far, and we got in a visit with another sister K. Brother D is busy working. Aside from the funeral, it's been a good visit, better weather than we expected.