Friday, July 30, 2010

Did you ever have one of those swims?

Warm up was slow going. I could feel the creakiness in my shoulders. 300 m free barely got things moving. 300 pull helped. Fin kick got my legs going a bit. The 50 m hard set wasn't particularly fast. Then the long set. After the first few laps I was looking for my hand on the clock. It took several laps to realize I was essentially swimming 2 minute 100's. I thought I was swimming 1:50's. Thats what it felt like, both in terms of effort and water flowing past my face. I pushed a bit harder and sped up a bit, but I was struggling. Here I was working way harder than normal, and swimming much slower, even while methodically going through a little swimming efficiency checklist. I was passing my neighbours regularly, but wasn't swimming at all like normal. I really slowed down near the end, and had to really push the last 150 to come in exactly on 50 m for 2500 m. That is firmly blah in terms of pace. I was breathing pretty hard and had tired arms and there was still more on the list. I struggled through. Stretched my arms thoroughly after. 4K and 1.5 hrs in the water.

Waited till mid day for the run. I wanted it to be hot, but I wanted to be done before the severe thunderstorm came rolling through. 10 min warmup, 40 min steady smooth comfortable pace, and 10 minute cool down for an hour total. It was quite well. My feet and legs felt just fine. Stretched after.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Riding with Katie on RtN

That would be my buddie Katie. Not Kate my lawyer. Not Katie from Boulder. Not Kate from work, or Kat from an ex-work, or Kate from a different ex-work. Or Kate the massage therapist. Not Cath from Fernie.

Now that we've got that sorted out, we can tackle the next misconception. "with". We were together for a bit, then we started the long hill. I was rapidly left behind.

Still, I'm very pleased, riding hard trying to fall less behind. Pushing hard on the hills, trying to spin. Trying not to think about the long run last night. Trying to keep up meant getting to 22X in well under 17 minutes, which I think is a record for me. Normally I take it a bit easier, getting the legs warmed up. Zoomed down to the bottom of the Road in 57:xx minutes, which might be a record as well. It was hot. We were riding late morning. Going south it was pretty still, so there was a slight wind, I guess.

For once I had to come to a nearly complete stop at the 4 way stop. Pickup truck driver came to a complete and total stop. Then he made sure he had all his luggage from the under the seat in front of him and the overhead compartment. Then he folded his seatbelt neatly and who knows what else. Then he slooowwwwlllllyyyyyy turned the corner. Bastard geezer. If I'd know he was gonna do that I'd have gone around on the outside.

Going north again was a bit windier. Still hot. I'm working hard here, maybe not quite as hard as before, since I was beginning to feel it a bit. By the time I got to the right turn, Katie was already on her way back. I'd hoped to keep her in sight, but I'd have needed a telescope. She went back down to 549 again, while I pushed hard towards home. A new record was within reach. I got lucky at 22X, and again at the 37st lights.

Had to laugh as I was turning left at the lights. There was a guy wearing a bike jersey with a bike in the back of his car at the head of the line. I was up and accelerating hard. He kept looking at me, then looking at his speedometer. I think he was deliberately accelerating slowly enough that he could see where I got to. About 45 Kph was enough. Down the hill, across the bridge, up the hill into the neighbourhood, almost speeding through the school zone, and

1:58:12!! Pedaled another few minutes of easy spin to cool down. Last year I did it in 1:59:32 and it damn near killed me. Today was a strong training ride, and my legs still feel good.

Then into the (dun, dun, DAHHHH) core. I worked through it all, and only at the end of the list did I fully realized what the 4X at the top meant. That was a struggle. Failed on side planks pretty quick; my shoulders were not liking them at all. Then the front plank failed. But not the pushups; I got through all of those. The rows, and single leg squats (not too deep) and butt lift were all good. More stretching.

Then we had coffee and a very nice chat!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tired and tireder

Today was long run. 2:15. Last long run I took two small flasks of water with Nuun in them, and that wasn't really quite enough. So I set up our front patio as an "aid station". I left a bottle of plain water, a bottle of Nuun water, and 2 gels. Then at the end of each 5K look I grabbed something and walked in a circle around the patio while drinking or slurpling the gel. Only had one, a Hammer Raspberry. Not bad.

First loop. 36:30  121 avg heart rate. Easy start, walking a bit first, then starting the clock. Lots of it felt clunky and heavy. Tried to run easy and light.
Second loop. 34:50  127 avg heart rate. Pushed a little harder, but trying to run smooth rather than trying to run faster. Mostly it was better than lap 1, but it still wasn't my normal pace. Feet are feeling heavy. Wheels started to come off near the end. Normally I'm pretty comfortable running at this pace. This is the pace I'd love to run Ironman at.
Third loop. 36:23  129 avg heart rate. The toughest lap. Wheels off the wagon, struggling to stay running, feet and legs very heavy. Pictured coach's disappointed look if I had to tell her I bailed, and that kept me going. Worked hard keeping the arms going, which helped keep the legs going.
Fourth loop. 27:16  128 avg heart rate. A short lap, maybe 3.5 or 4 K max. I knew there was no way I'd get 5 K done near the cut off time, and I wasn't running a second past 2:15. Nor did I want to have to walk too far for cool down. I wanted to walk a bit, get a drink, then walk more. The first part of this was ok again, with a good stride, but the last 15 minutes was brutal. I stumbled over sidewalk slabs twice because I wasn't picking my feet up enough.

Walked about 10 minutes after, with some good stretching. Feet are tired, but no blisters so far. It felt very good just standing on the cool concrete basement floor. Even though there was a thunderstorm warning, all we got was a very light, short rain shower. The rest of the run was sunny, warm, and muggy - by Calgary standards. Some people who read this blog would be turning off the air conditioning, happy they could save a bit of money, if this was happening where they were.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yet more crazy weather

After posting yesterday's blog the weather went insane here. See photos and story below.

Moved the Wed swim to Tuesday. There was no point getting to the office before 8:30. The new office. A window office, even. oooooh! (with a view of a parking lot.) My swim was just a little bit slower than normal. Maybe that's from swimming two days in a row. Or feeling just slightly off. No worries. The high point of the swim is finding out the girl I was sharing the lane with is actually Mrs. Elegant. 1.25 hrs.

The bike was a fun ride. Still nice, but windy, and a bit gusty. At one point I was riding about 30 Kph, and mostly dead calm with a few cross wind gusts. Just 2 hours with 6 x 5 hard then 4 easy and 1 build to the next hard. Hard was supposed to be Oly or sprint pace. I've never done a sprint. So I just went hard as I could go for 5 minutes. Heart rate typically into the 130's and breathing really hard. Easy warmup, good spin and cool down. 2 hours. The orange and citrus Nuun are ok, but not as good as the tri-berry.

And core. Let's not forget the core. A long list of stuff. All of it ok, except planking to failure multiple times. Not quite a half hour, some which was lying there on the mat in a pool of sweaty sunscreen.

It started nice. Very shortly later I happened to be looking out the window when it was raining hard across the green space. Not a drop on the driveway. Until a few seconds later. Then there was howling wind and really hard rain. Lots and lots of rain. All of a sudden there were waves of water, whitecaps and all rolling down the street from a strong west wind. Then the hail started but that didn't last long. Lots of rain, lots of wind. For a while the wind even reversed direction and blew just as strong towards the west. There's broken branches down all over the neighbourhood.  If you want a cheap car or RV and don't mind some hail dents, several dealers have "A Hail of a Sale" on right now.

Here's some photos.

This last one is the storm drain in front of our house. The water is at least a foot deep there, and is starting to spill over the crown of the road. There is enough water running down the gutters to easily float a canoe.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Legs still there, still good

Sometimes the day after a workout is the hard one. Legs that got you through it, and a bit more give up for the next day. Or the next week as has been the case for me a few times. But after my long ride and T run my legs are still doing good. I'm not going up the stairs two at a time or anything, but I could if I had to.

My swim warmup included 200 m choice kick. I cheated by not doing all of it, all at once. 50 m front with board. 50 m back. (50 m pull extra) 50 m side. Later for cool down I added in the other 50 m front kick with board.

Lots of drill alternating with hard, 50 m each. Fist, catchup, one arm, FTD, butt in the air. The 50 hards weren't particularly hard. Then some other stuff. Then 3x300, Free, paddles, fins. Each was supposed to be 10 to 15 seconds faster. FAIL!!! Free was slow. Paddles were much slower. Fins were a minute faster than free. I am coming to hate paddles. Today I tried ones with a velcro wrist strap. I thought that would be more comfy. But the finger loop was the surgical cord and way too loose, and I couldn't tighten it. Plus, as I realized when I started, the paddle is beyond huge. I'm beginning to think it might be worth spending some money to buy paddles and adjust them for me. In the water 1.25 hrs.

Ate at the pool and went to what some people might call a job interview. It was clear within a few minutes that I was in if I wanted in. Given the advantages, I'm in, starting tomorrow. The big advantage is being able to work from home a great deal. I'm hoping to get my bikes and runs done during the heat of the day, before the thunderstorm rolls in. Like I did today. Not sure how long it will last, since it's a "till this defined problem is fixed"sort of thing, but they want it done sooner than yesterday, AND the fixes will be subjected to scrutiny under a microscope.

The massage was wonderful. I'd booked it back when I was spooked by the thought of a 180K ride. Still it was a good thing since there were lots of sore bits.

The run was 45 minutes of goodness. Just at the very end I was getting a bit tired, but I actually think it was a hydration issue. I'd drunk just before leaving, but it's hot out and I was sweating big time. Once I got back inside with something to drink, and do some stretches I was fine.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


So much for all the blog buddies that said people training for IM will have no social life at all. You'll forget you have friends. You will only see your family if they make the effort to appear between workouts. You will think of nothing but triathlon.

Pfft!!!! We had friends over for a BBQ yesterday, them and their little daughter. Everybody had a perfectly delightful time, except for Amelia the cat. She's suspicious of strange humans at the best of times and doubly so for miniature ones. We did nothing more ambitious than sit around and chat and get caught up. We've been trying to arrange a time to get together for a while now, but in the followup to a kidney transplant and pregnancy she has to be very, very careful about getting sick. I was sick a surprising amount this year and told them that if I had even a hint of a sniffle I wasn't going to risk being in the same house. Other than clarifying the date for IMC, we didn't talk triathlon stuff at all.

I'd already done some of the prep for today's ride, and once they were gone I finished up. The forecast for the weekend was clear and hot, so I wanted to get started early. I've been looking forward to this ride for a while. 7 hours, hoping for 180 K. It turns out the time was the harder part.

I was up early so there was lots of time for a good breakfast and a visit from the poop fairy. It was still a bit cool when I hit the road at 7:15. Still lots of shade and if it had been any cooler I'd have wanted arm warmers or something. Down to 22X in 20 minutes, still on the cool side. Met up with another guy and we stuck together till I turned south at 22. My time to here was a little on the slow side but there was a bit of a head wind and I wasn't pushing the pace.

Things warmed up to a great riding temperature on the way to Black Diamond. Hardly anyone moving in town. Got there in 1:50. That's 50 K done. Highway 7 to Okotoks is the shits. Lots of cracks across the road filled with tar and topped with that fine grit. That extends right across the road. Lots of bump bump bump. There was a lot of grit and gravel on the shoulder as well, and in the morning sun lots of it looked like glass.

Just as I turned the corner to go south at Okotoks I flatted. Tires are much easier to deal with when they're warm. I got it back on using just my hands without even trying. There's a cut in the tire rubber big enough to see the cording, so I think I'm going to go get a new tire. Maybe there is some compound I can seal it up again but tires on vehicles doesn't seem to me to be a good place to save money. At this point I'm still feeling strong and happy. I've been trying to ride steady and smooth and firmly in zone 2. South on 783 to 543 and turned right. You can't miss that intersection, there are 4 huge white gas storage spheres.

Then it was into a good headwind again. When 90 K clicked over I was about 3:20 riding time, so I went to 3:30 and turned around then. There have been lots of rides where I'm a wreck at 90 K or shortly after. At this point I felt great. I was exactly on plan for nutrition and a little ahead of plan for distance. Now it was back the same way. The whole course is gently rolling hills, and lots of long gradual inclines. I wasn't worried about being slow going up because I figured it would be balanced by going down.

Things got a bit harder just before Black Diamond on the last bit of uphill, about the 4:55 hr mark. There'd been a ton of motorbikes passing me and I was getting sick of the noise. One Harley passing me had my guts reverberating. Even with all the nutrition I was beginning to feel a bit weak and tired. Once I got past the geezer who tried to kill me I stopped at the gas station/food store in Black Diamond. I was happy to be standing up again, and picked up 1.5 L of water and some chocolate covered peanuts. Yes, I thought about a Snickers bar, but figured the sugar hit would drop me like a rock before I got home. I took the water bottle back in and asked where to recycle it. The clerks eyes were as big as saucers. "You drank the whole thing??" "Naw, just filled my bottles, I'd look pregnant if I'd drank that much water."

Once I made the left turn I was riding more carefully through town. It's small enough the locals don't think anything of crossing main street without looking for cars. There was some kind of vintage auto show taking up one street that looked pretty interesting, but I was focussed on getting home. I had about 2 hours to go. All the bikes that passed me on the way into Black Diamond passed me on the way to Turner Valley. Then they stopped at a mutual admiration society in Turner Valley. Then they all passed me again.

Going north wasn't bad. I was still feeling steady and was maintaining speed. But the last bit across 22X was into a brutal head wind. I was head down and trying to stay strong. At this point I had figured it would be a toss up as to what would hurt the most, my butt, my hands, my triceps, or my legs. The dark horse came up the middle and put them all into the shade. My feet. The balls of my feet and toes felt like they were on fire. At one point I pulled them out of the shoes for some coolish air. This was the toughest part of the ride. In a way, now, I'm glad it was. Often there is a stiff wind from the west that means you hardly have to pedal at all. But the wind helped build my confidence.

I ticked over 180 K in 6:43 bike time. From there I took it easy to fill out the 7 hours, ending up at 185 K. After a short transition I was out for my run. By now it was pretty warm, but not what I'd call hot. The first few steps had my hams screaming. I can easily walk quicker than that. Before I had a chance to get worried, I could feel things getting better, almost by the step. By the time a few hundred metres had passed I was in a steady chug. Not what I'd normally consider a good run, but I was moving and felt pretty good. Part way through the run I passed one of my neighbours spraying her garden. I got her to spray me down, front and back and that felt wonderful! By the end of the run my heart rate had settled down, my feet and legs were in the groove, and I could have gone on longer if water and nutrition had been arranged.

The weather was perfect! I was only hot for about 10 or 15 minutes when I happened to be riding with the wind at exactly the same speed. The rest of the time there was a breeze. Maybe wearing a white jersey helps.

After some of my shorter rides where I was a wreck at the 90 or 100K mark I was really nervous about going such a long way. But I felt great getting off the bike! I'm thrilled that I was over the 180 K mark within the 7 hours. That's the furthest I've ever ridden at once in my life. Ever. The actual elapsed time was 7:20 from leaving the house to getting back. That's counting a flat, 3 pee breaks, and a "special needs" stop in Black Diamond.

I could have gone on a little way further if I'd had to, though I'm sure my feet would have taken some convincing. I was going to call the run a success if I didn't walk, even if I was barely doing a loose limbed shamble, yet I actually had a good run. So as you can imagine I'm a happy puppy. Especially after the peanut butter chocolate cupcake our guests from last night left.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.75 hrs
Bike 12.0 hrs
Run 3.33 hrs
Walk 1.0
Total Cardio 20.0 hrs. (Holy Crap!! and I actually missed a 70 minute run.)
Core 1.0
Total workout 21.0 hrs

Friday, July 23, 2010

The weirdest head space ever for a ride. So far...

This was the first 4K swim since some time in 2006 when stuff happened that had me extremely upset. I attacked the swim that day and by the time I stopped thinking about it I was past 3 K and hadn't even noticed. So I went to 4 just to round it off to an even number. That was all in one go, no stops. My shoulders hurt the next day since that was about double my usual swim then.

Today was a warmup, then 6x500 of various stuff, and a cool down. It was fun, once I was past the shower. I would swear in court there is a decaying mammal down one of the drains it smells that disgusting. I've got to remember to put the nose clips on BEFORE showering. The new googles are perfect; it's so nice to be able to see again. One of the sets was a straight 500 m freestyle at 80% effort - 9:10. That's about right.

A couple of the swimmers in the lanes beside me were trying to keep up periodically, producing lots of splashing, bubbles, and waves, but not much speed. I was a bit nervous when a girl in a mostly blue bikini joined my lane and asked to split it with me rather than going in circles. That's good. I was a bit surprised at how fast she swam, since normally the serious swimmers wear a one piece. It was fun to go whooshing past people. I was in the water about an hour and 20 minutes, maybe a bit more.

Yesterdays ride was postponed till today, which is as nice as could be asked for. I was out and gone as soon as I could after getting home from work. Bear with me here. I've been getting prepped for the big ride on Sunday, so my head is partly in that space. I'm also a bit taken with my right knee lately. It's been a bit creaky and sore and sometimes tempermental about what it likes or not.

So I started off on the ride feeling pretty good. I got down to 22X in 20 minutes which is about normal. Knee is feeling a bit, something. I don't know how to describe it. Not painful, not sore, not tired. But not strong and smooth either. It's almost like the joint felt a bit rusty and didn't want to move or work very hard.

Like I said, I was a bit in the headspace for a long and steady ride, which isn't going to work on RtN. Too many hills. By the top of the first one I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make 3 hours. So I chugged along, trying to be smooth. It's hard to be smooth going up a steep hill pedaling slowly in your easiest gear. Lots of places I was 5 Kph slower than my last ride. I was beginning to get down on myself about it, feeling bad about the ride, and how slow I was, and how that could be after all my training. Which makes things even slower.

The positive about the ride is that I got to the bottom of the road in 1:11, and at first I felt bad about that. That's slow, even though I had a bit of a wind helping me, and I knew it would be slower going the other way. That first hill was a slog. I was in the easiest gear right from the start. Head down. Hands on the drops. Going about 7Kph. Trying not to stress the knee. Trying to spin. Then I got to thinking about what I was thinking about. I gave my rump a good kick, which is hard when you're riding.

I ate a bit more, and had a good slug of energy drink. Then I starting thinking about the positives of the ride. It was a perfect afternoon for a ride. I was spinning fairly well, and my knee was still coping. Oddly enough, as I pushed a bit harder, it felt better. That time was with me not breaking a sweat and barely getting my heart rate into triple digits. Going only a little bit faster used to be practically race pace. I was doing this ride on tired legs, since right now I'm more active than at any other time in my life, including being a teenager.

I thought about that number. You know, the one I mention every now and then. It was 221. That's the lowest it's been since some time in the very early 80's, when I had a physically demanding job and I had to eat my own cooking, such as it was.

Of course, it's not as easy as writing about it makes it look. My head was going around and around. I was an emotional rollercoaster to match the hills. I realized I wasn't really committed to this ride, I was just out putting in time. It's probably still good for me in the long run, but I'm tired enough that it's hard to be objective. I think I'm officially at the Irontard stage. Missy has the best explanation.

The whole ride ended up being 2.5 hrs. For a while I was entertaining the idea of doing the planned 70 minute run after the ride. Then I de-entertained it. My goals are to get to the start line healthy and ready for a big day. Yes I need to train hard, but most of all I need to train smart. This is a 50+ year old bod after all. It's done really well considering how fat and out of shape I was, but I'd feel really stupid if I pushed myself too hard trying to gain a little bit more fitness and injured myself now. It's going to be a fine balancing act to push myself harder and further than I've ever gone during this last bit of build, and yet know when to back off.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coulda. Shoulda. But didn't.

But would you have?

Hearing thunder and seeing lightning in those clouds, in the direction you'd be riding in? Be honest now.

In the end there was no rain. Nothing. I could have gone, though it might have been a windy ride. And it might have been raining 7 K south of here. I'll never know. And just in case I have a reader in Evergreen or Bridlewood, I don't want to know.

But maybe it's just as well, my legs are very tired and creaky. And I was ready for bed at 7pm. Still, the evening wasn't a total wipe out. My core workout was 5 sets, with an eternity of plank, many pushups, obliques, many pushups minus 2, lots of upright rows, and finishing with many pushups divided by 2.

The first set was good, which was a surprise.
The second set was good, which was an even bigger surprise.
The third set planked and pushuped to failure, which was not a surprise. The rest was good.
The fourth and fifth sets were just the obliques and rows.
Tried the plank again at the end and quickly failed. Pushups failed even quicker.

I'm planning to escape work early tomorrow, and try the ride. I've got the energy drink all made up. And I got an email from someone wanting me to do a few weeks of contract work for them! I'll go in Monday to talk to them and get a better grip on scope. I've worked with them before and liked it. Looks like it will fit in nicely with training plans till IM. Which is good.

Tell me true, you wouldn't have ridden, would you?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The stick was sooo good tonight

For most of the swim me and Mr. Elegant shared a lane. Back and forth. Smooth. Peaceful. Harmonious. Then all of a sudden 2 people joined us, neither of which I'd ever seen before. The girl only lasted a couple laps before she moved to the next lane. Thank you. The guy, splashy sloppy stroke, fins and all, hung in there, flailing back and forth doing 50 m intervals in about the time we were doing our average pace. At least he kept out of the way. I forgot my watch so I had to squint at the pace clock. It's placed so the walking lanes can see it most easily, which doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm going to say I was in the water an hour.

The big workout of the day was the run, 2 hours. Steady. I started where the path crosses 37 St, ran easy up to the reservoir, turned left, ran down the hill, across the bridge, up the hill, and well into North Glenmore park, then back again. I figure 17 K or so. Most of it was good, though 60 to 90 minutes was a bit of a slog with my calves getting tired. Then I picked it up and ran strong the last 30 minutes. I was about 100 m from my starting point, and since I'd promised my legs we wouldn't run any more than 120 minutes, I didn't run it out. Stretched and walked 10 minutes to warm up, then walked 15 to cool down and stretched about 20 minutes. Rollered my legs with the stick. That was so good!

Oddly enough, the clouds looked more threatening when I set out than they did last night, but nothing came of it. The temp was nice for running, starting off quite warm, then cooling off a bit. Lots of people on the bike path which is nice to see. Took two flasks of Nuun with me. That felt a bit weird running with something in both hands, and I'm not sure I'll do that again. Not a fan of belts of stuff around my waist though. But for anything over an hour I need a bit of fluid.

And no, Shannon, I have no idea what the other people in the pool would give me as a nickname. I shudder to think, especially if they see me before my hair gets wet in the shower.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The first lightning stroke was at 1:06 into my ride

The thunder followed less than 3 seconds later.

Core was first, with all good except for the wall sit with the fit ball. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to sit on it, I have to wedge it between my back and the wall. This just kills my quads, especially the sore area on the top of my right knee. Lots of ab stuff. Did some stretches in prep for the bike. Half hour all up.

I'd been smart and read the weather forecast before starting the workout. At that first lightning stroke you can be assured I was very glad I'd decided to do the bike workout on the trainer. It got really dark. It rained really hard. There was lots of lightning and thunder as the storm passed pretty well right over the house. There was hail. When she got home from yoga Linda said several streets not far from here were flooded. Now it's very dark off to the south and east.

The bike started with a good long warmup. My right knee has been clicking a bit sometimes, which has me a bit worried. It's never done this before, but it's been gradually coming on. My calves and hams were tired this morning. Did some one leg drill and am appalled at how badly that sucked. Not sure if it's because my legs are getting tired or sloppy. Or lazy.

The warmup merged into the first interval, moderate pace concentrating on efficiency and form. From there till cool down was a series of intervals, most of which were steady at just faster than comfortable pace, say one gear less than time trial, or quite strong, say 1 gear harder than time trial. Good cool down with some spin ups. I broke up the workout with some standing bits and strong spin ups. One of them I pushed all the way to the hardest gear and up to about 110 rpm. That didn't last long. 2.5 hrs for the bike.

Now that I've stretched a bit more, and should probably stretch more yet, and I've eaten something, the problem is that I'm AWAKE. There is no point going to bed. I'd just thrash around annoying Linda. So if anyone reads this in the next hour, and wants to chat, my msm is keith.cartmell at hotmail dot com. No point sending email to that address, I don't look at it much. It's good to have a phone number and an email address you can give to people you don't want to talk to.

Visited my fave tri store, Tri It, to pick up new goggles. I wanted exactly the same Aquasphere goggles I bought almost 2 years ago, swimming 3 x a week or so. Probably 300 swims isn't far off. They've just started leaking. I think that's a great deal for $30. While I was there I got a whacking big stick of bodyglide. I've been working off some small bars that came as swag in one of my earlier races and they're about done. And, I bought the jersey I plan to race in at IMC. This one. It's mostly white, which should be good for being in the sun. Maybe if my fan base clamours for it, I'll post a pic of me in what I'll be wearing for the race, along with my bib number so you can track me and watch for me on the course. You are all coming to IMC to cheer me on, right? RIGHT?? Well, I know some of you are.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pacing Mr. Elegant

I call him that because he has such a great swim stroke. The swim was great today, sharing a lane with him, and the girl in the red swimsuit. I don't have a nickname for her yet. But we all swim just about exactly the same speed. For a while he and I were doing 100's, with him a few seconds behind me. That was incentive to stay on top of things and keep pushing. Lots of shorter intervals, adding up to about 1.25 hrs in the pool. Good stretch after, working out the kinks.

The run this evening was nothing short of astonishing. My legs have been tired and cranky all day. It was raining out, and cold. I was happy to read 50 minutes on the plan instead of the 65 that was in my mind. But within a few steps of starting out the astonishing thing happened. I fell into a nice stride. Relaxed. Fairly smooth, at least by my standards. Quicker, and much, much stronger than I expected. I could have run much faster I think, at least for a little while, but I took it easy, enjoying the rain, and enjoying the run. Right at the very very end my calves were beginning to feel it a bit. I'd stretched before the run. Walked after and stretched more.

The week is off to a good start.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


That was not as much fun as I had hoped it would be. The plan was to ride 6 hours, run for half an hour. I picked Highwood Pass because I've been wanting to do it for a while. I've never been out that way.

Saturday was spent taming the lawn jungle, bottling another wine kit that I think is going to be a real winner, and getting ready for the ride. Six hours is about the furthest I can go on an unsupported ride and I was thinking that if the hills are tough I might run out. My thinking was to park the car somewhere so that I do an out and back to the top of the pass and then I can refuel if necessary or at least top up on water. Then ride for however much longer was needed, whether it's back up the pass or toward Longview.

The day started nice enough. Here's the view from Longview to the west. Can't really see the mountains, but they're there. This is serious ranching country.

I reset the car odometer at Longview. 24.2 K to the Highwood River Inn, flat as a pancake. 44 K to the park gates where they shut the road for the winter, still pretty flat but some hills. 82 K to the summit of the pass, with some serious hill. What's special about the Pass? It's the highest elevation you can get to in Canada via a paved road. Here's an elevation profile and some info about biking it. And this bit, saying the final climb to the summit is Category 1 on the Tour de France. I feel much better now about how slow I was.

On the way back down I figured I'd park at the gates, but it turns out there's a bit of gravel road and a really, really crappy Texas gate so I drove a little further along and found a nice spot just off the side of the road. There were still signs - No motorized vehicles past this point, and, Notice to Anglers.

I got ready and started riding. What else was there to do? Right from the start I wasn't terribly comfortable and settled on my bike. My left hand was going numb quickly. I found it really hard to get into a groove. It felt like I was pedaling in molassas. At my first pee break I even checked to make sure my brakes weren't rubbing or anything else. Just me, not at the top of my spin game. Not even close.

Still, the scenery is pretty good. And hardly any cars! Maybe a dozen passed me. Lots of motor bikes though, including one that scared the crap out of me because it was so quiet.

At the start of the ride it was sunny and warm. After about an hour it started to cloud over. It was nice to ride in the shade and cool. As I got closer to the summit it seriously clouded over, and there were some rain spatters. About 5 K from the summit it started actually raining lightly. I'm pushing through, determined to get to the top. The last bit is hard, several K of what they say is 7% grade. I got to within sight of the summit sign. That also put me  within sight of a wall of rain. I weenied out, turned, and pedaled up to about 70Kph, hoping to get out of the rain soon. This is what the summit looked like in the morning.

I had to slow to dodge a pair of scruffy mountain goats on the road. That and a zillion fat gophers were the only wild life I saw while on my bike. I'm very glad I was in the car when I saw the grizzly bear. It was just standing there on the shoulder of the road, watching me pass. I moved right over and gave it lots of room. It was a beautiful cinnamon colour, and it was huge!! I was glad it looked fat and in good health, so it didn't feel any pressing need to rip into a car to eat the driver. Once I drove past it padded across the road. Holy crap. That's the first time I've seen one that close. I did not want to annoy it by stopping long enough to turn the camera on and take his picture. Maybe he's a recluse and doesn't want his picture taken, and that would be enough to persuade him that a midmorning snack isn't such a bad thing after all.

The ride down was miserable. It rained 3 times more. Once there was some hail in it, which hurts at 60+ Kph. I was looking for shelter. Not. The wind started getting gusty. I started getting nervous. From the gates to where I turned around at the top was 2:25 or so. I got back to the car about 3:45. Only 80 K total ride, and I was knackered. There was no question of carrying on. I was on track for nutrition, but I've learned to respect Alberta weather. I bailed. Here's what it looked like.

I still did the brick since that wouldn't get me too far from the car, and even then the wind was pushing me around. The run felt pretty good even though it wasn't fast either.

Would I do it again? Good question. I'm not sure. Weather is a huge factor on this ride and can quickly turn a nice ride into a miserable one. Plus it's a bit nervous making to be so far from emergency pickup in an area with no cell phone coverage.

I've got another long ride next Sunday, and I'm thinking about riding down to Black Diamond, then across to Okotoks, south, then west to Hartley, (maybe a detour down to Longview) back to Black Diamond and home. This has the advantage of being in cell coverage the whole way and a gas station in Black Diamond for water or snacks. This will be about 160 k or so, and if I remember my schedule it's supposed to be a 7 hour easy ride. Anybody wanting in can email me.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.5 hrs
Bike 8.75 hrs
Run 3.75 hrs
Total Cardio 16 hrs
Core 1.0
Total workout 17 hrs.

Friday, July 16, 2010

No inspiration came for a title.

Longest swim for me in a very long time, 3800 m was the plan, and I'm pretty sure I did 3900. In the water for an hour and 20 minutes. My shoulders were doing some odd clicking and it took a while to get warmed up and in the groove.

When I got home I did Thursday's core. How many of you noticed I didn't mention it then? Plank was good! Which is a nice change, but the tricep dips sucked. Everything else was good.

Then out for a 65 minute run. 10 warmup 3(12H/3E) 10 cooldown. The hards were supposed to be faster than half IM pace and they were that. I figure I was going a bit faster than my 10 K pace on the hards since I was coming up on the 10 K mark in an hour that included an easy warmup, and a really easy jog to cool down. The hards felt strong and fast. It was a beautiful evening for a run. Walked and stretched after.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the skunk I nearly ran over during the bike ride yesterday. That inspired a fast turn and a bit of a sprint. I'm glad there was no traffic around.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A buggy, sweaty, RtN

The plan called for hills. That means Road to Nepal.

Ran into some buddies at the Stampede breakfast this morning, which nicely made up for the cardboard pancakes. I got there too early, and ended up with the premades, not fresh off the griddle. One of said buddies is trying to talk me into going to Central and South America in December to do some Habitat for Humanity work. Once I found out the job of sitting in the shade with a fruity drink and waving my hands genially while shouting encouragement was taken, I wasn't so eager.

Skipped out of work early to get outside. Wow, it was so nice out! Almost hot by Calgary standards. It was only when I looked at my watch at the bottom of the road and saw 1:03 that I realized just what a good ride I was having. I've done it a bit faster - on a day when the wind was strong out of the north. Going back was much slower that day. Today there wasn't much wind at all. What I really enjoyed was feeling strong going up hills. I'm often in the easiest gear and working hard on some of the hills. Today I was a couple gears up, spinning much better, and going much faster.

Coming back is generally a bit quicker. I lost focus for part of one hill, reverting back to my old form, but then I realized what was happening, and picked it up again. I really worked on being strong over the top and getting back up to speed. The number of times I've ridden this you'd think I'd know to the metre where the top of each hill is, but I don't.

I thought about nutrition and decided to take two bottles of Nuun and a Clif's bar, with a back up gel. That was perfect. I'm really liking the Nuun. I think this is one of the reasons I'm feeling stronger. My body seems to be absorbing the hydration much better now. No water baby (as the famous Missy puts it) or slosh happening. I started today's ride just wanting to be strong going up, but it turned into a really good ride overall. I'm getting more used to the heat.

My watch said 2:01:30 as I passed the house. I admit to pushing a bit harder from 22X to home because I realized I was close to the 2 hour mark. To beat 2 hours a year ago I had to push really really hard the whole way. Today was merely (merely!) a good solid training day, with my average heart rate being 127 over the 2 hours. Rode another 15 minutes doing easy spin for 2.25 hours altogether. If I'd stopped for more nutrition, I could have gone longer, though maybe not down and back as fast. Stretched a little bit, but marched into the shower pretty briskly. There were a ton of bugs out and I think they all stuck to me. The combination of sweat and sunscreen seems to be a pretty good glue.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

90 minutes, some of it in the sun!

For the first time in a while it was warm and sunny when I got home from work, but there were clouds building to the north. Pfffft! It's so nice to be running in shorts and short sleeves again.

Started easy at the bike path and 37th street. Ran on the easy side of comfortable for 30 minutes. High zone two based on heart rate and breathing. Picked up the pace to the hard side of comfortable, low zone 3 for the next 30 minutes. Ran feeling really strong and comfortable. For the last 30 minutes I picked it up into high zone 3, pushing a bit, maybe not quite a 10 K pace. My legs still felt good, though I did get a twinge in the left ham going up a hill near the very end.

I'd turned around right at the 45 minute mark, down in the Weaselhead, somewhere short of the bridge over the Elbow, but I'm not sure exactly where. I wanted to neg split to prove I'd run the last 30 faster than the first 30, and did so by nearly 2 minutes. Slowed down to easy run for that two minutes and walked home, stopping for some stretches on a park bench. Walked about 10 minutes to start and end, with some stretching on each.

The first 20 minutes of the run were quite hot, then it clouded over and it was really nice. The last bit was clear and sunny again.

I'd mixed up a batch of Nuun and drank part before the run, and took some with me in a little flask. Toward the end I was getting a bit thirsty. I wouldn't have wanted to go much further without more to drink, and maybe a gel. Before leaving work I had a cookie, a small yogurt, and 2 bananas.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A trainer ride. In July. More WTF.

Swam this morning due to an organizational failure on my part. I have a Stampede breakfast and lunch on the 15th. For some reason I thought the 15th was Wednesday, so I did that swim today. Then when I got to work there was a reminder of the lunch on Thursday the 15th. My first thought was "they've got the day, awww shit." Not that it really matters, I'll go in early tomorrow, and be able to leave a bit early.

Swim was good. Mr. Elegant joined me near the end. Chatted to him while stretching after the swim and found out he and his wife are training for IMC too. Swam 1.25 hrs.  Feeling stronger and smoother.

It's raining hard out there. Has been all day. I think the high was barely into double digits, and when I got home I could just see my breath on the air. Crazy gusty windy. Needless to say, being a weenie, I didn't ride out doors. I didn't even want to swap workout days and run outside.

Warmed up. 3 x 15 hard and 5 really easy. These hards were very strong, aiming for the hardest gear I could maintain at least 85 rpm and preferably 90. Oly pace, or more. I've never sweat so much on the trainer. My right knee was complaining a little. Tried going even harder for a shorter interval, but enough was enough. Worked on spin instead, easy gear with high cadence. Total 2:15 on the bike while watching the second Pirates of the Caribbean.

Then not quite 30 minutes stretching and core. I was surprised that I could do pushups very slowly and felt fine. Maybe a dozen very slow pushups, NOT all at once. Front plank still sucks, but side plank was ok, and I was even doing leg lifts quite nicely. I remember not so long ago I was telling my leg to move and it wouldn't. Obliques. Rows.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tights+gloves+jacket= July??? WTF!!!

Swimming, the first real swim since GWN. Warmup. Then 2(8x100) on 2 minutes. First set was steady, and the second was to be more intense. Well. The first set was pretty well all 1:45 or so after the first couple were a bit faster. The second set was one of those times where more effort does not equate to a faster swim. I knew I wasn't being as efficient in the water and didn't feel as strong but couldn't do much about it. My flip turns were slowly turning into flop turns. My watch says I was in the water an hour but I don't quite believe it. I was sharing a lane with 2 girls that swim just a hair faster than I do, so I was working to keep up. Then suddenly they went away and there was a slow guy. Fortunately I discovered this as I was going into cool down.

We had a major thunderstorm today. It got really dark during the mid afternoon, and a bit of pea to grape sized hail came down. Other parts of Calgary got it much worse. The news had reports of one house where the vinyl siding was essentially shredded. One guy had his front window broken out. Several cars lost front and back windshields. One woman called in to say she had kiwi sized hail in her yard.

It was dark off to the south of us and extremely windy as I got ready for my run. Like the title says, I wore tights, a jacket, and gloves. It was 10 C (50 F). Running downwind was nice, that's all I can say. Even through Fish Creek I was still getting a lot of wind. Several trees had large branches broken. Back up 24th St was straight into the wind. Grrrrr. Total 45 minutes, walk and stretch after. Legs felt good throughout, running steady at the pace I'd hoped to run GWN at. Next time...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nailed the nutrition

I continue to amaze my coach. I can just picture her hanging up the phone and shaking her head. "Keith, nice guy and all, but knows NOTHING of the outside world." The occasion was talking about GWN and the pre-cramp state of my hams and all. And nutrition. It turns out I suck at nutrition. It's astonishing I've ever finished my longer rides. I've been goofing badly on the electrolyte issue. For instance, for some reason I thought that Nuun tablets and Perpeteum were essentially the same thing. I tried Perp once and it nearly made me barf. So I didn't even think about Nuun. Well, I got told to think about it, and try it out, and that it wasn't the same.

So on a recent trip to MEC I picked some up. I pulled it out of the orange flavour box but it turned out to be tri-berry when I got home. Rather than adding sea salt to my energy drink I added a Nuun tablet and tried that on my ride today.  Well holy cow. Tastes great, and I think my hams are less cramped after a 5 hour ride than before.

For the record, the energy drink now gets made like this, for two bottles. Make lemon tea in a 1 litre measuring cup. I use Celestial Seasoning's Lemon Zinger. Fill to the one litre mark and add one tea bag. Steep till desired strength. Add 150 grams of honey and stir till it melts. This is two large spoons filled and overflowing. Orange Juice to flavour. Let cool a bit and pour into bike bottles. It will come up to about the constricted part of the bottle, depending on exactly how much OJ you add. Drop a Nuun in each bottle. When the fizzing stops top up with water and refrigerate. 300 calories per bottle, plus the Nuun goodness.

Since I was a MEC I went across the street to Speed Theory to see if they had nice tri shorts. I got given size Large in Descente, 2XU, and Louis Garneau. The Descente shorts are a cruel hoax or are miss-sized. They got as far as my knees and I knew they'd never get over my butt. The 2XU shorts fit ok, but I don't like the thigh gripper thingies. The LG fit great and I picked up a pair. I'd have bought two if they'd had them. I also got a jacket and I'm glad I did, I needed it today. There was a really nice white jersey I saw that I should have tried on but my brain lost track of it till I was nearly home. I'm such a poor shopper because I hate it so much.

It was supposed to be nice today, but it was overcast, windy, and cool. After a bit of dithering around I went anyway. This was supposed to be a 5 hour ride, steady and strongest at the end, then a 25 minute T run. I took 2 energy drink (per above), 2 water, 2 Clif's bars, a banana and ate it all over the ride. I also took along a gel just in case things went a bit long or I was feeling peckish.

The wind was brutal! Steady at about 25 Kph out of the south east. Which was mostly the direction I was riding. I started a bit easy, trying to spin. My right knee was feeling a bit creaky, and didn't want any of the really hard pushing. Steady spin was better. Last year I made Black Diamond in 2 hours flat, and today I was barely into Turner Valley at the 2 hour mark. Heading south from Black Diamond it started to get sunny and even more windy. That chunk of road is totally exposed to any wind from any direction. I stopped and wrapped my jacket around the saddle bag. Then stopped a few minutes later to tweak the position of the rpm magnet pickup. Then stopped again to tweak the position of the speed pickup. First time that's needed tweaking in ages. Rode to the top of the big hill almost to Naptha and turned around.

I was a bit disappointed. I was still feeling the wind. I stopped again in Turner Valley and re-arranged the jacket. There were two additional stops to pee. This was a lot of stopping! Normally I get on the bike and go. Coming back along 22X was just about into the teeth of the wind again. At one point I had my head down, pedaling hard, doing about 18 Kph, feeling the wind whistling in my ears, and I was getting sick of it, I can tell you.

But what was interesting is that I got through all the nutrition. The drink tasted great from beginning to end. It's hard to tell because of the wind, but I'm pretty sure I was feeling stronger and more comfortable on the bike toward the end of the ride than I was at the beginning. I wasn't really settled on the bike at first, and spent much more time than usual standing, mainly to change things up for my legs. Not so many people out riding and they all waved.

Off the bike for a short transition, then out for the 25 minute run. At first I was a little unsteady. Oddly enough my right knee was just fine, but now my left hip and IT Band started acting up. I worked on my posture and stride a bit and it settled down in about 10 minutes and I had a nice run. Not blazing fast or anything but a nice pace, stronger near the end. I could have continued on just fine with a gel and a drink. Walked and stretched.

What's important for me today is that this is just about the best I've ever felt coming off a long bike ride. No tummy slosh, and didn't feel weak and feeble. My legs were still strong, though I deliberately wasn't pushing as hard as I have other rides. I could have gone on, and the only reason I didn't is that the house (with the bathroom) was right there.

I just looked at my numbers from June 27, where I did push hard. Essentially the same distance ride and it was done about 10 minutes faster, but I couldn't run afterwards. Today's terrain was less hilly but the wind was more of a factor. And I ran just fine. And feel great.

4:55 stopwatch time for the bike
4:46 ride time from the bike computer
121 K ride
25.4 Kph average pace per bike computer
24.6 Kph average pace per my stopwatch
81 rpm average cadence
120 average heart rate during bike
137 average heart rate during run.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Acupuncture, Stampede, and Nutella

Bailed from work early today to make sure I got to my acupuncture appointment on time. It's very near Stampede Park, and the parade was today. I was expecting heavier traffic, but arrived half hour early. So we got started and she worked on me for that extra half hour. Mostly my legs. mmmmmmm!

Picture this. Acupuncture takes place in a dim room, with soothing music playing. It's the perfect temperature of relaxing warm. Then, in the space of a few steps go outside into baking hot glaring sunlight, with bad shit-kicker country music in the background. It reminded me, just a little, of the few times I've started drinking at lunchtime during Stampede. You can't go back to the office afterward. There you are in some bar, or tent, getting blotto, and eventually you decide to call it a day. Outside, and you discover that it's still baking hot, and the major sunshine glare is on. It hurts. I know from experience. Everybody gets the same peculiar blinking expression because your brain thinks all that booze and it should be dark out. This wasn't that bad, but same idea.

It's not all bad, however, especially if you're a straight guy or a lesbian, because there is no better time to be alive than during Stampede. Trust me. I've seen wider belts than those scraps of tattered denim that I'm pleased some girls are calling a skirt. For some girls, delightfully enough, "Western wear" translates to "Effing Skimpy." No complaints here. You'll have to ask some of the blogger girls from Calgary about their eye candy, I don't have an opinion.

The parking near the grounds is $20, and you have to come back to get your car before 8am the next morning or they'll ding you for another day. They call it the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and they're probably right. Calgary collectively flips it's lid during the next 10 days. Nothing gets done in the office. Bar, yes. People go in, do the bare minimum of work and escape as soon as they can. There is a ton of stuff going on in every part of the city, at almost every hour of the day and night. For those of that age, if you can't get laid during Stampede you either have some indescribably loathsome disease, aren't trying, or are cursed with good taste. No need for a hotel room, behind, or in the porta-potties will do just fine. I'm not kidding.

Now the important part of this blog. Nutella!! The last jar had some recipies! How wonderful! I had to take pictures; I hope you can read the print.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shortest easiest cycle in a very long time

It was actually hot out today. I think the weather people said it reached 28 C (82F) and yes I know there are much hotter places. It doesn't need to get any hotter here, thank you very much.

I wanted to move lots more yesterday but decided that the swim was good enough. Today I went out into the heat and rode around the neighbourhood, exploring lots of streets and cul de sacs that I've never been on. Rode for an hour and came back only because I had to go to the bathroom. There are perils of hydrating too much, especially when you're wearing blue shorts, not the usual black. Average rpm over the hour was 91, which seems good to me. Very low effort. There were still a few twinges at the higher rpms.

Mostly the hams have recovered, but they're still not as right as I'd like them to be. Let's see what acupuncture tomorrow does. Weather is supposed to be nice for the weekend so I'll probably do a long easy ride. Unless my coach comes up with something more specific.

I am in fear of July 15. I have a Stampede Breakfast put on by the agency I'm contracting through, AND a Stampede BBQ lunch put on by the company I'm actually working at. Burp. Unfortunately, neither will be at one of the beer tents that have sprung up throughout the city. Pity. The waitresses at them are chosen specifically for being very pretty, and being willing to be quite undressed in exchange for monster tips.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Barely got wet

First swim since GWN. Only 15 minutes, mostly easy, but a few fast laps trying to stay in the draft of a much faster swimmer.

Then about 15 minutes water running, mostly easy, but one fast lap trying to avoid a geezer. Then some stretching to work on my legs.

I'm feeling pretty good, enjoying the bit of a break from formal training. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice so I'll try for an easy spin bike ride.

I am thinking about comment moderation. I have someone posting non-English comments that are a link to porn. So far it hasn't been a problem to take them down but it is marginally annoying. Any thoughts about comment moderated blogs?

Monday, July 5, 2010

GWN numbers, random catch up stuff, including photos

So here it is Monday evening. Not a shred of a workout today. Nothing. De Nada. Zilch. And I loved it. Maybe some water running tomorrow.

I'm actually feeling pretty good. Calves and hams still tired and twingy. Nearly cramped them just sitting in one position too long at work today. Looking forward to an acupuncture appointment on Friday. I should have been smarter and made the appointment last week. I'm going to head downstairs in a few minutes and put my feet up some more.

I'm still happy about results for GWN, and I'm happy knowing I can be faster still. Maybe not 45 minutes faster for a half, but I think a good chunk. Let's see if I can summarize the the results to save you having to find me in the results here.

Place overall      425 of 646
Place age group       53 of 82

Rank water overall   178
Rank water AG       13
Time water         36:16 
T1   3:03

Rank off the bike overall   334
Rank off the bike age group 40
Bike split         2:54:07  
T2 1:44

Rank run overall      527
Rank run age group  65
Run split           2:26:06
Overall time       6:01:20

When I look at the numbers, thats my slowest run in some time, but it wasn't so long ago that running a 7 min K pace was doing really well. I'm not sure why my hams were semi-cramped. I don't think I made a major goof on nutrition, since I was in a pretty good mood all the way along. Let's see. Good breakfast. Pre swim a Gu (the chocolate mint is a winner!) and a banana. On the bike, 1.5 Clif bar, 3 endurolyte pills, 1.5 bananas, 1 Gu, 1.3 bottles of energy drink, and a bottle of water. The run was 3 Gu's, a couple slices of orange, some flat coke (which tasted gross the last time and I'm glad I was near the finish). I paid pretty close attention to the slosh factor during the bike. It was a cool day so my hydration was down, but I don't think I broke into a sweat at all on the bike.

Linda really enjoyed herself as well, which is good. She dropped me off and had the day to herself, then met me at the finish line. I can't really blame her. Much as I like doing triathlons I have to admit they aren't exactly a spectator friendly sport unless you know lots of people, and the athletes are doing lots of loops. We basically bombed in on Saturday afternoon just in time for package pickup, and bailed out right after my massage to visit friends in Edmonton. Or rather, for me to visit their shower. Rob and Kate are dear people we've known for many years now, and we love to visit, but what I really wanted was their shower. Sorry guys. The nibblies were wonderful.

Here's some random photos from the last little while that I've finally got around to getting out of the camera.

I've talked to some people about doing a mini T-camp down at Chain Lakes Provincial park. It's about half way between where me and Julie live. The idea is to set up transition, do a swim, T1, ride maybe 10 K on highway 22, T2, then a short run. Set up transition again, and do it all over. Again. As often as desired. Then eat some well earned BBQ. There's a problem with it though. The actual transition from water to shore is a bitch. This is the best spot I found. By far. Everywhere else needs a small ladder. Everything looks pretty good.

Here's me, Jason, and Cath waiting for the Wasa start. No Kelly, that's not a glass of wine. But I admit the similarities to the cardboard cutout you suspect are uncanny.

And here's me on the run during Wasa. Way in the distance in the red jersey.

Some rainbows just because they're pretty.

As I mentioned, the GWN swag bag was great! It had 2 big containers of vitamin supplements, a bunch of Hammer gels, the endurolytes that came in so handy on the bike, lots of promo materials, the race essentials of number tag and T bags and a huge map, plus the shirt. It fits quite well. Here's a photo of the logo on it, and the finisher medal.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

GWN news

Here I am. Home. I'm sure glad Linda came because I was in no fit state to drive anywhere. I think I"ll make this short and sweet today, and maybe tomorrow I'll add some pics and put some more details.

Race day started sunny and warm, then clouded over just as we were going into the water. I saw Jenna, Tisha, Leana, Adrian, and for once I saw Kelly R first!!! I'm one for six there. The big adventure in the water was on each of the 6 legs (twice around a triangular course) some guy cut right across me as I'm heading reasonable directly for the buoy. I mean he was heading for the weeds full tilt. I don't know if it was the same guy or not. About 800 people started all in one wave so it was a bit of a mixer at first. By the first buoy things had sorted themselves out. We did the run around the buoy on the beach thing, I did that about 17:25, and out of the water 36:16. 2 K done, feeling pretty good!

I think I'm getting better at transition, plus I had a good spot, plus we didn't have to run forever to get through. 3 minutes in T1 which seems really really fast, but I was on the bike at 39:19 elapsed time, even dealing with a ham cramp.

Up a little hill out of T1, and up a little hill to the highway. Then I was in the big ring for the rest of the race. The first part of the bike is perfect for getting your legs together. Downhill, with the wind. Whoosh!! Down through Stoney Plain. Then the tough leg. Turn right, due west, gradual uphill, into a stiff wind. Everybody was head down, pedaling. Then south toward the Genesee power plant. There's a wee bit of a dip down to the river valley, but that was no big deal. This is where I caught Jenna. I haven't seen her times yet, but I'm expecting a smoking fast time out of the water, maybe one of the first females. Going back was fast fast fast. Mostly downhill, with the wind again. Then a stiff crosswind into town. There had been a couple spatters of rain but nothing to hardly notice. 2:54 bike time!!! That's one of my fastest 90 K rides ever, maybe even the very fastest. Yet I was on top of my breathing the whole way, not pushing too hard. I got passed a bunch, but not as much as I was expecting. 92K done, feeling pretty good.

1:44 transition. No pee, that happened in the first K. At this point I'm looking at 3:35 or so elapsed time out of transition, and I'm ecstatic! I was going to be really happy with getting out of T2 in 3:45, and here was even faster. I'm wondering now if I can break 6 hours, but I wasn't terribly hopeful. My feet were running ok, but my hams were on the verge of cramping the entire run. I had to nurse them along carefully. I'd taken some endurolytes along the bike, and I think those helped.

The run is a nice route through the town. The only beef I have with it is the turnaround point is forever out there. I didn't think it was ever going to come. I'm looking at my watch and trying to do the math in my head, and thinking I still had a shot at sub 6 hours but I was getting more dubious. I was having to watch my footing carefully to be sure I didn't trip over any curbs. The tiny little uphills slowed me down big time. Saw everybody on the run, including Dano, at least I'm pretty sure it was him. From turnaround to 15 K was a real slog, and I could feel myself slowing down. I started in on the flat coke hoping to get a boost. I ran one really good K in there, but it was beginning to stress my hams so I backed off. By the 18 K mark I was looking at the time and getting very dubious given how I was feeling. I chugged along as best as possible, and crossed at 6:01:20 or so.

Even knowing 6 hours was almost in my grasp I couldn't push me any harder. Am I happy?
You betcher ever-loving A that I am!!!
My over the moon goal time was 6 hours. If I had to predict a realistic finish time that I would be very pleased with I'd have gone with 6:15. A 6:30 time would have been an acceptable result depending on weather and other conditions. To put this in perspective, my half IM time at the Calgary 70.3 last August was 6:47:30. So I took slightly over 45 minutes off my time. Yes, I'm happy.

The finishers medallian is easily the nicest one so far. Lots of good stuff in the swag bag. More details tomorrow. Maybe photos (not of the race) if I get organized. A link to the results. You know, all that stuff. Time to take some pills and go to bed.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What Keith did on Canada Day

Nothing too out of the ordinary. Slept in till 6:30, then went to work for a while. I'm a contractor and want to make up the hours I lost the day I was home sick.

From my last swim, after several years of 3x a week usage my googles have finally started to leak slightly. The nose clip I bought a while ago has cracked so it doesn't stay on as firmly. Try-It is closed today so I'll have to go tomorrow.

Once home I went for an hour bike, mostly fairly easy spin, trying to keep the rpm up. Plus 4 or 5 surges near the middle of the ride, mostly going up James McKevitt. Plus racing cars off the lights every now and then.

Then a 20 minute run. It worked out to a 6:10 K pace, but it felt relaxed and natural. Breathing was low to mid zone 3. Stretched after. Starting to gather all the stuff I'll need for GWN to make the actual packing tomorrow easy. I'd like to get to Stoney Plain early enough to get the race package, ride the run course, drive the bike course, and drop Estela off at T1 on Saturday. I'll know several people there, but don't know if I'll get a chance to meet up with them. They're a rowdy lot, those triathletes, and innocent newbies like me need to be careful around them.

Off and on I've been musing about Canada Day. I'm old enough to easily remember the big deal that was made of our Centennial. There was a song and lots of infomercials, and lots of hype. It seemed that Canada was just coming into it's own and the world was beating a path to our door. But it's a darker world now. Not so idealistic.

For a long while I thought Canada had lost it's way and was losing it's identity to the USA. But then we seemed to come to our senses, mainly through the wily good sense of one of the smartest and toughest Canadian politicians to have come down the pike so far, even if he can't speak either of the official languages. He kept us out of the Iraq war, which is probably one of the single smartest things that has happened to Canada. By contrast, the USA is in it up to it's eyeballs and the actions taken have tarnished and soiled an already tattered reputation.

Canada came out of the economic crisis, by and large, in pretty darn good shape. The main reason is that our bankers are a conservative lot, not given to fantasy and masturbatory manipulations of obscure financial instruments for personal gain. We got our debt under control so we haven't sold our soul, at least not yet.

Canada and Canadians are generally considered to be a dull lot. Boring even. The international news doesn't often have much to say about Canada. Which is a good thing, really, when you consider what typically gets covered in the news. But if the news reported good stuff, Canada would be all over it like the white on rice. Why? Because Canada and Canadians are really good at good stuff.

Like what, you say? Allow me to resort to bullet points in no particular order:

  • Our riots are sad affairs, scarcely worthy of the name. A couple police cars burnt, a mob of a few thousand, done and over in a few hours. Riots in other countries involve tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands and can go on for days. Looking at the damage it would be hard to distinguish the G summits with a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup. If you've ever had someone apologize after you've bumped into them, or stepped on their foot, you've run into a Canadian.
  • More seriously, we have accomplished the rare knack of bringing people from all over the world to live here, and to do so in relative harmony. Clashes between ethnic or religious groups are trivial in comparison to those elsewhere. People have mostly left the conflicts of their old cultures behind. Of course, there are some that haven't, but incidents are few and far between.
  • We have escaped, at least so far, the poisonous gun nut culture so prevalent in the USA and some other countries. Even out in the country, seeing guns is rare. Shooting deaths are a trivial risk. There are periodic raids where guns and other arms are captured, but this is rare. For a while there were some public gang related shootings in Calgary. The police went to work and arrested at least some of those involved, but there's been rumours that people from within those ethnic communities put some heat on the gangsters and told them to stop. Or else. People see solutions to such problems as community based, and not to buy guns for themselves.
  • Even with Stephen Harper and his few bad decisions based on partisan politics, our governance has been relatively sensible. We have our problems with majority governments formed by a minority, sometimes as small as 37%, but we've had almost 5 years of minority rule now, and it's worked out ok. 
  • Canada left WWII with one of the largest military forces in the world, and probably per capita it was the largest. Slowly it devolved into a laughingstock. Over the last decade or so it has become a force to be proud of again. Various peace keeping ventures. General Romeo Dallaire worked with a few hundred soldiers to try to stop or minimize the slaughter in Rwanda and nearly lost his sanity doing so. Troops helping save Winnipeg from a flood. The mission in Afghanistan is muddled to say the least and has killed far too many of our men and women. Yet they are doing a superb job there. Surprisingly enough, thousands of ordinary Canadians have been turning out on the overpasses between Trenton and Toronto to pay their respects to our fallen service people. 
  • Canada has had, and is still having problems with Aboriginal people. To our shame, they live and die as if they were living in a 3rd world country. To our credit, we have recognized and apologized for our previous behaviours and are working more with them to find solutions that are acceptable to them. This is a difficult task, as they don't want to be like white Canadians, but recognize their world has changed and there is no going back. They see they have to find their own identity, and some groups have succeeded very well. Others are struggling. Yes, natives make up a much larger portion of the homeless and prison populations than their percent of the population would indicate, but there have been efforts to incorporate Native ideas of justice.
  • Canada's health care systems has it's problems, but they are mainly disagreements over the triage decisions made by doctors. Doctors, not insurance company vultures who earn their salary by denying benefits to policy holders. There are horror stories of wait times, of people dying in the waiting rooms, of people waiting years for a surgery procedure, but these are uncommon. I could speak of the care my mother in law received in her last few years of life, and there is very, very little to complain of and nothing important. Naturally, when a service is essentially free, and involves your health, there are demands on it. In economic turns the demand for health care is essentially infinite, so it's no surprise the costs keep going up. There are things we could be doing better, but that's another rant. What's important is that nobody goes bankrupt trying to buy health care. Nobody factors in health insurance as a factor when changing jobs. In fact, most Canadians don't have health insurance; we don't need it, excepting some special cases.
  • We have been asked to send numerous people abroad to help train people for a variety of roles in health care, policing, justice, and governance. There is a recognition we are doing a lot of things right, and other countries want to know how we do it. Our public service and general business dealings are open and straightforward. There is very little corruption aside from a few politicians accepting cash in an envelop.
  • I think the single biggest thing is that we've learned to live and let live. Every religion in the world is practiced here and most people shrug their shoulders and say "so what". We have grasped the essential point that the freedom to practice my particular religion is the freedom of others to practice theirs, AND vise versa. Except for the Jehovahs going door to door peddling their bigotry, and they rightfully get lots of abuse along they way.
  • Most Canadians don't care what colour your skin is, or the shape of your eyes, or within limits, what clothing you choose to wear. By and large, covering your face is out. Wearing religious symbols is your business. We'd like you to learn to speak at least one of the official languages, but it certainly isn't compulsory. People don't judge you by your accent. It doesn't diminish us to see street signs in Chinese characters downtown. We recognize that the good parts of other cultures can add value to ours. For most Canadians being gay is as remarkable as being left handed or having natural red hair. Being agnostic or atheist isn't remarkable at all.
  • Maybe the essential thing is that our country is a big empty place. It's cold most of the year. It simply isn't possible for a rugged individualist to survive here. We need others. Every Canadian knows what someone standing there with jumper cables wants, and they don't have to wait long. It might be us next time. People take turns helping push cars out of ruts in parking lots or similar situations. It might be us next time. We are generally polite in lineups with a strong sense of first come first served, yet a recognition that some people deserve a bit of extra consideration, such as the pregnant, the elderly, the disabled. I'm not the only one who shouts at people without disabled tags that park in disabled spots. There are asshole drivers, but honestly, most days it's not too bad. People let each other in. It might be us next time. Normally it's safe to cross with the walk signal. We pull together and help other people in the face of natural and other disasters. It might be us next time.