Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ironman Canada; followup, reflections, photos, and more

Home again. Still not quite with it. We were held up in traffic on the way into town so I was a few minutes late for my massage, but I got worked over pretty good. Funny, but it's my right leg that feels tight and sore, but the therapist says it's the left that needs the work. Onwards. Again, no particular order.

During the run I was chatting with a guy who was doing his third Ironman in three days. Yes. Seriously. Three times around the Ironman Canada course in 3 days. Check it out.

Why use sharpies for body marking? The person that figures out how to get dirty chain lube off the chain and into a container for application on the body will corner the market.

The water was warm, and nice to swim in. Clean and clear. A bit rocky at the end, which partially explains how people are lurching back and forth on the way out of the water. While I don't think I bounded up the beach like a gazelle, I'm pretty sure it was at least a trot. I know I passed a few people which is good.

Here's a summary of my times. Just for your info.
Age group place 245 (of 277)
Total Time 15:21:01 
1803 CARTMELL, KEITH 52 (me)
Swim Time 1:12:32 (which is good enough for 119th in age group, and 1241 overall)
T1 6:52 
Bike Time 7:24:16 (includes about 18 minutes standing around waiting to pee)
T2 2:46 
Run time 6:34:36 (3:15 first half 3:19 for the second half, which just amazes me. Going into OK Falls I was thinking it was going to be a 4 hour trip back. There was a few minutes waiting to pee, not sure how much.)

I am still thrilled. My legs aren't hurting much. I can almost walk so you wouldn't notice anything different.

Chocolate chip cookies are the best recovery food I've ever found. Especially Linda's. I was disappointed there was no pizza when I got in. I'll have to get faster at these races just to get a better food selection at the end.

Looking over some of the info we found; there are more than 100 wineries or vineyards in the valley. We're going to have to go back and visit some of them. And some of the other stuff there is to see and do there.

Race course justice happens sometimes. Just before the turn onto McLean Creek road a guy passed me on the right, scared the crap out of me, since I was right on the line at the side of the road. He weaved in and out of traffic, passing left right and centre. I think he'd just gone over the centre line to pass, when a motorcycle roared up, and they waved a red card at him. Technically, all of us were drafting at that point, but there's no other choice. If you do the math, assuming each bike is 1.5 m long, and there has to be 7 m between bikes, the bike line has to be 24 K long. Any less than that and someone is drafting. Even if you assume half the people are passing it really doesn't change much since all they are doing is swapping places. As near as I could tell people were spacing themselves out as best they could, without blocking, and trying not to be tucked in right behind someone.

During the bike I saw a woman on the side of the road. I thought she was starting to work on a flat, but just as I passed, she stood up with a disconsolate expression on her face, holding a length of chain in her finger tips. I'm not sure what the typical number is, but it seemed like I saw lots of bikes being hauled off by the support vehicles, lots of flats, and several people just sitting by the side of the road waiting.

I ought to give a big thank you to my employers at Enmax and Skystone during my training peak. They were very open about flexible working hours and working from home. That made life so much easier. I don't know how people can get the training done if they've a job that has set working hours, or worse yet, shift work.

Here's some photos.
Me, walking as ordered by coach and Linda, on the way out to Penticton. Lurching already.

Getting bags ready. Yes, my bib said W. The person taking the registration was being a stickler about my first name. The upside of this was that if I heard "Keith", I'd look, because they had to know me. Except for once, when it was some buddies of Heather at the run turnaround in OK falls. Heather please say thank you to them!

Body marking in the morning.

Swim start.

Just starting the run. That's Susi bounding in to see how I'm doing. About this time the wind came up really strong. I was glad I was off the bike. The guy just in front of me is the one doing the 3 ironmans in 3 days. We were together till about 6 or 8 K maybe, I'm not sure, then he and a buddy picked it up and left me in their dust.

Finishing the run. Walking at this point, almost to the turnaround at the end of Lakeshore.

They don't have the finisher photos up yet, or at least I haven't found them yet. Maybe tomorrow. And I'll take a shot of the medal and swag.

Oh, and one of me and Leana. Which is actually pretty photogenic of me, if I do say so myself. But you'll notice I've got a drink in one hand.

Am I going to do another Ironman? Probably not.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ironman Canada - DONE!

As I was was coming down the finisher chute, Steven King was saying, "Give it up for 1803, Keith Cartmell. He's 52 years old, and a first time finisher at Ironman Canada!" How sweet it is!

First things first. Thank you's:
  • My wife, Linda Mulligan. Nobody could have done more to support me in all of this. She's put up with lots over the last few years. Love you dear!
  • My coach, Katie Frauts. I wouldn't be finishing without her guidance and advice. She's been nothing but encouraging and supportive, working with an old guy coming back from being fat and out of shape. Her plans were killer some weeks (you all remember the numerous "plank to failure" results), but they were exactly what I needed. I'm looking forward to working with her for next year's season.
  • My number one fan, Susi. She has been a font of advice and encouragement and support.
  • So many people I've met through blogs,  various training gigs, existing and new friends, blog buddies I've never met, all of whom are too numerous to name, all of whom have been supportive, encouraging, and otherwise helpful.
Short race report. No precise times, since I'm assuming you can look them up. I haven't yet. Later.

Swim was good. I didn't get bashed around much at the start, had open water for most of the swim. It was a bit tight at the first houseboat, and right at the end as we converged to the finish. I'm super pleased! I came out of the water feeling good, a little faster than I had hoped, no dizzyness, and was feeling strong.

T1 was a bit of a shambles. My glasses fogged up and I couldn't see squat. But I got out to my bike with no adventures along the way.

The bike was a mix. The day was cool by Penticton standards. Lots of people had on arm warmers and long sleeved jerseys. The ride down to Osoyoos was fast and easy. Perfect riding weather. Saw a couple people I knew, but mostly concentrated on avoiding all the litter crap on the road, and riding safely. It was a bit of a pack. Stopped at the base of Richters to pee and water up. A bit of a wait so I stretched. Richters was a blast! Still nice, lots of people cheering us on. Down the far side I had the most fun of the entire ride, hitting 70+ Kph, dodging cars and other bikes. Estela sure loves to go downhill. Somewhere in the middle of the rollers the wind came up and things got colder and tougher. You can find a map of the bike course at the race website, and tell me how we can get a headwind for the ride into Kermeous, the out and back, AND the out and back that is part of the out and back. By the time I turned to head up to Yellow Lake it was raining a bit, and I was getting cold. But I think I missed the worst of it. Going up was hard sledding. I was getting a bit tired of being on the bike, and I knew it was a long way up. By now I'd been passed a zillion times and was mostly riding alone, with some small packs passing me. Coming down the road was dry and it was sunny again. That's a fun ride zooming down and into town with the road mostly to myself. Overall, given the conditions, I'm really pleased with my time given the course and conditions. Bike time was 7:06, then I spent about 15 minutes waiting to pee. I was right in the range where I figured I would be.

T2 was fast and smooth. I'm not a big fan of these bag races, but the volunteer dumped my stuff out and handed it to me as I needed it. One simply cannot say enough about the volunteers at this race.

The run was the run. This was twice as far as I've ever run before. I started well, finding my run legs (such as they are) right away. They were tired but moving well. A good start. Just as I was going along Lakeshore the wind came up in a major way. You can bet I was happy when I turned south and let the wind blow me along. I ran along, walking the aid stations, with the muscle right between the right butt cheek and the top of the thigh starting to tighten up. By 14 or 15 K the wheels had come off my wagon. I had one hotspot in my right foot from running, and a different spot from walking. My right leg wasn't wanting to run anymore. I suffered along into OK Falls. Somewhere in there I started in on the chicken soup, and that worked wonders. I walked the hill out of OK Falls while putting on the arm warmers, and girded myself for a long trip back. Imagine my surprise when I started running again, and realized that things were working again. I ran (that word again) most of the way back, walking the hills and aid stations. I nearly threw up the last Gu so stopped taking them. The Nuun didn't seem to be doing anything anymore, but the soup was good stuff and went surprisingly well with the chunks of orange. I ran most of the way to city limits, collecting a glow stick along the way. My legs were getting stupid then, and walked with Mike from Vernon most of the way in. I was afraid I trip and fall on my face so close to the end. Each of us ran a bit, to remind the legs we were going to run the finish. I walked to the Lakeshore turnaround and towards the light. Somewhere I found the legs to run the last bit, with a huge grin. The run was slower than I'd like it to have been, but I'll take it. At no time was my breathing out of control, it was simply a muscular strength thing, with a side of nutrition issues. I'll have to think more about the nutrition.

I am thrilled!
As you'll remember, my goal was to complete the course without needing a trip to the med tent. DONE!
I wanted to cross the finish line without having to sprint, and collaps and barf to make it. DONE!
Have fun and enjoy the experience. DONE! Well, the wind during the out and back wasn't much fun, and parts of the run weren't much fun.

Personal reflections, in no particular order.
  • Sister Madonna Buder does not look 80. If I were meeting her, I'd say she was late 50's, early 60's. But she's got some serious stones to tackle an Ironman at 80.
  • Saw lots of people on the course, Kendall, Iona, Justin (but he didn't see me), Tisha, Leana, Kelly and maybe others. Didn't see Julie or Jenna, though I was looking for them on the run.
  • During the day I was thinking that I wasn't just going to become an Ironman. During the day I was Peeingman, Burpingman, and Fartingman. Stopped to pee at the base of Richters, and just before Keremeous. There was a bit of a wait so I stretched. Some can pee on the bike but I haven't mastered that yet. One guy demonstrated the skill, like a horse, right after he passed me. Jerk. There was major burping happened the entire day. And, more cautiously, gas from the other end as well. On the run a pair of girls passed me, and were commenting about hearing ducks, but not seeing any. Clearly their noses had stopped working.
  • If I'd known how hard this was going to be, I'm not sure I'd have signed up. You never know till you do it.
  • The only "injury" is a blister on my little toe, and sore legs and feet. That's as good as it gets. I saw at least two people being carted away in an ambulance, and hope they're ok. What a way to end your day.
  • I have swaged. Went to the expo first thing and bought a bunch of stuff. I didn't even look at the $ price. Who cares. I already paid for it in sweat, blood, and effort. I will wear it with pride.
  • Would I do it again? Probably not. I told Linda I wanted to do it once, mark it done, then settle back to half's and Olys.
Once I get home I'll talk a bit more about times, and other stuff. Just because I've done IMC doesn't mean the blog is going to stop. Oh no. There will be more. And photos!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Here, chipped, banded, and

temporarily released into the wild. Linda is shopping. I just figured out where the pre race meeting is, and thought I'd check email. Then, since I'm here, and love my readers SOOOOO MUCH! I thought I'd give you a quickie update.

The line up started at the inflatable arches at the entrance to the park. It took 20 minutes to even move. Took an hour to get into the tent. Then it was quick getting through. Saw Brian from Try It, my buddies Leana and Kelly R, and Jill in the line. Later in the swag tent I saw Jenna and Tisha. Thought about getting some stuff, but the line up to pay was horrible. Plus there was a funny smell in there that came and went that wasn't doing my tummy any good. Plus I'll be back there on Sat to drop bike and stuff off, There were some nice T shirts, but really, I'm more interested in the stuff with Finisher printed on it.

I invented a new yoga pose this morning. Feet up the sofa. Very relaxing. Going to drive the bike and run courses here in a few minutes. Motel is quiet, no street noise. Once we asked, we got a coffee maker, toaster, and microwave. The clerk said she wasn't expecting us till later, which is why they weren't in the room. I sort of wonder why they don't live in the room, but that'sjust me.

Weather here is very nice, not too hot. Race day looks like low 20's, which is PERFECT! Gotta go...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Packing in progress

The big day is almost here! For the longest time it seemed forever away. Now it's getting real. Really real.

Tuesday was a mostly easy bike with some harder bits. Back in an hour, it was ok. Then out for a run that was a bit of a fright. My legs didn't mind moving a little bit, but they weren't having any of the faster intervals on the schedule. What's more, they were in collusion with my lungs. So picture this. There I am at a very slow run, even by my lax standards. My heart rate is about where I expected it to be, but my breathing was going like there was no tomorrow. When I boosted, or tried to boost the speed, my breathing went way up, as if I was running sprints. Even after a full warmup, my legs weren't having any of going fast. As near as I can figure it, my lungs were going as if my heart rate was 20 bpm faster. Very odd. But I'm not going to sweat it. I called it at half an hour. I've had good runs recently, and I have confidence the run will be there when I need it.

Today I slept in. Late morning I was out for a 90 minute bike, with 90 seconds HARD, and lots of time easy spin to recover. I did 6 of these on 6 minutes. At first my legs were wondering what was going on, since they felt a bit stiff and tired. But they came around and we had a good ride. Pushed really hard on a couple of them, and got my heart rate up to mid to high130's for 3 of them, mid 140's for 2 of them, and once above 150. Easy spin back.

Packing stuff up for the trip. Here's a photo showing progress so far.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I almost forgot

This morning was a swim! Yes. I had to convince myself to go. And since Linda is on vacation, I had to choose between a 6am start at Renfrew, or a 5:30 start at Canyon Meadows. Decisions decisions. In the end I went to Renfrew and joined the chatty herd at the front door.

Shared the lane with another fast swimmer. I think he's tapering too, he wasn't catching up as fast, and it sure wasn't because I was swimming faster. Took a long time to warm up, and never did feel really strong. By the time a half hour rolled around I was ready to call it a workout.

In the evening I was sort of all ready to go for a run, then looked at the plan and realized it wasn't called for. Like that broke my heart. I'll have to rest up, the run is tomorrow.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

That was good timing

Saturday I dropped into Try It to top up on gels. Chatted with Richelle and big Mark, who's not as big as he used to be, was there with his adorable little daughter. Richelle had lots of encouragement and advice. (I didn't word that very well, and don't really have time to fix it. There is no relationship I know of between Richelle and Mark. She works there, and he had just dropped in for some stuff. I say this because I know some of my blog readers, and you know who you are, have rampant imaginations. For example, one of them, during her trip to Italy, went on and on and ON about Roman Erections. She used caps. Yes.)

The big part of the day was taming the jungle outside the house. I'm TOTALLY counting this as a workout. 1.5 hours of hard cutting, trimming, and raking. I use a reel type mower, and the grass and weeds are thick and tall. All that effort produced as much sweat as any run and probably had my heart rate into zone 3. And worst of all, I'm not really done. It's kind of uneven, so I'll have another go at it on Wed, in between consulting my lists and making neat piles of stuff. With any luck it won't have grown much.

Today was a bike run bike run day. This is the part I timed right. The morning sucked. It was cold and cloudy. By cold I mean about 9 C (48 F) with a light breeze. I wasn't really in the mood, so I had some coffee and hoped. Eventually I figured I had to go. There was no way I was going on the trainer for this. I don't think I want to be on a trainer again till, oh, say, January.

I didn't really feel like going out 22X, so I picked a loop through south Calgary, and whaddya know. I got lost in Everridge, or Bridal Wood, or some place just south of Fish Creek. There's been so much development I didn't recognize it, and I'm pretty sure there's a chunk of road not there anymore. I ended up going in circles a bit, but it turned out ok because I got back to the house exactly on the 75 minutes the plan called for. Short transition.

Ran a hair under 20 minutes, going around the block stronger than I normally do. It used to be that 20 minutes for this route would leave me gasping. Now, today, doing it in 18:23 was a brisk pace that had me working, but I could have gone on. Short transition.

Out onto the bike again, not wanting to do the same route again. Started looking at the sky and thinking a bit. During most of the first bike and run it got nice. There was even real sunshine for a while. Now it was clouding over rapidly, cooling down, and I could smell rain. I decided not to go too far from home, and take it easy on my knee. It was squeaking a bit. I called it done at the 30 minute mark. Short transition.

Another run, same route. Not trying to be fast, but trying to be strong and smooth. This was exactly a minute slower, and again, I could have gone on. Walked for a few minutes and stretched. About 20 minutes after coming in it started. Thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and a bit of hail.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This one's for YOU, Alan R.

Sleep. Swimming. Sleep. Swimming. Guess which one won this morning? I deliberately didn't set the alarm clock, though that doesn't mean much. Amelia the alarm clock cat takes her breakfast wake up duties very seriously. Her internal kitty clock runs very fast. Even faster now that the vet gave me shit for allowing her to gain so much weight. She's now on a more restricted diet. At least she likes the new food, given her enthusiasm at inhaling it.

Once I fed her I went back to bed, and slept through the time I'd have had to be up to make pool opening time. I slept through the pool opening time. I slept through the last moment to get into the pool so I could finish before the floatie invasion. It's not that I didn't want to swim. Not at all. Lots of mornings just like this I'd have gone. I could have gone today and probably have had a perfectly nice swim. But I figured if I was asleep, then I needed the sleep more than another swim.

Even when I started my current work project from home, my feet were reminding me they wanted to go for a run today. My legs are a bit tired, but a run would be perfect for loosening them up and blowing some of the cobwebs out of my brain. My coach had yet another gradual build scheduled, and yes I suck at just about all gradual builds. Biking, on a trainer, carefully watching the cadence and heart rate monitor is about the only place I've succeeded in a gradual build. The big issue with the run is that there isn't much space between what I generously call "run" (most people would say this is being grossly optimistic), and the fastest I can run for more than a few minutes. Which, in the grand scheme of things isn't very fast. Still, I don't have to be fast, as long as I don't stop.

Once upon a time I worked at a place where lots of people ran. Before work, at lunch time, and after work. I didn't run then, and only started swimming during that time. I used to yank the runner's chains as they went out for a run in 30 C heat. I've since apologized to those that I've run into again. One of the guys that worked there used to run a lot. He was trying to explain to me one day about sightseeing, and being able to get more stuff in because he ran from place to place rather than walked. He'd run a bit, hang out at whatever was there to look at for however long it was interesting, then run to the next place. He also introduced me to a great goal for life: "I aspire to schedule my work life the way most people schedule their vacation life." I'm sure working on it. It's a pity he can't really run anymore, plantar fasciitis.

So today I ran around the neighbourhood, mostly not too fast, not going any particular route, but going past a few places where interesting stuff is happening. The siding being replaced on the townhouse we used to live in down the street. A couple of homes where they are doing major work on their front yards. The bakery that is opening soon in the nearby strip mall. Some painters discussing the poor taste of the home owner, whom I assume is NOT within ear shot. I'd speed up and run fast for a few minutes, then slow down again before I got too tired. Mainly I was concentrating on having good form and light feet no matter the pace. That was about 45 minutes and I'm really pleased how it went.

At the moment I'm feeling calm and confident about the upcoming week.
There is lots to do, but I have lists.
There is a very long tough day coming up, but I have trained for it.
I've never done it before, but I've had great coaching, and lots of advice.
I'll be alone in my head most of the day, but that's been the case for almost every training session, AND there will be people cheering for me.
I'm the one who has to power every stroke, every pedal turn, every step of the day, but there's a small team of people that have helped put me in a position to do those things. They believe I can do it.
There are millions of people that would give anything they have to be able to swim, ride, and walk, let alone run, let alone be able to do those things well enough to attempt an Ironman distance. I am unbelievably lucky and privileged to be able to do this at my age.

My goals:

  • No need to visit the med tent during or after.
  • Cross the finish line under the cut off without having to sprint and collapse and barf to make it.
  • Have fun, and enjoy what is going to be a unique experience.

I think my two mantras are going to be:

  • Pain is temporary, pride is forever.
  • Brag the rest of your life, because it ain't bragging if you done it.
  • Don't stop till you're done.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smoke gets in your eyes

The winds shifted and have blown the smoke from the BC forest first into Alberta. There are health warnings for people with respiratory problems to stay indoors. After a bit of encouragement from my coach I did RtN as planned. Normally from the tops of the hills you get a great view of the city. Not today. Not at all. Even from near our house you can't see the buildings downtown. At least I didn't notice it much during the ride, though right now I can taste smoke in my mouth. At the office in the NE earlier in the day it was bad.

Ride was good, 2 hours, though I didn't get right to the bottom of the road. I turned around at the top of the last hill. Tried to pedal strong and smooth, and mostly succeeded. Along the way Chris from Tri It caught up to me and we chatted a bit. Then his buddy Rich showed up. Then later, Darryl dropped in, just after my ride, to wish me well. He'd been riding in Fish Creek.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The numbers are out. I am 1803 on the program, but number one in your hearts. Well, at least in some of your hearts. A couple of hearts at least. I hope. Later on this week I'll tell you how to use that number to keep track of me on the big day, just in case you don't already know.

Good swim, at one point sharing the lane with 3 others. Which was ok because we were all about the same speed. I had stuff to do and did it. Hanging onto a pull buoy with your ankles is hard when they are as skinny as mine. 1 hr.

Good run. Supposedly the plan was to start easy, and build every 20 minutes to half IM pace or faster. Well, we all know I suck at gradual builds. By the end of the first 20 minutes I'm settled into my top of zone 2 pace. That ended up being 35 minutes exactly at the end of the first 5K. I picked it up for the second 5K (after a really short aid station break on my patio) and got back in just a hair over 30 minutes. I'm really pleased at that pace, but that's essentially a 10 K pace and I couldn't have kept it up much longer today. It was really hot out, and I needed a bit of water more often than every 30 minutes. Settled into an easy run for the next 20 minutes to flush out my legs and cool down. Walked a bit more to round out the 90 minutes.

By this time a week from now, I hope to be looking with satisfaction at various neatly packed bags with all my stuff. Then Thursday will be a snap. Bring on the taper madness!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blog, or True Blood season 2 on DVD as yet unwatched

We got a package today. It has Season 2 of True Blood in. Which I haven't seen. And Dollhouse. And Foyle's War 6, and something called Primeval that looks BAD. And what am I doing? Blogging. Then I'll be working. Never let it be said I don't go the extra mile for my readers. And my employers.

The swim this am was good. I forgot to wear my watch so I'm guessing I was in the water just over an hour. The 3x5x100 were supposed to be on 2:10, 2:00, and 1:50. I was squinting at the pace clock which is totally in the wrong place for the people who want to use it, and can't see it very well. First set was good, second was good, and the third was a bit of by guess and by golly. I'd stop, gasp a couple of times, and head off again.

The run was surprisingly good. I did lots of good stretching waiting for Linda to get home. I'd opened all the windows to get a breeze through since it's a nice hot day for Calgary, maybe 27 C or so (80 F). Yeah, I know a bunch of you want to hunt me down for saying so since y'all have been going through a heat wave. Once open I didn't want to close things up again till Linda would get home and open it all again. So I did some extra stretches.

The run started wobbly. The first 10 minutes were very iffy, then my legs settled in. I told them to run at whatever felt comfortable, and I was very happy at how fast they ended up going. Lungs had to kick in a bit to keep up. It was still a bit of a heavy footed run, not light and bouncy, but I could have gone longer given water and nutrition. Ran 50 minutes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I had many titles for this blog during the ride

I often think about what I'm going to write in my blog when I'm doing the workout. I don't always remember everything, but I do try to get a good title. Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Hello, did you notice I was gone? (This is what I always say to Amelia the cat when I get back. I haven't blogged for what seems like a week. So....)
  • What, do we have cooties? (I waved at all the cyclists going the other way. Only one of about a dozen or so waved back. The rest just looked as if we had...)
  • Actually got it for a few minutes. (Spinning that is. I noticed I was spinning up a hill but it was like my legs weren't doing the work. They were just going around. Something above my legs in my core was doing the work. Of course as soon as I noticed it stopped. But it came back several times.)
  • Shhhh! Don't tell my coach! (I played hooky on Friday from workouts. I barely dragged my ass out of bed and to work. Going to the pool was out of the question. When I got home Linda had dinner on the table, but I know I wouldn't have run. Standing up and walking was a process requiring thought and care.)
  • Testing, Testing, Check 1, Check 2. (Testing new bike gloves Linda found for me, and they're great. Testing Date Newtons on the ride, and they're great too. A nice break from Clifs, if probably not quite so well balanced and nutritious.)
  • A RtN treat for you all. (See below.)

For whatever reason I haven't been waking up feeling rested till this morning. Friday was bad. Saturday was better, but I went back to bed during the first nice afternoon we've had since forever and napped for several hours.

Yesterday we had a nice breakfast in Inglewood, and strolled around a bit. We haven't done that for a long time. Got some nice chocolate. Bought some books I plan to read while lying around in Penticton. Got a few other goodies. Even a few hours of gentle strolling had my legs tired out.

Sunday. Put the road tire back on and generally prepped for a 4 hour ride. 22X west, 22 south, 549 west, 762 north. Turns out 50K from the house is almost exactly the top of the big hill. Turned around at 2 hours and rode home. Those first two hours were steady and smooth. I felt comfortable and happy on the bike and it was a beautiful morning perfect for riding.

The next two hours were kind of fun. Coming back to Millarville was mostly with the wind and quite fast. Going north on 22 was ok, but toward the end I saw a cyclist way up there. I was supposed to ride a bit stronger each hour and was beginning to flag a bit, so I used this as incentive to pick up the pace. Caught her at the top of Rothney Observatory hill. But there were a couple more! I gave chase. Caught two of them fairly quickly, and there was one more out ahead. It took a bit of doing but caught him near the school. Yay me!

Back home just under 3:45 and just a hair over 100 K. Short transition, and just under 25 minute run. Legs felt stiff and clumsy throughout. Lots of nigglies. Afterwards, my knees are feeling creaky.

Doing a bit of random surfing last night I found one of those Real Rides videos done on the Road to Nepal. You can watch it here. It's only the first bit on the baby, warm up hills. It ends just as you're turning the first corner. The first minute is flags flapping in the wind. But they have an elevation profile!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My coach wants to read a positive blog tonight or first thing tomorrow. I don't think of the previous bunch of blogs as negative. I think of them as honest. I'm not beating myself up about the workouts, I'm reporting results here, and yes, it's been tough sledding.

So. Positive.
I got an old tire on the wheel and it held pressure long enough to get a trainer workout done. Weather is cold and rainy here all day. I got a revised workout to do on the trainer. I didn't throw up when I read the workout, and seriously considered dressing really warm and going for the outside workout.

Long warmup, 15 minutes before I could do 85 rpm. Cadence, all was good up to about 115 rpm or so. Then the jello legs set in. Next set was a progressively steeper hill climb. This got weird. Started second from the top on the big chainring, and added a gear every two minutes. For 5 gear changes. At the end of this I'm sweating a bucket, my legs are killing me, I'm easily breathing through my nose, and my heart rate is 120.

Short rest, then the same again, only starting one gear harder, and was trying to maintain at least a few rpm higher throughout. Essentially this was as hard as my legs would go. At least this time I was breathing harder, and my heart rate peaked at 128 bpm but mostly it was around 120 again. My right knee got painful during the last 2 minutes so I stopped. Nice cool down. Stretched.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I nearly ate sidewalk, but my quads took one for the team

I'd have been pretty pleased with this swim. A year ago.
I'd have been pretty pleased with this run. A year ago.
But today, compared to the plan, both were failures.

It was a stark choice this morning. Swim with the big dogs, or swim with the floaties. I think I made the right choice, but the warm up was a bit brisker than usual. Maybe I went out too hard.

The main set started with 3 x 400. Hard, harder, hardest, or medium fast, fast, and fastest. Something like that. There was more, but there's no point talking about it. The actuality was:
First - my normal swim pace, except I nearly puked at the end. I didn't think I was going that hard.
Second - worked harder and went much slower, and I felt worse after. Pulled 200 m easy to get my mojo back, AND took the short rest the plan called for.
Third - thinking hard about stroke efficiency, and trying to swim very strong. That lasted 300 m and the wheels were falling off for the next 75 m, then I went strong the last 25m. The result was only a couple seconds faster than the first try. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to puke, but I wasn't feeling good about it. I've never swum into the wall so many times in one swim in my life. No, not the bonk wall. The wall of the pool. I wasn't pushing off very straight.

I did a couple hundred more easy pull, and got out of the pool at about the 40 minute mark. Tried some deep water running, but it's like I've forgotten how. I could barely make my arms and legs do the motion, and I was a couple inches deeper in the water than normal.

The run plan was another 2.5 hours. With some hills. I did not want to run the 5 K route like I've done before. It's much too easy to measure how much I slow down, and that depresses me, which makes things worse.

So I did a short warmup loop back to the house where I slurped some Nuun water, and stuffed some nutrition into my pockets along with a flask. The idea was to run a route that I'd never timed before, so I wouldn't know if I was slowing down. Or at least I wouldn't have stopwatch verification of it to the hundredth of a second. Then I'd try to arrange to get back to the house after an hour to refill, then go for another hour. I knew it would be hard to head out again, but still.

The first bit was fine, though a bit of a plod. At 32 minutes I picked it up and was running nicely for me. That lasted about 10 minutes till I was going down the hill into Fish Creek. My stride got away from me, and I never really got it back. Plodded around in Fish Creek for a while, then headed up and back to the house. Along the way, during a gentle downhill I picked it up and ran well again, till I pooped out and slowed down again. At no time was my heart rate particularly high, nor was my breathing ever out of control, but I couldn't make my legs go any faster. My peak heart rate was 131, and in a minute you'll understand where that happened. The average heart rate over the whole run was 119 bpm.

Then came the adventure. At 1:35 I tripped over a sidewalk slab and thought I was going down. All the following thoughts flashed through my brain:

  • Oh shit, I'll be calling my dentist again.
  • Do I twist onto my right side, possibly falling on my bad elbow,
  • Or, do I twist onto my left side, possibly falling on my sore shoulder,
  • Or do I try to tuck and roll, and jam the half full flask bottle into my kidney?
  • How do I explain this to Linda?

Fortunately, my legs took two huge steps, and with a mighty spasm of the quads managed to retain my balance and get me mostly upright again. They are sore and tired now, but I'm very grateful.

That was it for me. I walked back to the house to stretch and shower. I've said it to myself a thousand times, "race smart, train smarter". I need to learn to run on tired legs, but I was stupid to push my tired legs that hard, even after having a day's rest. I've been dipping in and out of the fatigue well for the last little while, and it's no fun. My body doesn't believe taper is ever going to come.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not a fun Grrrr this evening

I am not a happy camper tonight. I'm just coming down from a wash of emotions: anger, rage, pain, and humiliation are the main ones. So what happened?

The idea was to leave work early, get the bike ride done while the weather was nice, and BBQ for when Linda got home. Simple, right? Not so fast. A meeting at work went longer than anticipated. All good stuff, but still. My accountant let me know my corp taxes were done and I could drop by anytime to review them.  She's going on vacation soon, and I like to get these things done and over with. It didn't actually take that long, but her office is in the beltline area, so it's a bit out of my way. On the way home I stopped at the store to pick up some supplies, including date newtons to try on my next ride.

By this time I was hungry, and the clouds were looking more threatening. BBQ some steak, and had a small bit of steak and some salad for supper. While doing the BBQ I was out looking at the clouds. It was getting cooler, and there was a thunderstorm watch on the weather page. The workout was some interval hard, harder, hardest stuff, and I thought it might be a good idea to do that on the trainer, and avoid the weather and all the stuff that goes with being on the road. First link in the chain.

I also thought it would be a good idea to swap the good tire I just bought off the bike and put on the trainer tire. Second link.

This is where the Grrrrr starts. I got the good tire and tube off ok. It's a measure of how far things went awry that I'm congratulating myself for getting that much right. I also decided that rather than using a brand new tube, I'd use some of the old patched ones where I wasn't just totally 100% sure of how airtight they really were, since after all, they only had to hold air a couple hours. This was good.

I struggled and struggled with the trainer tire. I kept saying to myself, I've done this before why am I having such a hard time? Grumpiness set in. Then impatience. The tube wasn't cooperating, and the tire is a bitch to get over the rim. I broke one of the cheap plastic tire "irons". Now I'm getting angry and prying the shit out of it trying to get it on. I just assumed there had to be a pinch flat in there once I got the tire on, and sure enough I was right.

Ripped that all off again. It wasn't just a pinch, it was an actual tear. Cut that tube apart and threw it out. Started all over again, trying to be patient and careful. At one point my hands slipped and I bent back my thumbnail. Ouch. I spent a lot of time trying to stuff the tube in there, and get the tire over the rim. No way I could do it with my hands, but eventually got it on. Pumped it up. hisssssssssss. Shit. Grrrrr.

Pulled the tire apart. Turns out the patch hadn't totally sealed up the hole. Cut that one apart and threw it away. By this time I'm thoroughly pissed off. I'm happy I didn't ruin any new tubes, but that's about all that can be said for the evening so far. I came upstairs to give myself a break for a minute, only to discover the clouds had all blown away and it's a beautiful evening for a ride. Well, shit. More Grrrrrr. At this point I no longer trust myself to put the good road tire and tube back on, and I've been putzing around for so long that doing the ride as scheduled would put me into riding in the dark even if I went on the hybrid.

I'm tired and cross. I should do the core, but I'm not going to. Normally, I say that if you wait till you're in the right mood to do something, you'll be waiting a long time. Mostly, training has to happen regardless of what sort of mood you're in. But I'm angry at myself, and know that I'd most likely be trying to rush it to get it over with. Which increases the likelihood of injury, which would really get me angry. And doing it fast isn't particularly effective, which means I wouldn't be proud of the workout even if I got through it all. And if I didn't get through it, or parts of it, I'd be getting more angry about that.

Some times it's best to call it a day and go to bed. Which is going to happen soon. I only hope I got to sleep and not have my mind playing it all over and over again. Once was bad enough.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday, Monday

Sunday was great. Read the Saturday papers. Drank coffee. Bottled a Uruguayan Tannat. It's nice out of the carboy, and should mellow nicely in the bottle. While doing that, I couldn't help but think of the Australian comedy sketch where they stop Americans on the street and ask them (among other things) for the name of a country beginning with U. None of them on the clip get it, and it's not like that's even a hard question. There's 7 of them, after all. (I missed United Arab Emirates and Uganda.)

Monday started with a swim. Mz. Elegant joined me part way through the warm up. We're just getting into the groove when another guy joins us. At first I thought with a crappy stroke like that he's going to be getting in our way. Oops. He easily swam faster than both of us, though I noticed he never did more than 100 m at once. He essentially swam head up crawl. I found out later he's an ex water polo swimmer. We tried to stay out of his way.

For once swimming with paddles was about the same speed as swimming without. It was a bit of a creaky warmup, but that passed. In the water 1.25 hours.

Ran an hour in the evening, hoping not to get pounded by the severe thunderstorm we were being warned about. I got hit by about 8 big fat rain drops, and that was all. The run itself was great! Nice and steady, high zone 2, legs felt strong and reliable.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Highwood revisited, from the north side

Katie and drove out to Barrier Lake to ride Highwood. My plan was 6 hrs max, then a 30 minute run. From Barrier it's about 62 K to the top. We had a great day, though it was a bit windy at times. Of course, she can ride way faster than me, but she doubled back a couple times to make sure I hadn't been eaten by a grizzly or something.

There is a lot of up involved in this ride. Plus a bit of down. Plus a lot of false flat. I never figured it out. I'd be riding along, equally astonished at doing 14 or 24 kph. I didn't see any other riders till I was near the top. The last bit is tough sledding. I was down to about 7 Kph in the granniest gear, weaving all over the shoulder trying to avoid the bugs. Once at the top I rode a bit further to where I turned around last time, and looked for Katie, but she was much further down.

It was just under 3.5 hrs to the top, counting a detour back to the car right at the beginning for something I forgot. It was 2 hrs back down again, and I was choked at the wind at the top. Going down the steepest part of the grade and I couldn't even get over 60 Kph. Did way better than that further down on flatter slopes but less wind.

In some ways the ride down was tougher for me. I was getting a bit creaky, a bit tired of being on the bike, a lot tired of the motorcycles. I was ready for a run about an hour before the ride ended. There's one last hill up and that really took it out of me. What with a bit of riding back and forth near where we parked, it turned into 130 K ride, and 5:45 time.

Lets see, 3 Clifs bars, 2 bananas, 2.5 bottles of energy drink.

The run was good! Started off with a good stride, I think mainly because I was so happy to be off the bike. Ran 30 minutes, and only slowed down a bit at the end. My left knee was getting a bit cranky.

Drove home to find Linda had a lamb roast ready to eat. Yum!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Not fail, but not obedient either

Feeling better, even though I didn't sleep well last night. My brain was going a mile a minute, thinking about work stuff, tri stuff, stuff stuff. My body was tired, but couldn't find a comfortable position to settle into.

Swim was to be 60 minutes after a short warmup, 400 m or so. No counting laps. No stopping. Consistent. The start was much like IMC, I got one lap in, and 3 floaties joined me. Dudes in the next lane were sloppy swimmers with huge waves, wake, and bubbles. They had the pool jets on full to clear out the kid pee from swim lessons. Choppy. Swam hard 100 m or so, dodging the floaties and showing them I was on a mission.

After that I settled into a nice consistent stroke, back and forth. Counted strokes a few times, it was either 19 or 20 per length. Watched the pace clock a few laps near the end and realized I'd slowed down to 1 minute per 50 m. Dug in and sped back up to 55 seconds or so, and worked a bit harder for the last few laps. Finally looked at my watch at 66 minutes, and wanted to keep going and tweak the stroke a bit more. At 72 minutes I was attacked by the lane ropes as the pool staff started setting up for the family swim. Ended at 73 minutes. Could easily have carried on much longer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I am, really. Only did a couple things after work, only two of which were tri related.

  • One - got a phone call from my dear friend Susi, mostly re: our upcoming trip to Penticton and how we'll meet, tips for packing and getting transition organized.
  • Two - called the motel and double checked that we're really booked in like I thought.
  • Three - called our house sitter and made sure she had the dates for our trip.

Other than that I rested.

  • Except for test driving some new cookies. I was so tired last night I sloughed (pronounced "sluffed" for my American visitors who are spooked by the letter u when accompanied by other vowels) off my cookie QC duties. Linda was shocked and horrified.
  • Getting reaquainted with Amelia the cat, which involves a great deal of string animating and combing.
  • Except for finishing up corp tax stuff. My accountant thought of some other stuff she needed, which mainly involved me digging in drawers like a dog after a bone, and filling out a spreadsheet. I know many of you are horrified, but I spend a significant fraction of my working life buried in spreadsheets of one kind or another, so I don't mind. I even put in the cute dollar signs for her. I know this reassures accountants that I'm counting beans, and not smarties or cookies. They have different symbols, you know. § and © respectively. See, aren't I just a font of information. (hahahahaha!)

No lawn mowing (though it will need it soon) or cleaning the basement (that darn tri stuff is all over the place, looking like it wants to go on a trip or something).

Getting pumped for riding the north part of Highwood on Sat.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

(Hides face in hands)

Swim warmup was not good. Tried to relax and ease into it, to find the groove. I even did a bit of extra warmup, hoping my body would remember how to swim. Fist was a flail, trying to keep from sinking to the bottom. During the catchup drill my flip turns abruptly failed. I found this out when I banged my tailbone on the floor of the pool - in the deep end. I had lots of time to look at the surface, wondering how long I could stay down there before the lifeguards came to get me. Once I realized I was not naturally floating upward at a rate that would lead to my being able to breath when I wanted to, I just stood up.

Halfway through the first 400 m main set I made the mistake of looking at my watch. Holy crap. I don't think I've ever swum 200 m that slow. I gave it another 100 m trying really hard on my stroke, and I sure hope nobody was watching because it was ugly. Then I got out of the pool and put the toys away.

Another long run tonight was in the plan. 5K loops again, with the front patio as an aid station.
First loop. 39:39 avg heart rate 113. T Rex plods again! The entire 5K was on the verge of breaking into a walk.

Second loop. 38:46 avg heart rate 117 I pushed a lot harder, hoping for a 35 minute lap time. Not. There is nothing in my legs. Stride sucks.

Third loop. 48:15 avg heart rate 104. My legs stopped running (I use that word very loosely, you understand.) about 1:45. Thats about where I realized I was going slower than my fast walk.

Total 2:06. Max heart, the MAX heart rate for crying out loud was only 125. That's not even zone 3. The big success for the evening is that I didn't trip over a sidewalk slab and land on my head, lying there till some generous passerby reads the Road ID and makes a phone call.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Riding on a shredded tire

Schedule is kind of mucked up from the weekend. Did not swim this am. Did not want to get out of bed. Barely dragged my tail into work. Good thing Linda made excellent coffee

Run 60 minutes tonight. Ok. There's been better and worse. Nothing more worth saying.

Then downstairs for fail. Well, the intent was core, the result was fail. A pyramid of failure. It's shorter to say what didn't fail. Calf raises. Rows. Everything else failed before completion. Some, like tri dips got further than others, like plank. Some, like pushups and wall sit were instant failure.

A week and a bit ago I had a flat near Okotoks on my long ride. Remember how I said there was lots of crap on the road, and lots of it looked like glass? The tire was a bit soft before my Thursday ride last week and I pumped it up. It was a bit soft again before my Monday ride and I pumped it up. It was soft at the end of the ride, and when I looked at it this morning it was totally flat. I knew there was at least one good cut in the tire so I knew I didn't want to do IMC on it. It so happens my accountant is in the same building as a bike shop downtown. Campione, if you're interested. They had a tire that would fit so I bought it.

Found the hole in the tube pretty quick. Finding the tiny wire that caused it was harder. At least I think that's what caused it. There were several other possible candidates; tiny little pebbles lodged into cuts. What a mess! That tire is now in the garbage. I think that's the fastest I've ever used up a tire and there's still lots of tread on it, but it's the areas without tread that worry me. My hands got a core workout putting the new tire on, and I managed without any tire tools. I must be getting better at this.

The other thing I discovered in this process is that when I'd put the tire back on after fixing the flat, I hadn't flipped the little lever that widens the brakes so the tire can get out, back to where it should be for riding. So essentially, I've ridden the last several hundred K without back brakes. Oops.

So for the long ride this weekend I am NOT going to go on highway 7. Not sure where I'll go exactly. Maybe down to Hartell and left onto the road I did last time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

That was painful

No, not fixing the tooth. Remember, I've got the best dentist in the world. Not only does he understand triathlon, he's got deft fingers. He took one look at my tooth and laughed.
"You had me a bit worried when you said a huge chunk had fallen off; this is no big deal at all."
And it wasn't. Less than half an hour after lying down, I was up again, ready to go. And yes, it really was a huge chunk; almost half the filling was exposed. No followup needed. It becomes another thing to keep track of during the regular checkups.

The painful part was the bike ride today. Maybe I should have skipped it. With the last few weeks of good rides, I'd built my confidence up and was feeling good about the bike. After today's ride I'm not so sure anymore.

It was overcast and cool when I started out. I felt fairly good, and was looking forward to a fairly strong 5 hour ride. I wasn't out to set any records, but wanted to maintain a good pace and finish strong. By the end of the first hour I knew that wasn't going to happen. I was already hurting more than I had at the end of the 180+ ride last weekend. I could not get comfortable. My toes hurt, my legs were weak and feeble noodles. My right knee was really, really down on this whole bending thing. My hands hurt. My triceps were just killing me, especially the left, and in fact it still hurts now. My neck and upper back hurt. And my butt, holy crap did that hurt! It felt like someone had installed a couple of pointy bits on the saddle right where they would go into my sit bones.

I rode out 22X and down 22, a route I'm really familiar with in all sorts of wind conditions. The first hour was about what I had expected, but instead of building on that, I knew I was going to be lucky to hold onto that pace. Down to Millarville and west, doing not too badly, but struggling to stay focussed. I turned around where the road turns to gravel just after the Quirk Creek gas plant. Then went up 762 to the very top of the hill, and turned around. I got back to 549 right at 2:30.

So technically, what I should have done was turned around, gone back up the hill and down again, back to Quirk Creek, then headed for home. I couldn't. I just couldn't. I headed for home. Already my average pace was dropping off, and I felt weaker than ever. No matter which way I faced it seemed like I was into the wind. Normally I don't mind but today I was taking it personally.

I struggled along, wondering why I was feeling so weak, and so down about the ride. I'm not sure if the physical weakness drove my attitude, or if my lack of enthusiasm for the ride translated into the physical feebleness. At the 90 K point I was about 3:35. If this had been a 180 K ride I think I would have quit and called Linda to tell her which ditch she could find me in. As it was, there were a couple places I wanted to call it a day. One in particular, standing up to give my butt a break had my knee screaming. For a few seconds I thought I'd actually broken or torn something.

As I've been doing lately, I had thought carefully about nutrition. I'd had a good breakfast, and was even with the plan at the very least, and if anything was a little ahead of it. By and large it wasn't a bad day for riding. The clouds cleared a bit, and it wasn't cold. No rain at all, despite a 60% chance in the forecast, and threatening looking clouds at the start.

I am trying to retain my confidence about the bike ride. For some reason I've really struggled with the bike this year. If I'd known how slow and painful it would be, I think I would have skipped it. After all, workouts are supposed to build confidence and fitness, right? This workout didn't, and didn't. I don't think one builds fitness riding way, WAY slower than normal. How slow was it? 4.5 hours to go 108 K. That's about 24 Kph on roads that I typically average 26 to 27 Kph on. Even that's deceptive since the first two hours were mostly on track.

When I got home I put Estela into the basement and told her that she's a good bike and it's not her fault. Then I hit the showers. I simply didn't see the point of a T run. I'm going to try to put it behind me and think positively about the upcoming storm of workouts. One last build to go. Only a few more workouts, in the grand scheme of things, till taper, and the big day. But I'm feeling it today. I've been working at this fitness thing pretty hard and pretty steady now for 3 years. Almost all of it has been fun. Today wasn't fun, not even close. At this moment, this very moment, I think about IMC and it's "uggg, one more thing to do." As in, one damn thing after another.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's ok Susi, no gory photos this time

My thought was to do the bike ride on Saturday, and spectathlete on Sunday at the local 70.3. Well, life gets in the way. I woke up Sat totally bagged. I knew right off there was no point going out for the bike ride, even if it was going to be the nice day of the weekend. It was nice to have a quiet day, mostly off my feet. Reading. Getting my corporate tax stuff organized. Watching videos, and (gasp) drinking beer. Watched the new Alice in Wonderland, and the Red Baron. First was pretty good, the second was pretty bad, which disappointed me.

Sunday I was feeling much better. Then while having a peanut butter sandwich there was an extra loud crunch. I've been having a sensitive spot on one of my upper teeth for a while. I've been eating carefully, trying to make it last till a dental appointment in September. Not. A huge chunk of tooth fell away from the filling, and since I didn't spit it out I must have swallowed it. My dentist is at the 70.3 race, expecting to see me among others. From Cath's tweet I know she and Julie are done in good time. Yay!

I thought long and hard about going for a ride today, all the while probing the missing bits of toothness. Drinking and eating has to be done extremely carefully, since there is a filling hanging out in the open, and I'd really rather not damage it any more than it already is. One touch of liquid is painful. I don't want to think about biting down on anything; that might crumble the filling. It's only 30 some years old and done with what my fabulous dentist calls "a primitive technique, even for that time." Even breathing through my teeth sets up a whistle effect that irritates me. My upper jaw is aching. So I didn't ride. Overcoming the habits of a lifetime of eating and drinking is difficult enough without adding bicycle operation into the mix. Last thing I need is a crash to make it worse.

In the latest news I have a 9am appointment tomorrow with my dentist. I'm not deluding myself that he can fix it up good as new in one go. I suspect what will happen is that he'll mold some tooth goop into a shape that will seal things up for now, and plan whatever has to be done as a long term solution. Since one of the things we've discussed in recent appointments is the gradual replacement of these fillings it will be no surprise all that has to be taken into account.