Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm glad it was a bike day today

When we looked at the weather page this morning it said -29 C (-20 F) and there was a stiff wind. That's getting just a little brisk. The swim was the usual today, long warmup, lots of dolphin kick and pull, some drill, 10 x 100 all between 95 and 100 seconds though I went for a longer rest period, alternating starting on 2:30 and 2:15. That was lots, and I'll try a consistent 2:15 next time. My thinking was to swim strong and smooth trying to stay relaxed and keep my stroke good, without struggling with oxygen debt. For now.

We got the news at the pool that starting on Thursday there will be a high school swim club taking up two lanes from 7 till 8 on Tues and Thurs. That means squishing all the rest of us into the remaining lanes, which is going to be a bit of a zoo. I think I'll try swimming at Inglewood, or Canyon Meadows instead on those days.

Once home I got some bison chili going, and left it to simmer all day. Then onto my bike for 1.25 hrs. My legs were relaxed and spinning well right from the start. I mainly stuck right around 90 rpm, doing some long semi time trial sets, trying to keep the cardio level just at the top of zone 2, while spinning smoothly. I think my legs are beginning to remember what this is all about.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

odd workout combo today

Saturday I was in a course all day. It snowed. I watched My Fair Lady and drank wine, feeling very sophisticated. I don't want to turn this into a rant about the crap that Hollywood turns out these days, but I so much enjoyed listening to the witty dialogue, the brilliant songs, and the wicked satire.

Sunday I slept in a bit, which means out of bed at 7am or so to feed the meowing mammal. Then after some browsing I napped more. Then came the workout. It's been snowing here. I've already shoveled the driveway and front sidewalk twice. This morning I powered through the driveway and front sidewalk, which only had maybe an inch or so, then tackled the side. It's longer, and was more than a foot deep in places. Even though it's light snow it still takes a lot of doing when it's that deep. I was out there about 45 minutes, and I should probably count it as core and cardio. Started off being cold, then working hard enough to be sweating enough to fog up my glasses.

Then it was off to our book club meeting. Regular blog readers will know this is usually held in a pub, preferably one that serves Guinness. The odd thing about it is that we talked about the book first, and for quite a while, which was a bit of a surprise. First coffee, then hanging out and chatting, and sipping Guinness. Lifting that was the other workout.

We hit the library on the way home so I'm now listening to Delicate Sound of Thunder, and we've got Beat the Devil cued up for our evening movie. Now I'm much too late to get onto the bike today, unless I don't want to sleep tonight. However, I don't think my knee minds the rest.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.5 hrs
Bike 2.0 hrs
Run 1.25 hrs
Total Cardio 6.75 hrs
Core 2.25 hrs.
This is getting back to a more balanced cardio workout. The last while has been very heavy swim. I'd like to increase bike and run a bit more next week.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I didn't recognize it at first

The last couple of days I've had this weird feeling. I didn't realize what it was till shortly after getting out of bed today. It was my muscles feeling tired. A nice tired, an I've been working tired. Not the dead-ass fatigue of too much IM training, or the soreness from a wonky knee, or the unhappiness from overdoing it a bit or a lot. Just an overall feeling that I've exerted myself hard enough to feel it, but not so hard as to really feel it. What's more, it's all over, legs, shoulders, arms, core. Balanced. Nice.

So the plan had been to bike and run twice this week and see what Sunday feels like for a brick. I ended up running twice in a row because the weather was so nice, meaning today was going to be a bike ride. With my muscles feeling the way they are I decided that an easy spin was in order.

Warmed up with a bit of core work, maybe 15 minutes, but I have to say my heart wasn't in it today.  Onto the bike with a slow warmup, gradually building rpm in an easy gear with light feet. This was fun. I kept it aerobic, and eventually got up to 115 rpm. That's the fastest I've had my feet turning over in a long time. Most of the workout was at 90, rpm with some at 100, and a bit at 110 to 115. My knee felt good all the way through. My legs were liking it too. Did some rollering and stretching after. Now my legs are feeling great!

The pool is open for a combined lane swim and public swim from 2:30 to 4. Hmmmmmm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This might be a really bad time to blog

It was a beautiful day out today. Almost hot even. So I BBQ'd sausage for supper. With wine. Very good wine. Very, very good wine. I'd have had beer instead, but there wasn't any in the fridge. But the wine was good. Very good. Wait a minute, I think I've been here before. Besides, I'm thoroughly amused watching Coupling. The BBC version. It's one of the funniest shows ever to make it to television. So yes, I'm in a good mood, in case you were wondering. The real evidence is in the comments on SUAR's blog. Or a recent status update on FB by Tisha. Oh, and a couple emails, but mum's the word there, right? I sure hope so. To say NOTHING of a blog comment that none of you know how to find.

Things started out really well. DQ was in the pool today and we chatted a bit through our swim. Well, not that we swam together or anything, separate lanes and all, right and proper as it should be out in public and everything. Our breaks just happened to be a concurrent times, in adjacent lanes, and I think we were both in a chatty mood.

I digress. I was sharing a lane with 2 other people. One a floatie, and the other a slow thrashing swimmer-wanna be who was trying much too hard. I got into the groove right off and without even trying cracked out my fastest K since I started swimming again. Love it. Then lots of dolphin kick, some pull, a bit of drill till the lane cleared out. Then I got down to business. 100 m, not quite all out, but HARD! on 2:30. 87, 92, 95, 97. That was enough. My stroke was starting to get sloppy. Though it's coming back together at more moderate efforts, at least to the point I don't have to watch it every second. Cool down. Good swim. 1 hour.

Got the crap scared out of me on the way home. Told the story on Facebook. A truck and trailer combo parted ways while I was right beside it, westbound on Glenmore, right under Blackfoot. The trailer dropped down in a shower of sparks and started slewing sideways. I nearly crapped myself and bailed out into the merge lane. Fortunately it didn't flip or  anything drastic like that, though I'm glad I wasn't right behind it. My heart was going pitter patter, let me tell you!

Errands. Snack. Run. It's nice today, but not as nice as yesterday. I went 45 minutes, trying for an easy pace, and being careful on the ice. Lots and lots of ice. Warmed up with the leg stretches and an easy easy start. Walked after. I took my phone with me and recorded a bit of video while running. That will never ever see the light of day!

Later in the afternoon I was out chipping channels to get the huge puddles of water to drain from the bottom of the driveway and it was almost hot out. It totally would have been shorts and T shirt weather if I'd wait to run then.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First run of the year in shorts!

This has been a pretty cold winter so far, though it's warmed up nicely the last few days. Today, in fact, is warm enough to run in shorts and a long sleeved tech shirt, though really, I could have done a short sleeved. The weather page says 10 C (50 F) and sunny, and I'm pretty sure that's what it was.

But the day started with a swim. I got into the groove right off, within the first 50 m, and settled in at a comfortable pace, checking my stroke every now and then. First K was 18:30 and feeling strong. The second K was 37:10 or so. Finished at 45 minutes with things beginning to fall apart a bit. Well, 44:30 if you insist. The stroke felt strong and relaxed and smooth. Wish there'd been a video camera. Started a dolphin kick set with fins and gave myself a really bad ham cramp, which is about the first time that's happened. Lots of kick and pull. Back into front crawl aiming to be a bit stronger and even better form. Then some back stroke and really easy front crawl to cool down. 1.5 hrs total.

I hit the sweet spot today. As I was getting in another guy was leaving and told me it had been a zoo there with 5 people in each of the fast lanes for a while. Another person joined me as I was doing backstroke, then several people piled in as I was stretching. Just as well I was done, since none of them could swim.

Here's why I went to Princess Auto. Our BBQ came with these stupid little castors, more suitable for an indoor couch or chair. Since the BBQ normally lives in the garage it worked out ok, but one of the castors eventually broke. I went to the BBQ place and they said Princess Auto was the place to go. What a neat place! It's full of all sorts of interesting stuff.

I really like old small town hardware stores, but they've been gradually going out of business, mores the pity. You never knew what you'd find, and the real treasure, as I've come to understand, there was usually a guy there that could answer questions. A handy guy. One who knew what parts you'd need to match up the old stuff in your house to that new stuff in whatever package you bought. Knew that the weird nut or bolt you needed would be in a particular bin in the back and don't be afraid to help yourself to a coffee while you look. Could advise what brand of paint lasted in the local climate. Knew that you'd be better off buying rope rather than chain for what you were trying to do. Knew how to jerry-rig something to hold equipment together long enough to get the job done. Probably knew who was sleeping with who. All sorts of stuff.

In any case, you can see the broken castor and the new one that looks considerably more heavy duty. Plus the little rectangular insert that holds the pin. Doing the replacement was considerably easier than I expected. I was worried I'd break one of the inserts and then where would I be?

While getting dressed for my run I found a brand new pair of socks! Still on the little hanger. Not sure where they've been, but they're out now, and part of the working herd. They won't say this white for long. I was looking at one sock the other day, and it is this gross gray brown. Linda is thinking of giving them a bleach solution bath, but I don't care what colour they are. I figure if you wear blinding white socks, people will assume you're a newbie.

As I said it's warm out, and the snow is melting like there is no tomorrow. It's surprisingly hard to get a shot of your legs when you can't get the camera further away than arms length.

Here's a more traditional self-photo, showing off my deep set squinty eyes, but without the green glow I like so much. I'm not sure how I did that. Compare this to the last several photos of me taken outside.

After fixing the BBQ it was time to run. Warmed up with a bit of leg exercises, and started easy. At first I felt very choppy and stiff, but I soon relaxed. I wasn't caring about pace so I let my legs run at whatever speed felt comfortable. After a while it starting feeling very fluid and rhythmic. I was really enjoying the run, in between dancing over sheets of ice that froze last night after the melt from yesterday. Ran my 5 K route in 33:30, not working too hard. Stretched after. Yoga later tonight, but that can be added to tomorrow's blog if there's anything that needs saying.

My knee is feeling much stronger. For the run, at least, it isn't the limiter anymore. I'm back to working on building my running muscles and skills again.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The hum and whir

Monday was a weird day in the pool. I was feeling a bit out of it after my massage on Sunday, and all sorts of odd creaks and cracks happening. Going into the water, everything hurt a little bit, so I took my time with a warm up. Even then I got into the groove pretty quick, and even though I didn't think I was working that hard, I was going pretty quick. I ended up doing 1 K, and several laps in the middle of that were very quick. Lots of dolphin kick and pull, thinking about stroke. One hour total.

Linda won tickets to see the Flames in action against the Predators. We haven't been to see a live hockey game since the mid-nineties. I met her downtown, then we walked through the +15 to the Jamieson Centre to see a Mexican art exhibit. This is a new building that I've never been in before, just across the road from BP. When I worked there the building wasn't connected to the +15, now it has 3 of them. Then we went back to Sunterra for a wonderful dinner, and on to the game afterward.

It was a pretty good game overall, but I don't think we'll repeat the experience any time soon. Our tickets were pretty good, about $100 each, near the start of the first balcony, up behind one of the nets. That makes it a very expensive night out for us, by my standards, what with dinner, and parking. We didn't spend anything at the game, but it's almost as effective money vacuum as a casino. $7.50 for a beer!!! And it's cheap beer at that. Plus the seating is brutal for someone my size. By the end of the night my knee was aching, even after standing and stretching periodically.

After dropping Linda off at work today, I went back to bed. Out like a light for 3 hours. About 30 minutes of core workout had me feeling pretty good. Then an hour on the bike trainer. Warm up, settling right into 90 rpm or so in an easy gear for my legs for about 15 minutes. My knee was feeling pretty happy, so after a couple minutes of easy pedal, went a gear harder for about 10 minutes. This felt great, finally beginning to work the cardio system a bit and bringing on a sweat. After a few minutes of easy pedal, one gear harder. This was big ring, 3rd easiest gear. I couldn't quite maintain 90 rpm here, but I was solid between 85 and 90. This was beginning to pull at my knee a bit, so I only went 7 minutes. Then cool down.

This will be the part that many of you will think is perverted. I typically don't listen to music or watch a show while on the trainer. I like the silence. Today I was listening to the hum of the tire on the trainer wheel, and the whir of Estela's chain going round and round. I was thinking about my pedal stroke, trying to even out the hum. When I started all this I could easily hear the change in the hum since the only time there was power going to the wheel was when each foot was going down. Now my stroke is better and the hum is more consistent.

The workout was boring to most people. I just sat and pedaled, trying to maintain about 90 rpm. Many of the spin sessions I've been to have all kinds of different stuff happening, and it seems like every few minutes there's something different. But when you get on your bike there are long periods of time where nothing much changes in terms of pedaling. You sit there and pedal at what ever rpm you are trying to maintain. Every now and then you change gears. For us triathletes we don't surge past people. Typically if you're going to pass, you're already going faster than the person in front so nothing changes. The scenery goes by. So my thinking is that I need to build my skills at just sitting there and pedaling. I don't have music during the race, so I typically don't have music during training. I listen to my bike and think about what my body is doing. I fully realize there are specific drills that are good to do, but I sometimes wonder how much relation they actually have to the kind of riding we do.

In fact, I often find the music at a spin session to be distracting. It's often much louder than I'd like. My hearing is sort of funny in that I have tinnitus. I have a constant hiss in both ears. Most days I think of it as a bit of hiss on the soundtrack of my life. But what it means in practice is that I can't separate out sounds very well anymore. For instance, at the camp bike session, I essentially didn't hear a single word Michelle said. The mic she was using is horrible. It isn't just her, Chris tried it once and I couldn't hear him either. When I can't hear the instructions I make it up. If there's a lot of chat happening I can't hear the instructor either. Think of any normal house party where a group of people are chatting. If someone comes up and starts talking to me I'll never know it unless I see them. Even then I sometimes have difficulty.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A doggy run

Just as well my buddy Susi wasn't running with me today. We'd still be out there. Seemed like I hit the peak of dog walking time today. That wasn't my intent. What I wanted to do was run while the ice and snow were still firm, and not all squishy. It's getting warm here, which means the roads and sidewalks are a sloppy enchilada during the day. A mess. There are some days I wished I lived in a place where once it got cold, it stayed that way till spring. Then I realized that means living in Edmonton, and thought better of it.

My leg has been feeling pretty good so I thought I'd go for a bit of a longer run today and not worry about pace so much. I picked this route, about 7.7 K. Started with some core and leg exercises for half an hour to warm up. It took a little while to settle in, then I was really pleased how it felt. There were a few niggles about 30 minute mark so I stopped very briefly to massage the knee and stretch a bit, then carried on. I got back to the house just under 58 minutes, then kept going to fill out the hour. Walked and chatted to a neighbour. Stretched.

Most of the run was low zone 3, and my leg felt pretty good throughout. Tried for an even, relaxed pace, mainly working with what made my legs happy. It was nice and sunny, and running through Fish Creek is always beautiful. It's almost warm, so I only wore tights, short sleeved tech shirt, and a bike jacket. No gloves or toque. After all, it was 2 C (36 F). If this keeps up we'll be in shorts and T shirts soon.

Then my fave massage therapist came over. For once no one thing was demanding attention, though there are a few sore spots in shoulders, mid back, hips, ITB, calves, and one foot. Pretty good, in other words. I credit being a lot more zealous about stretching after swimming. I use to just hop out of the water after my main set and hit the showers. Then I started doing some cool down afterward. Then I'd periodically stretch. Now I add in stretch time for every swim. There's one that is really good. Breath in and scrunch your shoulders up trying to tickle your ears. Then breathe out, relaxing your shoulders then pushing them down, and back and out all at the same time. Repeat.

Weekly Summary
Swim 5.0 hrs.
Bike 1.0 hrs
Run 1.5 hrs
Total cardio 7.5 hrs
Core 2.75 hrs.

I've let the core slip a bit last couple weeks and need to get back on that. I think my knee will let me do several bike and runs throughout the week, so I'll start trying that and see what happens. I think this is going to be a bit of a balancing act for a while, to work the knee and build it up while not re-injuring it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flip turn exercise

Yesterday sort of got away from me. But today I was good. Nearly right after reading the morning papers I headed down for a spin session. My knee is feeling pretty good, so I was thinking about making it a shorter session, but putting a bit more effort into it. I need to be getting back into more regular sessions for running and biking now, and that means shorter sessions that don't stress my knee. In other words, leave while the leaving is good, or more specifically, stop while my knee could still keep going.

Warmed up 20 minutes, then found a gear where I could maintain 90 rpm with a balance between not working hard enough, and working too hard. This was in the big chainring, and 3rd gear down. 90 rpm is about 25 Kph. I started at one minute on, one minute off, going into the small chainring for the easy part. This was good, so I spent the next 10 minutes going 2 minutes on, one off. That got my breathing up to where I was finally doing a bit of a cardio workout, and the sweat was beginning to run down my face. My knee was fine with this, but I don't think it would have wanted much more. Spent the next 10 minutes doing a bit of easy spin and finding out my knee didn't want to go over 100 rpm, but didn't mind standing up for a short while in a fairly hard gear. Then 10 minutes cool down. My knee is feeling good.

Did some leg exercises, then had Linda video me for the dry land flip turn exercise I'd talked about.

Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Two camp photos

I've gone through the swim camp photos now and only found two of me that I'm willing to share out in public and all. There are many others of other people, of course, but it's up to them to share them. Or, you could come to the next camp and see for yourself. All photos from the camp are by Kaz Matsumoto. It seemed like every time I saw him, he was taking a photo, so I suspect he's edited down the raw footage. I shudder to think what might be on the memory chip of that camera if the ones of me with my mouth open looking dozy made the cut. I think the first one is from Friday night, and the second one could be any time Saturday.

The swim this morning can best be described as tired. It took quite a while to warm up and even then I never really felt strong or fast. Churned through the 1.25 hrs trying to think about stroke. Lots of dolphin kick and stroke drill.

At first I shared the lane with a much faster swimmer, but he moved over. Then for a long time another woman swimming about the same speed as me shared it and all was good. Then the lifeguard put this kid in the lane with us. Seriously, a kid of about 8 doing a wide slow breast stroke. Even though we'd already been doing circles, and were lined up ready to go again, the lifeguard told us we had to swim circles and make room. The kid was pretty good about letting us by, but sheesh, there were several other lanes where she would have fit in better.

Chatted with my buddy M. She found out she has ligament issues in her shoulder, which has modified her workout so she's mostly doing backstroke. A fast backstroke, I might add.

I am thinking that I really ought to get on my bike and get a spin workout in, but truth to tell, I'm just not feeling the bike love today. I really should do a good core workout. Maybe I'll bottle a wine kit instead.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

First warm run of the year

Back in the pool again this am, after sleeping like a rock last night. Slow warm up, still working on tweaking stroke. Lots of kick and pull. Dolphin kick is coming along to the point I've tried to do it for a whole length without fins; no speed records in danger there, I'll tell you. But doing a couple of dolphin kicks coming off a turn is beginning to feel more natural. Swam 1.5 hrs.

It's been warming up here, slowly and gradually, flirting with us. But it's finally warm here. I saw a guy walking past the house wearing shorts. Not a runner, not with that gut he isn't. My legs are feeling better so I did a half hour of leg exercises and headed out on my usual 5 K route. My legs felt a bit heavy, and there were a few niggles from my knee, but I carried on. Without working too hard I got back in 34 minutes. I'm happy with that. One of these days I'll have to get stuck in and go a little longer and see how that works out.

Walked and stretched after, though I was thinking of going for a longer walk. It's actually nice out, just above zero, though really windy in places. I'm not sure if it's blowing in the warm weather, or blowing in more crap weather, since there isn't a nice Chinook arch. I've got that pleasant feeling in my lungs that you get when you've worked them just right. Nice!

I've had a few people ask me about the dryland exercise I did to improve my flip turns. Maybe over the weekend I'll get Linda to video me doing it, and put it here. Looks odd, but it works.

Linda is off tomorrow, so we're likely to stay up late watching Torchwood. Or Sanctuary, I forget which we have out of the library. And drinking wine, yes. Which might make getting into the pool tomorrow a bit of a challenge.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Post-camp swims

Monday was a write off. Even being careful I think I overdid it on the bike. It isn't so much my knee, but my whole leg is tired sore. At one point on the bike I realized I was all leaned over one way, presumably to make it easier on my right leg.

Tuesday wasn't a whole lot better, but I did get into the pool for 1.25 hours. Chatted to my buddies DQ and Mr. Outboard. Much of the workout involved thinking a lot about what I learned at swim camp, trying to build new habits. Reaching further forward is ok so far, just a bit tougher on the triceps. But getting those hands pointed downward FIRST before anything else is going to take a bit of doing. Drafted Mr. Outboard for a while as he was going easy, then he gradually pulled away as he picked up the pace.

Did a little bit of leg stretches and exercises, but wasn't getting carried away. I'm still tired, and my right leg is still cranky.

Wednesday was chatting to LWB and JA. L just did a half marathon and her IT bands are talking to her big time. JA was doing sprints, so once I was warmed up I offered to pace her to give her incentive to keep up. I pushed off, heading for a slightly faster pace than she had been doing. She touched my toes so I sped up a bit. She fell a bit behind on the flip turn but still ended up being faster than she's done, if I understand her correctly.

Part of the challenge of swimming is to break old patterns to swim faster by doing so in a burst or sprint. Then it suddenly becomes easier to swim that fast more and more. Only a few weeks ago a 93 second 100 m was a very strong pace for me. Today I did it several times while tinkering with my stroke, and not particularly trying to swim fast. One hour altogether.

My Chiro/ART guy went nuts with his Graston tool today. Talk about serious discomfort. It's all good for me in the long run, but I still have to get through it being done. I think it's going to be interesting the next while as I try to build the strength in my knee, yet not overdo it and injure myself again.

Yoga was good, though Savasana was difficult. I couldn't relax, thinking of lots of stuff.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The swim camp weekend

Mercury Rising put on a super swim/bike camp this weekend. Super! We started Friday night with a bit of a meet and greet and intro at Tri It, then up to the SAIT pool for a swim. Warm up, and Clint likes to see lots of kick in a warm up. Ugh. We got video taken from the front, and from both sides. No review of it right away. Then a 100 time trial to figure out who should swim together during the big sets the next day. It was my good fortune to be swimming in the lane beside LC. Holy crap can she swim! I'm going for all I'm worth and she's slowly pulling away from me. That's the fastest I've ever swum 100 m. Ever in my life, even back when I was a reasonably fit. Oh, all right, since you ask so nice, 83 seconds.

Home again. Swimming for me is a wake up activity so I find it hard to go to sleep after an evening swim. This was no exception, and we had to be back at the SAIT checkin desk at 5:45 to meet the lifeguard. In the water at 6 am for a 2 hour swim.

Warmup of course, sharing a lane with LC and MK. LC and I had met at Chinook a couple years ago, but I was bonked and didn't remember her. I'd met MK before at the spinathon but didn't remember him, and he knows people I know. Lots of drill, feedback from Clint. By now I was getting used to the weirdness at the bulkhead end of the SAIT pool. It goes down to the deep end just before the bulkhead, and there aren't many references to set up your flip turn. I blew a few of them. At this point I don't even remember all that we did. Some of it was fast, me mostly chasing LC, and MK chasing me. At one point we discussed going down the lane as a three person drafting machine, and wondered how far we'd get before Clint put a stop to it.

After the swim we wandered through the maze to our meeting room. Clint went through some swim basics that are valid for everybody. Then we got into the video. There is so much detail! I thought I'd done really well on improving my stroke over the last few months. And so I did, since I'm going faster. That turns out to be because my body position in the water is so much better than last year. There has been some stroke improvement, but the video clearly showed some stuff to fix. Clearly. There is work to be done here.

I can't stress enough what a great training tool this is. Seeing your stroke opens the door for improvement. When you see a bunch of people in a row you start seeing the same issues over and over again, such a poor catch, dropped elbows, wide kick, or kick with bent knees, poor body position in the water, poor rotation, and on it goes. Oddly enough, swimming faster didn't guarantee a better stroke. I would strongly recommend that if you want to improve your swim, get a video done.

Julie, Sarah, and I hung out during the break. We didn't feel like doubling our parking fees by going somewhere. Lots of great chat. Turns out I used to live not far from where Sarah lives. It was so much fun watching her face when she realized the bike she is buying back home is on display at Try It.

After lunch we had a lecture by one of the doctors from Panther Sports Medicine. Holy medical terminology overload Batman! But once he had one of the campers go up to be a model it started making a lot more sense. He essentially walked through an evaluation of her shoulder and neck issues. Very interesting. Julie stood in front of him in bare feet. He picked out the broken foot no problem, and showed how lifting a bit of her arch would change the entire orientation of her leg. He really seems to know his stuff. Great handout on stretches.

Then what? I think there was something in the classroom. Or maybe we went back to the pool. More practice, trying to apply what we've been told. Another round of video. Sara was in the water showing how it's done. Swoosh. Some of us went over for flip turn lessons, but it turns out there wasn't much Clint could tell me in those circumstances. I'm sure there's lots I could do better; it would just take more time and perhaps looking at it on slo-mo video to see the details. It took a year of practice to go from not doing flip turns to where I am today. I'm not sure how long it took to get the turn reliable.

Although we had the pool for 2 hours, most of us pooped out at the 1.5 hr mark and hit the hot tub. All we were missing was a bottle of wine or two, and maybe it would have got rowdy, but we were a pretty tired bunch.

I did not sleep well. I'm not sure why, but I was up early. The first thing was a talk by brain cancer surviver (so far) Alyson Woloshyn. One of the things that struck me was how long she put up with brutal pain, and how her doctor fobbed her off. It just reinforces the message that pain means something, and the earlier it's dealt with the better. If you should want to donate money to brain cancer research you can do so through her page.

Then to the spin session. I've never seen so many bikes in Tri It. Michelle led a really tough session with lots of hill work. For me this session was about not blowing up my knee. Pushing big gears is not a good idea, so I tried to keep the rpm's up, work on form, and varied the gears a bit as I went along. I made my goal of 3 hours pedaling, though I was on the bike 3.25 hrs with three short breaks for water refill and some stretches. You can bet I iced the knee when I got home. It doesn't hurt, but it is talking to me a bit.

Here's a short video from the spin session.

Weekly Summary
Swim 7.5 hrs
Bike 4.25 hrs
Run .5 hrs
Total Cardio 12.25 hrs
Core 2.75

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mental Illness

The other day I was listening to The Current on CBC. Yes, I know how some of you feel about the CBC, but this is not that blog. They gave some stats on how many people have or will have a mental illness, and how many of those people will not get the help they need. They are astonishing numbers:

  • 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental illness during their life.
  • About 8% of adults will experience major depression during their life.
  • About 5% are affected by anxiety disorders.
  • Per the Current, only a small percentage of people get the treatment they need.

I didn't hear the entire program, but it's clear that the stigma attached to mental illness is in some ways worse than the mental illness. People fear what they don't understand, and most people don't understand mental illness.

When we look at a physical injury to the body, it's usually pretty clear what needs to be done to fix it. We recognize that the cure is likely to be incomplete, in that there may be scars, bone may not heal completely, tendon and cartilage are difficult to heal, nerves don't repair themselves, we can replace organs but can't yet regenerate them, and so on. In each case we can see the damage and impairment, and can usually help the person cope. Unless they've done something really stupid to themselves, we don't blame people for these injuries. Being injured is part of even the most careful life.

We can't see mental illness, we can only see behaviour and compare it to previous behaviour. A major change may be an indication of a mental illness. But here is where we get into the problem. When someone breaks a bone, we all recognize that medical attention is required, and that person will need a period of recuperation. We do not recognize that a broken bone is an acceptable condition, nor is there a "broken bone" culture saying it is discrimination to treat that broken bone.

In our society there is a behaviour continuum. We expect a certain range of behaviours from other people, and are tolerant of a somewhat wider range. However at some point those behaviours become unsafe for the person involved, and those around them. Where do we draw that line? Where does self expression, or eccentric behaviour, or protest behaviour cross the line into an actual mental illness? How can we tell? Who gets to decide?

In an earlier era we used to lock up such people, and under the guise of treatment the medical system experimented on them. Then we let them out to try to cope on their own, which is something that many of the mentally ill simply can't do. They need at least some level of assistance. Yet there are some people who argue such assistance is wrong, that treating at least some mental illness is a form of personality control, that these people have made a choice to be that way and are happy and should be left alone. I fully note there are several arguments there, and that people or groups might argue some of them, but not all.

I was astonished to discover a few years ago there were people protesting having a Cochlear implant placed in deaf children. They said it was an assault on deaf culture, that it was better to have a child fully embraced by and be proud of the deaf community, rather than be a marginally functional part of a hearing community.

It comes back to a wider question of what is "normal" for humans? How much deviation from normal are we willing to accept, and how much treatment are we prepared to pay for to get back within that range? For an example fairly close to home, it is widely recognized that physical activity is good for you.  Train for Ironman and you start getting some odd looks from people. There is the feeling that swimming, biking, and running for more than 20 hours a week is a bit excessive. Seems fine to me. Then there is the ultramarathon community, and I start raising my eyebrows at the activity level required. Normal? Within those wider bounds? Or is this getting into a compulsive behaviour?

Staying clean is another example. I typically have one shower a day. Lots of days I have two. There are some days I have three. Compulsive? No, considerate given how much I sweat during workouts. I'm sure my co-workers and cat thank me. But without the workouts, would 3 showers a day be across the line into compulsive? If so, is it worth treating? I've worked in jobs where my hands got dirty. Very, very, dirty, in several senses of the word, necessitating hand washing at least a half dozen times a day. Compulsive? How many times a day is normal? Does that change now that we know what an effective mechanism our hands are for transmitting disease?

One form of mental illness is substance abuse. Booze, tobacco, crack, cocaine, gasoline, glue, and others are well documented for the impact they have on the lives of the victim, their families, and society. Some people escape from these, but most don't. It's common for people to be told that tobacco is having a major impact on their health, yet they don't quit. They can't quit.

Oops, hit publish button by mistake, and I'm off to swim camp. To be revised. Come back later.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Some things that go together

I'd love to tell stories about locker room shenanigans, but I can't. My pool (I'd tell you which it is, but then I'd have to kill you.) has been so quiet lately and I love it. I hardly see anyone in the locker room. I typically share a lane with at most one other person the last couple of weeks. Today, D and I each had a fast lane to ourselves. Haven't seen her for a while and it was good to catch up.

Today was drill day, trying to tweak and tune the stroke so I need not be ashamed of the video results at swim camp. Lets see, a bunch of kick, fist, FTD, Max distance/stroke, one arm, 123, catchup, then a bunch of 100 m sets nice and easy on 2 minutes, each thinking about a different aspect of my stroke, entry, reach, catch, pull, exit, return, and then putting it all together.

I had to laugh. One of the guys that moved in after D moved out was trying to keep up. I could see the effort within the thrash, and happily cruised on by him. Mr. Can'tstayinhisdraft was there too, zooming back and forth. He cruises along faster than my max swim pace. I'm sure he thinks I'm a perv for trying to sneak glances to see what he's doing that works so well. One hour total. I'm not wanting to overdo it.

Then home. I wanted to get out for a run. I was feeling the need. The itch. It was a bit brisk, so actually thought about the layers. Here's the essentials in 3 images.

I felt heavy and slow. I never really did find a good rhythm, just clumped along. At least most of my neighbours have gotten around to shoveling their side walks, though one needs a liberal interpretation of "shoveled". I'm not sure what some of them were thinking. I got lucky in that the sun was coming out when I started, and the clouds moved in shortly after I was done. 5K, 35:30 working a bit. My knee was feeling a bit tired towards the end.

Camp starts Friday night. There's an hour of swimming Friday evening, which is going to be weird. Swimming is a wake up activity for me. Hope I can sleep. Then we're in the pool lots of Saturday. Lots and lots. Should be fun. It will be nice to see some friends again, and meet some new people. I doubt I'll post anything till Sunday, if I live through the bike. I might have an auto post happen if I finish writing some thoughts about mental illness.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I had to use the towel

The swim Tuesday was my long steady swim, 40 minutes all at once, but but I didn't count laps. It's certainly over 2K, maybe as much as 2.2K. Then 20 minutes of dolphin kick stuff, and a bit of pull. The pool was really quiet. I'm liking this.

From there I went to give blood. I have almost perfect blood (A-) so they are eager to see me. If I don't make an appointment, they'll call to remind me. Normally I feel really good after donating, but today I felt curiously limp. Shoveling the driveway left me breathless and tired. I'd been planning a bike and core workout, but to cut to the chase I didn't. Nor did I do much of anything else. I went to bed early.

I wasn't ready to get up on Wed but managed to drop Linda off at work. There wasn't even a thought of going to the pool. I went home, settled in with Amelia, and snoozed for 3 hours. (And no, G, Amelia wasn't faking it. Clearly you don't have cats. Cats never fake anything.)

From there I got started on the core. 100 crunches. 2x10 pushups. Other stuff. Leg exercises. Then onto the bike. After a nice warmup I settled in and started to push a little harder. I got into time trial gear -1 and managed to push pretty good. Toward the end of each set I was up around 95 rpm. I even did a bit of (gasp) one leg drill. My right knee didn't like that much, and there were some odd clicks I didn't care for at all. If I really clenched my quads and calf they stopped, but then I couldn't pedal worth crap.

Overall bike was 1.25 hrs, and is getting up to a moderate effort. Even though I could have gone on, I decided to get off when my knee started feeling tired. This is the hardest I've pushed it in some time. I was really happy to actually be working hard enough to have the sweat running down my face; that hasn't happened for a while. The towel on my bike was probably getting dusty. I don't know what my knee will think of the bike session at the swim camp. That will be longest I'll be on the bike since IMC. Come to think of it, I don't know what my butt will think of it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Apricated again

It took a bit of doing to convince myself to slip out of the house and go for a swim this morning, especially since it was Canyon Meadows again. The early birds had cleared out so I got a lane to myself for a while. Warmed up, did lots of the dolphin kick drill, including a bit on the sides. That is coming along. Started my 100 m drill, and got 8 done on time, and was on the way to 9.

Floaties. Grrr. I was going back and forth up one side of my lane, swimming alone. This woman stood in the next lane and watched me do several of these. She joins in and decides to swim circles, and came up my lane as I was heading back for the last bit of 9. I'm really not sure if I was going to make it, but then I hadn't thought I'd make 8 and that was done with several seconds to spare. I ended up stopping to talk to her. She started by saying that she had watched, and I was going in circles the wrong way so it was my fault. Sigh. That broke my concentration for getting any more of them done.

Still, 8 is good. Several times I noticed myself tightening up and killing my stroke efficiency, then relaxed and got it back. I think I'm just at the tipping point where if you can do x many of something you've reached a stable place and can do lots of them.

She thrashed back and forth a bit till another woman joined us. I heard the story later but the new one kicked the old one out of the lane, and told her she was being inconsiderate. The new one was still a slow swimmer, but was much faster than the other. It took about 5 or 6 lengths to lap her compared to less than 3 for the other one. I finished up my hour and headed home.

Our main activity was to take down our Christmas tree. It normally comes down on the 5th or 6th, but we were enjoying it, and had other stuff on the go so we didn't mind leaving it. Somehow, we have more ornaments to go back into the boxes than came out of them.

I was seriously considering going for a run, since it had got to be fairly nice out. After thinking about it I decided that I want to give my knee a bit of recovery time. Lately has been once or twice a week, so I think going to every other day will balance rest and activity in a happy making way.

After a lunch snack I settled in to read a bit. Amelia snuggled in. The sun is warm in our front window. The inevitable happened and it was good.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My knee is Yay!

We stayed up really late last night visiting friends. Really late. Way past my bedtime. So at 8 am when KBRCC started I was just barely getting out of bed. It took a long time to get going. We had other friends drop into during the day for a wonderful chat.

Then I headed downstairs for 30 minutes of core, including 100 crunches, and 2x10 pushups with a very short break in between. My leg was feeling pretty good so I was looking forward to the bike.

As soon as I got started I knew it would be a good ride. My knee felt strong and stable. I was into time trial gear -1, and it wasn't so long ago that that one was time trial gear. I could also get above 100 rpm and that felt good. No standing though or big gears, I wanted to get my legs used to a stronger and faster spin. I'm super pleased, and could have gone on longer. However supper called, so it was 1.5 hrs. After dinner I iced my leg, as it was feeling a bit tired and sore.

Weekly Summary
Swim 4.5 hrs
Bike 2.75 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Total cardio 8.25 hrs
Core 2.75 hrs.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Swimming in a backwashing pool

Started the day having breakfast with my buddy Gord. He's the friend I've probably known longest here; we used to work together once upon a long time ago. He's just retired, though technically he's on vacation for another week. It's been a little while since we chatted, so we had lots to catch up on.

You never know what you're going to get at Canyon Meadows pool. I swam late afternoon and it was the busiest I've ever seen it for that time of day. Normally it's peaceful and quiet. I ended up sharing a lane with 3 other people, though there was never more than two of us at any one time. Well, except for the one dick that wouldn't swim in circles with us, so he went off to a different lane. I didn't mind. The new guy swam faster.

Only had time for an hour swim so I hustled to get as much in as I could. Warm up. No really, I had to swim hard to warm up. I'm not sure what they were doing, but there were huge currents in the pool, and dramatic fluctuations of temperature. Most of the pool was what I think of as nice, with some warm spots. Plus this pool doesn't have real lane dividers so it can get really choppy at times. After that I did lots of the dolphin kick drill, both on my front and back. That's coming along pretty good. Tried it on my sides and nearly drowned. I'll have to work at that a bit more. Doing that kick after a turn is coming more naturally. Some arm drill, and backstroke.

There was a herd of kids coming into the pool as I was done. I think it's one of the local swim clubs. Looks like ages 5 to 15 or so, though it's hard to tell. I have no sense of how old kids are any more. Some of them are huge for their age. One of the girls was nearly my height, and talking about studying for her driver's test so I'm guessing she was about 15 or so. Most were short, and I felt like was wading through kids on deck to get to the change room. And the noise! I don't know how teachers stand it. Or anyone that has to be around kids.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My butt lasted 75 minutes

I'd been meaning to get on the bike again and see what my knee thinks of that. Tuesday didn't work out, and SUAR is the one that I know for sure would understand, and that's all I'm going to say about it. TMI and all. Wednesday was the prolo shots so I barely felt like walking afterwards.

But today things are feeling pretty good. Started with 30 minutes of core and leg exercises. 100 crunches and 15 pushups. Another record! I have never in my life ever been able to do 15 pushups at once. I do admit the last few were getting a bit sloppy. I'll probably stay at 15 for a while and try to firm them up. Didn't do squats, what with the impending bike.

I didn't have any idea how the bike would go, and didn't want to have to get off for lack of planning. So I got ready assuming I was doing a two hour ride, lots to drink, snacks, towel, and phone, even though I didn't think I'd really last that long. My knee and I had a careful chat before hand, then I started easy. It took about 20 minutes to feel warmed up and comfortable. I wanted to settle in about 85-95 rpm, starting in an easy gear. About the 30 minute mark I tried the next harder gear and that was ok. A while after that I tried what recently was time trial minus a gear, and that was a bit too much. My knee twinged at bit so I backed off.

In the end it was my butt that called it quits first. Just as I went into cooldown I got one semi-major twinge on my knee, though it went away as I eased down. The towel didn't get used, though I munched the snacks. The effort level was just were I was starting to get a bit of sweat, but it wasn't running anywhere. The heart rate monitor didn't get over 107 the entire time.

After a short transition I headed out for a run. I was thinking 15 or 20 minutes, 30 at most, nice and easy. I got just to the 20 minute mark and my knee and legs started complaining. That was fine. I walked back and stretched a bit. Iced things while eating a snack, then showered.

I'm pretty pleased about this. For a long time spinning was actually painful, and today it wasn't. I'm still not putting any real power into the pedals, that will come later. For the next little while I want to spin easy and rebuild the muscle memory of how to do that. As my knee improves I'll gradually get into harder gears and get past 100 rpm. Very gradually.

Though I just saw the swim camp schedule last night. 3.5 hour spin session. Holy Hannah! Hope I'm up for that.

Tomorrow I'll find out if the hordes that aren't at Renfrew are at Canyon Meadows.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The inner shark is disappointed

Tuesday I was expecting the big resolutionista horde to be there, and my inner shark was ready to go. I didn't care what my work out was, since I'd adapt to whatever was going on in the lane, but it was going to be fast and hard. Any floaties in the fast lane would be shown no mercy. Well, maybe a little. But not much. They'd be passed ruthlessly, as often as possible. Grrrr.

What do I see when I get there? A couple of the regulars in the fast lanes. I joined them and banged out a 1.5 hr workout. 20 minute warmup. Lots of kick and pull. Stroke drill. My 100 m drill, where I try to be faster than 100 seconds, on 2 minutes, getting 6 done. I've started a kick drill where I kick both legs together, as if both feet were jammed into one pair of fins. I'm finding this is working my core and back muscles really hard. They need it. I'm also trying to train myself to take a couple of dolphin kicks after each turn. Habits are hard to break.

Oh, and I got a great compliment from the girl I was sharing the lane with! She asked how old I had been when I quit swimming competitively. She'd quit at 12 and was just getting back into it, and swims like a fish. I want to take flutter kick lessons from her. There's getting to be lots of fast regulars now, which is very nice.

Met a buddy for coffee, and drank waaayyyy too much of it. Three of Lazy Loaf and Kettle big cups. (and Neil, it was really good! hehehehe) I was a bit jittery the rest of the afternoon and evening. I'd been thinking about getting on the bike for a spin, but, well, I didn't. Good thing I'm not in serious training mode.

Wednesday, still no resolutionista hordes. Only 1 hour in the pool. Regular mix of stuff, interrupted by someone jumping into our lane just as I was coming in for a turn. Then she floundered into the next lane but I don't think she messed up Mr. Outboard. Chatted a bit with my buddy from Texas (I think), who works here. No IM for either of us next year!

Then off to my prolotherapy shots, with 9 cc going in this time. My knee felt really stiff afterward. I'm trying for gentle mobility around the house. The Dr says it's coming around really well, and I don't have a next appointment. So maybe I'm done!

Now we're back into Wednesday yoga class sessions. I'm looking forward to them. There's always some good stuff there.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Another nice run, how about that?

I was expecting the resolutionista hordes in the pool today, and was somewhat unnerved by the light traffic on the way to downtown. The pool had only two people swimming in the fast lanes. I swam with slow, and he was good enough to get out of the way as needed. Then he bailed out. Slower was in the next lane, and he bailed out as soon as Mr. Outboard arrived. He cruises along at about 42 seconds per 50 m. I've given up trying to keep up with him. For now.

Swam relaxed and easy. Then pull and kick drill. I'm doing more kick drill without the fins, even though it's painfully slow. It takes forever for me to get down the pool. Then some arm drill, more pull, and some backstroke to cool down. One hour.

A bit later I did 30 minutes of leg exercises, then dressed for a run. Started easy, and found a stride right away. Settled in, probably high zone 2 or very low zone 3 at most, for 45 minutes. What's nice is that when I got to where I stopped at 45 minutes on my run a few days ago, I was only at 40 minutes today. So without even trying I got almost another K into my run. That makes me happy. My feet and legs felt good, light, and it seemed very rhythmic. (geez I hate spelling that word, I have to look it up every time.) My knee didn't bother me at all.

Plus, it was a great day to be out running. The paths were mostly cleared now, it was sunny and warm, only -9 C (16 F). With so many people not at work, not in the pool, and supposedly trying to make good on their resolutions, I was expecting the paths to be crowded. Not. Where is everyone?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bike. Family

We took an easy start to the new year, going to Dim Sum with friends. In a casino of all places. That's the second time in my life I've been in one. I'm in no hurry for #3. Outside I've never seen so many handicapped parking spots in one place. I didn't count, but there were more than a dozen. We weren't sure what that said. Rather than the little carts, you actually ordered what you wanted. Pretty good Dim Sum. Oddly enough the wait staff in the restaurant were all white people, and the various casino people for the rigged money vacuums were all Oriental. Not sure what that says either.

Today was a 45 minute core session, including 100 good crunches, 14 pushups, plank, but no squats. I realized when I was doing 300 crunches that the last of them were getting pretty sloppy, so I've decided to do good ones instead. I left squats out because I wanted to get on the bike and see what my knee thought. I started very, very easy, in a very very easy gear, and slowly spun up. About 20 minutes in it was feeling really good and I realized I was doing about 100 rpm, with my knee feeling just fine. I tried one harder gear, just to see, but I got a few twinges as my muscles started firing out of time with the spin cycle. Back to the easier gear to let my legs spin. The 30 minutes were over pretty quick, and I could have gone on. That is super progress for me! This coming week I'll try a couple of easy runs and spin sessions and see what my knee thinks. If all that goes well I might get a bit more serious about setting some goals for this year.

My massage therapist thinks things are going well. No really bad spots, nothing she had to really work over. Well, there was that one spot in each shoulder that was pretty sensitive, but she didn't have to work it. Just resting her fingers there was almost enough to make me whimper. Now lets see what the prolotherapy doctor thinks on Wed.

One of my cousins that I don't know well recently Facebook friend requested me, so I've been thinking more about family the last little while. I don't have any immediate family in Calgary, though I know I have a cousin that moved here recently. We haven't got in touch yet, but I hope that happens soon. I've been picking up threads with other cousins, which has been fascinating. I knew a bunch of cousins when I was a child, but had lost touch with all of them. Then I met several different ones (worked with one of them in fact) when I lived in Streetsville. One of them is almost exactly my age, and we've been buddies since. We phone and write and have visited several times. One of my nicer vacations was to visit her during a quiet period, and we just hung out together, visited a couple of her sisters, and we did some other stuff. We band together for mutual support when we visit our Granny.

There's one of my friends that I've become quite close to. We've talked a lot over a bunch of years now, mostly MSM, but phone and skype too. By any measurement we have a closer relationship than I have with most of my actual relatives. Do other people have relationships with friends that are in fact closer than family? If you were to construct a family chart based on the people you actually hang out with, and talk to, and visit, and share gifts with because you like them and want to, and not just because you have to, what would it look like?

Then I got to thinking about Facebook relationships. There's an app that builds a map of them. I went looking through the friend lists of my FB friends. For the record, at the moment I have 81 friends, only 5 of whom I haven't met in person, and would go to some effort if there was a chance to meet. No celebrities, no triathlete pros, though there are a few business people. I've no idea if my list of friends is a representative sample. But the largest friend list is 576 people, and the shortest is 10 though they haven't been on FB long. There were a couple people who have hidden their friend lists. I could do a bunch of stat stuff out of this, but won't bother.

My point is that Facebook friends are voluntary associations. Not necessarily close. In fact some of my friends are people I haven't seen since I left high school. But they were interesting to me then, and if we had the opportunity to meet again, they'd likely be interesting now. The lists are limited in that not everybody wants to be on FB, or were on and have left. Since I'm new to FB, there are probably all sorts of reasons to friend other people, but I'm assuming there is at least some interest in that other person. If you're on FB, how do you decide who to friend or not? What's it like FB'ing with siblings or parents? An ex? Does it impact what you put there?

I'm not big on making new years resolutions, but I'm thinking this might be the year I try to build closer relationships with people. It's never been easier. Though one resolution I'm trying to follow is #62 on a list I saw. (Not my list.) Spend less time fooling around on the net and more time working.

Hmmmmmm. Considering that my work often is fooling around on the net, and that the net can be a tool for building relationships. Hmmmmmmm.