Monday, February 28, 2011

A nice core workout to brew up a good rant

I trust this explains why I didn't run tonight. I didn't even go out to shovel the driveway. It's still snowing lightly and the morning will come soon enough, when I have to go out anyway.

So instead I went down and did a good solid core workout. 2x10 pushups, crunches, single leg squats, tri dips, plank (!!!), and other stuff, including some stretches to round out the hour. Oddly enough it went by really quick, listening to podcasts of The Current. One article on diminished value, and the other on the rule changes at the Calgary Stampede.

The diminished value is an insurance scam. Supposedly they are supposed to pay for your car to be repaired after a collision to just the way it was before. Supposedly the repair is just that. The problem is that nobody, nobody at all, you included, will pay the same amount for a car that's been in a collision compared to the same one that hasn't been. Here in Canada you have to disclose if it's been in a collision. The insurance will not compensate you for that loss. It might be negligible if you drive the car till the wheels fall off. But if you were to try to sell it the day after it was repaired, you might find the value has dropped a significant amount. Why shouldn't you be compensated for that, especially if the collision was no fault of yours? Predictably, the insurance companies don't even want to talk about it. They say that drop in value doesn't exist. Bastards.

The Stampede changed the rules about Chuckwagon racing. They had an outrider on, who didn't really have an opinion, other that it would be harder to get into the business for younger riders. Then they had a guy from the BC SPCA or similar organization. The only rodeo event they would even consider marginally acceptable is barrel racing. The 'chucks, the bull riding, the roping, all of it would go. All they see is the potential for injury to the animals, and don't think that's an acceptable subject for human entertainment. Even discussing it makes you uncivilized. These guys think that the Alberta SPCA are traitors for working with the Stampede. The program also had Kelly Sutherland on, and he had the most considered opinions of the three.

I hate to see the animals injured. In fact, I cheer when some human gets mangled by the fallout from one of the events. Humans have been sticking it to the animals for a long time now, and it's nice to see one of them getting some of their own back. After all, the human knew the risks and chose to participate. My problem is that the animals don't have a choice. (And since you ask, why yes, I take a very Darwinian view of humans that are maimed or killed by creatures out in the wild. We're the ones who are supposed to be smarter than the animals. If you aren't when you walk through their home, you deserve to be lunch for a cougar or bear.)

Clearly bullfighting is over the line, since the point is to actually torture the poor bull to death. Where do we draw the line? Horses are injured in horse races and show jumping. What fox hunting? (The poor little fox!) What's the animal injury rate for polo? Which leads me to a more violent version of the game called bushkashi. The dolphins and killer whales in various zoos are probably bored out of their minds providing entertainment for people. Does mental torment count? What about lions and tigers at the circus? Does dog sled racing count? What about testing new vaccines or drug treatments? Cats and dogs face a serious risk of disease at breed shows. Do we ban any those? Some of them? Which? How do we decide?

After the core I got on Estela for a quick, easy spin for 15 minutes. My legs felt fast and light. Spun just enough to get my blood moving better. Spinning at 125 felt good, but getting over 140 started producing some knee twinges so I backed down right away. All in all a nice evening to be inside.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I had a title, but it's gone now

Normally during my workout I'm writing my blog in my mind. Normally I can remember it enough to get it into the computer. Normally, but not today.

My legs felt pretty good after the run yesterday. I specifically stretched my back and it seemed to be ok too. This morning was a little bit of a creaky affair till I got going. After some stretches I got onto my bike. I'd been cleaning up an old box filled with stuff from old race packages. One of them was some Ultima replenisher electrolyte drink, wild raspberry flavour. I'm out of Nuun, and figured powder can't have gone bad so I made it up. Well, it nearly made me throw up. It was gross. I washed out that container with really hot water.

Started easy and was surprised how quickly my legs got going. 20 minutes at 90 rpm, a short break with some spin ups, then another 10 minutes, a short break with spin ups, then 5 minutes at 90 in the third biggest gear. Cool down, for 1.5 hrs altogether. It felt good, and I'd hoped for 2 hours, but some twinges made me think that a good 1.5 hr spin was better than a 2 hr spin that left me hurting. Even though it's nice out I didn't go for a run after.

I'm trying to be cautious, and patient with my knee. It would be really easy to overdo it since my cardio system is feeling strong, and the rest of my leg muscle seem to be doing well. But if I go too long, or to hard, I'm going to pay for it. That means staying in control and in touch. I feel a bit of something, I'm not sure what, that I should be training harder, longer, whatever, and that I should be following a coached plan to build to peak fitness. But I was reading that we're real people and we can't train like pros, mainly because we're not pros. And we can't train like the other athletes that have been doing it longer. All we can do is train the best we can given the constraints of our life. Right now that means being careful and patient.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.0 hrs
Bike 1.8 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Water run 1.5 hrs ( I never know if I should count this as run, or core or what)
Total cardio 6.3 hrs
Core 3.5 hrs.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Easy almost warm run

Today is the first nice day in a while so I was determined to run. It's normally my rest day, but I took it Thursday AND Friday. I have no guilt. I go by what my legs will put up with. They've been a bit cranky and sore the last little while. Yoga really took it out of me for some reason.

It's almost warm out there, just below zero C, but with a stiff cool wind bringing it down to -11 C (12 F) windchill. But I didn't care. It's sunny and warm enough that I thought about wearing shorts, but didn't. I did my 7.75 K loop in 56:30, then ran really easy to bring it up to an hour, and walked after. The run started after about 20 minutes of core and leg exercises. At first it felt slow, but soon my legs and feet got with the program. This was an easy run, looking for an efficient stride. The only time I was breathing hard was pushing it up the hill out of Fish Creek. Toward the very end my low back was stiffening up a bit. I'm not sure why. That's never happened before. Legs and feet are happy.

Linda had been shopping while I was running and brought home sushi!

Tomorrow if my legs still feel good I will seriously consider spin class. Seriously.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You don't want to know how cold it is

But I'll tell you anyway, -25 C (-13 F) and with windchill it's -34 C(-29F). Just makes you want to go for a run, doesn't it? And it's supposed to get colder tonight.

During my swim yesterday I was surprised when the kids joined us. I thought it was a Tuesday and Thursday sort of thing, but M set me straight. Every morning, different groups of kids. Oddly enough, the rest of the pool was almost empty, me and M, and another person. I guess most people don't like the splash and thrash the kids put up, but I don't mind. It's good to swim in choppy water, and that's about as choppy as it gets in a pool. I loved listening to the coach reaming out the kids for being lazy and slow.

Swam 45 minutes, mostly easy, and stretched really good after. My left shoulder has been somewhat painful and was slow to warm up. I was feeling kind of clunky in the water.

Then yoga in the evening. For a gentle night it damn near killed me. My legs were very tired and sore after. All day Wed my hips and glutes were bothering me. I went for a bit of a walk through the +15 system at lunch, for the first time in a while. That's kind of fun. I checked out the bridge between Holt Renfrew and the new building where Penny Lane used to be. (The map shows a pit just below my Ruler box, but there's really a building there now.) It's there, and I could see people walking around on the +15 level on the other side of it, but the bridge itself wasn't open. To find out if the bridge is open from that building to the parkade in the building to the west, I'd have to walk the long way around the loop, which is about 2K. Here's a map of a chunk of downtown, showing the route to walk indoors to see if the other bridge is open. This is only part of the +15 system, and yeah, you'd be right in thinking we love the system when it's this cold out.

The intent was to get on the bike when I got home, but that didn't happen. My legs are still a bit creaky and I'm feeling really full and a bit bloated for some reason. Even a good core session probably isn't a good idea. Somehow when it's this cold outside, the hibernation instincts kick in and you just want to snuggle into a blanket with a cat.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A gentle core session

My right leg and knee are feeling a bit tired, but I didn't want abandon all thoughts of a workout. Core for .5 hr, including crunches, pushups, tri dips, and lots of the leg exercises.

Then onto the bike about 20 minutes of mostly easy spin, but including (TA-DA!) some one leg drill for the first time since forever. My knee didn't know what to think of that; things got kind of odd after that in an odd sort of oddness that's difficult to explain. So I stopped. Better safe than sorry.

Still cold here, with a real good but brief snow flurry. I forgot to mention that there is a scale in the Talisman centre locker room, and it said 224. I like that number better than the one at Canyon Meadows from a week or so ago.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coming out of a rest week

Last week was quiet on the workout and blog front as I settled into the new office. I'm pretty pleased with how it's gone so far, and they seem the same, which is always a good thing. Now to try to workout for a reasonable number of hours, AND get a regular work week done. The weekly summary below is for last week, and I suppose I should have written it up on Sunday along with some brilliant thoughts I've been having about training. Maybe later

Today is a holiday in Alberta so the city pools are either closed or overrun with kids. Lane swimming is futile. I wanted to swim so I shelled out the big bucks to go to the Talisman Centre. Plus I knew I'd meet Katie there, which made it all worthwhile.

Swam 1.25 hours with my regular mix of stuff, swim, arm drill, lots of fin dolphin kick, pull, some 100 m intervals, and cool down. Katie and I ran back and forth in the deep end and chatted. No float belt. It was a wonderful time and the 1.5 hrs passed in a blink.

Then I met up with Mike and Jamilla as we had a snack after. They'd been there for hours too.

All in all I like the facility, even if it's mega$$$, and I have to wiggle my lock onto the locker closures. The showers are way better, and people with a privacy fetish can retreat into an actual cubicle with a shower curtain and everything. The lockers are wider than I'm used to, so even the half height lockers have lots of room. But rental is a loonie!!! Eek. Gotta be rich to go there, or get a subsidy from your work.

Weekly Summary
Swim .75 hrs
Bike 1.0 hrs
Run .75 hrs
Total cardio 2.5 hrs
Core about 2 hrs.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My heart is hibernating today

It's another cold day here, about -20 C, (below zero F) and windy. I work in a high rise building downtown. I don't know if it's the wind noise or my variable speed computer fan, but I hear the wind a lot. It makes me just a bit cold, sitting there, listening to the wind moan. As I was heading home, all set to go outside, I got a good twinge in each knee. I guess they didn't want to go out.

Once home I got changed pretty promptly and did about 20 minutes of leg exercises, trying to loosen up my left calf. It was feeling very tight. Both knees are feeling a bit feeble. I started with a very easy warmup, willing to start as gradually as it needed to be, and let me tell you, it was pretty darned gradual. 30 minutes in and I hadn't cracked 100 bpm heartrate, nor exuded a drop of sweat. I was spinning fairly well in an easy gear, and then gradually went into harder gears.

At 45 minutes I was feeling barely warmed up, and my legs were spinning in what I'd consider a reasonable way for starting a workout, but still feeling feeble and tired. By now I'd realized I wasn't going to get the best workout of all time done today, and was going to settle for mostly easy spin, but I did want to get some time at my TT gear.

So, big ring, second down on cassette, high 80's, rpm. Where is my heart rate you ask? Low, very low. Normally at 90 rpm in this gear I'm sweating, and hitting mid 120's for heart rate. Today I was just over 100 bpm, and only a couple rpm at most down from my usual pace. I never got over 110 bpm, even when I got rpm up to 90 for 5 minutes.

I am not deluding myself into thinking I have made some sudden gain in cardio fitness, or found some wonderful increase in efficiency. I think it's laziness pure and simple, my legs doing the bare minimum, and my heart the same. I was not feeling strong. My butt was hurting on the bike. I called it a ride at the one hour mark. Stretched. Ate dinner. Packed swim bag. KBRCC on Sunday is a distinct maybe.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's minus almost WTF cold again

Rushed swim at Inglewood this morning, only 45 minutes. All front crawl, except for a bit of back crawl at the end for cool down. This pool is a bit of a free for all, no fast, medium, and slow lanes. The lifeguards help sort people out. Used to be there were so few people swimming in the morning the regulars took their fave lane.

I followed one guy onto the deck and asked where I should swim for a quick pace. Lifeguard remembered me from last week and put me with the guy I'd followed. Yeah, that was a quick pace all right, and he still swam faster than me. I wasn't in the mood to fool around, just straight ahead 2 K swim, 36:05 or so, starting easy then getting into it. Some easy at the end after everybody else had left. This pool has the really shallow end so you have to put some power into your flip turns to get around. The last couple my left ham started cramping up a bit.

My amusement was watching a coached group. They were doing 25 m sprints. None of them were very good swimmers, but they were sure putting a lot of effort into making bubbles, and at first I was impressed that one was a bit faster than me. Then I heard him puffing like a steam engine, red in the face, all bent over like he was going to pollute the water. I just kept going.

I am loving working downtown again. Even in the dead of winter it is good to be a guy.

Yoga was good.

Left leg was feeling a bit wonky today, and my right knee was feeling a bit tired, off and on. Which considering the run yesterday is pretty good. Looking forward to an easy spin tomorrow, and if all is good I'm seriously considering Sunday spin class. Assuming I survive a housewarming party the night before.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

run+melt ice=pitterpatter steps

Monday I really intended to go to yoga to make up for the class I missed last week when Linda's sister was here. Then Linda explained what was likely to be on the agenda. Double sun salutes, each taking forever especially with the dog and plank bits. Downward dog itself out the wazoo. My legs and back were tired and a bit sore, respectively. I wimped out. I am a weenie.

Today was a nice enough day to melt a lot of ice, which is promptly refreezing in thin sheets everywhere. Or the packed snow softens up, melts a bit, then refreezes, which is just as slippery. I ran anyways, even though it's impossible to get into a rhythm. Leg exercises then an easy start. At first my left knee was a bit grumpy but settled down eventually. Ran 45 minutes, with the last full K in 6 minutes, running strong and comfortably, but still scampering over icy bits and climbing an ice mountain because some idiot in a pickup with a huge ball hitch parked by the day care so as to totally block the sidewalk. That felt pretty good, my legs felt good, and it was beginning to push my cardio system. Then ran easy a few minutes to make up 45 minutes, and even got to chat to a neighbour that rides his bike 11 K or so to work every work day of the year. No matter the temperature, no matter how much snow and ice there is. Good for him! Walked, stretched, and rollered after the run. Now that I'm writing this up, my right knee is a bit cranky.

I think for me, the secret for evening activity is to not stop. When I stop it's hard to get started again. Especially if there is a cat involved. But if I come home and get right into doing whatever is on the agenda, it's much easier.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nothing, nothing, and a bike

Friday was the work thing again. Tired legs. Saturday was my normal rest day, legs still tired, but my back is gradually feeling better.

I was thinking about doing a brick, but my running choices are this. Go early and run on thin, very slippery ice everywhere. Go later and run in meltwater that still might have ice underneath it. My non running choices involved dry feet and no slips. It's been warm the last couple days so the water is running. It would be nice to run outside, if the footing wasn't so treacherous.

Biked 2 hours, feeling fairly strong. Started with leg exercises and some stretching for a half hour. Easy warrmup. Some 90 rpm steady ride, with easy pedal in between. 6 minutes in the next harder gear at 90, or almost, so there's some improvement. Added in some hill gears for a minute at a time. Even stood up for a little bit and that all felt pretty good. Easy cooldown with some spin ups. Stretched after.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Someone was sure interested in my blog the other day. Now I'm curious. Again. I'm just guessing some insomniac decided that my blog would put them to sleep, and it took 34 posts to do it. I'm not sure if I should be pleased or insulted.

Weekly Summary
Swim 5.25 hrs
Bike 4.0 hrs
Run 1.75 hrs
Total cardio 11 hrs, which I think is the most I've done since IMC. Yay me!
Core 2.25 but no yoga this week.
Next week will be shorter as I ease into my new job.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breast day at CM pool

It was with faint hope I swam at Canyon Meadows today. I knew there would be kids in the Renfrew and Inglewood pools. So I decided to try Canyon Meadows, just in case, but sure enough, full of kids. Afterward one of the lifeguards was telling me this is swim season for the high schools, and all the City pools are being used. I'd have thought it would make sense to have some pools swim Tues and Thurs, and others Mon and Wed, to even things out a bit, but maybe that complicates the school scheduling.

I got lucky in that I joined a lane just as M was leaving. There was another lady doing a really slow breast stroke. I didn't get two lengths done and she bailed, and it's not like I was swimming fast. For whatever reason my back was really stiff and creaky. My right arm didn't want to pull at all, and it needed a bit of a talking to. I took a long time to warm up, trying to stretch out and relax.

The kids were doing breast stroke and breast stroke drills. Shortly after I started every other person in the pool was doing breast stroke too. I was wondering if I'd missed a sign or something. I was swimming in the lane next to the kids, and there were a few of them that could really go. One of the drills was doing the breast stroke kick while holding a kick board. I can't even picture myself getting one length of the pool before the staff kicked me out because lane swim was over, but these guys were only a bit slower than my front crawl.

I slowly warmed up and settled into a 1:50 per 100 pace or so. At one point one of the girls pushed off the same time I turned. I was a little bit surprised to see her pulling away, doing breast stroke. Consider that I rarely see breast stroke done well. Not that I have any ego about a girl swimming faster than me (I know lots that do), but I sped up a bit to see what sort of pace she was going. I could keep up, but I'd have to work at it. No doubt this was just a drill for her and she wasn't working it at all. Then again, she's just a kid, and is built for swimming. I think she was the quickest because she was always leading the lane, but several others were almost as fast. I wish I knew what they are doing.

It was fun swimming next to them because the lane ropes are just a rope with some floats every few feet. The pool gets really choppy, so I was pretending it was a tri swim. I was tempted to join their lane, swimming back and forth to practice my sighting but I'd probably have been run over, and then the lifeguards would be unhappy with me.

I did a bit of dolphin drill but not too much because I was thinking about running, and I'm feeling a bit tired. Not run down or anything, but I'm beginning to feel the workouts, light and short as they are. This is a good thing; hopefully my body will get the message and start building up the various systems. Lots of thought about stroke mechanics, and really worked on the flip turns, push off, and dolphin kicks. 1.25 hrs.

Later I did about a half hour of stretches to try to relax my back and get my legs going. Started the run easy, and found my legs fairly quickly, which was a nice surprise. We had a nice run down into Fish Creek, not trying to go fast, but running relaxed and smooth, trying for light feet and good cadence. Going through the parking lot at the bottom of 24th St was brutal. Like running in soft sand that sticks to the bottom of your shoes so they get heavier and heavier. That left me tired going up the hill, and my legs were starting to drag a bit. Concentrated really hard on form for the remainder of the run, dodging puddles and icy spots. Back to the house in 58:30, and ran a little extra to bring it up to an hour even. Probably just short of 8K. Walked and did a good stretch after.

My legs feel pretty good out of this. I've now done 4 days in a row with solid workouts, swimming each day at least 1.25 hrs, and then getting in a good bike, run, bike, run. I don't want to say my knee is cured, but it hasn't bothered me this week. I'm now at the point where my knee isn't the thing limiting the rest of my system. Which, I have to admit, feels pretty darned good. It's been a bit of a long road since IMC. At first I was recovering, then when I started picking things up I realized I had to do something about my knee. For what seems like forever I essentially couldn't bike, and an easy run would wipe my knee out for a week. I've been swimming my brains out and I think I've made real progress. Now I can get back to regular workouts, though I'll still be cautious about building up too soon, too fast.

Which leads me to the KBRCC next Sunday. This is the first time in a while that I've even contemplated it. I really couldn't see the point of going if I couldn't do the workout, or even a shambling semblance of it. (I have some pride, after all.) Now, I'm thinking, can I ride 2 hours, then run 30 minutes, AND (this is the important part) NOT have my knee unhappy with me? Is the rest of my system ready for it? hmmmmm.

Oh, and that number, the one I used to mention every now and then. 232. It could be worse, I suppose.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


No, not me, the day. Zoom. It seems like just a few minutes ago I was getting into a nearly empty pool. I shared the lane with a succession of people that seemed to swim a few laps, then go away. The high point was passing the guy doing front crawl with fins. After a short warmup I got into the groove for a K or so. Then some dolphin kick and pull. Lots of arm drill. It takes one minute and 25 seconds to front kick with board for 50 m, which nearly knackers me. I don't know how some people, mostly women, can do that far faster than me for length after length. Smiling and chatting all the while. Oh, and I finally figured out how to swim backstroke properly! Here I've been trying to keep my arms straight. Duh. 1.25 hours.

Then a bit of shopping before my Chiro/ART appointment. I love that bakery. My knee is doing really well. My back was all tight so he worked on that a bit. The crickle crackle noises alarm me.

More shopping, dodging geezers at Co-op. The security guard that sometimes stands at the door doing nothing should be administering a smell check on the way in. I'm sure the lettuce was wilting in the wake of that one geezer. *I* nearly wilted when I got down wind briefly. I wanted to send him through the car wash. I'm sure anyone that was near him would have chipped in.

On the bike. Easy warm up, making sure my knee was feeling ok. 20 minutes at 90 rpm in what I'm thinking of as my steady pace gear, for now at least. Second one down, big ring. Then some easy pedal, some spin ups, and a good cool down. One hour. Stretched. Knee is good. Legs didn't mind spin.

Then (deep breath) quicklunch,shower,dodishes,someofficehousekeeping,email,somehousetidying,somecataffection,shoveldriveway,headuptoairporttopickupsisterinlaw,pickupLindaatLRTstation,home,makesaladwhileLindadoesomlettes,chat,washdisheswhileLindatakesSistohoteltorestupfortwolongdaysofmeetings,takeoutgarbage,updateblog.

Almost bedtime.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The kids in the pool

But first, if you're a reader and haven't satisfied my curiosity, please click the link and do so.

Today was the first time swimming at Renfew with the local high school swim club in the pool. My lifeguard buddy was saying that last Thursday the kids were just about the only ones in the pool. "The regulars scattered," she said. There sure weren't many regulars today. Mr Outboard started a bit early and was done just as I was starting, and Mr. Elegant shared a lane for most of the swim. There were a few people in my lane at first, but people kept leaving. At one point I was doing dolphin on my back, getting close to the wall when I was stopped early. I was a bit startled since I didn't think anyone was there, but the kids had taken over one more lane. I didn't mind moving at all, since there was hardly anyone in the rest of the pool.

Just 1.25 hrs in the pool today. Did 10 x 100 on 2:15, each 100 was between 95 and 100 seconds. Everything else was as usual.

Downtown for a meeting to sign a work contract, then home, and out for a run. It's beautiful out, sunny, and only -20 C (-4 F), and most of my neighbours have shoveled their sidewalks. Ran 45 minutes, trying to be steady at the top of zone 2, but mainly making sure of my footing. There's still lots of ice out there, hiding under the snow. Walked and stretched afterward.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Swim today was good. Even all the snow that fell last night wasn't much of a bother on the way to downtown. That's one of the good things about leaving early. Even it does involve about a half hour of shoveling.

Slow warm up, then directly into 2K swim, working on a relaxed stroke, good body position. It wasn't quite as smooth and fast as the good day last week, but the wall kept showing up awfully quickly. Then another K of dolphin kick and pull. Then a bit of drill, some smooth and easy, and cool down, for 1.5 hr altogether. Probably just over 4K, since I didn't stop much.

Stretched about a half hour, doing most of that in the dive tank, which I haven't done for quite a while. There was no point rushing out of the pool, since traffic was likely to be all jammed up. In fact it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Home and more shoveling. At least the snow is light and fluffy. Onto the bike. Warmup 10 minutes. 15 at 90 rpm, 2nd gear from top, then a quick cadence set getting over 130 rpm for the first time since forever. Then another 15 minutes, same as the last, heart rate was  bit lower this time, low 120's or so breathing easy. Another quick easy spin, then 3 minutes at 90 in one gear harder. This got my heart rate up over 120 and starting to breathe hard. My legs didn't seem to mind it too much. Overall, it was my left leg that was complaining today, minor nigglies. One hour.

Now, curiosity.

I like looking at my blogger stats periodically. Come on, you do too. The counter down at the bottom of the page tells me I get about 45 visits per day, each one 3 to 4 minutes long. I get somewhat more page views, about 1.2 or 1.3 a visit. The actual blogger stats gives page views, and doesn't give a weekly number. The daily number seems to line up with the other counter.

The followers thing doesn't change much, I'm at 35 and it seems to have been that since forever. I think I get a new one every now and then, and some of the old ones go away. I guess. But the followers don't necessarily mean readers. I'm not sure what a follower implies. I started following some blogs, but then realized it didn't mean anything since I don't use the readers. Yes, it's true, I'm neolithic and look at blogs in a web page, selecting each one I want to read in turn. That's the main reason for my blog roll, actually. And I read the comments too.

So who in fact is reading my blog? Are you one of the 40 or so that drop in every day? Do you look every day, or does the genius of the intertubes tell you when I've updated? A few of you might remember the last time I did this, but I'm asking you to leave a comment. Let me know who you are. What do you like about the blog? What don't you like? Do my rants sully the purity of a triathlon blog, or does the sweaty fitness stuff detract from the outrage of the rants? Do you like the videos, photos, maps? Or do you just want more words? Or less words? You don't need to log in to leave a comment, and you don't even have to suffer through word verification or comment moderation. The Blogger spam filters are pretty darn good.

So, your turn. Have at it. Oh, and if you comment, and have a blog, and are not on my blog roll, I'll add you. How's that for incentive?

A blah weekend.

Friday was a big day for me, but it didn't involve a workout. I should find out next week how it turns out. (And it turned out excellent!) I did get a good core workout though, an hour's worth of stretching, my leg exercises, and core stuff. My legs were a bit sore Thursday evening and Friday, so the stretching and stuff was good. Mostly they were ok for the weekend, but weren't feeling strong and wanting a workout. Maybe I'm being a slacker, but at the moment I don't HAVE to do the workouts. If I'd been on a plan I'd have probably forced myself into it, but I'm still in a mind place where I'm doing workouts because they feel good and are fun. I do not want to drive myself back into the pit of tired workouts.

I admit I'm still finding the balance, though it's a bit better this week. If there'd been one more run I think it would have been just about right. A goal for next week.

Saturday and Sunday were blah has far as workouts went. My sleep patterns were weird, getting up really early, not feeling rested, and yet not being able to sleep. It reminded me a bit of what I was like doing shift work, which is not good at all.

The big output on Saturday was my rant about overpaid CEO's. Sunday I was up early again, really early. I thought about getting onto the bike and spinning then doing a short run. I thought about it a lot, but I didn't do it. It's really icy out there anyway. I felt really full and bloated most of the day, which is very unusual for me.

When you make your own wine you end up dealing with a lot of bottles. If you're really good about rinsing them out right after pouring the glasses, they aren't hard to keep clean. But some wines leave a bit of film, and the water spots gradually build up, as does label goo and sometimes a tiny bit of cork residue. I'm fussy about my glass, and like to make sure it's clean. When I bottled the red last week I found a bunch more bottles that didn't meet my standards so they go into the bleach box. By the end of the bottling I had more than 2 dozen. That's about the right number to bleach.

Bleaching involves putting 8 bottles at a time into a bleach solution in a 20 L pail. I let them sit a while to let the bleach eat anything that's on the glass. A bit of scrubbing in the neck with a brush, and swooshing with a bunch of tiny ball bearings usually removes anything that doesn't belong. Occasionally there is a bottle with a really tough film. I put a bit of straight bleach in and let it soak. That deals with it.

From the bleach solution they are rinsed and got into another pail filled with a pink stuff solution. The pink stuff is a cleanser. I use it to make sure there is no bleach residue. Then they get rinsed again, and left to dry.

I've now got lots of clean bottles and a white wine kit to bottle, probably tomorrow. After all of that, I did about a half hour of core, mostly leg stuff, but including push ups. I was wondering if I should count all the time shaking the bottles with the ball bearings in them as core, but didn't.

Weekly Summary
Swim 4.75 hrs
Bike 2.75 hrs
Run 1.0
Total cardio 8.5 hrs
Core 3.75 hrs

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Overpaid CEO's

The newspaper today revealed that Gary Holden received $4.6 million as severance for quitting his job as CEO of Enmax. This on top of his $2.7 million annual salary and bonus for running an electrical utility company wholly owned by the City of Calgary. I note that the Mayor of the City of Calgary is paid on the order of $165,000 a year, and is one of the best paid mayors in Canada. I further note, the Premier of Alberta is paid on the order of $200,000 per year. Even further, the Prime Minister of Canada is paid about $315,000 per year.

Holden was essentially forced to resign in the light of accepting a trip to Monaco for the F1 race, paid for by SAP, a company that sells software to Enmax. Enmax employees are not allowed to accept gifts in excess of $100. There were several other indiscretions, shall we tactfully call them, where he behaved more like one of the magnates of the Guilded Age. There was even one episode recently where he sent a several page email (rant) to every Enmax complaining about biased media reporting on these, ahem, indiscretions. More on that later.

I went looking to see if I could find the average salary for the average Enmax employee. There are about 1700 of them. About a quarter are IBEW, so I assume these are the actual electrical people. Not quite 45% are CUPE, so I assume these are administrative staff. The rest are non union managers. I found the 2006 to 2008 collective agreement between Enmax and CUPE. The highest hourly pay I can find for 2008 is 45.88 for a drafter. Whatever that is or does. The top grade accountant is 38.86 per hour. Many positions are much less per hour. Lets for the sake of argument assume that all Enmax employees have been there long enough to be at the top of their pay grades, AND that the mix is skewed to the higher end of the hourly range, and assume the average employee is getting $35 an hour. They work a 40 hr week, for an annual salary of $72,800 per person, or $54.6 million for all CUPE employees. That's almost certainly a bit high. I would have guessed average salary across CUPE employees to be closer to $50K per person, what with new employees, and greater numbers in the more junior positions.

Even so, if you crunch the numbers, Holden got paid 37.5 times what the average employee got paid, or put another way, it took 37.5 employees to equal his annual paycheck. If you assume $50 K average salary, Holden got paid 54 times what the average CUPE employee got paid. I didn't look for the IBEW contract, but it's probably out there, and I suspect the average wage for those employees is somewhat higher.

The CEO pay apologists would argue that CEO's get paid what they do because they produce corporate value, provide a scarce commodity called leadership, and magically increase stock prices to increase shareholder value. There are enough examples of poor leadership, and declining share values to dispose of this argument. Is Holden 40 to 50 times smarter or harder working than the average employee? I doubt it. Yes, Enmax has done well financially recently, but how much of that is appreciable to Holden, and how much to the other members of management and staff?

The apologists would say CEO pay is "comparable", but Holden was paid far more than other CEO's running similar or larger companies. For example, Hydro-Quebec is 10 times the size of Enmax, and the CEO got $600,000 per year. Personally, I think this benchmarking and comparison is a mugs game. They only compare themselves to the top of the scale, so it's a self-ratcheting system. The whole financial end of the big corporations is dodgy at best, crooked as a dog's hind leg only when they can't away with being outright fraudulent. Each big corporation has legions of people devoted to cooking the books, I mean, producing financial results that flatter the senior executive team and further other corporate goals.

Holden's 5 page reaction to media exposure of rock star parties in his home was predictable. The rich and powerful hate it when the hoi polloi get wind of what they are up to. They grow accustomed to the swanky life, the corporate jets (though to be fair, nobody so far has mentioned abuse of corporate jets as one of Holden's sins) the ostentatious offices and homes, the army of underlings to smooth all before them. They begin to think they earned it, that they deserve it. Then they want more. And more. There is no enough.

Recently Alberta saw the forced departure of Stephen Duckett from the Alberta Health Services board over a cookie. Yes, an oatmeal raisin cookie. In response to media questions about the serious and urgent issues facing the board, he waved his cookie and said he was busy eating. Idiot. That cost us $680,000 in severance. That's the most expensive cookie I've ever heard of. His base salary was $575,000, with some other allowances and a bonus between $0 and $140,000. That's for running an organization with about $10 billion in revenue. Enmax's revenue in 2008 was just over $2 billion, and is on track in 2010 for about the same or a bit more. I wonder who's salary was out of line, Holden's or Duckett's?

I think we are all agreed that people with different skills should be paid differently. Society values some skills more than others. I certainly don't mind paying other people to be a cop or a firefighter. They have dangerous jobs with a huge impact on how well our society works, and should be well compensated. I want the medical people working on me or my loved ones to be well trained and up to date on the latest developments in the field. Such training is not cheap, and I don't begrudge it in the slightest if they are well paid. Engineers typically are not in the limelight until a bridge falls down or there is some other infrastructure failure. These people have a huge role in determining if our world is safe, and again, should be well compensated. But here we start seeing a transition. You need to be fairly smart, but don't need to be brilliant to be an engineer. There are lots of people willing to do the work to become an engineer, and what there is a large supply of tends to be valued less.

One could do a similar calculation for almost every job. There are the skills that go into learning what is needed to do the job, there are hazards involved with the job, a value to society, there is a prestige factor associated with the job, and of course, your own personal charisma. All these things determine what a particular person in a particular job will be paid. Of course there are distortions. Unions and similar organizations are a distortion. Government regulation is a distortion leading to both higher and lower compensation. Selective benchmarking is a distortion. Many other factors distort the labour market.

But I have to say, the CEO's have done the best job of marketing themselves as a scarce commodity supplying a valuable product. I'm not quite sure how they did it, but I suspect the CEO's, their boards, and the senior financial people are all in it together, along the lines of "if we don't hang together, gentlemen, we will assuredly hang separately." Their manipulations have destroyed billions, perhaps trillions of dollars of value in the last few years. How much longer are we going to put up with a small group of people stealing from society at large for their own private profit? How much longer are we going to put up with a small group of people privatizing the profit, but socializing their losses?

If a CEO wants to be paid on the basis of shareholder value, then let him (it's almost always a him) record the value of the shares when they take office, and set a timeline, and express their desired compensation in terms of value per share. When that time comes we look at the books, rather, we audit the crap out of the books to see if he's done what he said he could do. If it's all Jake, pay him. If not, send him packing with nothing. None of this huge reward regardless of the quality of results bullshit.

The world isn't a fair place. Grown ups don't expect fair results all the time. But we do expect equitable results when it comes to the work world. I don't have a problem with someone taking more responsibility getting paid more. People that do more complicated or difficult or dangerous jobs should be paid more. But you can't convince me that a guy sitting in an office performing financial manipulations for a small company is producing 40 to 50 times the value of the average employee, and should be paid accordingly. And what about in comparison to the person leading the organization that owns Enmax; is Holden providing 16 times the value that the Mayor of Calgary produces?

Some inequality provides incentive for people to better themselves, which is better for society. People take risks with the idea they will gain a reward. People can choose to invest in themselves or their children, undergoing many years of expensive post secondary education with the idea they can be well compensated for applying that knowledge.

But gross inequality is corrosive. Rightly or wrongly, when people see someone being extraordinarily well compensated for doing a poor job, they feel the compensation is not deserved. It doesn't matter if it's a CEO or a star athlete. If they don't perform, they are seen as getting away with the loot, as if they had stolen it. Which, in a sense, they have. People are rightly enraged when the average worker loses their income and their pensions because financial manipulations destroy a company, and the people who did it escape with their golden parachutes. And then, to top it off, they say something like, "that's the way the contract was written", as if they wouldn't have taken the money otherwise. Which makes most of us just about pop a blood vessel.

Boards are supposed to oversee and regulate such things, but they've long since been captured by the system. They are careful to choose new board members for being "one of us". Part of the self-perpetuating system. Government regulation? Don't make me laugh. The bean counters can already manipulate the company results to produce any numbers they want for any audience, government, regulators, shareholders, or the public. Odd how that reduces their tax to next to nothing, and buries the lucrative compensation clauses in the footnotes.

One place to start is to repeal the laws granting corporations "person-hood." Corporations are not people, and should not have the same rights as people. They've been using free speech rights to pervert government actions, thwart public policy, and shelter themselves from public criticism. Maybe we should make a law that no corporation can have more than 150 people involved with it, total. That might keep things to a more manageable size. Of course, apologists say that big corporations make for more efficient markets. Yes, more efficient to the point of being monopolies raking in huge profits. Having many more smaller companies might be more inefficient from an economic point of view, but I think it would lead to more human results.

I'd love to see people at the top of an organization getting paid some reasonable multiple of the average worker, and then their increases are the same percentage increase granted to those average workers, based on corporate results. The real results. So rather than a corporate board committee scouring the land for some outlying CEO compensation package that they can use as justification for a pay increase, it would be quite straightforward. They grant the staff a 4% raise, then that's what the CEO and senior management gets. And by staff, I don't mean senior management staff, or staff in other organizations. I'm talking about the internal, non-management staff, often paid hourly. Any bonuses should be distributed in a similar manner. The corporation's financial results, and compensation paid, should be openly and transparently reported, in such a way that you don't need an accounting degree to understand them.

Yeah, for these last couple of paragraphs, if you want some of the drugs I'm on, drop by. It's called Tempranillo Cab Sauv. Tasty.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Should've been on the bike 2 hrs. Maybe 3.

Renfrew pool was full of kids for a swim club this morning, so I didn't even try to go there. For that and another reason I scoped out Inglewood. Guess what? It was half full of kids as well. Plus ice cold showers going in. Yuck. Renfrew has kids Tues and Thurs. Inglewood kids Mon, Tues, AND Thurs. Sigh. Next I'll be breaking out the SCBA equipment and checking out Canyon Meadows, though I hope not.

The other thing about Inglewood is the shallow end. It's really shallow. The tiles in the deck floor say 3 feet. I remembered where the water level was on my body and I've just measured: 32 inches. You need to keep your focus doing flip turns! It's easily shallow enough I could scrape my fingernails on the bottom of the pool while swimming.

I swam 1.25 hrs, easy warmup, regular stuff, easy cool down to be sure all the kids were gone. By the end I essentially had the pool to myself. No special communion with the water today. Too much thinking about turns and keeping track of other people.

Once home I had a snack, did a few things, then got on the bike. I put True Lies on the computer just because I was in the mood. Warmed up then did several 10 hard at 90 rpm in second gear from the top, then 5 easy. That went really well. Then gradually worked up through the gears, seeing what my knee would think of the bigger gears. Better, even did some standing drill. Eased back and cooled down, finishing at 1.5 hrs.

Did a few more things then headed off to get Linda and go to SAIT. First was the marketplace, where we saw this. Good chocolate. Different kinds, milk, light, and dark. But you can't see the important part here.

Look a bit closer, down at the bottom right corner. Yeah. An 11 pound bar of chocolate. Keep that in mind.

We went upstair to the Highwood for dinner. This is where the kids at SAIT learn all about the restaurant business. They do everything. It's won a bunch of awards for their food. Here's the menu. Scroll down a bit for the link to the menu itself. It's worth a look. We each had an appetizer, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. I had a drink called a Blue Hawaii that was really good, and a glass of red wine with the meal. In addition they gave us a little gelato before the main course, and after the dessert came this chocolate confection as a complimentary treat. The inukshuk was chocolate. Now you know where the market is for those big bars. The food is wonderful and extremely reasonably priced! The menu choices are $44 for everything, which is less than what many places charge for much worse food. If you haven't been, make a reservation for you and your sweetie, you won't regret it.

I almost regret all the chocolate, good as it was. I'm feeling the spin now, with tired legs, but all those calories made me wish I'd stayed on the bike, or in the pool longer. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Communing with liquid and solid water

What wonderful workouts today! I forgot to wear my watch in the pool, but sort of looked at the hour hand on the pace clock so I know I swam an hour. What's important is that I tuned into the water like I've never done before. Julie's gonna think I'm on the really good drugs that I'm not sharing with her.

Started my warm up feeling a bit tense and tired in the shoulders. Switched to dolphin kick, and somehow I got my hips going a bit better than usual. Then I realized I was going a bit faster than usual with much less effort. Started my pull, and oh my goodness! I relaxed into the water, my catch started working, I could feel my core doing it's thing, and it seems that I was gliding along without even trying. My shoulders and arms were relaxed on recovery. This went on for a long time, at least 1000 m, maybe more. Somewhere in here a girl joined me and I lapped her a bunch of times, though I think she was stopping briefly doing 100 m intervals. If it's who I think it is, her swimming has improved.

After the pull I went back to front crawl, and while it wasn't quite the same, I was still communing with the water, feeling it slide past me, holding me up, not holding me back. By the end of the hour my back muscles were starting to complain a bit. I think the lats, but I'm not sure.

Then coffee with my buddy LD at Bumpy's, which was pretty darned good, even if the parking is a bitch. We had a great chat. She's going to see if the aerobars will work for her. She's tall so she might have the same issue with them as me.

Once home I stirred around putting things away, then did my leg exercises and stuff getting ready for a run. It was about 5 C (41 F) so it's almost warm out, but I didn't go for the shorts. Probably just as well, there was a bit of a brisk wind along the bike path.

Started off easy, and very quickly got into the groove. My legs were happy, so I let them run at whatever pace they liked. Once I was fully warmed up I realized I was doing a gradual speed up to where I was starting to breath hard, maybe mid to upper zone 3 at most, then I'd back down to zone 2 for a bit, then gradually speed up again. All this was where the snow would let me. There was one long stretch where all I had was a narrow one person path packed into about a foot of snow, wandering along mostly on the paved pathway. That got a bit tricky, but my balance was good, and my legs were liking the challenge of landing squarely under my weight and adjusting to small variances in footing.

I was doing what I think of as my C route, down the bike path, up the hill, past the school, and around the curve up to Anderson. I've done the start of this a bunch of times recently and have turned back early. Today I finally made it up to Anderson, running easily, in just over 38 minutes. Back in May 2008 doing it in 44 minutes was just about a max effort. So I guess I haven't totally lost my cardio fitness.

I didn't come back the same way though, since I only wanted to run an hour. My theory is that if I leave my legs wanting more, they will stay happy about the workouts. Walked at the end, and stretched. Legs feel great! It was a perfect day for running, not too hot, bright sunshine, the snow is still pretty, so I really enjoyed myself. I wish all runs felt this good.

Yoga tonight. Maybe I'll commune with my mat.

I have received encouragement to rant about the weenies who close schools simply because it's cold, and my take on temperature being a Darwinian process. She knows who she is.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

One of those days

There I was this morning, waking up just before the alarm clock. Snuggled in. Not too hot. Blankets just the right weight on me. Not tangled around me, or flapping loose. Nothing hurt. No urgent need to move. I easily could have snoozed more. I didn't have the slightest desire to get out of bed.

Unfortunately, I needed to. Back into the pool again, only an hour today. Lots of drill. I was mildly amused that my fist drill was faster than the guy thrashing in the next lane. But I was sure feeling weak and feeble, and not totally with it.

The theory was to bottle another wine kit, a Brunello (one of our faves!), then run. Hopefully it would have warmed up, because this morning was still cold. I didn't drop any bottles, but it was a near thing. I was just clumsy, and it seemed like things weren't going smoothly. There was water all over the place.

When the time came to get dressed for a run, I didn't. I'm not sure if I've overdone the kick stuff in the pool, or my legs are tired from yesterday's spin, or what. But I sure didn't feel like going for a run on slippery paths, with tired and floppy legs, in sub-zero weather. I feel like a nap. Maybe I'll summon some ambition and do a core session later. Maybe I'll