Sunday, July 31, 2011

T2, the smell of wetsuit in the morning, plus bike porn

Calgary 70.3 is a point to point race. T1 is at Ghost Lake, T2 is in North Glenmore Park. That means there are mounds of bags to be taken from place to place. White bags had already been placed in T2 when I got there. Shortly after a bus showed up with clear bags for dry gear. We started putting them in neat rows.

Then a bus with red bags showed up. These are the wet bags. More placing in semi neat rows. The smell of damp wetsuit was strong. Funny, in my 9 triathlons I had never noticed, being too busy trying to get off my bike and get the run started in some semblance of order.

There was lots of people humping bags, while others were helping people find the spot to rack their bike. It went pretty well. This is a fast course with a big net downhill on the bike. The winner was just under 4 hours. There might be a few courses that are more scenic, but not many.

The day started off cool, and ended up cloudless and hot. I didn't hear about anyone with heat stroke, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few. As I was riding home after my shift I saw the last runner trudging up the hill toward South Glenmore. She did not look good; I hope she made it.

I saw some buddies racing, Sara Gross was a few seconds behind the first place woman. Pity the race wasn't a few metres longer she might have won. Saw several of the Mercury Rising crew, with them having good, and not so good days. They got this huge, colourful finisher medal. It's bigger than any two of my medals On my ride home I saw Kelly R at one of the aid stations.

Now, I know some of you are reading this only for the pics of bikes. So here we go.

The little lull after the first of the pro's, and before the age groupers. The sky was really that colour.

It's really hard to see the make, but it's a Beyond. I'd never seen one of those.

Someone showing excellent taste in bikes

Another person with excellent taste in bikes, and clearly the other bikes like it as well.

I've read about these Speedfill bottles, but this is the first I've seen of them. I talked to 4 racers about them. Three of them love it totally, though one noted that refilling on the fly can't be done while pedaling. The fourth guy liked it a lot, for this distance. He's not so sure it would work out for the full IM distance. He's thinking he'll have a Profile bottle, and the Speedfill.

Hands down the best paint job in T2.

I wish I'd got a pic of one bike. The bento box is solid sided, a bit lower  but longer than most, and very streamlined. There are separate compartments in it. The saddle "bag" is actually a streamlined hard shell container as well. The bike and these add ons looked very sharp.

I chatted with a guy that is a rep for one of the bike companies, he didn't say which. He was counting bike makes. T2 was littered with Cervelo's of various makes. I didn't count, but there was a good number of Specialized, Trek, Felt, a few Quintana Roo, Argon 18, and a scattering of other brands. Including Orbea. I'm just saying.

All in all it was a pretty fun day. I got a bit of sun on my face in spite of a big hat and sunscreen, so I'm feeling hot and head achey tonight. In some ways I find that standing around, and walking is almost as hard on me as running and biking. I got a chance to chat with people I knew so it's all good.

I did this race two years ago, at the first one. That sold out, and I don't think this one did. There seemed to be a lot more spectator support for that one. Maybe it was too early for some people, since the first wave started at 6:10 am. Considering the logistics involved, that must have meant an awfully early start for body marking. I felt sorry for the people waiting for a bus; that was a lot of a gong show. The first bus showed up a couple hours late, and the driver had no idea where he was taking people. It couldn't have been fun trying to get all those people, bags, and bikes loaded into a school bus.

Several people I volunteered with are going out to volunteer at IMC. Not for the early signup, just to volunteer. That would be a dangerous thing. I've been feeling a bit itchy about wanting to race again, but I'm enjoying not being locked into a regimented training plan. Hmmm, now where is my glass of wine?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What were you expecting? A Princess Bride reference?

It's the long weekend, and it's perfectly amazing weather. No, really, it's amazingly perfect. I'm sure you're expecting my blog to be about a 100+K ride, followed by a long run, all of which went just perfectly. Then again, some of you know me better than that.

About the most ambitious thing I did today was sample some cookies (I take my QA duties seriously!), BBQ some bison burgers, and cruise various websites for winter vacation ideas. So far I've looked at Turks and Caicos, and Grand Cayman. Linda has looked at Bermuda. I've quickly recycled the Maui stuff I got from a bike camp last year. I've also got the Bahamas and St. Lucia on my list. Anybody got any experience with them? The idea is to go somewhere warm for a week or 10 days when it's likely to be cold here. Yes, we know this is a step towards geezer-dom.

If I'd been in serious training I would have gone for a run or a bike ride today. Yes, you can depend upon it. Let me think about that work life balance thing. The same applies to training. There is more to life than just getting out for a bike ride to train to do that bike ride faster.

Last Thursday was a nice run in the evening down into Fish Creek and back. Mostly easy, with some faster bits, working on stride and posture. There have been some twinges I'm a little nervous about so I don't mind taking it easy today.

Tomorrow will be volunteering at T2 for the 70.3. That should be fun. The T shirt is way better, nice colour and all. The one I got the year I did my race was pathetic. Crappy cotton and a butt-ugly iron on sticker that looked like a refuge from a bad motorcycle convention. I might have to do it again just to get a better T shirt out of the deal.

The other thing today is mentally cheering on my buddy Shannon. About now he's half way through the Canadian Death Race. Hope it's going well for him. I made the mistake of looking at the course elevation map. It's on page 12 of the brochure, complete with cut off times, elevations, and much more, all in a dark brooding red. As the Newfies say, "Laird Tundering Jazus!". As an Ironman finisher I know a thing or two about endurace, and I know there is no conceivable (it's INCONCEIVABLE! and that word does mean what I think it means) plan that would get me through that in one piece. Holy crap. You go Shannon.

Monday is a statutory holiday here. Maybe I'll run or bike. Yeah, maybe.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Running with lightning

Not running LIKE lightning. I'm still working on that.

Yesterday I got a nice tech shirt in the mail. Here's a photo. Can you guess who it's from? I thought you could. I got the large, and it fits me perfectly. I don't think anyone would call me lean, though I aspire for that. I think "solidly built" is fair. If my shoulders were any bigger it would be a little snug under the arm. The neck is just right. The body fits closely enough to not flap in the wind, but not so tight as to bind. It's a light tech fabric, perfect for those hot and humid days. It's made by ALO. I don't know if they are for sale up here.

If American banks weren't so archaic, I'd probably buy another one. They gave her a hard time about my cheque, even though it clearly said US $ on it. I'm still waiting to see what the exchange rate was. Now that I've figured out paypal again, maybe I'll do it that way instead.

Oh, what the heck. Here's another photo, one Linda took. I'm not sure if it's me, or the camera that's a bit fuzzy here. My buddy Kelly B will frame this shot, since it's the only one of me she's seen where I'm not in a race and not holding a glass of wine.

Of course, I had to try for a run, that being the primary purpose. My legs were feeling pretty good from the stretching session yesterday, so I went down and stretched some more. There was a good click from my knee part way through this. Not loud, but good. I knew then I was going to have a good run.

I started out easy, and got right into a relaxed and comfortable warm up pace. My feet felt light and happy. The shirt was perfect, so I essentially forgot I was wearing it. After a little while I picked up the pace. For a while my heart rate was rock solid at 135, which is down near the bottom of zone 3, and my breathing was relaxed and easy.

This is one of the best runs I've had in a while. I was in the groove. My legs felt strong, I had a good turnover, the whole package. Still, there was a huge thunderstorm rolling in, so I didn't want to be out there forever. I chose to run my 5.5 K route up to Anderson so I wouldn't have to far to get home if it got horrible. I picked up the pace a bit, but was still running very comfortably, heart rate a bit over 140 now, but breathing still good.

The wind picked up and it got a bit colder. Passing our vet it started to rain, then rain harder, then really rain. This is a long gradual uphill, right into the wind. I was trying to stay strong, but in control. My heart rate was up a bit more, but breathing was still good. I hit 5.5 K in 36:30, which is a 6:38/K pace, or 9 Kph (10:40/mile). I turned around and headed for home past William Roper Hull Home, still running easy. Totally soaked from the rain, but my legs were still happy, my turnover was still good. I seem to be settling into about 88 steps per minute as a good pace. Just passing the Hull Home lightning struck the cell tower about 100 m from me. Holy Cow! I was seeing after images and my ears were ringing.

I ran easy enough that my heart rate was coming down gradually, but I noticed I was hardly breathing hard at all. No idea what my pace was there, but I could have gone on a long time. Just before getting home I hit 50 minutes and decided that was good. I'd had an excellent run, and could have kept going, but didn't want to overdo it. Some of the leg muscles are still somewhat tight, so I was looking forward to a good stretching session, and more rollering.

My watch says the peak heart rate was 157, and I'll bet that was right after the lightning strike. The average was a bit higher than I thought it was going to be, but not so much I'm worked up about it. This was a super run for me! I wish they were all this good.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Two quick things

I was downstairs for a really good stretching session, with a bit of core. Downward dog and all.

Plus, I got this really neat tech shirt in the mail. Fits great. Can't wait to wear it for my next run.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finding the bike groove. Very briefly

Another beautiful day in paradise.

I have long envied other bike riders. Their feet go round and round and they go forward. Some of them fast, some of them very fast. *MY* feet go round and round, and I sort of go forward. Slowly. I've been working on the round and round for several years now. Some times are better than others. I get passed a lot, today included.

I've had the swimming groove. Often. It's easier to keep going than stop. The bottom slides by without apparent effort. The ends of the pool appear suddenly and it's time for another flip turn. There is no thinking about stroke, breathing, pace, or anything. The water is friendly, sliding past your body easily, gripping your hands, supporting you evenly. There is real regret to getting out of the pool to do whatever is next for the day. Swims like this make me want to go to the exorbitant expense of owning a house with a 25 m pool in the basement, where part of it is open to the outdoors via a sliding roof, surrounded by a nice patio. I would probably swim 3 or 4 K every day. I would let my friends swim there.

I've had it running. A few times, even, which never ceases to astonish me because I've never really thought of myself as a runner. I hadn't run since high school, which for many of you was back in the dark ages. Let's just put it this way. 8 track tapes were not only viable, but popular. Cassette tape was viewed with suspicion. CB radios were huge. When I started running I was very very big. I worried about my knees and took it carefully.  It was slow, but I expected that. I'd heard about runners high and didn't believe it. I still don't.

But what has happened several times is that I found a groove. I'd be "running" (long time readers know why I use that phrase cautiously) and suddenly I wasn't thinking about it. My body was doing it's thing. I could feel everything working together, and all of it going together. It's not that the running felt effortless, but it felt in tune. My stride length, stride cadence, pace, arm movements, my core, my posture, my heart rate, my breathing, all of it was working together naturally. It doesn't last long. The problem is that I start to think about it, or something changes, and the spell is broken. Don't mistake me, there aren't many people that would think I was running fast during that time. But for a few moments I found a sweet spot, and it was great. This has even happened, very briefly, since changing my stride turnover a little while ago.

Before today I had never, ever had it on my bike. I've had lots of fun, and many great rides on my bike. I get some astonishing scenery during my rides, and it's always different as the weather changes. But I'm always working, always thinking about something, mainly trying to spin. I'm dealing with eating or drinking, or shifting around trying to keep my fingers and hands from going numb. I seem to notice every sore or tired muscle in my legs, on almost every ride. Lots of rides I'm never quite comfortable, shifting around on the saddle. I had a bike fit, and have been meaning to go in again. I'm thinking about my pace. It's been hot, or cold, or windy, or worse. I'm always thinking about traffic and road conditions, even when I'm on 22X and 22 where there is essentially a full lane for us cyclists. (Which is a good thing today, more about that later.)

But today, on highway 22, just south of 22X, I suddenly realized I'd been in the groove. I was a smooth 87 rpm, and my effort was just right for the speed I was going. I wasn't thinking about spinning or anything else. I felt comfortable. Of course, as soon as I realized it, the spell was over. But it will happen again, I'm sure of it. I hope.

Friday was another huge thunderstorm. There was no way I was going out. If I'd been ambitious I'd have got out of bed when I woke up and gone for a swim. But I didn't. I didn't even go downstairs for a core session. I'm pretty sure wine was involved. I'm reading a new series that a buddy recommended, What Angels Fear, by C. S. Harris. Sort of a Regency murder mystery. Pretty good!

Saturday the major effort was cleaning the BBQ. We use it quite a bit. Normally I give it a cleaning every time I refill the tank, but I missed last time. I'm sure it was something to do with that day being frigging cold! But it's filthy now. Linda found these great e-cloths. There's different kinds of them for different purposes, and one of them is for cleaning BBQs. I was dubious, but willing to have a go. If I'd been on the ball I'd have made a video of it. Usually this task takes much scraping, lots of windex or something similar, a mile of paper towel, and the better part of forever. Get the cloth wet, swab, and a shiny outside happens. Fast. Rinse and swab. Scrap out the bottom using a putty blade, and scrape the guck off the bottom of the grill and it was all over. Well, some cloth rinsing with dishsoap, and washing my own hands after. But it's clean and in record time. BBQ rack of lamb tonight. Every athlete should have this, since all that extra time can go to training!

I was up and getting ready fairly early today. It's perfect out. I started easy, and still made it to 22x and 22 in 20 and 42 minutes respectively. I'd been thinking about distance and time, since I still have my suspicions about what biking does to my knee. After I turned south on 22, I found my groove for a while. I saw only a few other people on bikes. I guess they're all up in Sylvan getting their tails kicked by Jenn.

On the way back paying attention to traffic paid off. Geez Alberta drivers can be dicks! One guy pulling a trailer heading south moves over to the right a little bit. A small car goes to pass, and a big pickup right on his ass hits the horn, and then pulls over yet another lane to pass him! Which puts him partly into my bike lane on the opposite shoulder of the road. One a one lane each way road, you don't often see 3 vehicles coming at you at once. I nearly crapped and started looking at the ditch to see how bad bailing out was going to be. Then Mr Aggressive backed down and tucked in behind the car. I guess oncoming traffic appeared, because he sure didn't care about me. Just another reminder to everyone to ride carefully, and wear your Road ID.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I turned around at 1:15, and 32 and a bit K, and was home again in 2:27 or so. I wasn't trying for a fast ride. Normally I'd do a long run today, so I was trying to keep my effort under control, but being strong(er) up the hills. This seems to be working. Right off the bike I went out for a run.

Now I noticed the heat. It had been about 15 C (59 F) with a light breeze when I started the bike, which is perfect. By the end of the ride it was 22 C or so (72 F) which is still nice, especially with the breeze. But during the run I sure felt the heat more. I hadn't been able to drink or eat a lot on the bike. My normally reliable energy drink was gack today, making me feel more thirsty, not less. I'm not sure why. During the run I took a bottle with some Nuun in it, and that really seemed to help.

This is my first brick in a while, and my legs were kind of tottery at first, then settled down to ok. What wasn't so ok was my heart rate. Even a slower than normal run was putting my heart rate up to 140 bpm, and I could feel my lungs tightening up. I could have kept running, but I wasn't out to suffer. I walked, and within a minute my heart rate was back down to about 125, so I started running again. I did this a couple more times and called it about the 30 minute mark. I walked to cool down.

I've stretched a bit, and will stretch more. I can really feel my quads, IT bands, hams, and glutes. Everything feels tight, so I'll do what I can to loosen things up. I miss my massage therapist.

Weekly Summary
Bike 3.25 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Total 4.25 hrs.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I can never, ever shave the mustache

I have now officially lost count of the people who recognize me first, some of whom call me by name. It happened again today at work. There I am, in a fog, walking through the lobby of Banker's Hall to get a coffee.

"Hello Keith!" I peer through the fog and draw a blank. She introduced herself, and then I remembered. I worked with LL for a little while. I remembered once she reminded me, but we haven't seen each other for about 2.5 years. Either she has a phenomenal memory, or that mustache is seared into her brain. It also happened just a little while ago, at work again (I don't get out much, remember, and when I do it's likely to be for work). She remembered me from spin class and emailed me.

Then again, if I ever want to be invisible, I'll just shave it off. According to Cracked Magazine I should anyway, since supposedly they are worn only by porn stars, wanna-be's, and assorted other dickless wonders. I think it looks like Einstein's, or maybe Sam Elliott's without the handlebar bit, so there won't be any shaving of it.

The other problem with this whole darn recognition thing is that it's a tough thing for guys, especially forgetful, distracted, middle aged guys like me. Women are always doing things. Changing their hair colour and hair style. Different glasses, even different eye colour from contacts. Different facial colours from tans and other "product". Different heights from different heels. Entirely different shapes due to fluctuating weight and various foundation garments, as they have been called. What's a guy to do? Say hello and you've goofed she'll think you're a pervert or trying to hit on her. Not say hello and if you've goofed she'll think you're mad at her or something. Sigh. Unlike guys. I've worn the same hair style, gradually getting shorter, since I was a child. Same colour. Like most guys.

Tuesday evening was a train wreck of a shit show. The whole story is much too long to go into, but I was on the phone with Visa for about 2 hours, when I wanted to be out running. Still it was probably good, because I might not have made it back when the skies opened up and it rained and hailed and I don't know what else all. It was dark and loud.

Wednesday we went out for a BBQ social. JH is a very good with the BBQ, the rest of the food was wonderful, and we had a great time. But no run. And maybe just as well. My knee has been feeling a little bit like it did after the prolotherapy shots. Kind of full and a bit stiff and kind of aching. I remember Monday or Tuesday night rolling over and hearing a huge "crack" from my knee. Maybe I did something, or the easy spin on Monday was harder than I thought.

Tonight I warmed up carefully. It was one of those runs where nothing felt right. My legs were heavy, my breathing was up, my stride didn't feel natural. My hams were a bit tighter than normal, even with stretching. It got a bit better over the course of the half hour run, but not much. Still, it's better than not running.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It was hot but I pedaled anyways

How hot is it? 29 C (84 F), and by Calgary standards it was not a dry heat. 51% humidity is ridiculous! This sort of crap is why I moved out of Ontario. I think I'll be sleeping in the basement tonight.

Still, I was determined to get out on my bike and get my legs going around again. They feel pretty good after yesterday's run, but I was thinking a nice easy spin around the neighbourhood would do them good. My average cadence ended up being 92, which is a nice number. Not prime of course, but still nice. I'm happy. My legs are happy.

Rode 45 minutes, almost all of it easy, with one stronger bit for 10 minutes where I pushed the pace a little bit. Not really hard, but just a bit, enough to feel some effort in the pedals.

Even that light effort was enough to come in pretty wet from sweat. There's lots of people that would think this is nice and cool, perfect weather for a big effort, but for here it's hot.

I guess I wasn't clear about my two recruits from the weekend. These are the last of the Special Edition kits I bought over the winter and picked up a while ago. Normally such kits are ready in 6 weeks, and I've bottled lots of them at or just after the 6 week mark. But for these the 6 weeks came and went, and I was busy with other stuff. The white was a little slow to settle, but that's ok. Wine is all about not rushing. In the end getting the two kits bottled was the big task for the weekend. That part of the basement looks sort of empty. Now I don't have any kits to work on, so the cellar will have to survive the depredations of the thirsty till January at the earliest.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The new recruits

Here they are. It was a bit tricky taking the picture, since the label for the red is a bright copper, and the camera insisted on brightening up the white. I had to play with the settings a bit. They are an Italian Primitivo and an Italian Piazza. They are both yummy right out of the carboy, so I anticipate they will be superb in a year. This is why I like to have lots of wine on hand, to let things sit and gradually age to perfection. Technically, I could have bottled these a month ago, but I'm glad I waited.

We had a book club meeting for lunchtime so I was up early to run. I've been at 90 minutes for my long slow run of the week for a few weeks now. I want to get comfortable with my new, quicker stride for that time before I push it longer. I'm still feeling the effects of that hard run earlier in the week, so I did a really good warm up of stretching and walking up to the berm.

My knee has been just the littlest bit cranky about the whole thing, so I've babied it a bit this week. But that's a measure of how much stronger it is, that running as fast as I possibly can didn't bother it too much. I think I was trying to stretch out my stride too much, and was running on my heels a little bit. Since biking annoyed my knees before, I figure that not biking will help them recover.

From there I ran around Woodbine. It's a little over 8K, and it took almost exactly an hour, nice and easy, in control of my breathing, and running so as to let my heart rate drop after the hills. It was pretty clear I wasn't up to another lap so I ran through the neighbourhood to get to 90 minutes. About 11.5 K altogether. It started off warm, and was getting into hot by the time I was done.

It took a long time to get comfortable, and there was some really clunky running from about 50 minutes to 1:05, and from about 80 minutes to the end was all about not tripping over my feet. Part of the problem is that running to keep my heart rate down feels really slow, and it's hard when you're trying to keep the cadence up. Of course, when I was counting I was running better, up around 88 to 90 steps per minute, but I suspect I was a bit slower some of the time.

I've been thinking of checking one of those cadence timers, where you set a cadence, and it ticks in your ear to help you keep in time. Has anyone used one of those? Any feedback about it?

Weekly Summary
Run 2.75 hrs
No bike or swim.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Survived Stampede

Four up, four down. Three breakfasts and one BBQ. My Stampede is over and my feet are thanking me. The boots fit pretty good, but I think the combination of the hard run earlier this week, together with the boots, was not optimal for recovery. Lots of weird feeling muscles in my legs. I'm not sure if it's just walking on a heel, walking on a sole that has no give at all, or running faster than I have for many many years.

Overall my diet wasn't even too bad. In fact, considering how bad it could have been, it's positively excellent. Those with weak stomachs might want to skip to the next paragraph. The burgers down at the grounds are traditionally called gut bombs, and for good reason. This year the treat of choice was to take a maple glazed doughnut, one just like you'd find at Tim's or any other doughnut shop. Slice it in half like a bun, then treat it like a burger bun. Toast it a bit, plop the "burger" in the middle, add fixings, and chow down. Bonus points for keeping it down.

Tonight I did a bit of stretching and headed out into a beautiful evening for a run. Started easy, trying to keep up the cadence. At first it was a bit rocky. My left leg in particular was not enthused. New sets of muscles were sore and tired, mostly up and around the hip.

Once I warmed up, I stretched out my stride a few times and ran faster, but not really pushing it. Mainly I was trying different stride length to see what my legs would think. Ran 45 minutes, mostly feeling ok, but my legs not being totally sure about the whole darned thing. My lungs weren't quite with the game either. They were working harder for the effort and heart rate than I would have expected.

Once I got back I stretched a little bit, and BBQ some chicken for Linda. Me too, of course. Going to bed early, there's a big weekend coming up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crazy clouds

Here's a time lapse video from earlier this evening. I confess I was hoping for a huge thunderhead, but this is more interesting, what with the clouds going all kinds of directions at once. This kind of thing happens all the time here.

I definitely overdid it on the run yesterday. Either that or walking around on higher heels than I've ever worn before is taking a toll on me. Or a combination of them. You see, I think of myself as slightly taller than average, but not unusually so. I've never had any desire to be any taller, or to wear anything thicker soled than normal dress shoes. But that's the way cowboy boots come, and if you're going to do something...

In the end I could have gone for a bike ride, but it could have got more adventurous than I'd like. And I'm feeling like doing a nice stretch session tonight before bed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trying to be fast

Stretched, then walked. Ran easy about 15 minutes to one of the schoolyards that has a soccer field. My legs felt a bit creaky, and it was slow finding a groove. Once I got there I sprinted the length of the field. It's about 100 m. I was trying for fast but not all out, with the idea each successive one would be faster. The first was about 26 seconds. Then 25, 23, 21, then 22. That last was tough. I think my form went to crap about the 3/4 point.

I was running out of wind just before the end, and I could really feel my hip flexors protesting. At least I think it was them. I was trying to keep my cadence fast, and run with good form and all. In between these I walked or ran really easy till my heart rate recovered back well into zone 2. Generally a couple of minutes.

On the way back to the house I was running easy, with one 1 minute where I was trying to really turn the legs over, and stretch out my stride a bit. Then back to the house. 30 minutes running, with some walking before, during, and after. Stretching after.

This trying to be fast is tough sledding. My feet and legs felt heavy, and I'm sure glad nobody was videoing it.

So far I'd have to say the alternative diet of pancakes, sausage, bacon, and hash browns isn't helping.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I lasted only two minutes

PLANK, dammit, what were you thinking?

Geez it's hard to type when a cat is trying to "help" you.

Timing of workouts is a bit tricky this week. I ran Sunday. I'm trying to run 3x a week and not run 2 days in a row. I can't run on Thursday, at least I'm assuming that trying to run after a BBQ where they hand out two drink tickets is probably not a good idea. Plus, weather this week doesn't look good, as in potential thunderstorms. I'm not going on the bike trainer in July. Notnotnot!

So tonight was core, while listening to Ideas on CBC. I know for some people, CBC makes Stalinist propaganda look like harmless right wing baby talk. But the very format of Ideas appeals to me, in that the host asks a question, ONCE, and let's the guests talk at length. Let me revisit that, since there are two important points:

  • Asking the questions once. One of my least liked things about radio announcers is that they typically ask a question twice. At least. And they do so in a way that all but compels a certain answer, or at least makes it clear what answer they are looking for.
  • Letting the guests talk. Beyond the actual news, traffic reports and the bare minimum of topic introduction, I don't want to hear the host talk. I know he or she is reading from a script, and I don't want to hear it. I figure if they went to the trouble of bringing in a guest, they should let that guest talk. With rare exceptions, that guest is more interesting than anything else on the program.
I was listening to several people talking about the limits of free speech. On many shows this would have descended into a shouting match in minutes, with the host encouraging it and butting in often. Sadly, this is what many listeners want. (I'm talking to YOU Chat 660 Chorus network!) These guests disagreed with one another, but all recognized that there were nuanced arguments for and against. Free speech is particularly circumstantial, and they discussed a number of different circumstances, and nuances. Politely. Respectfully. Disagreeing, or admitting that while they agreed in a general sense, some specific cases were troubling. Discussing those particular cases, and analogues of them. They brought up various cases of law and court decisions to show how they supported a general case, or how they believed the justices made a mistake. It was very interesting, and I admit I paused my workout a couple of times as they teased out some subtle distinctions. 

It was a pleasure to listen to reasoned discourse, from people that not only knew what they believed, but why, and could support it with a line of cogent reasoning. And even better to hear someone that disagreed point out what they viewed as flaws in the argument, or how it was not applicable in certain circumstances, or how that line of reasoning would lead to a perverse result if applied to another circumstance. I almost forgot there was a host.

For the record I'm of the opinion that free speech is good, but recognize that there are limits. It isn't an unfettered right. Limits to free speech need to be carefully thought through, and should be as minimally intrusive as possible. As the guests point out, in Canada and other western style democracies there are few restrictions on political speech, while in less civilized countries those rights are restricted. The problem isn't in restricting speech that people agree with, it's in deciding if speech that people disagree with should be restricted. Some religious groups believe that being offended, or blasphemy are grounds for restricting speech. I disagree. My take on it is that you shouldn't be offended when other people decide your free speech proves you're an idiot. Last I looked, there were no laws against being idiots. Nor against being offended.

It has never been easier for people to distribute their opinions, and never easier for other people to find those opinions. Many of those opinions are uninformed or ignorant. No pejorative meaning intended, simply that some people don't understand the laws of thermodynamics, for example, and rant about how it's a plot that the scientific world doesn't take them and their perpetual motion machine seriously. Neither do we have a problem with speech that is factually incorrect, though it may take a while for the remedy to run it's course. The problem comes when the speech is not popular, or even hateful. Does Bishop Phelps have a right to say in his pulpit or in the general public space that deaths in combat are God's judgement because the USA is going soft on gays? I'd say he has that right, repulsive as that speech is. (See my earlier statement about proving yourself an idiot.) Other people can disagree and they can have a fine argument. But does he have a right to say it at the funeral of one of of those combat deaths? I would say not. The mourning family and friends are not the people that made the laws Phelps disagrees with. Our society expects a certain level of decorum at funerals, and in most cases grant the family a higher degree of privacy for a time. 

Back to my workout. I'm feeling a bit tight after the run yesterday, but not bad. Stretched lots. Did some core, as in plank. I started the stop watch, and closed my eyes. I haven't timed my planking self in a long while. I had no idea what to expect. I opened my eyes when it was starting to get hard, and was astonished to see 1:38 on the clock. I clenched my butt and abs even harder, determined to hang on. The last couple seconds clicked over and I dropped to my knees at 2:01, just getting to the point I was thinking about regretting supper. Love it! Proof positive that the core is getting stronger!

The plan is to run on Tuesday, and try to get on the bike Wednesday. Or another core. Thursday is a rest day. (burp) Run Friday, bike Saturday maybe run after, run Sunday if not on Sat. That's the plan.

The hard part of the day today was not listening to a 60's soul band playing at a Stampede Breakfast. Under other circumstances I'd have said they were pretty good, and I'd rather listen to them than a bad country and western band. No, it was a conversation thread on Julie's FB page, talking about the Vitamix blender. All I can think about on that topic is the one demo where they make up a green smoothie. I admit the Vitamix pushes buttons in my techie heart. I admit it's a workhorse. I admit that demo had all healthy stuff getting mixed in, all of which I've eaten. I know there are people out there that practically worship at the base of their Vitamix. But that green smoothie was exactly, EXACTLY the colour of pond scum in the quarry on my grandfather's farm. Neon green. I gag just a little thinking of it.

What's your Vitamix story?

Any opinions on free speech?


Sunday, July 10, 2011

It seemed hot to me

Friday was an interesting day to go into the office. There were only a couple of other people on my floor, as Talisman gives people the morning off for the Stampede Parade. If I'm not working I don't get paid, and I had things to do. Plus, my office window sees a small slice of pavement in front of Gulf Canada Square. Yes, I know it's really called something else now.

Mostly I worked, but I looked whenever I heard bagpipes. I love me a good pipe band. I'll have to ask my buddy Graham if he was in it. There was a huge rumble at one point, and there was an honest to God tank going down the street, waving it's turret and cannon at the crowd in an amiable way. As amiable as a tank can be, I guess. Big cheers, HUGE cheers whenever the Canadian military units went by. In spite of the distractions I got lots of work done. Dinner after work with our buddies Gord and Gail at Boxwood. Yummy!!

I think it's really important to have a mental health day every now and then. Yesterday was it. I slept in to about 7:30, which is late by my standards. The biggest morning activity was a gentle stroll to the post office to get a stamp to send a letter to America. $1.08!!! Holy cow. That raises the price of the item I bought by a whole 2.3%. I hadn't known that letters going there were so expensive. I'm looking forward to that shirt!

From there I had a recovery nap. That wasn't totally my idea, but Amelia the cat snoreonerated me. After a while I got up to have some lunch, then I had a post lunch nap. After watching some TED talks, I napped again, this time in the bedroom where it was nice and cool. Linda was out doing a Stampede breakfast at the Ismali Muslim centre, hobnobbing with Mayor Nenshi, and some other political riff-raff. Then she was out to Millarville Market with a buddy. So I had a quiet day with my thoughts.

Not much to say about that, just that I'm happy with how my life is going now. Glad I didn't try to sign up for a bunch of triathlons this year. Pleased with how my knee is recovering and that I'm getting back on the fitness train again. Work is going well and I think I'm getting more into the groove with my current assignment. For a while I was a bit lost, but it's coming together.

This week was a rest week on the fitness front. I've had several weeks where I pushed on the running and biking. On the advice of the famous (and fast!) Katie, I've changed up my stride a bit. This really seems to be working for me. Today I replicated the run from June 26, though today I went just a little bit further, so my pace was probably just a hair over 7 min/K. The main goal of the run was to maintain the quicker stride throughout the run, and keep my heart rate down.

That last didn't go quite so well, but the first went really well for the first 70 minutes, then it got to be a bit more of a struggle. I could feel my self settling into a slower stride, then I'd think about hot pavement and would pick it up again. My heart rate gradually climbed throughout, but my breathing was good the entire time. I started a cool down walk at the 90 minutes, maybe 100 m from the house, recovering 26 bpm in a minute. It's nice to have the hose there, waiting for a quick drink, and to splash cool water onto me for a few more minutes of walking.

By my standards this was a fairly hot day, maybe 23 C. Lots of people run in the cool of the morning or evening, but I've got a different strategy. Half IM races typically have the run at the heat of the day. Swim start is about 7 or 8 am. Allow a half hour and a bit, plus T1 time. Add in somewhere around 3 hours for the bike and T2, and you're up to late morning. Now add in a 2 hour run, and the day is as hot as it's going to be. In many other places a 23 C is cool enough to turn off the air conditioner and enjoy the break from the hot weather. I'm just glad I don't live in such places.

I'm a cool weather person. Running when it's hot is really hard for me. (Quite aside from the running itself being hard for me!) During the 70.3 a couple years ago I thought my lungs were going to explode out my throat. So over the last couple of years I've typically waited till it's as warm as it's going to get before heading out. Naturally, this leads to slower training times, but so what? Nobody is there giving out a medal for a fast training ride or run. Yes, I need to plan a bit to deal with the heat. Sunscreen. Water. Planning the nutrition, and emergency pickup. But I need to get better at it for race day, and this is helping. I've already had some good runs this year where I kept on going when before I'd have had to walk. That's progress to me, even more important than dropping the actual times.

Only 2 hours running this week, but super good quality. A really good yoga session, and some good core and stretching. I'm happy with it. Next week is back at it, and we'll see how well pancakes and sausage works as fuel.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trying to make it longer

After wading through the crowds to get home I was really looking forward to a run. My goals were to continue with the quicker turnover, but also try to increase my stride length. After a short stretching session, and warm up run, I started off for 5 K. Planned to be brisk, aiming for mid zone 3, alternating between my regular pace and trying to lengthen my stride. That all went pretty well, going for 30:30, with my breathing mostly under control.

The run felt pretty good, especially considering it was hot out, probably 27 or so. Which is really hot for me. I was pouring sweat, and my face was pretty red when I got back.

Shannon nailed it, the photo was of the case for my iPad. Bamboo for the back and sides, with a leather cover in the front. It is much easier to hold the iPad in one hand now, since there is an edge for your thumbs to get a grip on. The little bit of extra weight doesnt matter. I find a naked iPad is really hard to hold onto. The more I use it, the more I love it. My latest app is a remote control for iTunes on the main computer. The one I've been playing with most is the time lapse video one. And Zite. And Friendly. And...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another first. Outdoor yoga in the fluffy snow

No seriously, it looked like snow. The Poplar or Cottonwood fluff is in full bloom, floating on the breeze, piling up in little drifts. None the less, 6 of us showed up on a perfect summer evening for yoga. After a bit of bug spray, we settled in. Jen led us through a number poses, with lots of core stuff and twists. My highlight was tree. Normally I struggle with tree, but today I discovered that's because my roots can't grow into concrete. My tree felt strong and stable, and my branches waved gently in the warm breeze. It was all wonderful!

So, those of you in Calgary, feel free to join us at Princess Elizabeth school next Wednesday. It will be good for relaxing after all the Stampeding you've been up to.

I took a video of the walk from Banker's Hall to City Hall, but I hadn't realized how bouncy it was. I was just holding the camera as I walked, and of course my hand was bouncing a little in time with my walk. It's a bit seasick making. I might play in iMovie to see if it will do anything about that. I was hoping to be able to post a before Stampede, and during Stampede crowd comparison.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Look what arrived in the mail today!

I've been eagerly waiting for this for a while, and it finally arrived. It was sitting in some bin in a Canada Post warehouse while they were locked out by management that appears to have cooked up a sweetheart deal with the government. What do you think it is?

Come on, surely you have some ideas.

It's been a month since my last ART session, and it all feels pretty good. He was impressed by how my knee has continued to improve, and how well my back was aligned. There were some minor snicks as he manipulated my legs and one hip, but nothing like the first few times. Those really took it out of me. Tonight I was thinking of going for a run, which is a first for after an ART appointment. I've never even considered it before, since just walking was enough. In the end I decided not to, mainly because I'm trying new things, and don't want to over do it.

Besides, there was another first for me. I moved to Calgary in 1980, and I wasn't what you'd call a Stampede person. My first few years here I took vacation then, and went out of town. One year I made a point of wearing a suit every day of Stampede. With a tie, out in public and everything. I got some strange looks, since I was probably one of maybe a dozen people that would do so. However it's gradually been growing on me. One year when I was at BP a group of us scored rodeo tickets, and I actually had a pretty good time. At any public event I like watching what doesn't get shown on TV. All the organizational, setup, or problem fixing sort of stuff. No shortage of that at the rodeo.

Wandering around the grounds was interesting, especially on the eye candy front. There is no better time or place to be a guy or lesbian, than during Calgary Stampede. The women I talk to don't have any complaints either. But I'd typically go to one event during the week of madness. Maybe. A big year would be two events, and some years I wouldn't do any. This year is a bit of a breakthrough. Four days, four events. Yeehaw!

Monday is a breakfast put on by the company I contract through. Good professional networking and all. Tuesday is Linda's work breakfast. This group puts on a good one, and they're actually nice people.
Wednesday is Talisman Energy's breakfast. Gotta go to that, there are a surprising number of people I knew there, considering I've only been there a few months. Again, a good networking opportunity, and there are some people I need to "bump into".
Thursday afternoon is a BBQ at Heritage Park put on by Talisman. This is a must! Good grub, and I'm told a good time will be had by all. I can't wait to see how one of my co-workers makes out. He's fresh from Norway, and simply doesn't believe the stories people have been telling him. Even though it's different examples of the same stories. I hope he doesn't learn the hard way, but there are a couple people that have volunteered to chaperone him.

So there I am, hitting a new record of Stampede events for one year. I even went to buy a pair of proper boots so I'd fit in better at so many events. Who knows, I might even get invited to more. I think Calgary is finally rubbing off on me. I'd never quite imagined there were so many boot choices. I got a pair dressy enough to wear to the office with dress pants, and yet not so flashy I wouldn't wear them if I was going some place such boots would be appropriate. (I'm talking to you, polo Amanda!) Here's a pic.

They look much darker than they really are, almost black. In fact they are only a bit darker brown than the wood floor. I wore them to work, figuring if my feet protested I could take a break and put on my dress shoes. Wore them all day and they felt fine. But now I know why cowboys don't walk fast. They mosey along. It's because you can't really walk fast in these boots, at least I can't yet. The heel has no padding at all, and I'm still learning to walk with a higher heel than I've ever worn.

I haven't forgotten the training. I was downstairs for some stretching and a bit of core, including the dreaded plank. Note to self, next time, do plank before the knees to elbows thing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I missed the rain by THAT much

We've had great weather here, and it's wonderful to be outside in it. I didn't use to deal well with the heat, and I still struggle with it. Now, I suppose I need to clarify "heat". To me, somewhere around 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F)is the perfect temperature for summer outdoor activities. Warm enough, but not too hot. I used to think that over 20 was hot for strenuous outdoor activity. My run especially suffered. It's like my head was in an oven and I couldn't get air in or out of my lungs.

Since I started being more active I've been cautiously trying to get better at dealing with heat. I have no problem at all going out in -30 C (-22 F) to run, but for some strange reason nobody does triathlon then. So running in somewhat cold weather maintains fitness, but doesn't particularly help to learn to run when it's hot out.

Humidity is an issue as well for me, since Calgary has essentially no humidity. A buddy of mine from Phoenix thought Calgary was hot and dry. It wasn't particularly, it just felt that way because of the dryness. So running in humidity gets to me as well.

The only thing to be done, aside from setting up a treadmill in a sauna, is to run during the hottest part of the day here, on the few days when it's hot. Which I did today. Another beautiful day, sunny and clear, about 23 C (73 F). By Calgary standards that's verging on hot, but I know several of my readers would think I'm a wimp for saying so.

After spraying on a good layer of sunscreen I set out down into Fish Creek. The plan was to try to maintain the higher run cadence, and run for 1.5 hours. After about 30 minutes I started feeling the heat. About 40 minutes my cadence was starting to fade a bit. I walked for a minute and a half at the 49 minute turnaround mark to inhale a Gu and get a bit of water into me. There was no need to juggle those things while trying to  maintain a new stride. This was just by the ponds south of the golf course, just east of bridge 7. I guess that Jarrett, Nicole, Neil, and Darryl are the only people that know where I mean, but that's ok.

I got another 10 good minutes in, then it became a bit of a struggle. I was still trying to move my feet but it was feeling more like a shuffle. The 24 St hill out of the park was a bit of an ordeal. The only amusement was watching a driver abort, retry, and panic while driving into the park. He drove in, started to do a 3 point turn, then backed up out of the park, drove in a circle in the little turnaround area, and headed back into the park, then stopped again just after he passed me. I have no idea why.

My heart rate peaked at 151 bpm coming out of the park, and only settled back to the mid 140's afterward, even though I was trying to run slowly, but keep the cadence up. At least it came down a bit. Last hot weather run, during Calgary 70.3 it didn't come down until I walked. The average over the whole run was 135 bpm.

Toward the end of the run it had clouded over and the breeze picked up. That felt very nice. Then the wind really picked up and started blowing dust around. Here I went from being all sweaty, to having the sweat absorbed by dust in a few minutes. I looked gross. I got back to the house and walked for 5 minutes nice and easy. My heart rate came down 31 bpm in the minute after stopping running.

I stretched a bit outside, then by the time I got downstairs to get my feet up, it started raining fairly hard. Now, a few hours later, the clouds have blown away, and it's a beautiful sunny day again.

I feel great about the run! My cadence wasn't quite where I'd have liked it to be, but I'm still a bit tired from the last few days of bike and run. Plus I'm happy that I wasn't forced to walk in the heat. I think even last year I'd have walked. I had a few knee twinges, but nothing serious.

Weekly Summary
Bike 3.5 hrs
Run 3.25 hrs
Taming the Jungle 1.0 hrs
Total Cardio 7.75 hrs.
Plus there is some core and stretching and stuff, but I'm not really keeping track of that.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rode instead of watching TdF

Summer is here. It seems like we've just had more nice days in the last few weeks than we had all last year. Today is totally beautiful, sunny and warm, but not quite hot. At least not by my standards. Warm enough to get a good sweat on, but not have to worry about heatstroke or anything.

I'd wondered what sort of ride to do today, since it would be a crime not to be out. I landed on going out 22x and back, aiming for 2.5 hrs. My knee is feeling strong these days but I don't think it's ready for a full-blown rampage down RtN, or a much longer ride.

The hills on 22x are not quite as dramatic, but still respectable. This is the bike course for the chinook half IM, and it's widely regarded as being fairly tough, much tougher than the local 70.3 or GWN up just west of Edmonton. At least on 22x there are some flat spots which is certainly NOT the case with RtN.

I know Julie has been desolate lately because I haven't put many numbers in my blog. So here we go, just for her:
65.1 K total distance
25.6 kph average speed
79 average cadence
85 kph top speed
158 max cadence
2:31 total time, 1:18 out, 1:12 back. (turned around at the top of the west hill from Priddis Valley.)
125 average heart rate
144 max heart rate
2310 calories burned, though that seems too high.

The things I do for my fans...

Part of my intent was to try to keep my cadence up, but I didn't succeed as well as I did on the run. Still, I'm feeling stronger going up hills. I'm sure there are previous rides about that long with higher cadence, so I need to work on it. I also need to get Estela worked on, it's become very difficult to get onto the big ring. Once there I tend to stay there until I'm forced off of it.

Turns out I timed it just about right. I could have gone on a bit longer, but was beginning to get a bit uncomfortable, and my legs were getting tired. I ate a banana, 1 gel, and a Clifs bar, drank 2 water bottles one of which had Nuun in it.

It was a great ride! I felt happy and strong and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Odd that I didn't see many other people out on bikes. Maybe they're at GWN or other races. I've got a couple buddies doing GWN, hope they have a great day!

Now to go BBQ!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

T Rex didn't show up today!

Wed yoga was a joy. Almost nobody was there and the week before our instructor let us pick our poses. There was lots of good stuff. I could have stayed in Thread the Needle for much longer. My shoulders have been really tight lately. That was the last class of the session, and we won't see her till the next session in September, I guess. However, I'm not done with Wed yoga! One of my buddies is running outdoor yoga classes. That ought to be fun, and very interesting to see how another instructor does things.

YOGA IN THE PARK starts Wednesday June 29th, 6:30-7:30pm at Queen Elizabeth High School. Come out and play! 50% of donations going to L'Arche Calgary.

Thursday I think the Tuesday run had caught up with me. It was only afterward that I realized how hard I'd been running, and I was feeling it. By rights, I should have stretched out and done an easy run on Thursday. But when some work buddies were going out to the best patio in the city, on an authorized expense account because one of them was leaving, on a perfect night, well, I'm weak and helpless that way. The West Restaurant roof top is very nice, if pretty crowded. Was nice to chat with people and enjoy the outdoors. I don't do that sort of thing much. Home and essentially straight to bed.

Friday was trying to sleep in. Not. I didn't sleep well for some reason last night. Took back recyclables and a few other errands. My facebook page has a pic of a huge mound of milk cartons and orange juice containers. I know that some of you will be sadly disappointed in us, thinking that wine was our primary beverage.

After that I did about a half hour of stretching and core. I was thinking about trying to apply at least some of the things Katie was telling me. Once I started I could feel myself running the way I used to, then I thought of running on super hot pavement. Sure enough my cadence picked up. But other things changed too! My posture changed, my arms were more disciplined, shoulders down and back, chest out a bit more, posture was better, I think. The running felt easier overall, though some muscles were working a bit differently. I could feel it from my core a bit better.

I pattered along, not trying to run faster. If anything I was trying to run slower so I could concentrate on keeping my breathing even, and think about all the other stuff that was happening. But I couldn't help myself, I let things go a couple of times and really picked up the pace. I ran the same 5.5 K out and back that I've often done before. Today I got to the end in 36 minutes, while not trying to run fast. Breathing under control, heart rate at 134 average, though I'm not sure how accurate that was. It seemed quite low for the first 10 minutes of the run. That's almost 4 minutes quicker than a couple weeks ago, with less effort. Gotta love that!

I ran another 10 minutes very easy, still trying to keep the cadence up, but deliberately running very slowly so my heart rate could come down, then walked another 15 minutes to complete my cool down, and stretched a bit.

This is new territory for me. I've run that fast, and even faster, but that was always in a race, or trying to run race pace. This was nice and easy. I can feel it a little bit in my calves right now, but it's not too bad for trying something new. I could have run longer but didn't so I give my legs a chance to get used to this. Next step is to try to keep that cadence and stretch out my stride just a little. This is going to be interesting. Once again Katie shows how smart she is.