Thursday, September 29, 2011

Here I thought yoga would be easy

I did not sleep well at all on Tuesday night, no idea why. Eventually I gave up trying, and got out of bed to read for a while. At midnight almost exactly an ambulance with lights flashing pulls up in front of the house. They peer at me, then pull forward in front of my neighbour's house. Ok.

A minute later a fire truck with it's lights flashing pulls up behind the ambulance. Now I'm getting a bit freaked out. I can hear Linda snoring so I know she hasn't called anyone. They hop out of their truck and walk up my neighbour's driveway. I poke my nose out and sniff for smoke, and check the one window that looks out on their house. All seems fine.

I still nothing but figure the neighbour's wife must have had a problem or something. She can't speak any English, so if it had been him on the floor, the cops would have come too, given that they would have had no idea what was going on. Unless there is a Cantonese speaker at 911. I keep on reading and eventually they go away. Eventually I go to bed, and still don't really sleep.

So by the time yoga class comes around, I'm really dragging my tail. Our instructor had been in an auto collision earlier in the day. Some inattentive dimwit drove into the back of her car. I don't know if they were on a cell phone or not. So she was feeling a little beat up, and we were encouraging her to do a class working on breathing. Preferably while lying down. She didn't go for it. The class was a bit of a workout in fact, and I discovered something new.

It used to be when I bent over to touch my toes I didn't get very far. Prior to 2008 I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I touched my toes with straight knees. Now it's pretty routine, though I have to ease into it. Last night we were doing a chest to leg thingie, and suddenly I found that my tummy sort of tucked itself in, and my abs could pull my chest closer to my leg, to the point my ribs were touching my quads. That is a first!

Another, unhappier first, is to find out a little while ago that a friend of mine is in the hospital, in a coma. LM was in a "bike accident" a couple weeks ago. They took her off the ventilator earlier this week, and have moved her out of ICU. So she must be better, but her injuries must have been serious to be there in the first place. I'd done a search through the local news shortly after, looking for news of a bike car collision (I can't call them accidents anymore) but didn't find anything. It seems that this year has been a bad one for bike injuries, or maybe I'm more tuned to it. I'm getting more and more nervous about the short chunk of 37 st I have to ride on to get to 22X. Drive and ride safe!

We are currently shopping around for a new furnace, and spoke to the first of three people tonight. What fun! Anyone have any experience with replacing a furnace that they would care to share?

The taper is going well. I like tapering, contrary to what most bloggers say. Maybe that means I don't peak hard enough. Weather is looking nice for the weekend, and I'm looking forward to the run.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yahoo for swim mojo!

I think my swim mojo has been off at the shark vacation resort. But it was back today. After the amazing shoulder massage yesterday, I figured the swim today would either be very good, or very bad. It turned out good, which is good.

There was no rush to get into the water. I appreciated being back at Renfrew, and chatted briefly with a buddy that has done several ironman races, very quickly. He's just off from foot surgery and has just been cleared to swim. Biking and running will be a while.

After a few strokes with no complaints from my shoulders, or anything else, I relaxed and got into the groove. The guy in my lane was really good about letting me past. I think he was trying to draft but that didn't last long. This was nice, I was back about 21 strokes per length again and feeling relaxed in the water. 500 m was 9:30, 1K was 19:20, and 1.5 K was 29:25. The very last couple laps got a bit sloppy, and I totally blew a flip turn.

But still, last week it was a struggle to get the 20 minute K, and this week, going that few seconds faster per 100m felt easier. I know my stroke was better, and I wasn't working as hard. Funny how that is. Improvement is happening.

Nothing else, just the straightforward swim, thinking about my elbows. I think I need to get back to doing my flip turn exercise. They are very sloppy right now.

Totally by accident I missed another night of LRT shenanigans. They closed closed down part of LRT avenue right before rush hour because of a gas leak, stopping train service completely. At least it wasn't another case of suicide by train. Meanwhile I was in a bar having drinks and networking courtesy of the company I contract through. Chatted lots to my buddy Sean who is now at BP, and one of his current co-workers, who knows some of the people I used to work with. Small world some days.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The massage workout

An entire hour working on my shoulders. I've never really had my muscles twitching and jumping like that. It's a distinctly odd feeling. Normally I get worked on all over, but I really needed the shoulders, especially the left. oooh. Can't wait for the hot tub after the swim tomorrow.

I was out for a short walk at lunch time, and was surprised at how crowded the lobby and mall was. There was an extremely loud spin session happening in the lobby. Lots of people were walking through with their fingers in their ears. I watched for a few minutes. Now, bear in mind I have no idea how long these people had been on the trainer. Several of them looked like they were ready to keel over from heat exhaustion. None of them looked like they were having much fun. Glad I wasn't doing that.

The mall was full of people strolling around, and lots of people sitting their watching them. The watchers piss me off. I see that street most mornings and it's filthy. Cigarette butts everywhere, some garbage strewn around, and yet I know for a fact that street is cleaned daily at the very least. There are people dropping butts and stepping on them, rather than reaching a few feet to put it in a receptacle designed for the purpose. I'd love to see a bylaw officer give them a ticket and slap them upside the head for good measure.

The other day grocery shopping I was behind a LOD (Little Old Dear) paying for her groceries by writing a cheque. I haven't seen that for years, many years. I was actually kind of astonished that anyone still does this, but the clerk assured me she gets a couple a day. I suspect that in what will seem like no time at all, I'll be the old one, trying to pay through a smart phone autopay app. The people behind me will look on me with amused tolerance (I hope) at the quaint display. They, of course, have a bio chip installed that does all that for them and barely have to break stride leaving the store. It's called progress, and sooner or later, I'll fall off the trailing wave. It's a good thing I don't have any kids waiting around for their (nonexistent) inheritance, and wondering how soon they can put me on the ice floe for the polar bears. If any are still left alive then.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Maybe last nice day for biking

Even if it was a bit windy. I left about 10 oclock, and it was already nice out. It never really got hot during my ride, but then I was only out for 40 K or so, for 1.5 hrs. Warm enough to be nice, windy enough to stay cool. A great day for a bike ride, possibly the last day to be nice enough for a bike ride in shorts and shirt till next year.

I saw a ton of other people out on 22X. My ride was mainly to spin the legs and keep the blood moving. Plus look at the scenery. It isn't the fall colours of Ontario's maple trees, but I love the gold and yellow and russet colours here.

After the bike ride I showered and we headed out to the Interior Design show. Linda was stood up by a buddy, so I went. We are mainly interested in furnace stuff, since our furnace was installed with the house in 84. No trouble with it, but we have been assured we are on borrowed time. Plus the government is offering a rebate program. We are also looking at roofing and siding, but that need isn't so urgent.

One of the things I sometimes enjoy at these trade shows is watching the hucksters. You know, the ones selling the veggie slicer thingies, or super-duper mops, or pots and pans, or who knows what all else. But today the demo that caught us was the Vitamix girl. TWSS! I was watching carefully, and in several demos she did not throw in anything that produced a nuclear green mix. So that was a big plus. We ended up sampling a juice, a soup, and some ice cream, though it was really more like a gelato. All were good. The demo was impressive. Buuuuuutttttt, we didn't, in the end. We have a food processor gathering dust.

After that was BBQ chicken, which was a bit of a struggle. The wind really picked up. With Yams, and wonderful blackberries for dessert.

So, blog buddies, your input is wanted here. How many of you have a Vitamix? How often do you use it? What is your favourite mix of stuff? Worth the $$$?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A good run in spite of post Ovo achey butt

Last night was was interesting. We chose to park on Spiller road near where Linda used to work, and walked into Stampede park. We passed dozens of cars filled with people willing to pay $13 to park for the evening. I thought there were a lot of cars for a show with about 2,000 spectators, but it turns out the Interior Design show was on, plus a concert by Keith Urban, which is an odd name for a country singer. I guess that explained the groups of young women heading into the show wearing cowboy boots, shorts, and tank tops.

The only downside of Ovo was the seats. It wasn't the sight lines, we were within a few feet of the sound mixer or whatever that one guy was doing, and could see everything. By the end of the evening my butt, and back, and legs were aching. I was so glad to stand up and walk back to the car. I'm also glad there was no encores.

The show itself was AMAZING! I had seen clips of various Cirque productions, and had no doubts of the athleticism of the performers. I thought the costumes and show story lines, and well, to tell the truth, the whole productions were just a bit fru-fru in a French artistic over the top sort of way.

The story line of Ovo didn't do much for me, but the show itself, and the performers had me riveted in a way I seldom am for a live performance. I almost don't know where to begin. They guy playing on the swirly bar, as I think of it, that had a flat disc at the top, a few inches across. He would do one handed hand stands, and wave his feet around, then switch hands, then get himself rotating. The troupe of 6 people playing with giant Kiwi and corn cobs using only their feet, while themselves being bounced from person to person, all in time. The rope dancing couple. The trapeze group. The gumby girl, as I thought of her. She could do a standing back bend, touching her heels, get her weight on her hands, and go to a hand stand. She was so flexible it was actually a little bit creepy. There was the slack wire guy riding his unicycle, hands on the pedals while doing a handstand, while riding back and forth, as he deliberately swayed from side to side. There was essentially no struggles for balance. The wall trampoline group. Who else? I may have forgotten someone. Totally worth the price of admission.

Since starting to get into better shape I have a lot more appreciation for what athletes do. And make no mistake, all these people are athletes. Absolutely amazing athletes. The ticket prices were in line with what we would pay for other attractions, such as the CPO, or nosebleed seats at a Flames game. The parking was about double what I remember paying to park there, and the food was expensive. Popcorn was $7, a beer was $8. The merchandise was probably overpriced by a similar margin. It struck me that a family could easily double their ticket price on parking, food, and merchandise.

Although I was tempted, we did not go out to Tubby Dog after. One of these days.

The other thing that is amazing here is the weather. Today was hot. Actually, really hot. 30 C (86 F). I ran anyway. I did some stretching after a leisurely morning that involved a BBQ brisket sandwich at Big D's at the Calgary Farmer's market. Walked a bit more, then ran. My legs and feet felt surprisingly good, given how creaky they were after the show. I hate being jammed into small seats. The whole run was an hour, including walking before and after. Ran easy, and picked up the pace several times to run fast. I wanted to remind my legs about this running thing. I totally stopped once, just to make sure my posture was good, and started easy, trying to control my pace by leaning forward, rather than trying to run my legs faster using more muscle. It all felt good, and I didn't over do it. I am tapering, after all.

Dinner was home made BBQ bison burgers, just as good as they sound, with all the trimmings.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice too. This is nicer weather than we got for most of the summer, and this was a pretty good summer. Next thing is to get my head around running a half marathon race next weekend. I'm not quite where I wanted to be on training, but overall I'm pretty pleased. No time predictions thought.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A maze

Just the last few days I've been feeling a bit like a rat on a treadmill. Which isn't really an accurate thing to say, since Alberta is one of the very few places, perhaps only place, and certainly the only place of any size, where humans live and rats don't. The rats with four paws. The two-legged variety are doing quite well, thank you very much.

Even so, it's been back and forth to work, and nose to the grindstone at work. SAP go live is coming soon, and people are beginning to freak out. Technically, I'm not supposed to work overtime. Traffic and road construction on the routes home are strong incentive to be out of the office at 4. But it's getting harder to do.

I think a lot about process models. Do these things in this order for that line of reasoning. It's forming a mental model of a work process, and mapping it out so people can talk and think about it coherently. But it also leads me to thinking about mental models of the physical world and our giant 3D maze. I don't think of the route between my home and my office to be particularly complex, since I do it 5 days a week, and there are some days I'm not exactly at my best and brightest. Still, drive about 15 K to the parking structure. When Linda comes with me it's a surface parking lot. When she's not, it's the Gulf Canada parkade. (I know, some of you are rolling your eyes, and yes, it's expensive, but I have a generous boss and can expense it.) I once got lost in there, since there are exits onto 2 different avenues. The one to 10th Ave is on level 1A. (Yes, there is a level 1B, it's different.) The exit to 9th ave starts on level 5B. There are two sets of ramps depending on where you want to go.

I typically go in and out off of 10th Ave. I go up to level 1B and park near the central stairs. Walk up to level 4B. I do this rather than drive because I can walk up and down the levels faster than I can drive them. From there it's across an indoor bridge above the train tracks. Like many CPR towns, the train tracks cut the town in half. Down a half set of stairs and through the building. Then across a +15 into Bankers Hall West. Down the escalator; the stairs are way out of the way. Then the elevator up to my floor.

That's as simple as it gets. There are shops on the ground floor, +15, +30, and +45 levels. There are +15's in 4 directions, and a +30 as well for one of them. One block over there are 3 floors of shops as well running for several blocks. There is a complex web of +15 bridges linking many of the buildings downtown, adding up to 15 or 16 K of indoor walking.

There are days I think it would be fun to stage a running race through the network. At lunch time. (Kidding!) Each building has private security guards to keep the riff raff out, though occasionally you see them moving through. I think the rule is that if they're moving they're ok. Occasionally I see the bike cops riding through. Cops, riding bikes. Our cops are particularly plush in the transportation department. Our cops can ride bikes, cars, horses, helicopters, (yes more than one) and a tank (yes, an actual armoured personnel carrier). There may be other specialized vehicles I don't know about. The ones that walk either feel really special, or really rejected.

I know my way around the maze fairly well, but I've been lost a few times. There are major additions coming that I'd like to see. The Bow building will join the two major chunks. There are dead ends, secret nooks, detours, unmarked stairs, places that disagree with the map, lots of windows, and all sorts of art. I've been thinking it would be a fun Saturday, or a Friday off work, to get a group of people together and try to go through the entire network, and document it with photos and video. If you want in, let me know.

Yes, you're asking, but what about the workouts? Well, It's like this. If you think about it, in one sense, many of the buildings downtown are really one large building. Since one can get from one to the other without having to open the doors (they open themselves, if they exist at all) one could argue it's a contiguous interior space, meaning it's one building. Now think about the people that have worked for several companies downtown over the years. They've moved offices several times within that company, and worked for different companies in other office space. They visit coworkers in yet more office space, and associate, hobknob, and produce value by working with colleagues in other companies. They have friends they go for coffee and lunch with at various places. All the other shopping places. There are the various places to park, some of them reaching 7 or 8 floors underground. There are all the various routes connecting those places on foot or by other methods. Think of the complexity of that map. It's a wonder any of us get to the office, and that's to say nothing of the distractions along the way. Why, just the other day I nearly followed someone to her office in the hope she would adopt me. I'm not the only one that has happened to, though they might not admit it.

The ability to carry a map in our head varies between people, but it's getting more and more important. Our phones aren't quite able to guide us to where we want to go at that level of granularity, but I'm sure it's coming. I've been told they restrict some of the passes to the Tube in London so the tourists won't annoy the regulars at rush hour. (I wish they could do that here!) These people know a route so well they know exactly where the train doors will open, and what the best train seat is to minimize the walking going through several stations. My brain was beginning to hurt trying to keep a route in my head.

My legs have been killing me since the run a week ago. I've been stretching and rollering and NOT running. I was thinking of it tonight, but we've got plans. More on that later. The rest of the weekend is really nice, so I'm planning a bike ride. Nice and easy, maybe Millarville and back the scenic route. Any takers?

Yoga was good. Once again Fiona knows how to make it good. There was a plan for a Thursday swim, but I feel into bed and needed the sleep more than the swim.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When the feel isn't there,

When the feel isn't there, swimming is no fun at all. Today was one weird swim. Normally I love to get in the water. I can't wait to get started. But today there was no mojo, no feel for the water. I stood at the end not wanting to get wet. Even after starting, it's like I couldn't get a grip on it. My stroke was subtly off, and my lungs were still in bed. I swam 40 minutes, but I wouldn't call it a success, not really. I was trying to muscle through the water, not slide. That doesn't work so well.

I was thinking that today would be the first intervals, and I did do some, but it didn't work out as expected. After a slower than expected warm up, where I essentially ran out of gas about 500 m in, tops. I took a little rest and did my first interval, trying to be smooth and strong. I was thinking I'd be about 100 seconds per 100 m. Not. 105. That's a huge difference. The others got slower. I didn't do many. I think I need to work the flip turn exercise back into my core again. I was paying attention to them today, and most of them sucked. I'm going way too deep in the water, and it's taking forever.

Dolphin kick wasn't too bad. Oddly enough, fist felt reasonably smooth. One arm was a bit of a thrash. Backstroke felt ok. So I'm not going to worry too much about this one, just marking it up to an off day.

The lovely but bruised Ms. L joined me this morning. She was mentioning her swim was feeling a bit off as well, but it looked pretty fast to me. At least she has a good reason. Coffee after was nice! Normally I zoom straight from a swim to work, so it was a bit of a change for me. Good to get out of the rut.

If I'd known how much of my swim I was going to lose, I don't think I'd have taken as much of a break with it over the summer as I did. Oh well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Humans! A rant, by Amelia

The semi-good human went away and left me with the unsatisfactory one. The one that barely pays any attention to me at the right times. The one that is always busy doing something else instead of important stuff like scratching my ears, or combing me, or playing with my string. Rotten human.

Mornings are a total waste of time. The semi-good human brings food to the chair, and gives me a lap, and lets me lick the plate clean of crumbs. That's a valuable thing I do for the humans, and they don't appreciate it. Their food is so much better than what they give me. The unsatisfactory human eats at the desk beside my chair, but won't doesn't give me any. Ever. So I go up there and shed as much fur as possible to remind him I exist and he should pay more attention to me. Rotten human.

Evenings aren't much better. He does feed me somewhat promptly when he gets home, having left me all alone and abandoned all day long, but then goes and does other stuff. Doesn't he know I want a lap? For hours so I can snooze? Of course he does, he's just being a rotten human. He probably killed and ate the other human. I wouldn't put it past him. And he didn't even share. Rotten human.

I do so many good things around the house. I know they are very heavy sleepers. There are some astonishing and frightening noises coming out of their bedroom sometimes. Which they don't let me into. Rotten humans. They always want to sleep too late; I have to wake them up every day to get on with the important part of the day. Feeding me, in case you were wondering.

Every now and then they bring home my favourite human. She smells a bit like the semi-good human, so I think they are litter mates. The only thing wrong with that human is that she won't rescue me. I'm sure she would be better staff than the current ones.

I'm never quite sure if these are my second or third sets of humans. The first ones took all their stuff and forgot me, leaving me all alone. Another human came in a couple of days and fed me and was nice to me, but then took me to a horrible cage with lots of other cats. The humans there were starting to give me the look they give to the cats they take away and don't bring back.

Then a pair of humans came and rescued me. They brought me to a nice house, except there was a little very bossy cat. We got along ok. She was old and went away soon after. Then I was put in a cage again, except it was a much nicer place with only a few other cats, and very good humans. I wasn't sure what to think, why my humans had abandoned me again.

After a long time the current unsatisfactory human came and got me. There were so many strange smells, and some familiar ones too. I'm not sure if it was the same place as before or a different one with some of the same stuff.

Then the bad times started. The rotten humans brought home another cat, a big bully. He started beating me up, no matter what I did or where I hid. After a while the humans started separating us, which was nice of them, but it meant I spent half the time in the basement. That went on for a while, and was very stressful. Eventually the humans got the message and took him away. They go visit him, though, sometimes, I can smell him on their clothes when they come back. Rotten humans.

Now I live alone here, with my rotten humans. I take care of the house while they are out, and do they appreciate it? NO! They just give me the same old wet food, and some dry food for a bit of variety, but do they give me a lap when I want it, or comb me when I want it? No. They just have no appreciation for the finer things in life.

Worst of all they eat their own crunchies in front of me, and only sometimes break off a tiny little piece of it for me, doing it just to taunt me, of course. To rub it in that they have those opposable blunt claws that are so good at picking things up. That's the only reason they do it, I'm sure. Otherwise they'd just leave me the nice crinkly wrapping and I could get into it myself.

Mostly it's nice and peaceful here, but there lots of loud noises that disturb my sleep. One is an overgrown cat that makes a loud noise sort of like what a big cat would do. Then the humans settle into a dark room and stay still for a while. That's pretty nice, though sometimes noisy with flashing lights. I ignore it all as best I can. It's my best chance for a lap.

The unsatisfactory human has a small thing he holds in his hands when he should be petting me. He doesn't let me rub my nose on it the way I like to. Occasionally it makes loud noises that startle me. He should know better. The semi-good human is always holding things that rustle, and sometimes have nice corners for nose scratching.

Every once in a while, they stuff me in a small box. What else am I to think but that they are taking me back to another horrible place with cages? And they do, where another human does rude and unmentionable things to me. It's just another incomprehensible thing that the rotten humans do.

Things were so much better in the old days, long before I was born. The important humans treated us very well, carving our likeness into stone walls of the those pointy things they were building. No idea what that was about, all that effort would have been much better going towards taking better care of us.

What the humans now don't know is that one day soon, our distant cousins will come visit this planet, and all the rotten humans will get what they have coming to them. Oops, I've said too much. Time to snooze.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The longest netball game

Once again I learn the limits of what I know. A few days ago I had never even heard of Netball. Not even heard of it as a game, let alone anything about it. Quick, how many of you know about it?

Some of you will remember that last year Martin Parnell ran 250 marathons in one year. Yes, you read that right, he ran 250 marathons within 12 months. That averages out to a marathon every day and a half, and still boggles my mind. Now he's part of a group that is trying for the longest Netball game. Barefoot Neil put a volunteer request notice up on his Facebook page, and I thought, what the heck?

So this morning at 5am I was at the South Fish Creek something or other to act as an official witness. I got a T shirt and everything. My job was to record player substitutions. Normally Netball is a pretty fast paced game, since it lasts only an hour, and there are breaks between the quarters. This particular one was not what you'd call fast paced. They play for several hours without a break, though there are periodic substitutions. Several of the players were limping, with one girl not sure which leg should be the favoured one. Almost all the players had the Kona shuffle going.

But then, they had already been at it for 37 hours already. There were two rallying cries during my shift. One was "Only 24 hours to go!", and the other was, "Let's get rolling, we're only 800 points behind!" The whole thing was more fun than I thought it would be. There's an interesting dynamic to the game. Mostly they were chugging along, but there were a few bursts of higher energy. They were doing pretty good. My fellow witness was Julia S, who used to play Netball, and she explained the finer points to me.

Two, two kinds of video for you here. This is the live internet feed. This will be good only until Monday morning sometime. They've got a good video camera dumping the footage to a hard drive, but they couldn't hook up the internet feet do that. So the feed is actually from a web cam. And some footage I shot. Any jitter can be attributed to the whole thermos of coffee I drank during my shift. And yes, you can see Martin during the video.

Now, what should I do for the rest of the day? It's still a bit cool for a bike ride, and I'm not feeling the running love after all that coffee. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I took TWO for team SUAR


If you are not a runner or triathlete, you might find this a little too much information.

If you are, but don't know and love SUAR, especially this post, mine might well be too much information.

Don't say I didn't tell you.

Normally my guts are rock solid during races and workouts. I've only cut one run short because of urgent biological imperatives of the solid nature. Even during IMC about the worst I could say is my guts were feeling mild distress. There's been a few workouts where getting into the bathroom once home was an important priority, but that's about it. Yes, I am grateful.

Until tonight.

I was thinking of running for about 2 hours nice and easy, for my last long run before Fernie. I limbered up and stretched longer than normal, then walked out to the path. I had originally been thinking of running up to the Weaselhead and back. That's a nice run. At the last minute, the very very last minute I remembered all the bugs and decided to run down into Fish Creek instead.

How very, very fortunate for me. And any bystanders. And the environment at large.

As I started running I could feel a bit of slosh tummy. This is a little unusual, but not unknown. I carried on, trying to run smoothly. I experimented with slightly different strides, and varying degrees of core clench. The slosh gradually got worse and worse. Every footstep began to sound like a drum, with the echo in my guts. Not my tummy, my guts. Oh oh.

Half an hour in and it wasn't just clenching the core. I was beginning to feel pretty sure I wasn't going to make it to the planned of my run without some pressure relief. Let's just say that despite the large supply of trees and shrubs in the park, and some well known guy habits, that wasn't what I was looking for. Another 10 minutes and I was mentally calculating how far ahead the nearest washroom was, and hoping it hadn't been closed for the season. I got there right on the 49 minute mark, and barged in. I'll never know if that door was locked. Sweaty shorts are hard to deal with. There was even toilet paper! Our tax dollars at work.

All right, I was thinking, there's a first time for everything. A few minutes later I was off again. I turned around right at MacLeod Trail and headed back, starting to feel that ominous slosh again. Not as bad, but there was no way I was going to try to run an hour back. So 20 minutes after the first visit, I was back in the saddle again, so to speak, playing the organic tuba. Unbelievable! Twice on the same run. Pity the colonoscopy people weren't there with their equipment. As a side note, there are no washrooms at all on the run up to the Weaselhead, and a lot of open space heavily used as a dog run.

Very shortly after starting out again, I saw Darryl on his bike. We stopped and chatted a few minutes. I haven't seen him in some time and it was nice to catch up. I had a few minutes of nice running after that, and then it started getting tough. My legs started tightening up, and another first for these shoes, I was finding a hot spot on the ball of my foot. I got most of the way back to the house, did a few walk runs to give my legs and guts (yes, more slosh!) a break, and did a good cool down walk. It was actually getting quite cool by the time I got home. The only thing different I've had to eat lately was some Columbian Chorizo sausage for dinner last night and lunch today.

One of the other coincidences happened yesterday, but doesn't involve workouts or anything. I used to work with a guy named Garry about 10 years back. He now works just across the road from me, for Conoco-Philips. I've tried off and on to get hold of him, but he travels a lot and is really busy. Yesterday I ran into him before work, and got caught up a little bit. Then, believe it or not, I saw him again, by accident, at the end of the day.

On the way home from work today I stopped in at MEC and picked up more NUUN, and some of the Powerbar gels. People have said they're better that Gu.

I had the chocolate at the half way point of the run, and liked it. It's not as thick as Gu, and tastes pretty good. Not too sweet. One tiny little swig of water washes the last of it down, unlike Gu, where you need several large swigs and good swooshing action to wash it all down, and even then it fights to come back up again. I'll try them over other runs and bikes and see what I think, but even now I'm thinking I'll try to take some with me to Fernie.

And because Xenia asked so nice, here's a photo of Amelia and Snow Leopard. She has been itching for a chance to write a guest blog. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I blame the frappachino

It was a Starbucks double chocolaty chip. You know I'm not a Starbucks fan, but how can you say no to chocolate? Especially when the boss is buying? There must be a zillion calories in that thing. I started drinking it about 3:35 or so, and stopped a few minutes after 4. Then sitting in traffic on Elbow on the way home I could feel the sugar rush hitting me. Up till then I'd been musing about running before yoga class, and thinking there wasn't really enough time, especially since Linda has left me and there is a very demanding cat to take care of.

But as soon as the rush hit me there was no doubt. As soon as I got home I fed Amelia, changed, limbered up a little bit, and started. It's a perfect day for running, sunny and warm, with a light breeze. I started easy, and decided to let my legs do what they wanted, though not letting them drive the lungs into overdrive or anything. I was mostly in the groove right from the start, and had a few minutes where I think I was really running, at least it felt that way. It still isn't fast, and probably looks like crap, but it felt good.

My legs and feet were happy. I had a pretty good turnover going, and I wasn't having to force it. Mainly I tried to relax and let my legs run. There's been times I think I've been trying to over think it, and I'm working too hard. I'm not sure if I can describe it, and I welcome feedback from any real runners that happen to be reading this. Normally what I'm doing is muscling my leg forward again. Today, I was trying to let it relax and let it come forward like a stretched out spring compressing again. Not too stretched out. I think this works different muscles.

In any case, even just trying to do that, and not trying to run fast, produced my fastest Fish Creek 7.75 K loop ever. It worked out to a 6:23 pace, and except for going up out of the park, my breathing was relaxed and regular. Not chatchatchat, but I'd I'd have been able to talk some.

I stretched a little bit, but mainly scuttled around getting something to eat, showering, getting the garbage out, and getting ready for yoga. Class was nice. My left side, especially hip flexors, is much tighter than the right side.

Oh, and a snow leopard arrived on my doorstep today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The close pool just isn't as much fun as Renfrew

Into the pool for a nothing special swim. 1K, 20 minutes, working on stroke, trying to stay relaxed and on top of my breathing. I find I've slipped back into my old pacing habit where I'd start smooth and fairly strong, then settle into a steady pace, then lose ground over the last bit to end up right on time. I think the time has come to start pushing the pace with some intervals and get back to my sub 19 K pace.

What was mildly amusing was watching the two guys in the lane next to me. The fast guy is just a bit slower than me these days, but they both churn through the water in a cloud of bubbles.

Did some kick, pull, and then stretched out my left leg. It didn't cramp on me but there were a few twinges, especially in the calf. Stretched it a bit this evening, but it's feeling distinctly tender. Not sure why.

Going to bed early to recover from the rant. And prepare for yoga tomorrow. No more slacking there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Longer this time

The blog, not the running, biking, swimming or any other workout, like the stretching and core session that turned into fantasy part way through my evening. I wasn't feeling chatty yesterday.

Yesterday's run was fun because I just went out and ran. No idea how long for, since I didn't look at the clock on the way out, and wasn't wearing a watch. Not all that long in the great scheme of things, but it went fairly well, running at different paces as I felt like it. Mainly I wanted to get my blood moving around a bit, so I was thinking of it as the equivalent of an easy spin bike.

What was interesting was that it was as good as it was. (which I think sets a blog record for the number of times I used "was" in one sentence. Why? Because I wasn't committed mentally to the run. I was sort of wishy-washy about going out. I didn't really have a plan. In fact, I'm not even sure how I got out the door. Normally you'd expect a workout done like that to be crap, but it wasn't. At least I don't think so, but since I didn't have a plan I can compare it against, it's a bit of a moot point, I suppose. Still, I was outside. I ran. I had fun. (Why am I writing that again, plus all this other stuff?)

No idea if you are as sick about reading about 9/11 as I am, or not. The papers were full of it on the weekend. It was a horrible way for 3000 people to die, and it was a great and tragic event and all, but in the larger picture it was a few buildings and only 3000 people. It could have been much worse. Americans kill that many other Americans every month on the roads, and nobody blinks at it.

The amazing part of the whole thing is that in real terms the damage to America was trivial. What isn't trivial is the damage America has done to itself in response. It's sent the military-industrial complex into paroxysms of paranoia leading to two of the stupidest wars in the history of mankind. It created the TSA, one of the most fucked up organizations on the face of the earth, and that's saying something in a world that lets the Catholic Church stay in existence. The TSA has probably done more economic damage to America in terms of wasting people's time, draining productivity, and killing people by making them choose driving rather than flying, than the original attack did.

As I've said elsewhere, I like a good conspiracy theory, but the 9/11 "Truthers", are right up there with the "Birthers" for being nut jobs. It reminds me of the old joke, "How do we know the CIA didn't assassinate Kennedy? He died."No rational person could simultaneously believe that the US government is capable of planning and carrying out an inside job of bombing the towers in complete secrecy, AND putting on the gong show that is the House of Congress. As for some shadowy organization within the government doing it all, puh-leeze. An organization that competent would have long since BECOME the government.

I think what most clearly demonstrates the damage done to America, is that 10 years later they still haven't replaced the buildings. More than 10 years to design and put up a building. Astonishing. In less than 10 years they put men on the moon, starting from when nobody had anything more than the faintest of clues of how to do it. In much less than 10 years they tooled up and with allies defeated Nazi Germany, and alone beat the Japanese empire. Simultaneously. And now they can't even put up a building. I think it's safe to say the American Empire will go down in history as one of the shortest on record. RIP.

What pisses me off the most is the backwash into Canada. Some people in the US government still believe that the attackers transited Canada to get into the US. They have bullied our government and airlines into supplying passenger lists and other information which gets used to send innocent Canadians to horrible fates abroad. It's put Harper into a position where he thinks he can enact stronger anti-terrorism laws (read, violations of civil liberties) now that he doesn't have to worry about running a minority government. He chooses to overlook the fact that he's the one that killed the previous bills by proroguing parliament or calling elections. He chooses to overlook the fact that crime rates are dramatically down. He chooses to overlook the fact that existing anti-terrorism laws are working well, and that it's plain ordinary police work that is the best buffer. Not some Rambo-ized para-military police force beating peaceful demonstrators on the street and lying about it, or allowing the government to pull random people off the street and lock them up incommunicado for 3 days, for any or no reason at all. He chooses to overlook the fact that the biggest police state on earth, the USA, still has a crime problem, because it doesn't understand that the solution for crime isn't more punishment, it's fixing the economy so that crime isn't as attractive.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

RtN first visit in a while

RtN, for my new readers, stands for Road to Nepal. This is the hilliest ride that is really close to Calgary on nice pavement. There are hillier rides further away, and some hilly rides on not so nice pavement. Road to Nepal, otherwise known as highway 773, has almost no flat sections, maybe 100 m at most. The rest is up or down, sometimes quite dramatically. How dramatic? 84.1 Kph (52 mph) worth of peak speed dramatic today, not even trying. The pavement is new a couple years ago. There is very little vehicle traffic, today, for example, I saw about 2 dozen cars and trucks. The start of this bit of bike heaven is mere 7.5 K from my house. A crappy, nervous making 7.5 K, admitted.

Today was a good day. I started off wondering what I should do, if do anything at all. In the end I decided that a bike ride would be good. As Linda pointed out, if I do it today and there's a problem, she's here to pick me up. That won't be true after tomorrow. My legs have been feeling pretty good, but you know when you've been having nagging injuries, or a slow recovery, there's that little bit of hesitancy? That's me. I went through a long patch where biking wasn't much fun, and seemed to be really hard on my knee.

So I was a bit worried about my knee today. I've had some good rides out 22X and 22, but RtN is sterner stuff. This is a tough workout. I know people, well, one person anyway, who drove 2 hours to ride this as a workout, since the plan called for hills, and there are no hills where she lives. Mountains yes, but no hills. So my thinking today was to tackle and see how things went.

They went well. I got down to 22X in 16 minutes and a little bit, which is a new record. I got down to the end of the road by 1:03 and a little bit, which is not a record, but I was surprised it was that quick. I'd been doing well on the hills, even accounting for a wind. That wind made the way back tough sledding. I'm guessing about 30 kph, steady from the NW. So that helped going south. Normally going north is faster, since there's more downhill, but not today. I pedaled a lot on the downhills. It took 1:20 to get back for a total ride of 2:23, over not quite 52K. Nowhere near my fastest, but I'm still pretty pleased, since I wasn't riding for a fast time. I was riding to try to spin up the hills and see what my knees thought of the whole darn thing.

And, I have to admit, to get a look at the views. Some of the views from the road are more than worth the price of admission. One of the views, only 11 K from my house, is a herd of bison. Yes, buffalo. They were complacent today, gently grazing in the sunshine on the way south, and napping on the way north. I took a good look on the way back home, since they were only a dozen yards or so from the road. These things are frigging enormous! Myself, I'd put in a sturdier fence. Last year there was a mama giving me the stink eye as I rode past, fearing I was going to molest her calf or something. I completely and totally believe she could walk through the fence and not notice, to get at me. And would, if she thought it necessary. I thought placatory thoughts toward her and pedaled just a bit faster.

Dinner tonight was BBQ beef tenderloin in a chocolate and merlot spice rub. It's even better than it sounds. Plus BBQ roasted spuds, and a super yummy salad, with a chocolate caramel tart with sea salt on top. And this. It's only been in the bottle 7 months or so, and OMG. If I'm sharing this, you know I love you.

It just so happened I was looking at our utilities bill the other day. The actual cost of water is $1.38 per 1000 litres. That's 13.8 cents per 100 l, or 1.38 cents for 10 litres, or .138 cents, CENTS!!! for one litre of water at the tap. And this is good water. Calgary consistently has some of the best tap water in Canada. But I'm boggled here, so let me say it again, just over one tenth of one cent per litre of water. Hold that in your mind a moment, as you consider how essential water is for life.

When I'm making wine, I buy bottled water from Co-op. It costs just under 2 dollars for 11 litres, or about 20 cents per litre. They make no bones about starting with Calgary tap water, and doing stuff to it, mainly to neutralize the chlorine and get rid of some of the dissolved solids. Considering that chlorine doesn't do yeast in wine any good, I don't mind paying a bit extra. On a per litre basis, it seems like a lot, but considering that make about 4 or 5 kits a year, and need about 7 or 8 litres per kit, we aren't talking a great deal of money when you total it up. As a markup, it's a bit steep, but at least they are doing something to it.

Now remember, just over one tenth of one cent per litre of water. Coke and several other companies use Calgary tap water as a source for their various water based products, like, astonishingly enough, Coke. They are a supplier of bottled water as well, but I don't remember what brand, and there is no indication  they do anything at all to it. I admit to not knowing the price off hand, but it's about $1.50 per litre range. Calculate that mark-up, friends and neighbours. And worse, if you buy water an event, it's even more. $4 a litre is not uncommon. And you're not even being kissed before you bend over.

What then pisses me off is people complaining about the price of gasoline. I happen to know exactly what form petroleum is in when it comes out of the ground. I know exactly what is done to it to get it from some remote wilderness to where you can pump it into the tank of your gas guzzler. This is an exceedingly complicated process, involving expensive equipment, highly trained people, and some of the most complex infrastructure ever invented and maintained by humans. Gas right now in Calgary is $1.16 a litre, and to be fair, it's more in other parts of Canada, probably up to about $1.50 a litre. And people complain, big time. It's even worse in America. Many people there think that more than a dollar a gallon, (an American gallon for crying out loud) is extortionate. Water. Gasoline. As my blog buddy GQH put it so succinctly and accurately when talking about libraries and another issue - Fuck You.

Basic economics says that if something gets more expensive we try to use less of it. Which, for water, there is a certain non-reducible minimum. Imagine how your life would change if water became more expensive, say, 10 times more expensive. Instead of a fraction of a cent per litre, imagine paying whole cents per litre, or even a dollar per litre at the tap. How might your daily life change?

I'm old enough to have bought gasoline for my car at about 35 cents a GALLON, a Canadian Gallon yet. (This was back before the sanity of the metric system came to town.) When I moved to Calgary in 1980, it was about 20 cents a litre and that was thought to be expensive. People are certainly trying to use less gasoline, but it's a bit like boiling a frog. The price goes up and down, gradually trending upward, and people keep on paying. We are accustomed to our lives after all, and public transit in Calgary sucks big time.

But what happens with it goes up, way up? Petroleum is a valuable product, too valuable to be burning in cars for transit one person at a time in a heavy metal vehicle. That will change very soon. Very soon it will come to a choice, do we use petroleum to continue to make fertilizer to grow the food we eat, or refine it so we can burn it? That's not a fun choice, but it's an easy one, at least for a rational person. Of whom there are an astonishing number of voters who are not. Some days I fear for my country. At that point, us triathletes will almost have the world by the ass. Commute 15 K to work? On the empty roads? No problem.  And if climate change continues the way it is going, winter might not even be much of a problem.

Do I want that world? Not especially, though I think it would be good for people to drive less. We really do need to be smarter about it, but raising taxes isn't particularly the way to do it. Especially since I don't especially trust our government with tax dollars. Basic economics is cruel, but inevitable. The trick is to see which way the wind is going to be blowing soon. Best to think ahead. Don't say nobody told you.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Back in the pool again. Isn't there a song about that?

I was up really early this morning listening to a 4 bark dog. Over and over. Not close and not loud; it was maybe over on the reservation. But constant. barkbarkbarkbark. pause. then again. pause. You get the idea.  Plus I'd got a really solid sleep the night before so I knew last night was likely to be restless.

There was even someone to chat with on Facebook - my buddy Nancy in Argentina, getting ready to help a biology class with their English. And a couple other people getting a start on their day.

It's a keen lot at this pool, people lining up before the door is unlocked. Not that many in the pool though, I got a lane to myself. The swim is coming back together nicely. I cruised through a 20 minute (to the second) K. Then some kick, pull, fist, work on technique, and backstroke to finish.

Swimming is such a mental game. So subtle. Back in the late 80's or so I was a pretty regular swimmer. I got down to where I could reliably swim a 17 minute K, and was beginning to work on aiming at 16 minutes. About then I was often swimming with a really pregnant woman. She was really good, and it was fun to try to keep up. I see now that I was getting by on pure strength, and very little technique.

Then I didn't swim for years and years. I started again maybe 2004 or so, and holy crap. You see, I remembered swimming a 20 minute K and not even getting my heart rate into the aerobic zone. I thought it would be easy. It took YEARS!! I'll never forget the first swim. It was at Inglewood, which is sort of a weird pool. It was less than 50 m and I knew I was going to have a problem. I think I swam 100 m that day. It took a long time before I could even swim 1 K all at once, and much longer to do it in 20 minutes. The first time I nearly burst a lung doing it. The second time, 2 days later, was nearly 30 seconds faster, and I was on top of my breathing. It felt amazing to reach that goal.

Today I was pretty sure I'd make that target, though my left shoulder has some weird pains. I think my cold office is part of the problem. Plus lots of work, plus time pressure, plus office stuff. Even so, the swimming relaxes it. During my run up to IM my yoga classes were kind of strange in that almost everything I was doing with my left arm hurt, including many of the breathing exercises, yet swimming didn't hurt and in fact felt good. (My yoga teacher thinks I'm a bit odd, and she is but one of many.)

Today I wasn't pushing hard, nor was I lollygagging around, just having a nice swim, trying to work on technique. That elbows up thing, and all. Body position. Making friends with the water again, that's so important, the water feel. (Julie is laughing! But she believes now.) Most people flop that arm out in front of them, grab a handful of air and water, and try to pull it to their hip. That doesn't work so well. Bubbles everywhere. What you want to do is get that hand in the water like a knife, leaving no bubbles at all. Then (remembering that game you played as a kid making airplane wings with your hand outside the car) your hand and forearm angle down into the water, with your elbow still up near the surface. The trick to this is to rotate your arm so your elbow joint points as upward as possible. During a lunch break at the camp, Julie, Sarah (not Sara) and me were playing with this. We got some odd looks. Then once your hand and arm are vertical in the water you leave it there. I say again, it does not move. For a third time, and what I tell you three times is true, your hand and arm do not move relative to the water. Using that hand and arm as an anchor, you slide your body past it as if it was on rollers, and you'd grabbed part of the roller support rack. The water doesn't let you do this unless you make friends with it. There, that is the major secret of swimming fast and efficiently. Make friends with the water.

Going for a swim first thing is a great way to wake up. Pity the pool isn't open 24 hours. There are times I'd be there at 3 am, swimming lap after lap. It's been a couple weeks since I started getting more regular here, aiming for 2x a week. At first it was pretty rocky, but progress has been swift. I'm remembering the swim camp nearly a year ago now, and how that felt. I'd like to get there again. Soon. Well, soonish.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The dreaded LRT

Summer has finally arrived in Calgary. It's beautiful out. Pity I'm in the office. Maybe I should have joined my team mates and taken vacation. Then again, silence is golden, and all that.

Now, when I say beautiful out, I mean, seriously beautiful. No clouds. Warm and sunny. But not too warm, we're talking 28 to 30 C (call it low to mid 80's F). Perfect for being outside and doing stuff, even fairly strenuous stuff, like running or biking. This is as nice as it gets here, though -20 C and sunny has it's charms too.

I got lucky and got both a seat and an air conditioned LRT on the way home from work. This let me work a little bit, actually work. I found a neat iPad app that lets me record a meeting, while taking notes with my finger or typing. I note how many minutes when I miss something, or there is something I want to go over again. Amazing how much listening to something a second time helps the comprehension. There's a few other meetings I wish I'd recorded. Anyone that knows the difference, in SAP, between WBS Sets and Groups, please feel free to email me.

Even better the train rolled up just as I punched my ticket, and there was a bus waiting at the station when I got off the train. Aside from the bus being over full of teenagers, all was good. Teenagers amuse me, though no doubt they would be offended at just what amuses me about them. They're such posers in public.

The run was pretty good, though I had my doubts at first. My right knee was making some interesting clicks and noises as I flexed it during warm up. Have you ever done that, put your fingers on a joint as you flex it, so you can both feel and listen to the noises? I'm never quite sure whether to be alarmed, amused, or interested.

I actually ran 30 minutes, with some warm up and cool down walking. Once I got going everything was good, though with it being so warm out I decided to run at what my lungs and heart would let me do. It didn't take much to get them thinking about crawling out of my throat, so I'd slow down a bit to recover, then pick it up again.

Once home was the really good part of the day. BBQ lamb roast. Baked potatoes. Barolo. Even though it's still early I'm just about ready for bed. Except there's a cat, trying to help me write my blog. Amelia says hi, and why isn't she being attention-ated? Good question. Bye.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The yoga regulars return

By 5:30 this morning I was in the pool. Wet. Swimming. And it really was swimming again. Not that half wounded thrash I've been doing the last several weeks as I try to remember what I used to be able to do. Picked it up a bit over last time, but still not pushing it. 750 m in 15 minutes working a bit, but not too hard, flip turns coming better again. Then a half an hour of mixed kick, pull, with a bit of drill. Happier by the day. Now if only I can get my left arm working properly.

First yoga class of the season. Yay! There are 5 of us, which is essentially the core of the class over the last several years. It was nice to get caught up with them again. One thing we all had in common - we all intended to practice yoga regularly, and none of us did. I came the closest, what with doing pre and post run stretches, and trying to work out some tightness and general creakyness.

Even better, Fiona eased us into it. The first bit was working on our breath, lying down. Can  you imagine? Starting a yoga class lying down. I almost didn't recover to get to the sitting bit, and we never did get to standing. This is my kind of yoga class. I'm glad to be back into it. Somehow going through a yoga class is never the same as doing it on my own.

Best of all, goober breath is not back!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Estela is a happy bike again

Poor Estela has spent much of the summer down in the basement. Since April I've only been out for 8 rides on her. That's about once a month. Mostly it's been my knee cramping my style, since biking seemed to hurt it more than running. Which is weird. Plus this working for a living thing this year. Lots of nice days went by that I'd have liked to be on my bike, but I was on an office chair instead. I lost a few days just because of scheduling issues. Just lately I've skipped a few rides because she needed a bit of a tune up to deal with shifter cables. It was really hard to get onto the big ring.

Today was beautiful, and I was out shortly after it stopped being cold. The goal was to get out for a couple of hours to see what my legs thought, and try to spin. Out 22X and down just past Plummer's Road and back, 2 hours. The important number is 83 rpm average, which is nice. I felt pretty strong and didn't have any problems spinning up any of the hills. Of course, none of these hills are big or steep, not like RtN, which I haven't done in full this year. My knees were happy, and my legs didn't seem to mind at all.

There was hardly anyone out on their bikes, which was a bit odd. I don't think I saw even a dozen people. None of them waved, but then, they were on the other side of a 4 lane highway, so I guess I can forgive them. I just did my thing, enjoying the ride, not really caring about the pace, just trying to keep my feet going around, and it all worked out really well. I really enjoyed the ride, and I think Estela did as well. Bikes are happy when they are being ridden.

And then, just to shock and amaze you all, I ran off the bike. Only about 15 minutes, and not very fast, but I did. By then it was hot, and I was carefully managing my pace. I never really did find a stride. It felt choppy and a bit heavy, so I didn't want to push it. Walked about 10 minutes after to be sure to be cooled down.

No idea how many more nice days we're going to get. Calgary usually has very nice fall weather. Most of the time that means cool to warm days, with crisp nights, sometimes some frost. If I can I'll get out again, but my main focus has been trying to run this year. Four weekends from now I'll be running in Fernie, doing my first half marathon since early 2010. No predictions about time, so no speculation allowed!

What a great weekend it's been! Nice and relaxing, no frantic scurrying around. And yes, there was wine.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Perfect patio day

Today the main activity was throwing a floppy frisbee to a dog that loved playing catch and brining it back. Again and again. She would drop it nearby and dash off. If you didn't throw it, she would drop it closer. And closer again, though there'd be a little growl of frustration. She was really good. Border Collie and Lab cross.

In between frisbee throwing we sat on a very nice patio belonging to the closest family Linda has in town, a cousin, and his wife. We see them periodically and have a great time visiting. Today we had brunch on the patio. It was a perfect temperature for sitting and chatting. We did that for hours. In between tossing the frisbee for the dog. It was perfect, and relaxing, and all round wonderful. At one point I was thinking that last year on a day like this I'd have been out on my bike for a 6 or 7 hour ride. This was much nicer.

I've known I have a cousin here in town again, and we've been playing phone tag. He works erratic hours, but we're trying to get together. The phone number I had for him turned out to belong to the last company he worked for, but he eventually got my cell number from his mom (my dad's sister). Over the years, off and on, I've had other cousins in town, but we were never close. Some of my mom's cousins live here, but that's not the same.

On the way home from brunch we stopped at this neat art house. The whole house is due to be torn down soon, so they have changed it all into contemporary art, some of it a little bit Rube Goldbergish, which I think is really cool. It was a fun visit. If you're going to go, go soon. Worth a visit. The link has video but no idea how long it will be up for.

The tri crowd would think my main activity for the day was a short run, 50 minutes, 7.75 K down into Fish Creek along my regular loop. Again, a perfect temperature for running, not a cloud in the sky. I started easy to get warmed up, and then ran at whatever pace my legs wanted, varying a bit now and then. They seemed to like it. I started easy, and settled into a nice stride. I was visualizing an easy spin, with my legs doing their thing, but not working hard. I think my heels are coming up off the ground higher.

Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice, so I'm planning an easy bike ride, maybe a couple to 3 hours. Anyone want to join me heading west on 22X? Give me a call or email. I'm thinking of heading out after it stops being cold, and before it gets hot.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Here we are. It's been 1406 days (for the calendarly challenged, that's 3 years 10 months, 6 days) since I started this blog. It's been fun. That averages out to an update every day and a half or not quite.

Some people have difficulty in keeping a blog going. Not mentioning any names, or pointing any fingers. For some the problem is time, as in they are too busy with real life to have any time to write about it. Some find they don't have anything to say after a while. I have neither of those problems. My blogs usually write themselves while I'm doing the workout. Or I'll come home from an adventure and it just pours out of me. That's the source of the best rants. Believe it or not, those really do write themselves, and take very little editing.

Plus I type really fast, so even a long blog doesn't take that long to do. I've always been grateful my mom suggested I take typing in high school. Most useful course I ever took. Even if the line she used was "it will be full of girls". It was, and I ended up sitting next to my buddy Jamie because the teacher insisted we sit in alphabetic order. We were such geeks that part of the class was business math, and we were comparing the number of keystrokes needed on our rival calculators for the various equations. Mine was an HP-21, and his was a TI something or other. I've been a fan of RPN ever since.

I used to train people how to use various kinds of software, but really, what they needed to do was learn how to type. Most companies would find their biggest bang for each training dollar would be to send people to a typing course. It actively hurts me to watch some people "typing". Watching someone log in at the beginning of a training session told me everything I needed to know about how my day was going to go.

Come to think of it, it probably actively hurts some people to watch me running or swimming so slowly. I never thought of that.

I had no idea when I started this that it would get this far, but I did know I was making a permanent change in my life. I was tired of being overweight and turning into a pudge. I think I peaked out at 280 pounds or so. The lightest I've been was probably just before Ironman when the fancy-pants scale said I was 218. I'm probably mid 220's now. (he said hopefully.) I don't fuss much about the actual number, it's more about how my clothes fit, and how the flub around my waist feels.

The contest that is now closed was for suggestions. There were 4 people making 5 suggestions. I'm gratified and a little surprised that none of the suggestions were anatomically improbable or impossible. I guess GQH is on vacation, or else the niceness of reading a Canadian blog has got to him. Oh, I didn't say the call for suggestions was a contest? Like I say, I do things just a bit different.

One of the suggestions was 1000 things we don't know about Keith. That would for sure kill my readership. I'm simply not that interesting. She also suggested or 10x10x10 of something. I did something like that earlier this year, swimming 10x10x100m on 2 minutes, or at least that's how it started out. I got 7 K before it hurt enough to make me quit. So I won't be doing that one.

Here's what the fire permit was intended for. Can you see the 1000 spelled out in candles? It was hard to place the candles between the bits of very yummy fruit. Yum Bakery, at the Calgary Farmer's Market, if you were wondering. Happy bloggy-versary!

Let's talk a bit more about the blog. The most read post, by a wide magin is "Stock on road", at 543 views, with the next being "IMC followup with photos" at 143 views, and IMC Done! at 130. That puzzled me for a very long time. I mean it's a nice enough post, amusing some readers, with the LooseMoose calling me the cow whisperer. And it mentions poop, which is of great concern to many of my readers, especially right before a race. But nearly 4 times more popular than a post with photos (and not even the pro photos) of me during the peak of my athletic prowress doing Ironman? Granted I'm not cute or photogenic like some bloggers, but still. Then one day I looked at the search phrases people were using to find my blog and all was revealed.

Topics I have ranted on include: geezers, politicians, shoppers, cash clerks, people inconsiderate about sharing swim lanes, the road, or bike paths, Calgary Parking Authority, doors and how people behave in them, car insurance, overpaid CEO's (are any underpaid?), abusive cops, abusive religious sects, health care, drivers, and many more. I'm such a curmudgeon that it doesn't take much to set me off.

You can see all my rants in the labels section on the left, underneath my blogroll. Of course, you need to be reading my actual blog, not the pale imitation that google reader shows. I am particularly fond of my rant on health care and drivers.

My blog isn't just about my adventures trying to get back into shape. Sometimes I blither on about something that is on my mind. These are labeled thoughts, and I particularly like The Floating Elephant Rule. It has provided wise advice for many situations. My current office roomie is much taken with the rule.

My inner shark visits every now and then. Some people get bored swimming laps, but this has never happened to me. My Ironman coach, Katie F (of the tireless energy and enthusiasm) lives in terror of boring other people. For one swim session she apologized out the ying yang, and practically cringed when she told me the swim plan was to swim for an hour without stopping. She thought it was the worst thing she was doing to me throughout the whole training plan. Not! She was dumfounded when I told her the first time I looked at my watch during the swim was 1:12, and I swam till 1:15 just to have an even time ending. My inner shark is sometimes company on swims. He has a very interesting outlook on life. My favourite blog post about my inner shark is his vacation, though this one comes close.

I've labeled some posts as favorites. This could happen for any number of reasons. They are a bit of a mixed bag. One of the things I thought of ways to bring together all the funny posts, but humour is so transient. I've had some comments that a blog or a comment amused them, and that makes my day. But I don't quite feel like going out and hunting them down. I'll leave that for you guys, if you want.

Favourite title is Slapped across the face with a banana peel in Black Diamond

For the longest time I had wanted to make wine. Then I started at Skystone Engineering in 2002. A week after that I met Susi, with neither of us realizing what an important occasion that is. We are coming up on 10 years of friendship. Time passes so quick. It turns out that about half the people at Skystone made wine. It was very easy to get into the groove. I've now made 55 wine kits since mid 2002. There have been a couple that were meh, barely drinkable. Most have been quite good to very good, with various friends brightening up when they see I've brought them wine. Some have been so good I don't want to share. Brunello. Super Tuscan. mmmmmm.

There are something on the order of 400 full bottles in the basement right now, spread over about 24 different kinds. It's nice to have choice. One of the most fun occasions I ever had involving wine was when Linda was on vacation visiting her family. The house was at the worst of it's renovation phase. My dear friend Jackie and her friend Nancy asked to stay, and even knowing the situation, still wanted to stay. Now, the whole upstairs is under construction with the exception of our bedroom, which had the only functioning bathroom. The downstairs was piled high with stuff, and we had to shuffle stuff around to get space for them to sleep. That's where our dining room table was, with the computer on it. We ended up watching The Lion in Winter, and several other movies on the computer, with chairs pulled up. We ended up going through a bunch of wine, sitting in the dark watching movies, talking, half snapped, and we had a great time!

Over 999 blog posts I've learned that blogging and training for an ironman are surprisingly alike. It takes discipline, and you have to build the habit. Some days it goes easy, and some days it's tough sledding. A little encouragement goes a long way. Some days you start even when you don't want to, and it turns out ok. Some days you just set the baseline for low performance. And some days, you know better than to even start. It's just better not. Like this morning. My swim bag was packed, but I slept instead.

Over 999 blog posts I've learned that people I don't know in other cities can become friends as we share the same experiences. Well, not the childbirth thing that three of my blog buddies did essentially at the same time. Thought I don't know if the one in Chicago actually reads my blog, she's pretty busy. It's funny reading about people in other places. Like places where there is a beach, and they rarely go. Like places even windier than Calgary, or even colder with more snow. Like places where they get freaked out by temperatures much below 0C (32 F) and can't conceive of anyone running in that. Places where the scenery is at least as good as here, and maybe better. Places unnaturally hot and humid. People do their workouts in all of that.

It's great reading about other people's experiences with training and races. Sometimes now I can see the train wreck coming. Sometimes I've made careful notes to self. Sometimes I've celebrated, and sometimes I've nearly cried. I've been horrified a few times, and have provided my share of horror. Susi is NEVER going to forget those photos of my teeth, and neither are some other people. Don't click that link if you're the least queemish, have a thing about dentistry, or are eating. I'm not kidding. Though the dentist's 9 year old daughter was fascinated. It's likely going to be the only time in my life I have a chatty kid in my lap helping her dad as he does dentistry.

Over 999 blog posts I've learned so much I didn't know. About the poop fairy, and an exploding dog. That someone I know would willing run 125 K, in the dark, up a bunch of mountains, out in the boonies with bears and cougars and who knows what all else. I still think a 125 K bike ride on a paved road is a respectable distance. That someone nearly 80 years old can do an ironman. That ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things, if only they put their minds and hearts into it. That you don't have to be a fast uber-athlete to do ironman, you just have to be determined. Very, very, determined. That your mind can drive you further than you or your body believe possible. That shit happens and you need to carry on, that sometimes the smart thing is to stop, and where the line between them really is. Gaining an appreciation for bike porn. That it gets very, very dark on that road beside Skaha Lake on the way back to Penticton. That one of the advantages of being a slow runner is all the girls that pass you. That a bike is a great way to appreciate the countryside. That 180 K on a bike isn't as far as you think it is, though 42.2 K running is still an effing long way.

As for the other suggestion, if I'm going to make a 1000 cookies, you can darn well come and pick them up. And share. I'll open some wine. You know who you are.

So there's 1000 blog posts. I have no idea how many other bloggers reach 1000. The only one I know of for sure is Steve in a Speedo. Here's looking forward to the next 100, and hope all of you enjoy the ride as much as I do.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Want to know what's worse than swallowing a bug?

That's two workouts now that I've hit right at prime time for bugs. The run tonight was through clouds of them. Herds of clouds of them. Now I've swallowed more than few bugs during workouts, mainly on the bike.
Big ones.
Little ones.
Stinging ones. (During Calgary 70.3, yet)
Tasty ones. Even without being dipped in chocolate.
Nasty ones. The dead grasshopper on my teeth was the worst.

Tonight I was inhaling them, and almost clogged up my nose when I was trying to breath through it. Even the mustache filter didn't work very well. Then it got worse. They started getting into my eyes. Even running along, eyes squinted almost shut, blinking almost constantly, I was getting bugs in my eyes. Big time. They were all over my glasses, all under the brim of my hat. Most were still alive, including one crawling around on my cornea. I was getting seriously grossed out, and wishing I had one of those industrial eye wash stations at home. (Oh, are you eating right now? I'm sorry. But really, you should know better by now.) The front of my red shirt was about half black from bugs, though they don't show up in the photo.

I haven't run for about a week, letting cranky legs relax a bit. I did some stretching and limbering up, then headed out. Into bug central. I let my legs run at whatever pace they were happy at, and didn't really care about heart rate or breathing. There were some knee twinges about the half way point, but they went away again. Overall my feet felt light and pretty happy. Turnover was very good. Even though I wasn't trying to run fast, I was very pleased, doing 5 K in 31:30. My breathing was never laboured.

If it hadn't been so buggy I might have gone further, but maybe it's just as well. My legs are a bit tired, and still happy. I gave them a really good stretch.

There were no further entries into the contest, and it's now closed. I'll go through the entries, and using only my criteria, pick a winner, and award a prize of my choice.

Well, that got your attention, didn't it? I just saw you all perk up. Too late to enter now. This is blog post number 999, so for the innumerate of you, that means the next one is 1000. I'll try to put on something a little special for my fans.