Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The manly art of -11 C BBQ

Here we go.

Yet I had the hankering to do, and eat BBQ. Linda had some chicken in the fridge, soaking up marinade. I just had to. Here's the starting view from the back door.

After some shoveling to get to the barbecue. See the smiley face?

And there's the path to get to it without wearing boots. This is the snowfall in the last day or so.

Much of the snow went onto the flowerbeds to help insulate the plants from the chinook that is coming. Nobody knows just when, but it will come. Non-gardening Calgarians will be happy. The roads will turn to crap, and the beautiful snow will be gone. The gardeners worry about the plants waking up and starting to grow, thinking it's spring.

Chicken thighs, with a maple syrup based marinade. Greek salad. Fresh baked scones with orange zest in them for dessert. The only thing hard about this is making sure to wear a jacket, and knowing when meat is done by poking it with the tongs. Because it's dark, that's why.

The swim that started today was great! From the first strokes I knew my arms had recanted their Pastafarianism. 500 m, 8:50!! Yay me! This is a new record for that distance. (First time I've timed that distance at race pace, but hush.) 3x100 on 2, all sub 100 seconds. 100 m in 88 seconds. Lots of noodling around, working on stroke, playing with swim toys. Coffee after had a side of Australian accent.

I was beginning to wonder what I had got myself into, though. I saw geezers on the way into the pool. The locker room was full of them. One of them had on a shirt, tie, jacket, socks and shoes, but was all too noticeably lacking underwear and pants. I was beginning to wonder if he'd totally forgotten and was going to leave like that, and was wondering even more if anyone would say anything. A couple guys leaving as we got into the pool but I'm not sure they were actually geezers. A super-not-geezer swam in the next lane for a while. We watched a geezer drive her car into another one while parking, to the distinct tinkle of something breaking. More geezers at the mall where I dropped off my jacket to have the zipper repaired. I fear that one day I will have become a geezer and not notice.

Onto the bike afterward for a short, moderate spin to wake up my legs, lots of stretching after.

More words. Since Monday a week ago I'm up to just under 19,000 words. This is comfortably over NaNoWriMo pace. I love my characters. They constantly surprise me. Dwen foils a kidnapping attempt because she smuggled a large caliber handgun into a formal meeting, hidden under a ruffly blouse, and used it. I hadn't known that she knew how. I'm wondering what she gets up to next.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The mighty veggie dish

There were veggies at Christmas dinner with friends. Oh, I know, most people serve veggies. Corn, spuds, carrots, squash, sweet potato, and (gack) brussels sprouts are common. This was more. Much more.

Here's Linda's instructions and commentary.

This recipe will fill a standard roasting pan (the kind you cook a turkey in) to the top. Quantities can be reduced to make a smaller dish. For this dish all the vegetables were certified organic with the exception of the shallots & the hot house peppers. All of the cut vegetables were cut into pieces no larger than ½ inch in size.

2 large shallots, peeled & chopped into medium size chunks
2 heads garlic, all cloves peeled & tossed whole into the vegetable mix
1 bunch celery hearts, sliced thin
1 each red, yellow & orange bell peppers, seeded/chopped
1 8 oz package cherry tomatoes
1  small head broccoli, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
4 medium sized sweet potatoes/yams, sliced/chopped (approximately 2 ½ pounds)
1 two lb package baby potatoes, cut into quarters
8 oz package baby carrots, sliced small
Mixed squash – I used 4 different varieties, seeded & cut into small chunks. I was able to purchase cut pieces of acorn, butternut, kabocha & sweet dumpling squash. I seeded the pieces where seeds were present & cut the flesh into smaller ½ inch chunks. I did not peel the squash as the colorful rinds were part of the display. Approximate quantity was about 4 cups chopped squash.
Fresh rosemary, sage & thyme, chopped (try to have at least ¼ cup of fresh chopped herbs)
Fig balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt (only add salt if making a full roasting pan – do NOT add any salt if making reduced quantities)
Fresh ground pepper
Ground nutmeg or fresh ground nutmeg

Peel the shallots & garlic, wash & chop all the vegetables except the cherry tomatoes & the garlic cloves which can be tossed in whole. Strip fresh rosemary/sage off the stem & chop the rosemary & sage leaves, strip the thyme leaves off the stems & add the fresh herbs to the vegetable mix. Once the roasting pan is full but not overflowing add approximately 1/2 cup of fig balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil & ¼ cup maple syrup. Grind a small amount of salt – try not to exceed 1/2 tsp for the entire roasting pan & preferably less than that - grind at least 1 tsp fresh pepper. Add ½ tsp ground nutmeg or grind ½ tsp fresh nutmeg over the vegetable mix. Mix or toss the vegetables until they are evenly coated with the balsamic vinegar/olive oil/maple syrup mix. Cover the pan with tin foil & roast in a 350 degree oven for one full hour.

For all the salt lovers out there, do not add more than the recommended amount of salt. Root vegetables contain salt & the cooking process releases that salt into the dish. If you cut down the quantities to make a smaller dish, do not add ANY salt at all. Once the dish is cooked & served, if you find it too bland then add salt to the serving on your plate.

For a reduced quantity dish, peel & chop one large shallot, peel & toss in one head of garlic, two peppers seeded & chopped, still add the full 8 ounce package cherry tomatoes, 2 to 4 stalks celery sliced thin, ½ to 1 cup each broccoli & cauliflower florets, 1 medium sized sweet potato/yam, ½ of a small squash, 6 to 8 baby potatoes & 4 ounces baby carrots. Cut the quantity of fresh herbs in half & add 2 tablespoons each of fig balsamic vinegar, olive oil & maple syrup. DO NOT ADD ANY SALT. Grind ½ tsp fresh pepper & add 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg. Still roast at 350 degrees but reduce the cooking time – it will likely take no more than 25 – 30 minutes to cook, especially if the vegetables are spread out in one thin layer on the bottom of the baking dish. If you want a ‘drier’ dish, you can leave the tin foil off but pay attention or you could end up with dried out, burnt vegetables, as the sugars from the maple syrup/fig balsamic could caramelize faster than anticipated.

This dish is excellent over plain rice or cooked quinoa. The liquid that comes out of the vegetables during the cooking process (when covered with tin foil or a lid) will be absorbed by the rice/quinoa & is highly flavored. If you choose to cook the dish w/o a lid of any kind so it is drier, there should still be some liquid at the bottom of the dish at the end of the cooking process. Make sure the dish does not dry out completely, you want some moisture left on the bottom. The residue can be used to make a gravy or soup stock. If you’ve made a ‘dry’ dish the residue can be mopped up with fresh chunks of bread. Yum!

Even me, not especially known for liking veggies, chowed down on this dish. 7 adults ate most of it.

I'm still recovering. That massive load of veggies had the expected impact on me, but it didn't impact the lovely run on Saturday.

The swim on Sunday was a bit of a downer. My arms were back in the Pastafarian church, and I was being careful of my hamstrings. They were feeling sort of pre-crampy. The major let down was missing out on the hot tub. It was out of action for maintenance, I had really been looking forward to it. REALLY LOOKING FORWARD!

Today was an easy day. Lots of writing. Some stretching and core to work on the hamstrings. So far I haven't been on the bike. Maybe later. Yeah.

And just for fun, a pic of Curtis using Celina as a pillow.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The first tusk of Christmas

What with all the indoor runs lately you might be thinking I'd converted to weenie-ism or something. Not totally. Not yet. 

We've wanted to run outside, but were dissuaded by the crap job our neighbours do shoveling their sidewalks. Plus we were going to Talisman already. It's only -20 C (-4 F or so) out, so not cold at all, and the windchill doesn't really count since we ran in a treed area down in Fish Creek.

Getting ready. Here's some of the layers.
I ended up wearing 3 layers of pants, and didn't really need the windproof layer. 3 layers of tops including a jacket, and that was a hair too much. Felt hat with hood, and a wool scarf. Gloves inside mittens. One pair of the socks I wear all the rest of the year.

Here's Michelle just about ready to run. Linda says this is a sultry photo. Something about her eyes. That's not the word I would use.

Here's me about the 7 K mark. You can't see my eyes, but you get the full impact of the tusk!

I'm not sure why it almost always form on my left side. Maybe my breathing is deformed or something.

In any case, we had a lovely run in the brilliant sunshine. 8.2 K in 1:08 or so, stopping a couple times. The trees were covered in snow and hoarfrost. There's just enough snow on the path to squeak underfoot, but not so much as to make you crazy. We started at the very west end of the park in Shannon Terrace, and ran to Votier's Flats and back. We saw a few runners, but mostly we had the path to ourselves. By the end we found we were actually a bit overdressed. 

In the note to self department, I need to tuck the phone into a deeper pocket. I had it my jacket, and it conked out at the 3 K mark.

Christmas was lovely. I gave Linda some gardening tools. Here's the cats scoping out the tool bag. 

We had dinner with friends, and they made us (MADE US!!) bring home more food. Our fridge is gonna file a complaint with the fridge union.

I don't know what it is. Now Curtis is displaying sweat perversion. I just stopped him from molesting my running shoes. And look! I had to put the mittens up on the top of the closet door to dry out, fearing Celina would drag them off. I don't know if she thinks they are prey to be savaged, or relatives to rescue. Here Curtis is scoping out a leap to the top of the door.

Now Celina is at the bottom of the door looking up. I think she knows perfectly well the mittens are up there, and is waiting for us to go away so she can scramble up.

I am totally loving this time off! I'm up to 9300 or so words since Monday. I've bashed out a couple scenes, and working on some world building here. I'm having fun, my characters are having fun (so far) and I think this is turning into a bit of a novel of intrigue.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ho Ho Ho, MC, HNY, BH

So here we are again. Christmas. It's gonna be white.

Moving right along. Vacation has been wonderful so far, even though I'm not on a beach with attractive topless people bringing me a steady supply of tall fruity drinks with the little umbrellas.

I did nothing yesterday. Nothing at all, beyond getting out of bed, doing coffee, and hanging around with the cats. Some writing. I'm up to about 5K words on that opening scene, and I think I'm ready to move on to the next one. No aerobic activities. No core, and certainly no plank. The little bit I did, documented by Michelle on Tuesday was quite enough for the week. You don't need to see a photo of that.

Today was different. I'm going to go on a bit with the swim. Skip a couple paragraphs if you aren't into swimming. But maybe instead I'll give the secret prize giveaway code. We had the pool to ourselves till near the end. Warmed up 500 m 9:15, nice and easy. 10 x 100 on 2 min, all about 1:42 or so. Lost count on the last one and tried to do an extra lap. Helped Michelle set up some interval times to help meet her swim goals. Tried a strong 150 m, 147 seconds. Then channeled Katie and decided to try a descending pyramid. Another 150, same time, rest 30 seconds, swim 100 m in 98 seconds, rest 20 seconds, swim 50 m (pretty well as all out as I could do) in 45 seconds. M says I had a very red face after that. My lungs were working hard.

I'm thinking about swim goals for the Talisman Triathlon in March. It's a 500 m swim, 12.5 K bike ride, and a 3 K run. Right now my not working too hard swim that distance is 9:15 or so. I'd love to take a minute off that time, swim each lap a few seconds faster. The trick is still being able to haul myself out of the pool afterward, and shamble to the bike. I'll be working on this.

Today I was thinking about getting into the groove right after the turn, rather than settling in a few strokes later, and swimming into the wall just a bit quicker, rather than coasting in for the flip turn. Plus, powering through the flip turns, using the core and hams to bring those feet around to the wall. I've talked about this, and did a video dryland exercise here. I should actually do it more.

While having coffee after we happened to be watching one girl swim. I'm pretty sure she's from one of the swim clubs. She had a beautiful clean stroke, and was just cruising along at 40 seconds per 50 m. I almost wanted to go back down to the pool to video her entry, glide, and catch. And the pull, and recovery. Not to mention kick. So relaxed looking, yet so strong and speedy. In contrast there were a few other swimmers in the water, thrashing away, burning a ton more energy, and not really going anywhere.

From the pool we headed out to the track. This is the 3rd indoor track run in a week for me; I've been such a weenie about outdoors. Crappy footing, so I don't feel guilty. Today was 6K, 44 minutes, nice and easy. No fast bits getting both feet off the ground this time, just easy and steady around and around, alternating directions periodically.

There was a short bit on the exerbike thingie, but I didn't like that. Stretched. Coffee. Yay! I suppose if I was ambitious I'd go through and give you year end stats about how far and how long I swam, biked, and run, to say nothing of how many words written, how many lines of SQL, all plotted out on a nice graph plotted per day, week, month, but the big thing is that none of you except Julie care about all those numbers, and she only cares about the workout ones. I sometimes worry lately that I've been cruelly denying her the numbers fix, and she is pining away for lack.

So. The cats. The mighty Curtis paw had just slipped off the phone. He'd been trying to push it out of his face. Too many cat photos?
 I disturbed her sleep.

Not only is Celina a sweat pervert, licking at my sweaty arms when I'm on the trainer, today I found out she is a pool pervert tool. Here's the proof, her licking at my swim flip flops.

And we'll finish off with another one of Curtis, glaring down at me for providing an utterly inadequate lap, because laptop writing is happening.

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Look Ma, no feet!

As my long time readers know, I've often referred to my running style as "T Rex caught in a tar pit, poor thing." Maybe I need to stop doing that.

When Michelle and I ran indoors at Talisman the other day we were talking about running, and I'd mentioned that image. She totally got it. Well, no, she didn't. Said it looked fine, both feet off the ground and everything. I was gobsmacked. By then it was too late, but we agreed that next time we'd shoot some video.

By golly, she was right! Here's a couple screen shots from the slo-mo video.

The movie was enough of an ordeal today that I won't try to embed it here. Maybe tomorrow. For a company that is supposed to make things easy, this was remarkably difficult. Michelle held the iphone 6 while I ran, and I held her 5S while she ran. That much was easy. Our mistake was shooting in slow-mo.

We were so eager to see the video on the big screen we rousted Ken and fired up theirs. Well. We got Michelle's up on screen pretty easy. No video flicker. We eventually, eventually, got mine up on screen, and winced at the flickering lights and clock. Really bad.

Once home I tried to Airplay it from the phone to the tv. Nope. Other videos played, but it's like it timed out waiting for the slow mo video. But I was determined. I synched the phone to the iMac, which was overdue anyway for a backup. Watched the video on the iMac and it was dreadful. But that iMac can't do airplay. (The poor thing is 7 years old, cut it some slack!)

Put the video into dropbox, and after it synched, I downloaded it onto the the Macbook. Watching it on the Macbook wasn't much better, but at least I could airplay it and get screen shots. Still really bad flicker, but watchable.

All the while through this Curtis is trying to help, because this task clearly had to be done quicker to get on with the important task. Feeding him. He came THAT close to being stepped on. Watching him, watching a movie of him, was funny, as I was trying to troubleshoot things. I think he realized it was another cat, but I'm wondering if he knew it was him, through some human deviltry.

And Michelle was right! I am getting both feet off the ground! Yay! At my long slow run pace the float time is a tiny fraction of a second, but when I'm running faster it's easy to see, as evidenced by the screen shots above. I'm seriously thinking of running the video back and forth to get a really good one, and maybe that will become my new profile shot. I need to look at it more carefully, and see what I can learn.

Now that we talked about the video, the actual run was just under 5 K, in 36:30. I'm a bit more confident of that number, and Sunday's number. We looked more carefully at the phone maps, and Michelle's is a bit weird in places, it's like the phone was missing a few points at the south end of the track.

That was all after a swim. 1K for me, 18:30 nice and relaxed. A few intervals, but didn't want to overdo them. 100 m HARD, 87 seconds. Tried a 50 m golf, 41 seconds, 37 strokes for a score of 78. Tried for a low number of strokes for 25 m, and ended up with 11.

Yesterday was an easy spin on the bike, about 45 minutes with some core after. Then a walk to the vet to get more cat food, discovering my neighbours suck at shoveling their sidewalks. Glad I'm running indoors. But along the way one of my characters started telling me about this fancy calligraphed invitation she got for a formal diplomatic reception. 3100 and some words later, I've got up a bit of a head of steam.

If this is retirement, maybe I won't go back to work in January after all. This is awesome! I'm sleeping better, I'm productive in several ways. Workouts are fun, (both feet off the ground running!) and I'm feeling strong. Anytime the words are flowing for writing is a good time. (Edit later, write now!) Plus I'm puttering around the house getting stuff done. Life is good.

Plus I've had some good news, but the details aren't filled in yet. More news when that happens.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Look at that map!

I love today's run map!

It says I did 5.4 k in 45 minutes, but that's not really true. Michelle's phone shows only 4 K (which I kind of believe), and we started and ended with a walk, plus some walks in the middle after some fast bits, and both of us forgot to turn our apps off after the run. In addition, the phone thinks we gained 1073 m in the course of the run, on a perfectly flat track. Yeah. So let's just take all that with a big grain of salt.

What's important to me here is those three fast bits. They are each one lap of the track, done in about 50 seconds. Taking into account the slightly different distances for each lane, and the somewhat erratic timekeeping that might have been a second or two out, I ended up running about a 4:10 per K pace, or about a 6:45 per mile pace.

I've never before timed myself like this, and I'm very impressed. I didn't think I could run that fast, and I wasn't anywhere close to needing a bucket. Maybe all the coaches in the world shrug, and say I didn't run fast enough. Whatever. I wasn't trying for all out, just very strong.

When you do the math, that works out to slightly under a 3 hour marathon. Consider this is what the elite triathlete pro's do. They swim 3.8 Km in under an hour, bike 180 K on a hot windy course in a little over 4 hours and then run a sub 3 hour marathon. I can barely run that pace for 200 m, and I'd need the bucket for sure if I tried for 300. Or an ambulance, which would upset the staff, and Linda. Won't be doing that.

The swim first was a bit of meh, nothing special. I knew I wanted to do an easy swim after the hard bike yesterday, and before the run today. After the run we hung out a bit watching they snynchro swim girls practice. At one point I tried holding my breath when they popped under water and waved their feet around artistically. I could do it, just barely, and I'm just sitting there and they're working hard.

I did another new thing yesterday, binge watching a whole mini-series. Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke was a favourite back in the day, and even then I wondered how they would make a movie out of it. Three episodes later, now I know. Overall I'm pretty pleased, and considering it's $10 for 5 to 6 hours of quality television, quite reasonably priced.

If you're a fan of the book, you'll probably like what they've done. They NAILED Karellen perfectly! The 3rd episode was more than a little leisurely in wrapping up a couple of the sub-plots, and therefore seemed to drag out the ending a bit. I think it's an excellent adaptation of a very cerebral novel. You don't need to have read the book to understand it, and you can enjoy it for what it is.

There is a Facebook thread about cats that sleep on their back. This is yesterday's photo of Curtis doing exactly that.

During the movie I had Celina snoozing hard in my lap. Both cats love this red wool blanket.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Vacation, as promised

Yesterday was really the first day of my vacation, only being in the office a couple hours and all. It started with an odd swim. For the pool with the open lanes, there was no pace clock, so I did a bunch of drill, playing with ALL the toys. I'm getting used to the centre line snorkel, and it works really well when doing kick drills. I've been watching some Katie Ledecky swim videos, and holy doodle can that girl swim! But I was watching one of the other girls, how her arm bent at the elbow to get vertical in the water. I was thinking she must be a mutant, because my arm sure doesn't bend like that,  even doing the arm rotating thing.

I did a careful inspection of the lane rope plastic disc thingies as I kicked my way down the pool without fins. It took the better part of forever. I was seriously thinking of counting and naming the discs, wondering if I had enough time to do them in alphabetic order. I see other people doing this, and they go way faster. Some even do the breast stroke kick with a flutter board, and go down the pool. I wouldn't dream of trying that. The bit of free style I did felt strong and fast, but remember I have other delusions too.

Shoveled the driveway more, doing a better job than the pre-dawn lick and promise. Ate some lunch, and while drinking wine, my lap was invaded. Both cats were determined to be in my lap. There was a bunch of subtle cat shoving and aggressive licking.

Meanwhile, I finished the wine, and was so warm and comfy, lulled by stereo purrs, I drifted off. I'm told I didn't snore.

In the evening I drank more wine, and explored the iTV offerings. I got all excited when I found Childhood's End, and The Expanse! I'll be buying both of those and watching. The first is an old favourite from my early SF reading days, and I'm dying to see how they adapted it to the screen. The second has been getting rave reviews, some calling it the best science fiction show since BSG.

It was lovely sleeping in this morning, and having the time to enjoy the coffee, and the lap cats. They were totally there, of course. I love how Curtis's face emerges from the shadow, and wish the photo could do justice to his beautiful eyes.

I was out shoveling again, putting snow on the flower boxes, and cleaning up after people that walk beside the sidewalk, kicking snow onto the neatly shoveled walk. What sort of perverted criminal does that? Plus some photos. The sculpture is even prettier dressed up in snow.

Anyone want to join me for Christmas drinkies? I found the chairs.

Since that got me all warmed up I hopped on my bike for a good spin session. 60 minutes, with the main set being 2.15 watts/Kg for 15 minutes. I was hoping for 20 but my spin was starting to fall apart and I didn't want to push it. Heart rate was about 150 or so, which is about as fast as I want it to go for any length of time.

What this means is that the cheat sheet I did up a few years ago, giving training ranges for recovery, endurance, tempo, and VO2 Max paces are pretty close. My legs aren't quite there yet, but my heart and lungs seem good to go. This is reassuring.

Some of you might now want to scroll quick past this picture, me all sweaty after that big set. It used to be I felt icky getting sweaty. Now I love it, and the bike is the best way to safely get the effort up to max sweaty.

Lunch, in a few minutes. Wine. Maybe another nap.

Friday, December 18, 2015

I have 43 minutes

Up. Coffee in progress. Watching a snow flurry go by. There is a swim schedule this morning. Then a bit of work, only a little bit. Then I'm on vacation! Yay!

Everybody at work is saying we can't believe 2015 work year is over, and the calendar year is just about done. Most of us are more than a little surprised to still be employed. I'm certainly not where I thought I'd be, work-wise. At least it's getting better.

Previous years made hardly a dent in my eating habits, but this year has been bad. Lots more sweets. Less activity than I'd like. I'm afraid to get on the scale.

I'm not going anywhere on vacation, though I've mused about some place warm. Airports this time of year are a close approximation of hell and I can't take it just now. I'm pretty sure I'll spend the first bit of this face down, not doing anything, not thinking anything. Especially not thinking of anything Christmas. Except maybe wrapping some presents, in my own thumb-fingered way. Somehow I never seem to get it quite right.

There are a few things I'd like to get done, some of which are going to be more challenging than others. The one I'm dreading most is bringing my Apple software up to date. This used to be easy, but there have been hints the last few upgrades have been problematic.

Plus, and this is a full blown bleat, I don't want my stuff on the cloud! I want my music on my phone where I can listen to it, and not have to stream it from somewhere over the cell network. iPhoto and Photostream have pissed me off so many times I'm going to go to an alternative photo thingie. I just don't know what that looks like yet. (Suggestions? Hint, hint.) I want to take pictures. I want them to go to my main computer and laptop, much like Photostream is supposed to do. I don't do much editing to them, so that isn't a big priority.

I haven't thought about phone apps for a long time. One could argue that the iPhone is one of the most amazing devices in human history, and I have the strong feeling I'm not making anywhere near the best use of it. The plan is to prune out the apps I don't use, or that annoy me (Flipboard, I'm looking at you!) and find ones that do work for me.

I'll probably start working on my novel again. I've had some ideas there.

Plus I want to be a bit more active than this last week has been. I've been looking at a 9 month marathon plan, with the idea of racing a Calgary MEC marathon in October, or an Edmonton MEC marathon in September. A gradual build. I suck at them, but last time I tried following a marathon plan I broke myself.

That's enough of that. Time for pants.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fitness learnings happy burble

The swim on the weekend was so-so at best, as readers will recall. None the less, I didn't beat myself up about it.

Over the several years now, I've learned there are awesome days, good days, ok days, struggle days, and workouts you'd just as soon forget. Except that you shouldn't. All of these days go together to create the you on race day.

Once upon a time I took a plant operator course. The instructor gave brutal exams; most of us barely passed. The upside was that he also marked up the test showing exactly what had been required for full marks. His reasoning was that if we passed his tests, we were going to sail through the exam given by the regulatory authority. And so I did.

So it is with training for a race. You should be praying for crap weather in training. Windy, cold, or hot, or raining. You want it just bad enough that the race officials would agonize over cancelling the race, but not so bad that it's actually unsafe for you to be out there.

It isn't just physical training. You are training your mind to be strong. To carry on without music or someone cheering you on. To be able to keep going into the teeth of a cold wind. To build confidence riding in a gusty cross wind. To swim in choppy water while your competitors are trying to take out your liver with their feet. To keep going to finish the workout. If you've done it before, you can do it again.

Your well trained mind is by far your biggest asset on race day. You learn to cope while training, so you don't have to figure it out in a race. Embrace the training suck. Celebrate those tough days when you didn't want to get out bed, when your legs felt like wood, where your arms wouldn't go around. Get out and own it. It ain't bragging if you done it. The biggest cardio engine in the race is useless if you don't have the guts to keep going when things don't go your way.

Thus, my swim with feeble arms. I took it for what it was. I swam with tired arms, trying to work on form, being clean in the water, even though I could feel I was sloppy. And really, my times weren't THAT bad. I didn't bail on it. I went through what I had planned. Just one workout of many, and no one workout is likely to make or break your race.

Last night was an easy spin session, with some core. Pretty good night's sleep.

Then the swim this morning. A buddy texted to ask how it went, and here is my dictated response, as interpreted by Siri.
"The swim was awesome!! I had a link to myself the rest of the pool was pretty quiet except for some of the swim kids in the fire lane. The swim at sulfur me went really good the shoulders were good the water was perfect and so I was really happy on the water. When Katie 18 minutes 20 seconds which without even trying was really really good and then some hundred meter intervals are really happy making time so I am pretty pleased by that an interest in the hunt up I was sitting and thinking that it was my happy place.if I was writing my blog right now this would all be in operable in the block including some life lessons about perseverance and hanging in there and not letting up at work I'll get you down carrying onto the next one and all of that sort of stuff which would be good in the blog and probably not so good in a text message or a tweak."
 Well, maybe not so good in a blog either. The technical translation is 1K, 18:20, 5 x 100 in < 100 seconds, on 2 minutes (just barely made that last one!) Then 1x 100 in 90 seconds. Cool down, stretch.

I'm not sure what exactly drove the different swims. I don't think I was particularly more rested, and nutrition was good. I suspect it's just one of those things. Some days you're in tune, and some days not. It's nice when you can peak on race day, and you're in tune, and the weather is nice, and you have people cheering you on, and the race soundtrack pumps you up, and the race goes well for you. Enjoy the day, because you've earned it.

You get another of my theories here. Maybe not quite as good as the floating elephant theory, but still. I don't think I've mentioned it before. You are going someplace and don't want to be late. Unfortunately, time got away from you, and you're running a little late. You are sure to get stuck in traffic, get caught at the lights, have trouble finding parking, and the final indignity, an elevator will be out of service so you have to wait. Stressful, especially if it's a job interview, or a really hot date. But if you plan ahead and allow lots of time for the trip, thinking about what could go wrong, life will be good. You'll likely get there early, unfrazzled. Able to relax a few minutes and do some people watching.

Training ought to build in space for surprises. If you have no slack in the rope, then you are going to get jerked around. You'll get sick. You'll need to deal with kids, or work, or something. If you're training for a half iron or tougher, I can guarantee there are going to be days you NEED to roll over and go back to sleep. Not having allowance for that can go downhill quick.

Not to end on a downer or anything, but you're getting older by the minute. Use it or lose it.   

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I wore the socks, but

So let's just say that wasn't my best swim ever.

Both arms had reverted to Pastafarianism at the same time, being weak and feeble noodley appendages. My legs felt heavy, and I could feel them dragging in the water. Even for as little distance as 100 m, I could feel myself slowing down and my stroke going all pear shaped. I timed a few things, but there's no point talking about it. Slowest swim in a while. Enough of that.

Friday was a rest day. Saturday was a work day, cleaning and tidying.  I didn't think it had taken that much out of me. This is about done, as tidy as it gets.

After our swim we waded through a zillion kids doing a swim meet. The stands were full of proud parents watching their offspring. I was thinking I might do a run or a spin later in the day and so put on socks for that. In the mean time I'd been struggling with things. I keep my car keys a certain place. If they aren't there (very rarely) they are in my jacket pocket. This morning I was all set to head out and realized my keys weren't there, or there. I ended up swiping Linda's keys out of her purse.

Then almost every light orange on the way to the pool. Good thing I wasn't in a rush. Still thinking about the keys. Swimming, thinking about the keys. With the swim meet parking is in short supply at Talisman. I'm trying to get out of my spot, with a guy in a red pickup clearly wanting it, sitting so as to make it very difficult to get out. I was tempted to turn the car off, get out, wave to him, and head back into the building. But coffee called and I managed to escape, hitting more orange lights.

More searching at home. I was beginning to wonder if I'd somehow dropped them at the neighbour's place while checking it. But no. Linda found them, in the car, on the back seat, right about where I'd have put the swim bag. As soon as she said so, I remember them slipping out of my hand as I dragged in a bunch of stuff from the last time I had the car. Then it slipped my mind. Sigh. Anybody know any good on-line tests to see if you've got early onset dementia?

In the end I didn't do either the spin or run. The cats captured me, forced me to give them a lap, and we all had a nice snooze in the sun. That isn't such a bad thing for a Sunday afternoon. Plus a very nice chat with some neighbours, one of whom just got back from Hawaii. And putting some chicken on the BBQ.

One of my buddies was going for a run, starting this morning at my favourite beach. It's been a little over a year since I've been there, and I'm missing it. I hope she took lots of pictures. And then on the way home, she has to, she just has to pass a certain bakery, though with all the treats in the house, it's not preying on my mind quite so much.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Great De-Spooring.

We decided today was the day to tidy and clean the house for Christmas. This always concerns the cats. After all, they put great effort into shedding their fur in catly artistic patterns. I think it comforts them to smell their fur on the furniture.

Thus this picture of Curtis, looking worried. All his hard work being so callously undone. So inconsiderate of the humans. In between looking worried, they put great effort into being underfoot, trying to slow us down. Celina on the steps, lurking, came THAT close to being stepped on. In the shadow she blinds quite well with that carpeting.

It wasn't a particularly auspicious day, being foggy and dank out. Just as I write this about lunchtime, the fog has cleared away to reveal everything decorated with hoar frost. Here's one of Linda's planters decorated for Christmas.

The actual paperwork for the contract renewal is all signed and delivered to the appropriate people. I'm in the middle of interesting (to me) work generating work for other people. They'll love it, I'm sure.

Two very similar swims during the week. 1K in 18:45, then 5x100 on 2, in 102 seconds pretty steady. 1x100 all out, 91 seconds. Consistency (at this) thy name is Keith. Shoulders feeling pretty good. A couple of core sessions in the evening. Mostly going to bed early. One more week of work to go. I think I can make it.

Wednesday was Easter. How do I know this? I had a massage and found out my hams were baked. I could barely walk out of there, and spent much of yoga class collapsed in a heap. This is a new pose, invented by me. Collapsed in a heap. I can give lessons. Call early, they're sure to book up fast.

I decided to take it easy the rest of the week, let my legs recover and being cautious about patchy icy sidewalks. I'll be a little more cautious about a "long run" on Sunday.

Don't get me started on the insanity of recent USA politics.

The sun has really come out! Here's Celina enjoying.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

So I actually did it. Really!

When people figured out relational databases, they had a party. After they had a few too many they designed SAP and Maximo. Then they got into the shooters and dubious dietary choices, and designed the database I'm trying to decipher. Properly speaking it isn't a database at all, it's a mutated spreadsheet pretending it's a database. Badly pretending. Plus, I have to work in T SQL, in a Microsoft environment, instead of PL SQL in Toad. Lets just say it was a primitive day, and leave it at that. I'm going to drink more coffee tomorrow. It's that or booze.

Things started out really well with a very nice swim. 1K 18:45 nice and easy, shoulders feeling good. 5 x 100 m on 2 minutes, each in102 seconds, plus or minus a second. Pretty pleased with that. Coming out of Talisman I was treated to this beautiful sunrise. What a great way to start the day!

After work I was out for a short run, mainly to shake out my legs. 3.5 K 25 minutes. It felt pretty good, and I called it at the first bit of my legs feeling tired. It's supposed to snow tonight, and wanted to get it done while it was still warm.

Try not to get too excited at a glimpse of my leg and it's new toy. It's a way brighter and deeper red than the photo shows. It's battery powered and has either a steady glow, or a flashing glow. It's quite bright. It's made of some memory plastic so it curls around ankle or wrist. I didn't even notice it.

To backtrack a bit, Monday night was a 30 minute easy spin, with some core after, including 90 second plank. That was a bit too much. Ouch. Just before the bike I got this sunset photo for my buddy Susi, the clouds were all purple.

I can hear some of you grumbling, get to the point! What have you done and are there embarrassing photos? Well, if you looked carefully at my blog, you'd know already. I signed up for the Talisman 10 mile Tri in March. This will be my first solo triathlon since my Chinook Tri in 2012. Yay me!

This is almost exactly 13 weeks out, which is a surprisingly short time. Are you burning to know my training plan? Me too. I figure I can get through the swim in good time, then slog the bike, and try not to trip over my feet on the indoor run. 15 laps, I'll probably get dizzy.

Still, I'm enthused about it, and have been feeling a little keener about training. If that means you think I'll be turning this back into a workout blog and nothing but, fear not. I'll be using a high tech innovation.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

workout catchup

Swim Sunday. There might be underwater video in a later blog! We shot some. It arrived on my ipad ok, but not my laptop so far. Darn you Photostream! Swim went really well, feeling the slightest of tweaks in my left shoulder. Let's see.

150 m warmup
150 m with the snorkel
2x(50 m front dolphin, 50 m back dolphin, 50 m pull)
150 plain old pull
150 m 150 seconds, not working too hard
A bunch pretending to be a film star, as if!

3 x 100 on 2, in 95, 96, 97 seconds.
All feeling pretty good.

We were disappointed to find the Argentianos on Elbow and 50th had closed. Not sure when it opened, during the summer sometimes. Now I'll have to check to see if the downtown one is still open. I was last there on a beautiful summer day. My buddy was busted by the beautiful woman at the table just behind me. I've known him a long time, I'd known there was a reason his gaze kept shifting over my shoulder.

It was supposed to warm up to 8 C and I was hoping to run in the warmth and sunshine. I got tired of waiting, and left while it was cloudy and about zero. It stayed there till I was just about home. I'd been hoping for 10 k, but I'm glad I wasn't committed to that, as in running 5 K from the house then turning around. The first 5 K were good, then it turned into a bit of a slog. For a bit I was channeling my blog buddy, SUAR. It took Linda a few seconds after I got back to the house to realize how focussed I was.

The run was 8K, 55:30, up to the reservoir and back without working too hard. I remember a time trying to do that was a gasping sweaty train wreak, but today I was just trying to keep my legs going. Today I was looking at the progress of putting in an express way. Enmax has been doing a bunch of utility work, so the green space isn't even remotely green. It's frozen mud. Note to self, that will be a sloppy place to run on warm days.

Stretched after, but didn't do any plank. I'm giving that a rest over the weekend, then back at it on Monday.

Once home, and I had the BBQ fired up it got nice. Oh well, there are worse things than tending a BBQ with sausage, and duck breast on it.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Linda, avert your eyes

There. Christmas shopping started, earliest ever by weeks. And done too. Not quite record time, but very acceptable, and I didn't trample anyone. No snarling, no gritted teeth. No road rage. I even smiled at the staff, who were very friendly and helpful. I still need to wrap, but that's ok. Now as long as Linda doesn't try to stash a present in the ultra-secret place I found, before I wrap.

There was also a good spin session today, on the bike an hour and 10 minutes, with 20 minutes at 175 to 180 watts, at about 120 beats per minute. After a short break, 4 minutes at 250 watts. Heart rate was a lot higher. I'm feeling pretty happy on the bike these days.

At work on Friday, I was talking to one of the people that had been called back. She's doing something a bit different, helping to unplug the software she used to manage. She's a little bit older than me, and we got talking about our experiences in being laid off. She struggled with it a bit at first, but then woke up to the reality that every day was Saturday for her. She is in pretty good shape for pension, and they had to work a bit to convince her to return on contract. She enjoyed the 3 months off.

Now that I've been renewed, I'm thinking about plans for winter training, and races next year. It's been a bit tough trying to work and train, harder than it's ever been. This getting old thing isn't helping, I guess. I'd like to do a marathon next year, and the Sylvan Half iron race. Plus a couple of shorter races. It's a short season and it's hard to fit it all in.

This was sunrise this morning, looking south and a bit west. Not east at all like you might think. Even though the moon barely shows up in the photo, it was huge in the sky. I was thinking about how far away it is, and how tiny the earth is. Sometimes when the clouds and sunlight are just right you get a sense of just how thin the atmosphere is. I keep thinking that this is the only place we know of that humans can live without specialized equipment, and that we ought to be taking better care of it.

Here is more of Linda's shrubbery arranging.

Friday, December 4, 2015

That week disappeared in a hurry

Let's see. Swam twice, getting it together again. No running or spinning since then. Tough yoga class on Wednesday. Planking was good till Thursday, when a fully tummy after a wonderful meal made that inadvisable. I might yet spin tonight. This wine is very tasty.

For much of this week I've just wanted to go back to bed and pull the blankets over my head. Why might that be?

More mass shootings in the USA. Why is anyone surprised and shocked when you rile up the whacko's, they pull out their guns and start shooting? Then we get the venal followup from politicians, none of whom have the spine to stand up to the real terrorists, the NRA. Why is it Muslim shooters are called terrorists, Black people are thugs, and white Christian gun nuts that shoot up public places killing and maiming innocent people, including children, are "disturbed individuals" or "crazed loners"? I laugh when Trump says he wants to restore American exceptionalism by making America "Great" again. The only exception they are, is exceptionally bad. The newspaper headlines are entirely predictable.

The climate change talks in Paris. We've done this before, and nothing changed. As long as the big corporations are making money spewing out carbon and other pollutants, they'll continue. A carbon tax is just a start. The newspaper headlines are entirely predictable.

Closer to home, there is a flap in Alberta. The NDP government starts taking some clumsy steps to protect farm workers, and the farmers go insane. They say "family farm" like it's the holy grail, and a sacred way of life that must not change. I call bullshit. They stopped using horses and oxen to pull a plow as soon as tractors were reliable. Don't tell me they can't change with the times. Like every other industry, they want things made easy for them. They keep calling those events where people die or are maimed, a tragic accident. Bullshit again! They are systematic failures of a lack of process. These "accidents" are almost entirely preventable, and somebody needs to be able to investigate these incidents, and force improvements. The newspaper headlines are entirely predictable.

There are lots of people getting laid off here in Calgary, and elsewhere in Alberta as the oil industry wallows in the excess production from overseas. Oil and gas companies are feeling the pinch big time, and it isn't going to get better any time soon. Somehow, this is Notley's fault too. The newspaper headlines are entirely predictable.

The recent discovery that that a couple people help take care of Justin Trudeau's children, while he's out dealing with somewhat bigger children. The money involved is trivial, and is probably a good deal, actually, for the taxpayers. Those that say it's a bad image need to find something important to do with their time. In the meantime, the newspaper headlines are entirely predictable.

In happier news, I got told today that the paperwork to extend my contract another 3 months is being drawn up. Once the signature happens, I'll celebrate.