Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Keith has left the building

Today was my last day with Penn West. It's been quite a ride, almost 4.5 years. It started with one team building something cool. Then many of them got fired including my boss and her boss, and eventually the guy that fired them.  Eventually that cool project got unplugged and thrown away. I got paid for it, and if they don't want to use it, that's not my problem. Still, that was sad, and it was useful even in the part done state.

I was rescued and joined another team, where we were migrating data and working with an implementation team to set up processes. Interesting and fun in many ways. All of them got fired during the great blood bath a year ago. That was when I spent several weeks nearly alone in a corner of the 5th floor. It was spooky, having the lights come on as I walked in, and then the lights would go out as I settled into work. What just killed me about the whole thing is that if I'd had to pick two people to stay, I wouldn't be one of the people I'd pick. (The other guy's contract was ending in a few weeks so they let him work it out.) I have no idea why they kept me, out of all the other employees and contractors that got the boot.

Then some strangers came into to do some of the jobs of the fired people, and I was sort of part of that team. It was all very much of a word that sounds like firetruck. Lots of good stuff happened, but we weren't really a team. Once again I was the only person doing what I do, providing data and analysis on demand. The word silo comes to mind, though I hope not silage. I produced many complex spreadsheets that baffled my boss, which is a specialty of mine. (Only one has ever been not baffled.)

To say I have mixed feelings is an understatement. This has been a long, long gig by contractor standards. At the moment I'm glad it's over. The last little while has been some pretty tough sledding, adding pipelines to the database in a rough and ready way that hurt my soul. I know for a fact that someone, sometime down the road is going to be wondering what I was smoking while I did this. I did what I was told to do.

On the plus side, I learned a ton of stuff, some of which might prove to be marketable, even in this economic climate. SQL works on any kind of data, not just oil and gas. Some very generous people helped me through some tough spots and I'm not going to forget that.

I know that all contracts end, as do employee gigs, sooner or later. As I've said elsewhere, they usually end at one of two times. When you choose, or when the company chooses. I know which is easier on you. Though as a digression, I watched one of my buddies get a job offer, and on the way in to inform the boss, get the layoff notice.

Penn West chose the ending date here, mainly by not renewing. Given the economy, I wasn't going to pull the plug. After 5 or 6 renewals I can hardly complain.  It was rewarding to see the shock on my team's faces when they were told. They all feel there is work to be done there, and it's work I can do. Maybe they've got a cheaper person coming in. Or maybe it's just not going to get done. I gave them a list.

There were lots of good people there, but it was hard watching so many of them depart over the years. Well, except for a few idiots that only made things harder for the rest of us. Some of us celebrated their departure.

My biggest regrets? The way locations are set up in Maximo is an abomination. An LSD is a unique place, regardless of the equipment on it. By creating different kinds of locations (There are lots of LSD that have 3 or 4 kinds of locations, and one has or had 8) they create difficulties on many fronts. There are other ways to manage this. And serial numbers. I still get heartburn about this. Stripping punctuation from serial numbers is the second stupidest thing I heard the entire time. The first is a tie, between the big layoff a year ago, and learning the exact way Maximo stores some of the data and what that means for querying and loading data. Oh, and serial numbers are now going in with punctuation, though I don't think existing data is being corrected in any organized way. (I know an easy way of doing that, but noooo.)

I was thinking about it today as I was writing my farewell note, and I knew more people there at the the end of my first 6 months, than I know now.  At most of my jobs I've made friends that continue long past our times at that company. I'm still buddies with people I met at Nova in 1993. One person was hired at Penn West essentially on my say so, and it was really good to work with him again.   We're going for beer next week. There are several people I think I'm going to stay in touch with. Who knows, I might end up working with some of them again.

What's next? Vacation. I'm tired, and not just from running my ass off. (Down 3 pounds this month!) I'm looking forward to living like a retired person for a while. September has all sorts of stuff getting booked into it, so afternoon naps might be hard to come by. There are so many festivals and stuff in Calgary this time of year. Plus I'm in a 3 day photography course. An all day Maximo session. Beakerhead. Writing. Photography. Running. I may not get as many afternoon naps as I hope.

Work? Call me if you have an interesting project. But not this month.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

An odd reflection during a photowalk

The first thing you need to know is that the Calgary tower is on the south side of Ninth Ave, right where Centre street ends.
The second thing is that Bankers Hall is on the other side of Ninth Ave, just west of 3rd Street, so several blocks west of the Tower.
Last thing is that the sun sets in the west, just to remind you.

Look at this photo. It was taken from St Patrick's Island, which is due east of downtown, at 7:12:15 PM. No photoshop trickery, just some cleanup in Lightroom.

Do you see it? The shadow of the Calgary Tower on Banker's Hall? Think about how interesting  the light to be to get that much light from the east, during sunset. It wasn't just a blink and you'll miss it. I've got a bunch of photos of it.  You can almost see the red in the reflection in some shots, though that might be a mind game.

You've got to love Neil Zeller photo walks. Last night started a bit blustery, but calmed down. As he said, sometimes the best light is in the crappiest weather. And I say, no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices.

I had a good time, and all the people I chatted with did as well. Some highlights for me. I missed the osprey landing on it's nest in the street light sculpture by THAT much. Sigh. There's some photos of the nest, and I think some chicks peering out, but from the photo you can't tell. Might be just another stick. I got some nice building shots, and worked hard at trying to correct my tendency to aim too high. Coffee after (decaf) and chatting, watching downtown culture.

Here's a few other photos, just because. Let's see what order Blogger puts them in. My buddy shooting downtown, I think. Maybe the osprey nest. This isn't quite as dramatic as the one from the triathlon a few weeks ago.

The light on this was a lovely silvery sheen that doesn't quite come across in the photo, nor do the brilliant red boxes. Again, this is lit from the east during sunset.

I've become a bit of a fan of the Calgary Tower, and was a little surprised to see it peeking between some new condo buildings.

One of the last shots of the evening, getting some coloured reflections off the water. It started to rain very soon after.  Another half hour and it would have been dark enough for some long exposure shots so the reflections really show up. Another time.

There is a sledding hill on the island. I had remembered a better view of downtown from there, but I think it was winter and so no leaves on the trees. Still, the sky was pretty dramatic, and I chatted with an interesting guy about a company we had both worked for.

The light was worth going out into a blustery evening! I was out to the first photowalk and enjoyed it, but couldn't really take full advantage with only the iPhone. Now that I've got a real camera I'm going to make these a must on my calendar. It's a great way to start to get to know other photographers.

Oh, and if you really want to know which lens and the exposure details, feel free to leave a comment, then come back in a little while. I'm comment friendly.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Several firsts!

Once upon a time I got on my bike, this was long before Estela, and from home rode all around the reservoir and back. It was an epic journey for me. The hills were like cliffs and were higher than the Cliffs of Insanity. It took a really long time. The route looks like this now, and was slightly different back in the day.

Gradually I got faster, but it was always a big ride for me. Then I got Estela and discovered the hills weren't really that big and trying to ride her along that route at speed was not a good idea. Somewhere along the way I actually ran around the reservoir for the first time.

Today was a run from home, around the reservoir, and back to home. There was a walk before and after. 22 K, 2:42:49 run time, 7:24/K pace. I only remembered after I was supposed to negative split the distance, but I was pretty tired the last few K and couldn't have pushed much harder. The first 11 K was 1:20:14, so I was just over 2 minutes slower. Oh well.

I was working really hard to get last Wed run out of my head and succeeded. I didn't run or swim Thursday or Friday, and went to bed early both nights. Today I felt a bit tired going in, took a K or so to find a pace, and settled in fairly even, hills slowing us down a bit.  Although we passed a couple of people on the way up to North Glenmore. (Yay us!) We stopped for a bio break in North Glenmore, and I checked out a possible photo vantage point (nope), but otherwise it was a steady run. Well, aside from the third first. (keep reading.)

So I'm pretty pleased, in case you hadn't noticed! First time I've done this route as a run. (first first.)

Yesterday I got some good news I can't talk about yet. Soon. Afterward I was shopping through MEC and picked out a hydration pack. Usually for long runs I put a little aid station on the front porch and do loops, but this time we were talking about doing a long point to point run down in Fish Creek. What with one thing and another we decided not to, and went around the reservoir instead. I didn't want to try to carry everything in pockets, so pack it was.

It has lots of pockets, including a pocket in a pocket which is always neat. 2 L capacity, which seems about right. One of the pockets is waterproof and my phone fits in it, so that's good. It fit comfortably right from the start, and once Michelle showed me the trick of getting all the air out of the bladder, I was good to go. (I had a whole bunch of bladder jokes going through my mind during the run for inclusion in the blog, but I'm over that now.) I'm really pleased with how it worked out. No shifting around, no chafing. (second first.)

I know that some of my readers have their special run buddy, but sorry guys, I have the best one in the world. Really! We've run together in cold and hot, rain and dry, chatting about everything under the sun. But today was a first, showing that special bond of trust between long time run buddies. She trusted me to gently dig around in some soft moist folds of skin, removing an irritant she couldn't quite deal with.

What's that you say? What??!! You perverts. We were on a public path, and her pants were on. I dug a bug out of her eye. You guys! Sheesh. Anyways, that was the third first. All in one run! We even saw some friends heading into Heritage park, and chatted very briefly.

It was a nice run, legs feeling pretty good, even toward the end. They were tired of course, especially hip flexors, but we chugged along. Long walk afterward checking out the new pedestrian bridge. Showered, nibbled some cold pizza, and the cats graciously gave me a recovery purr on the quads. Such a sleepy little face.

Hope the weather holds for a photo walk with the famous Neil Zeller tonight.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Negative thoughts are heavy

Not much on the run front till today. Bailed on Monday run. Swam, water ran, and some water core on Tuesday.

Tonight was supposed to be 4K warm up, 6 K tempo, 4 K cool down. I was not feeling good about it. Normally I look forward to my runs. Not tonight. It started creaky, and the negative self talk went into high gear. Wondering if I'd even get to the tempo run part. Wondering why I was so foolish as to state in public I wanted to run a marathon at my age. Wondering if the things that were hurting at the end of the last run would start hurting again.  Then it wasn't if, it was expecting them.

There was lots of work related stuff swirling around too, which didn't help. I forced myself to continue, saying that there's been lots of runs where the first 2 K were crap and it got better. Sure enough, the first 2 K were crap. So was most of the 3rd, then it started settling down. So far I've been running 7 minute K pace. Very clunky, very uneven pace, wobbling from side to side. Slow cadence. My legs felt very heavy. There was no spring in my step.

By 4 K I was chugging along, wondering if I could run any faster. After some debate I decided to at least try. If my body parts had taken a vote, it would have been nearly unanimous to turn around and walk home. I was wondering if I'd bitten off more than I can chew for training, or if I'd built up too fast.

So, the Tempo part. It should have been about 6 min per K pace or so. I barely got it up to 6:30. My lungs still weren't really working, but my legs were complaining. My brain was amplifying every bit of leg complaint, wondering how soon I could stop. Thinking about how much further it was to run. Thinking there was no way I was going to get through it. That first tempo K was 6:30.

Pushing hard, the next one was 6:22 and it was no fun at all. The plod was getting worse, and my stride was falling apart. The third was 6:41 and I was ready to call it quits. There was no way I could have turned around and run the course in reverse. I knew there was no way I was going to get the 14 K done, so why even continue?

I struggled on and it got worse. Of course it did. I was expecting it to. 7:27 and I was shambling like a drunk man. You'll note that pace is slower than what I warmed up at. This is what I was running the last several K at during my 24 K weekend run. Slow, clunky, plodding, and while it wasn't painful, it sure didn't feel good.

When I saw the pace for the last K I bailed out. 8K, 55 minutes, 6:52 pace overall. Bleah.  There was a time when that would be a fast run, but not anymore.

There are always tough workouts. I knew there would be tough runs for this training. I was hoping I'd get through this work contract and be able to rest more. To some extent I've been burning the candle at both ends, and it's caught up to me the last little while.

I'm trying to keep firmly in mind that one bad workout does not a make or break the marathon, but parts of my brain were telling me it's all over. No point continuing. No marathon this year. Dial back, build base over the winter, maybe next year.

My mind was not a happy place at all. Normally by the end of a run I'm feeling better, what with all the fresh air and all that. Not today. I felt a little better after eating, but not much. I don't think it was a bonk thing. I'd had a good lunch and a midafternoon snack. It was just tired legs, weighed down with negative thoughts. I let the thought of 14 K get to me even before I started. I still sort of think of a 15 K run as a long run.

Right now the weekend 22 K run is looking like the better part of forever, but I'm going to rest up and bring a better attitude.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Calgary from W, N, S

Some of you know I've lived most of my life in Calgary, having moved here as a feckless youth in 1980. The city was very different then. I've just spent a happy hour looking at city photos from various eras.

My first thought was to try to find photos similar to the ones below for comparison, but that didn't work out so well. Once you start looking at photos from much before mid-70's or so, it gets difficult to figure out what you're looking at, or where exactly it was shot from.  The Calgary tower looms over everything for a while after it was built in 1968.

It's been exciting, watching the crane-birds arrive, hatch their buildings, then depart. The Calgary Tower gradually started looking shorter and shorter. Lots of times I'll look at a new building and wonder what was there before? Sometimes I know, but not often.

Calgary is blessed with a hilly topography that can offer surprising views. Some are very popular, such as where I shot the north view. Others are less popular for whatever reason. My Friday night was to scope out a couple new locations and see how they work out. I'm pretty pleased with the locations. These photos are tweaked slightly in Lightroom. I've still lots to learn.

I'm under no illusions about these photos. The vantage points are public property, and probably almost every landscape photographer in town has been to them. Almost all of them have probably produced better photos, but that's ok. Just like writers have to get the first million words of shite out of their system, photographers have to produce some number of poor photos as they learn. It will be interesting to see my photos from these same vantage points a year or a decade from now.

From the west, earlier in the evening. You saw one similar to this the other day. No trouble finding the Calgary Tower here. It really is shorter than some of those buildings, but the perspective is tricky. It's also the furthest away.

This is from north of downtown, up on the bluff. These are currently the 3 tallest buildings in Calgary. Can you see the Calgary Tower? The top is just visible to the left of the Suncor building, which some of you might remember as Petro-Canada.

Here it is from the south, a bit later at night. Lots of LED lights were installed on the Calgary Tower for a variety of effects. What it does is mess up long night exposures!

 I've actually looked down at the Calgary Tower from a building. A buddy of mine had an office on the top floor of the then Petro-Canada building (or Red Square for those of a certain vintage) for a while, and we went in on a Saturday to work on some paperwork. Of course I took the time to stroll around the whole floor checking out the view. Now, if only I can get my buddy that works in the Bow to invite me for coffee...

It isn't just the office buildings that are getting taller. The condo buildings are getting pretty tall too. Here's a few of them.

Next on my list are a bunch of new buildings going up in the Beltline. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Me, that is.

Wednesday after run, tired, bed.

Thursday, bailed on water run, and stayed in bed till the last second. Went to bed early once home again.

Friday, puttering around the house, then downtown for an evening photo shoot.

This is unedited. I started working with a couple of the shots, and didn't like any of the results. I think the manipulation was making things worse, so I've put it aside till I'm more awake.

I was astonished at the traffic downtown! The people who say it's empty after the office workers go home don't know what they're talking about. It took a long time to drive from the above shot to the bluff just north of downtown, and got some nice shots there. Watching two guys get into a fist fight over a parking spot (there was another a few yards along) was the highlight of the evening.

Then over to another spot for more shots. My eyes were getting tired, and the focussing wasn't going so well. Between shots I could just see the Globalfest fireworks. Home to bed. Once I edit the shots and clean them up I'll post the best of them.

Saturday up early for a 24 K run, 2:58, 7:26 pace, which is much slower than last week. Not sure why, but maybe having no gas in the tank was part of the reason. Good thing Michelle was there to keep me going. Waffles, shower, then a nap for a while, and I was good for not much the rest of the day. The loop the loop course probably doesn't make much sense now, but it did at the time.

Sunday, good for not much for the day. Relaxed, read, and was a cat bed for much of the day. A bit of MCK and stretching out tired hamstrings, and a sore lower calf.

Back to work tomorrow. Only a few more days. I can do this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

She who spanks bison

Tuesday was a short swim, about a K all up, mostly nice and easy, feeling pretty good.

Tonight was the first interval run in the marathon training program. It leads to an interesting graph. 3K warm up, 10 x(1 min FAST, 1 min recovery) 3 K cool down. The fast ones didn't all get faster, but they were quicker than I thought they'd be with my feet feeling heavy and tired.
What was interesting was programing iSmoothrun to talk me through it so I wouldn't have to remember which interval I was on. That made life so much easier, I just did what it said.

Once upon a time I was called the cow whisperer. Read about it here.

Just south of here on the Road to Nepal there have occasionally been bison grazing on the other side of a very flimsy fence. Grazing implies bucolic. Nothing could be further from the bucolic truth than a grazing bison, especially a suspicious mama bison. Did I mention the flimsy fence, and the massive stink eye that had my liver shifting in my chest as I rode past? I would never dream of spanking a bison.

Linda is made of sterner stuff. While I was getting ready to run, she was hard at it, dominating the bison. Molding it to her will. Spanking the recalcitrance.

After the run was over I had no trouble barbecuing the repressed bison. It was tasty.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Run stuff, before I forget

Or I get too lazy to look it up on the phone.

The tough part of the weekend run was fitting it into the When Words Collide schedule. Fortunately there wasn't a MUST ATTEND on Saturday morning. I had time to get up, do coffee and a light breakfast, and get ready to run.

22K, 2:34:16, 7 min/k pace, with almost exactly 2 minutes of pit stop time. I'd thought of going up and around the reservoir and back. Once upon a time that was a long  hard bike ride. The problem with running that far is I would have to carry everything I'd need, and I don't have a hydration pack yet. Then I remembered some of the long runs back in Ironman training, where I used the front patio as an aid station.

I made up my energy drink mix the night before, and left it on the front step in the shade. The first loop was just under 9 K and went by pretty fast. The second loop ended right on 19 K and was a bit of a struggle right at the end. It was hard getting going again after that, and 20K was one of the slowest ones, both pace and cadence. Then I got in the groove again, but I was happy to stop at 22 and walk back to the house for a good cool down.

All in all it went really well. My legs were a bit tired at the end, but nothing was hurting. My pacing was pretty good, slower going up hill of course. Cadence was pretty steady, 83 overall, varying between 85 and 80. The morning started off cool, nearly the perfect temperature to run, and was warm on the way to hot by the end.

There was second breakfast when I got home, then off to the conference.

Monday we planned a date night out. The Guild in the Bay building downtown is super food! But I knew I wasn't going to be able to run when we got home, so I planned ahead and ran from Talisman.

8 K, 54:30, 6:38 pace, though there is a bit of uncertainty there. The map shows the first K with a big dogleg that didn't happen. The first K felt a bit clunky, then into the groove running towards the Bow. I goofed and went under a bridge I should have crossed, then I ran into traffic on 9th that I didn't want to cross. Back, then past Talisman, and back again till I ticked over 8 K. It all felt really good, with my feet feeling mostly light and fairly strong.

Running first thing in the morning is nice, though it was a bit tough to go back into the humid air of Talisman. Something about running during and after the conference has triggered lots of writing thoughts in my head. Let's hope I can capitalize on them in September and after.

I'm really pleased with how the running is going, but I can feel the need for a bit of extra sleep. Mostly I'm getting it. My weight is still going down slowly, and I'm tracking my heart rate numbers. So far the lowest resting rate is 45 bpm. Even Sunday morning after the long run it was only 50 or so, and that was after a late night. I was expecting it to be higher.

The MCK has suffered a bit, I have to admit. I need to get back on that again. The good photos have slowed down a bit, but never fear, there are lots in the camera waiting to be processed. Here's an iPhone shot to hold you over.  I've thought of an experiment to try, and that will be worth a blog post.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My take on WWCYYC2016

When Words Collide, a Calgary readercon is wrapping up as I write this at home, huddled under the weight of so much stuff.

First of all, if you are part of the reading, writing, publishing, editing world, you need to be part of this. Follow the link, sign up for next year. I have already.

I suppose that tells you all you need to know about what I think of it, but I'm going to unpack it a little more. There are many reasons to attend this conference, but the primary one is contacts. You get a chance to meet the people all along the transaction chain that starts with a crazy idea, and ends up with a reader telling their buddy, "this is the most awesome book ever, you have to read it!"

It doesn't matter if you are like me, struggling to bring together a mass of words into a coherent story, or a pro writer with some writing credentials, or a publisher, or an editor, the chance to chat with your peers is invaluable. There's a saying, "at the top of the pyramid, everybody knows everybody." Conferences like this are one of the major ways it happens, and it doesn't matter if you are competitors, technically speaking. You all have an interest in making the industry bigger and better.

There are 11 streams of programming, across 20 hours for about 220 different sessions in two different buildings. Some are sign up in advance, some are short pitch sessions or other private editorial interactions, but almost all are open to all Colliders. If you can't find something of interest in all this, you are in the wrong place. For most people, the difficulty is in choosing between conflicting programming choices.

Of course there is a banquet, which I've never attended so I can't comment. Plus awards, and guest of honour speeches, and all that stuff. Autograph sessions. Guest readings. Many book sellers. Plus all sorts of stuff that happens along the way. The organizers have done a stellar job putting it all together!

Last year I had something going each day, all day. This weekend I wasn't feeling up to that much activity so I scaled back a bit and attended only 11 sessions over the weekend. Some were brilliant! I was a little nervous when the first presenter started with a slide show, but it was good. He didn't read from the slides, which is the cardinal sin in presentations. He was well organized, cogent, and brought some energy to the presentation, which just happened to be one of particular interest to me. This is all gold for me, and was worth the price of admission. You rock, Adam Dreece!

I won't go through all the others one by one, but I know one that I didn't get much out of was raved about by a group I overheard. Fair enough. Some of it was me, in that I was feeling a little run down and anti-social this weekend. Maybe it has to do with being at work a month longer than I expected to be.

There are people who live here in Calgary that rent a room so they don't have to waste travel time back to their home. This also gives them a place to flop in the unlikely event of a quiet hour. I haven't done that yet, but if I had a novel to find a home for, or was on a bunch of panels, I might consider it.

Each year I say I'll get that novel in shape to pitch next year. Next year. I'm going to have a lot more time starting in September, so here I am, saying I'm going to have something to pitch for next year. Wish me luck, and see you there!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The sloggiest slog yet

Tuesday was photo stuff. You may recall I'd taken a great many photos at the Chaparral triathlon. I finally got together with my victims I mean subjects. I was happy to discover they liked 58 of them enough to tweak them in Lightroom, and send the resulting jpg to them. I'm part way through doing the processing. The big step will be cleaning all the stuff out of my dropbox so I can put the folder there for them.

Here is the difficulty. Curtis not only insists on 'helping' me work on the novel, he also wants to 'help' with editing photos. Such a talented kitty.

Along the way I sent a photo of a smiling buddy to her by posting it on her Facebook wall. Holy doodle she is a popular girl! About 200 likes later the torrent in my notifications thingie subsided. I sent her a couple wetsuit shots, and yes she both looks good and swims like a torpedo in it, and she got a bunch of Instagram likes.

Then there was a run on Wednesday. I wasn't looking forward to it. My legs have been grumbling since Saturday's run. Even with the mostly subsided grumbles, and the threatening clouds, and the weather statement about the weak funnel clouds, I was hopeful enough to head out. There's lots of runs and bikes and swims where I've started feeling crappy, and ended up having a good workout. I ain't made of sugar so the minor sprinkle didn't bother me. I was home about a minute before a torrential downpour. That wouldn't have been fun.

So 2 k warmup, 14 min. This was about what I expected. A bit clunky, not finding the groove, but gradually feeling better.
6K tempo tracked as 3 x 2K, 39:49 overall. This surprised me. As soon as I picked up the pace my legs were happier and I ran better. These were pretty consistent, 6:36, 6:38 and 6:41 pace per K over each of the 2 K segments. Breathing was fine. My legs didn't want to go any faster, but would have gone further. This actually felt pretty good, better than I had expected.
2K cool down, 16 min. One advantage of the iPhone is the little emoticons, namely the turd one. The cool down was dreadfully actively horrible. My legs felt like they wanted to fall off. I'm pretty sure I could walk faster than I was "running". That was a struggle to finish.

Thursday is an hour water running and a bit of water core after. Plus the hot tub! Yay! Hung out in that for a while.

I spent some time during lunch trying to get a grip on my schedule for When Words Collide this weekend. So far the schedule looks like this, plus more on Sunday.

And then there's a 22 K run this weekend. Alone. I was figuring out what time the first bit of programming I wanted to attend on Saturday started, and it turns out to be 11 am. I figure 22 K will take about 2.5 hours. Anyone want to be my run buddy, starting about 7am? Not sure where yet. Hmmm, 22 K will almost get me from Anderson, around the res, and back. Or if I do loops around the neighbourhood I won't have to carry anything, just leave water and snacks in the front patio, and treat it like a pit stop. Hmmm. Plus a bathroom. I think that's the decider.

Monday, August 8, 2016

7:15 or bust

How times change! For a long time I ran at about 7:30 per K. Recently I've been getting faster and it feels great!

But training for a marathon is weird in some ways. Consistency is huge, of course. But so is doing your easy runs slow. The point is to make them easy and relaxing, giving you time on your feet, learning to run more smoothly, getting your mind used to the idea that you're going to keep going. Part of it is to stay aerobic, getting your body to burn fat without building up lactic acid in your muscles faster than they can deal with it.

The problem is that once your legs know how to run faster, it becomes difficult to run slower. So tonight, for example. My legs are still feeling the Saturday run a bit. This was to be a recovery run, slow and easy, 8 K. Things were clunky to start, and stayed clunky the entire run, excepting a few times, for a few seconds, where my legs escaped and picked up the pace. I ended up taking 58:08 which is 7:15 pace, which is about what I was aiming at.

What's funny is that I clearly remember the first time running that distance in that time, and practically turning myself inside out doing it. I was perilously close to the retaste zone. Now I'm hardly breathing for much of it.  The work is to keep my legs turning over in what feels like a plod.

The Saturday run I wore my heart rate monitor for the first time in a while. Normally about 129 bpm is a chatchatchat pace near the top of zone 2. I was told I should be a little slower than that, hence the monitor. Blue is pace. I started about 7 min per K, and gradually slowed down. Heart rate is red, and you can see it gradually rises with a couple little burps for hills, where I really slowed down. So yes, for much of the run I was mid zone 2 which is success in my books. As I slowed I was running less efficiently, plus it had started to rain. That last half hour was brutal. You can see where my heart rate jumped up and stayed up.

Swam this morning and that was a bit of a plod too for much of it. 1K, 19:15, which is slow for me. First 250 m felt ok but was slow, slow, slow, next 500 m struggling to keep it together, and the last 250 m was a bit of a  slow flounder. Plus, (and Talisman I love you but you're killing me) the hot tub is STILL out of service. It's full of bubbly water, just to taunt us. Sigh. I'll be there on Thursday, Talisman! Just saying.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mostly photography

Sometimes you have an image in your head. I found a place that might be the starting place for that. Let's just say it didn't quite work out like I expected, but it was still a learning experience.

What I'd hoped for was a photo of downtown, nestled like a jewel against a dark sky, with a bit of light in the foreground. What I got was this.

I hadn't known the tower would have the flame going. Opening ceremonies, duh! It was shot from here, which is a very long way from downtown.

Where to start? It wasn't dark enough yet. I've cropped in close on it, maybe too close. But really for where I am I don't have enough lens happening. Still, I had fun playing with different exposure settings. Several shots had long streaks of light where an airplane or helicopter flew past.

From there I went to scout locations for shooting the Perseid meteor shower this coming weekend. Disappointed there. I need to be further out of town. Way further. I'd hoped being on the lee of a big hill south of town would work, but no. Calgary is really, really bright.

While there I got my first lightning shot! Yay me! It was a really long way away. You can see the exposure was long enough to get a bit of star trails.

I tried a few star shots off to the SW where it was dark, but that didn't work out so well. I haven't figure out the knack of focusing on stars yet.

But the big learning from the night? Bring bug spray! Also a low powered flashlight would be nice. I don't know where all the controls on my camera are by touch yet, and ended up using the iphone to light things up a bit. So not-pro!

From there was the small thing of a Saturday 18 K run. 2:14, gradually slowing down throughout. Otherwise it went well. Maybe more details later.

Sunday was fun! Several of my buddies were doing the Chaparral triathlon. I hadn't known that had been a place for 18 years; I thought it was new. But no, the announcer said several times this was the 18th.

In addition to being paparazzi for my buddies, there were a few other victims as well. How can you not photo such happy smiling people? I enjoyed keeping track of where my 3 subjects were, and where I had to be at various times for the races. Out of 320 or so shots, about 75 are worth showing to them with the possibility they might like them. There's another 200 or so where there is a recognizable person in the shot, but let's just say it might not be the most flattering pose and leave it there. Let's see which ones they are willing to have published.

This might be the best shot of the day.

And mama looking for a quiet place to be away from all those splashing humans.

Lastly, I'm not sure if my swim buddy is in this shot, elbowing for space. Everybody is so well dressed in their dark wetsuits and swim caps, don't you think?

One of the unexpectedly interesting things about carrying a nice camera at events is that you start noticing other people carrying nice cameras. I chatted to a couple people about photo stuff, which was fun in it's own way between photos.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

If this is retirement, bring it on!

Thursday, water ran an hour, doing slightly different variations. The straight-legged one with toes pointing up is tough. Remember, no float belt. Short work day, with people bringing stuff for me to do, and me frantically trying to prod Maximo into doing it before I had to leave. For a super-duper program it's awfully slow.

I've been meaning to get out onto Estela again. I had some rides early in the year, then I started focussing on the run, and we had all that crappy weather. But today was the day!

I'd been thinking of scouting some photo locations, and decided to work that into my bike ride. Turned out to be 65 K in 3:14 mostly just riding along. Lots of stops along the way to enjoy the scenery. Here's one of them, I think we all know where this is, plus the most photogenic bike ever!

It worked out pretty well, but I goofed on hydration and nutrition. I figured I was only going a couple hours so I took only one water bottle. Shortly after that above shot I had to decide which way to go home. I could have gone down Elbow, or the Bow. I chose the latter knowing it was a longer ride. By 50 K was getting a bit hungry and if the ride ended then it would have been perfect. By 60 K I was out of water, getting hungry, and my legs and butt were getting tired.  Home to hydrate and a quick snack. Then Linda got home and we had a big lunch.

Stupid blogger, upside-downing that photo and not letting me fix it. Or maybe it's Apple's Photo whatever. Grrr. Sorry.

No, that isn't a little baby dessert plate. These are the tomahawk cut from the Italian Store. Pretty darn tasty! Yes other things were added to the plate.

After a big meal it's nice to torpor in the shady patio, then I went for a power nap.

My swim buddy graciously invited me to come along as her spotter for an open water swim. I was a bit unsure at first, then decided what the heck! The worst that would happen is I'd vomit from the exertion of trying to keep up, and I could swim away from that, and besides it would be a first experience. No doubt the lake has had worse. I try not to think about it when I'm swimming open water. We scoped out the swim exit and transition, then called it an evening.

Closer to sunset I zoomed out to one of the spots I'd scouted for a sunset shoot. BUGS! I'd forgotten about bug spray, and that detracted from the experience. I had a picture in my head of what the photos would turn out like, but I didn't quite get there based on what I've seen on the back of the camera. Later today I'll put the chip in the laptop and find out for sure what I've got.

From there I scouted for locations for the Perseid shoot. Holy cow Calgary is a bright city. My thinking was to go south a bit and try to find the lee side of a hill, but it didn't work out that way. The light bounces off all the dust and crap in the air.

Since I was there I tried anyways, then shot some of a distant lightning storm, then some stars off to the SW, since it was dark in that direction.  This is a learning experience so I don't expect much from any of these.

All in all an active happy day! I'm not sure I want to be that busy all the time, but there's lots to do and a limited time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

So, that marathon training thing

That officially started a few days ago. So far so good.

Monday, run 8 k 57:45. This was to be easy. No, easier than that. Except my legs were insistent on running about a 7 min K pace, slower going up out of Fish Creek, then falling back into that pace. Breathing was easy, and trying to run slower wasn't working so well.

Tuesday. Swim 500 m easy, getting back into the swim groove.  20 minutes of water core. For my newer readers you can read about it here.

Wednesday. The plan called for a warmup run of 2 or 3 K, and a cool down the same, with 6K of tempo run at half marathon pace, which is sort of about 6:30 to 6:40. It turns out the outside lane at Talisman is 224 m long, which is an awkward number of laps per K, but 9 laps is 2.16 k, rounded to 2.2. Close enough. 9 laps per interval, 1 interval warmup, 3 of tempo run, 1 of cool down. I can keep track of that sort of stuff.

I deliberately set the phone so I wouldn't hear the data chirps. I wanted to run by feel, and look at the numbers after. Warmup pace turned out to be 6:56, running what seemed to be really slowly. I was barely breathing, and hardly popped a sweat in the warm muggy Talisman tent.

Interval 2 was 5:56 pace. 3 was 5:48 pace. All this was running smoothly, breathing evenly, feeling comfortable. Interval 4 says 5:36, but I wasn't trying to run any faster. I suspect that some of the time should come off interval 3 and get added to 4, the distances are a bit funny.

Interval 5, cool down was 6:35 pace and it felt like I was going to break into a walk. Not that my legs were tired. My breathing completely recovered, the sweat started to dry off, and it felt like I was running really slowly. Not a plod, my feet felt really light. Walked another 2 laps to cool down some more.

Overall was 11 k, 1:09. Really pleased. Why indoors you ask? Morning thunderstorm. Not thrilled about rain, but can cope. Ain't made of brown sugar! I do not want to be out running when there is lightning. I thought about waiting, but if it rains in Calgary it's usually in the afternoon. I figured get'er done. It turns out that if I'd waited till 7, I'd have had a warm run, but then I probably wouldn't have slept well. Exercise wakes me up.

Here's some of the flowers before the most recent hailstorm.