Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Highway of Heroes

Despite the 35 degree temperature, 25 mile an hour wind, and spitting rainshowers, I was clearly motivated to get out and run tonight.  I read a few blog posts at the tail end of the work day and it literally fired me up to get out there, no matter what.  I thought about Caratunkgirl who loves to train in bad weather and my new coach's words "Weather is not an excuse" and a host of other triathlete bloggers and all together, it was enough to heave my ass out the door.  Thanks guys, you gave me an amazing run!

My next big race is a marathon, which will be my first, at the end of May 2011.  Given this part of the world freezes over from about now until April, it's the best I can do.  And I need to log the miles before then anyhow.

I have only run a couple times in the morning so I don't have a lot to compare to, but each of those times, I did not run well, wasn't motivated, lacked energy, and put in 'junk' miles.  I think running on an empty stomach just doesn't sit well with me.  I don't know what early runners do for nutrition - do you gel?  Powebar?  What's your secret to fueling your workout in the wee hours?  As I haven't found one, my preference has been to get my exercise in the evening, after I've had a day to wake up, fuel up, and limber up.

About 15 mins before heading out, I stole some of the girls' sour keys, ate a banana and granola bar.  Oh, what a rush!  But it did the job, though as I kept an even pace on this 12.1km run.  Actually, I was just glad to be out running and given the darkness, I couldn't really read my watch.  I know it has a backlight, but I was actually enjoying running without a clock.  I had my iP playing some great music and was simply bootin'er at whatever speed I felt like running.  I kept up my 5:32/km pace (8:51/mi) which is a decent clip for me after being out for several weeks.

There is a song that my 7 year old keeps singing and humming - it is on my phone and she grabs every chance she gets to put it on.  Highway of Heroes by the Trews.  It's not the fastest paced song out there, but if you want inspiration, listen to it while running.  At least for me, it inspires me to be a hero for my family, if nowhere else, at least in the area of health and fitness.  I've still got work to do, but like I said yesterday about my poster:  "The Miracle isn't that I finished, it's that I had the courage to start".  I hope I inspire my girls to push beyond what they feel are their limits in whatever activity they choose to do.

As I ran tonight, listening to the song, I couldn't help but picture my daughter dancing and belting out the words wondering what it is about the song that gives her inspiration.  She knows it is about war, but I don't think understands enough about war to get the real meaning.  Regardless, I choose to believe the topic of heroes is what grabs her attention and inspires her to belt out the tune. She is 7.

I have many heroes and I thank all of them, and you, for being great examples.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Miracle Poster

As I started pedaling this morning, I realized I haven't blogged about my updated man-cave, as Training Payne(s) would call it.  I'll have to take some pics to show you around and will post a short video further down where you can see some of it, but suffice to say I've got some motivational posters / pictures around, some music set up, as well as a nice floor fan to keep things cool.  Worthy of note, is my Ironman World Championship postcard from Training Payne stuck on the wall next to the "miracle' poster.  He better be impressed I kept it.  Computrainer is rigged to perfection and is an amazing piece of innovation.  I can't wait for the next s/w release to come out, supposedly this fall.

Any other CT riders out there know there are 3 ways to use the machine: 
  1. As a an ergometer - constant resistance defined by the rider in watts
  2. As a rider on a about 50 different 3D computer generated courses - tons of the 70.3's you are familiar with as well as Iron distance events.  The view you get isn't what you'd see in real life, but the resistance profile (hills / flats / descents, etc) mirrors that of the race you can select from. 
  3. As  an Interactive Real Course Video, which, IMO, is the most creative way to ride.  You pedal the course and the resistance profile in the same fashion as if you were there.  So, you can see the hill coming and feel the resistance increase once you get to it.  Similarly, when you crest, the resistance drops and you can visually see the descent coming, then feel the resistance drop and speed increase.  Way too cool!

If you read my blog a few weeks ago, you'll remember I had the most ridiculous back accident.  Here are the details.  I'm still not 100% but am testing the waters (no pun intended vis a vis last weekend's swim clinic) and   went for a 'first' run yesterday and biked today.  I can honestly say I lose my fitness pretty quick!  My plan is to run M-W-F and bike Tues - Thurs and whatever I do on the weekend is bonus.  We'll start traveling for alpine skiing every weekend in about a month anyway.  Come January, I start a 3 night/week swim program and a formalized / coached training program.  My first marathon is planned for the end of May/11 and of course, IM FL in Nov/11.  Psyched for both is an understatement.

Let me leave you with this early morning iPhone video of the CT in action.  Happy training, peeps!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Swim Camp - Day 2

Another busy weekend - last week was IM FL and this one ties me up in a swim camp - it is GREAT!  It's a small group of 9 triathletes hosted by a boutique bike / tri shop in town.  Like any good camp, this is a combination of classroom, video, and practical.  If you've never seen yourself on video - either above water, below, or both - then you have to find a way to get a video done.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth??

I'm an ok swimmer, having taken my first triathlon swim class last fall that lasted about 6 months.  I'd go every Sunday night for an hour with a group of friends and the course was actually taught by my neighbor, a multi-IM finisher and all around nice guy.  My swim times improved from 2:00 min/100m to 1:40 - 1:45/100m.

The swim clinic I am taking now takes things one step further and really teaches us the mechanics and flow, but coupled with demos from the coach and video analysis of our technique, we are getting some amazing feedback.

If you are looking to swim IM distance (or Olympic or longer, for that matter), one of the things we looked at today was stroke count versus speed - in fact, trying to find the right balance.  Here is what we did:
- Swim 50m, moderate effort, count your strokes.  Then
- Swim 50m, moderate effort, watch your time.  Add the two numbers together.  Then
- Play with things a little:

  • Swim faster (hard), counting your strokes.  What did it do to your time / stroke count?
  • Swim as "perfectly" as you can (reach, good tempo, glide).  Effect on time / stroke?
Put all of this in context with IM distance swimming.  We obviously want to swim as fast as possible with the fewest amount of strokes (save energy).  So, we are in search of the right point in busting your tail flailing about in the water.  Be smooth, rhythmic, and glide!

An output of the clinic is a disc with our videos...That will take a bit of time for the coaches to compile so I'll post likely in about a week or so about the finale of the camp.  Until then....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blogging from Ironman Florida

 A short update and a few pics as I want to get back to the T-zone as see the guys and gals coming off the bike.

- Temp about 15C winds present, but not like yesterday where there were 3' waves in the Gulf.  It was actually unbearably cold, and this from a Canadian!

- I volunteered and was assigned to the water table coming in from lap1 of the swim and again at the swim finish.

- Saw the elite athletes come through but not being from around here, I didn't recognize any names.  This is too close to Kona so a vast majority (if not all) of the pros there would not come here.

- The volunteering was mostly organized but being a 'process champion excellence' as my wife calls me when I offer 'critiques' on ways to do things, I saw areas for improvement all over the place.  Ironman (WTC) needs to take a 'lift and shift' approach to managing the tasks completed by the volunteers given the structure is the same everywhere and every race.

- Everyone who wanted water got water after lap 1 of the swim.  Given we had a ton of water and cups left over, we moved the tables 100' to the swim exit and started handing out more water.  It wasn't long until we ran out of cups.  We had at least 80 gallons of jugged water leftover, though.  Guess the WTC took recent criticisms about water supply to heart.  They need to get the other half of the equation right though and make sure they have enough cups.

I shouldn't be too critical, though, as our moved water station wasn't really a 'planned' one and the athletes had other water and whatnot after transition and on their bikes, of course.  Speaking of which, saw the latest and greatest in rides there are today.  Even some really odd designs.

Given I was at the swim exit, I got to cheer on the athletes and help give them a bit of motivation along the way.  Especially when we were out of cups.  I became a clapper and cheerleader.

I could not believe how far the current was taking people.  One fella had to run 150m down the beach to get BACK to the swim exit.  He let himself get way way off course.  He wasn't alone, though, there were dozens that missed out on proper sighting.

I'm going to head back to T2 and get in on some action.  Oh, I ended up filming a girl coming out of the swim in what I thought would be enough time to make the cutoff.  I knew it would be close, though.  She had tons of energy, was running strong to the mat, then I looked at the clock.  We (the clappers and cheerleaders at this point), were trying so hard to 'bring her home'.  She looked really good and more capable than about 50 people who were staggering before her, but she missed the cutoff by 25 seconds or so.  How heartwrenching.  She mustn't be a fast swimmer, but I tell you, she had energy to spare as she sprinted for the mat.  My heart goes out to her and the others who were not able to finish the swim.

Have to say good luck to "Dwayne"  No  idea who he is but he's got some supporters in my hotel.  Here's how they are wishing him well:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oct 28, 2004: A special litter of greyhounds are born

Happy Birthday, boys!  Doe's Bruciebaby and Doe's Bumper were born on a Greyhound Farm in Rhode Island on this day 6 years ago.  

While this image was not from their farm, it typifies a greyhound run - picture rows and rows of these and they separate multiple litters from each other and they instinctively run after / chase each other up and down the runs all day long.  They are not raised as pets - they are raised as working animals, almost livestock.  They stay with their mothers longer than ANY pet breeder would allow (6-9 months) and this teaches them how to be true dogs - pack animals.  As a result, they are one of THE most socialized dogs out there and their communication amongst each other is amazing to watch.

Brucie is in the red silk on the far right

 I will dispel the single largest myth out there about greyhounds.  Everyone assumes because they are the fastest dogs on the planet, they need a ton of exercise and are hyper / rambunctious.  Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  As they are sprinters, when they are 'on', they're ON!.  But like a cheetah, they sprint and spend the rest of the day recovering from the effort.  In real life terms, they sleep 18 - 20 hours a day at home.

As triathletes, the athleticism of these dogs should really resonate with us.  The way they are trained is no different than the way we train.  Did you know:
- they're weight is monitored and tracked daily.
(They have an established racing weight and if they are ever +- 1.5 pounds, they aren't allowed to race).
- They are taught / learn how to navigate the pack on the track to get to the front.  They are allowed to draft, though, lol!
- They get lengthy training and build muscle most of their lives.
- They eat a special and monitored diet
- If they 'look' (it is seen as an aggressive trait) at another dog while racing, they'll get a penalty.  If they get 3 such penalties, they are banned from racing in that particular state.  They don't know anything about a penalty box so they aren't stopping in a T-zone!!

- The winner makes $$ for it's owner and even the 4th place finisher takes home a few bucks.

- Some tracks are more competitive than others and pay more.

- All dogs are checked for injuries after each race and almost always get massage therapy.

So, they receive a ton of attention while racing - don't forget - they cost their owners a lot of $ in their 18-20 months before they even get to a racetrack so the owners obviously want to recoup their investment.  Their dogs need to be in top shape in order to win and 'bring home the bacon'.

There are still pockets of horrendous crimes against greyhounds occurring.  Those that don't make money, can't race, get injured, etc, are literally nothing more to some owners than an expense.  Any smart business person wants to reduce expenses.  As such, thousands of greyhounds are humanly and inhumanely euthanized across North America (as well as the rest of the world) every year.

Enough of the bad stuff, fact is, thousands also make it into homes every year - they are the lucky ones.  They bring with them such different characteristics in a dog.  There is nothing else like them.  

When we adopted Brucie and Bumper, when they were a little over 4 and having raced 115 times each, they had no concept of what a house was.  The ONLY thing they knew was the track, kennel, and a hauler.  They were not pets.  All of a sudden, they no longer had a job to do, they saw hardwood / slippery floors for the first time - same thing for stairs, couches, stores, walks .. the list goes on.  Even other breeds of dogs / animals.  Imagine - they had never seen another animal, other than other greyhounds.  Imagine how their world was opened up.

I must say they caught on quite nicely and quickly.  Bumper hated the wood floors so we got some area rugs. Both dogs demanded nothing of us and were not used to asking for things.  They'd sleep on their backs (roaching) on the floor and never bark at a doorbell, run for it, or anything.  They are such social dogs that they do love company but they are quick to leave the people alone.  They are such independent thinkers - it's in their genes as well as their training.

It's been a wonderful ride with these boys ever since they walked through our front door and they've brought so much to our house.  We may as well have had 2 extra children!!  They are truly part of the family and fit like a glove. 

And I'll say this....there is something AMAZING about watching a greyhound run for the love of it.  They were born and bred to run and are true athletes through and through.  Go ahead, adopt one and have your life changed for the better!

Hope you had a great birthday, boys, and that you are enjoying your retirement!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New wheels - literally

As I've had some forced downtime, of late, I thought I could spend some time researching wheels.  My plan was to buy some race wheels in the spring and be all set for next year's race season.  As I had been researching, I came across these HEDs about 6 weeks ago - they are hardly used....less than 200 miles on them from a known semi-elite local racer.  He had been given a new set / bike for Kona earlier this month so had these up for sale.

For my first HIM, Muskoka 70.3, I borrowed my brother's wheels - 2 HED 90's.  The difference between riding aero and non-aero wheels is incredible.  You can literally feel the lack of resistance and because the set I ran were tubulars, they were incredibly smooth to boot.  The feeling on them sold me right there of the value of good wheels.  The only downside I noticed was that with a 90mm deep rim up front, the side gusts were frightening.  The strong ones were literally pushing me sideways, especially given they came out of nowhere.  It's not like sailing / windsurfing when you can see the gust come across the water - look at the waves.  On the road / forested hills, they take you by surprise and can ruin your day pretty quickly.

So, my search was on for something 'smaller' up front - something that would be a little easier to manage in gusty weather.  I thought a 50 mm rim would be the magic number.  After emailing a few other sellers of such wares, I kept coming back to the HEDs.  They're a great value overall and upon greater reflection, I'll manage the 60mm up front without issue.  So, I pick them up Friday.  Worst thing is I can't use them until the snow melts in the spring, and even then....!

Looking to tomorrow - literally - my hounds turn 6 so tomorrow's post will be about celebrating their lives, from puppyhood on their farm to their stats as racing dogs and most importantly for us, to their final chapter in life as pets.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Boredom seeps in

Without ranting, I'd say I'm really peeved.  I'm just so damned bored.  I walk the dogs, relatively slowly and can't stop thinking about running.  As long as I don't engage my core muscles, I can walk at a decent clip - but it is awkward and without flow - very mechanical.  I'm sure the dogs wanted me to run a bit with them too.

Ironically, greyhounds don't need or want a lot of exercise.  They're sprinters and cover an oval 500m in 30 seconds.  The fastest dogs on earth and I can't even give mine a little trot these days.  They do run in our fenced backyard, but it's nothing like a full out sprint at the track.  Poor guys, though they'll get over it.

I've caught up on several blogs and done some commenting.  It's great keeping up with peoples' lives that I've never even met.  At least it's 'real', not like TV.

At this rate, I don't see running for at least another week, possibly longer.  I've got a serious core muscle issue that needs some addressing.  Until then, someone throw me a lifeline...I can't get used to the calm.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A really dumb accident.

Took a few curve balls over the last 2 weeks which had me unable to keep up with my blog.  I thought about it every day though as it keeps me 'honest' about my goals and objectives for IM FL next year.

On relatively short notice, I had to go to NY on business for 8 days, including the weekend.  No problem, I thought, I'll bring 5 sets of workout clothes and not miss a beat.  I guess I caught 'workout arrhythmia' because not only did I miss A beat, I missed 4.  I got the chance to run ONCE.

I stayed in Rye, NY ... slightly north of NYC  .... and went for a run on Saturday morning when there was little to no traffic.  Temperature was great and I felt terrific over the 11 km tour of some HUGE houses with gated properties.

I was sent on a work assignment to NY a couple years ago, for a year, and we lived a little further north and one of the things I HATED about living in the region was the lack of shoulders along the roads and the high volume of traffic.  The region was established a billion years ago so the roads are winding, narrow, unlit, and really not safe.  I don't know how triathletes and cyclists in the region do it.  I rode only a handful of times in the year we were here and took my life into my own hands each time.  I never found it safe.

I worked in Manhattan the rest of the weekend and took this picture from our office building, looking south down Madison.  It is RIDICULOUS that it was Sunday, I had spent 12 hours there and the only time I got outside was to get a salad for dinner.

My days started at 7:30 in the office and lasted until 7 in the evening so any chance of running or a workout eluded me.  I refused to run in the area after dark, only because the roads are so bad and unlit.  I didn't have much reflective clothing or any running lights.

The other piece of bad news was that I had the most ridiculous accident at home on Friday.  I was heading to a small engine repair place and offered to take my IM buddy's snowblower in for a tune up given I was going anyway.  Long story short, I was walking backwards in my utility trailer while cleaning out the leaves and didn't realize how close I was to the edge.  I walked backwards, right over the front edge of the trailer and landed with my back on the vertical aluminum post before hitting the ground.  Had this thing have been pointy, I would have been 'skewered' right there.  Obviously, it hurt like hell.

Through adrenaline, I got up right away and hobbled 200' to the house.  I knew if I stayed there, it would be awhile before DW "found me".  Once inside, she looked at my back and said OMG.  She saw a huge indentation and scrape along my spine.  She said it looked terrible.  I knew, however, that that part was NO PROBLEM compared to the pain I felt in the muscle.  I couldn't walk - at all.  Every step sent a shooting pain up the right side of my back.  It was 'killer'.

I took some anti-inflammatories right away, which did nothing, and sucked it up for half an hour assessing my 'condition'.  We decided it would be best to get it checked out by a doctor so I got a ride to the hospital's emergency department.  There was a 2 hour wait but they saw me in 15 minutes.  After 3 sets of x-rays, urine test for the kidneys, and a shot for pain / swelling, the doc gave me the all clear.  The first thing she said was "Do you know how lucky you are?  You landed on the post on your muscle.  An inch to your left and you it would have been your spine.  An inch to the right and it would have been your kidney, where there is little protection.  While the muscle will hurt for awhile, it will recover.  The other two options wouldn't have been as easy".

All I can think about is how STUPID the accident was and how much this sucks right now.  2 days later and I can walk, but I can't bend over.  I know I was lucky, but it is still ridiculous for such a dumb thing to occur.  It's even embarrassing....this kind of thing doesn't happen to me (at least not often ;-)).

I'm taking things day by day, trying to stretch out and relax, and trying not to eat my way through this.  It's too easy to grab snack food and veg out.  I'm bored already.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Colors Ride

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!  I hope all of you enjoyed some Turkey or whatever your traditional food on Thanksgiving.

We had fantastic weather in our neck of the woods, with sweatshirt type afternoons, but near freezing at night.  My roadie brother was in town and brought his bike so we took the opportunity to ride into the Gatineau Hills.  It felt good to clean my bike up after the rain in Muskoka but underscored the fact I hadn't been on it since then - which was pretty much a month ago.  <sigh>

My brother has a ton more experience on the bike than I and given he lives in Toronto, has a much longer cycling season.  He's raced quite a bit and done some long distance fundraising rides in the recent past so he's got solid bike skills and a good power base.  I told him that if he gets bored out there with me, he can repeat some of the hills instead of waiting up.  For some reason, he declined?!

I spent most of my summer training with others way more experienced than I and subsequently always riding by myself.  I was told many times that I'd "never get faster if I don't ride with others".  Theory obviously being that I'd push myself more to keep up.  But I worry about the distance and running out of leg power too soon - that is my real issue!  Yesterday was no different - I didn't push myself to keep up, preferring to keep my own pace and follow my own lead.  Kind of selfish, perhaps.....I don't know.  For me, I know I need to spend the winter on my Computrainer to build and build so that I'll be in a better position next spring to ride with the group.  I'm not a 'wuss' or 'terribly slow' the hills (some of which are 4+km climbs (3mi), I average 26km/h,  flats usually 29 - 32 km/h (19-20mph)....I know I have a ways to go to improve, but hopefully it isn't "that bad"!

Our ride was 2h15min, 58km (36mi).  The weather was slightly coolish and gloves were needed, but shoe covers were left in the truck - passed on them, which was a good call.

I was goofing around with my iPhone grabbing some video along the way.  This clip is at the top of one of the 5km climbs.  Sorry about the heavy breathing, LOL!!
I thought it was a nice point because of the lake and the remnants of the colors.  The roadway is the Gatineau Parkway...and yes, we are completely spoiled living in and around Ottawa, Ontario.  The parkways are closed to motor vehicles EVERY Sunday morning throughout the summer so this is  a great place to train with a great road surface and nothing around you but other bikes, roller bladers, etc.

Before I "shut'er down", I want to congratulate Bryan Payne on his amazing accomplishment in Kona on Saturday.  I've credited Bryan before for, among other things, the inspiration to start a blog.  But Bryan qualified for Kona at IM LP in July and has been putting in unbelievable miles since then - and of course over the last several years of his "comeback".  He's got a great story you'll want to check out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Aerobic only run

Today was my first run with the Mark Allen Online program and I was glad to have had my expectations set, thanks to the likes of several who have blogged about their beginnings with the program.  I am a year out from IMFL so there is no speed work or other "difficult" sections of the program (yet).  It's about building a solid aerobic base so you can in turn add the speedwork later without redlining your hear rate.

The run was to be a 'tempo' run for 40 mins.  HR target 131-141.  Are you kidding?  I never run below 150 and am usually most comfortable at closer to 160.  So sticking to the planned HR was more like a slow jog.  I'm sure as hell glad I chose to bring my iPhone with me so I could listen to some music as I cruised along at a snail's pace.  It was hard running this slow.  It really was.  But the weather was nice and I ran into DW as she was walking the hounds at lunch.  I rarely see the dogs head on, unless they are in our fenced backyard barreling straight at me.  If you've never seen Greyhounds run at a track, then you are missing something.  Not to get into the pro / anti racing debate, but I had a chance to take the boys back to their track in Mass last year, just prior to it closing.  They ran in the 'Fun Run' and we got to watch a few real races while we were there.  Everyone is impressed with their speed and power, but I am sure athletes in the crowd can pick out the subtleties that allow the dogs to run at 45 mph.  Ears back in full "aero" fashion, double suspension gallop minimizing contact with the ground, and strategy and planning to figure out how to get out front, when to 'go for it', and how to 'hang on'.  All things a triathlete can relate to.

I won't digress any further.  I'm just so amazed at how these dogs are built for speed and that I wish some of it could rub off on me!  I won't tell you about the times I have ran with them, while holding the leash.  There could have been some good submissions to America's Funniest Home Videos!

Today's training:  40 min, 137 avg HR, 6.2 KM, 6:39/km pace (SLOW!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Computrainer report

So, I agree my setup isn't cool.  The bike is ok (my road bike), the TV is great, but the environment....meh.  I need a real man cave with motivational posters on some finished walls, proper table for the TV and laptop, and probably a bar fridge for some post ride refreshments.  Perhaps you'll see the transformation of my riding zone over the course of a few blogs.  PLEASE PLEASE make some suggestions - tell me what motivates you to ride indoors from October to April/May.  I might even move my ride to the finished part of the basement.

This past summer, I was a training follower.  I didn't really have a "plan" - I just went out with whomever was going and usually trained alone for the same amount of time if the crowd I was with was faster.  I've vowed to change that for next year and take more of a leadership - or at least autonomous - role.  So, I'm starting now.

Since August, I had been asking a local coach / former pro triathlete to take me on his roster.  He agreed given a mutual friend had recommended me as someone 'serious' (whatever that means).  I wasn't in a rush to get started because I had Muskoka 70.3 in mid September and there was obviously no time for him to add any value to my training regimen.  We kept in contact and post Muskoka, I began requesting to start a training plan.  I wanted to do a monthly plan at a cost of about $175.  Steep?  Certainly not inexpensive, but it came with some other "perks" as well and wasn't just a simple plan.  Nevertheless, for over $2,000 revenue for the next year, the "coach" was excruciatingly slow returning emails, if at all.  After a couple weeks, 3 emails to the coach and me complaining to my buddy, I called it over - the "coach" obviously didn't want / need me on his roster and if he did (like he said he did), he wasn't showing it very well.

As I've been following Bryan Payne's blog and reading about his success (he's in Kona now) and training regimen, I started to look into what he does.  Mark Allen Online.  After some thought and even reaching out to Bryan, I decided to sign up with MAO as well.  the plan cost is $19 a week for a maintenance plan.  I can live with that!  You guessed it - my first 'planned' workout was tonight!!

As I am planning IM FL in a year's time, the important things for me are to:
  • Build a good aerobic base
  • Put in the time and mileage
  • Build leg strength for the bike
  • Build core strength and flexibility.
I signed up for 12 weeks of a 20 week MAO plan.  I'm sure I'll do the other 8 especially given they start Jan 1.  The training is all aeroobic zones (at least for now).  Tonights ride was to be 60 minutes with HR 131-141.  I chose the Timberman 70.3 as the ride tonight.  On a side note, you can purchase "Real Course Videos from Computrainer and actually follow the images of the real thing - not just the profile and "road" that you see above.  You get the buildings, lakes, scenery, etc - the exact thing you'd see if you rode the real course.  All from the comfort of your man / woman cave.  My IM Canada video isn't working and CT is shipping me a new one.

If you've never seen a CT in action and like techno geeky things, you'd LOVE the CT.  I am amazed at it's capability.  The "feel" you get riding is about the closest thing you'd get to the outside.  When the profile "climbs", you see the grade change and it actually gets harder to peddle.  As a result, your HR climbs, speed drops, cadence slows until you downshift and you get to see (and feel) all this real-time.  It's remarkable.  Of course the coaching software analyzes your spin scan results, everything gets saved to your hard drive and you can even send the report to your coach.  I knew my left leg isn't as strong but now I can quantify it.  2.6% less power.  With the spin scan, I got real time feedback I was slacking on the left side so I could correct it as I went.  Hopefully by spring time, I'll have the equality sorted out between my halves.  

Tomorrow I have a swim in the plan (though there is no way I can make it to the pool, time wise) and a 40 min tempo run.  I haven't figured out where I'll fit that in yet, either.  Work is really busy and DW is in New York so I can't run and leave the girls home alone.  If I can't get out during the day, I'm toast on both training sessions.

Here's a shot of Bumper asking me when the hell I'm going to be done on the damn wheely thing so he can go outside.

I'm serious about the ideas for your workout room.  If you've read this far, please drop me some ideas!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

You know exactly what I'm talking about. Don't lie.

When your brain says 'GO' and you body says 'huh?'

You know exactly what I'm talking about.  Don't lie.  And if you say you don't, I won't believe you.

Last night was my turn for a brain and body disagreement and thankfully for me, it didn't figure out what was going on until 2 miles into the run.

It was a workday from Hell.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.  Don't lie.  Not only did I have a ton of stuff to get through, there were a few surprises in there I hadn't anticipated and actually had no interest in doing.  As I was just 'trying to get it done', the time pressure was starting to get to me.  I had a planned run last night - for an hour - and given I was sitting ALL day, I wanted to get it in while the kids were skating (6-7 pm).

At 6:15, I gave in to my mental urge to get out a run but it was at this time I think my body was still in office chair mode.  I started with a 5min/km (8min/mile)pace, which is fast for me, and slowly felt my workday worries slip away.

It wasn't long, however, where I started having evil thoughts about my condition, the fact I haven't really run since Muskoka 70.3 (Sep 12), and questioning if I have been eating enough of the right foods these last 3 weeks.  My energy was tapped at the 5km mark and I think I was in shock.  Not the medical kind, the mental kind.  Is this what happens if you don't exercise for a couple weeks?  Did I really lose endurance / muscle / energy?

It wasn't until the 7km mark (~5miles) that I started to loosen up in both mind and body.  I started to feel positive, like I was actually accomplishing something.  The big lesson I'm taking away is that consistency works.  Jeez, everyone knows that - it's no revelation.  So I've got to stay active during this offseason and keep building the base.  I ended up running 11 km in the 59 minutes out.

I'm excited for a planned ride this weekend, although it is supposed to be 5 degrees C Sat morning (41F).  We'll be bundled up and heading into the Gatineau Hills.  Should be a good time.

I also booked a swim clinic in November where we'll do under / over water video analysis and continue to refine / improve our swim technique.  Looking forward to the results.

It's another workday from Hell and I've got too much to do and won't get 'out there' tonight.  Not to mention it has been raining for 22 straight hours and there is no end in sight.

Here is the only picture I have of Brucie racing.  #1 dog, red jacket, far right.  Found it on the web by chance.  He finished 2nd in this race, taking some $$ back to his owners and kennel manager.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back in the saddle!

It's about time!

The stars aligned to go for a run at lunch today and my Dear Wife decided she was going as well.  We're at different stages of running fitness, at least at present, so I dialed it back a little to keep pace.  She did great, though...pushing through 6km in 36 min.  The woman will soon be kicking my a$$ as she's the one with the marathon experience, not me!  I was just glad to get out there again, though.

I'm thinking this is it.  Back in the saddle.  I've been bugging a top local triathlete coach to take me on, and he is game, but has been REALLY slow in returning my emails to meet.  Maybe I'm the 'too eager wannabe', but after having the last couple weeks off since Muskoka, I don't want to delay any longer.  The other program I've been looking at is Mark Allen Online.  Tons of success stories out there, though how would I hear about the not-so-good ones?  Going local, I can participate in group runs and rides, as well as get pointers on technique.

Oh...I also got a COMPUTRAINER !  I set it up last week on my road bike (tri bike will hopefully be used a few times again this season) and find it amazing.  The spin-scan tells you how efficient your pedal stroke is - basically how you use the power in your legs to pedal in a circle versus simply straight up or down.  It actually works fairly well.  The 3D imaging is amazing.  I don't have anything negative to say about it except the 'Real Course Video' of Ironman Canada I ordered with it has to be returned due to a 'CRC' error during copying to my laptop.  It was a known and relatively widespread issue 1-2 years ago but calmed down quite a bit over the last year.  It's a disc burning issue..tested on 2 laptops at home and neither worked.  Racermate (who sells the CT) is sending me a new one without issue.  With the 5 cm (2+ inches) of rain we are getting over the next 26 hours, there is no way I'll be riding outside in the next couple days.

Need some inspiration?  Have a look...a defining moment in the history of world sport.

Julie Moss

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A different kind of exercise

Updating the blog has been tough as I've not done a lot of training since Muskoka 70.3.  In fact, my bike hasn't moved since it last rode the 94km course.  I feel bad for neglecting it but at the same time, I've had to catch up on all the stuff I neglected around the house throughout the summer training and racing season.  I won't go into how long the list is, but suffice to say, training for an Ironman would be shorter!

A project I decided to tackle somewhat on a 'whim' is to add a decorative border of cobblestone around the driveway and trailer pad.  We had our 250' of asphalt laid this time last year and it is about 4" higher than where it meets the grass.  It's this edge I wanted to finish off properly and either add topsoil and sod to bring it up to level, OR, put in a stone border to do the same.  I chose the border because it will look a lot nicer AND be more functional along the edge of the trailer pad.  There won't be any grass growing through the edge of MY pad!

The digging has obviously been a chore.  Is it ever not?  I don't think so.  I still have a bit to go in certain areas to get to about 18 inches of depth.  I'll have the Granular A and stone dust delivered this week and as you can see, I've already got the cobblestones ready.

The wire you see isn't's the conduit to digital life beyond our house walls. Amazing how we are connected to billions of images, video, text and people through that simple little piece of copper.

Switching gears back to triathlon, the weather has been typical of fall in this climate - coolish, in the 50's with lotsa rain.  It doesn't seem like I can justify getting soaked and cold to go riding.  I miss it, though. I'm not in a funk because of all the digging and other stuff I've done around the house.  If I were in a funk, I'd probably not do much of anything...and I can't remember when I didn't do 'much of anything'.  I can't even remember the last time I had a 'nap'.  Must have been when I was a teenager.

Where do you get your motivation from?  Do you find it easier to ride / run when you have a training partner?  It's not an excuse, but my multiple Ironman finisher training buddy, with whom I did Muskoka, is recovering from injury.  We'd be out so often together over the summer, my wife joked about us having a 'manaffair'.  That isn't even funny, if you ask me.  We did spend a lot of time on the road, though.  I can credit the guy for getting me to the start line of Muskoka this year, though.  He is a really positive guy and provides a ton of encouragement.  Exactly what you need when you are pushing yourself to your limits and testing your boundaries.

For most of us trying to 'go the distance', there are these people in our lives that make us believe we can do it.  Those that have already walked this path and possibly even alone.  They are teaching us without even knowing it, providing immeasurable guidance.  It can take years off ad-hoc, willy-nilly racing and training and if you haven't lately, make sure you thank your guides for their inspiration and motivation.  For without them, becoming an Ironman would hardly be possible.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A good run gone bad

Finally back to some triathlon training!  You know you are ready when you can't sit still and just wait for the bell to ring 5:00 so you can bolt.  Not that anyone cares when I stop working, because it's always there.  For example, I have a conference call in 10 minutes - beginning at 6:30 pm.  So who cares if I duck out for a quick run at 5 when I know I've got to work through the evening anyway? 

I'm on to my second pair of Zoot's.  I love them because they are a sockless shoe and can be slipped on quickly in T1.  I have to say, though, I want to burn these ones.  I'm trying to break them in and my training runs on these are 0 for 2.  They are kicking my a$$, or said less figuratively, tearing my right heel apart.  I was unfortunately pathetically inclined tonight and after having a great 5 min avg/km run (good for me), at the 4k mark, I came to a grinding halt.  The pins and needles sticking into my heal were killing me.  Given this was a maintenance run, there was no need to push through the pain and 'git'er done' at the expense of being able to run over the next couple weeks.  So, I took off my shoe and jogged along the grass shoulder of the roads until I hit the stables about 2 km from my house, a point which I was hoping and thrilled to see my neighbour up the road feeding his horses.  You guessed right - I asked for a ride home - and got it in the back of his pickup!  Before you jump to conclusions, the cab was full.  I didn't smell that bad!

I'm poking around for a set of race wheels for next year and came across someone selling some Zipp 404's.  After my inquiry, I learned one is 4 years old, the other 2.  He bought them used, broke a spoke and had it repaired, and still wants $1100 for them.  The guy is nuts.  No one buys 3rd hand wheels that are 2 and 4 years old for $1100.  No cassette included, either.  The guy is on crack, so I'm going to pass, obviously.

See ya -

Monday, September 20, 2010

Does manual labour mean I'm lazy?

I've spent the last 2.5 days digging.  I'm putting in about 90 feet of a two foot border of cobblestone pavers along the edge of the driveway and trailer pad area.  Will be nice to finish this area off, given I'm fencing part of it to keep the hounds in.  My multi Ironman neighbour, Dave came by yesterday and said 'what are you doing?  A summer's worth of projects in a weekend?'  He obviously understands that my "best" this summer consisted of mowing the lawn.  I was lucky to get the fertilizer on one a month as well.  And the list of other house and outdoor priorities is longer than an Olympic....or even a 70.3 or even a full Ironman.  I have a lot of things to do!

Anyway, the trench will accommodate granular A and stone dust and serve as the base for the pavers.  I'll dig an additional 18' to accommodate the fence posts.  That means 3' of depth for those.  Man o man, digging in rock is no fun.

Given the manual labor heroics, I've done no training.  Since Muskoka, I've done no training.  I'm anxious, actually, to go for a run and will probably do that tomorrow morning.  It's busy at work so I just shut that down and will be heading to bed very shortly.  Brian Payne would not be impressed.  I should probably quote other triathletes and ironman, but none of the one's I know blog.

Short post today and I realize I need a pic of the damn trench.  I've got a few more evenings to go, though, but the stone arrives this week, as do the fence posts, so I've got to continue digging in anticipation.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Catching Up and a short (long?) race report.

So it's been a couple of weeks since I've been able to update the blog.  Just too much going on and work has been really busy.

On Sep 12, I went for my first Half Ironman.  Rock on - it was an awesome race.  My tri history is short - 3 races in 2008, none (or training) in 2009 as we moved to NY for a year, and then 3 sprints and 1 Olympic before Ironman Muskoka 70.3 last weekend.  I had only decided to do Muskoka in mid July so my training wasn't what it needed to be for this distance.  You see, this was a buddy's 'A' race for this year and he had another buddy heading to Muskoka with him to cheer him on and he asked me if I was interested in coming along.  I said 'sure' and then 3 days later, knowing I'd be a basket case on the sidelines and not racing, I signed up.  Why not, right??

My wife ended up traveling the week before Muskoka, which meant I had to take the girls to skating twice that week, in addition to doing the school drop off and pick up runs.  It actually timed well because I did NO training that week, not that I could have if I wanted to, but the taper wasn't a was a dead stop.  There in lies the challenges managing work, multisport, and family.

We stayed at Deerhurst for the race, arrived on the Friday and were shopping at the Expo before it even officially opened.  We had great timing because Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae were getting a quick bike tune and were hanging out.  One of the best elements of triathlon is that amateurs and pros participate on the same course at the same time.  Try shooting a puck with some NHLers or throwing a football at an NFL game.  Ain't gonna happen.  BUT you can shop with the best in triathlon and try and catch them on the course!

The skies were threatening on race day and in fact it did rain.  The weather was cool, which for me is great racing weather.  The energy was as amped up as you would expect for this level / calibre of race.  We were up at 5:30, ate breakfast and downed a cup of java, ticked and tied everything in the T-zone, loaded our water bottles, and were back at our condo by 6:15 am.  We took the next hour to rest up, relax, hit the can a bunch of times, and talk about our strategies.  My goal for this race was simple - finish in style and have a great time.  I did not have time expectations given this was my first HIM and I had only done 1 Olympic prior to.

It was awesome to watch the pros kick off the race.  My wave was 6 minutes later, right behind them.  Try as hard as I may, I couldn't catch them.  I wonder why....  Anyway, I had a decent swim, though some guy grabbed my calf and pulled back withing the first 200m of the start.  A couple of kicks and my foot couldn't find his face, unfortunately.  Yes folks, he pissed me off with his deliberate grab and pull and I was looking to return the favor.  36 minutes later, I found the weeds at the swim exit and bolted up stairs to the strippers.  My buddy had great timing and filmed my exit and you can see how the strippers struggled to get my wetsuit over my ankles.  Not that the few seconds mattered, of course, because we faced a 300m UPHILL run to the T-zone.  It was steep, too.

I purposely took my time in the TZ to make sure I had everything I wanted and needed for the 94km hilly ride.  I left the arm warmers and anything comfort related, though I did put on a pair of socks.  I'm glad I did because it was spitting and cool.  In the end, I didn't need the arm warmers, though I saw plenty wearing them.

Here's my general race performance profile:  top 1/3 (AG) in the swim, bottom 1/3 on the bike, and middle 1/3 on the run.  Needless to say I was passed by MANY on the bike.  That's ok, I expected it.  I know I need to get more bike mileage in and time in the saddle this winter will hopefully help.  Being my first race of this distance, I didn't push anything on the bike as I wanted to save some juice for the run.

If you've never done the Muskoka course, the first third is hilly, with a downward profile, the middle third is rolling flats, and the last third is the butt kicker.  Well, maybe not a third, but the last 20K can definitely be described as the most challenging.  Be prepared from some seriously steep grades and a propensity to gain altitude overall.  I fuelled well and often, taking in 5 gels and 2 packs of Powerbar Gel Blasts along with about 2 bottles of fluid replacement.  I sure wasn't sweating, though, given the 13 degrees and rain.  I finished the 94KM in 3:20.  Like I said, not speedy, but I got'er done.

Thanks to the super fueling on the bike and a pitstop at the portapotty at the run start, I was feeling great.  21.1 problem.  I honestly had to tell myself to be cautious and keep things in check so I didn't burn out along the way.  The run course at Muskoka carries on the brutal reality of the tough bike course.  The hills are long and some are steep (but short).  This is anything but your typical triathlon course.

The best part of the run was down the rolling Hwy 60.  Too bad the whole course wasn't like that because I had to keep myself from running close to a 5 min km.  It felt like I was flying.  All things are relative, though because for the runners out there, a 5min km would be crawling.  For me, it's a near sprint!!

Despite the hills, I felt great through 15 kms and then my left ankle started giving me a hint it was getting pissed off at the pounding.  It didn't give up on me though and kept taking the beating long enough to carry me over the finish line 2:03 later.  I'll tell you, though, the steep and long uphill at km 19 wanted to do me in, though.  Good thing the prize wasn't too far beyond that.  I remember saying to myself that it wasn't 'fair' to put such a tough hill so close to the end.  Thanks, Lisa!

I fuelled well on the run as well, with 2.5 gels consumed and pepsi at about 5 aid stations.  There is NO better feeling than crossing that finish line with the music blaring, friends supporting, and not having walked 1 step in the 70+ miles of racing.

On the blog reading front, I've managed to keep up on Training Payne's blog and found out that one of his buddies, Doru, who writes The Iron Family blog was also at Muskoka and finished about 6 minutes ahead of me.  The guy is in my age category, too!  I'll have to work hard this off season to give him a better challenge next summer.  I joked on Training Payne's blog that it would have been nice to have met Doru at Deerhurst so we could talk about Brian and his antics!

Anyway, Muskoka 70.3 completed in 6:06.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hound time

A great way to start the day!  After yesterday's 5:12AM wake up and long training session, this morning was all about taking it easy.  The girls poured their own cereal and milk, which meant I only had to feed the cats and dogs.  It takes a bit of time as we feed the hounds raw so I had to prepare the required meat and bones.  Man, were they hungry.  I am not sure what training they did yesterday, but I couldn't get their breakfast ready fast enough.

Once everyone else was taken care of, I announced that my coffee is made and hot and I had every intention of enjoying it in front of my computer, catching up on some blogs, you tube videos and forums.  There is so much to read and never enough time to do it.  I got another kick out of Training Payne's blog and his determination to get in his century ride yesterday, despite the nasty weather.  I did say he is Kona bound, so the guy has no choice!  Get'er done!

During my relaxing coffee and reading time this morning, the dogs were bugging me to no end, whining, pacing, nosing me, etc.  You see, during the school year, they'd get walked at the same time every morning, rain or shine, on the way to the bus stop.  Since summer began, they're restless in the am, wanting to patrol their turf and leave liquid reminders to everyone else of their path.  Retired racing greyhounds are a structured bunch.  They live their life in various race kennels and are let out only 4 times per day, at the same time each day.  So, patterning is something imprinted on them from a young age.

Once I finished my coffee, I succumbed to their prodding and took them out for about 40 minutes.  Amy decided to join me and together we walked the short loop in the fresh and windy coolness.  Fall is giving us little hints it isn't too far away.

No training planned today given this is taper week.  We're hosting friends for the afternoon and overnight and have been marinating a roast since last night.  The rotisserie and cue await us later today.  Can't wait for some slow cooked barbecued roast on a spit.  The good company will be refreshing as well.  Not that we have bad company, but you know....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In the Beginning.....

I would think a first blog post should start with the topics that will generally be found within it's pages so you can decide whether you want to come back or not.  If you like greyhounds, you'll like some posts.  If you like triathlon, you'll like some posts.  If you want to read about camping, downhill skiing, travel, and a miscellaneous bucket of other things, you'll like some posts.  Most of the blog, however, will be about the journey of an average man to an Ironman and all the pain and suffering along the way.  This is really about triathlon, with everything else in an 'other' bucket.

So it begins....Let me start with some background:  6 Sprint (750m swim, 20-24km ride, 5k run) races under my belt, 1 Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km ride, 10km run) and a half Ironman (2km swim, 94km ride, 21km run) planned for next weekend.  This last one is going to be tough.  Real tough.  Not only is the course exceptionally hilly (except the swim - it's flat), but it's the longest race I will have ever done and I'm way under-prepared, having decided to do it only 6 weeks ago without any long distance riding or running behind me.  But that is the interesting thing about striving to be an Ironman.  You have to believe you can do it, no matter what.  And you have to do it, no matter what.

I've spent the last few weeks riding in the hills north of Ottawa, sucking huge wind the first several times out.  I still do, but at least I can do more than 1 'loop' (22km) in the hills.  The distance isn't the factor in the Gatineaus, it's the amount of climbing.  There are no flats.  Only uphill and downhill.  You'd think everything would even out, but for some reason I spend so much more time going uphill than down.  It has literally been a pain in the ass, and the legs for that matter.  Nevermind the fact teams of roadies and other tri bikers out there blow by me like I'm sitting still.  Honestly - I don't care.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

Today was a great training day, the last before the big race next weekend.  Sure I'll do some short flat rides next week, but my climbs and distance are done.  Today started with a 2km swim in beautiful Meech Lake, smack at 7am.  We were blessed with great weather, despite the temperature plummet and storm last night.  The mirrored lake was warm and inviting.  We were 6 in total, who headed out towards the white boathouse. While I had no technical swimming instruction prior to this past winter, I thankfully take to swimming naturally and can hold and lead pace, even with the big boys.  Too bad it is such a small component of a triathlon.  They say no race was or will ever be won in the water.  It's all about the bike and run, where you spend 5/6ths of your time on the race course, give or take.

After a great swim, we hit the bikes, stuck with the hills and did 3,600ft climbing over 65km and 2.75 some hours.  It was one helluva windy day and thanks to my borrowed 9cm deep aero wheels, I got blown all over the road.  What a treat.

We capped off the season of training with a planned BBQ.  I brought our portable cue and grilled up some awesome and hefty burgers.  After 3.5 hours of training, polishing off two of the bad boys was no trouble at all.  I'm skipping supper though as I am still not hungry!

I have to thank Training Payne for the inspiration of writing a blog, as well as the good and wacky example he sets about training life.  The man is Kona bound this year, so it's working!

I'm going to leave it at that.