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.