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!