Saturday, December 27, 2008

2 BZ 2 BLG

If I was a text messenger that is how I would tell you I have been just too busy as of late to blog. Preparations for the holiday season as well as trying to get things finished up for year end kept me away from spending some leisure time at the computer. On top of that, with the extreme cold we had for about two weeks, I was running inside on the treadmill. That does not make for interesting blogging. It would be something like, "stared at the wall for 50 minutes, ran 7 miles."
Having said that though, I have been keeping up with the running, swimming and cycling. I am really feeling quite good about my conditioning and mind set as I am about to embark on a little heavier training regime. After holidays I will be ready to start getting into the double digits in terms of weekly training hours. Coeur d'Alene is now less than six months away. Lots of time, but if I want to see any improvement I will need to start working on the cursed bike!
I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as we did. It was great having the kids home and just relaxing, eating, playing games and just being together.
Today the weather has broken and the wind has died down so I am hoping to venture outside. The temperature right now is 0 degrees Celsius but the wind is still a little strong. But I think I can dress for it and I don't think I can do another day on the treadmill!
Have a great day!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Deep Freeze

It is friggin' cold out!! When I put the dogs out this morning they turned into pupsicles! Right now the mercury is sitting at -30 C. I had to go out and start the truck because I need to go into Town to get someone special a birthday card.
Don't worry I already got the present! Just forgot the card.

Anyway with a great deal of reluctance the old girl (the truck) came to life and is presently warming up as I write this post. I don't like to waste fuel or add unnecessary pollutants to the air, but there is no way this truck will move without a good 20 minutes to warm up. Otherwise it will feel like I am travelling on square wheels!

So what's happening in the workout world you ask? I'm sure I heard you ask!

Actually it was another respectable week as I logged eight hours of training, in 3 rides, 5 runs and 2 swims. The running has been great, no problems with the calf after the little tweak a week ago, swimming is good, although the volume was a little low, and the biking, well....

As previously mentioned the biking is my least favourite of all the disciplines, and hence my weakest. I managed an 18 mile ride and a 20 mile ride last week, but I really need to step it up. Any advice on how to grow my love of the bike would be greatly appreciated! I have half a dozen spinerval DVDs which help somewhat, but still I just struggle on the bike.

The eight hours is a great jump off point to start picking things up after the holidays. I have been quite good about maintaining between 8 and 10 hours during the last while so my fitness has stayed relatively high.

Today I will try for a bit longer of a ride on the trainer as I am not going outside for any reason, other than the birthday card!

Have a great week!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


After a few days rest I attempted a run yesterday and it was successful. Mind you, I took it easy and ran on the treadmill, never going below 7:30 pace. Prior to the run I worked the crap out of my right calf with the trigger point massager and that seemed to do the trick. It seems whenever I get this calf problem it is almost like a really deep cramp in the muscle. So with the manipulation it really seemed to ease off and the run went without a hitch. I was able to to 6 miles in 45 minutes, and while I was feeling no ill effects I decided not to push it. Again today the leg feels fine, but I will exercise moderation again.
It looks like we are getting some of the white stuff today and over the next couple days it appears that winter is preparing to set in. We have been quite fortunate so far with no snow to speak of and really moderate temperatures. I guess the snow will help it to feel more like Christmas. We have started to put up some decorations and it will soon be time to go and find the "perfect" tree. Last year's will be hard to top, but there is always a chance that the ultimate tree is waiting out there in the woods!
Have a great day!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Plan? What Plan?

From some of the comments I have had posted, my lack of "a plan" would drive some of you crazy. It's not that I don't have a plan, I just don't see the point of starting on something so far out from the race. Anything more that 16 to 18 weeks for an IM is going to be way too long for me, because I have the attention span of a gnat. Plus there are some inherent things in these long plans, that although scientifically prove, don't sit well with me. The other interesting thing I would like to note about plans, especially in the triathlon world, is the total absence of plans with names. You won't hear of the Dave Scott 12 week plan, or Simon Whitfield plan, because they don't exist. I think this is largely due to the recognition that no one-size-fits-all plan makes sense. It has to be adapted to your schedule, goals, resources and weaknesses. All too often people embark on these ambitious plans they have read about by some Olympic racer or what not and fail to recognize that outside of the recommended workouts there is a whole other support mechanism that allows the athlete to perform. Nutritionists, physiotherapists, massagers, and a gamut of other resources are in place to allow the athlete to do 6 or 8 hours sessions. Where the rest of us poor schmucks have to work, raise kids, and work some more, all the while trying to fit in our workouts. That is why I generally take a look at a basic generic plan and make it work for me. I try and key in on the important workouts for the week and find a way to make those ones happen. I'm also not a big fan of spending a lot of time on the base training phase of any program. While I know this will make some of you gasp and say, "The audacity!!", that is my humble opinion. For God's sake it is not like I am just getting off the couch and jumping into a program to do an IM! After 30 years as an endurance athlete I am sure I have a pretty well developed aerobic system that needs minimal work to bring it up to snuff. The real work needs to be done in continued skill development and replicating race conditions as often as possible. But again that is my humble opinion and I leave it at that.
Having said all this after the holidays it will be time to cobble together a plan of sorts. As previously mentioned I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, but it will need a few shuffles since near the end of the program and close to the race, Nicholas and Nicole will be getting married and I can assure you there will be minimal opportunities for training. But that's what it is all about, finding ways to fit things in and doing the best with what you are faced with.
On vacation I only managed to finish one book, which was a biography of Neil Young, "Shakey", by Jimmy McDonough. It was a long book (over 700 pages), but was very good with lots of insight into life in the rock world. Currently I am reading the "Spiritual Brain", which is a book about whether or not there is neurological evidence of "the mind". Interesting but you know it will be slightly biased as the research is sponsored by the Templeton Institute.
Music wise, it's CHRISTMAS TIME, so I have been hauling all the old Christmas tunes over into my iTunes library!
Yesterday I swam 2,200 metres focusing on 5o metre repeats with good form. Then last night I did a brisk spin session for 40 minutes with an average RPM of 95. I am still not running due to the tight calf but after some massaging today I will decide whether or not to try.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just call me Mr.Mellow

I'm not sure whether it is last week off, or the anticipation of the Christmas Holidays, or knowing that I am going back to Mexico in a month, but man am I mellooooow! Nothing rattles me these days, absolutely nothing. The hectic rush of month end, serious personnel issues, and more labour negotiations have all just found their rightful place in my new peace and love world. And before you're wondering if I scored some Cancun Gold or mind numbing tequila I can assure you that is not the case. I just feel really good this week.
With a few more weeks before I start to buckle down for Coeur d'Alene, I would have to say I am happy with the maintenance training I have been doing. The only issue is I am running just a tad too fast and this week it finally came home to roost as I suffered a little tweak of my right calf. I knew it was coming as it surfaced while I was running on the beach (just thought I would throw that in!) It's nothing that I am really concerned with and with some rest and trigger point massaging I will be fine. Speaking of massaging I will have to share my "spa experience" I had while in Mexico in a future blog. I did manage to run Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and was able to rack up 18 miles. On Tuesday the calf started to tighten while I was running the track and after 5 miles I pulled the plug. It is starting to feel better already but another couple of days rest won't hurt it.
Monday I was also back in the pool and did a 1,700 metre ladder in 37:04. Today's swim was a 2,500 metre effort with 800 metres of warm up and drill, 3 x 500 metre main set and a 200 metre cool down. Generally speaking I am happy with the stroke and I think I have found my "happy place" in the pool. Remind me I said this in a couple of months when I am complaining of my cat like swimming.
I have also managed two workouts on the bike. Yesterday was a 50 minute, 16.5 mile effort, which was followed up today with just over an hour of high tempo spinning.
So with that I feel that things are holding together quite well and I am poised to start ramping things up in mid-January.
Have a great day!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back from Paradise

After one glorious week of rest and sunshine, I'm back and ready to fly at it again.
We had a fantastic week in Mexico at the Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda which is located in the Mayan Riviera. No phones, computers, meetings, or negotiations, just me and Angela and the beach. There is nothing to match the relaxation of an all inclusive resort. You put your money down and and never have to dig in your pocket again except for a tip now and again.

While we were there we managed to workout almost everyday. Between the great gym and spa facilities and the beach, there were lots of opportunities to run and swim. The workouts were short but very enjoyable. After six trips to Mexico I would definitely rank this as one of the best resorts we have been to and would highly recommend it.

The other bonus was coming back home and finding no snow and temperatures still on the plus side. Normally when we get back, the first challenge is to determine which lump of snow in the airport parking lot might contain our vehicle. Not this time! And then this morning when I woke up to take the dogs out at 6:30 a.m. it was already plus 3 degrees Celsius. Bonus!!

After the great rest, everything seems to have found it's proper perspective and I am ready to get back on the horse and take on the challenges at work and with my training. The other nice thing is I know that we are going back in a little over a month! My niece is getting married just 40 minutes south of where we just were, at the Bahia Principe Tulum.

Today the plan is to get out and enjoy a nice run in this beautiful fall weather. Then time to start digging out the Christmas decorations!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Call me Coach

This weekend I took the NCCP - Community Coaching course in Edmonton. The course is now actually considered level one of the competition stream which seems to make sense. All that aside, it was a great course and I learned a lot. The facilitators were excellent and had a great amount of relevant experience. We also had a great class which only helped to enhance the learning. There were pro's, elite level runners, swimmers and cyclists as well as people like myself just hungry for more knowledge about the sport. Some really good discussion and sharing of training methods, drills, and workouts. In the end I came away with some great ideas to incorporate into my own training as well as a sound foundation of coaching principles and skills. Well worth giving up a weekend and shelling out a couple hundred bucks.
The workouts last week were all pretty intense for some reason. Short but very intense, with the exception of a couple of slower runs. Tuesday I did another brick and that was a killer. Now with the treadmill and the bike trainer in the same room I am able to really do some interesting workouts. For this workout I did 10 minutes easy spinning, followed by 10 minutes at 8 mph on the mill, and repeated it four times increasing the intensity on each rep. It was a gooder!
Wednesday I was in the city to bring Francesca back after an extended long weekend. I also had some personal business to take care of so that worked out even though I didn't get any workouts in. Thursday I ran 8.5 miles in a little over an hour and followed it up with a quick 40 minutes on the bike, covering just over 12.5 miles. Friday was a swim and a hilly run after work. Saturday and Sunday were both down days due to the course in Edmonton.
Today I was back in the pool, but it was a disaster! After a weekend of listening to all kinds of great technique suggestions I promptly tried to weave them into one workout. After 1,200 metres I had myself completely confused and struggling to complete each length of the pool. That's when you know it is time to call it. So call it I did, and I will write myself up a more structured workout for Wednesday that blends in a few of the learnings from the weekend.
I ran tonight and did a nice, even paced run of 5.5 miles in just under 39 minutes. Felt really good and loose, with strong legs.
This week I will continue just mixing things up and having fun, because on Friday I am really going to have some fun. As a bit of a surprise I booked a week in the Mayan Riviera at the Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda. Yes this is in addition to our already booked trip to Cancun in January, but I really need a break from work and the price was right. So it will be one less week of winter to concern myself with which suits me just fine!
Have a great week!

Monday, November 10, 2008


This weekend I am taking my NCCP Community Coaching Clinic in Edmonton. As part of the course, the facilitator sent out a pre-work assignment to get a sense of the participants coaching background and what you expect to get out of the course. There was one other question that I found interesting which was, "Tell me why you think people participate in sports?" Simple enough question, or so it seemed, until I really thought about the phases of why we participate in sport.
If you think of the first organized sport you engaged in as a kid, you probably did it because someone else in the family participated. For most Canadian boys, hockey is the first organized sport you join and it is generally because you have an older brother, father or uncle who played and you wanted to be just like them. Once you joined you found out that you either liked it our didn't and if you liked it you wanted to get better. And as you got better you wanted to learn more about the skills and improve upon them. All the while you were having fun!
Fast forward to an adult and things change. We usually participate in sports as a means of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some of us end up not really liking what we do, but we do it to keep off weight and keep our blood pressure. However, somewhere in amongst those masses of adult athletes are the ones who find a way to have fun with it again. That is where I think I have landed again. I went through a competitive phase in my late twenties and early thirties, but that didn't last that long. After a short while I found my way back to the fun and I have been there ever since. My successes are measured much differently then when I was younger and they are usually in terms of how much fun I had. I won't lie and say every work out is the funnest thing I have ever done, but by and large I have fun. Part of it is the fact that I am pretty unstructured when it comes to my work out plans. There is a vague framework with a lot of opportunity for mixing and matching and working with how I feel on a given day.
Somehow I think I digressed from the question but I think the reason I still participate in sport is because it is fun. Others do it for the social aspects which is a great reason as well. I envy reading about people who have groups that will go out with them for runs and rides. Unfortunately I am a bit of a solitary creature, and I also live in an area where I would be able to find a group to go ATVing with a lot faster than someone to go cycling with.
My homework is complete and as long the dog doesn't eat it I should be good to go this weekend.
Monday's workout was a quick swim, 1,750 metres in 37:14 and then a brisk evening run covering 6.5 miles in 45 minutes even.
Have a great week!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Busy, busy, busy,....

Too busy to do much of anything besides work and work out!
Today I finally managed to settle down for a few minutes, grab a cup of coffee and catch up on all the blogs I follow. I had more than a week of posts to read as I just haven't had time to sit down and read.
My week was a blur as we finally delivered our 2009 Operating Plan to the corporate folks on Thursday. The frustrating thing about the whole process is that it isn't worth the paper it is printed on once it is done. Trying to predict the value of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar, and guessing the prices of pulp, natural gas and electricity is darn near impossible. But we go through the process and the innumerable revisions for the dog and pony show that is called the plan presentation. Along with the presentations go the inevitable rah rah speeches on just how we are going to achieve this plan. We are going to be the safest, most productive, lowest cost mill in the entire world, no wait, the galaxy! With our below average compensation packages we are going to recruit and retain the brightest minds and motivate them to things never before imagined. Yes, this will be the year it all comes together. At this point, the crowd roars, and everyone is whipped into a frenzy, speaking in tongues, and vibrating like the congregation at a good old bible revival.
Do I sound a little cynical? Perhaps, but this is probably one of the things I detest the most of all the things I have to do. And I am the mastermind behind it all, as I work the magic of PowerPoint to put the most mesmerizing shade of lipstick on the pig! Shame on me!
Okay...I think you get the point.
In amongst all this I managed to run 42 miles, swim 5,000 metres and go for two bike rides. I continue to maintain a holding pattern of sorts and just enjoy all of my activities. My swims were really good last week, effortless, balanced and really enjoyable. I'm not developing any speed and in all likelihood, I'm not going to, but I sure have been swimming well. So I am not going to complain if things stay this way!
The cycling was all indoors on the trainer and really nothing special to mention. I put my head down and my butt up and got the workouts done, enough said.
Now running on the other hand has been pure joy! There is no way we should be having the weather we have been having but I'll take it. Bright sunshine and moderate temperatures have made for pleasant running. A few days when I have been running at lunch I just don't want it to end! That's a good thing when you are training "free style" as usually I have a tough time when there is no real point to the workouts. But this has been a lot of fun!
Next week will be more of the same. However, plan is behind me now and all that is left is to get our contract done with the union. Next set of negotiations is in one week.
Have a great week!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Religion and Politics

I was going to write a post about the U.S. election today, but I think I had made a vow to myself to avoid religion and politics. All I will say about it then is it should be interesting!
I had a nice run yesterday, eleven miles in 1:22 over a rather hilly course. My plan had been to run ten miles, but somewhere along the line I screwed up with my mental mathematics and found myself more than a mile from home. The extra mile didn't kill me and it was faster than walking.
The weather here in Northern Alberta has been nothing short of outstanding. Normally by Halloween we have a skiff of snow and the temperatures are in the -3 to -8 Celsius range. Yesterday it was + 15 C and very sunny. The outlook is for more of the same.
I was also going to rant a little about work in today's post, but I'm not going to do that either. Needless to say it has been extremely busy as labour negotiations are hitting a critical point and our annual operating plan is in draft #863.
Last week I was supposed to go on my annual elk hunt with my buddy Dale from Spruce Grove, but I was unable to get away from work. That choked me! We go to a great little trapper's cabin in a remote area up north and it is a very relaxing time. In the time we have went we have never got anything and to be honest, that is fine with me. We both enjoying just spending time in the woods. The bonus is that we always see a ton of wildlife, deer, moose, elk, grizzly and lots of birds of prey. The camp is comfortable and we have some great meals and a few drinks and it is all good. It was just too bad that I had to miss this year as I could really do with the break.
However, today I am going to book my tickets to go to my niece's wedding in Cancun in January. My older brother, Jim will be there so I will have a training partner for a week. That should be fun as he is now hooked on triathlon and marathon running and is doing quite well at it.
I have read a couple of good books lately. Paradise Lost was a great read about the destruction of the city of Smyrna in Turkey in 1922. This city was seemingly a virtual paradise which was isolated from all the turmoil in the area at the time between the Greeks and the Turks. However after a push by the Greeks to take over all of Turkey and a subsequent push back by the Turks, this city was the site of a horrendous scene. Very interesting book to see how the various governments of the U.S., Britain, France and Italy positioned themselves and stood by while the slaughter happened.
The other book I have read recently was called Black Mass which is about politics and religion, so I can't tell you how it was.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Miscellaneous Ramblings

It's hockey season again and our beloved Edmonton Oilers were out of the gate with a perfect 4 - 0 record. We started planning the parade route, asking the Detroit Red Wings to send the cup to the engravers, and the champagne was on ice. I know it is early, but when something is as sure as this you might as well get ready. Well in the last week our record has slipped to 4 - 4 with a good chance it will be 5 - 4 after tonight. Damn it! The only cup we have a chance of winning this year is the athletic cup.
I was living vicariously through all of you who completed a fall marathon. Congratulations to all of you on great efforts. I love reading all the great reports of the triumphs and the tragedies. Running a marathon is still probably one of the most difficult things to do. While an Ironman is extremely difficult it is very different from a marathon. It's like you have three chances for success and if you get everything right, it's the trifecta! With a marathon you have one chance and one chance only to get it right on that day. So if you don't achieve your target it is sometimes very disappointing. With the triathlon there is usually one part of the race that turns out well. For example in Arizona this year, while my time over all was virtually the same as in Coeur d'Alene the previous year I swam and rode very well. My marathon was a disaster but that was due to conditions.
In a marathon when your target starts to slip away it is like a slow leak in a tire. The pace just slowly drops off and you gradually see your goal time dissipate into the air. SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS and it's gone! So again three cheers for all the fall marathoners and enjoy your recovery.
Training has been very enjoyable and there are obvious signs of progress. While my runs have been shortish (6 to 9 miles), I have been running like a dog off a leash. Everyday when I get out my legs are feeling fresh and strong. Today was a perfect example as I started off on a run not sure I even wanted to go. So I thought I would do a couple of laps of the track and if I still was not feeling motivated I would call it. Well after 5 miles I was at 32:26 and finished with 7.4 miles in 48 minutes! That has pretty much been the story all week. I have also had 2 swims of 1,700 and 2,250 metres and 2 bike rides of 17 and 12 miles. Pretty low mileage overall but I have felt just great. The trick will be to keep things on an even keel until I start training in earnest which will not be until January sometime.
Have a great day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Training Plan

It is still way too early for beginning any training in earnest for IM CDA, but I am still thinking about it. And realistically despite lots of reading and contemplating about other plans, the reality is I think I have a successful formula. That may sound a little arrogant, and I don't mean it to at all. It's just that I have developed a plan that gets me to the start line in decent shape and then what happens is largely a result of execution and conditions. There are certainly things I could do better and I could talk about how I am going to, but in truth I won't. I should cycle a whole lot more, but I won't, a few more longer runs wouldn't hurt, but I'm not going to do them and I more than likely should really do more interval work in the pool but it ain't going to happen. Nope, I am going to continue working off of the plan I have used for the last two races knowing that it works. I will be 49 years old next year and shaving a few minutes off my time at the risk of either injuring myself or not enjoying what I am doing just wouldn't be worth it. As I have mentioned on more than one occasion I am inherently lazy. For some strange reason I have been blessed with a little bit of athletic talent and a whole lot of pig headedness which has allowed me to complete pretty much anything I start.
So after looking through all my new training books, I am going to go back to my 20 week plan that I got for free off the Internet and change the dates. Why mess with success?
Have a great day!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You're so lucky!

I don’t know how many times I have heard that line said to me. It is usually in the context of when people will see me eating at all hours of the day. The comment revolves around how lucky I am that I can eat so much and not gain any weight. Newsflash!! It has nothing to do with luck and a lot to do with hard work with a sprinkling of good genetics.
It happened again the other day when I was taking my lunch out of the microwave and a co-worker noticed the generous portions of lasagna (vegetarian I might add), that I was having.
“Boy, I wish I could eat like that, you’re so lucky”, was the comment from this lady.
Well you probably could if you had just come back from a 55:30 run in which you covered over 8 miles. You see food for most of us (athletes) is fuel, pure and simple. That’s not to say that we don’t get pleasure out of eating, it’s just that most of us know how the equation works and that inputs have to equal outputs. Better fuel, better performance!
I am lucky, but as the old quote goes, the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get, aptly applies in this case.
I am still in a bit of a holding pattern as far as committing to a race of any sort, although I am in good condition for a half or something like that.
Tuesday was the above mentioned run, 8.07 miles in 55:30 on the trails. It was a beautiful day and I was running effortlessly. The trails are in great shape right now and I was running in my Newton’s which are not necessarily a good off road shoe. However the footing was great and they didn’t prove to be a factor.
Wednesday I had to jam a quick run in as I was busy with work, and then a house showing. So I jumped on the treadmill and did a quasi-progression type run and logged 6.5 miles in 44:36. Nothing fancy, just had to get something done to keep my string of good luck going!
Have a great day!

Monday, October 20, 2008

What was I thinking?!?

As I mentioned in my last post, I am starting to get a little antsy to get into a new training plan. So yesterday I thought I would do a Brick workout which I haven’t done in quite some time. Digging through my DVD Spinervals collection, I came across a Ride and Stride DVD which looked interesting. It appeared to be a reasonable one hour workout so that is what I chose.
There must have been some small print or a warning somewhere on the package that I couldn’t find because this was not for the faint of heart. After a warm up on the bike of 3 x 30 second high tempo spins it was time for the actual session.
Each set was a 10 minute variable gearing, high cadence time trial on the bike, followed by a quick transition to the run and then 5 minutes on the treadmill. The set on the treadmill started out with 1 minute at base pace (comfortable jogging), the next minute was base pace + 2 miles per hour and an incline of 3%. With each minute you increased both pace and incline by one. Starting with a base pace of 6 MPH left me finishing off at 11 MPH. By the end of the third set of this workout I was wobbling and seeing double! My legs felt like jelly but it is definitely a workout that I will do at least once every couple of weeks.
Saturday I had a nice cruise type run in perfect autumn conditions. It was cool enough that you needed some light gloves but otherwise it was sunny and no wind. I ran one of my favourite routes which is out toward the old airport and is along good gravel covered roads. Right from the start the legs were strong and I found myself really powering up the first few inclines. Once on the trails I settled down a bit and just enjoyed the great views of the river valley.
The way back was more of the same and I found myself back at the house in no time at all. As I was not paying much attention to my watch I was surprised to see I had covered 9 miles in just under 1 hour and 1 minute. I still think I need to find a race!
Today was a swimming day and I managed to get in 2,300 metres at lunch in 51 minutes. It was a good workout and I find lately I have become a little more disciplined in doing some drill work and I believe it is helping.
This evening was a quick 5 mile run in 33:54 as I had some things to do. I have noticed a distinct increase in my speed over the last little while. It is not planned, but just seems to be happening. Maybe it is just the fresh, cool fall air that has put the jump in my step.
Congratulations to all the marathoners who competed this weekend. There were some great times posted and I hope everyone enjoys a nice recovery.
Have a great day!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bloggers and Pornographers

While you would think there is a distinct difference between the two, our company has decided they rank equally. Up until recently, I used to check my blogging friends reports when I got into work at 5:00 a.m. I'd grab a cup of coffee and do a quick read through to see what everyone was up to. However, last week when I clicked on my link to one of the 6 or 7 blogs I follow, this warning comes up that it has been blocked by "WEBSENSE". So I tried another one and the same thing. Man was I pissed! Out of a work day I might spend 15 minutes of the 11 or 12 hours I put in, following the running adventures of people in different corners of the world.
So I just have to catch up in the evenings and the weekends. As for my own blogging, I just haven't had the time. Between labour negotiations, operating plans, and planning for audits it has been just too much! That being said, I have remarkedly been able to keep up a pretty good training regime, to the point where I would love to compete!
The weather has continued to remain relatively good for this time of year so I have been able to get out for some great autumn runs. The legs have been strong and while I haven't pushed the distance, I have been running some solid times. A half marathon would be just about right for me now if I could find one close by. That seems to be the problem though. There are not too many running events this time of the year in Northern Alberta.
After this prolonged period of operating without a training plan, I find myself starting to want to have something to follow. It is still way too early to start training in earnest for Coeur d'Alene, so I am going to have to find something that gives me a little more structure and purpose, but is not too intense.
Last weekend was Thanksgiving and we had a house full which was fantastic. My brother Blair and his wife Frances and son Justin, along with my brother Keith and his daughter Kate-Lynne were here for the weekend and it was great. Of course Nicholas, Francesca and Nicole were here as well. We enjoyed a couple of great meals, a few tasty beverages and lots of laughs during the time they were here.
Good luck to all the racers this weekend! Remember to be careful and above all else, have some fun!
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This week has started out good again as I continue to follow the "make it up as I go" training plan.
Sunday I got on the bike and blasted off 20 miles in 1 hour which surprised me given that I have not cycled all that much. I will try and get a few more miles in over the next little while and with cooler weather coming it will be easier to jump on the trainer.
Monday I hit the pool for a 1,800 metre workout. Nothing too spectacular other than I was feeling pretty good in the water and I am actually making sure I get at least 400 metres of drill work in.
In the evening I deferred to the treadmill and blasted off 5.1 miles in 33 minutes. I'm not really sure where that came from or why I felt a need to run that fast, but it happened. I think I got carried away playing with all the features on the treadmill and before I knew it I had the thing cranked up to 10.1 MPH! It was fun though and I suffered no ill effects and today I followed up with a nice 8 mile trail run in just over an hour. It was a blustery fall day, but I managed to duck out of the wind by sticking to the trails.
Tonight I did a real easy spin on the bike and did about 12.5 miles in 35 minutes. The legs were a little tired but I kept the gearing light and just kept spinning.
So thus far the week has went well!
Tomorrow we start the ominous task of hunting for a new house. With an offer pending on our place it is time to actually start looking at where we want to live in Town. We have narrowed down the price range so we will start there. It looks like housing prices are softening a bit so it should be a bit of a buyer's market. We have 5 to look at tomorrow night and probably at least that many again on Thursday, so we will be busy!
Have a great day!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Running for Myself

Over the past few weeks, it has been a truly liberating experience to train without a plan. It really has re-instilled in me my true love for the sports I participate in. Each work out is no longer a race against the clock or a defined length that has to be completed. At the best of times I am not that good about following a plan, but knowing I don’t even have to acknowledge that a plan exists has been great.
Plans are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I wonder if we lose sight of what it is all about. We all started our participation in this sport for some reason, be it to lose weight, stress relief, or some other valid reason. And over time, we have developed a love of the training that extends beyond the reason we originally started. With very few exceptions, despite our whining, we truly love the blood, sweat and tears that come with being an endurance athlete. We head out every day with the hopes of the perfect run or swim or ride. Today is going to be the day when it is totally effortless and the thousands of miles I have put in will finally pay off is what we hope. But rarely does it happen. And yet we still head out religiously to try again.

The great weather has probably also helped to buoy my spirits as it has been just a fabulous fall. The temperatures have been +20 Celsius almost every day. Another thing that helped me to appreciate the whole training thing was the attitude of my brother Jim after his marathon in Toronto. While it wasn't the race he hoped for there was not even a brief mention of being disappointed with the result. It was all about the highlights of the run, being around like-minded people and sharing the experience with his family. That to me, is what the competition is all about. For me it was refreshing and a great reminder of why I enjoy the sport.

With the no plan schedule the workouts have been going great. I still have a long ways to go before I start a plan for Coeur d'Alene so I have been doing a lot of middle distance efforts, 2,000 metre swims, 8 - 10 mile runs, and 15 -20 mile bike rides. Because of the great weather I have been doing a little bit of mountain biking as it is so much more fun to ride off road. This week I will finish up with about 8 hours of training which is about where I want to be.

Musically I have added a few new albums to the iPod which is now over 5,300 songs. This weeks additions include Darius Rucker, "Learn to Live". Not quite what I expected but it is quite good. He is the former lead singer of "Hootie and the Blowfish" and this is a country album. I also added "Saving Abel", which is much in the vain of Nickleback or Breaking Benjamin.

I haven't posted pictures for awhile but here are some of the fall colours we enjoyed on our last MTB ride.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Need a Holiday!

That is just how I am feeling these days!
It has been too long since I have had more than a scattered day off and I am beginning to feel it. It's not like I am worn out from training, I just feel like it has been too busy as of late. Lots of changes at work, plus we are entering labour negotiations which are never fun. This whole week was spent dealing with labour issues which are always a precursor to the actual negotiations. Everyone is looking for a rallying point so even the smallest of issues seems to end up with the Union President in my office. Tiring work to say the least. Things are only going to get worse as we will exchange agendas with the Union on Monday and commence bargaining. The bargaining process is not that bad, it is all the stuff that will happen back at the plant while the negotiations happen.
And then there is the matter of putting together our 2009 Operating Plan and Strategy. That also has to be ready for the middle of the month. Thank goodness I work with some great people who really pitch in when you need them to. I am pretty much going to have to let them run with this one and try and find some time to review things as they progress.
And finally there is the whole house sale process which is probably going to get to the offer stage next week. While we are happy to be finally selling the acreage, there is the small matter of finding another place to live. We have kind of discussed what we would like, but so far it has amounted to, it has to be smaller and it has to be in town. Now I think we actually need to start looking but Angela is afraid to because she thinks it will jinx the whole process. Jinx or not I think we need to consider looking as living in a tent in Northern Alberta during the winter is not a great option!
My haphazard training continues to go well and I am staying in fine shape. This week I actually rode the bike twice which has not been normal. The running has also been good with only minor heel and Achilles complaints. Nothing that has really slowed me but it's always there. I will probably end the week with about 40 miles which, for no real plan, is respectable. Lots of high tempo running which I guess you could say is my "m.o.". I run a lot of my miles at fairly high pace, always have, always will. Not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but I just like doing that.
Finally I managed three swims this week, with Friday's having to be cut short due to timing. Good thing is that I still went even though I knew I was only going to be able to squeeze in 1,000 metres. Under normal circumstances I would have blown it off, but it actually turned out to be very refreshing.
This weekend my brother, Jim will be running the ScotiaBank Marathon in Toronto. He has had a great training season and if conditions are right I believe he will surprise himself. I have got him (and his wife and daughter) converted to triathletes so he has done a lot of cross training and has seen a marked improvement in his over all fitness and an equal improvement in injury prevention. Other than his propensity to fall off his bike at the start, he has stayed quite healthy over the season. So good luck this weekend! Also good luck to cousin Mike in the half marathon he is doing this weekend.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Rant

My week was going pretty good, until I opened my mail the other day and there it was.....a photo radar ticket. The ticket was for $85, for doing 83 km/h in a 70 km/h zone. The evidence is there, it is my truck, and I am doing the above noted speed. However, there is no context to the whole thing. Here I am a mere 100 metres from entering a 100 km/h zone in an isolated area on the outskirts of town. The whole area from the last set of lights heading out of Town should be 100 km/h but failing that you would think that common sense would prevail. Stop selling me this whole photo radar as a public safety thing and call it what it out and out tax grab! Just where these people set up (they are not police officers) is wholly designed to fleece John Q. Public. The set up on the edge of speed zones where people are either speeding up or slowing down and hope to nab you. It is despicable! If I had gotten stopped by a police officer and received the same ticket I don't think I would have felt nearly as annoyed. At least I would have had a chance to explain myself and he would have had the opportunity to lecture me on the evils of travelling over the speed limit. I'm good with that! It's this faceless, gutless way of reaching into my wallet that sends me over the edge. When I see the photo radar vehicles set up I almost become irrational. I want to flip them the bird, moon them, anything just to show my disgust.
Okay, I have taken my Valium and I am starting to calm back down. On to training matters!
The week thus far has been quite productive again with 4 runs in for a total of about 25 miles all at a reasonable pace and one that I would consider a bit of a hill workout. I have also had 2 good swims, 2250 metres and 2,000 metres today. I have found my stroke again so time in the pool is rather enjoyable again. Monday I swam a 400 metre warm up followed by 28 x 50 metre repeats with 16 on 1:10 and 12 on 1:05 followed by a relaxing cool down. I wouldn't say my intervals were particularly fast, but they felt smooth and I really don't think my pace varied much throughout the entire set. Today's workout had more core work and some longer intervals but again I was swimming well.
Yesterday I had to do a ride on the trainer which was okay, but I only managed 45 minutes of variable gearing work. Time to get a little busier on the bike as I have really not rode much this summer at all.
Not much else happening. Looks like we are going to get an offer on the house which will be exciting. Then we can start figuring out where we are going to go.
Have a great week!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coming back to earth

After my super sonic run on Thursday, everything was back to normal yesterday. And apparently the Garmin recovered as well since it seemed to produce believable statistics.
The weather was just wonderful again with nice warm temperatures, but a distinct crispness to the air. There is nothing like running in the autumn and it brings me back to my high school days and running cross country. The smells and colours seem to trigger something in my brain to make me want to run faster. Yesterday was no exception as I covered the 6.5 miles in an average of 6:49 / mile with a nice even effort. I never once felt I was pushing the pace, just enjoyed the run. I would have went longer but I was also dreaming about a nice cold beer on the deck and the lure of that was like a tractor beam pulling me home. And it was worth coming home for to!
This week has been a hodge-podge of workouts really aimed at just having some fun. Sometimes we get so caught up in the plans and the numbers that we forget to experience the joy that comes from the activities we partake in. Right now that is where my head is at, just getting back to having some good old fashioned fun. My swims were great examples of that as I ignored my plan from, and roughed out something I felt like doing. It was great and my two swims this week were 2,300 and 2,400 metres in distance and really enjoyable. In addition I felt really good in the water and not over thinking every movement.
My runs were all in the 6 - 8 mile range with Wednesday being a day off. Again I have just been focusing on running relaxed and taking in the beauty of the season. Normally September is a rainy month for us, but not so this year. How much longer the weather will hold out, I don't know but I am sure going to enjoy it while I can.
I only rode the bike once this week, but what a ride. Angela and I took the mountain bikes out on Tuesday and headed into the back country. The colours were spectacular and more than once we wished we had the camera. The highlight of the ride was as we were about to ride through this huge horse pasture, Angela noticed a huge bull elk about 70 yards up the road. He had a magnificent set of antlers and just stood there for us to watch him. Then he gave a little whistle and started sauntering up the road. At that point we started to head up to the point where he was standing and another large bull came out of the woods! Oddly enough they had no interest in us and showed no signs of aggressiveness. They are entering the rut now and are going to be very territorial.
So that was the week that was!
On the reading front I am working through a great book on Hunter S. Thompson called, Gonzo. It is actually a series of quotes and memories from his many friends. While this may seem like it might end up being disconnected it actually is very well done and reads quite well.
I am also reading a book about the history of the area I live in called the Coal Branch. A little tougher read in that the author is not really that good a writer, but the information about the area is embedded in the poor writing which is really what I am after.
Musically the last two additions have been the new Metallica album "Death Magnetic" which, if you like Metallica is good, and the definitive collection of Stevie Wonder.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shattering Records

It was a sunny day and not a whisper of wind. After a long debate with myself, I decided that I would head out for an easy run to shake off the frustrations of the work day. The beautiful day was also too nice to waste as they will be few and far between as the leaves begin to fall and autumn turns to winter. Although I was determined to go, I still was extremely slow as I went through my pre-run preparations. A drink of water, some half-hearted stretches, a cookie, a few more stretches and out the door I go.

I'm certainly not expecting too much out of this run, and have low expectations, five or maybe six miles. Little did I know what was going to happen!

Off I go and head south onto the rural road towards town. Surprisingly I feel quite good with no aches or pains and within a couple of minutes I have settled in to a comfortable pace. Following the road along I cross highway 40 and hit a dirt road going into the old airport. First mile in about 7:25 which is about right for the way I feel. Staying on the dirt road I run mindlessly along covering another 2.10 miles in just over 14:40. I am still feeling really good but I'm not going to push it and decide to turn around to make the return trip which would make an even 10K.

The way back starts routinely enough until I check my Garmin and notice that after running about 3 minutes I have now lost miles. I am at 2.4 miles which I know is wrong from the countless times I have run this route. Oh well, perhaps it will correct itself. I carry on feeling that I am maintaining a decent pace and try and forget about the distance and pace. Shortly after it beeps again indicating a mile and I am thinking, "Great it is probably adjusting itself." And sure enough it had and everything is good again.

Next mile 1:53.....what the heck......beep, beep, two miles in 0:57. Everything is a blur, my skin is stretched tight on my face, my legs must be moving so fast that I can't even tell they are moving. The beeping is coming every ten seconds now and sometimes they are consecutive indicating that I am covering miles in NO TIME. Time and space have stood still, I have defied laws of physics, Usain Bolt runs like a little girl. By the time the beeping stops I have "covered" 33.89 miles in 41 minutes. This is amazing, I have broken every running record know to man, I have experienced the speed of light, I have probably worn out my shoes, I have........A BROKEN GARMIN!

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We have lift off!

This is the view from the "cockpit" of my new treadmill. I do sort of feel like Mr. Sulu at the controls of the Starship Enterprise when I get on it. Lots of cool dials and one touch gizmo's. The incline or speed can be adjusted by an arrow key to give you 1/2% increments of incline and .10 MPH increments of speed. There are also one touch buttons which allow you to increase by full miles per hour and degrees. Strangely though both of them are 12 step programs? Seems to me they may have picked up on the addictive nature of running.

Anyway the beast is now in the house and set up. I took it for a test run yesterday and it was very nice with the fans blowing on me, my iPod hooked up to the control panel and the variable degree cushioning adjusted for a nice comfortable run. I ripped off a quick 6 in 41 minutes as I was feeling pretty good and also had limited time to do my run. It is nice to have the machine again as it is going to start getting dark after work soon and it is nice to have it as an option. Also this weekend we had two days where there was frost when I got up.

Today I managed to get out for another easy 8 miler. Nothing special other than it was a beautiful day with temperatures around 21 degrees celcius and brilliant sunshine. The frost has kissed the leaves and they are starting to turn yellow and orange so all in all it was a spectacular day to be out running. The back roads were very quiet and I just cruised along enjoying the scenery.

I have started a bit of a marathon plan now but I have no idea which marathon I will actually run. More than anything I just need a plan to follow so I just picked a date and entered it into the ONTRI website so it will generate a training plan for me. So I will loosely follow that and if everything works out I will try and get into something later in the fall once my dance card is cleared.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Preparing for winter

This week I am preparing for winter, and that means getting the workout room ready. Now I am certain that after I shuffle everything around into this reclaimed space, our house will sell, but I am still going forward with it.
I have my bike set up on the trainer in the den, so I have decided that is where the new treadmill will go. Now this new treadmill is something else. If you will recall my old one gave up the ghost not too long ago so we had to get a new one. This will be the fourth one I have owned and virtually everyone of them was plum wore out when it packed it in. You see living in Canada a treadmill is not a luxury item for the serious endurance athlete, it is a necessity. Between the eight months of winter and the four months of poor sledding there are a lot of opportunities to benefit from using the equipment. Anyway, back to the new 'mill. This mother is huge! It is a Nordic Track E3000 and the control panel on it looks like it came from the USS Enterprise. It has a couple of fans, the iPod plugs in to it, along with just about every other electronic device I own. However the problem now becomes getting the beast into the house. It will take three strong men and a hairy ass midget to get this sucker where I want it. I have a plan but I will need some help to execute it along with two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood.
I have also purchased some nice cushioned flooring for everything to sit on and to spare the hardwood floor from sweat and spilled sports drinks. All in all I think it is going to be a great set up, just short lived as I am sure once I plug the treadmill in, the house will sell!
When I left you on Saturday I was planning on heading out for my first double digit run in awhile. Well it happened, except there was a decimal point between the two digits! I thought I had prepared myself well with a good breakfast, and a then a bottle of Gatorade and a Power Bar before heading out. But after only 1.5 miles I started to get a little light headed and had to stop. At that point I was heading onto the trails and thought I better at least stick to the highway. But even after the rest I still was unable to get going again so the run ended with a miserable 3.3 miles.
Sunday I was off to the city so that was a scratch day.
Monday I had a great swim at lunch and logged 1,900 metres. The workout consisted of a 400 metre warm up, 400 metres of drills, 10 x 100 metre intervals with 5 on 2:10 and 5 on 2:00 and 100 metre cool down. It was a struggle to stay on the 2:00 clock as I was getting tired but I gave it a good try.
In the evening I was back on the bike for a high cadence technique workout and managed an hour and covered 17.5 miles with an average cadence of 98 RPM.
Tuesday I ran at lunch on the Town trails. The weather was perfect, about 15 degrees Celsius and a little bit of sun. The trails were nice and soft and I covered the 9 mile route in 1:04. I felt great the whole time and really enjoyed myself out there.
I also signed up for a Community Coaching Clinic in Calgary this November. It is sort of an introductory coaching clinic for triathlon so I am going to test the waters. It's a two day course and then you are certified. It is also an introductory to the National Coaching Program so if I like it I will start down that path.
Have a great day!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cranking it up a notch

After a few weeks of light workouts and just kind of keeping in the game, this week I felt the energy return. There are still a few aches and pains, but heck that is probably just an age thing so I can suck that up. But this week I felt a renewed sense of energy and the desire to actually start working a little harder in some of my workouts.
The swim has been particularly good this week. Not so much from a speed perspective, and I'm not sure that is something I will ever have to worry about, but from a comfort and enjoyment standpoint. I looked forward to my swim and with the help of some books and websites I have freshened up my workouts and made them a bit more challenging. I managed to get in three swims in the holiday shortened week and after each one I felt I had actually accomplished something in the pool. The main thing will be to not rush things as it will be a long time before any competition so I can really take my time at this. That being said, I also have to watch that my inclination to procrastinate doesn't take over and I get to the week before the event and have not swam more than 2,000 metres in a workout. I'm going to figure out how I prevent that from happening next week.
I also managed to get on the bike twice so far this week. It has been awhile since I rode and I just wasn't feeling it, but I managed to get in two decent technique spin sessions and I felt pretty good about it. Funny thing about the bike is I sometimes think that I get a better workout from a run so I will substitute run for bike. But fact is when I am on the bike my legs are generally burning, I am sweating like a whore in church, and I have one lung hanging out my nose. I think that qualifies for a substantial workout!
Finally on the run front I have slowly been easing back up the ladder of mileage and will hopefully do my first double digit run in awhile this weekend. The Achilles are still an issue but nothing massage and stretching won't heal. So far this week I have done about 30 miles in total in four sessions. One more run today will finish up the week. Tomorrow will be a day off since I am going into the city to bring Francesca all the things she forgot as well as the things she has since conned me to buy her (Elliptical machine, new desk and chair,...)
Work wise I am settling in with the new boss, but things are extremely busy as I deal with the on going items and help to get him up to speed.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Moving Day

Yesterday was moving day as we brought Francesca back for year 3 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. It is hard to believe that this is her third year already, but it is indeed. This year's move was a little more complicated as she was not going back into residence. Instead she is in a house with four other girls. So we had to bring beds and dressers and all the other requirements for setting up housekeeping. We certainly looked like the Beverly Hillbillies when we headed out yesterday morning as we were loaded for bear! That being said it went really well and we had her all set up by 4:00 PM and then we were off for a quick dinner and on the road home by 7:00 PM. We got home at 10:00 PM and then had to "break in" to the house as our house sitter locked all the doors and we only had keys for the deadbolts. By 10:15 I had managed to get in and I was probably asleep by 10:30 as we were exhausted by then.
I have been keeping fairly busy with working out and getting lots of low key sessions in. Right now I am collecting information for devising my new plan and bought 4 more books on the weekend. Once I get through them I will pass along a little review on each of them.
Today I swam a leisurely 2,000 metres at lunch and followed it up with a 4.5 mile run this evening. That would sort of be the way I have been lately with lots of medium distance efforts just to maintain conditioning.
Have a great day!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Bachelor

This week I have been "baching" it, with Angela and Francesca spending the week in Florida. As these things often do, it started off great. No rush to get my workouts done after work, play my guitar at full volume, play my old blues stuff without being chastised, and all the other things that come with having the house to yourself. However, by the end of the evening on day one, after jumping on the bed and eating ice cream, it had already started to wear thin. By day two I was rattling around the house and holding long conversations with both dogs and the cat. After day three I pretty much had the house spotless and packed up a lot of Francesca's stuff in preparation for her move back to school on Monday. The rest of the week has been more of the same. I can't wait for them to come back today!! I am off to the city later this morning to pick them up at 2:00 p.m. From all accounts they have had a great time in Orlando, despite their fears the Hurricane Fay was going to disrupt their plans. Weather has been fine, with only high humidity to deal with an occasional thunder shower.
On the workout front I continue to take it easy and let whatever happens happen. No structure to what I am doing at all and it is great! The only issue has been my swimming which continues to puzzle me. On Monday when I got in the pool it went as poorly as I can ever recall. My head was all over the place like a Barry Bonds bobble head doll, and I just couldn't get balanced in the water. I was churning up the water like a Mississippi River Boat and my time for 100 metres was just below 2:00 minutes. A couple of weeks ago I was flirting with 1:45 and now this! It was a sad, sad day. Children looked away, old men cried, and the lifeguards just stared and shook their heads forlornly. Well it wasn't that bad, but it sure felt that way.
Wednesday things were better as I spent a good 15 minutes doing some of the basic TI drills and after that I had a good workout.
On the running front I have be staying in around the 7 - 8 mile range and not pushing the pace too much. With nothing in my immediate future there is no sense beating up my body.
The air has definitely changed this week and there is no doubt that autumn is here. The temperatures are still quite comfortable, but the air feels different. The running this time of year is just the best and for those of you who suffer high humidity, you would absolutely love it. It is also a great time of year for riding the mountain bike, which I am going to start doing a little more often.
Have a great long weekend!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Change in Plans

My decision to change plans is somewhat ironic since I don't have a plan, but still I am changing my plan. For all intents and purposes my season is done for this year. The Achilles continue to be a bother and I just haven't been feeling it lately to get into any decent training. Originally I was going to shoot for a fall marathon, but since I already have achieved my goal this year, I don't think I need to stress myself to do another one.
The bigger and more important reason why nothing is slated though, is that I am essentially on standby for a very important mission. That's right, I need to be ready to drop everything in the next two months and be ready to take myself out of commission for about 4 days solid and at least two weeks of recovery. You see I have been selected by Canadian Blood services as a potential match as a donor for either bone marrow or stem cells! This is an extremely exciting development that came out of the blue last week. I have been registered as a potential donor since 2005 when my nephew, Kristopher required a stem cell donor. Fortunately for us, his sister was a perfect match and the treatment has been successful. So knowing first hand what the experience is like from the patient's side makes me very excited that I could possibly be able to help someone.
I have already passed the pre-screening which happened last week. That consisted of a very personal interview with someone from Canadian Blood Services. Fortunately for me I have never taken drugs or money for sex as that would have disqualified me.
The next phase consists of some extensive blood work and a complete physical exam. Once that has been done they will know how good a match I am for the patient. They look for six markers when determining a match and only start the process if the donor is 3 for 6.
The whole process will take a maximum of two months and if I am successful the last stage would be going to Edmonton for 4 days for the actual procedure. It it is bone marrow treatment I would be on the shelf for about two weeks while the stem cell treatment would have me out of commission for a few days prior to the procedure and probably a couple after. Pretty exciting and I am very hopeful that I can participate and give someone a chance. I certainly know how they must be feeling as we went through the same process with my nephew.
So my training will be for fun for the next little while. Can't get started training for IM CDA as it is just too far away. This is probably a good chance to work on swimming and cycling technique as they can always use some work.
This week I am on my own as Angela and Francesca left on Friday for a week long, girls only, vacation in Florida. With Hurricane Fay dragging herself through the state the weather is not all that great, but they will still have a great time. Then when Francesca gets back it is time to pack her up and take her back to the University of Alberta for year three! Wow that is hard to believe. Number one is also heading off to school today. Nicholas is off to Red Deer for his second term for his Heavy Duty Mechanic License. So, it's just me, the two dogs and the cat for the next week.
Have a great day!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A New Week

Thank goodness last week is behind me! I think everyone has moved on from the shock of our boss being dismissed and started preparing for the change. It's kind of funny, but over the last two years we have made some dramatic changes to our operation and have continually preached that our employees need to accept and embrace change. Now when we are faced with a significant change it is not all that easy to accept. And realistically in the big scheme of things the change we have to deal with is minor compared to what some of our people suffered. Somewhat ironic I would say!
The other nice thing is there is no one in my office area at all this week! It is a veritable ghost town, and that is quite alright by me. I am enjoying collecting my thoughts and re-organizing myself for the arrival of our new manager who will be here on Wednesday. The great thing is I know the guy quite well and I am sure that I can work with him. If not, well.....the bus goes east and west last time I checked.
On the workout front I was also happy that it was a new week. Nothing to stellar to report from the previous week so it is time to focus on an event and get training. I think it is going to have to be an October marathon so I will tentatively start getting prepared for that.
Today I swam 1,800 metres at lunch. A warm up, couple sets of drills and 6 x 200 metre repeats focusing on stroke count and good form.
My run this evening was planned for 40 minutes and I ended up with 1 minute extra and 5.75 miles. The legs were good and I could have went further but I got a little sketched out when I came upon fresh bear scat. It didn't help that one of my co-workers was mauled by a grizzly this weekend! He was on a hike near his parents cottage about 40 kilometres from town and he didn't return at his expected time. His folks went out and found him and luckily he was alive. They air lifted him off to Edmonton where he is expected to recover. Still scares the bejesus out of you for a few days.
It is that time of year when the bush is a whole lot more active. You could hear the elk bugling on the weekend and the does and bucks are starting to hang out together. It wouldn't be long and autumn will be fully upon us, and I am fine with that as it is my favourite time of year to run. Nice moderate temperatures, bright skies and beautiful colours make for very enjoyable running.
Have a great day!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fast = Rest

That was the theme of Friday's workouts! The interval work I did in the pool was all based on going harder to get more rest.
After a 200 metre warm up, and then 400 metres of drills (I am doing them again!), I started a 12 x 100 metre interval session. The goal time was 1:45 with a descending start time. The first three were to be done on 2:15, the next three on 2:10, then 2:05 and finally 2:00. It was a killer workout and I pretty much was able to stay in and around the 1:45. Just to make it a little tougher I did the odd sets using a pull buoy. The workout finished up with an easy 200 metres of swimming, but I was pretty much cooked. Interval work in the pool is a little more challenging than a run or bike workout as when you get tired there are not many options. While sinking to the bottom of the pool is an option, it is probably the least preferred.
The evening run on Friday had a similar tone to it. It wasn't an interval workout per se, it did have an option to it. The temperature was over 30 degrees celcius so I gave myself the option of 30:00 or 4 miles which ever came first. I chose to stay on the roads and loaded up with some sports drink and water prior to heading out. The result of the run was I covered the 4 miles in just over 27 minutes. It was a tough one as I really didn't do a warm up but just dove head long into some up tempo running.
The running book I have been reading and re-reading challenges just about every belief runner's everywhere hold near and dear to them. A Comprehensive Approach to Injury-Free Running has different opinions on everything from shoes, to stretching, to the value of a warm up, and injury treatment. All of it is backed up with pretty sound logic and evidential research. I am now on my third read of the book, this time with a highlighter as I prepare it for my wife to read. She is not much for the scientific stuff but is interested in what I have been sharing with her so far so she just wants to hit high spots.
Yesterday's run was in the heat again, and with no event planned, 7 miles was enough. My Achilles were bothering me a bit again as was the fact that my feet were heating up.
Today I have to get my sorry ass on the bike. It has been a week since I have went for a ride and it is time.
Have a great day!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bit of a break

Last week I took a wee bit of a break. Just feeling a little dragged out and basically took the weekend off. It was kind of forced, however as I had a disagreement with a toilet tank, not once, but twice and ended up with a really nice black eye. Being an athlete has it's hazards, and one of them is low blood pressure. On Saturday morning when I got up I was feeling a little faint and ended up cracking my head on the toilet tank and splitting my brow open. I followed that up with another face plant in just about the same spot and split my eye open some more exactly where the first cut was. And to finish, a full back flop onto the floor!

So I had a tiny headache for a good part of the weekend and deferred from any working out.
This week I am feeling fine and back at it. I have been in the pool for a couple of swims and out for a 5 mile and a 6 mile run. Legs have been heavy, but it has also been quite warm which never helps.
Work has been very busy and we underwent some major change this week as my boss left the company. A few longer days as we plan the next few weeks until someone new comes in. There is also an added concern as it is difficult getting adjusted to someone new after you have worked for the same boss for almost 9 years. But I am an adaptable critter and I will do just fine.
On the workout side I am starting to think about just taking the rest of the summer off from competition and look towards a 1/2 and a full marathon in the fall. By then it will be time to start hunkering down for Coeur d'Alene. I have already been looking at some training plans and figuring out how I can adapt them to incorporate some of the Run Smart principles for training. The book has been very helpful and as previously mentioned does largely support a lot of my beliefs around effective and efficient training. I really like how the author helps to put training into perspective with the rest of your life to maintain a healthy balance. So I am confident I can come up with something that will help me meet my goals without burning me out.
Have a great week!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hot Footing it

The last couple of days have actually been like a real summer. Temperatures have soared into the high 20's which is not conducive to good running for me. My internal thermostat just doesn't function very well in the heat. When I read about the folks who train in Texas, Arizona, Florida and the like, I can't imagine what it is like to face heat and humidity for weeks on end. We have had two days of heat (no humidity) and I am ready for a return to cooler temperatures.
When I ran yesterday I found my feet got too hot and then I just faded like a pair of jeans from Costco. No energy whatsoever! My 7.5 mile run got shortened to an even 6 as I was really not having fun. Today I passed on the run and rode the bike for an easy 22 miles in 1 hour and 5 minutes. The legs were fine today and I was really pushing it on the hills.
On the swimming front I was in the pool on Wednesday for 1,850 metres. Lately I have been reading lots and watching videos on I am getting lots of good ideas on drills and other things I need to do to improve my swimming. As well I did some 100's just to see what was up and I am still clocking 1:45 / 1:48 per 100, so I am capable of decent times. I just need to see why I fall apart in the open water swims. My wetsuit is still the prime suspect but I'm not quite ready to shell out $600 and swim the same times!
The pool is a virtual ghost town these days with me being the only person there on most days. It's great when you get in a still pool and the only waves made are from you. You can really focus on a "quiet" stroke in these conditions with no one else creating waves.
On the reading front I have just completed a great book by Greg Mortenson called Three Cups of Tea. It is about a mountain climber, who after failing an attempt on K2 in northern Pakistan begins building schools in the poorest of the villages. It is a great story and inspiring to see that it is possible for one person to make a profound change. It also presents a different slant on Muslims and the Islam religion which is much more positive than we are accustomed to seeing.
Music wise the iPod surpassed the 5,000 song mark this week! Getting some air time lately is the 4 cd Allman Brothers Dreams box set, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Boxed Set, and Taj Mahal.
As you can see I am still in blues / guitar heroes mode.
Still no decision on any upcoming events so I will continue to train aimlessly which is just fine by me.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Holiday Monday

I guess I will classify the last couple of days as continuing recovery although I don't really feel like I need to recover. My workouts continue to be low intensity efforts while I contemplate my next move. Another tri or a marathon, that is the question.
Monday was a holiday and for a change I actually didn't go into work. It was nice as I enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee from the Tassimo. Man I love that thing! Perfect, hot coffee everytime.
Then Angela decided she would go into the office for the morning and I thought for a moment about going and then made another cup of coffee and got my book. It was glorious.
After reading for a half hour or so I started on a few little projects around the house.
First up was building a frame for a piece of screen I am using to clean up some black earth I have. With scrap lumber from the crate that carried my new treadmill I built a frame to hold the screen over top of my wheel barrow. Not being much of a handyman this little project went off with relatively few hitches or curses.
Next project, pressure wash the house. Sounds simple enough. Plug in the pressure washer, hook up the hose and spray down the house. Not so. Apparently the pressure is strong enough to knock things off the house and break plastic dryer vents and shower vents. See previous paragraph about handyman skills. Oh well, I feel like taking a trip into town anyway to check out Canadian Tire. Twenty two bucks later I have dryer vents and bathroom fan vent covers to make the repairs. One fits perfectly, the other does not and it was the largest size they had. But hold it, if I cut a few pieces off it will actually fit inside the old one. Slightly smaller, but will do the job I'm sure. And it does! Now back to pressure washing the house, albeit with greater respect for the power that it has.
Angela came home from work only to see the completed projects, and none of the repaired damage!
My run for the day was a random route which covered 8.5 miles in one hour. The map produced by the Garmin looked like I got lost or was drunk. I would find a loop that covered .15 miles and do it a couple of times then I would run down a road a little ways turn back and then go back again. It was quite obvious I was just marking time.
Today's run was a short 40 minute run covering 5.7 miles. Most of it was on the trails which was nice since it was warmer than usual today.
By the end of the week I hope to have settled on an event to prepare for. I am also feeling like I need to mix my program up a bit so I will toy with a few ideas to "freshen" it up.
Have a great day!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lazy Summer Days

It has been a nice quiet long weekend. We had no plans to do anything and have just relaxed around the ranch and completed a few chores. The weather has been okay, but not great. There are just enough threatening clouds to make you want to stick around home and not wander too far.
Last night our realtor called and asked if we could be ready for a showing this morning at 10:00 AM. With Francesca off camping for the holiday weekend, this is a doable task as we don't have to worry about rousting her early and trying to get her out of the bathroom in less than an hour. So we agreed and put the place in "show" condition within a couple of hours. Then it was off to town to kill some time while the realtor did his thing.
By the time we got home, my enthusiasm for a long bike ride had waned and I decided on the trainer. As mentioned earlier the weather couldn't quite seem to decide what it wanted to do, and I don't like getting wet on the bike, so the trainer it was.
Today's ride was just over an hour and a touch over 22 miles according to the cycle computer. My legs have been heavy all week and I haven't had much endurance on the bike. Up until today all my rides this week had been less than an hour.
However my running legs have been somewhat better and I cruised through an easy 10 miler yesterday. With no training plan to follow my workouts last week were haphazard at best. I managed to get in 3 swims, 3 bike rides and 5 runs so it was still a solid week over all.
But I am finished with recovery now and I want to get back to following a plan so that is my mission next week! I have been toying with the idea of getting some on-line coaching for Coeur d'Alene. I think I need someone to push me to cycle more and I am not sure I can do it alone. The runner inside of me will always run when given the choice and fears losing conditioning by cycling too much. I know that is not true, but I have been a runner for all my life and only been at this triathlon thing for a few years, so I still have this inherent fear. Maybe somebody pushing me would help. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I haven't put any pictures up in awhile so here is one of my in-laws with their grand kids. The two big ones are mine!

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What to do?

Sylvan Lake was a target race for this summer so now that it is behind me I still feel like I should do at least one more. My mission will be to try and find something in the month of August in either Alberta or BC. The Alberta Challenge is an option but I want to check out a few others before I commit.
This summer has been relatively quiet for us. No vacation to speak of as we are still running so short staffed at work. Last week we lost our other Human Resources person, a very talented young lady, and now there is just me as Manager and our recruiting person. We are still short on the accounting side as well so I am back to doing month ends which I haven't had to do for a lot of years! Perhaps in the fall Angela and I will get away to somewhere warm, Mexico is always nice in November.
We have also been busy with working around the house as we prepare it for sale. Living on an acreage is great, but it is a lot of work. Currently we are working on a potential house swap with people in the Town of Hinton. With any luck it will work out as it would be the ideal situation for us.
Before long it will be time to bring Francesca back to school for her 3rd year at the University of Alberta. It is almost impossible to believe that she is already that far along! This year will be an exciting year as she is moving into a house with 4 very good friends (at least now they are!). We are very proud of her as she really works her butt off at school and has done very well. Nicholas will also be heading off at the end of August for his second year of schooling for his Heavy Duty Mechanic Trade. I am still amazed that this is what he is doing because he got absolutely no mechanical aptitude from his father! His grandfather and uncles are highly mechanical so that must have rubbed off on him. Being a licensed trade person in the Province of Alberta right now is a hot ticket and Nicholas has also made us proud with his hard work and by achieving the highest marks in his first term last year. Again, I can't take credit for the smart trait both kids seem to have and that will have to be attributed to their mother.
Heading into work this morning there was already a tinge of crispness in the air and, at 5:15 AM, it is darker already then it was a week ago. It is inevitable that we are on the downhill side of summer in the Rockies. And that's okay, because I love the fall. It reminds me of high school and running cross country and playing soccer. My best running has always been in the fall so I have that to look forward to.
Recovery workouts commenced this week and so far it has went good.
Sunday - 10 mile Mountain Bike Ride
Monday - OFF
Tuesday - 40:00 / 12.4 mile ride on the trainer - legs felt like lead
Wednesday - 37:00 swim / 1,700 metres - worked on some drills. Evening was an easy 7 miler in 52:00 - legs felt great and I could easily have went longer

It feels strange when I log my workouts and there is no plan. It looks so bare!

On the music front, I had a blast last Sunday as Nicholas brought out his guitar and we had a great little jam session. The really neat thing is he likes the same music I do so we can really have some fun. He is an incredible guitar player and can play some wicked blues licks! I am a good rhythm guy, but I can handle myself when he challenges me.

Recently read books include, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. If you haven't read this book you need to. It will put things in perspective for sure! Randy just passed away July 25 after a 10 month battle with pancreatic cancer. This book is about how to live your life to the fullest.
I also read When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris. This is some light reading by a very funny guy. It is a series of essays about life in general and is hilarious.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Post Race Ponderings

After a couple of days to think over the Sylvan Lake experience, I am still generally satisfied with my overall performance. Poring over some of the Garmin data provided some tidbits of information which indicated some intensity lapses on the bike as well as lengthy stays in transition. While there is no accurate measurement of my T1 and T2, I would estimate that I spent at least 3 minutes in T1 and possibly more in T2. I guess having a shave and blow drying my hair (I know, I know, What hair?) are luxuries I will have to live without in my next race.; )
My run splits were quite good with some slowing near the end but for the most part I stayed quite even paced. The profile of the course was also interesting as it shows a lot of hills, more than I thought!
The swim is still a puzzle to me. As mentioned in my race report, I felt really good out there, probably the best I ever have in the swim portion. But my time just didn’t support what I thought I did. Some of the key points were, my sighting was bang on, I did not have to resort to breast stroke at any point, and I battled through a few tough spots to keep my position. In the end though it wasn’t enough as I came up at least 2 minutes slower and 4 minutes off what I thought I was capable of. In training I had been swimming some very good 100’s with times in the 1:45 to 1:48 range on a consistent basis. One theory I have considered is that my wet suit is too restrictive and I am shortening my stroke and expending a lot of effort just moving my arms. I bought this suit in 2004 and while I have not gained a pound I have thickened up through my shoulders. Perhaps I am grasping at straws but it is something to consider.
The bike was okay as I averaged around 18.1 MPH. There were some periods of time where I did lose focus and my cadence slipped. I also think I could have pushed some bigger gears at times, but I am admittedly lazy on the bike.
After a couple of days off and a few easy recovery workouts I will start to plot my next assault on one more race. The Alberta Challenge at the end of August looks like the only real option so I will begin to formulate a plan for that one.
Have a great day!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sylvan Lake Half Iron Man Race Report

For those who prefer not to read an in-depth race report, here is the Executive Summary.
Race: Sylvan Lake Half Iron Man, Sylvan Lake Alberta
Date: Saturday, July 26th, 2008 8:00 AM
# of Individual Participants : 272
Overall Placing: 54
Overall Male: 44 / 176
Age Group 45 - 49: 8 / 24
Swim (1.9 Kms) 42:38 159/272
Bike (90 Kms) 3:02:03 113/272
Run (21 Kms) 1:37:03 7/272
Total Time 5:21:42.5

Those are the hard cold facts of the race that I was not particularly looking forward to. After a couple of weeks of struggling with sore Achilles I was really not sure what would happen, but as you can see, they turned out to be a non-issue! Further evidence that this is not an over use injury.
I went down to Sylvan on Friday morning and after a non-eventful drive, arrived at the race headquarters around 2:30 PM. It was relatively quiet, so I was able to register and pick up my package in a matter of minutes. Downtown was just hopping as it was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 30 degree Celsius range. Sylvan Lake is a beach town and the population probably doubles in the summer time. After a quick walk around I decided to head over to Red Deer to check into the hotel. Since Sylvan Lake is so busy there were no rooms to be had so I had to stay in Red Deer which was about 20 minutes away.
The evening was pretty quiet and I just organized my stuff in preparation for the morning. For my pre-race meal I had some sushi and a salad. This has become my new pre-race favourite as it digests easily, is loaded with good stuff and leaves you feeling full, but not stuffed. After some stretching and a couple of bottles of water I turned in around 9:30 PM.
Race Day
I was up at 4:30 AM and quickly got packed and headed over to Sylvan. On route I chugged down a bottle of Gatorade and snarfed a cinnamon raisin bagel. Over all I was feeling pretty good and the massaging of the Achilles had left it feeling better than it had been. My big decision for the day was what shoes was I going to run in, the Newtons or Sauconys. I debated that for the whole drive and finally decided that it was a race so I should wear my racing shoes, so Newtons it was going to be.
Once at the race site I got myself set up in transition and did all the pre-race checks. From a weather perspective it was looking like it was going to be a perfect day. Temperatures were expected to be around 25 degrees Celsius with no precipitation. They were however expecting some wind which would impact the bike.
The swim starts off the end of the pier and is a deep water start. At exactly 8:00 AM the race begins and I have found myself in a great spot to swim. I am feeling really good and seem to be in a group of about four swimmers that are at just about perfect pace for drafting. Unfortunately as I was to find out at the end it was a slow group! However, right off the bat I settled in and was really feeling like I had a good swim going. With the swim, there is really no way to measure your effort other than by how you feel. You can't really wear a watch and it is difficult to see where you are in relation to the field. However at the first turn I felt like I had a good swim going. I was staying close to the marking buoys and wasn't having to make any major course corrections which is usually a problem for me. The last hundred yards or so is in weeds and is very shallow. The temptation is to stand and run but you have a long ways to go and it is not necessarily a good idea, so I kept swimming until I hit the bottom with my hand. As I staggered to my feet I was stunned to see the clock at 41:50. Damn it! I want a recount, I swam better than that!
Off to transition for the bike, still a little pissed at how my swim had went. Oh well on to the bike. The bike course had more hills than I recall from last year. And the first 40 kms is on really rough roads. I had to stop a couple of times to fasten things back on as the rumble strips and generally poor road conditions were shaking the crap out of my bike. However I was still riding relatively smoothly and seemed to be averaging around 35 - 37 Kms per hour. If only I can keep this up! At the 35 km mark the first of the many long climbs began, and to make matters worse this is where the head winds started! In spite of that my legs felt really good and I seemed to be settled in and holding my own. After this long hill there was a series of hills one after another and after about the third one I was starting to feel it. On top of that we were riding through some agriculture land that had just been freshly fertilized! It was enough to gag a maggot! This went on for at least 5 miles. The amazing thing to me was the number of people who were set up in these areas to watch the race. They had their lawn chairs and umbrellas plunked right in the stink zone. There was a reason these spots were not occupied!
At last I could see the lake and we were into the Town of Sylvan Lake. From here it was almost all down hill so it gave me a good chance to stretch out the legs and get prepared for the run. Surprisingly my lower back was not stiff and from what I could tell my legs seemed good. The last mile into transition is a no-pass zone and riders have to stay in single file. The lane we are on is between the main street and the beach and people are going back and forth all the time. The marshalls try and manage it but you have to be very aware. Knowing that all a 7 year old sees is a beach and some water, you have to be ready to jump on the binders at anytime. And I came within an inch of plowing into some little kid as he ran by the marshall and headed for the lake. I hit the brakes and just about ended up in a heap!
Once in transition I quickly got into my shoes and wrestled with a bottle of Ice Cold, I had to put on my Achilles. Of course I had bought it brand new and hadn't checked to see if I could open it, and I couldn't! So I just headed out onto the course. I was fully expecting to hobble for at least 500 metres but I felt great! No pain from the Achilles and my legs felt the best they ever have in making the bike/run transition. This was a pleasant surprise and before you know it I was up to cruising speed.
Now if there is an event to be good at, I think I will take the run every time. Passing scores of people is a very satisfying feeling at this point in the race and I really enjoyed it. The course is nice with lots of shelter along the way and few decent hills. It also has about a 2 Km trail section which is easy on the legs, but you really have to watch out for the roots protruding out of the ground. There was not a moment along the way that I felt uncomfortable at all. My legs felt strong from start to finish and I only had a little bit of burning in my left heel at the end.
So while it was not my fastest time I was still pleased with my results. As usual there was a lot of talk after the race that the swim course was longer than 1.9 Km and that the bike course was also off by about 2 Km, but I hear that at most races. I need to work harder on my biking as that is where my time is. The next training cycle I will try and put some greater emphasis on it.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Race Plan?

Given how I have been feeling lately, I have adopted a new plan for my race on Saturday in Sylvan Lake. It is basically called "the balls to the walls" strategy and will have me attempt to go hard in the first two events and hang on for the run. Since the run is normally my best event, and since I am expecting problems with it, I will go out and see if I can blast through the swim and the bike.
Looking over my training log since May I am, as usual a little light on the cycling side as far as miles go. However, there has been steady improvement in my power output and cadence so I think I continue to get stronger on the bike. Generally I am fairly conservative on the bike, not wanting to trash my legs and have nothing left for the run. But on Saturday I am going to abandon that strategy for something more aggressive and let the chips fall where they may. I was hoping the Achilles thing would have run it's course by now, but it hasn't. Unfortunately the problem is not totally related to my training regime, and I just have to wait for the current cycle of issues to subside. It's just too bad that it came along at this time as I was really thinking that the Sylvan Lake race could be a good one for me. It still can be a good experience for me as I will test myself on the disciplines in which I am not as strong.
After a few swims where I was struggling with technique, this week it has all come back to me. Yesterday's swim was a very smooth 2,200 metres where I think I realized what I was doing that I wasn't doing before. My body rotation was much better and I wasn't swimming so flat. My predilection for the swim buoy more than likely contributes to swimming flatter so I will have to watch myself with using it as a swim aid in the future.
In the evening I did a quick 17 miles on the bike in 50 minutes. Legs felt a little heavy after the ride and my Achilles were very tight. And therein lies my concern, the ability to transition and get to a good running stride after the bike. It's going to hurt like heck and I am just hoping the once things get stretched out that it settles down and I can run.
So there is the plan as it sits right now. Now I just have to have the courage to actually do it on Saturday as I am usually ultra conservative.
Have a great day!