Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This ain't no bull........ is actually a cow elk. As a matter of fact it is a whole herd of elk! I believe a group of cow elk together is called a harem, but I could be wrong (not likely though!) These ladies were just across the road from our place in a horse pasture. Actually there are horses mixed in amongst them and everyone seems to be getting along famously. This herd migrates on a regular basis from along the ridge on the river, cross the highway to this pasture and then they head up towards an old landing strip. From there they catch the ridge on the other side of the river and hang out in the pines back there. I have gotten startled a few times running the trails when they have come crashing out of the woods. That will definitely get your heart rate up!
Today was a long distance swim at lunch - 2,500 metres in 54:35. The first 1,500 including my warmup was done as a bit of a time trial, and I was 31:30 which I am quite satisfied with. The rest of the swim was mixed strokes and a few lengths with the pull buoy. Generally a rather satisfying swim.The evening was going to be a bit longer run, but after 55:35 at high tempo, I was bagged and called it a run. Managed to log 8.34 miles, so I was running pretty consistently around 9 mph. The running is going well, and I will continue to increase my one long run per week until I hit around 15 - 18 miles.
Weather today was still chilly, but it did warm up to -23 C at lunch time. Tomorrow it looks like this finally breaks and heads east.
Currently I am reading East of the Sun by Benson Bobrick. It is a history of Siberia. Quite interesting, just tough trying to read all the Russian names.
On the iPod, I just added Susan Tedeschi - Greatest Hits Volume 2.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Not Again!

No this is not a repeat of yesterday's picture! It looks like we are going to get a taste of good, old fashioned, Alberta winter!
The truck let out a mournful moan when I turned the key, but it did come to life. This type of weather is so hard on your vehicle.
Another nasty day, with the mercury not expected to get much beyond -29 C.
After a foggy ride into Town, I surveyed the damage from burst pipes in the HR Office. Looks like we will be moving these people out of here as we are not going to fix this anytime soon. After settling down into my office, I got a call from our Materials Superintendent to let me know that pipes had burst in the mill store room and we were figuring out how to isolate that. Finally got a chance to get to my mail and review the previous day's production figures and I received another call from our Fibre Superintendent. Fire water pipes burst in the Chip Thickness Screening gallery and we were starting to have to ramp back the digester and mill production. Man, it's not even 7:30 a.m.! What else could go wrong?!?
There goes my cell phone and it is my daughter-in-law to be. They have no water in their house.
Well that answers my question! Fortunately I packed my big winter boots in the truck, I grabbed my coveralls that I wear once a year for shutdown, and head over to their house to see what is up. Nothing broken but there is no hot water. So under the house I go and start setting up some heaters and putting some heat tracing tape on the hot water line. I uncover part of the area by the hot water tank and start thawing the line with a hair dryer right at the tee. Soon I hear water running and we have partial success. Water is running in the main bathroom and the ensuite. After another couple hours we have water running in pretty much all the house, but it is time to get back to work.
I am pretty much frozen from being under the house all this time, but I know I have some nice soup for lunch so that brightens my spirits. However, I am going to have to blow off my run at lunch. No big deal, I can probably make it up, but even if I don't I am not too worried.
So that is what a day is like when the temperature dips to the -35 C or better range. Pretty exciting isn't it!
The evening workout was a high tempo bike effort - 1 hour 32 minutes - 32.4 miles all in the big chain ring. Right at the threshold for the whole ride.
I am quite excited about tomorrow as the temperature is going up to -19 C! I may run in shorts!
Have a great day!

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's Freezin' out!

This was the temperature at 5:30 a.m. and it is not expected to get much warmer today. In fact, the next few days pretty much look like this as well. I've already started the truck, but I know the whole ride to town will feel like it has square wheels. It's brutal out!! The radio is saying it is -39 C.

There is not even a remote chance that I will brave the outdoors in these temperatures for my runs. Once there was a time when I would don the layers and head out, but not now. It just doesn't make sense when I can do a quality workout inside on the treadmill. No slipping and sliding, eye lashes freezing together, or frozen extremities. However, I have done all that, sometimes out of necessity, and other times just to prove I could.
This week the hours will increase again to about 12. I kind of follow a plan, but I really adjust it to my particular needs and recognizing the fact that life happens along the way. My plan is more of a guideline and I don't get too stressed if I miss a workout. One of my big principles around training is not to turn it into a job. I already have one! This is supposed to be fun and when it stops being fun then I need to re-think what I am doing. Also a lot of these the plans that people buy into are not practical for people with lives. Once you have a base level of fitness, the training up to an event is to ready yourself for the particular stresses of that race. My main objective is to get to the starting line on race day feeling healthy and ready to enjoy the day.
The training for IM AZ so far has been exactly as I hoped. Fun, and a bit challenging.
Today I did a 1,900 metre swim at lunch. It was not one of my best swim workouts as I really kind of just did what I felt like. No particular structure other than I warmed up and cooled down and sandwiched some random sets in between. However, it was fun! I remember reading an article by Dr. George Sheehan one time that talked about how, as we get older and we start taking ourselves too seriously, we forget how to have fun. One of the principles he espoused was to find your "inner child" and learn how to play again. He used this in an article discussing ways to do speed work. Dr.Sheehan proposed that you could get a lot more from a speed work out by just letting yourself play and experience the joy of running fast. Me thinks Dr.Sheehan was a very wise man!
Tonight I did a 7.3 mile run on the treadmill as the temperature managed to nudge up to -32 C. No way this cat was hitting the roads. Anyway the run was quick 50 minutes and was on fresh legs. I had really good form tonight and experienced that nice feeling when you seem to settle right down in your hips and just go. No effort or wasted effort, just relaxed and flowing. Unfortunately those days are not as common as one would like.
Tomorrow we are in for another cold one so I expect to be inside again. But that is okay and I am just happy that I have the equipment to be able to do that.
Have a great day!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Good Weekend

It has been a nice, relaxing weekend.
After a hectic week at work, it was nice to chill and get some good quality workouts in.
The weather has taken a turn for the colder with today being a bright, but frigid -20 C. Good thing that today was a long bike ride on the trainer. I'm not very good about heading out in the cold anymore.
The ride today was just over 2 hours with a lot of focus on endurance. Pushing some bigger gears on the bike as well as some higher resistance on the trainer. I ended up with just over 32 miles, but more importantly is the time. Quite frankly, I was not feeling fatigued at all, and this follows a relatively hard effort yesterday. I did 13.5 miles in 1 hour 40 minutes and some odd seconds. Never really felt like I was pushing it at all. Just strong and smooth.
The weekend runs will get longer, to probably just over 2 hours. And of course the rides will as well.
I will be taking a little break in February when we take a quick week of vacation in Florida. I should be able to keep up some running, but I am not too worried about the lost time. The week of rest will be very beneficial at about that time.
Hope every one else had a great weekend!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another week in the books

Today is the final day of the workout week for me and so far it has been pretty successful. The schedule called for 11 hours and 45 minutes and I am at 9 hours and 41 minutes prior to today's workouts. My inclination today would be to sit right by this baby, but I am going to have get out and do some training.

Thursday I ran 1 hour at lunch time and covered 8.5 miles. Started out on the trails but the conditions were too nasty so I had to circle back and get on the roads. There was a bit of a breeze blowing, but all in all it was a decent run.
The evening session was 1 hour and 30 minutes on the bike. Variable gearing workout with a nice steady pace. My new trainer has been great except I haven't been able to get the heart rate monitor on it to work. Apparently you just use your Garmin or other strap and it picks up the signal, but so far nothing. I also tried one I had for my Timex heart rate monitor and still nothing. Maybe I'm dead. Anyway I would like to get that working. My heart rate on the bike is considerably lower even at hard efforts, probably 10 to 15 beats lower than a similar running effort.
Friday was like doing an Olympic distance triathlon, I swam 2,100 metres, biked 24 miles and ran about 4.2 miles. A little short on the run but a fair bit longer on the swim. The bike / run was done as a brick to work on that transition. Your legs rebel after a long ride and it takes awhile to convince them to run. Especially in Iron man after 112 miles on the bike and then you beg your legs to take you for a 26.2 mile run! Surprisingly though, after about 500 metres or so, everything settles out and, if you have trained, they will complete the task.
I haven't looked ahead to see what is in store for next week, but I can be sure that it will be more of the same.

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Bucket List....

No this is not about the movie, it is about the different buckets I used to clean up this mess!

When we got home from work last night a quick look at the temperature gauge on my boiler indicated a problem. And sure enough when I went down to the crawl space this is what I found. The initial assessment is that I had a catastrophic failure in my air exchanger, but we will leave the final diagnosis to my wealthy plumber.

So my workout last night was scooping, mopping and vacuuming. Thankfully this is an unfinished crawl space but I still had some treasures stored down there which got wet. Oh well, it is cleaned up now and should be fixed by the end of the day. Fortunately I could isolate it and still operate the boiler and heating system so we didn't freeze last night.

Now I will have to squeeze a couple of workouts in over the last couple of days to make my week. I did manage an hour long swim at lunch yesterday. I did 2,400 metres. The workout was 400 m warm up

400 m drills

28 x 50 m intervals

200 m cool down

The intervals were two sets of 14 with the first 4 working on breathing on my weak side (left), 4 steady bi-lateral breathing, and 6 build intervals, start slow and finish fast.

There are two big efforts left in this week, one long run and a long bike.

I was having a little bit of trouble with this Achilles again, but I had stopped using my massager. Once I used it again the tightness and dull ache went away. That thing is magic!

It is called a Trigger Point massager and is one of the best gadgets I have ever owned. It is the only thing that works when I get inflammation in my soleus. Check it out!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Out of the Gates Quickly!

So far it has been a good start to this week from a training perspective.
As previously mentioned I did a good 20 mile ride on Sunday. Good pace and I really am starting to feel like my cycling is getting stronger.
Monday, I did a 3,000 metre swim at lunch. It was a steady effort broken up as follows:
400 m – easy swim
500 m – drills, focus on glide, and rotation
1,600 m ladder – 100, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100 with 10-15 sec rest between each swim
500 m – cool down, mixed strokes and pull buoy
The swim was a bit of a struggle as I really had to concentrate on every phase of my stroke. In general, I felt a little bit sloppy in the water. But I managed to work through it and finish the work out. Total time was 1 hour 10 minutes.
The evening was a 50 minute bike ride which focused on maintaining a high cadence through a range of gears and trainer resistance. I found a whole bunch of workouts on the Tacx website which give you the gearing, cadence, trainer resistance, duration and comments for my specific trainer, the Flow. They have them for all types of workouts, sprints, hills, recovery rides, etc. These will make a great supplement to my other training videos to help minimize the boredom and familiarity.
Once through the bike workout, it was on to the treadmill for a quick 31:00 run (4.5 miles), just to get the legs used to the transition from bike to run. The run went quickly as I was watching a DVD my son had bought me for my birthday. It is Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007. There are some pretty amazing sets on it!
So that is a pretty good start to the week. Looks like the weather today will support an evening run so I will try and get out of work at a decent time to get that done.
Have a great day!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Spoke too soon......

It was probably about a week or so ago that I was crowing about the fact that we have had little or no snow. Well that has all changed within the last 72 hours. The snow has returned and it looks like we are in for more according to the long range forecast. I'm glad I booked that week in Florida next month!
The weekend was relatively quiet. Our daughter Francesca was home for some relaxation after a very trying and emotional week for her. The time was well needed and she headed back for the city yesterday afternoon feeling much better. We spent some nice family time with her and her brother Nicholas and his fiance Nicole. They came out for dinner on Saturday night and we enjoyed a raclette meal along with a great cheese and chocolate fondue. Everything is healthy in the fondue until you bathe it in cheese or chocolate.
Training last week went well, but I overshot my target by about two hours. I have to make sure I get my rest days in there, as there is no progress without rest. As I mentioned earlier you have to do all the activities of your training at the right intensity, the hard days hard, the easy days easy, and you have to rest hard! Despite coming up long on the hours I was short on my biking time. That is not surprising as it is my least favourite event, but I need to make sure I do the time in the saddle.

Saturday, was a good solid tempo run 10.2 miles in 1:08 for an average 6:42 / mile. Heart rate stayed up around 151 bpm the whole time.

Sunday I was on the bike for an easy 20 miler. The legs felt great even after the aggressive run the previous day. Cadence averaged 92 RPM and average speed was 18.2 mph.

This week the focus is on the bike so I need to get geared up for that (no pun intended!).

Better bundle up as it looks like it is going to be a chilly one today.

Have a great day!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Small Town Living

Here is where I work..........
and there is where I swim!
Not bad isn't it. This walk takes me all of 3 minutes.
Such are some of the joys of small town living.
Hinton, Alberta is located 70 km east of the resort town of Jasper and 270 km west of the city of Edmonton. It has a population of about 10,000 and all the conveniences you need. The largest employer is the pulp and lumber mill where I work.
It is a beautiful community, nestled up against the Canadian Rockies and offers all of the best of outdoor activities. Skiing, golf, mountain biking, hiking, hunting, fishing, you name it. If it is done outdoors, this is probably the place to do it!
I have lived in small communities all my life and I really do enjoy the pace, the people, and the convenience. This little example of the distance between my work and the pool is one of many. Right behind the complex is a network of groomed trails for running and biking that can take you for miles in either direction. In addition we also have the benefit of being able to be at West Edmonton Mall in roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes on a great 4 lane highway. And every once in awhile I can get into the city to watch my Oilers! Having a tough season this year, but we will be back!
So for those of you unfamiliar with life in a smaller community, that is what it is like. It certainly can be a great way to live.
Now that I have tried to sell you on that, perhaps I should fill you in on the workouts today.
Workout #1 was a 2,500 metre continuous swim at lunchtime. That effort took 53:00 minutes and I felt pretty good. My shoulders are feeling it a little bit right now, but generally I held good form and my pace was fairly even. That does it for the swimming workouts this week.
Workout #2 was a 6 mile run on the treadmill in 42:00. Again it was a pretty steady effort and was a bit of a recovery from yesterday and not too hard for tomorrow's planned longer run.
I am a little bit ahead of myself this week as the plan called for 8 hours and 20 minutes and with one day to go, I'm sitting at 9 hours and 6 minutes. I am not exhibiting any ill effects so I will stay on course for the run tomorrow.
Next week's plan is for 11 hours and 30 minutes with the cycling being the focus.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I had a great day!

Today was one of those days where you just feel good. And in all honesty, there was really nothing that spectacular about today. My run was average, my bike ride was a ho-hum spin / recovery ride, and work was fine. I had my annual review at the bank and we have determined that I can retire in 2070 and my mortgage will be paid off the year after that! Pretty much just another normal, average type day. But maybe that is what I appreciated about the whole thing was that it was so normal. Sometimes I think we take normal for granted and we want so much more. We want excitement and excellence in everything we do and forget to just take it all in and really enjoy normalcy. Perhaps it is some other events that have gone on in the last few days that have made me think this way, but it really did impact me today. Sorry about getting all philosophical on you, but sometimes that is going to happen as I write my little training stories.
At lunch time the snow was coming down in big, white, fluffy flakes. The temperature was -1 C and overcast. By the time I hit the roads it had already accumulated to about 5 cm, but the footing was still decent. I ran up the road through the middle of town to the first logging road that heads south. The first two miles has a steady climb of about 300 feet. Once I got to the top of the road I branched off onto the trails. They were snow covered and no one had been on them as of yet, but it looked so nice that I thought I would have to take that route. It was absolutely fantastic back there as the snow had covered everything and it was unbelievably quiet. All I could hear was the muffled sound of my shoes on the snow and the beat of my heart. I followed the trail west through to the back of Maxwell Lake and then turned south and headed up Happy Creek Trail. Happy Creek apparently got it's name from some early settlers who had a still up in the bush on this little creek. When ever someone would come around they would dispose of the evidence into the creek and hence the name. I don't know how true that is, but it makes for a great story! Once on this trail I followed if for another half a mile or so and then turned around. I was stumbling a little bit (like I had drank out of Happy Creek), because of the many roots that the snow had now hidden, so I decided to get back on the main trail.
The way back was much faster as my old friend gravity showed up and we ran together down the hills. Final total was 8 miles in 1:00:49 with an average HR 128 and max of 139 bpm. Really great run all in all.
Tonight I did an easy spin on the bike, 50:10, 14.1 miles.
Yesterday was a short, hard day in the pool. I did 1,800 metres in 40:30 which consisted of 800 metres of warm up and drills, followed by 18 x 50 metre intervals with 10 seconds rest. The work out finished up with a 100 metres of easy breast stroke.
So far this week I am a little bit ahead of where I am supposed to be. Tomorrow calls for another relatively easy day and then Saturday is supposed to be the first of some longer runs.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Into every life a little snow must fall

Well as you can see from the picture, we finally got some snow. This dump came all in the matter of about one hour, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday night. I guess it cleans things up a bit, but I was fine with no snow.
It has made for some slippery conditions but it has started to melt already.
Monday's workout was a 2,300 metre swim in a very crowded pool. I guess the upside was that I pushed the pace pretty hard the whole time, which is highly unusual for me. The evening was a short 35:00 minute run on the treadmill as the snow was really coming down at that point. Ended up with 5 miles even.
Yesterday I ran at lunch as I try and get back on my regular schedule. It was -10 C and sunny at 11:45 when I headed out. I ran up the big hill out of the valley and stayed on the road all the way up to the Cache Percotte Forest Road. The footing wasn't bad but that is a nasty, long hill. Ran a total of 6.2 miles, 45:05, average HR of 130 with a max of 141. Good run for that route.
Last night was a 1:30 ride on the bike. With this new trainer I am able to adjust the resistance and that has slowed me down, but I am getting a more realistic ride. I was riding to the Tucson Gate's Pass DVD which is an aerobic / tempo ride. The legs felt it after that!
The Achilles is much better as I have been really working it over with my Trigger Point massager. That thing really works! I just have to remember to do it a couple of times a day.
Have a great day!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Should I go or should I stay?

Title of the song made famous by the Clash and pretty much summed up how I was feeling about today's workout.

Got up early and had a couple of blueberry scones with jam and washed them down with some coffee. Swallowed down a handful of vitamins, supplements and the daily 80 mg of aspirin with a large glass of juice and started to think about what I was going to do. It looked a little windy so I decided on another cup of coffee and read a little bit out of the latest issue of Mental_floss. Still debating on what today's workout would look like. The schedule called for an hour long run focusing on technique. Maybe I will drive into town and run the town trails for something different to do? That sounds like a plan, but I should check my e-mail first. Finished that, but I really need to see if there is anything new on iTunes. Checked out the new album by Lifehouse and decided that I should buy it. Okay, okay, you get the idea I was really procrastinating this morning.

Finally, at shortly after 10:00 a.m., I decided to head out the door and see where the wind took me. The first mile was a little tough as the old Achilles was trying to convince me to turn tail and go home. Got through that and then I decided I would head north on highway 40 to do some hill work. Normally during the week I would not go on this road as it is crazy busy with traffic going to and from the oil patch. This morning traffic looks light and I know I will get in a good hill work out if I go this direction. The Achilles had settled down and I just put the head down and started climbing. The sun was coming up and it was actually getting quite warm. I was also feeling pretty smart because I could definitely feel that the wind was behind me and pushing me up the hill. After climbing for 3.5 miles I took a side logging road and went down a ways but found it too slippery so I headed back down the hill. The descent was nice even though the wind was in my face. Gravity is a wonderful thing! After a few more little side trips I was on the last stretch home and passed my naybours that you can kind of make out in this picture.

Ended up with 10.5 miles in 1:16:29, average pace of 7:17 / mile and heart rate of 137 bpm.

This week's schedule calls for fewer hours, around 8 1/2 but there are some higher intensity workouts included.

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thirteen weeks to go!

While that may sound like a long ways to go, it really isn't. Factoring in that the last week will be minimal with travel and the like, two weeks will be tapering, and I am taking a week's vacation in February, we are soon at 9 weeks. Still, I am feeling pretty good about where I am in my training regime. The last two weeks have been 10+ hour weeks despite a hectic schedule.

Training has never been a problem for me. It is what I love to do. I'm amazed at the number of people who can get ready for an event and then not do anything again until they decide to do something else. I describe myself as being in a constant state of "preparedness" (is that a word?). At anytime in my training I know I am capable of doing at least a 1/2 Iron man and a decent half marathon. To go up to the big boy events (iron man and marathon), I need a little more time, but not much.

Overall my training also reflects the reality of what I can do and when I can do it. My swims have to be done according to the pool schedule which does change from time to time. Further to that is I like to go at lunchtime. Generally it is not that busy and I can get at least a 2,000 metre workout in. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are usually the days I target for swimming. Trying to get back into town at night for the 9:00 p.m. lane swims are a bit of a challenge. At the end of the day, doing between 6,000 - 8,000 metres a week will get me in shape to do the 2.4 mile swim in Iron man. I also accept that I am a middle of the packer in the swim and that it would take a lot to improve that. The additional investment in training time could, at best, yield a 5 to 10 minute improvement. There are far greater gains to be had on the bike and run. So the swim is what it is.

Of the three disciplines, running is of course my favourite and given the choice I will always choose the run over the other two. However, I can also leave the bigger running weeks until later on in the schedule. Even when I am focusing on a marathon my training weeks are not likely to exceed 50 miles per week. Quality over quantity! My long runs are usually 18 miles at most and I will only do 1 or 2 of them prior to the race. Running lots of long slow runs teaches you to run long and slow. In a marathon after the 20 mile mark, we all are on the same footing. The human body is pretty much maxed out at 20 miles and the last 6 you dig deep and put one foot in front of the other. It is probably the most mental part of the race. So that is my opinion on training for marathon races. Less is more, quality over quantity, train hard and rest hard!

The cycling is finally starting to grow on me and it has taken awhile. Equipment makes a big difference. Having the right tool for the right job is what it boils down to. A triathlon bike that is properly fitted for you is no different than a good fitting running shoe. You can't perform your best if you are not as comfortable as you can be. I am feeling that this year will see more improvements on the bike. Last year was the first with the new bike and it was definitely a breakthrough year.

So there you have my misguided opinions on training and the like!

Yesterday's workouts consisted of another 2,400 metres in the pool. Starting to try and push the pace a little and my balance and stroke feel pretty good. After being at the pool yesterday I know where Greenpeace is saving the whales!

Last night was my first run outside for the week. A nice run on the trails and the numbers came in at 1:06:01, 8.66 miles, average heart rate of 137 bpm. Nothing too spectacular but the views were! Here is a shot to west. The mountain on the left is Roche Miette, also known locally as Pocahontas. If you click on the picture to make it larger it looks like a woman's face. The chin is the upright rock face and then it appears that she is lying down with her hair flowing.

To round out this week, I will finish up with a medium distance bike ride. Still have some fiddling around to do with the trainer as I am not sure how the HRM works.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Getting into the "Flow"

Well, it is all together and I finally got to give the new trainer a whirl last night. I think I am really going to like this new gadget although it took awhile to figure out what it was telling me. Also took a few false starts to get the brake calibrated, but now everything seems to be working fine. With all the fiddling around I managed a 48 minute ride or just over 13 miles. Then it was off for a quick 30 minute run to stretch out the legs. These new orthodics are working wonderfully. They are not custom made, but off the shelf from an orthodics store and have eliminated the pain instantly. This weekend I am hoping I will be able to get a long run in and see how that works.

Yesterday also included a 2,400 metre swim. Pool was packed! I have a new strategy this year. When my lane fills up beyond three and we have to do the pattern swimming I push the pace and so far people seem to get tired of me constantly on their heels and they leave. Cruel but effective! It's also good for me as I am essentially a lazy swimmer and will fall into what ever pace is presented.

So for a week that looked like it was going to be hard to make the 10 hours and 20 minutes on the schedule I am just about at 7 hours with two days in the week left. By the way, Wednesday's workout was a 50 minute recovery run on the treadmill. Logged about 7 miles and listened to my new Andy McKee CD.

I have included some pictures of the new trainer as well as a picture of my competition bike. This bike doesn't get put on the trainer and only has about 600 miles on it. I won't ride this until Arizona unless we have an unseasonably warm spring, which is not likely.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Scramblin' to get the workouts in

Yesterday I had a plan to get my workouts in, but as you know the best laid plans of men and mice.....
Originally, I was going to do a 50 minute run at lunchtime and then an easy spin on the bike after work. But my meeting with the Town went until 1:30 p.m., (was supposed to end at 11:30)and I had to be ready for a conference call at 2:00 p.m. so there went that plan. It is amazing how much people love to hear themselves talk and say nothing! Especially when you are in a room full of political wannabees and pseudo government employees (our Forestry guys). It takes these guys ten minutes to clear their throats before they even start!
Anyway the 50 minute run got blown off but I already know where I can slot it in later in the week. Plan B then became a 1 hour and 20 minute hard effort on the bike as soon as I got home from work. All big chain ring, pushing big gears and try to maintain a steady cadence. Ended up with 31 miles and maintained an 84 cadence. Still felt like I had some gas in the tank so I laced up and jumped on the treadmill for 4.4 miles in 30 minutes with some inclines thrown in every 3 minutes for a minute to break things up.
So for a plan that tanked, I still ended up with a good workout. My legs are feeling it a little bit this morning so today will be a recovery day. Easy swim at lunch and a nice slow run tonight.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Some assembly required....

Yes, I am referring to the new Tacx flow wind trainer I bought. Thank goodness for pictures and websites as I did finally manage to get the thing together. I still have to set up the computer part, but the technical things are more to my liking. I'm an accountant, not an engineer!

Anyway I am hoping that tonight I will get to take it for a test ride.

The workout yesterday was a 2,150 metre swim, which consisted of 250 metre warm up, 250 metre with the pull buoy, and then a ladder set of 100, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100 metre swims with 15 seconds rest between each. Followed up with a short cool down of 50 metres. Probably not enough but I was pressed for time. Plus the pool still has a few "resolutioners", so I was anxious to get out as quickly as possible.

The evening session was a 40 km bike ride at relatively high intensity. Time was just over 1 hour and 10 minutes. Strangely I am beginning to like the bike a little more than I used to. I am having no trouble knocking off these hour training rides where before I was looking for any excuse possible to get off after 40 minutes or so. This is a good sign as I really need to get some major saddle time if I expect to improve this season.

Recently I have been going through the archives to try and piece to together all the marathons I have ran. It is starting to come together, but there are still a few holes. I know I have an old training log somewhere that had a lot of the race times logged in there. Interesting numbers in some of the ones I did find. In 1990 I ran the Voyageur Marathon in Massey, Ontario. My time at the half was 1:19 and I finished in 2:52. I remember that one vividly as I was focusing on the tops of a guy's socks ahead of me. At the half he did a bit of a stutter step when he picked up his water and I lost focus for a split second. From there it was all down hill and I remember walking and running to make it in from 18 miles on. What's that? The older I get the better I used to be...

Have a great day!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Recovery Day

Sunday was a well deserved recovery day after a solid week of 10 hours and 45 minutes of activity. The body definitely needed it as my Achilles was pretty tender after my run on Saturday. Hopefully the new orthodics I picked up in the city yesterday will help alleviate the problem.

Saturday's workout was a one hour recovery run. I managed to cover 8.1 miles in the alloted time but really struggled after about the first 3 miles as the Achilles flared up and really made running with any flow difficult. However, the weather was really nice and I did a random route of roads and trails. The rest of the day was spent watching the World Junior Hockey game and then we went to Nicholas' house for a delicious dinner which he and Nicole prepared for us.

Yesterday it was time to return our girl back to school. It never gets easier to bring her back, but we have to be thankful for the great holiday we had together. So we packed up the truck and travelled the 280 kms to Edmonton to return her to residence. While there I met up with Tom from the triathlon shop I deal, with WayPastFast. He delivered me my new bike trainer as the old one has seen better days. I bought a TacX Flow, which has a motorized brake and computer to monitor heart rate, cadence, power output, speed, etc. Power output was the major new element I wanted as it is really the true measure of what you are doing on the bike.

After that it was quick trip to West Edmonton Mall, the grocery store to replenish the shelves for Francesca and then we dropped her off and were on our way home. When we got home I thought I would assemble my new toy and go for a test spin. But after opening the box, looking at the parts and the instructions, I decided it was best left for another day. The instructions look like the ones you get when you buy something from Ikea, a pile of materials are shown on the floor and then the next diagram shows the two people displaying the completed item like Vanna White off of Wheel of Fortune. We'll give it a whirl again tonight when I am in a better frame of mind.

Today's workout is a 2,000 metre swim and a 45 minute tempo ride. Shouldn't be a problem to get that in, but the rest of the week will be a challenge as it is going to be busy. Year end numbers need to be published, we have meetings with the Town, and I have a review of an area of our operations with a potential contractor. Somehow I will have to get some meaningful workouts squeezed in amongst all that.

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Trainers and Treadmills

Yesterday was a day of solid indoor work. Such is the life of a triathlete in Northern Alberta training for an April event! Having said that I must admit that in some respects I do like the clinical nature of doing a brick indoors. The steady whirrr of the trainer reminds me to keep my pedal stroke smooth and steady. Head down, no worries about cars, potholes, dogs (Jim), the edge of the road, (Jim again), just man and machine. Of course I also have my iPod on along with the DVD of Coach Troy leading me through my 2 plus hours required today.

And I got it done. Total time was 2 hours 15 minutes, 42.15 miles, average cadence of 92 and a speed of over 18 mph. Then I jumped off the bike, refilled my water bottle, donned my running shoes and onto the treadmill for a brisk run. Only a half hour but it was at a decent pace as when my intermittent readings on the treadmill showed up I was running at 9.1 mph. Once again I must admit I do love the treadmill for these types of workouts especially, but also for other reasons. Like when it is too cold, too dark, or I just want to do a really mindless run. This is the third treadmill I have owned and in each case we have worn them out. With two of us using it on a regular basis, it racks up the miles pretty quick. Another of my pet peeves, is the use of exercise equipment to hang laundry on. And you well know that thousands of treadmills, exercise bikes, eliptical machines and rowing machines found under the Christmas tree will meet that fate. What a shame!

So far this week I have logged 9 hours and 43 minutes. One more hour will complete my week. I don't always necessarily follow the training plan on a day by day basis, but really work towards completing my obligation for the week, and my time by discipline. In order to do that today I will have to do a short run and a short bike. However, my legs feel pretty good and the temperature is supposed to hit +5 C today so I think it will be difficult to miss the opportunity to run a little longer outside. I think I am going to run the Black Cat Trail for starters and see where it goes from there.

Tomorrow will be a day off as we bring Francesca back to school. It has been great having her home for so long, but it is time to get back to the books for her. We get to see lots of her as it is since Edmonton is only 2 hours and 40 minutes away.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Picking up the Pace

With Arizona 15 weeks away, training will now start to ramp up. This week calls for a 10 hour week and I am hoping by the latter part of this cycle to be around 18 hours and then taper. Last year I got up too high, too fast and tried to stay there for too long. I think I was somewhat fortunate to have some injury problems near the end as it forced me to rest. This year I will follow the plan a little better and stay within the hour parameters but make sure that I have a different focus each week. Last year again I allocated my hours to the sports and didn't make many changes. You definitely need to have weeks where more hours are allocated to certain sports and to certain skills within that sport. As previously mentioned, cycling holds the biggest opportunity for me. When I first started doing triathlon I made a big mistake and thought that with the leg strength and aerobic conditioning I had from running that cycling would be a snap. Boy was I wrong! While having the aerobic conditioning was an obvious benefit, there is a lot more to riding a bike. I soon had to realize that I was a novice cyclist with good conditioning and nothing more. Since then I have worked on technique and done the requisite "time in the saddle" and have seen steady improvement. It also didn't hurt that I went from a road bike to a tri bike last year. The old Trek 2000 served me well, but the geometry and components of the tri bike are just a whole new league.
Workouts for yesterday:
Swim 2,000 metres - 1,600 metre continuous swim - 200 warm up / 200 cool down
Run 8.0 miles - 55:00 minutes on the treadmill. Achilles still a little sore but at least I wasn't limping.
The holidays will officially come to a close this weekend when I take Francesca back to school. We had a wonderful holiday season and got to see lots of the kids.
Hope yours was as good as mine.
Have a great day!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Invasion of the "Resolutioners"!

They're baaaack! Every year at this time they show up. Taking over the lanes that are owned by the regulars. Swimming in random directions, stopping at the end of the lanes to chat. They are the resolutioners and they will be here for the next two weeks at most. I'll have to listen how they are going to lose 50 pounds, or do the Hinton Triathlon, or whatever. And while I wish them all the best, it ain't gonna happen! The success rate of the resolutioners is pretty low to be sure. They don't understand that January 1 is no magic date, and that good intentions don't take the place of hard work. Because that is what it takes to stay in shape, plain, old, simple, hard work. Regardless of what your goals are, without action they are nothing. I wish the resolutioners the best, but I know in two weeks I will have my lane back. There will be 4 other people who will be there in their regular lanes and life will be good again! Yesterday's swim was a 2,100 metre workout that incorporated some drills and core work from a workout. It is a good site as all you have to do is enter some time trial information and a few other statistics and it will provide you with different swim workouts. You can tailor the intensity and whether or not you want different strokes included. The workout I did today, while dodging the "resolutioners", included a 400 metre warm up, 400 metre build set, then a main set of 24 x 50 metres at 55 seconds with 15 seconds rest. An easy 100 metre mixed stroke set finished it up. This is the first real intensity workout I have done in the pool thus far and I was slow. But that's okay, the whole point is to work on good form and staying in it even as you tire. The evening workout was a 31 mile ride in 1:37. Another aerobic effort trying to teach the body to use fat as a fuel. This ride consisted of variable gearing sets with most of the time spent down in the aerobars to simulate race conditions. Today I will try for a run at lunch. I have put some different insoles in these Saucony shoes to see if I can get rid of this Achilles problem. Near the end of my 11.5 mile run on New Year's Day I was starting to limp. With any luck these will work.
Have a great day!