Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Family Workouts

Our house is a very busy place after work. All three of us work at the same place and work the same hours. When we get home at 5:00 p.m. everyone is intent on getting their workout done. That is a great thing! It is nice to see that the entire family sees the value in maintaining their fitness.
Last night was a perfect example. I was loading up my bike to make the ride to Folding Mountain while Angela was getting her mountain bike out and Francesca was heading out for a run. And that is the way it usually is everyday, we are all doing something, be it running, biking, or using the elliptical machine. It certainly keeps you motivated as everyday you are going to see one or the other doing something and feel obligated to do something yourself. My son, Nicholas, and his fiancé, Nicole, also work out every day so it is a real family affair.
There was a time when both kids thought that Angela and I were both crazy with all our running and what not, but as they got older they came to see that it is a necessary part of living a healthy lifestyle. Both kids were active when they were smaller with swimming, soccer, hockey, and basketball, but after high school they had a brief period of inactivity. Now that they are older (20, and 23) they have come to understand the necessity for integrating exercise into their daily lives.
Workouts this week:

Sunday - 50 minutes easy spin on the trainer

Monday - 42 minute 10K run – Achilles very sore after this one

Tuesday - swam 2,000 metres
- biked 33 kms – Folding Mountain 1 hour flat

My current program for the ½ Iron Man is at about 8 ½ hours per week.
Today I was asked to run in the Banff to Jasper Relay. This event consists of a North team and a South Team. The North portion consists of nine legs averaging between 14 and 20 kilometres each. There are some wicked climbs by the Columbia Icefields which is a beautiful area. We are still short one runner but I could be convinced to run two legs if need be. Anyway I am excited about this as our team that usually runs in the 100 mile Kanannaskis Relay didn’t get entered this year.
Have a great day!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Blessing in disguise?

Perhaps that is what this week has been. After a good race last Sunday, and no lasting effects from it, I was sidelined with the flu for the best part of the week. After getting back to working out on Tuesday, the rest of the week was all about dragging my sorry butt into work and then getting home to get back to bed.

The addition of a new puppy didn't help as it took until Thursday for her to decide that sleeping during the night would be a good idea.

Now I don't usually get sick, and quite frankly, I am personally offended when I do. But this was one miserable flu, nasty cough, chills, achy muscles, all the real classic symptoms. However, maybe after what I have put my body through in the last few months, it was a bit of a rebellion and a reminder about taking some rest.

I am not back to 100% yet but I did manage to run 5 miles yesterday on the treadmill. Today I think I will try a real easy spin on the bike to see how that goes. Interestingly enough, my run yesterday was without a single twinge or ache. Obviously the result of six days of rest. The Achilles felt fine, as did my right heel which had flared up recently.

This week I am going to take it easy again. I may race in the Mountainview Triathlon next Sunday but it will only be the sprint if I do. I have never done a sprint so that will be interesting.

I'll have to see how much this flu has set me back.

So here is our new addition to the family. Her name is Piper and she is a nine week old Pom. She is a little sister for our other Pom, Cubbi who is just about 3 years old.

Here are some pictures from the Red Deer Marathon last weekend.

Have a great day!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Case of the Post Race Lazies

Since my run on Sunday I have not been motivated to do much. A combination of things, a new puppy that slept through the night for the first time last night, a nagging cold, and some rainy weather, have all contributed to a low level of enthusiasm.
Tuesday I did get in the pool and swam 1,700 metres in 36 minutes. In the evening I did a light spin on the bike for about 40 minutes which felt good.
Yesterday was a planned day off, plus this cold was starting to bug me, as was the lack of sleep.
Today it should be back to normal. I got a good night's sleep last night and I will start pouring the fluids to this cold. Then I will ease back into the running and possibly try a swim today.
Have a great day!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Run in the Park

First off, congratulations to my older brother, Jim, who ran the Green Bay Cellcom Marathon on Sunday. Great time of 3:54 despite going into it with a nagging hamstring injury! This race was a test run for a fall marathon and a crack at a BQ. There is no doubt in my mind that he will do it. Especially after a summer of triathlon training which will improve his fitness and is a lot kinder to the body.
Last week I was right on target with my training, sticking with the plan for 8 hours. The body felt great and I had some good swims and a couple of decent rides. The running has been fine as well, still have the nagging Achilles, but I am able to run.
So being the sucker for punishment that I am, I signed myself up for the Red Deer Marathon on the weekend. What the heck! I was thinking that it is a great excuse to get a long run in and you never know what race day will bring.
Obviously with my training for Ironman, I have the endurance for the race, my concern was whether or not I could force a little speed out of the legs.
I headed down to Red Deer Saturday afternoon. It is about a 4 hour drive from Hinton and I had to be there before 8:00 PM to pick up my race package. Because I registered late I didn't get a shirt (bummer) and missed out on the tickets for the pasta dinner (super bummer!). Dick Beardsley was the guest speaker and I would have loved to have heard him as I understand he has quite a story to tell. He was one of the running heroes of my day, along with Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter.
Pre-race meal was a salad and some sushi from the deli counter at Safeway washed down with lots of water. I was in bed early and slept like a baby. Now this never happens before any race, but for some reason I was as relaxed as I have ever been.
In the morning I got up and had a half a bagel and some gatorade. Still no sign of the pre-race jitters so I am thinking that today will be a perfect day to just run and enjoy. The course for Red Deer makes extensive use of the trail system around the city and has no real hills to speak of. There are a few little undulations but no sustained uphill efforts. The weather is perfect with temperatures around 12 Celsius at race time, and a little breeze. Forecast for the day calls for a high of about 23 Celsius and a chance of light showers. So far it looks like the rain is going to hold off.
Once I get down to the race start it is the usual hub of activity. For some reason I feel like more of an observer than a participant. I get in the line for the porta-potties, more out of habit than necessity and get to hear all the training stories.
The race was fully sold out and I am impressed with the huge crowd. For the marathon there was around 300 and the half had more than double that. This race has been happening for 10 years now and is becoming a favourite for a lot of people in Alberta. Red Deer is located about an hour and a bit from both Edmonton and Calgary so it attracts a lot of people from those places. Because of the nice gentle course it is also a good first marathon or half marathon for people to try.
The race is an 8:00 AM start and before long we are headed to the start line. This is not a chip race so I line up as close to the front as possible. My goal is to find a comfortable pace, settle in and enjoy. When the gun goes off I find myself with plenty of room to run. The first mile is through the city streets, but then we are onto some narrow, paved trails. I hit mile one in 6:40 even, which is a sustainable pace, at least for awhile! Prior to the race I debated about whether or not to wear my Newton's, which have about 20 miles on them, or the New Balance. In the end the Newton's won out and not only do I look flashy, but I am really liking the feel of these shoes.
The course continues through the trails and I have settled in really well. Last night and this morning I massaged the heck out of my Achilles and soleus with the trigger point and they feel really good. I also loaded up with some Advil extra strength and I have two more for later on should I need it. At mile 5 I am at 33:20. A quick body check and all systems are still functioning as intended, legs are good, form is nice and relaxed and my stride is fluid. No pressure so just hold it for as long as you can. The next 5 miles go through some gravel trails and I find I am slowing up a little, nothing major, but I am having trouble staying at the pace I would like. At one point the signs are a little confusing and one group heads off one way and I go another, which in the end turns out to be the right way. Through mile 10 in 1:06 and change. Still in a good rhythm and no signs of anything that should cause me any grief. I have a vanilla power gel at this time and wash it down with some water. Damn those things are good! It's like Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting. I'm thinking now that I wish the packages were bigger. I could have my other one now, but I think that would defeat the purpose. It's like when you put two packages of the frosting on the toaster strudel, happy now, sad later!
At this point I am running by myself. I can see one runner just ahead of me and I am gaining ground on him. Just before the halfway point I catch him and we chat for a little while. He is struggling and is thinking of calling it a day at the half marathon point. I manage to talk him past the turn off for the half finish but then I drop him as he is fading. At the 21 km mark I am at 1:27 and I am starting to wonder if this might be my day. Still no signs of any muscle fatigue or other pain, so I just keep focused and run. Now I am totally by myself. I can't see anyone ahead of me and there is no one behind me that I can hear. Despite the fact I am feeling good, I decide to pop the two Advil as a precaution. It certainly can't hurt!
At mile 15 or so, my Garmin loses the satellite and becomes a game of twenty questions. Are you inside now? Have you went a long distance from your home satellites? Is today May 18,2008? Great, I have really found this thing useful today and now it is going to crap out on me. So for the next half hour I am running blind as my GPS tries to sort itself out and find a satellite. That being the case I just try and get a good feel for my pacing and continue to run on. The course is beautiful and goes past a lot of duck ponds and marshy areas. Lots of bridges as well and it seems like we cross back and forth over the Red Deer river a number of times. Finally at about 30 kms the Garmin comes back to life and I am just at about 2 hours. It seems to take awhile but it gets itself sorted out and by 2 hours and 10 minutes I am at 20 miles. A sub-three is really starting to look possible. I still feel great with no cramping or other problems. My focus is great and I have only had one brief stretch where I tried to convince myself to walk. As I crest the hill at about 33 kms there is an older gentlemen there who tells me I am running in 7th right now and off the pace by about 7 minutes. I am somewhat surprised and it buoys me and I become more determined to get in under the 3 hour mark. With less than 10 kms to go, I need to really work if I am going to get in under the wire. At 35 kms I pick up another runner. He tries to stay on my shoulder, but I find that rather annoying so I pick up the pace. The next two miles were sub 6 minute as I finally left this guy behind. Now we are at mile 24 and I know that unless I fall and break bones I have this one in the bag, it is just a matter of churning out two more. I hit the 41 km mark in a little over 2:54 and I can hear the finish line announcer. However I have the one decent hill on the course right ahead of me and then it is downhill and a right turn to the finish. There are a lot of cheering people on the hill and I cruise up it like nothing. Now it is all downhill! I am passing lots of halfers and they are all moving over as I hear someone shout, "marathoner!"
Right hand turn and there is the finish line, 2:58:50 good enough for sixth overall and third in my age.
This makes my ninth sub three and 3 decades of posting at least one! Time was starting to run out and after last year's close encounter in Victoria (3:05) I was beginning to wonder if it was in the cards. After today's race I am wondering if there are still a few more left?
Have a great day!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring, at last!

I think it is official, spring has finally arrived in the Rockies! The last couple of days have been beautiful with temperatures in the 20 + Celsius range. With the the positive change in the weather comes the inevitable winds! They have been quite strong the last couple of days, but I think I have finally made peace with them, especially on the bike.
Having a base of almost 2,000 miles behind me on the bike before I hit the roads has made an incredible difference. The experience of Arizona also helped me considerably in learning to handle the wind. But last night when I went riding out towards Jasper in the wind, I actually didn't mind it. The wind was very gusty and was really pushing the bike around on the way out, but I was able to make good headway and stay in a steady rhythm. This is new for me. Last year if the wind was like this I would have stayed on the trainer. I absolutely despised riding in the wind. There would be times when I would feel like throwing my bike in the ditch and walking home rather than buck the wind. However this year in IMAZ when I was forced to battle high winds I realized something that is quite obvious. Get yourself in a light enough gear that you are not killing your legs and work on good pedaling technique. Guys generally want to push big gears, all the time, in all conditions. And that is the way I tackled the wind as well. Before too long your legs are burning and you are not making any headway. With my new approach and better cycling strength I did my ride out to Folding Mountain in one hour flat, a total distance of 18.15 miles. The ride is wonderful as the road has wide shoulders and the whole way out you are watching the mountains get bigger. It is a nice gentle rolling route with no real big hills unless you continue past Folding Mountain. The road was recently re-surfaced so with my new tires pumped up to 120 lbs and a tail wind on the way back I was flying! Scary fast in some places, as there was a bit of a crosswind and it gusted when I was up over 50 km. The bike shook a little bit but I was hanging on pretty good.
This ride has me really enthused and encouraged as I can see that my ironman training has really made a dramatic improvement in my cycling. It has only taken 5 years of persistence to finally get here.
On Wednesday I did a 8.10 mile run in 1:01. I stayed on the trails to keep the pace down a bit. So far this week I am a little above plan on my training plan. Today I will take it easy, with an short interval swim session at lunch and then an easy run this evening.
This is a long weekend so I should be able to get out for a few good rides and runs. The weather is supposed to stay nice as well so I will also have to get some yard work done.
Happy Victoria's Day and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chugging Along

This really epitomizes my training as of late. The workouts just seem to keep getting completed, nothing outstanding, just good old fashioned workman-like efforts.
My swims have been staying in the 1,500 to 2,200 metre range. I am working on my pacing as I really don’t always have a good handle on my level of perceived effort versus my actual speed. By doing intervals with a goal time it helps to start make that connection. I will never be a speed demon in the pool, but I believe that by spending some time doing more intervals it will help me better understand if I am doing a 1,500 metre swim in 30:00, whether I am doing the first 750 metres in 13:00 and the back half in 17:00. Currently I don’t know.
On the bike I have been keeping the rides to about 1:30 at most right now. This week I should finally be able to start riding outside. Yahoo! The trainer has served me well, but I really need to hit the roads and work on my riding skills. As far as fitness on the bike, I’m good, but some road riding will a welcome change. There is nothing like sailing downhill at 60 kilometres an hour to get the blood pumping!
Last week seemed to be a bounce back week for running after a couple of weeks of lack lustre runs. I just couldn’t seem to get my legs under me for about a two week period and every run was a chore. However with runs of 17 miles and 16 miles over the last two weeks, I think I have finally broken out of the slump. Now I just have to manage myself so I avoid injury. There are a lot of events coming up in the next three months and I want to be ready to go if the mood strikes me.
Monday I swam 2,100 metres and it was a relatively low level workout. I was not sure I was going to go to the pool and decided at the last minute to go. Without a firm plan in hand, I did a good warm up, some drills, and then a 600 metre continuous swim, followed by 8 x 100 metres with the pull buoy and a cool down.
Today I ran at lunch time. It was about 12 Celsius and a good wind coming from the west. It was my third run in the Newton shoes and I had some jump in my step, especially when the wind was at my back. My path meandered through some trails, onto some town streets and back onto the trails. Final tally was 6.41 miles in 43:46, about at 6:54 pace.
The evening workout was a 1 hour and 23 minute hill climbing session on the bike. With the wind, and getting home late, I did the ride on the trainer. By the time I load up my bike and all my gear to drive to the start point I would have used up a good 30 minutes so it was easier to do the trainer.
With the regard to the new shoes, I now have logged about 18 miles in them and so far so good. Today was the first day I used my orthodics in them and it really didn’t change the responsiveness of the shoe. You certainly notice that your foot strike is more in line with your body and it seems to me that my turnover has improved. That could be perceived but it seems like it to me. I also really like how light they are.
Have a great day!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Mother's Day March

It was a beautiful running day with temperatures in the 12 degree Celsius range and a little bit overcast. Perfect conditions for a run, and even better when you don't have a plan. Today was going to be some "free style" running, no pressure of completing a workout, just go out and enjoy the perfect day.

And you know how those days end, with 16 miles of effortless cruising! All the trails had dried up and I ran a random route that took me through horse pastures, along the ridge, back up along the highway and across a hydro line. I was a bit concerned with my Achilles at the start, but prior to the run I had massaged it with the Trigger Point and that was all it took. It never bothered me again during the run.

I did something today that I don't often do, I actually took something to drink with me. I have a great Fuel Belt, that I have worn twice (Ironman CDA and IMAZ). So I filled that with some Gatorade and water and a Power Gel and it really made a difference for me. Not that I didn't know that, but I just never think to bring it with me. My run today according to Mr.Garmin was 16.06 miles in 2:00:10.

Yesterday was a day off, while on Friday I ran 8 miles in 55 minutes and did a 43 minute swim at lunch. For the week I was just over 8 hours, which is good as I ease back into the 1/2 Ironman training plan.

As it is Mother's Day today, I am being the chef. The main course will be a pasta dish, bow ties with salami, olives and artichoke hearts in a light sauce, while for dessert we have this nice little number that I made before my run...

This would be a Pineapple Delight!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's and have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Running in the Rain

When I left off yesterday I was headed home for a run on the treadmill as the rain was coming down pretty good. Once I arrived home, I had a change of heart and decided that I would venture outside. There was a time when I would never miss an opportunity to run outside. The temperatures would have to be brutal or some other legitimate reason surface for me to run inside. But in recent times, I will defer to the treadmill with pretty weak excuses. It’s too cold, it’s too windy, it’s too snowy, it’s too nice! I have used just about every reason imaginable to stay inside. Now most runners find the treadmill about as appealing as a colonoscopy, but I don’t mind it (the treadmill!). Although given the number of the latter I have had since age 45 you might begin to think I enjoy those as well. Trust me on this one, I don’t!!
Running inside is efficient, easy to gauge your effort, and truly mindless. I just set up a good play list on the iPod, fill up some water bottles and off I go. I have run 18 – 20 miles on the treadmill, which would have most runners sticking sharp objects in their eyes. But on this day my memory went back to the days when a run in the rain was something I really enjoyed.
So with that I suited up appropriately to weather the rain. This is when it hit me that perhaps the current state of my running apparel might be part of my resistance to run outside. When I dug out my 1989 model Asics running jacket I noticed that it was quite thread bare in places. Angela had bought this for me prior to my first Boston Marathon. It still has the Canadian flag lapel pin the Canadian Consulate gave everyone at the reception they had for the runners that year!
Anyway I managed to throw together some clothes to make the trek outside and headed out the door. Now when ever you run in any type of wet weather you are sure to get your feet wet. And given Murphy’s Law, that will happen in the first ½ mile of your run. Sure enough, as I gingerly dodged the puddles and hopped over the apparently wet spots, I landed in a grassy area that saturated both feet. Now I remember why I like the treadmill, no wet feet! Oh well, suck it up, you’re getting soft I tell myself.
Now that my feet are wet I decide that running on the trails is a viable option. I’m wet already and I always like trail running over the roads anytime, even though it is slower. A left turn and I am onto the ridge overlooking the Athabasca River and surprisingly the trail is in not bad condition. By now I have covered a little over a mile and everything is starting to settle in. The rain is coming down pretty good and the fog has blanketed the mountains on the other side of the river, but I am enjoying this. It’s coming back to me why I used to enjoy the rain.
I continue along the ridge, across the highway, and up the other side to catch the other end of the trail on the ridge. Everything is going well, my pace is okay, a little slow, but that is normal for this run. The trail has a lot of good inclines and there are some spots that are a little tricky for footing so you can’t break any speed records. As I run along the trail I get within about 50 yards of a mule deer who still doesn’t make me. Rather than startle him / her I chose another path and continue on. The rest of the run out is good, but a wee bit muddy. My shoes are starting to accumulate mud on them and they are getting quite heavy. At the 3.5 mile mark I decide to turn and head for home. By this time I am really soaked and I will be satisfied with a run of 6 to 7 miles.
The run back is uneventful with the exception of a couple of grouse that decided to run right in front of me. I felt like Rocky when Mickey is training him to try and catch the chickens. Alas I don’t catch them, but I think I could have.
The last mile and a half is a literal slog as my feet are water logged and I have enough mud on my shoes to make them a size 12 triple E from the size 9 that I started with. I have an option to cut a half a mile off and make it 6.5 and decide that will be what I do.
Once I get home I feel good about having forced myself out, because you know, it wasn’t that bad!
The picture indicates how wet I did get. Today, May 8, 2008, we have at least 10 cms of soaking wet snow. The roads are closed and every trip out is a challenge. I was supposed to go to the city for an awards dinner but I decided earlier in the week that I was not going. Hopefully this mess is cleared up by tomorrow.

Here I am post run, soaked to the skin!
Anyone for a drink on the deck! Here is what it looked like tonight at 5:00 PM. Winter please go away.
Tonight's workout was a 1:20, 24.4 mile time trial workout. Brutal!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A New Week

This week I have returned to a more normalized training schedule. Originally after the Ironman, I was really gung ho to get right back to a high level of training. But that is neither reasonable, nor smart, so I have re-jigged things to meet a couple of requirements. Those requirements being, that I stay “race ready”, that I don’t hurt myself, and that I enjoy what I am doing. Near the end of the training for IMAZ things definitely start to become a bit of a chore. You also find yourself repeating the same few workouts without introducing any variety into them.
In this new phase, I have reviewed a few of my training plans looking for ways to get some more fun into the training and meet the other objectives. It is certainly do-able and thus far this week I have found myself feeling better about doing the work, with a few minor exceptions.
This week I have put in almost 5 hours of training.
Sunday was a 1 hour bike ride on the trainer. It is still chilly outside and for me to get to a place to ride, I have to pack everything in the truck and drive out to the main highway. The trainer is an efficient and good way of getting a workout in.
Sunday afternoon I did a test run in the new shoes and was quite pleased with them. They are extremely light, 9.7 ounces or so, but very supportive. When you walk in them, the lugs on the forefront of the shoe are quite noticeable, almost the way it feels to walk in cycling shoes. However, once you hit the roads, that feeling goes away and they are very comfortable and responsive. My little test run was 4.0 miles at an average pace of 6:54 / mile.
Monday I swam 1,800 metres. Nice relaxed swim with focus on technique. I started doing a few drills, skating, fist, and zipper, which I have neglected over the last few months. As an event gets closer, your pre-programmed thinking is that more metres are better than doing the drills. Unfortunately that is not true. Drills which reinforce good technique and imprint that in your muscles will always win the day over additional metres done with poor technique. Now remember I said this when I ramp up for my next event and you don’t hear drills mentioned!
Monday evening I had a run from hell. I left the house feeling pretty good as it was a nice day and I was set to do a nice easy run and get a few miles in. But right from the outset I had tightness in my quads which felt like the burn from lactic acid. Then my Achilles started to sing to me. I was hoping this would go away, but I never settled in and it took all I could to get about 5.5 miles in.
Tuesday was another 1 hour tempo ride on the bike. The weather was still not conducive to an outdoor ride as there was hail the size of marbles coming down. The ride on the trainer was good though, and I did a number of different drills to work on strength.
Today I swam again at lunch time and did 2,000 metres which included a 400 metre warm up, 600 metres of drills (kick, skating, underwater switch) and then a 1,000 metre ladder set.
As I look outside now, it looks like the evening run will be on the ‘mill as it is really raining hard. Plus I have a limited window to work out tonight as we have to prep the house for a showing tomorrow.
Have a great day!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Slow week

Last week was not a great week in terms of training. I'm probably still in a bit of recovery mode, but I was hoping to start to pick up the hours. I didn't get on the bike at all and missed one swim and one run. But, I did finish it up yesterday with a 17 mile run in 2:10.

It has been sometime since I ran highway 40 towards town. Generally it is a nasty piece of road with a lot of traffic on it due to it being a main road out to the oil patch. But, with it being Saturday I was hoping it would be a little less busy. Unfortunately, the little village at the end of our road, Brule was having it's annual rodeo. Lots of horse trailers and pickups heading in for the weekend event, but they were good about sharing the road.

My run took me 4.5 miles along highway 40 north until I came to highway 16 which heads towards Jasper. This stretch of road starts with a nice long downhill, crosses a narrow bridge (50 seconds of terror!) and then about a mile long uphill. Once I got to highway 16 it is two lane highway with a nice wide shoulder. It heads right towards the Rocky mountains and the views are pretty. I stayed on this until the double lane ends and then made a turn back towards the Town of Hinton. The run back home is always a challenge because mile 17 finishes going back up the hill that was the nice downhill on the way out.

I could definitely feel that run when I was done and there are a few lingering aches this morning.

That run was a bit of a test as I am toying with running the Red Deer Marathon, May 18th. We'll do a couple more tests and then make a decision. I have to register by May 11th so I still have some time.

My Newtons finally arrived....

oops!! Wrong Newtons!

Here are the new shoes....

I haven't run in them yet, but today I might take them for a test spin. It says that you should run short runs of 2 - 3 miles at the start until you get used to running on your forefoot. That shouldn't be too hard as that is how I run, but I will follow the instructions until I get 30 or so miles on them.
The rest of the weekend is going to be spent getting some work done around the house. Biggest job on the agenda today is getting the hot tub repaired. I have to replace some tubing that is leaking. Great thing is it allowed me to buy a new reciprocating saw!
Tonight we will have the kids out for a big pasta supper. Now that Francesca is home for the summer it will be nice to have our Sunday dinners together again. Pasta sauce is cooking as I write this. Smells pretty good!
Have a great weekend!