Monday, June 30, 2008

The Need for Speed

Sunday was a long bike ride on one of my favourite, but more difficult routes. Living in the foothills of the Rockies there is no shortage of places to do hill workouts. This particular route is evidence of that as it is called 9 mile hill. Actually you only climb for 8.6 miles (Garmin) but I guess it is fair to round it up.

The ride up this weekend was a little tougher with a head wind right in my face. This is rather unusual as it is a southern route and our wind almost always comes from the west. Despite the wind, it was beautiful out with temperatures in the low 20's. The planned ride was to go to the top of 9 mile hill, turnaround and then head west to Folding Mountain. In total that would be about 30 miles.

Now the fun thing about climbing 9 mile hill is that you get to descend it, and it is fast! The only thing is once you start sailing down the hill in full aero position at 70 kms / hr you start to think about what you are really doing. Here I am on a couple pounds of carbon fibre with less than an inch of tire on the road peddling like hell to go faster! If I use one side of my brain more than the other on the way down I could put the whole thing in a heap on the road. It would be ugly for sure! Then I read Grellan's blog today about his apprehension surrounding descending and I remember when I had more common sense. I used to be on the brakes the whole way down, but gradually I started to let up a little bit. Then as my bike handling skills improved (in my mind), I wanted to go faster. And now the challenge is to see if I can get it up over 70 kms. The faster the better!

The rest of the ride was pretty good and I ended up with 33 miles in total.

The week ended with over 10 hours of training. One more week at the level and then I will start to taper for Sylvan Lake. I still need to get my Achilles cleared up as on Friday I tried a brick and after an hour on the bike I really had a tough time getting my running stride. The doctor gave me a prescription for a topical anti-inflammatory so we will see if this works.

Happy Canada Day and have a great week!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Now that I have signed up for another Ironman the question now becomes what do I hope to achieve in my third run at this distance. Good question and I really don't have a lot of answers.

The primary reason I signed up is I like to have something to look forward to and it keeps my motivation for training high. I love to train and I never really take a break from it. I like to think that I maintain a high level of fitness throughout the year and that with a limited amount of time I can be race ready for distances up to a half.

As for a goal time, I never do that as it is a recipe for anxiety and potential disappointment. It's not that inside I don't have a gut feel for what I think is possible, it's just I don't feel a need to share it. My results from IMAZ indicate that while I was essentially the same time as the previous year's time in CDA, I made major improvements in everything but the run. That is ironic given it is my best event, but that is if the conditions are right. Even with a slow marathon (4 hours) I would have been an hour better than CDA so there is some major upside.

Getting a Kona qualifying time is also out of the question so I am not doing it for that. I will eventually get a Kona time, but I just have to patiently wait for the rest of the people in my age group to die off! Persistence is the operative word here. Time is on my side, I will just patiently wait and eventually I will make it.

Coeur d'Alene 2009 will be for the same reasons I have done the last two. The personal challenge to complete an event that on the surface seems impossible, to be in the company of people with a similar passion, and to just have a great time. Those were my objectives in the previous two IM's and I have been able to meet them and come away quite satisfied with myself.

This week continues to go well and I am nailing some good workouts and feeling pretty good about my upcoming race in Sylvan Lake. Wednesday afternoon I did a 2,300 metre swim. Good warm up and a few sets of drills and then 3 x 600 metre swims. I am noticing that my pace is staying far more consistent than it used to be. Last evening I ran 11.5 miles in just over 1:25. It was a beautiful evening and I ran the trails along the Athabasca River. I never tire of that route as the views of the river valley and the Rockies to the west is always awe inspiring.

Lately I have loaded up the iPod with a bunch of old blues albums. Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and J.J. Cale to name a few. I haven't got the blues, I just like listening to them and it is good for learning some new guitar licks. I am also waiting for a new guitar amplifier that is supposed to be in the weekend.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Now that is more like it!

After a less than stellar week of training last week, things have started off much better so far this week.
Sunday was 1:30 ride - big gears and pretty high intensity.
Monday - 45:00 - 2,050 metre swim - main set consisted of 2 x 200m on 3:50 2 x 100m on 2:00 1 x 200m on 3:50 2 x 100m on 2:00 and a final 2 x 200m on 3:50. The afternoon run was an easy one on the back trails 6.5 miles in 47:00.
Tuesday - Tempo run at lunch 6.25 miles in 40 minutes and then the evening ride was another 1:30 focusing on keeping a relatively high cadence (above 90 RPM).
The rest of the week is looking quiet from a work standpoint, so I should be able to meet my training plan. With Sylvan Lake 5 weeks away I want to get a couple of really solid weeks under my belt.
Now that I am signed up for Ironman CDA, I will start thinking about some goals for that race as well as what kind of training plan I will adopt. To be quite honest, I don't know that I will make a lot of changes to what I did for IMAZ. That plan brought me to the starting line in great shape and despite not meeting my goal time, I think my training really helped me endure the elements that day.
Have a great day!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Goin' Back For More!

You would have thought I was trying to get tickets to a Beatles Reunion concert today as I set myself up to get into Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2009. The on-line entry process opened at 1:00 PM MDT, so I started trying around 12:45 PM. I would get so far into the process and then it would tell me that the site was too busy at the moment. It made me wonder how is it possible that there are so many people willing to spend $500 to inflict a world of hurt on themselves. Apparently a lot more than I thought as it wasn’t until 1:20 PM or so before I finally was able to get in to complete the registration and lay my money down for Ironman CDA. Yahoo! I am excited.
I did this race in 2007 as my first IM and it was a fantastic venue and it was everything I had hoped it would be. So I am anxious to go back and take another crack at this course. The experience of having done it before will help as will the fact that I have two successful completions under my belt.
The timing of this race is a little bit better than IMAZ was since there is potential for a little more outdoor training. With IMAZ in April I had exactly 0 miles of road riding since the previous October. That wasn’t totally a bad thing though, as I think my cycling improvements came from the 3 hour plus sessions on the trainer with Coach Troy nattering in my ear, “Knees in on the top tube, upper body perfectly still, push down and pull up”.
I really hope Angela can come this time as Coeur d’Alene is just a gorgeous community and the people are really into this race. The bike course is a little more exciting than Arizona, and a little more technical.
So here I go again......


Last week was not a banner week for my training as my schedule was continually being interrupted.
I am a creature of habit and this is especially true when it comes to my training schedule. My body expects to be tortured at certain times during the day and when those times get missed I get cranky. With all our "corporate" visitors last week, my lunchtime workouts and after work activities had to be postponed, rescheduled or missed. Since an Ironman athlete with finishing times in the 13 hour range doesn't bring home many pay cheques from the races, I have to kind of stick with this management gig for right now. So when duty calls I have to be there.
Having said that I still finished the week with about 7 hours of training and there were some good quality swims and bike rides in those numbers. My running is okay right now, but I am still struggling with the feet and the Achilles. Sometimes I think I have it and then it seems to come back just enough to be annoying. I can still run, and maybe that is the problem, but it is always present. The stretching definitely helps, but I need to get this behind me before my next race.
The weekend was busy with our daughter's 20th birthday celebration. And boy does she celebrate! We had a house full on Friday night for a party and then Saturday night they had a camp out. It was nice to have a quiet house yesterday. However not much got done other than a 30 mile bike ride. The rest of the day was spent getting new music and reading my Eric Clapton autobiography.
This week I will pick up the pieces and get my workouts back in order. Also today I am going to try and register on-line for Couer d'Alene. I would really like to get into that one for next year.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Year Ago

Lately reading the blogs of many of the people preparing for this weekend's Ironman in Couer d'Alene takes me back to this time last year. It was a year ago that I was in the same boat, preparing myself for my first IM in CDA.
Thinking back, I can still remember the flood of feelings you have as the event nears. The excitement, fear, self-doubt, anticipation, and the list goes on. It is also a time of self discovery. If there is anything that will tell you what you are all about, an IM or other endurance event is probably the ticket. And I think that is the greatest thing you take away from putting yourself through this. You really find out how disciplined you are, how adaptable and resourceful you are and your ability to push beyond limits you previously thought you had.
Couer d'Alene was everything I hoped for last year when I made the commitment and signed up. The feelings when you come down to the finish line and total strangers are yelling out your name and high fiving you are beyond belief. For a couple hundred metres you forget the pain and suffering of the previous 140 point something miles you have covered and find another gear so that you look good at the finish. And then the reality of the fact that you have completed this feat sets in and it is quite emotional. Unfortunately for me, I had no one to share it with last year as other commitments kept my family from attending, but I saw other people around me and it was incredible.
So to all you guys getting set to stare into the sunrise from the beach on Couer d'Alene on Sunday morning, good luck and enjoy the total experience. You will never forget it!
Have a great day!

Monday, June 16, 2008

This and that

Lately I have felt like I am kind of in a "no man's land" with regard to training.
While I am still putting in the workouts, making progress and generally feeling pretty good, it seems like my next event is so far away. I probably would have avoided this if I had done the sprint a few weeks ago, but that was not possible. There was an opportunity for a half this weekend in Calgary, but again I left it too late and didn't register.
Sylvan Lake is still six weeks away, so I just need to bare down and stick with it.
On the weekend I got a 1 hour and 30 minute ride in on Saturday followed by a quick 7 mile run. Sunday I followed up with about 11 miles of pretty solid hill work. It wasn't a hill work out per se, but just over the course I ran I had to do two hills which were over a mile long. Even with the long hills I still managed a 7:25 pace. My running continues to be strong and the legs have been good. I have really been diligent about massaging my calves and Achilles a couple of times a day and I have been treating the inflammation as well.
Tonight I did another hour and a bit on the bike and covered just over 22 miles. While I like the bike better than I used to, it is still not my favourite thing to do. Too much hassle getting things ready. I am hoping once we move back to town that it will be easier to get out. However, that may still be awhile as it is not that easy trying to sell an acreage. Living out of town only appeals to a certain number of buyers and then within that group there is only a certain amount that can afford it. It is nice out here though as I just looked up and there was a deer in the driveway. Things like that I will miss. What I won't miss is the driving, especially in the winter when the roads are icy and there is a steady parade of tractor trailers heading out to the oil patch.
Father's Day was great and we had a nice dinner with the kids. Nicholas grilled up some incredible Maple Garlic Chicken Breasts which were fabulous. Francesca bought me a new book, the Eric Clapton Biography. Timing was perfect as I had just finished the Walt Disney Biography the previous day.
This week the schedule calls for about eight hours of workouts with a large percentage of the time focused on the run. I'm good with that. However, it could be a bit of a challenge as work is going to be busy this week. Corporate visitors all week which means long, boring meetings and evening dinners. I absolutely dread the after work stuff! Usually my boss will excuse me from these events because he knows my workout schedule, but he requested that I make myself available this week. The pulp mill has run poorly as of late and we need to put our best face forward with our CEO, Group VP, and CFO. So I will suck it up and do my duty.
Have a great day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

This week I have started to get myself thinking a little bit more about my next event, the Sylvan Lake Half Iron Man, on July 26. I did this last year and had a PB of 5:13 and 4th in my age. The course is really nice and it is a medium sized event with about 400 participants. The swim is a one loop course in Sylvan Lake and features a water start. I like the single loop as opposed to having to make a loop get out and start again. There is something about getting out of the water and having to go again that kind of breaks your rhythm.
The bike course is not particularly interesting as it is through some pretty flat area with a few hills and not much to see other than farmland. The run, however is very nice and winds itself around the lake and through a park. It has a few decent hills but overall is pretty fast. That is with the exception of the last mile or so where you have to dodge people accessing the beach. They seem oblivious to the fact that there is a race in progress.
I think I can improve on my time from last year as I have definitely gotten to be a stronger cyclist and my swimming seems to have gotten better as well. That being said, you never know what race day brings and in dissecting last year's race I did a lot of things well that I would have to replicate. But if conditions are right and I am healthy there is certainly potential to do well.
This week I have done about 5 hours of training. Tuesday was a 6.5 mile run at lunch in about 47 minutes followed by a 50 minute, 15 mile strength workout on the bike. Wednesday was a day off and yesterday I swam and ran. My lunch time swim was 2,300 metres with the main set being 7 x 200 metre intervals. The evening run was 9.5 miles in 1:10 or an average pace of about 7:25.
On the weekend I would like to get out for a long ride but the weather has been so rainy lately and I never ride my Cervelo in the rain, that it might be on the trainer.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Hot Tub from Hell

This looks benign enough. A nice cedar gazebo, surrounded by trees, in a nice secluded part of our back yard.
But lurking within is the "Hot Tub from Hell". If I wasn't trying to sell this place, and if the hot tub wasn't a selling feature to some people, I would have cut it to pieces with my chainsaw!
Last winter we noticed a leak, small at first, but still a leak. Within a short while, it was no longer a small leak, and I had to start trying to figure out where it was. With hot tubs the rule of thumb is that the leak will be in the most difficult spot imaginable. My hot tub was true to form, and after digging foam insulation out until my figures had blood blisters on the ends of them, I located the leak.
Now this is not a picture of the inside of some alien's digestive system. This is where the leak was located.
I had to remove the entire manifold and rebuild it with bits and pieces from spa shops. Canadian Tire and a plumbing shop. I have been twisted inside here for almost two days as I cut and glued and pushed and pulled to make my creation fit. My back is now killing me and I have whiffed enough PVC solvent and glue that I will have to check myself into the Betty Ford Clinic to get off of it. It is actually pretty good stuff! But I digress.
I have one more piece to try and fit in and then I can check to see if I have a water tight fit. Again, given the fact that I am no handyman. it is probably going to leak. In which case I will plaster every fitting and connection with "plumber's goop", and develop a new addiction.
I have to have this operational by the weekend for my daughter's champagne birthday party. She will be 20 on June 20 and is having some of her friend's from University come out for the weekend. Hopefully I get this damn thing working or I am going to have a house full of girls. At least with the hot tub working we can keep them 20 yards from the house.
Saturday afternoon I did a hill work out on the bike which covered roughly 35 miles of steady tempo riding. Legs felt really good and strong though and I was able to maintain an average of 18 miles per hour.
On Sunday it was raining pretty heavily and quite chilly so I opted for an easy run on the treadmill. At the 41 minute mark I smelled smoke and shut her down. That was it for the old mill. After 8 years of heavy use it died! A very sad day in the Power household.
Today was a quick swim at lunch as I had to come home to get the house ready for a showing by our real estate agent. After 500 metres of warm up and drills I did 10 x 100 metres on 2:10. I was pretty happy with my splits as I was consistently under 1:50 / 100. Also for the first time ever, I was beating the guy in lane 3 who I have never beat! I actually waited for him to get out of the pool to make sure he hadn't suffered a debilitating injury. And sure enough he had all his limbs! I am actually getting a little faster!!

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pain free run

Yahoo! Friday's 9 mile run was without any pain in the Achilles or IT. I think my body has finally realized I am too stupid to quit and won't submit to mere mortal pain! Actually the massaging of my calf muscles seems to have helped. Unfortunately it was not the kind of massage Carrie at Tri to Be Funny gets! You have to read this ladies blog, funny, inspiring and insightful. Not often do I finish reading her posts do I not have a smile on my face. Anyway, my massaging is with the use of my beloved Trigger Point, which I swear by, and not at the hands of Jorge (that would be creepy, extremely creepy)!

Back to the run. It was on the treadmill because of a good down pour happening, but it was still good as I had some new tunes to listen to. I clicked off 9 miles in a respectable 1:06 and oddly enough I had to use the digital timer on the DVD player to time myself (see last post). The control panel on the treadmill is pooched and then when I went to use my old running watch, it died before my eyes. So there I was waiting for the clock to strike the next minute and off I went. Obviously I am not going to give you a mile by mile description of this run as it would go something like this . Mile one, stared ahead at the wall, listened to song one on the new Gavin Degraw album. Just insert an ascending number for the mile and the song number and there you have it!

As I write this it is just around 6:00 am on Saturday morning. Why am I up so early! Well it would be this little character:

She hasn't quite figured out the difference between weekdays and weekends!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Technology and Triathlon

I was recently looking through my training log, and something really struck me. Looking through my various workouts, I noticed runs of 5.21 miles, 3.58 miles, 8.62 miles, 11.82 miles, etc. So I went back and looked at a log book I had from 1993 and scanning the pages, I saw runs of 6 miles, 9 miles, 15 miles. Not one run to even a single decimal point! Everything was nice and even. In a lot of cases even my time was in even increments as well. Yes, those were the days before Garmin. Actually back in 1993, I don’t even think I had a running watch. I can recall standing in the kitchen waiting for the digital clock to turn to the next minute and then dashing out for my run. When I got back there was no cool down until I made my way back into the house, looked at the time and then I would start a cool down.
My first running watch was a Timex watch and it was the coolest thing ever! It was also the size of a dinner plate and did nothing other than keep track of time and lap times. Still it was quite an amazing piece of technology.
As for measuring distances I would measure with the car most of the routes I would run. For others I knew my pace pretty good and would always just estimate the distance based on that. I’m not really saying those were the good old days, it just seems interesting how technology has impacted the sport. Now we have our Garmin GPS units and download all our information to our computers and analyze the data. What a bunch of geeks!
However, progress is a great thing and I couldn’t imagine life without sophisticated bike trainers, carbon fibre, iPods, etc. It certainly helps to make training more enjoyable and easier to track progress and trends.
Speaking of iPods, some of what I have put on it lately includes:
Lady Antebellum – country, but quite good
Aerosmith – Devil’s Got a New Disguise – basically another hits compilation but a couple of new songs
Airbourne – Runnin’ Wild – kind of sound like ACDC
Carolina Liar – Coming to Terms – Alternative – good upbeat stuff
As for reading, I have been ploughing through a book about Walt Disney, by Neal Gabler called Walt Disney, The Triumph of the American Imagination. It is a long book, over 630 pages, but it is interesting.
I also have a couple of running books on the go, Marathon, The Ultimate Training Guide, by Hal Higdon and Galloway’s Book on Running, by Jeff Galloway. I am reading these as a reminder more than anything. It’s not like I follow any specific rules with my running but it is good to know what I should be doing!
This week I have logged just over 6 hours of training. A couple of long bike rides, 3 swims, and a couple of shortish runs. The Achilles seems to be getting better but I am massaging it 2 to 3 times a day. I have also been really working on loosening up my calves as they are tight and more than likely a huge contributor to the other issues I am having.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Empty Pool

The Hinton Triathlon was held this past Sunday and now the pool is empty. When I went for my swims on Monday and Tuesday you could have floated the Queen Mary in there. It was great!
I’m not anti-social or anything like that, but I hate when the pool is crowded and I can’t have lane 2 all to myself. It is my lane after all, and I can’t see why people would have the audacity to think they can swim in it! Seriously though, I am selfish in one way that I like the private lane. I love being able to do my workout at my pace without having to time things around the other people swimming with you.
In another way though, I am surprised how people can just stop for another whole year. It amazes me that they will not get in the pool again until 3 weeks from the date of the triathlon next year. They also won’t run or bike in that time either. Apparently with 3 weeks of exercise and one sprint triathlon you are good for an entire year. Some people have just got it figured out while the rest of us believe you have to do this training gig year round. My niece, who is much more active and does things all year, has her own training plan. It’s called 1, 2 , skip-a-few, and seems to have her ready to enter anything from a 5K to a half marathon. And to boot, she usually does quite well!
Monday I swam (by myself), 1,700 metres. No real plan, I just kind of swam. It was really enjoyable and I was marvelling at the fact that 4 years ago I would have never dreamed that 1,700 metres would be a quick, lunch time swim. Trying to do 1,000 metres was a major accomplishment as I thrashed through the water while the lifeguard sat nervously wondering if she should throw the buoy line to me. Now, while no lightening bolt, I glide through the water with a nice relaxed stroke on most days. On rare occasions, I will have a tough day in the pool, but it is the exception now.
Monday evening I did a short run, 5.2 miles in about 40 minutes or about a 7:45 pace. I was trying to run slow as my Achilles has still been bothering me. However, running slower is a real struggle for me and my pace bounced all over the place. It was a nice route along the east side of the river on some game trails. I thought I was going to get caught in a thunderstorm but I somehow managed to leg it out and get home before the rain.
Today I did another quick swim at lunch. It wasn't on the schedule but I went because I knew it was going to be empty again. Sure enough, there was only me and two senior citizens floating in the middle lanes. I always like when the seniors show up because I feel very fast lapping them. It's shameful and shallow, but I get to see what it is like for the fast guys and gals who lap me on other days!
Tonight there was a bit of rain so I did a 20+ mile ride on the trainer. Mixed it up with lots of variable gearing and intensities. I know from my IMAZ training that these workouts were very instrumental in my cycling improvements so I need to keep doing them.
So far I am back on schedule for my Sylvan Lake training. My Achilles is still concerning me as it seems to be worse and I am not sure why. Maybe my new shoes? I will continue with the massaging and the ice and hope I get this behind me soon.
Have a great day!

Sunday, June 1, 2008


The last few days I have been taking it easy as I have been finding I am coming up with a few little pains after every workout.
Thursday was a 2,100 metre swim and then 45 minutes on the bike. Friday was a day off and then yesterday I ran 5 miles in 38 minutes. That's when bad things started to happen. It started with a little bit of pain in my heel, then my right Achilles and then suddenly my leg quad started to act up. Never had that before! Anyway, some ice, ibuprofen and massage and it seemed better today. However, no sprint race today! As it turns out I wouldn't have been able to go anyway as we are having some major issues today at work that are requiring me to wear my HR Manager's hat, so I am off to work!!
Have a great day!