Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Need a Holiday!

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Rant

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

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coming back to earth

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shattering Records

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We have lift off!

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

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

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

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

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Preparing for winter

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

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cranking it up a notch

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Moving Day

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