Thursday, October 30, 2008

Miscellaneous Ramblings

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Training Plan

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You're so lucky!

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

Monday, October 20, 2008

What was I thinking?!?

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

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bloggers and Pornographers

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Running for Myself

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend!