Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back from Paradise

After one glorious week of rest and sunshine, I'm back and ready to fly at it again.
We had a fantastic week in Mexico at the Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda which is located in the Mayan Riviera. No phones, computers, meetings, or negotiations, just me and Angela and the beach. There is nothing to match the relaxation of an all inclusive resort. You put your money down and and never have to dig in your pocket again except for a tip now and again.

While we were there we managed to workout almost everyday. Between the great gym and spa facilities and the beach, there were lots of opportunities to run and swim. The workouts were short but very enjoyable. After six trips to Mexico I would definitely rank this as one of the best resorts we have been to and would highly recommend it.

The other bonus was coming back home and finding no snow and temperatures still on the plus side. Normally when we get back, the first challenge is to determine which lump of snow in the airport parking lot might contain our vehicle. Not this time! And then this morning when I woke up to take the dogs out at 6:30 a.m. it was already plus 3 degrees Celsius. Bonus!!

After the great rest, everything seems to have found it's proper perspective and I am ready to get back on the horse and take on the challenges at work and with my training. The other nice thing is I know that we are going back in a little over a month! My niece is getting married just 40 minutes south of where we just were, at the Bahia Principe Tulum.

Today the plan is to get out and enjoy a nice run in this beautiful fall weather. Then time to start digging out the Christmas decorations!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Call me Coach

This weekend I took the NCCP - Community Coaching course in Edmonton. The course is now actually considered level one of the competition stream which seems to make sense. All that aside, it was a great course and I learned a lot. The facilitators were excellent and had a great amount of relevant experience. We also had a great class which only helped to enhance the learning. There were pro's, elite level runners, swimmers and cyclists as well as people like myself just hungry for more knowledge about the sport. Some really good discussion and sharing of training methods, drills, and workouts. In the end I came away with some great ideas to incorporate into my own training as well as a sound foundation of coaching principles and skills. Well worth giving up a weekend and shelling out a couple hundred bucks.
The workouts last week were all pretty intense for some reason. Short but very intense, with the exception of a couple of slower runs. Tuesday I did another brick and that was a killer. Now with the treadmill and the bike trainer in the same room I am able to really do some interesting workouts. For this workout I did 10 minutes easy spinning, followed by 10 minutes at 8 mph on the mill, and repeated it four times increasing the intensity on each rep. It was a gooder!
Wednesday I was in the city to bring Francesca back after an extended long weekend. I also had some personal business to take care of so that worked out even though I didn't get any workouts in. Thursday I ran 8.5 miles in a little over an hour and followed it up with a quick 40 minutes on the bike, covering just over 12.5 miles. Friday was a swim and a hilly run after work. Saturday and Sunday were both down days due to the course in Edmonton.
Today I was back in the pool, but it was a disaster! After a weekend of listening to all kinds of great technique suggestions I promptly tried to weave them into one workout. After 1,200 metres I had myself completely confused and struggling to complete each length of the pool. That's when you know it is time to call it. So call it I did, and I will write myself up a more structured workout for Wednesday that blends in a few of the learnings from the weekend.
I ran tonight and did a nice, even paced run of 5.5 miles in just under 39 minutes. Felt really good and loose, with strong legs.
This week I will continue just mixing things up and having fun, because on Friday I am really going to have some fun. As a bit of a surprise I booked a week in the Mayan Riviera at the Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda. Yes this is in addition to our already booked trip to Cancun in January, but I really need a break from work and the price was right. So it will be one less week of winter to concern myself with which suits me just fine!
Have a great week!

Monday, November 10, 2008


This weekend I am taking my NCCP Community Coaching Clinic in Edmonton. As part of the course, the facilitator sent out a pre-work assignment to get a sense of the participants coaching background and what you expect to get out of the course. There was one other question that I found interesting which was, "Tell me why you think people participate in sports?" Simple enough question, or so it seemed, until I really thought about the phases of why we participate in sport.
If you think of the first organized sport you engaged in as a kid, you probably did it because someone else in the family participated. For most Canadian boys, hockey is the first organized sport you join and it is generally because you have an older brother, father or uncle who played and you wanted to be just like them. Once you joined you found out that you either liked it our didn't and if you liked it you wanted to get better. And as you got better you wanted to learn more about the skills and improve upon them. All the while you were having fun!
Fast forward to an adult and things change. We usually participate in sports as a means of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some of us end up not really liking what we do, but we do it to keep off weight and keep our blood pressure. However, somewhere in amongst those masses of adult athletes are the ones who find a way to have fun with it again. That is where I think I have landed again. I went through a competitive phase in my late twenties and early thirties, but that didn't last that long. After a short while I found my way back to the fun and I have been there ever since. My successes are measured much differently then when I was younger and they are usually in terms of how much fun I had. I won't lie and say every work out is the funnest thing I have ever done, but by and large I have fun. Part of it is the fact that I am pretty unstructured when it comes to my work out plans. There is a vague framework with a lot of opportunity for mixing and matching and working with how I feel on a given day.
Somehow I think I digressed from the question but I think the reason I still participate in sport is because it is fun. Others do it for the social aspects which is a great reason as well. I envy reading about people who have groups that will go out with them for runs and rides. Unfortunately I am a bit of a solitary creature, and I also live in an area where I would be able to find a group to go ATVing with a lot faster than someone to go cycling with.
My homework is complete and as long the dog doesn't eat it I should be good to go this weekend.
Monday's workout was a quick swim, 1,750 metres in 37:14 and then a brisk evening run covering 6.5 miles in 45 minutes even.
Have a great week!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Busy, busy, busy,....

Too busy to do much of anything besides work and work out!
Today I finally managed to settle down for a few minutes, grab a cup of coffee and catch up on all the blogs I follow. I had more than a week of posts to read as I just haven't had time to sit down and read.
My week was a blur as we finally delivered our 2009 Operating Plan to the corporate folks on Thursday. The frustrating thing about the whole process is that it isn't worth the paper it is printed on once it is done. Trying to predict the value of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar, and guessing the prices of pulp, natural gas and electricity is darn near impossible. But we go through the process and the innumerable revisions for the dog and pony show that is called the plan presentation. Along with the presentations go the inevitable rah rah speeches on just how we are going to achieve this plan. We are going to be the safest, most productive, lowest cost mill in the entire world, no wait, the galaxy! With our below average compensation packages we are going to recruit and retain the brightest minds and motivate them to things never before imagined. Yes, this will be the year it all comes together. At this point, the crowd roars, and everyone is whipped into a frenzy, speaking in tongues, and vibrating like the congregation at a good old bible revival.
Do I sound a little cynical? Perhaps, but this is probably one of the things I detest the most of all the things I have to do. And I am the mastermind behind it all, as I work the magic of PowerPoint to put the most mesmerizing shade of lipstick on the pig! Shame on me!
Okay...I think you get the point.
In amongst all this I managed to run 42 miles, swim 5,000 metres and go for two bike rides. I continue to maintain a holding pattern of sorts and just enjoy all of my activities. My swims were really good last week, effortless, balanced and really enjoyable. I'm not developing any speed and in all likelihood, I'm not going to, but I sure have been swimming well. So I am not going to complain if things stay this way!
The cycling was all indoors on the trainer and really nothing special to mention. I put my head down and my butt up and got the workouts done, enough said.
Now running on the other hand has been pure joy! There is no way we should be having the weather we have been having but I'll take it. Bright sunshine and moderate temperatures have made for pleasant running. A few days when I have been running at lunch I just don't want it to end! That's a good thing when you are training "free style" as usually I have a tough time when there is no real point to the workouts. But this has been a lot of fun!
Next week will be more of the same. However, plan is behind me now and all that is left is to get our contract done with the union. Next set of negotiations is in one week.
Have a great week!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Religion and Politics

I was going to write a post about the U.S. election today, but I think I had made a vow to myself to avoid religion and politics. All I will say about it then is it should be interesting!
I had a nice run yesterday, eleven miles in 1:22 over a rather hilly course. My plan had been to run ten miles, but somewhere along the line I screwed up with my mental mathematics and found myself more than a mile from home. The extra mile didn't kill me and it was faster than walking.
The weather here in Northern Alberta has been nothing short of outstanding. Normally by Halloween we have a skiff of snow and the temperatures are in the -3 to -8 Celsius range. Yesterday it was + 15 C and very sunny. The outlook is for more of the same.
I was also going to rant a little about work in today's post, but I'm not going to do that either. Needless to say it has been extremely busy as labour negotiations are hitting a critical point and our annual operating plan is in draft #863.
Last week I was supposed to go on my annual elk hunt with my buddy Dale from Spruce Grove, but I was unable to get away from work. That choked me! We go to a great little trapper's cabin in a remote area up north and it is a very relaxing time. In the time we have went we have never got anything and to be honest, that is fine with me. We both enjoying just spending time in the woods. The bonus is that we always see a ton of wildlife, deer, moose, elk, grizzly and lots of birds of prey. The camp is comfortable and we have some great meals and a few drinks and it is all good. It was just too bad that I had to miss this year as I could really do with the break.
However, today I am going to book my tickets to go to my niece's wedding in Cancun in January. My older brother, Jim will be there so I will have a training partner for a week. That should be fun as he is now hooked on triathlon and marathon running and is doing quite well at it.
I have read a couple of good books lately. Paradise Lost was a great read about the destruction of the city of Smyrna in Turkey in 1922. This city was seemingly a virtual paradise which was isolated from all the turmoil in the area at the time between the Greeks and the Turks. However after a push by the Greeks to take over all of Turkey and a subsequent push back by the Turks, this city was the site of a horrendous scene. Very interesting book to see how the various governments of the U.S., Britain, France and Italy positioned themselves and stood by while the slaughter happened.
The other book I have read recently was called Black Mass which is about politics and religion, so I can't tell you how it was.
Have a great weekend!