Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Breakthrough!

The swimming part of my trio of sports has always been a challenge. While there are limited gains to be made in the swim part of the race for me, you still have to work hard to maintain what you have. And the options of not being a decent swimmer are not good, as my brother once told me, if you can't run, you can walk, if you can't ride, you can coast, if you can't swim, you drown!
Lately I have mixed my swimming up a bit, adding a little more interval and drill work and when possible, another swim per week. And yesterday I definitely noted a breakthrough! Under race conditions my 1,500 metre time is 32 minutes plus. Yesterday I did a rather relaxed swim, which included 50 metres of breastroke in 30:20! So I am quite confident that I could have went under 30 minutes easily. Unfortunately I know holding on to my gains is the difficult part. Because swimming is so technical, it doesn't take much to revert to your old habits. But that was one good thing about yesterday's swim is that I really wasn't thinking too much about what I was doing.
Now if I can get a breakthrough on the bike!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Workouts this week

So far the week is proceeding along quite nicely from a workout perspective:

Sunday was a brick with a break - I rode 1:35 or just over 30.5 miles and then after a little break I ran 6.5 miles at a 7:05 pace
Monday was a 2,000 metre pool workout.
Tuesday - 2,650 metres in the pool and then a 9.5 mile run holding 6:56 / mile pace
Wednesday was a short run 5 miles on the trails at lunch.
Thursday - 2,900 metre swim, 1:00 bike ride for 17.1 miles using big gears and 6 miles in 41:08. The bike / run workout was done as follows 30 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes running, 30 minutes on the bike and 20 odd minutes on the run.
Thus far this week I am at 8.5 hours so I am well positioned to have another 10+ hour week.
Everything is rolling along quite nicely right now. I just need to keep reminding myself it is still early and not to get too far ahead of myself. I think I need to seriously consider some events prior to Ironman Coeur d'Alene. I also need to consider booking accommodations in CDA or I "will be living in a van, down by the river", to quote Chris Farley.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Running Man

As much as I love triathlon, I am first and foremost a runner.
I have always loved to run, and have been a distance runner since high school. Back then, our phys ed teacher would start us running in the fall for cross country. There was a route that ran from the high school to a little lake and it was probably 2.5 or 3 miles at best round trip. On the way to the lake was a gas station and most of the guys in my class would take off from the school running at a great clip, once the teacher was out of site, they would duck into the gas station and buy a pop and some chips. Then they would head off into the bush and hide. I usually had no money so I ran to the lake and back. The rest of the class knew it was time to come out of the bush when I went by!
So through high school I ran cross country and played soccer which was really just running for me as I can't recall touching the ball that often. After college and when I started working in an office is when I really got serious and decided I would like to run a marathon. After a couple of ten milers I finally did my first marathon in 1985 in Duluth, Minnesota. My older brother and I trained religiously for the race and had modest expectations of finishing in under 4 hours. Both of us did considerably better and we were hooked! Since that time I have run quite a few marathons, halfs, ten milers, you name it. Unfortunately I am not much of a record keeper so I can't give you a litany of PB's, other than I know my best marathon was a 2:49:49. I only remember that one so well because I had a goal to go to Boston but I would only go if I qualified with the original qualifying time of 2:50. I can still remember watching the clock ticking down as I was running down the last straight stretch at Grandma's Marathon, wondering if I was going to make it!
Which leads me to the point of today's post. It has been almost 30 years of running for me and I still look forward everyday to my workout, some days more than others. My goals have always been modest, and I think I have always been pretty balanced in my approach to training. And I have tried all the different methods of training and found what I believe to be the sweet spot for me. Any more than 60 miles a week and I can guarantee that I will get injured. Also I like to run when I go out! My miles are mainly done at higher intensity because that is what I like to do. I don't hill train, and I don't necessarily speed train. I just run! And for anyone thinking of starting to run that is all you need to do......just run.
Have a great day!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January has gone missing

Where has the month of January gone? For me this month has passed by quicker than any January in recent memory. I know they say this happens to you as you get older, but this month really slipped away. Usually it is the one month that seems to drag on forever. With cold weather, post Christmas blues and the like, it seems like a 45 day month some years. However, not this year as we have it licked!
But that poses a bit of another issue, as I am now approaching the start of my official training for IM CDA. I believe the start date for my 20 week program is February 1. I am already in good position for that as I have started conditioning the body for two a days and longer weekly hours. This week will end up just over 11 hours, which is probably a little more than I should have. One of the obvious issues we face is that we charge out of the gate and plunge into big weeks right off the bat, only to be dragging our sorry asses in late May. Then I will be complaining about how burned out I am, sick of training, blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine. So that is the one caution.
As mentioned in my last post I am going to try and mix things up a bit more than I usually do. I might even try swimming in a different lane at the pool! Wait a minute, that's just crazy talk! But I may start at the opposite end of the pool one day.
This week, thus far, I have managed 4 swims for a total of 8,600 metres, 4 runs with one more today, and 3 rides. I tweaked my right calf on my Wednesday run, so I skipped Thursday. With the help of the Trigger Point massager I was able to get the knots out and I blasted through a 10K run on the treadmill last night in 41:27 running at between 2 and 3% grade.
I also got some great news on Friday as my younger brother has chosen to join our company and move to Hinton. It is really exciting to have some family right here again. I am also excited because he is a very talented guy and will help our facility out in numerous ways.
On the reading front I am still struggling through "The Spiritual Brain", it is some tough slugging and I kept hoping it would get better, but with 30 pages to go it hasn't happened yet! I am also reading a biography on Joseph Stalin. Hopefully I can learn some tips on how to manage my people more effectively. Torture, murder, and banishment to Siberia seemed to work effectively for Uncle Joe!
Musically, I have picked up a few good albums lately, Susan Tedeschi, Back to the River, and The Derek Trucks Band, Almost Free. Both are blues albums and Derek Trucks actually plays a bit on the Susan Tedeschi Album. He is an awesome slide player and has also played with the Allman Brothers Band.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Changing it Up

Since I started training for triathlons some years ago I have always followed roughly the same pattern for my workouts. Swims on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at lunch. On those days I run in the evening. On Tuesday and Thursday, I run at lunch and bike in the evening, and on the weekend it is long run on Saturday, short bike, and long bike, short run on Sunday or I take Sunday off. Going into this training cycle I am going to try and mix it up a little and try and do a few single, concentrated workouts throughout the week.
Yesterday I had to go for blood work which required 12 hours of fasting. For me going 12 hours without food is a challenge and I need some distractions. My problem is I wake up starved and can't wait for my breakfast so I needed something to keep me occupied from 4:30 AM when I get up until the lab opened at 8:00 AM, so I went for a morning swim. Surprisingly I was quite pleased with my workout as I was able to really work on some drills and not worry about taking up a lane. After an hour I had done a little over 2,000 metres and it was 7:30 AM and I was ready to get the blood withdrawn. In the evening I ran a nice 6.25 miles in 44 minutes. The legs were pretty fresh considering I had done eleven miles on Saturday and 9.5 on Sunday, both a around a 7:05 pace.
Today I swam again, logging 2,600 metres. Tuesday is a less busy day at the pool as apparently most people follow the same schedule I do for their swims. Again it was nice to have not too many people in the pool. Swimming back to back left me feeling pleasantly tired, but not totally bagged. The added bonus was I hit the bike for a challenging workout tonight with fresh legs and it really was evident. I whipped off a 40 km ride in 1:11 with lots of intervals and some big gear work.
So I think I may have something here. My big issue with the big may be related to the fact that I am attempting too many ambitious workouts on tired legs. With that in mind I will try and mix things up a bit and keep it a little more varied. There are some limitations with swimming pool hours but there are still some opportunities to work within those limitations.
Have a great week!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Annual Physical

Every year at this time, I schedule my annual physical. Timing wise it works out well as I have my birthday on January 8th as reminder and it is the start of the hard training for any event I am going to do.
I have always looked at the checkup from the perspective that I take my vehicles in for a service appointment after every 5,000 kilometres, wouldn't it make sense to do the same for my body? Especially given the fact that I ask a lot of it in a year.
The only thing about going for my physical is that as I age I am forced to suffer more indignities each year. Also given my family history (my father died from colon cancer, and several uncles from prostate cancer), well you get the picture! Having said all that, this is my plug to make sure that you go for a check up and get all the diagnostics done. In my case it has turned up things that, despite the candy coated outside, lurk inside and need to be managed. I believe my Dad would still be alive with proper screening and treatment. So if you haven't done it in awhile go out and make that appointment!
I am lucky that my doctor is a triathlete and marathon runner so he is great about understanding that side of me and treats me accordingly. He understands the obsessive nature of endurance athletes and helps to find courses of treatment that allow me to continue training without doing more harm.
So that is the public service announcement portion of today's blog!
On to the training or lack thereof.
Yesterday I laid an egg as I just was too tired to get out to do anything. A couple of late nights and a bit of lingering tiredness from the travel on Monday and Tuesday left me just wanting to kick back and relax. And that is what I did! It was a bit unfortunate as the weather has really taken a turn and temperatures have soared. Today we are looking at +10 C and sunshine so it will be time to run outside and enjoy.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reality Bites!

After another glorious week of vacation in the beautiful Mayan Riviera, it is back to reality, and as we all know, REALITY BITES! My biggest decision for the last seven days has been whether or not to go up for another helping at the all inclusive buffet.

However, a return to normal is not all bad either. I am actually happy to be home and get back to my training regime. Although I did manage to run 5 out of 7 days and get in a couple of swims, and that doesn't include the laps at the swim up bar!
The wedding was a blast and it was great to see my brother and his family. My niece and her husband made it a very memorable event treating us to an afternoon of sailing, snorkeling, snacking and snarfing beers in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as another morning of deep sea fishing. Along with a beautiful wedding ceremony and reception it was just a fantastic time and we really appreciated the incredible hospitality.

Times like these really make you appreciate your family. We have been blessed with a close family and we have a great bunch of nieces and nephews. They are all interesting, funny and really caring people and we are proud of all of them.
My brother and his family on the sailing trip.
So now it is time to starting eating this elephant better know as Ironman Coeur d'Alene. My training base is quite strong right now and I feel like I am in a good position both mentally and physically to kick things up a notch. They key, as usual is balance and moderation. Since I got back on Tuesday I have managed two swims of 2,000 metres each, a 5 mile run last night and a quick 40 minute ride tonight. I am still feeling the effects of an lack of sleep due to our travel arrangements on Monday. We left Cancun at 10:00 PM Monday night and arrived back in Edmonton at 3:00 AM Tuesday morning. Sleep was not an option on the plane as we had some crying babies and a pregnant women vomiting in the seat behind us. When we arrived in Edmonton we hopped into our truck and made the 300 Km journey home, stopping at the dog kennel along the way to pick up our pups. Then it was a quick shower and off to work. I finally hit the sack at 8:00 PM on Tuesday night! No worse for the wear but a little on the punch drunk side. Anyway after a few more days to catch up on some sleep I will be ready to get back to the ten hour level next week.
Captain Ang as we head out for a three hour cruise!
Now it is time to catch up on all the blogs I have missed reading.

The little guy in the front is my youngest blog reader, Emilio!
Have a great day!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Heading Back on Vacation

Well I am back off on vacation for a week and this should be the last one until Nicholas and Nicole get married in May. I don't really need the rest, but the escape from the cold will be welcome. Winter has really settled in over the last few days and I have been stuck inside as the temperatures have been -30C and lower. Coupled with the wind it makes for less than optimal running conditions!
So I will be off to sunny Mexico for 7 days of pampering and also some light training. I am usually good about getting in a run everyday and I will also go to the gym and swim. Once I get back though it will be time to start kicking things up a bit. Last week was a good jump off point as I managed to log just over 9 hours with some good runs and a few decent bike rides. Yesterday I rode 32 miles averaging 20 MPH with cadence in the 90+ range. That is where I need to be on the bike if I am going to make any noise at the races. The bike legs do feel like they are coming back as I have really not rode the bike that much over the last few months.
Music wise I am not finding much new these days. I have put the new Hinder and Nickelback albums on, but there hasn't been anything else that has captured my attention. My 30 GB iPod is full now, so when I add something new, something has to come off. There have been some tough decisions as of late! I think it may be time to graduate to the 120 GB model.
Have a great week!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Musings of My 49 Trips Around the Sun

On January 8th I will have completed my 49th trip around the sun.
Now while some people on their birthday spend time thinking about all the things they haven't done, I will spend my being thankful for all the things I have done. I have had 49 great years and have gotten to do some amazing things! No mid-life crisis for this dude.
There are still lots of things I would like to do, but I really don't have a "bucket list" so to speak. I have really learned to embrace the things I have been able to accomplish and be thankful for them.
This year I would like to do a few more races. I had planned on doing more last year but it never really worked out for me. Coeur d'Alene is the feature race of the season and that will happen June 21. I felt I made considerable improvement in my IM racing last year despite the fact my time was almost the exact same as my first IM. Conditions in Arizona were beyond what I could have reasonably prepared for, so the fact that I gutted it out and finished was a feat in itself. So this year, hopefully with some co-operation from Mother Nature, I can pull together a better race.
On the running front I did have a good race in Red Deer, clocking a 2:58 on a rather challenging course. I haven't really set my sights on any particular marathon yet, but I will definitely do at least one.
Next week it is off to Mexico again for my niece's wedding. With bone chilling temperatures having settled in again (-37 C today!) I am looking forward to the sun in the Mayan Riviera. Temperatures there have been in the 28 C range so that will be a relief.
Today I managed to swim 2,000 metres at lunch and do a 7 mile run (7:08 pace) this evening.
I should finish the week with just over 9 hours so the slow climb has started.
Have a great day!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sorry no charts or graphs!

Unlike someone else, I am unable to provide you with any charts, graphs, or statistical analysis of my training in 2008. I'm not even sure I can accurately provide you with any information of what I did last year. My training logs are half-assed at best with large holes where I have either forgot or didn't bother to log anything. Years ago I was quite diligent about the whole thing, but in recent years I really haven't been too interested in keeping up with the details. I know I should, and right about now I should be saying that is my resolution for 2009. But I don't do resolutions either so it probably isn't going to happen.
The last couple of days have been sort of test workouts as I begin my training for my next assault on the Ironman distance. I have done a couple of short brick workouts and those have went well. My legs are really feeling quite strong and the transition from bike to run has been really smooth.
On the running front I continue to feel good and log moderate miles. The cold weather has kept me mostly inside but last Saturday I was able to run in the sun and did a brisk 8.6 miles in 1:00.
Then there were a couple of swims which were kind of lame. The pool has been full of kids lately which has made it difficult to do any sort of workout. With the Christmas break, parents feel that they should bring their kids to the lunch time lap swim. So you end up with a hodge podge of people swimming with no purpose or direction. I usually end up getting frustrated and rather than drowning someone's child, I have opted to bail on the swim after about 1,200 metres. Drowning other people's children carries heavy penalties in Canada.
To finish off 2008 I ran a nice 13.25 miles in 1:32 yesterday. I really had no intention of going that far or fast, but I had a great playlist that really motivated me.
So with that, on we charge into 2009! Today was a 26 mile bike ride followed by 3.5 miles of running. Everything feels good and now I am getting prepared to have a 'nog and rum and start cooking supper!
All the best to everyone in 2009. I hope you achieve all your personal goals and that your lives are filled with peace, happiness and prosperity!
Have a great New Year!