Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Arctic Freeze

We are living in the middle of the Antarctic. At least that is what it feels like this week. Temperatures have dropped to the -40's with windchill. It was about -36 or so this morning without the windchill, close to -50C with windchill. Yikes! The point where the celsius and fahrenheit scales merge is -40, and shockingly we are quite close to that. In the newspaper the record low for today is -41.7 (back in 1969). It's crazy to think that it could be colder than this.

The picture above was the view from my front door at about 8:15am this morning. The air was covered with a blanket of ice fog - basically the air is so cold it is almost frozen! The ice fog has lifted now that it is almost 4:30pm but it is still absolutely freezing outside.

This was the view from the backyard this morning, about an hour after I took the first picture. Looks pretty, but it is not pretty to be living it.

Geoff and I were both stranded this morning as neither of our cars would start. I had to miss work but no matter what I have to get myself there tomorrow, cab or otherwise. I could have taken a cab today but it is about $45 and I was able to get some work done here anyway. All night Geoff's vehicle was plugged into a battery charger and still would not start. Yesterday his vehicle also wouldn't start. My trusty old 1988 Celica (which actually started yesterday when it was -46C with windchill), would not budge this morning. First of all the doors were all frozen shut and then when Geoff made his way in through the hatchback, the engine of course wouldn't start. We have been keeping warm inside the house and periodically checking to see if the car will start (so far to no avail).

I will be running inside today on the treadmill and have to coach swimming tonight, so Alice is going to pick me up. I might swim with the group as I anticipate that it will be a poor turn-out. This weather is supposed to continue all through the week and there is no break in sight until next Tuesday (when the forecast is -11). This will feel balmy compared to today. I think I need to be reminded again why we live in Alberta?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Better, Stronger, Faster

This was my motto during my first (and only so far) Ironman in Coeur D'Alene when it was 37C out. I have become this once again in the pool this week - yesterday I swam a PB (for practice) in the 400m time trial and it's only January! I guess you could say I got my feel back for the water, which I thought I lost the past few weeks. It turns out all this band-only and paddle work was worth it.

My swim started out not too great, as every lane had one person (including mine) and then a non-swimmer decided to jump in my lane (why does this happen - they pick the fastest swimmer in the pool to swim with?). We each took our own side of the lane and every time I passed I had to dodge out of the way to avoid being breastroke-kicked (he was doing freestyle arms with breaststroke kick). I decided to delay starting my time trial by doing the set I had planned for the end of the workout next (an easy kick set). Finally the person in the lane next to me got out and I bolted into the empty lane.

I started my time trial feeling strong but my legs felt like they were burning after only the first 100 so I thought I might be in trouble. I peeked at the clock going into my turn at 100 and it was at 1:13 so I felt right on track (I had wanted to be about 1:15 here). At the 200 I peeked again and the time going into the turn was 2:31! Could that be a mistake - I checked again after the turn and it was 2:33. I was really surprised and then got a boost of energy as that is faster than I was swimming 200's at last year. I felt really strong the last 200 but pushed it really hard (I "made it hurt" as Bree Wee would say). I looked at the time when I hit the wall at 400 and was very happy to see 5:09! I had surpassed my expectations (I was hoping to go about 5:15), as in December I had gone a 5:17 which was right on my PB and I had been very happy with that.

Sometimes you surprise yourself and other times you are disappointed even if you gave your best effort. I was definitely impressed with myself yesterday and as a result now I have to set the bar higher for next time (i.e. under 5:00!). When you reach your goals it is a great feeling but when you can surpass your goals and blow them out of the park it is an amazing feeling and makes you wonder why you hadn't expected it of yourself before. Set the bar high!

"Shoot for the moon; even if you miss you'll land among the stars" - Les Brown

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blah Blah Blah

That pretty much sums up how I am feeling this week. My motivation has been waxing and waning, I have been experiencing dissatisfaction at my job this week, and the weather also is not cooperating (the forecast high this weekend is -18C). I plan to snap out of it momentarily and get back down to business!

Despite feeling 'blah' yesterday I forced myself to have a really good run on the tready before my swim. 50 minutes and 9km. After warming up for about 15 mins I decided to just increase the speed to 0.5 mile/hr faster than I normally do, just because. And it was no problem. I still felt good and didn't feel like I was gasping for air or dying. My swim was not so great, I seem to have lost my feel for the water in the past week or two and am hoping to get it back soon (hopefully on Thur. when I have to do a 400m time trial). My arms feel really tired and weak in the water my last few workouts. Perhaps all the band-only and paddles work I have done just need to catch up and become absorbed.

I discovered a really good quote today and will leave you with this:

When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool
-Chinua Achebe

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tough weekend

This turned out to be another hard weekend of training for me. Saturday started out with a 50 min run on the treadmill, as 15 min w.u., 20 min @ tempo, and 15 min cooldown. This turned into a 40 min run, as I was feeling really sh*&%^ from the start. The warm up went alright, but as soon as I ramped up the speed for the tempo, I experienced some nausea and stomach upset and had to make a pit stop! I managed to get in the 20 min of tempo @ a decent speed, but decided to cut my losses and do 5 more minutes instead of the planned 15. I thought I was going to have to cut the tempo down to 15 mins, but I made it through the 20 min after all. Sometimes the workout unfortunately just does not work out! I think the cause was eating a meal (lunch) only about an hour prior to the workout. I thought I would be okay but now I know for next time! Live and learn.

The bike workout I did on Sat. after that was really hard! It included 4 x (6 min high cadence, 2 min standing, 2 min ez). The standing intervals were extremely hard - I don't remember the last time I worked that hard on the bike! My legs were burning...

After supper I had planned to do weights with Mark and Donald. We kept procrastinating and putting it off, and I was very tempted to just call it a night and fit the weights in on Monday. Finally, at 9:10pm we decided to make our way to the gym to get the workout done! I ended up just doing upper body weights and core exercises as my legs were exhausted and burning just walking up the stairs!

Sunday brought another long run (90 min). I decided to do it on the treadmill, as it was -20C outside and I wasn't in the mood to freeze. I actually had a really good run, the legs felt good and I felt I had good fitness and endurance. My hips and legs were pretty sore by the end! It was a game of mental toughness as that is what 90 mins on the treadmill will do to you. I made sure the display didn't show the time or the distance, and I tried not to check very often! On only several occasions did I really feel like just completely stopping, the rest of the time I kept positive thoughts and stayed motivated. I felt good during the workout but soon after I finished I was completely dead.

Following the run, an easy 50 min recovery bike was left for the day. I thought I was going to do this in the evening, but it turns out I was too trashed to even do the ride. The long run just killed me, so I took it easy in the evening and watched 2 episodes of 'Lost' (I'm still in the 1st season).

Today I am doing an easy recovery swim. I actually don't feel too bad today but had a hard time getting out of bed this morning for work. Hopefully it warms up soon outside - I am sick of this deep freeze! At least the days are noticeably getting longer and January is almost over.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lessons Learned

What I learned this week from my coach that was interesting is that the timing and scheduling of workouts is crucial in training in order for the proper adaptations to occur. My coach told me the other day that there is a purpose to the way that he has scheduled my workouts each week, and that it will result in better quality of workouts and proper recovery.

Here I was thinking that I could just re-arrange the workouts and fit them in on days where it was more convenient for me to do them! There was a reason that my coach scheduled only a recovery swim on Mondays, after a very hard 2 days of double (or triple) workout day on the weekends. I would normally do a run Monday after doing runs on both Sat. and Sun. I realize now that when I was training on my own up until this point (or Jan. 1/08), the workouts I was doing were good, but there was no rhyme or reason to the way that I scheduled them, and I would go sometimes 7 consecutive days with either a run or bike (or both) on each of the days, resulting in a week without a legs-off day. Which resulted in not much room for the proper adaptations from each workout to occur. Thank goodness that I now have a coach!

An article that goes into depth (very scientifically for all you nerds out there) covers this concept exactly and outlines the training adaptations that I was mentioning can be found here: http://thetriathlonbook.blogspot.com/2008/01/interactions-between-training-sessions_16.html

My last few workouts have gone well, I ran 50 mins on the tready on Tues, including some random hill intervals of 1.5-2.5min in length at 3-4% grade, and also did a swim that evening, 2500m total. Wed. was a 60 min ride with 10 x (2min high cadence, 2min ez). Yesterday was another 50min ez run on the treadmill, which took a lot of mental toughness to get through!
I felt somewhat unmotivated and kept looking at the timer every 5 mins, hoping it had been longer. My swim yesterday was 2400m total, as 300 w.u., 6 x 50 kick, 6 x 50 swim desc. 1 to 3, and main set as 2 rounds of: 8x 25 band only, 4 x 50 DPS, 200 swim, 100ez. My arms felt pretty tired, I think it is from all the pull and band-only swimming I have been doing. It is definitely adding to my strength in the pool. And today luckily is my day off!!

Planning is in the works for a training trip to Penticton from May 3-12, with Geoff, my 2 brothers, Dad, hopefully Alice for part of it, the cat and the dog, and I still have to ask my friend Stephen in SF. We are going to rent a vacation home that allows pets. Geoff and I will be doing a lot of biking and running, and my brothers and Dad will be golfing nearly every day. Add a few trips to the wineries and perhaps the beach and we are set! I am very excited. Geoff and I are going to do an olympic tri in Cultus Lake (couple hours from Penticton) on May 11. That will be my first tri of the year - apparently the lake is freezing at that time! It should be a great trip though!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Efficiency is my middle name

I strive for efficiency in most things that I do. At my job, I work very efficiently so as to get as much done in as little time that I can, while producing the highest quality work. I try to avoid wasting time and focus on keeping my mind on the task at hand. I can do many tasks in a fraction of the time it may take others. In the pool, I swim fast because my stroke is very energy-efficient while at the same time very strong and powerful. On the bike, keeping your technique efficient is key to going fast and conserving energy, which I try to work towards. I have been trying to work on improving my running efficiency, so that I can go faster at the same effort level (this continues to be a challenge for me, but I continue to work at it).

Lately I have been feeling less efficient overall day to day. I feel exhausted a lot and feel like a lot of time is being wasted on the weekends after getting up and planning to do a workout early. At work I have been very busy and have been challenged in keeping up to date with everything. I have good intentions but it doesn't always work out the way you plan. The important thing is that the work and the workouts get done, and get done they did this weekend. I get a day off on Fridays, so I thought I would be feeling energetic on Saturday, but I woke up tired and like I needed a nap after coaching swim practice at 9am.

But I got my planned workouts in, and ended up having an awesome run on both days despite how tired I was feeling. I did a 50 min run on the treadmill on Sat. which included 2 x 10min tempo intervals, and I did them at the same speed I did the 3 min intervals at a week earlier (7.5). I felt awesome too. On Sat. I also biked for 60 min with some big gear intervals, and did weights in the evening. Sun. I did my 85 min run and didn't wear my HR monitor, and I had a really good run. I felt stronger at the end, which is a good sign for endurance. I also did a 2400m swim on Sunday, as 6 x 400 (#1 & 6 as warm-up/cooldown; and #2-5 as descend). I did #2 and 3 pull with no paddles (at 6:00 and 5:50), and the last 2 with paddles (5:40 and 5:40). Felt really strong and was happy with the times, especially for pull. Today was just a very easy 50min recovery ride on the trainer, for which I was thankful.

Today I did some checking around and found someone who wanted to sell their spot for the Hypothermic Half in March, so it looks like I am in! It will be good to see what I can do at that point, I just hope that it isn't freezing and snowing! I guess if it is - it just makes you that much tougher.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It was the shoes

I just got back from my 50 min run in the sauna that calls itself the Talisman Centre. Honestly, it is ridiculously hot in there. The entire centre is one big open space, with dividing areas, so the temperature in the fitness area is the same as the pool! I sweated buckets, my face was bright red, and although I actually felt not too bad (my legs felt good after doing no leg workouts yesterday), I was working harder than I should be at that speed. 5.5 miles done and done.

I have been dealing with a minor lateral foot injury that really started bothering me during my Sat. run, and the runs following that. The shoes I have been wearing were new in September, and Nike had slightly changed the model then (I wear Nike Air Max Moto). I hate it when they change them! The new model changed for the worse back in September, and I noticed a difference since I have been running in them since then. I was really hoping that I wasn't developing some sort of major injury - that would not be a good thing right now!

But as it turns out my foot 'injury' was due to the shoes! I bought a new 'old' pair of shoes yesterday (found a store that luckily had an older model pair in my size sitting in the back), and I ran in them today - and didn't have any difficulties. I guess I am going to have to start changing my running shoes every 3 months now! Gets expensive, but it's better than risking an injury.

Just ordered room service for dinner (didn't want to go anywhere) - now I can relax and do nothing for the rest of the evening!

Blogging from Calgary

I am in Calgary today and tomorrow for work. The drive down was clear and uneventful. Work is another story, not worthy of a post.

Anyway, I am leaving now to go to my hotel and relax for a bit before heading to the Talisman Centre for a treadmill run. I plan to do 50 min (ez to steady), and supposed to do some strides at the end, so I'll attempt to do some 15 sec sprints on the treadmill! It's actually nice outside here but I didn't bring any outside running clothes b/c I thought it would be as cold as Edmonton (it was -18C there this morning).

Yesterday was the first day back of coaching the Tri group (after 3 weeks off), it went well. We have 3 new swimmers which is great. I gave everybody a band to keep and had them do the "sink or swim" drill, which was fun. I did my swim after, 2300m as 500 w.u., 4 x 150 kick/swim, and the main set as 300 pull/band, 4 x 25 band only, 300 pull/band, 4 x 25 band only, 300 pull/band. I felt pretty strong on the pull and am improving with the band only swimming.

Monday was a 50 min ez run on the treadmill, which didn't feel easy as my legs were feeling all the workouts from the weekend! My long run on Sunday was 80 mins, followed by a 50 min ez bike later that evening. My new schedule my coach gave me has me biking 3 times a week - so that will definitely improve from my 1 bike workout (if that) a week! It will be easy for me to improve my biking - just do more of it!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Fitting it all in

Well I got all my workouts completed today, after starting the first at 3pm! 3 workouts in total - done and done. The first was a 50 min run on the treadmill, consisting of 4 x 90 sec hill (with equal rest), and then 4 x 3 min tempo/3 min ez. The hill repeats were hard! I started the first one at 7% grade (not really used to doing hills on the treadmill!), then went at 6% for the rest. I wasn't sure what incline to do them at - in hindsight probably shouldn't have gone that steep! Geoff told me I probably should have done them at 3-5% grade as I have not done any hills lately. Live and learn.

That was followed by a 60 min trainer ride, main set was 5 x 5 min big gear (cadence at 40-50 rpm), so my legs got some strength work. I actually enjoyed this workout and watched the 2006 Lifetime Fitness triathlon while biking - good race and motivating to watch! After dinner I went to the gym with Donald and I did full-body weights and core exercises (while he ran on the treadmill). I will be doing the weights more regularly now (1-2x/week) to build up my strength.

My good friend Bonnie and I planned on meeting for a drink around 10pm but it turned out that both of us were too exhausted and tired (surprise surprise after 3 workouts), so I ended up watching an episode of 'Lost' with Geoff. We both just started watching this show a couple of days ago and I am getting hooked! I have never seen it before on t.v. but have now watched 5 episodes in a few days. It is a great show, kind of reminds me of 'Lord of the Flies' a bit. It's neat to see the characters dealing with their own demons in their own ways, especially when faced with a difficult situation. I guess everyone has their own unique demons to deal with in life... it's about being able to overcome them and grow stronger as a result.

Apparently it is supposed to get COLD again this week - around -20C! I will be doing many runs inside on the treadmill if that is the case.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Day Off!

Today was a day completely off training! It was much needed, as I have been feeling tired and slightly run-down in the past week. Yesterday I did an easy swim, 2300m total with the main set as 5 x 300 (#1: 6 x 50 band only swim; #2: pull/paddles; #3: 3 x 100 kick f/e; #4: swim strong; #5: pull/paddles). The day before I just did a swim-only day as well, 2700m with the main set as 3 x 400 pull (last one with paddles). So I got my 3 swims in for the week by yesterday, which is nice. I am feeling pretty strong in the water, haven't done any hard stuff during December but there will be plenty of time for that now that it is January!

On the schedule for tomorrow is a trainer ride with some big gear intervals and then a run on the treadmill including some tempo intervals. Should be good! I will be doing my long run on Sunday outside as the weather is going to be great this weekend (around +2C). Hopefully some of the snow will melt :)

My race schedule has changed slightly as I missed the boat in trying to register for the Hypothermic Half marathon in Edmonton. There are a total of 4 races in Feb/March, and for some reason they are all full (as of mid-December)! There is a good chance that the weather here in Edmonton could be -20C or worse on those dates, so we have a lot of crazy people in this city! Instead I think I will do the St.Patrick's day 10km in March. I did that race last year, and the weather ended up being above zero until the day before the race, so the entire course was ice - which made for some interesting footing and a slow time! I don't know if the Tempe triathlon on May 18 is going to pan out anymore, so I am considering doing the U of A Sprint tri on May 4 and the Lethbridge Olympic tri on May 11 (it is a pool swim though), followed by World's in Vancouver a month later. Anyway, there will be some tweaking of the race schedule in the near future.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Reflections on 2007 - A year of trials and tribulations

This past year has been the most difficult of all my years. There were many ups and downs, unfortunately more downs than ups. I am really glad to leave the year of the Boar behind as 2008 is now here. 2007 was:

-finding a way to cope with the loss of 2 immediate family members (brother & mother) within 3 months of each other. For me, it helped to keep myself busy with training and my job and coaching (all of which I love to do). After a little more than a week off, I jumped back in and focused on getting back into doing all of these things and channeling my energy and thoughts into something positive and useful. You become stronger by how you choose to react to the challenges and difficulties that you face and the affect that these challenges have on you. You cannot choose your destiny, but you can ultimately choose how it affects you and how you cope.

-Receiving a job offer from another company of nearly double my salary at the time, for basically the exact same job. After I handed in my resignation, my boss at the time proposed an offer so that I would stay, which I did because I loved my job, and this resulted in an even more lucrative salary than I would have received at the other company.

-Achieving my top triathlon goal that I had set out at the beginning of 2007 - to qualify for the World Age Group Championships in Vancouver 2008. First of all I placed 6th (when I needed top 2) at the Edmonton race (which took place one month after the loss of my brother), which incidentally actually turned out to be a PB [even with 2 massive blisters on the arches of my feet which showed up during the 3rd KM of the run]. Then I was unable to attend the qualifying race in Kelowna due to my mother's passing the same weekend. After that I decided I would make the trip from Edmonton to Owen Sound, ON, for the last qualifying race on Sept. 9, all on my own, as I had continued to train through the summer and held great fitness. I packed/unpacked/packed my bike completely by myself for the very first time and did not encounter any mechanical problems during the bike portion of the race! The trip was worth it - I ended up winning my age group and claiming my qualifying spot (they took 4 spots per age group).

There were many other ups and downs of 2007 but I will stop there. 2008 is going to be a fantastic year and I am very excited to work hard to achieve all of my goals.

Tip: Set goals for yourself for the year, not 'new year's resolutions'.

Happy 2008