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Sad Panda

May 29, 2013 1 comment

sick_day_1

Today is a sick day.  Boo.  I hate taking a sick day – not only ’cause I feel like crap, but because I know the mess that will be waiting for me when I get back to work tomorrow.  Wouldn’t it be nice sometimes if the world could just shut down for a day when you need to?  Funny enough, it seems to keep on going.

My wife always reminds me to practice Self Care.  In training, such as in health, sometimes you need to dial it before a small issue turns into a nagging problem that slows you down for a long time.

Last night, while trolling on twitter (’cause I was already starting to feel like my couch was where I needed to be), I came across this:

Simon Whitfield is one of my triathlon heroes.  If he’s announcing a new Tri race in my city, I’m listening!

So I went and looked it up.  The Toronto Triathlon Festival.  Well shit, doesn’t this look nice!  From one of the pages on their website summarizing the 2012 race:

Canada’s Olympic Flag Bearer, Simon Whitfield, and fellow Olympian, Paula Findlay, competed [in 2012]

Okay… wait… both of my triathlon heroes actually raced this event last year?!?  Wouldn’t it be so amazing to toe the line with them?  This race sounds too good to be true…

… except for one little problem…

It’s on Sunday July 21st.  The same day I’m already signed up to race the Cincinnati Triathlon.  The registration fee is already paid, and the hotel is already booked.  Dammit!!  Why do these have to be the same weekend?!?

It isn’t to say that I’m not looking forward to racing Cincinnati this summer… rather, I’m really looking forward to it.  This will be my first time doing a vacation race – planning a vacation to another city around a race.  Plus, Ohio is special to me – I was born in Ohio, so I’m looking at this as a bit of a pilgrimage home… of sorts.  I hope to swing through Columbus on my way home and drive past the house I spent the first 2 years of my life in.  I think it’s going to be an amazing weekend!

It’s just too bad it’s the same day as the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  Why can’t I have both?!?

Sad Panda :-(

Sad Panda 😦

That’s it.  I’m going back to bed…

– DO’G

 

 

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Getting Back in the Spin of Things

May 26, 2013 2 comments

eeyore

I’ve had a lot of trouble getting going this week.  In a training funk, if you will.  Training for endurance events is as much mental as physical.  And as I’m learning, with multiple races in a year, it can start to take a toll on you.

Many endurance athletes like to get their work in during the early mornings.  And I don’t blame them…

  1. Summer temperatures are more sufferable
  2. It gives you a bit of energy for your work day
  3. It means you don’t have to invest hours of time training when you could otherwise be with family and friends

I get it.  I even agree with it.  But I still haven’t been able to haul my ass out of bed this week.

bedtime bear

As I said: A funk.  It’s been a rough week of short, uninspired training sessions.  And with each crappy session, I’ve gotten a little more frustrated with myself.

When it’s a mental funk, it takes a mental lift sometimes to get you out of it.  For me, that came this weekend, in the form of many inspiring posts by my fellow bloggers.  Bloggers who’ve seen improvement, overcome fears, taken on new challenges, found some perspective, and lots of others too.  I love it.  Thanks to all of you for helping to inspire me!

With 13 days to go before my first Triathlon of the season, it’s time to get back to work!

This morning was my weekly long bike ride.  The goal: 50km.  But I didn’t want to simply slug through the distance.  I had some goals for the ride:

  1. Work on fueling.  Last week’s 40km bike ride was a near bonk.  I need to work on my fueling strategy – particularly taking in calories without waiting for a traffic light to stop me (’cause on race day, hopefully that doesn’t happen).
  2. Work on form.  I read so much about form in the swim being so important, but it matters on the bike too.  Drive down with the heels.  Pedal through the full circle.  Keep my knees in (they shouldn’t be hanging out wider than my hips).  Support my upper body with my core – keep the arms light.

Lots of things to distract me from the growing numbness in my ass – it’s the first time this year I’ve been in the saddle for over 2 hours.

Overall a good ride.  50.77km.  Not a crazy-fast pace – there’s lots of pedestrians on the lakefront trail to have to go around, but I thought a good endurance session nevertheless.  And especially after the funk I’ve been in this week, it felt good to get out on the bike and push hard!

Now to go and eat everything in the pantry.  Holy cow I’m hungry!

What inspires you?  What helps you push when you’re lacking motivation?

 

Training Log MIA

May 22, 2013 6 comments
Sometimes the Internet makes me CRAZY!!!

Sometimes the Internet makes me CRAZY!!!

image credit

Most of us use some form of social media (be it Facebook, or Twitter, or one of the other bazillion options out there).  Heck – you’re reading an online blog.  I’m pretty much preaching to the choir here, aren’t I?

But do you use any forms of online tools?  Sites where you  have an account, and you input or access a certain amount of information.  And perhaps rely on that information to make decisions?  And perhaps don’t have any other (convenient) alternate ways to access your info?  Maybe you bank online?  Maybe you use a web email account (Gmail, or Hotmail)?  Maybe you keep an online calendar?

How lost would you be if it suddenly was “Closed for a Scheduled Upgrade”, for almost a week, with minimal notice?

I use a few different sites to keep track of my training data…

MapMyRunScreenShot

I use MapMyRun.com to capture my bike and run stats.  The app version on my phone tracks my progress via GPS as I run/ride, and the site gives me the data to analyze after I’m done.

LoseItScreenShotI use LoseIt.com to keep track of my weight (and, when I get the urge to count calories, I do this here as well)

And I use BeginnerTriathlete to track my training data.  All of my training history is logged here – it gives me a summary of workouts by type, by time, and by week or month…  Except right now it doesn’t do any of that.  Since some time on Friday, it’s been popping a splash page that it’s Closed for Upgrades.

Grrrrr.  I have almost a week’s worth of data written on napkins and scraps of paper around my house, hoping I don’t lose any of them, until an unknown time in the future when I can start data input to get caught up.  Doesn’t that sound like fun..

I’m actually a really big fan of BeginnerTriathlete.  It’s been good to me, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a free starter training log.  It’s pretty simple and user friendly.  You can start an account using minimal personal info, if that’s important to you.  It’s easy to input basic training session data and get a picture of how you’re doing.

It doesn’t do everything though, and that’s why I use 3 different sites (plus a spreadsheet to keep track of my workout plan – how inefficient!!).  I think more than anything though, I like that it caters to a beginner triathlete (hence, the name).  Most of the articles on the site are accessible to someone just getting into the world of training, and lots of them are motivational or success stories of people – like us – racing their first triathlon.

But I only like it when it’s working.  And the fact that it’s not working is driving me crazy!

Does this happen to other people?  Do you use an online training log?  How do you track your training?

Or do you use other online sites to keep other types of information?  Would you be calm and cool if your site suddenly went away?

 

Friday Stray Thoughts

May 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Friday

Image by Glenn McCoy

Happy Friday everyone!  For those of you looking for a little light lunchtime internet distraction to tide you over until quitting time, here’s a Few Stray Thoughts for your Friday Afternoon

– – – – –

triathletejob

I came across this one a few weeks months ago, from Triathlete Magazine, about a European company opening a new office in Boulder CO, aiming to attract talent by incorporating training facilities for endurance athletes into their building and corporate designs.

The brand-new Boulder, Colo., office will be equipped with gym equipment including a room of Computrainers and an endless pool, a full-time massage therapist and a kitchen designed for an athlete’s needs (such as a blender to prepare a smoothie). Perhaps the most important perk of this setup is the commitment to giving employees a flexible work schedule to train as they need.

… wow… just… shit… I can’t… wait?…  apparently I need to move to Colorado…

– – – – –

TouchOfModernSpeaking of items I came across weeks ago (and apparently the link no longer works, so you get a screen shot from Facebook… it’s that kind of Friday).  Don’t these look like fun?!  Their little lights that screw right onto your tire valve!

I’m thinking of all the times I’m on the road or the trails with the hardcore riders in their hardcore riding kits and multi-thousand dollar bikes looking so serious and intense as they push and ride like hell (okay, to be fair, I probably look like that too, even though my bike isn’t as nice and I’m not going quite so fast).  Biking is supposed to be fun, right?  Remember when we all got into biking as kids, with little streamers hanging off our handle bars, and baseball cards in the spokes of our wheels… or was I the only one who did that?  Anyway, I saw the above picture and thought it would be so fun to put these lights on my race bike’s tires.  Wouldn’t that turn people’s heads as I’m pushing and riding as fast as I can?!

I didn’t do it… but I thought about it…

– – – – –

exercisemotivation

Found this image from a blog I follow regularly, Race for all 50 States.  Seemed about right for a Friday (and give her blog a read or a follow – she does great work!)

Let’s finish today’s theme of things-I-came-across-a-while-ago-and-was-too-lazy-too-blog-about-at-the-time…  Here’s a link to an article on Beginner Triathlete that I really identified with, summarizing well ‘Who We Are’.  If you’re in the mood for a little motivation for the upcoming weekend (or if you need something else random on the internet to surf to now that you’re done reading this post), I recommend giving it a read.  Good warm fuzzy feelings for a Friday

– – – – –

Enjoy your long weekend everybody!  Be safe!  (for those of you not in Canada… enjoy work on Monday, I guess?  Or just take the day off work to celebrate Victoria Day May 2-4 with us.  Tell your boss I said it’s okay… go for it!)

Have a great weekend everybody!

 

Finding Balance in Yoga

May 16, 2013 Leave a comment

yogaimage credit

I recently started going to yoga classes at an amazing little studio in my neighborhood, Chopra Yoga.  I’ve been really impressed so far – I’ve been to 3 classes, all different, and each one has equally kicked my ass!

choprayogacenter

I’m not sure how many triathletes do yoga.  To be honest, it wasn’t something I even thought of when I first started training.  It was always about getting out to swim, or bike, or run.  But yoga seems to make a lot of sense.  There’s lots of arguments to the benefits of yoga to triathletes

“It’s about core strength and flexibility,” Rountree said. The benefits of yoga go beyond the physical. “Yoga can be added in at any point in an athlete’s training,” she said. “It’s becoming more accepted as a training tool.”

How Yoga for Triathletes Works, by Eric Baxter

There’s other sites as well making this argument, such as Triathlete Magazine or MindBodyGreen, or even USATriathlon.

The issue, as I understand it, keeping most triathletes from adding yoga to their training routine is time.  And I certainly get that.  There’s only so many hours in a week for training – the rest has to go to other obligations like work, sleep, family, etc.  With the little time we have, we have to fit in swim training, and bike training, and run training, and hopefully strength training too.  Is there really time for something else?  Is there really time for yoga?

Sometimes it's hard to make time for everything that's important

Sometimes it’s hard to make time for everything that’s important

image credit

For me, there’s time.  Or at least there will be.  Yoga does so many things for me, personally, that I need help with in my training.  It’s great for my core – and my core really sucks.  I could be such a stronger runner, cyclist, and swimmer if I had more strength in my core.  It’s great for flexibility, which I could also use.  Increased range of motion would certainly help with not only my speed, but also with injury prevention.  I’ve been pretty lucky avoiding injury so far [reaches out and touches wooden coffee table], but it happens to the best of us – in this sport, it’s bound to.

But it also helps with finding inner peace and calm.  And that’s a good thing too.  When every other aspect of my training is about intensity – strength, speed, and energy – I find yoga helps to bring me back to center, and remember just why the hell I’m doing all this anyway.

I’m really glad I’ve started going to yoga classes.  They kick my ass, but in a really good way.  Now the trick is to find out how best to balance them with everything else on my training plan.

Do you do yoga?  How does it help you?

Comfort Foods

May 14, 2013 2 comments
hungry?

hungry?

image credit

Tonight I didn’t feel like cooking anything fancy – basic pasta and meat sauce it was.  Not exactly a model of healthy eating (though I like to think I could do worse… hopefully)?  Carbs… okay, cheap white pasta is possibly the worst kind of carbs.  Protein… okay, again, possibly not the best source of protein.  But there were veggies in the sauce!  And cheese = dairy, right?

(I know – I could just as easily be describing pizza here)

Funny enough, on a day where I made sheer crap for dinner – albeit super tasty crap – I came across this article from Mark’s Daily Apple about Why We Crave Comfort Foods.  Pretty interesting read.

I certainly am top of the list as far as being a sucker for comfort food.  I crave crap.  It’s true.  Very little of what I want to eat coincides with the food that as a triathlete (or any type of athlete, or really anyone who wants to lead a long healthy life) should eat.  It’s a real problem for me.

The article is interesting (if not a little on the long side) – it rationalizes our need for comfort foods from emotional, physiological, and social perspectives.  They’re all quite interesting, and I’ll assume reasonably accurate (as I haven’t bothered to click each of the links in the article).  It’s worth a read.

If cravings for comfort food are so universal, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the most common comfort foods out there (ya know, while I’m mailing in a blog post anyway).

… apparently that’s really hard to do.  I know it’s quite personal, but I though somewhere on the wide internets I could find some site (credible or not) that suggests the top 10 comfort foods (globally?  in North America?).  I kinda came up empty, after my 30 seconds of searching.  So I thought I’d create my own…

Dave’s List of Top 10 Comfort Foods that Royally Fuck With My Triathlon Training (but are so good):

  1. Tacos – I love tacos!  I think it goes back to my childhood, when my mom used to always serve tacos at my childhood birthday parties.  They’re fun, and flavorful, and warm, and crunchy.  And before I know it, I’ve eaten a half dozen of them.
  2. Pizza – This is a very close second on my list of foods that I can’t eat just one of.  I love pizza – it’s all carbs and fat, but it’s so good.  Back in my university days, I used to do Pizza and Beer Fridays with my roommate and some friends.  Amazing times.  Good memories.  Which leads me to…
  3. Beer – If beer isn’t the yummiest thing in the world, I don’t know what is.  It does absolutely nothing good for you – it gives you empty calories and useless carbs, and contributes to dehydration.  As a triathlete, it might be the worst thing on this list for me.
  4. Nachos – See, the thing is, it’s really hard to go out to a pub for a pint and not have something to snack on too.  And nachos is always just the thing.  It’s like tacos, but in a messier, sharable form.
  5. My wife’s Mac ‘n Cheese – My wife makes an amazing Mac ‘n Cheese from scratch.  She got the recipe from her mum, and actually taught my dad how to make it (which is saying a lot).  This stuff is pure gold – for the taste buds at least.  I have no interest in cheap boxed Mac ‘n Cheese type products.  I crave the real stuff only my wife can make right.
  6. Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream – A warm slice chocolate cake with cold ice cream on top.  Holy crap that’s good.  It’s such a basic staple of a North American dessert, but there’s very few desserts I’d take over it… except maybe…
  7. Strawberry Pie – When I was younger my Aunt made me a Strawberry pie – no Rhubarb or other berries to complicate it.  Just Strawberry goodness.  I thought this was the best thing in the world… until my wife made one.  O.M.G.  Possibly the best thing I’ve ever had.  Pastry and sugar are good for your diet, right?  At least there’s fruit in there…
  8. Sushi – okay, this could be the closest thing to “healthy” on my list.  Except in the quantity I eat it.  Usually I get my sushi in the All You Can Eat format… and when I’m enjoying the taste and not paying attention, I sure can eat.
  9. Street Meat – Toronto has a funny bylaw about food trucks.  The oversimplification of it is that it’s a pain in the ass for any type of food truck to get established here, so they don’t.  Except hot dog vendors.  There must be 1,000 hot dog vendors in this city – they’re on every corner, selling all forms of hot dogs and sausages.  I call it Street Meat – it’s fatty enough to be addictive, and everywhere enough to be constantly tempting
  10. Coke – Some people need their coffee in the morning to get them going.  But maybe they don’t like coffee… maybe they like coke.  And maybe they need a second one to get them through their afternoon sometimes… enough said.

Okay… enough of this.  Now I’m hungry again.

What are the comfort foods you crave?  What foods ruin your best training plans?

 

Race Recap: Sporting Life 10k

May 12, 2013 2 comments

SportingLife10k

There are few things in this world as great as a great nap after a race!  Man, I needed that!

First off – and most importantly – happy 1 year anniversary to my love, my wife, and my partner Brigid.  This has been an amazing year!  Thank you for supporting me through all my training ups and downs, and for running beside me as often as you do!  I couldn’t do any of this without you.  Here’s to many more wonderful years together!

My lovely bride and I, one year ago today

My lovely bride and I, one year ago today

Secondly – and also very important – happy mother’s day to my Mom, and my Mother-in-Law.  For all the encouragement and support, and laughs, and hugs (and occasional ribbing when I need it).  Love you both.

while we're using wedding day pictures... Happy Mother's Day

while we’re using wedding day pictures… Happy Mother’s Day

Boy, today was a busy day.  On top of all that, there was a race to be run!  The day started early – and cold.  After the lovely summer-like weather the past two weeks, this morning the weather with windchill felt like -1°C.  Brrr.  Note to self: invest in runners tights.  After some adventures in public transportation – possibly the worst bus driver I’ve ever encountered, followed by one of the better cab drivers I’ve ever encountered – we made it to the start line.  Though just barely.  The Elite runners were heading off as we were still a block away.

We are really friendly - but also really cold.  Huddling for warmth

We are really friendly – but also really cold. Huddling for warmth

The crowd in the starting corral was amazing.  27,000 runners.  It was a sea of people in bright colorful shirts all trying to stay warm and waiting to run.  The race was supposed to start in waves based on estimated start time, but most of us wanted to get running to not stand around too long.  I sure did.  We set out with the 0:50:00 – 0:54:99 group.  Oops.  Oh well 🙂

There were a LOT of people in the street behind us waiting to get started.  there were almost as many in front of us too

There were a LOT of people in the street behind us waiting to get started. there were almost as many in front of us too

The run started off rough.  It was cold – I was actually shivering when I crossed the start line.  So much for any effort to warm up the muscles beforehand (which, I really didn’t do).  By 1km I was wishing for gloves… or sun… either would have been welcome.  By 2km I was really feeling my shin splints from the downhill run.  I thought for sure this would be a rough run.

But, like most runs, once the first few km are in the books, I started to find my groove.  The shins stopped hurting (which they always do – I know – if I can mentally grind through the pain until they stop hurting).  The body warmed up.  The pace picked up…

… I actually passed a few people on the run.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.  Granted, I was passed by several tens of thousands of people, but I passed a few myself.  WIN!

I was really impressed by the live music lining the route along the race.  So cool.  About every km or so there was a raised stage with musicians – drummers, percussionists, string instrumentalists, guitars, horns – everything!  So cool, and so motivational.  I think major metropolitan cities should have more live music in their downtown cores.  Fantastic.  I almost stopped to take a pic, but I knew I was making good time and wanted to keep pushing.

I did stop once though along the way – friends of mine who came to cheer and were standing along the course around the 8km point didn’t see me run by at all.  I saw them, and saw that they didn’t see me, and once I was fully by them I turned around and ran back for a surprise hug from behind.  Probably cost me about 5-10 seconds off my time.  Completely worth it!!!

The run felt fast, and felt like it went by quickly.  I ran the whole thing without walk breaks (except at the 2 water stations, lest I get more water on me than in me, and this was only for 20-30 meters each time).  That in itself was a huge accomplishment for me.  I’m getting so close to being able to do continuous running!!!

I finished in 1:02:41 chip time, killing my previous 10K Personal Best of 1:09:41.  Very happy with that.  My cousin also ran a personal best time – I’m really proud of her too!

I put on a sweater as soon as I got my medal.  God it was cold!

I put on a sweater as soon as I got my medal. God it was cold!

Overall a good race.  A fun experience, and a time I was happy with.  Up next is the Binbrook Triathlon in a couple of weeks.  This past winter of running has been a lot of fun, and a great training motivator, but I’m really excited for the Tri season to begin.

Now off to an anniversary dinner with my lovely wife.  We’re going to celebrate with some lovely craft beer.  Life is good!

Cheers

~DO’G

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