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Opening Day

March 31, 2014 Leave a comment

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It’s the Happiest Day of the Year!!

Opening Day – the truest sign of spring I know.  Summer is on the way.  Baseball is back.  Life is good.  And like every year, it means an afternoon off work!  Happiest day of the year indeed!

And what a perfect day to take an afternoon off work:

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It’s sunny.  It’s warm (relatively speaking).  It’s a great day to get out of the office.  And while I’m currently parked on the couch ready for first pitch in about 5 minutes, I didn’t completely waste this brilliant afternoon:

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Okay – I look really grumpy there.  Selfie fail.  ‘Cause I really wasn’t.  I was outside for a run, without a jacket.  And in SHORTS!!!  I discovered that it’s really hard to take a full body selfie – my arms just aren’t that long – so you’ll have to trust me I’m outside in shorts (besides, nobody really needs to see those pasty legs anyway… let’s get some more sun on those bad boys before they show up in any pictures, right).

It’s spring!  Baseball is back, running in shorts, life is good!  Life is real good!  I think even the bottle in the backyard is starting to realize it’s spring!

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How do you track your runs?

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

runwatch

Okay – this is pretty much just a glorified re-blog of an article from Canadian Running: How do you track your runs?  Go read their original article.  It’s a great piece (with apologies to anyone born before 1977 – or for that matter anyone born after 1977 who actually knows what a ‘mile’ is 😉 )

(Canadian Running is a great magazine – I actually pay them money to get a physical copy of the magazine sent to me by snail mail every month.  Who does that anymore – read a physical magazine? or use snail mail?!?  But I like what they write and am happy to stand behind them.  And they didn’t ask me to say that either!)

I used to plan/track/run my runs in terms of kilometers.  Now I track them in terms of time instead.  For me the argument (though not perfect, I grant) is thus: it allows for a consistent comparison of effort from session to session, regardless of factors like weather, terrain, perceived effort, or motivation.  I want to manage the training stress I put my body through – I don’t want the amount of time at elevated heart rate or stressed legs to change based on the day’s conditions.  Even leading up to a race, I don’t train for the distance I’ll run, instead I train for my anticipated running time (plus maybe 10% to make sure I can run strong through the finish line).

Oddly enough, I still track my bike training sessions in distance (the plan I follow lists them in miles, but the internet helps me fix that 🙂 ).  And I’m really not sure why the running by time argument hasn’t translated to biking yet…

So what do you do?

Happy Friday Everyone!  Have a Great Weekend!!

(Last) Week In Review

March 25, 2014 3 comments

badtriThis may or may not end up being a recurring feature on this blog, largely dependent on how busy lazy I am on Sundays.  We’ll give it a try for a bit and see how it goes.

Looking Back:

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Prior to last week, I found myself in an unexpected 2.5 week break from training.  This week I’m simply glad to be back at it.  I’ve had a few victories this week – I’m 3lbs closer to my race weight goal (though that could be in part due to the less-than-accurate-lately scale I’m using at the YMCA…), and I managed my first long run longer than 10km in almost a year.

Hopefully now that I’m back into a training routine, I can also get back into a blog writing routine.  As goes one, so goes the other, oddly enough…

Looking Forward:

This week is so important to my training – this week is my chance to prove that I’m back into a training routine, and build off of last week’s results.  My goal is to replicate last week’s volume, while stretching out my long run an extra 2km (per my training plan), and introducing some strength training back into my routine.

5 Things I Think I Think:

  1. I think I’m nervous about the Half Marathon I’m planning (but haven’t signed up for yet) at the end of April.  I have run a Half before (and have also run a 30km race before).  But prior to this week I had let myself cap my long runs at 10km.  I think training to run longer than 10km is a psychological barrier as much as a physical barrier.  It’s about convincing yourself that you can keep going.  I think I really enjoy breaking that barrier.  But I also think I have a lot of work to do to be ready for a Half in 5 short weeks
  2. I think the 35 minute run I went for yesterday was my best run of the year!  The sun was shining, the sidewalks were dry.  And I ran pretty darn fast, by my standards.  It was nice to run outside – off the treadmill – where I didn’t have to watch for ice under foot at each step.
  3. I think it would be nice if pools were open for lane swimming at more times that gave me more options in my training plan – particularly options that didn’t require me to wake up at 5:00am.  The alternative is to swim after 9:30pm.  Yuck!  That’s bedtime (I know!  I’m old!)  Everything in between is booked for swimming lessons, etc.  I understand the need to offer family programming at family friendly hours, but the selfish side of me would love to not have to choose between swim training and sleeping in!  Can’t I have both?
  4. Sports Nerdness: I think I’m really excited about the Blue Jays season this year, even though all the media analysts are predicting doom and gloom.  Sure, a lot of things will have to break right for this team to do well, but the point of being a sports fan is to be unrealistically optimistic about your team, especially before the season starts!  We’ve got it this year boys!  Let’s Go Blue Jays!!
  5. I think the wine bottle buried in the snow in our backyard is finally starting to peak through.  Spring will come.  The snow will melt.  I will get to ride outside soon enough…
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See the tiny spot in the center of the picture? That’s the mouth of a wine bottle, standing upright, buried in the snow. It’s starting to emerge! Spring is Coming!!

Is it still winter outside where you live?  Or is it spring there yet?

Happy Birthday To Me

March 21, 2014 3 comments

RedshiftParts

No, it’s not my birthday.  My birthday is in June.  But last year’s birthday gift to myself finally arrived last night.  I’m not used to celebrating my birthday in March (I should have baked a cake)!

Last June I penned my name to a Kickstarter Project – a company named Redshift Sports had a great idea: Clip on aero bars that were quick and easy to… clip on (or off, or on again). Their website describes it better than I do:

If you’re going out for a group ride, you can leave the aerobars at home and ride a pure road bike. But if you’re racing in a triathlon or doing a charity ride, you can throw the aerobars on and choose the best position for every climb, flat, and descent.

RedshiftBars

They also concurrently designed a seat post on a pivot point that allows for different positions between riding in the aero bars vs riding as a normal road bike.  Again, their website describes it better than I do (it’s like they have a vested interest in marketing their product, or something):

The Switch Dual-Position Seatpost lets you replicate the steeper seat tube angle of a tri bike. The steeper geometry opens up your hip angle and maintains proper leg extension, letting you ride more comfortably and efficiently in the aero position.

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All the pics above are of the bike in my basement – indoors.  The new parts are installed, and they look mighty bad ass, but I haven’t given them a test drive yet. I’m happy to report that everything came as advertised, installed crazy-easy, and looks really professional.  Even the instructions were clear.  For a Kickstarter project, I’m really happy.

Unfortunately, I haven’t given it a test ride yet.  It’s still cold and ice and crap outside here, and looks to be that way for a few more weeks still.  I always think of the first week in April being when the bike first comes out of the garage.  I’m guessing this year is going to be a bit later than usual.  And since I don’t have a bike trainer at home yet (maybe I should start dropping hints for this year’s birthday gift… which is only 3 months away), I’m relegated to the stationary bikes at the gym for a few more weeks.  But once I do get out on the roads, I’ll be sure to give a proper product review.

For now, they make my bike look distinctly more like a triathlon bike, and that’s birthday gift enough for me!!

Spring is coming, and I’m ready to get out there!

2014 Goals

March 13, 2014 2 comments
I can laugh about it, at least...

I can laugh about it, at least…

image from *clean* funny pics

Today I’m working from home – for the 3rd day this week – with a head cold.   I like to joke about the ‘Man Cold‘, but in truth I try hard to keep being a functioning adult as much as I can (though my wife may have some comments to make on that front).  I’m working from home to keep the germs out of the office, and so I can make myself hot beverages more readily, but I’m still working!  Life doesn’t stop because of a head cold…

… except for training.  When my head feels like it’s in a vice, and all breathing is through my mouth, I have zero interest in getting on a treadmill.  Does that make me a lazy triathlete?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Right now, not really.  I’ll get back to training as soon as I can breathe again!

What I can do in the interim is finally start to put some thought towards my 2014 goals.  Better late than never, right?

TTF

2014 is going to be divided in two halves for me.  My “A” race this year is the Toronto Triathlon Festival (Olympic Distance) on Sunday July 13th.  So my year is going to be focused on getting ready for this race, and then staying healthy and fit through the back half of the year.

The Front Half

The Toronto Triathlon Festival, from today, is 17.5 weeks away.  In previous years, my goal has been to simply ‘finish’ races, and hopefully to PB (though nearly each race was a first at the respective race distance, this was almost always a guarantee).  This year, I want some specific goals to shoot for:

  • I want to finish sub 3:05:00.  That’s about a 10% improvement over my Olympic Distance PB of 3:24:44
  • I want to run the 10k leg of the race in sub 1:05:00 off the bike.  My PB straight 10k time is 1:02:41, so I can do this.  But I struggled running off the bike last year, with the run in my Olympic race taking 1:18:19.  If I can shave 13 minutes off my run, I’m well on my way to a sub 3:05:00 time.

How will I get there?  In these next 17+ weeks, I want to:

weight-loss-scale Drop 15lbs.  My current weight is 234lbs.  By race day, I want my race weight to be under 220lbs.  That’s less than 1lb/week to lose.  I can do this.  Through consistent training, and a better focus on eating healthy, whole, and natural foods, this should be manageable.  Why? Because I’ll be able to run and bike a hell of a lot faster with 15lbs less fat weighing me down.  Plus, last year my wetsuit was a tight fit, and I sure as hell am not buying a new one!

WaterlooMarathon Race a half marathon.  My run is by far the weak leg of my race.  Last year I did a spring half marathon and training for it helped me focus my training volume on the run, which I think helped my running comfort and endurance.  So I’m going to try that again this year.  I’m looking at the Waterloo Half Marathon on Sunday April 27th.  That’s 6.5 weeks away – enough time that I can stretch out my long runs to get ready.  I’m not setting a finishing time goal for this – though a PB would be nice (and anything faster than 2:38:00 would be sufficient, so the odds are good).  I’m running this because I want to focus on running a volume of miles over the first segment of my training, and having a race on the calendar will help keep me motivated.  Plus, race day is fun!  Also, my wife wants to run too, and any opportunity to run a race with her is always worth it!

Subaru Race a test race.  I’m planning to race the Subaru Triathlon Guelph Lake I (Olympic Distance) race on Saturday June 21st.  That’s 3 weeks prior to my ‘A’ race, and 14.5 weeks from today.  This should give me good feedback before my ‘A’ race.  Plus, the Subaru Triathlon Series is a series I’ve been meaning to try for a few years now, and having grown up in Guelph this is going to feel real comfortable.

I’ve spent some time this week – while stuffed up and not training – realigning my training plan towards these goals.  I’ve split the next 17+ weeks into three phases:

The Build Phase – Really this is just keep on doing what I’ve been doing all winter: Base training.  This phase is all about volume.  I’m sticking primarily to the training plan I have been using, but making some modifications based on what I’ve learned so far this winter works for me: i) Fridays are now rest days.  It is sacred!  ii) Monday mornings are now off mornings.  Not every day needs to be a 2-a-day, and the less times I have to fight my alarm the better!  iii) Monday and Wednesday afternoons are going to be easy bricks.  The goal is still about volume, not about hard training.  But I need to account for the new days off somewhere.

The Build Phase will last for the first 6+ weeks until the Waterloo Half Marathon, then we get into…

The Intensity Phase – The next 8 weeks are my intensity phase.  Here, the volume drops back a bit, and we replace it with more bricks, speed work, and intervals.  Workouts are more intense, but not as long.  The emphasis on running in the first phase (leading up to the half marathon) starts to balance out with time biking and swimming.  Monday mornings and Fridays are no longer sacred, but replaced with easy recovery swim and ride.

The Intensity Phase will last for 7 weeks, plus a taper week leading up to the Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon, then we get into…

The Third Phase (I really need a catchy name for this one.  Thoughts?) – 3 weeks between the Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon and my ‘A’ Race, the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  3 weeks to focus on anything that I wasn’t happy with, make any adjustments to expectations, and get focused and ready for my ‘A’ race.

The Back Half

I don’t have a definite plan for the second half of 2014 as of yet.  While I’d like to get another race in at some point, for the fun of racing as much as anything, I’m still being flexible about it.  My wife and I are tentatively planning a 2 week vacation in August.  I would bring my running shoes, but not my bike or my wetsuit.  So I’m still weighing the pros and cons of an early September race (possibly the Wasaga Beach Triathlon) or maybe even an early August destination race (possibly the Rev3 Morgantown).  If I don’t race though, I need to look for another mechanism to help me keep focus on training and healthy eating.  I’m coming to realize how easily I slip into old bad habits when I don’t have a race on the horizon.

Now I just need for this head cold to go away.  It’s time to get back to work – there’s a lot to do over the next 17 weeks!!

Summer is coming!

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