Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Post of 2006

It's my last post of the year and my last chance to say something significant in 2006. No pressure or anything!

So far I've spent the last few days of 2006 as the antithesis of how I spent the bulk of the year and (hopefully) of how I'll spend 2007. I've gotten reacquainted with the couch and spent a lot of time reading and drinking tea. This is helped by the fact that I inherited several hundred books from a friend who is moving to Japan at the end of the month, without this literary treasure trove on hand I may have actually accomplished something this week. I also got the coolest tea cup ever from the same person and have been infusing like a mad woman (albeit a lazy one), and good tea is best appreciated while one is relaxing so I didn't want to ruin the karma or anything like that.

I do have a cold so the lack of workouts is justified, although I should have been able to do a bit of housecleaning or organizing around the place.

Today is definitely the laziest day yet, it's past 3pm and I'm still in my pj's. However, if I'm going to be in the pool by 8am every Sunday for the next four months I'm darned well going to enjoy one last lazy weekend!

Just in case you think I've been thoroughly slacking, over the past week I've read the following:

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaardner (basically an idiot's guide to philosophy. Unsurprisingly, I liked it.)
Home for The Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean (it's always a good time to have a laugh)
Vinyl Cafe Unplugged by Stuart McLean
Dead Famous by Ben Elton (more laughs)
Shopgirl by Steve Martin (I think I liked it. It was certainly engrossing and interesting. A little dry. I'll probably read it again. And still not be sure whether I like it.)
And I'm most of the way through The Many Colored Land by Julian May, a ridiculous scifi/fantasy novel that I've seen on bookshelves for ages and never gotten around to reading, which is too bad because I would have absolutely loved it if I'd read it in junior high.

I also had a two hour plus conversation with my friend in Australia, who recommended more books for me to read.

Well, not much in the way of sobering reflection or deep insights, just an ode to idleness before I give it up!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Track Workout

I may have slacked off a bit in my workouts over the holidays but I did get in a a track workout!

The nephews have a great collection of Thomas the Tank Engine and Brio track and I got a bit of alone time to do some building. The boys didn't seem to mind when they came home to find their track rearranged, in fact when my brother-in-law dismantled the track that night it caused a minor meltdown. Nice to know my work was appreciated!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Grand Prix of Spinning

So I finally pulled out my bike yesterday, the poor thing has been sitting neglected in the back on my closet – he got one glorious ride to Richmond after the move then nothing for over a month.

The plan had been for me to get Louis outside for a ride but there was a wee bit of snow (a good millimetre, if not two) on the ground and I wimped out. Plus, figure skating was on TV and I couldn’t miss that! I came to a compromise and pulled out my trainer, waited out the ice dance (it’s painful enough to watch as it is, I don’t need to add the boredome of spinning to it) then rode through the women’s, pairs men’s competitions. I have a new skating hero, the French dude who won and landed two quads, very impressive.

Spinning gets marginally less painful every time I do it but it is still incredibly boring and time goes very, very slowly (although it seemed to pick up after 29 minutes!). I managed 45 minutes then greatfully quit. Hopefully the weather improves so i can ride outside.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fun Day

Today was the last day of the swim session so it was "Fun Day"!

Sadly Fun Day is not the same as "Treat Day" where you get to skip the workout and have tea and cookies (so far none of my coaches seem to think this is a great idea).

We did a little swim golf, adding our time and our number of strokes to get our score. On 25m I shot 44 and on 50m I shot a 97. Apparently for 50m you should get double your 25m score plus four or five so I was off target on the 50m by a wide margin. Paul threatened to make us do 100m of golf but it never materialized.

We then did the tractor trailer pull, one of the more ridiculous things I've done this year. This involved pairing up with one person in front doing the stroke and the person behind holding onto the first person's ankles and kicking. We switched up every length and did 100m. It was pretty ridiculous! I was paired up with Phil (aka Daniel Craig) who is very competitive and launched into a strategy discussion before Paul could finish explaining. I myself am somewhat (!)competitive so I had to interupt to know where he wanted to be to anchor the last length, stroke or kick. We won by a nose!

Next up was the water polo swim. We had one ball per lane and did a relay swimming with the ball. Controlling the ball while swimming is surprisingly difficult! Apparently you should try to get a standing wave to push the ball. Head butting did not turn out to be a viable alternative.

Anne wanted to work on flip turns so we did that for a bit. I was surprised at how much retained from the session six months ago. I think I also had a small breakthrough - if I breath at the cross and take two strokes I can enter into the turn smoothly and with a decent amount of air in my lungs. Now I have to incorporate that into lengths. Perfecting this is done the same way as getting to Carnegie Hall - practice!

We ended with a timed 100m, 1:54 wasn't a PR by any means but not bad.

It was fun but, as Ger said, Fun Day is really tiring.

Interesting thread on FJ

Fitness Journal is an online training journal where I track my workouts, mileage, etc. The people using it vary from people just getting into a fitness routine and people purely trying to lose weight right up to psycho freaks who’re training for Ironman. One of the features of the program is a bulletin board where a fairly active core of members post regularly.

Yesterday someone who’s training for Ironman Arizona started a thread about how excited they were with a breakthrough they had on their long workout. It was an interesting post but what really grabbed my attention was the response someone had asking, essentially, how can she expect to live up to this standard and would she have to keep upping the ante on her workouts to keep getting results until she was putting in the same kind of hours/effort as the original poster?

The response was interesting to me because I’ve had the same experience of telling people what I’m up to for training and seeing them do the metal comparison between my 20 hour training week and whatever they’re doing and finding themselves lacking. I find it quite frustrating to have what I’m doing be discouraging to others, see them put themselves down because they’re don’t believe they’re living up to my standards. There is no real way I can think of to address this without being insulting. And I can’t not talk about my training because 1) I’m excited about it and 2) in my peak season it’s pretty much all I do. [And 3) I talk a lot!]

I’ve had friends and peers put down the fact that their big race was “only” a 10km/half marathon/etc. because they see what I’ve done as something bigger, and not seeing that their race is a huge accomplishment. It’s such a self-denying tactic, to accomplish something huge but denigrate it.

One of the things I’ve loved about the club I’m with is that I train with such incredibly good triathletes that, unless I want to dive into some extreme realm of illogic, I can’t expect myself to keep up with or beat them. Instead I’m forced to pay attention to my own training and my own improvement and only compare myself to myself. This is not about being self centered but, to wax new-age flakey for a moment, about being self aware. It’s about accepting where I’m at and working to get where I want to be, it’s amazing how much more positive my outlook is when I’m thinking “I am here and I am going to go there,” rather than “Why am I here? I shouldn’t be here! Why aren’t I over there?” It’s a refreshing change from how I’ve looked at things for the previous three decades of my life.

And I have to say, right now I like where I’m at, and the view ahead is pretty spectacular!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Queueing Lessons

Vancouverites need lessons on how to queue properly. We all seem to have some intense fear that by lining up in some reasonable semblance of order we’ll be dubbed uncool. We’re obviously a metropolis of adults who were traumatized by childhood bullying, somehow thinking our lunch money would be safe if we headed out West.

Instead of forming into a line where the first person to arrive stands closest to the bus stop, doorway, kiosk, etc. the first person has to stand at least 3 metres away. When another person shows up the first will glower at them menacingly to ensure that number two understands he or she is not to get on the bus, go through the doorway, get a coffee from the kiosk, etc. until after number one has. This continues with everyone tracking who came after them and savagely glaring to ensure their space in the pecking order has been noted and will be preserved. It would be so much simpler if people were to actually form a line, then you’d know who was in front of you and wouldn’t need to worry about who was behind. Much less effort, thinking and glaring.

I understand they are quite skilled at forming queues in Britain, perhaps we could encourage the civic authorities to fly some experts over to teach us all how to do it right.

So where does this rant come from? This has bugging me for some time (mostly at bus stops) but especially so after getting to the YWCA at 5:50am this morning to sign up for the next session of Masters Swimming. When I arrived there were two people already there waiting to get in, one daringly breaking the three metre rule by actually being one metre from the door and in a perfect queueing position. The man behind was glaring daggers at her so it was clear that she was not, in fact, first. As others arrived they loosely congregated behind us in no particular order. Someone joined the not-first woman in front of me and I found myself glaring daggers too (although I find it difficult not to glare at everyone at that hour of the a.m.).

Things worked out, no lives were lost and Mr. First did indeed get to sign up first (Ms. Not-first and I both deferred to him) but it all felt a little silly. I was not-first and not-second but was third in line so I did manage to sign up for the class I wanted so everything came to a satisfying conclusion.

We will leave the larger question of why on earth I would want to line up at 5:50 a.m. to enroll in a swim class that starts at 6:30 a.m. two days a week for three month to a later date!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Benchmark Metronome

So today was benchmark (aka time trial) day. I was still a little stiff from skiing on the weekend, or to be more accurate, from falling a lot on the weekend and I woke up wheezy so I figured it was not going to be the greatest swim ever. Turns out I somewhat misunderestimated myself.

My previous best, set this year, was 1:46 for 100m. Considering that was very close to my peak of tri fitness I’ll happily take 1:47 for today.

We started off with a 25m butterfly time trial, which I did in 32 seconds and change – a PR! (Also a PF, “Personal First”, so not really cause to break out the confetti.)

Then we moved on to the meat of the workout - 100m free. I didn’t realize that we were trying to maintain a pace across two sets of three reps so I went out pretty hard on the first and finished in 1:47:8. After a minute rest my second rep was 1:49 and then the third was 1:51, a trend that I thought would continue into the next set.

We did an easy swim then a kickboard time trial (athletes are freaks and will time anything!) in which I set my 50m kb PR/PF of 1:15.

The next set of 100m pieces is easy to report: 1:48. Or rather: 1:48, 1:48, 1:48. When I told Paul my 3rd 100m time he called me a metronome as I was so consistent. It was pretty cool that despite going out at what I thought was too hard a pace in the first set that I could maintain it throughout the workout. I was dying after the last set (Paul’s other comment was that I’d definitely passed my threshold), but I did maintain my pace.

Just to really keep things fun we ended with a 25m piece, which I did in 21.8. No idea if that’s anywhere close to a record as we didn’t track those last year – understandable what with us all training for distance events!

The weirdest thing about the workout was what I think of as “The Grouse Grind Factor” – I hated every minute of it while I was doing it but as soon as it was done I was thinking how much fun it was. It's mental twists like that that keeps people racing!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Manning Park

Went up to Manning Park today for some X-country skiing with Helen. It was a beautiful day (see the sunshine!). Some of the trails were a little rough as the snow wasn't super deep and the Lightning Lakes loop was hacked up because they're cutting down trees, but aside from that it was great.

I'm getting back into the swing (or perhaps the glide) of skiing and really didn't want to leave at the end. Then I slept most of the ride home. Nice to know I still can act like a five year old!

Home Making

This weekend Mum, Helen and I did a little home building, renovating, and decorting.

These are the results.

Friday, December 08, 2006

One Armed Butterfly

Yesterday morning I decided that I'm going to write a horror novel in which a sadistic swim coaches kills poor, innocent aspiring triathletes by making them do impossibly difficult drills until they die terrible and remarkably awkward deaths while he stands poolside, cackling evilly. I'm going to call it "One-Armed Butterfly."

Okay, so maybe the workout wasn't that bad - no one died and, as far as I could tell, Paul never cackled. But doing butterfly with one arm? C'mon! I'm not sure how flailing helplessly and inhaling half the pool will make me a better swimmer.

Fine, I may have sort of gotten the hang of it and perhaps, just perhaps, it may have made the full fly somewhat less impossible, but, well, ... (is there an ASCII symbol for someone who's just run out of decent arguments and is left sputtering hopelessly?)

The focus of today's class was, in fact, not to drown masters swim students, but IM. I found the butterfly lengths (the two-armed version!) much more exhausting than the previous four times I've tried. I don't know if it's because I lost it on the one-armed fly, I'm doing something terribly wrong or I'm finally doing something right. We also swam 2200m, significantly more than we've done on previous occasions when we've done fly so that may have tired me out too.

Next Tuesday is "Benchmark Day", aka time trials. I believe that is when we get to see some poolside cackling going on.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Kebab House

A good friend who just returned from the World Ultimate Club Championships in Perth sent me this.

(For those who're wondering about the relevance, "Alto" is a nickname used by about, um, well, one person I know. It's my blog, I can be as obscure as I want!)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cross Country Championships

I headed back to my old neighbourhood this morning to watch some friends race in the Canadian Cross Country Championships at Jericho. I didn't get any good pictures of runners so I'm posting one of the kayakers I could see while watching the race (in case you're confused).

Andrew was running in the masters race and Erin was in the senior womens, I intended to catch Andrew's race then head out and get the rest of my errands and chores done for the weekend. When formulating this plan I forgot to take into account the fact that I get caught up in events and have to put in a great effort to drag myself away. Once I got out to Jericho the choice between watching the race or doing laundry was an easy one to make (a hint - I currently don't have any clean socks).

Watching Andrew race was great - we don't usually get a chance to see the coach compete so watching him with his game face on and fighting in a race was pretty neat. He wasn't happy with his time (21st overall) but the conditions were pretty terrible as the snow added an extra level of difficulty to the cross country challenge.

I was in the process of leaving after chatting with Andrew at the end of his race but then the junior women's race was on so I thought I might as well catch the start, and then having seen the start I really had to stick it out for the rest of the race. Then I got to chatting again and whadya know, the junior men's race was on and had to catch the start of that. Of course Erin's race was up next and it would be rude to leave just before she raced. I got heckled into watching the senior men's race (I had to cheer for Simon Whitfield) and ended up leaving sometime well after 3.

The races themselves were great to see but watching them with experienced, competitive runners really enriched the experience. I may not have clean laundry but I had a great time watching.