Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I remembered my iPod (more specifically the armband for it) this morning and it made all the difference in my treadmill run.

One song had me tempted to rock out a la Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading (go to 1:54 in this clip to see what I mean) but I chickened out. Probably a good thing as my chances of tripping and flying off the thing, always high, would have tripled. I'll have to remember not to run in the gym to the Beastie Boys - I might get kicked out for shouting "No! Sleep! Till Brooklyn !"

Aside from having to crank the speed for one song, I kept an even pace and my HR was much more sensible than last week, averaging 159. That's still too high but I'm getting there.

Last night I did an easy 45 minute spin, doing a ten stroke excelleration every five minutes and I'm currently procrastinating and putting off my core workout. Alright, I'm off to crunch!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

One week down

Phew - my first full training week of 2009 is done! I seem to have survived it - no real humbling moments as I've learned to check my ego at the door for the month of January. If I'm going to take time away from biking and running I have to expect to take some time to get back into shape.

One big thing I realized this week is that 2009 is my fifth year doing tri's. Five years! I still feel like a novice, there's so much still to learn and so many areas still to improve in that it's hard to think of myself as an experienced vet of the tri world.

Today's club swim was fantastic. I like the longer pieces that are all about pacing so today's main set of 6x200m at 1500m pace was right up my alley. I tried not to be too openly happy about it though as Teresa may have fed me my pull buoy!

Unfortunately Marie, ex-varsity swimmer and ex-swim coach, has injured herself and can't swim right now. Her loss, however, is our gain as she's coaching us folk in lanes 3 & 4. She's a fantastic teacher - super positive and great at keeping it simple.

Warm up:
300m easy
4x25m build in the 25 on 25m easy
4x25m build
4x50m at pace

Um ... yup there were drills. A bunch of 'em.

Main set:
6x200m at consistent 1500m pace:
1 - untimed
2 - 3:55
3 - 3:55
4 - 3:50
5 - 3:51
6 - 3:50

Cool down:
200m - mix of back, breast, free and dolphin dive.

Total distance - 3050m

I felt I was going too hard on the first couple of 200's but as I descended on the second set I guess I was doing something right.

Apres swim I was smarter than last week and only went for an hour as opposed to following Teresa for 1.5 hrs. My HR was still too high but lower than last week so I think I'm either better with my pace or kicking the dregs of the flu. Or both.

According to the Slowtwitch training log the following are my weekly totals:

other 1:12 0 mi*
bike 2:57 14.7 mi**
swim 3:30 7,822.8 yds
run 2:28 13.7 mi**
walk 0:45 2.5 mi
Total 10:52 35.3 mi

I can't figure out how to change the weekly totals to metric (hey, it's free so who am I to complain) and can't be bothered to do the math right now. As imperial measurements mean nothing to me the numbers are a little pointless!

* This is mostly core and shoulder work but I also threw in some sidestepping.
** Much as I'm tempted, I don't include distance for spins.
*** Except for my 30min dreadmill run, all run distances are a guess

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Thursday night's run was my first run back with the club since sometime in October and my first intensity workout outside of the pool in about the same time. The long layoff plus the flu hang-over made for a tough evening.

The workout was 15 minutes running a continuous one block loop - going hard on the two uphill sides of the square and easy on the two downhill sides. Halfway through my lungs hurt - partly from the cold and partly from being unaccustomed to working so hard. Teresa, also recovering from the plague, and I ran together and tried to keep at a reasonable pace. Once we finished and Andrew was explaining the next portion my lungs rebelled and I went into a coughing fit. I've decided to count the hacking as a core workout (hurts like one) and may enter it in my training log as such!

We ran back to the community centre and did A', B's and C's then a long stretch session inside.

I tried an easy treadmill run yesterday at the Y and realized that going slow on a treadmill is ridiculously hard. Treadmills are fun when you want to do all out sprints and hard running, not simply because you (think you) look cool but it's just way more interesting. Going slow, however, is nothing but boring. In the end it wasn't a terribly effective workout - my heart rate stubbornly stayed at about 80% of max and I stubbornly refused to run slower so it was really 30 minutes of junk miles.

This sucks right now but give me two or three weeks and I'll be where I want to be.

Which way to wimp out?

So the snow is pretty much gone and I can finally ride outside now - I hate the tedium of trainer rides so this is fantastic news!

But ...

It's 2 degrees (C) outside. Not quite freezing but still way too cold for an enjoyable ride, no way I want to go out in that.

I've spent the morning waffling, trying to decide which is the lesser evils - I'm feeling too wimpy to dig up the perserverence to do a trainer ride but too wimpy to head out into the cold. I may have to brew up another cup of coffee and read one more chapter in my book before I make the final decision.

Follow Up
By the time I finally got myself psyched to ride I looked outside and the fog had lifted for the first time in three days. The choice was obvious so I layered up and headed out.

It was great to be off the trainer but definitely chilly. When I was near the furthest point out I lost feeling in fingers but happily had some uphill to get my blood pumping. The plan was to go 1:20 and I was close at 1:16, it was too cold for me to bother looping around the block for four minutes so I ended it there.

After coming in I was so focussed on warming up (made coffee and a hot lunch) that I sort of forgot to stretch. Eventually I'll get back into the swing of things and remember all these key details of training.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Getting back into the swing

This week will be my first full week of workouts. I still have the post-flu cough but otherwise feel mostly normal.

Masters has been good but, annoyingly, everyone who signed up is showing up so the lanes are a bit crowded. I'm sure it will thin out in February

On Monday we worked on recovery - Paul said I need to get my elbows higher, which meshes with Marie on Sunday telling me I'm swimming "flat." Fixing one should fix the other. Yesterday was working on the catch, specifically the start of the catch. Wonder if the next swim will be pull finish day?

On Monday I got on my trainer for an easy 45min spin. Of course this would be the one rare evening when my roommate shows up, I was fairly antisocial as my trainer is pretty loud. As always, the last five minutes seemed to drag forever.

Last night I decided I didn't want to deal with going to the club spin (involves signing out a Co-op car, possibly digging it out of a snow bank, loading and unloading and getting to bed late. Yes I'm a wimp!) so I spun at home. Alan gave me a crazy workout that the other club coach had kiboshed for last week's club spin. I knew I wouldn't get to the end but it seemed like an interesting challenge and, equally important, would be simple to figure out. Here it is in all its glory:

  • 15 sec single leg change sides 15 sec other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 30 sec single leg change sides 30 sec other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 45 sec single leg change sides 45 sec other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 60 sec single leg change sides 60 sec other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 75 sec single leg change sides 75 sec other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 90 sec single leg change sides 90 sec other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 120 sec single leg change sides 120 sec other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 2:15 min single leg change sides 2:15 min other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 2:30 min single leg change sides 2:30 min other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 2:45 min single leg change sides 2:45 min other leg 30 sec easy·
  • 3:00 min single leg change sides 3:00 min other leg 30 sec easy

I was okay up to 75 seconds then the wheels started to fall off (figuratively). I tried for 90 and failed epically. Knowing that continuing would be a waste of time I decided to start from the beginning again and do three repeats of the 15s to 60s build. Alan says he wants me to be able to do a smooth 3 min OLD by September so I guess I'll be pulling out this workout again. Actually, I think would be a good benchmark and worth doing once a month or so.

I join the club for the run tonight, I have to remember to take is slow, slow, slow, then tomorrow morning will either be core or an easy long swim in the am and a movie in the pm. Maybe a even dreadmill run before the movie?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sui Choy and Epictetus

After making potstickers last week I had head of sui choy in the fridge that I didn't quite know what to do with. Google to the rescue - I love the internets!

Sui Choy (Napa Cabbage) Salad

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar [I think 1/3 or less would do]
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tblsp soya sauce

Crunchy Bits:
1 cup slivered almonds
1 package instant noodles (toss the flavour packet)
1/8 cup sesame seeds

One head Sui Choy (Napa cabbage)

Bring dressing to a boil and then let it cool. Make sure sugar is dissolved.

In a seperate pan, place all the crunchy bits. On medium heat, move them around in the pan unitl they are toasted. Remove, and cool.

Chop up the siu choy thinly and put in a big bowl.

Stir in the sauce, then the crunchy bits..refrigerate and then eat.

Number of Servings: 6

On a different note, I'm reading Epictetus' "Discourses" and came across a quote that seems apt for this time of year:

We must endure a winter training, and can't be dashing into situations for which we aren't yet prepared.


A few firsts today:

  • First club workout of the year
  • First run of the year
  • First ice bath of the year
  • First time ever running in a swim suit

The club workout was great, although 45 minutes in I was wondering if the new 1.5 hour swim format was a good idea. It's a long time to be in the water. We did a whole pile of drills (I've already forgotten most of them) and the main set was 10 x 100m on 30sec R, descending 1-5 and 6-10. It was a fun set, one I'll do again on my own for sure, and it was nice to know I wasn't as out of shape as I'd thought.

The run was an overly ambitious (aka - stupid) 1:16:00 with Teresa. Considering that my last run was before Christmas and I've been sick or post-sick since the 26th it probably would have been smart to start with a shorter distance. The run was super slow, frustratingly so at points, but Teresa and I had a great conversation - things got philosophical, which is always cool (I also had a few rants, not so philosophical but I'd had a lot of coffee this morning).

The ice bath was 1 minute of hell, 8 minutes of "I don't like this" and 1 minute of "am I done yet?" As I hadn't prepared my usual "ice bergs" (water frozen in 1L yogurt containers) I didn't think the bath would be too cold. I didn't take into account, however, the effect of cold weather on my aparment building's water supply. It took about an hour after I was out of the bath until I stopped shivering.

And the last first? No, I'm not preparing for minimalist tri attire this season. And yes, I did wear something on top of the bathing suit. Lots of layers of something.

This morning I forgot my towel, which was survivable, and underwear, which was a bit more of a challenge. Joanne offered to lend me her bathing suit (dry & clean, she brought two this morning) and I figured as I was only planning to run 20-30 minutes it was worth a try. The swim suit was great to run in, in fact I forgot I had on something different and it was only when I went to take off my heart rate monitor strap when I got home that I remembered. I'll have to try biking in one and see how that feels. Maybe I will go minimal in a race this season?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

First workout of the year (sort of)

The first club workout didn't work out as everyone but the lifeguards showed up this morning. I think half of us were there to socialize more than to swim so it wasn't too great of a loss.

A few of us headed out to Watermania in Richmond for an easy swim. We did a warm up (300m?) then Joanne suggested 200m of 25m drill/25m swim then a pyramid - 100m/200m/300m/200m/100m. The rest of the crew did something involving speed and pacing but I didn't want to overdo it so I just focussed on doing the distance. I did 200m of cool down and then we hit the hot tub.

After the swim we went to Joanne's for waffles and I hung out to doze on the couch with Penney and sort of pay attention to the Cotton Bowl (on PVR).

I hit Safeway on the way home and realized I was in a really good mood (I don't like Safeway so this is pretty amazing). I joked with the cashier then chatted with people at the bus stop, even though I was pooped from swimming, dozing and shopping and I'd been coughing all afternoon I was in a great mood.

It feels so good to be working out again!!

I ended the day by trying out a recipe I saw on the same show I got the salad from yesterday's post. I would have tried the salad too but Safeway didn't have the noodles. The pot stickers were AWESOME!!

The recipe is as follows:

(from Everyday Food)
Serves 4 Prep Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes


1/2 cup finely chopped Napa or Savoy cabbage
Coarse salt
6 ounces ground pork, not all lean (I used ground chicken)
scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

24 rectangular (3 1/2-by-3-inch) or square wonton wrappers
1 recipe Wonton Filling
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 scallions, finely chopped (optional)
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, for serving

In a medium bowl, toss cabbage with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Wrap cabbage in a double layer of paper towels; firmly squeeze out excess liquid. Return cabbage to bowl; add pork, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well with a fork. Refrigerate leftover filling up to 2 days.

Work with one wrapper at a time, and keep the rest covered with a damp towel. Spoon one rounded teaspoon of filling in center. With dampened fingers, wet the four edges. To make a triangle, fold wrapper in half over filling, making sure the ends meet and filling is centered; press edges down firmly to seal.

Moisten one tip on long side of triangle. Then bring together both tips on long side, overlapping them slightly; press tips together to seal.

Fold remaining top corner back. Transfer to an oiled plate; cover with a damp towel to keep moist. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add half the wontons and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Carefully add 1/2 cup water (oil may sputter), cover, and steam until translucent and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and wontons. Sprinkle pot stickers with scallions, if using, and serve with soy sauce.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Start of the new year

I had the best of intentions to start 2009 with a bang but so far it's been more of a wheeze. Plus some sniffles and a whole lot of coughing.

The cold I had after Christmas morphed into a minor flu and now I'm dealing with the post-flu hacking cough and stealth fatigue. I call it stealth fatigue because I feel awesome, make plans to do all sorts of stuff then taking a shower or doing the dishes wipes me out and I have to take refuge on the couch to recover. I'm bored of reading, bored of watching TV, bored of surfing the web ... I want to work out darn it!!

Because of this I'm not making major plans or resolutions for 2009 as it will just frustrate me. I'm going to take it easy and get back into working out without making myself sick again, then I'll think about the next steps.

So, nothing on the training front yet but I have found a recipe that, if it tastes as good as it looks, may be my 2009 recovery food. Carbs and protein marinated in soy sauce and lime - how perfect is that!

Asian Noodle Salad
(from PBS's Everday Cooking)

Serves 2 Prep time: 15 minutes Total time: 15 minutes


8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
6 ounces soba noodles
6 ounces tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 TB fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, minced

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 8 ounces trimmed green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a colander. In same pot, cook 6 ounces soba noodles according to package instructions; drain well (do not rinse).

Meanwhile, cut 6 ounces firm silken tofu into 1/2 inch cubes; drain on paper towels. Place in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil. Pour half the dressing over tofu; toss gently to coat.

In a large bowl, toss remaining dressing with noodles, green beans, and 2 minced scallions. Sprinkle tofu on top. Let cool.