Monday, November 30, 2009


At masters this morning Peter put mirrors on the bottom of the pool so we could watch our stroke. It was very cool. I have much better form than I thought (which begs the question - why aren't I faster?).

One of the big benefits of the treadmill and spin classes for me is the ability to see myself running or biking and to correct what I'm doing wrong, it was great to be able to do it in the pool too.

After a bit of a rocky start I'm quite enjoy Peter's classes - a very different focus and style but it seems to be working a I'm consistently swimming 1:40 or faster 100's. I'm keen to see how/if that translates in open water.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I seem to have developed an unhealthy attachment to spreadsheets lately - first it was figuring out my budget now I'm planning my running schedule. Playing with percentages and various other math-y features (like an adding method that you then copy and paste to get dates in sequence - COOL! [I think I need help]) makes it easy to see how much or little I need to build up to a goal.

I'm sure I'm doing all sorts of things wrong, I'll hand over the planning to Alan in January ("Here you go - fix it!") but now it's fun to try to figure it out myself.

This is spurred on by two things:
1) I don't want to die in January when the club starts up;
2) I signed up for a February half marathon;
3) I'm getting bored with the lack of schedule.

Okay that was three things ("Amongst our chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and a fanatical devotion to the Pope ..."), math has never been my strong point.

I think number 1 is pretty obvious. I'm definitely not being a slouch at the moment, however the lack of intensity workouts right now will likely bite me big time in the new year!

As to number 2, a friend emailed me that she'd signed up for the Langley Half and if I signed up too she could give me a ride. I was so enamoured at the idea of a ride that it wasn't until after I committed my money that I realized that I'd also committed to run 21.1km. It felt a lot like the time I got conned into giving money to one of those guys running games at the PNE - I was so mesmermized by his patter that I didn't realized I'd paid for a game I didn't want to play until it was too late.

As to 3, that's actually part of the plan. I usually get burnt out by the end of the season and need a break from a structured plan. Rather than force myself to keep up a strict regimen I back off and do what I want so that in January I'm eager to get going. I'm not quite ready for hard core workouts (it's 1pm and I'm blogging in my PJ's instead of running) but I'm definitely itching to do more.

Alright - enough procrastinating. I'm off to run.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rainy Day Ride

November in Vancouver means rain, rain and more rain. That's okay, it'll stop. Maybe not until March, perhaps April, but it will stop.

The rain does make it difficult to get out the door. Today I decided to sleep in, which was a nice change but a late start usually makes it even harder to get myself going. Today was no exception. I turned on the TV while eating breakfast and got hooked into watching downhill skiing, yet another distraction. Finally it was almost noon, I'd seriously mulled setting up the trainer but my dislike for the trainer trumped my dislike for courting hypothermia so I got myself together (as in four layers of warm and [hopefully] dry gear) and headed out.

Biking at this time of year is a bit nutty - it's cold and wet and dark and drivers are seriously distracted. As I haven't been biking a lot lately I'm pretty wary in traffic so I didn't get up much speed until I hit 4th and Highbury and rode along the beach. It's really beautiful there in this weather, best of all there's hardly anyone around so I practically had the road to myself. It was cold though so getting to the hill up to UBC was great as it meant I could work up enough energy to get feeling back in my hands. My hands didn't warm up much the first time up so I turned around at the top and headed down so I could try again.

After the sixth time up Spanish Banks Hill I figured my hands were warm enough and this was potentially getting silly so perhaps I should continue on. I rode around UBC and found a new route I like and will probably do on a regular basis - Marine Drive to the Arthur Lang but going under the bridge rather than over then ride on a road parallel to Marine (Kent?) to Ontario and back home. Heading up Ontario was great - 20 blocks of climbing to warm up again. After that it was a bit of a slog and my hands went from cold to numb to painful but it was only about 15 minutes to home so not too bad.

I have no idea how far or how long I rode for, my bike computer died and I'm putting off buying a new one until I have other expenses out of the way, but it was a fun day.

I came home to read a post on motivation by fellow club member (LETC's Male Triathlete of the Year - congrats Rob!). I'm pretty sure I fall into the intrinsically motivated camp, I'm certainly competitive but that's not what is most rewarding for me in triathlon. Despite the complaints about the weather I love being out on my bike, if I could find decent gloves and glasses that don't fog up every time I stop I'd be happy riding for four or five hours right now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My fall project - straightening out finances

Ever wonder where your money goes? I have and finally got fed up enough to do something about it. I guess this has been my big project for the Fall.

As background, I had an expensive Spring this year. I paid full rent for a two bedroom place for two months while I tried to find a new roommate and figure out what I wanted to do for a living situation then shelled out for moving costs. Prior to that I had my "rubber ducky" debt - every time I thought I'd started getting control and paying it down it would pop up again, like a rubber duck pushed under bath water - so this just added to it. It was frustrating to see all the money going to paying off (or in this case not paying off) debt when I could spend it on so many more worthwhile things.

At one point I was even convinced Visa was messing with me as there was no way I could be that fiscally irresponsible.

I tried budgeting but kept forgetting things like haircuts and bus passes so I was always way off.

Tracking backwards didn't seem to work either, so I decided to start tracking forwards, noting every single purchase I made and every penny I spent when and as I spent it.

I started in the beginning of September, initially writing things down in a notebook then I graduated to a spreadsheet, on which I then included my budget and debt tracking and now I have the urge to create account codes and pie charts (I need to spend less time with our company Accountant!).

By tracking what I spend every pay period I could more accurately estimate my budget for the next and I could see where my money was going. It's been interesting, not least because the desire to buy a chocolate bar is now frequently (but not always) outweighed by the desire not to have to write the purchase down - who knew laziness could work in my favour!

What has been far more interesting is discovering that a good budget actually works: my spending is in check without greatly impacting my lifestyle and, mostly importantly, my debt has shrunk appreciably and should be non-existent in the near future.

This is probably a terribly dull post for most readers, especially as this is ostensibly a tri training blog, but as the child of a banker this is a fairly big deal for me. And freeing up that money that was going to debt means I can use it for things like race wheels, or a new wetsuit, or going to a training camp. Can't wait for the 2010 training season!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is there a word for this?

You know, that semi-coma you fall into when you've finally warmed up after courting hypothermia while doing some sort of ill-considered excerise in the great (wet) (and cold) outdoors. Is there a word for that?

I rode today with the Glottman Simpson group today. I was happy that it was a small group as I'm still not confident in my pack riding skills, but the reason it was a small group was that it was seriously cold this morning.

I checked the Environment Canada website before I set out and it was 2 degrees. Predicted high of 6. I'm pretty sure we never came close to six! Despite the fact that it also predicted rain I opted not to wear waterproof shoe covers and to test new gloves. In retrospect, not a good idea.

I made it to coffee shop on time and met a nice group of riders. We headed out to Iona and, aside from some very strong winds, it was quite nice. They mostly kept a sane pace and I could keep up and get comfortable riding in the group. At one point everyone decided to race up a hill and I was thoroughly dropped but they were kind enough to wait for me at the top.

On the way back from Iona the rain started. Sharp, stinging rain that made it suddenly feel significantly colder. We all decided to make it a day and head home. Wendel (I think that's his name) was kind enough to bike with me over the Canada Line bike bridge so I could take a shorter path home. Once he got me to the Ontario bike path he turned around and headed back the way he'd come, the guy went out of his way in nasty weather to get me in the right direction - I'm very thankful!

The last twenty minutes were not so nice. My feet were vacilating between numb and painful, which was unpleasant, but my hands were doing the same thing, which was scary as working the brake became challenging. I started to worry my hands would be so cold I wouldn't be able to unlock my door!

I got home, and in the door, and three quarters of an hour, one long hot shower and one very large cup of hot cocoa later I finally stopped shivering. I had lunch then sat on the couch and tried to watch the hockey game (someone won in over time, didn't notice who) but instead went into the I-almost-had-hypothermia-but-now-I'm-warm-and-well-fed stupor.

Is there a word for that?

Not much to report

The fall has been pretty mellow. A little swimming, to the two days of masters I've added on a swim on my own on Friday, I show up and figure out what I want to do when I get there. I'm really feeling like there are a lot of improvements to my form after a couple of months swimming with Peter, I'm looking forward to doing some longer time trials (really!) and seeing what I can do. Hmm, I could do that on a Friday I guess, I'll just consider angry-I-refuse-to-swim-in-a-slower-lane-but-will-take-up-lots-of-space-while-using-(sharp-edged)-paddles dude and various other strange denizens of the Friday am swims extra challenges to get around.

Not much running. I ended the season really feeling unspired about running so I took a bit of a break from it. Then I started running in the mornings with a friend from swimming, which worked great until she gave up her gym membership and she had nowhere to change after. No great tragedy, we switched to running home after work, initially I'd run to a B Line bus stop and bus home but I've worked up to running as far as Clark and just walk the rest of the way. This week I may go as far as Commercial. I'm also hitting the treadmill once or, well, less than once a week, I plan to up that to twice a week!

I did a women's bike skills session with two of the coaches from Glottman Simpson, Stephanie and her husband Bjorn, and I'm considering joining the Glottman Simpson group to ride with them. The classes I made it to were fantastic, unfortunately I missed a lot of classes due to travelling for work.

Oh yeah, travelling for work - I went to the UK. Training-wise it was a bit of a wash. I got in a few treadmill runs and had an awesome day biking around with my uncle. I went for a work conference, so it was a whole of time in a hotel. Good to meet the various UK suppliers we work with. I tacked on a few days at the end and had time to harass my uncles, it was very good to see David and Stewart, although it was a bit rushed.

Other than that, I've been a bit of a hermit. I'm enjoying being a homebody, the quiet's kind of nice. Things will change, however, come the Christmas party season (I have an invite for a party in November! C'mon, at least wait until December.) and the New Year with the club.