Thursday, December 30, 2010

Training, Procrastination and Nuun Slushies

I had two decent workouts today.

This morning's introduced a new swim toy - the sponge.  Imagine giving a 6 year old long strips of sponge and telling them to make an octopus.  The result (less the poster paint, googly eyes and glitter) is then tied to one end of a long piece of string, the other end of the string goes around your waist and you swim with it tagging along behind you.

While it provides some drag the point of our workout was to use it to smooth out our stroke.  It gives tactile feedback, if the string around your waist jerks and pulls unevenly then you aren't keeping a consistent speed.  I discovered my kick is fine but on my stroke I slow down when I breath. I corrected it but it's a lot more work when you don't get a mini break every third breath!

I was dreading my run, the main set of which was two times 5km at my half marathon pace.  I dreaded it enough that I employed as many procrastination techniques as I could manage:

- check my email (I wouldn't want to be late in replying to anyone!)
- wait until the last minute to figure out what my pace should be
- post on Facebook 
- put away clean laundry
- search for my spare key
- check the weather online (cold)

I finally ran out of ways to put off the inevitable and headed to the track.

I haven't done as much track work this year as in the past and it really shows.  I used to be a metronome, I could keep my 400m pace to the second. Now I'm all over the map. 

I was completely off pace for my first 5km, the first km was a disaster and the following four were better but not by much.  I managed to keep closer to pace for the second set, and was fairly consistent, but I was still slower than I wanted to be.  I don't know how much the cold weather affected my speed or if I was having an off day, but the pace I was trying for was the pace I ran at the Fall Classic so it is achievable. Frustrating regardless of the reason but I do know now what my focus needs to be through my taper - nail my marathon pace.

As to the cold, it was definitely not warm this evening.  After my second 5km I tried to take a swig from my water bottle only to find it had frozen. I've never had that happen at a workout before. It turns out, however, that cola flavoured Nuun makes a tasty slushy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be Prepared!

After a week of "too much overindulging" over Christmas I'm trying to get myself back into some semblance of a workout routine that I can carry over into the New Year. 

In mid-December I decided to sign up for a swim clinic in the week between Christmas and New Years.  I figured that as I'd avoided the pool for two months I'd need a bit of a jump start for my 2011 swimming.

I opted for the Infinity Clinic, put on by the coach of my masters swim (can I call it "my" swim when I bailed on almost the entire fall session?).  Until about 8:45 last night I thought this clinic was at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.  Turns out it's at the UBC pool, rather a significant difference as that's an additional 25-30 minutes biking.  Annoying, and a bit embarassing, but at least I figured it out before I left for the pool this morning.

Also turns out the swim starts at 5:20, I'm not sure what was in the flyer (that came out, like, two weeks ago, why should I remember?) but that seems a bit early.  Even just ten minutes later would be lovely!  The coach sent an email stating that the pool wouldn't open until 5:15 and apologized to those folks who'd want to get in earlier.   That made me laugh.  My plan was to come screaming into the pool at the last possible second.

Signing up for the clinic gave me the impetus to finally  get the rack put on my new bike and to finally use it to bike to swimming.  As I put my paniers on last night, however, I realized that they don't quite fit the new rack, the s-hook is about 2mm too small to hook securely onto the bottom of the rack.  Probably would have been useful to figure this out prior to biking the breadth of the city at 4:30am with fully laden paniers.  It was a bit of a slow ride as I was anxious to avoid potholes or bumps that might send my gear flying off the bike but I made it to UBC with everything intact. 

I was also slow as I'm getting used to the new bike and to mountain bike clips, as well as to riding with paniers for the first time in seven years.  I vididly recall when I had paniers on for the first time and tried to take a corner at speed when they were full of heavy groceries.  For your future reference, your ability to turn declines sharply when you have a lot of weight on your back wheel.

Much as I hate getting up at that hour, and despite my various trials and tribulations with the bike, I love having the road to myself.  It's a super fast ride (even when you're being uber cautious to avoid flinging your belongings onto the street) when you don't have to stop for traffic.

And the clinic was well worth it.  There aren't a lot of people in this session so I'm sharing a lane with just one other person.  The small numbers also mean we get a lot of feedback from the coaches.  Plus I got to try swimming on a tether and, just for added weirdness/geek factor, swim over a mirror while tethered so I could see what I'm doing when I swim.  I move my head to much, on pretty much every axis, and my elbow is way to high in the water making for too shallow of a pull (the coach pointed this out, I'm not skilled enough to figure out for myself).

When the swim was done I had my proof I haven't swum in ages - I forgot to bring a towel.  Happily the woman I share a lane with lent me a towel as she brings two.  Yay for prepared people who're willing to lend things to strangers!!! 

I expect to be somewhat more prepared tomorrow, although I just realized that I will have to bring two towels (mine plus the borrowed one) so my precarious paniers will be even more heavily laden!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Long Run

I was thinking back on my training this fall and realized that since the Fall Classic my long runs have been the following:

- a (mildly) hung over half marathon.
- an attempt to run with a cranked up back where I bailed after an hour.
- a poorly planned run route that resulted in me becoming dehydrated enough to be seriously loopy.
- a horrendous run after four days of GI distress where I had eaten very little.  Had I not had company, and great company at that, for the first two hours I likely would have bailed.
- a nasty hangover induced from extending an LMDI (Last Minute Dinner Invite) that unexpectedly involved a significant amount of wine and turned into a late night.

Good thing I'm not going to the Bahamas hoping to set a world record!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Plan Your Race - Race Your Plan

Or Fantasy vs. Reality

My training for the Bahamas marathon is getting close to taper time, one more wickedly long run then I get to back off the volume. I've put in the training and I think I have a good feel for my fitness level so now I need to work on the race plan.

I'm trying to separate what I want to do, to go 4 hours or less, from what I can do.

At my recent half marathon I ran 1:51 in less than ideal conditions so 4 hours may be an achieveable goal however the Fall Classic was my 7th or 8th stand-alone half marathon and the Bahamas will be my first full marathon.

In my half marathons, along with the runs from the 6 half iron triathlons, I've learned how to pace myself over 21.1 km. 42.1km is a whole different beast!

I had a very successful run at Ironman but the run is so far removed from a stand alone marathon I don't think it can compare. I didn't have to deal with a mass start, I came onto a course that was already quite spread out and I was generally amongst people the same speed as me. I didn't have to deal with a crowded run start (never my strong point) or being passed by speedsters taking off at full tilt (again, hard to hold back and be passed).

I also trained in weather close to race day conditions in 2007. I've been running through the fall/winter in Vancouver so I'm acclimatized to cold and wet weather. Apparently this time of year isn't generally super hot in the Bahamas but it will certainly be warmer than Vancouver. If, through some strange circumstance, it is 7 degrees and raining on race day I will so be rocking the course!!!

So, despite the fact that I want to run 4 hours, I'll be super conservative. I'll aim for a 2:05 first half and see how I feel. If I'm doing well I'll pick up the pace a touch. Just a touch, no sprinting or world record 5km pace! 10km later, about where most folks hit the wall, I'll reassess and see if I'm okay to pick it up a bit more.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Random Training Thoughts and Facts

My back seemed to be okay with a long run. Yay!

Hangovers suck. Especially on long training runs.

Public water fountains are turned off in cold weather. This would only be mildly interesting except that my long run hydration plan depended on filling up at these water fountains.

Being dehydrated (while hung over and doing a long run) sucks. It also makes walking straight a bit of a challenge and gets me a little loopy. Oh, and it makes a pre-existing hangover worse.

Chocolate milk rocks.

The worst parts of an ice bath are the anticipation and the first 20 seconds in. After that it's just ten minutes during which I can't use my iPad.

Putting on compression socks when you can't feel your feet is awkward.

The warming up process from an ice bath has weird stage where my skin is warmer than the rest of me and it's chilled not from the air temperature but from blood flow.

Post run naps are awesome.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, December 02, 2010

How not to install an App

I've been reading ebooks on my iPad, specifically slogging my way through 'The Idiot' by Dostoyevsky. I downloaded a bunch of free books from Project Gutenberg, which offers books whose copyright's have expired for free.

I'm still warming up to the idea of using an ereader so I'm not keen to start dishing out money for ebooks. 'The Idiot' hasn't exactly kept me up nights reading, but I was pretty sure that had more to do with the material rather than the technology.

The Vancouver Public Library has links to various free ebooks and articles, including BC' Library Online ( Seemed like a great way to access ebooks for free, all I had to do was download a compatible ereader App to my iPad and I was set!

Or maybe not.

My steps:

1) Download the Bluefire Reader App to my iPad
2) Go to to sign out a book on my iPad - yay digital library!!!
3) Download won't work. Go to App help page to figure out why.
3.1) Realize I need to download books to my PC and need Adobe Digital Editions to do so.
3.2) Get a little annoyed.
4) Download Adobe digital editions to my PC/desktop (after booting up the computer, which of course takes forever).
5) Go to the BC Library website and sign out a book and (try to) download it.
5.1) Reread the obscure instructions then realize I apparently have to use Firefox, not Explorer (not because they actually tell you, but because it's in one of the illustrations).
5.2) Download Firefox.
5.3) Get serious about being annoyed.
6) Go back to BC Library online and download the book file to my computer.
7) Open iTunes. Which prompts me to upgrade. Why not? How long could it take?
7.1) Find out how long it can take.
7.2) Grrrr.
8) Connect my iPad to my computer and be prompted to update to the latest OS. Why not, I've been at this for long enough, might as well make it truly epic.
8.1) Discover that it takes a long time. A really long time.
8.2) Get an error message that the device has gone into recovery mode.
8.3) Swear loudly.
9) Learn a great deal about recovery mode.
9.1) Learn how long it takes to for an iPad to recover.
9.2) Swear. Not quite so loudly though, I'm a bit tired and really just want to go to bed.
10) Once everything has rebooted, recovered, rehabilitated and what have you I go back online to transfer the book to iTunes then to my iPad.
10.1) Yay! That was a lot of work but worth it. I feel the satisfaction of having figured it all out.
11) The books don't show up on my iPad. Anywhere.
11.1) Swear halfheartedly.
11.2) Give up and go to bed.
12) One day later realize I'd downloaded audio books, not text.
12.1) Feel like an idiot.
12.2) Download a text version book.

Granted I messed up a few things (audio books - doh!) but the process was still a major hassle. There are some good books available at BC Library but the selection is fairly limited. Presumably this will change as the library gets more use.

I found the BC Library website unwieldy and poorly organized. Again, something I hope will improve as the site gets more use.

That said, I'm really enjoying 'Breakfast of Champions', Vonnegut is way more readable than Dostoyevsky.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Curse of the Blog?

As I fight what hopefully is not the start of the cold I'm beginning to wonder if getting back to blogging about training was such a great idea!

I'm hydrating like crazy, just ate a meal heavy on garlic (maybe avoid me if you see me tomorrow!) and am planning on going to bed super early.

Who's dumb idea was it to run a marathon in January??

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad