Friday, April 27, 2012

Really? You really believe the marketing?

It seems Nutella is on the hook for misleading advertising.  The makers of the chocolate hazelnut spread used to claim in their commercials that it's "part of a healthy breakfast".  I remember seeing those commercials and finding it funny.  Yes, they were "part" of a healthy breakfast, if it was served on whole grain toast with a side of fruit and a glass of milk.  They were then the treat part of that healthy breakfast.

This was before I became more anti-processed food, but I was never fooled by that marketing.  The first ingredient is sugar.  The second is oil.  Did people really think the spread was healthy?

Apparently, because they've been successively hit with a massive lawsuit.

Much more clever marketing comes from the major seller of coffee and donuts in Canada.  They sponsor kids' sports teams.  So, when your kids play sports, they get plastered with Tim Hortons branded attire.  Spud has just started Tee-ball, which is sponsored by them.  

At the end of his second practice, we got a letter from Tim Hortons.  It said how happy Tim Horton's was to support his team.  It also invited him to come by a store after any of his practices or games.  As long as he wore his uniform, he would be treated to 5 free timbits and a hot chocolate.

When I got home, my husband and I discussed it.  "They're doing it so that parents will buy something when they take the kids there," he said.

No, much deeper then that.  They create a habit.  If you go after every single game, it becomes a routine, which may continue long after your child is on a "timbit" team.  They hook kids young and create positive associations with Tim Hortons, tied to some of their favourite activities.  In addition to that, it serves as both advertising and a tax write off.

Clever, and they don't even have to claim it's healthy.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with nutella or tim hortons.  Nutella doesn't live in my house, but that's mostly because of my own issues and the fact that I'm afraid I'd attack the jar with a spoon.  And Tim Hortons?  We'll even occasionally take advantage of their offer.  But not blindly.  And, I won't sue them in 10 years either because I thought it was healthy.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

The results are in

Hey all, a quick update from the race this weekend.

First to get it out of the way, I did not finish third.  Neither did blue coat girl though, so while she may have taken the award, she must have been doing it for someone else.  Three women finished in front of me, and third place was about 45 seconds ahead.  One woman finished 4 seconds behind me and that was undoubtedly blue coat girl.

Next, and more exciting is an update to my finishing time.  My GUN time was 27:01!  9 seconds faster then I had figured out my finish time to be.  (I had forgot to stop my garmin when I crossed the finish line, so I was just guessing based on when my pace dropped.)  If this had been a chip timed race, I easily would be able to record a time under 27 minutes.  :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

MEC Bow river run 5K race report

So, yesterday I did my first 5K race in almost a year and a half.  There's something about the 5K distance; it's often considered as a beginner's race, but it's really not.  Like any distance, it is what you put into it.  It's short enough that if you give it everything you've got, it can really hurt.

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the race site bright and early.  I usually do.  I find it calms my nerves, and I like to take a look around to make sure I know where everything is.  Required trip to the facilities, locate race start.  Headed back to the car.  Then, I ran about 2 km to warm up.  Mostly slow with a few faster strides thrown in. I saw a couple people from spin class while warming up.

After that, I headed back to the car, took a quick gel (it had been a while since breakfast), a sip of water, and headed to the start line.  I knew a few people doing the race, so I was looking for them.  I saw Chris, a friend's husband who is getting into triathlon (yay!) and Kelly, a friend doing her second 5K.

Kelly is a friend who has been a part of my life at many different points.  I think those are people that you're meant to stay connected with, so I've loved watching her running journey.  Can't wait to see where else it goes.
A quick picture of us pre-race
We were already lined up at the start line.  I had lined up a bit early, leaving a good chunk of room in front of me.  I expected more people to fill it then did, so ended up further forward then I really should have.  They were starting the 5k and 10k races at the same time, which is unusual, but it was a small race, so not too big a deal.

And, we were off!  I started off at what felt like a fast pace, and let the people flow around me.  Yep, I'd seeded myself a bit too far forward, but I find I often repass a lot of those people after the first kilometer, because they go out a bit too fast.

I had planned to pay very little attention to my garmin, and instead just run by feel.  I was mostly successful in that endeavor, but at one point during the first kilometer, I looked down and saw a pace over 6:00/km.  I actually think it was a fluke reading; possibly the trees messed with the satellite signal or something.  I picked it up a bit when I saw it though.  There was no way I was going to fail to run sub-30 overall.

The only hill, if you can call it that, in the race was the bridge over the river, and that was short lived enough that it was pretty insignificant.  After that the race was pretty flat.

Km 1: 5:14

Truthfully, I was going faster then I really felt I could hold, but I wanted to push myself.  I wanted to take a risk and see just how much I was capable of.  I can often do more then I think I can.

The race was an out and back, so about 10 minutes in, the first guys started coming back.  Wow, they were fast!  Just flying.

Km 2: 5:18

By now, I no longer had the adrenaline from the starting line, so it was into the stage of holding on.  And I did.  I find it incredibly motivating watching the fastest runners coming back.  It is very cool to see.  But, they were all men.

Where were the women?

Finally, the first woman came back.  I figured this was the beginning of seeing a stream of them, but as I got closer and closer to the turn around point, I still didn't see them.  Finally, as I reached the water station and turn around, I saw the second and third women.  They both stopped, and one of them laid down on the grass.  And, I passed them.

And, for the first time ever, I was doing something I never really planned to do.  I was racing against the field rather then just myself.  I had actually slowed a bit prior to the turn around, but I picked the speed up again.  Maybe, just maybe, I could hold on.

Km 3: 5:18

In picking up the speed though, I made a mistake.  I was already running as hard as I thought I could hold, and going faster was not a good choice.  I just could not hold on.  I couldn't keep it up, and I let myself walk.  I have very mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, I was pushing myself the hardest I ever had.  On the other hand, really?  Could I really not have just held on?

I only walked for about 10 seconds, but in that 10 seconds, I let a ponytail pass me.  (The men didn't matter; there were plenty of them ahead of me already.)

I made my second mistake and I tried to hold on.  She had paced herself better then I had though.  She was definitely going to negative split this race.  Always run your own race.  A lesson that I apparently haven't quite learned.

I walked again, and got passed again, this time by blue coat girl.  She wasn't going as fast though, so I decided to stay right behind her.

Kilometer 4 was my slowest overall, but had my fastest time outside of my finishing kick.  I wonder how differently it would have been if I had just paced evenly?

Km 4: 5:33

I held onto blue coat girl.  I figured I could let her pace me and then try to overtake her at the end, but then, she stopped to walk.  And, I passed her back.

At that point, it was just a matter of holding on.  Just one kilometer left right?  5 and a half minutes, max?  You can do anything for 5 minutes?

I resisted the urge to take a short cut through a playground.  It would have gotten me to the finish line faster, but probably wouldn't be considered terribly honest...

I'm often able to pick up the pace in the last kilometer, but this time, I was leaving everything out there on the course.  I didn't have much extra left in me.  I turned the final corner and kicked it into high gear.  Almost there.  I just had to hurt until I crossed that line.

Km 5: 5:24
Extra 0.06 km (as measured by my garmin): About 23 seconds*

*I actually forgot to stop my garmin when I crossed the finish line, but 27:10 was the point where my pace had definitely dropped in my garmin log, so I'm counting that.

Total time: 27:10

I think that I can safely lay to rest my sub-30 goal.  It's kind of like an era gone by in my running career.  I once considered a sub-30 5K or sub-60 10K to be the ultimate in running, and the fastest I could ever expect to go.  That's no longer a goal for me, and it's also no longer a limit.

As for that ?third? place finish?  I'm not sure what happened.  It's possible that there was another woman in front of me that I wasn't aware of.  However, I do know that it was blue coat girl that was given the third place prize.  And, I do know that I finished in front of blue coat girl.  Perhaps she was accepting it for a friend?  A bit disappointing.  Normally, I wouldn't even place in my age group, but it would have been cool to place this once.  I am curious to see what the results say when they are published.

Having said that, I did what I set out to do.  I did far more then beat the 30 minute mark.  I destroyed it.  And, in smashing that goal, I didn't just lay to rest my sub-30 goal.  I laid to rest my perception of myself as a slow runner.  Yes, speed is relative, but there's nothing holding me back from continuing to get faster.  I'm no longer the unathletic out of shape kid.  I never was.  I just didn't try.  Now, I do.  And, I'll continue to.  I'm nowhere near my limit.  I'm not even convinced there is a limit in front of me that matters.  :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oh, by the way, I'm racing!

I've been a bit quiet on my blog lately, so I don't know if I actually mentioned the fact that I'm racing today!

Although I wasn't planning on doing running races once my half ironman plan was in full swing, when an inexpensive 5K came up, I took the chance to set a new personal best.

It's been over a year since my last 5K, which was a frustrating experience.  Truthfully, the frustration was brought on largely by my inexperience and bad pacing.  That race did teach me a lot though.  It was a good lesson in letting go of things out of my control.

In that race, I really wanted to beat 30 minutes, and I sort of did it, crossing the finish line in 29:58.  But, it was a significantly short course.  Although my ability to run a sub-30 5K may have been there on that day, my execution did not earn it.  I've never been able to shake the feeling that my 5K personal best has a "but" attached to it.

So, today, I set a new one.

I say that with confidence, because barring a significant obstacle, I am now very comfortably capable of running a sub-30 5K.

Comfortable?  Hmm, doesn't seem like much of a challenge, hey?

So, instead, my goal today is not to beat my personal best.  It's to crush it.

See you all once I've done just that!

Requisite race day picture!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's holding you back?

It's never a good sign when your swim coach uses the phrase "you're not going to like me."  It's even scarier when she uses the phrase again the next evening at bike class.

What followed in both cases were hard interval sets.  The kind of hard that really tests you.  The kind of hard that makes you wonder if you can actually get through it.  The kind of hard that I once would have briefly considered and simply said "I can't".

But, I don't say that anymore.

I've discovered a new ability within myself.  The ability to disconnect myself from the part of my brain that is screaming: "YOU IDIOT! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF!! STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!"  Instead of living in that part of my mind, I become an outside observer to it.  I don't shut it off, because it's important to still be aware if the tantrum turns into an "oh shit.  Something's wrong."  I listen to it, acknowledge it, and keep doing what I'm doing.

This is where it's really good to focus on technique.  To become single minded.  Thinking about swimming long and strong, or even a smaller focus, like the angle my hand is entering the water.  On the bike, rather then focusing on how difficult it is, making sure to keep my arms soft, or kicking over at the top of the pedal stroke.

It's amazing what the body is capable of, but the more I train, the more I realize what a small part the body plays.  Yes, at a given point in time, there is a limit to how far a body can be pushed, but how many of us actually come anywhere close to reaching that point?  Rather, it is almost always our mind that holds us back.  And, because of that, it is our minds that we need to train.  Our minds that we need to push.

That is why, you should periodically do things that you don't know if you're capable of.  Stop setting limits and see just what your body can do when you're willing to push your mind to it's limit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Appreciate your legs

Weekends are heavy in the training department.  I had my long run and swim on the Saturday.  Then Sunday, a long ride in the morning, and a short run later in the day.  When a coach becomes a part of the budget, I think I'll ask about fitting the long run in during the week, but for now, I'm trying not to mess with my training plan too much.

Some weeks, that final run is a real challenge.  After a 2.5 hour ride on the trainer, and a long run the day before, I had no idea how my legs would treat me.  I made sure to fuel plenty during the day, which I think helped.  (It's amazing how much food I eat on long ride days.)

When I got out for that run, I made a mental note that my legs were tired.  Tired doesn't mean done though.  I walked for a couple minutes like usual, and then I started to run.  My training plan called for me to do 35 minutes total with 6 x 20 second strides (described as a relaxed sprint).

I was running without music.  Some days I like the distraction of the music, but since I think it partially cuts off the connection between my head and body, I don't like to use it for every run.  When I go without it, I'm far more aware of every nuance, every reaction my body has to the stimuli that surround me.

Despite the training I'd already done that day, my legs felt strong.  I could feel each step connecting.  I'm ultra aware of my calves because of the issues I've recently had on the bike, so it was my ankles and calves that I noticed the most.  Sometimes, when I get tired, I really understand why I wear supportive shoes.  If I let myself drag or shuffle, I can feel myself start to pronate.  Not yesterday though.  I wasn't even focusing on keeping strong, merely observing the fact that I was.

And so I ran.  One of those perfect runs.  The kind where my body does exactly what I ask of it.  Easy?  No.  Effortless?  Not a chance.  But strong.  I asked for one more effort from those legs, and they delivered.

I don't always appreciate my legs.  They're bigger then I'd like, and sometimes kind of hairy.  I've got some scars and years of obesity have left me with a network of stretch marks across my thighs.

But more importantly, they are strong.  They take me where I need them to, and as long as I believe I can do something, they are there to deliver.  These are the legs that carried me through a weekend of hard training. They're the legs that have carried me across the finish line of a dozen races, from my first 5K to half marathons, to an Olympic triathlon.  They're the legs that are going to help me complete a half ironman in 3.5 months and make me an Ironman in two short years.

Perfect?  No.  But then, perfection is over rated.  Strong?  Absolutely.  Don't ever underestimate the power in that word, or your belief of it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Be careful what you ask for...

Just this week, I was talking to one of the lifeguards at our pool about the fact that it is a bit warm.  They keep it at 82F.  After the conversation, I looked online and found that 82 is common for a multi-use facility, but lane pools are often kept a bit cooler.

Last night, I went for my swim and as soon as my toes touched the water, I knew it was colder then usual.  That's alright, I figured, it's usually too warm anyways.  Once I get going, it will be fine.  It was unusually difficult to duck my head under the water to start swimming, but I did it and I started.

100 metres into my warmup, I still wasn't getting warmer.  I stopped for a minute and talked to a lifeguard.  The heating system was malfunctioning.  The temperature was currently at 78F.  Quite a bit cooler then usual.  The temperature of the water didn't encourage extended conversations, so I ducked back down and resumed swimming.  My plan called for a long set of 1800 after I finished my warmup, and I was just as happy not to be taking breaks along the way.

I never did warm up.  But hey, I did Banff (one of the triathlons known around here for really cold water).  I'm doing it again, as well as two other triathlons that have cold water.  Really, the temperature of the pool was still balmy compared to the lakes I'll be swimming in this summer.

It would have been perfect halfway between there and the regular temperature, at around 80.  An important lesson here though:

Be careful what you ask for.  You might just get it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Training your mind is as important as your body

Tuesday I had one of my best workouts in a long time.  I got outside on my bike for the first time in months.  I worked hard too.  But, the truth is, that ride, in itself, wasn't that significant in terms of getting stronger physically and mentally.  It was more like a reward for the work I'd done prior.

Yesterday's ride was significant.  I'd missed Thursday's training because of an afternoon dentist appointment that left me grumpy and tense.  Truthfully, I used that as an excuse, and getting in even part of the training in the time I had left probably would have brought me to a better mindset.  Instead, I ended up taking a day off, following my scheduled rest day on Wednesday.

So, Friday, when I should have been getting a 1.5 hour ride out of the way, I put it off.  Before I could even start, I had to change my rear tire back to the trainer tire.  (We've had a big dump of snow, so no riding outside right now.)  That was just depressing.  

My kids are old enough now that I could have done it early in the day while they played, but I didn't.  I didn't do it after lunch either.  Then, it was time for supper.  In my defense, I did at least manage to change that tire once I had supper going in the oven.  I can't train immediately after eating, so enter the whirlwind of children's bedtimes.  By the time that was done, it was 8:00 pm.

I know very well that the time of day, that I have the hardest time with motivation to train, is in the evenings.  And, that is the only time I had left.  Thank goodness for the most important part of my support system: my husband.  He didn't have to tell me to suck it up and ride my bike, but I knowing he would have was enough to get me down there.

And, unlike most workouts, once I was going, it wasn't easy to keep going.  I don't know if it was the monotony of the trainer after the excitement of the road, but it took constant diligence to stick it out for the full time.  A few times, I took a short break to practice clipping in and out (I like the speedplay pedals, but they feel different then the shimanos and I find the left side a bit stiff to clip in and out.)  I have my garmin set to autopause, so it just postponed the inevitable: the full 90 minutes still had to be done.

It was tempting to cut it short.  Nobody would know but me, right?  But that's the thing, I would know.  I remembered something that Angie said during a bike class when somebody jokingly suggested not doing the final interval: if you don't finish, the entire workout is for nothing, because you know you didn't do it.  

Physically, it might not matter that much.  The effect on my body from a single workout in my training cycle isn't going to be that different if it's 75 minutes or 90.  Mentally, it matters.  Quitting becomes a habit, and if you train to quit, it gets easier every time.

In the end, I finished the 90 minutes.  Instead of training my mind to quit, I trained it to stick it out even when I didn't want to.  It was hard, but I did it.  Maybe next time, I'll also remember that putting it off doesn't make it easier.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Less netflix, more mountain views...

This winter, I've managed to get some serious bike time in.  But, because I live in a climate with lots of snow, ice and cold temperatures, most of that time has been on the trainer.  I know some of you are tough and ride the trainer with just music for entertainment, but the only way I'm getting through those rides is by watching something that keeps me entertained.  I don't dislike biking on the trainer, but I don't like it either.  The reason to do it is really just so that I'll be better at riding once I can do it outdoors.

Like today.

My first outdoor ride in half a year, and it was fabulous.  I knew it was windy before I went, but it didn't seem too bad on my way out of town.  Of course, that is a bad sign.  What that meant is I had a lovely tailwind on my ride away from home.  When I turned around though...

Let's just say that it was more work to get back.

Some pictures from the ride.

Drivers are pretty good around here.  There's even nice signage on this road.

Maybe one day, I'll take a picture that does true justice to the mountains.  Maybe not though.  I'd probably need a better camera.

More pretty countryside with a mountain backdrop.
Not from my ride, but a pretty picture from last night's run

Monday, April 9, 2012

Less basic, but very commonsense lane etiquette

So, yesterday Keith posted a long comment on my basic lane etiquette post.  I've decided to repost it for those of you that don't read comments.  As I was reading it, I found myself nodding my head to a lot of it.  It seems so obvious.  So common sense.  Yet, you know what they say about common sense...

So, Keith, thanks for the guest post, even if you didn't do it on purpose.  ;)

Keith's lane etiquette tips:

Passing people, or having them pass you. Odd as it sounds, faster swimmers have the right of way. Slower swimmers stay out of their way. That means if you're coming up to the wall, pause a few seconds and let the faster swimmer through. When you do this, stand at the side of the lane and let them aim at the centre line.

It's common to indicate you want to pass by touching the feet of the person in front of you. Once. That tells the front person they should pause at the wall.

If you are circle swimming with 2 people in the lane passing any time is ok, just be really sure there are only 2 people in the lane. This is why it's considered polite to let all the people in the lane know you are joining them, and then fit into their pattern, or give them time to change from split to circles. If you're circle swimming, the only option for passing is at the wall.

Do not push off the wall in front of another swimmer if they are faster than you or even if you are the same speed. That will mess up their groove. The only time, and it's really the only time to push off in front of someone is if you are on the clock trying to make an interval, and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you are faster. Even then, if they're just about to touch the wall, it's too late for you to push off.

Drafting can be fun for all involved, but you have to work it out with the person first, otherwise they'll know you're back there even if you don't touch them, and the polite ones will let you by.

Don't ever touch anyone else's pool toys unless it's to save them from floating into the pool. Don't even ask to borrow it, use the ones the pool supplies or bring your own.

Speeds. You are right when you say to figure out where you are. What this means most of the time is to time your potential lane mates and compare to what you plan on swimming. You do know, within a few seconds, what your pace is, right? Swimmers know. Floaties don't. I'd rather swim in a crowded lane at my speed, than be the third person for 3 different speeds.

If your workout has some slow stuff, such as a kick drill, consider moving into another lane for that if your current lane has people doing a fast freestyle. Either that or be really considerate about swimming up and down the lane hugged right against the lane ropes, and I mean really against them. That will give two people room to carry on beside you. (Get your minds out of the gutter!)

You will occasionally touch another person in the pool. Perhaps you've rapped knuckles, or touched bodies during breast or back stroke. The correct course is to apologize at the first opportunity. Even if your stroke is tighter than the clasp on Scrooge's wallet, and theirs looks like a wounded seagull trying to take off.

Attempt butterfly only when you are alone in the lane unless you really know how to do it.

Make sure your suit is suitable and properly tied up. Not see through. No ripped seams. No huge baggy shorts that float up and expose the junk. Shower before you get in the pool! We all pee in the lake or ocean, but a pool supplies toilets for a reason. Don't mess up the water chemistry, and don't swim when you are sick.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Basic, very basic lane swim etiquette

- Find out what the rules are at your pool.  If you don't know, ask a life guard or read a sign.

- You might "split" a lane or you might "circle swim".

- You can split a lane if there are only 2 people in the lane, as it means you each swim up and down the same side of the lane.

- If there are more then 2 people, you must circle swim.  Even if there are only 2 people, if it is likely to get busier, it is polite to circle swim anyways.  This means that everyone swims down one side and back up the other.  At my pool, the sign says you stay on the right.  Some pools, it alternates per lane.  This information is almost always on a sign near the pool.  Read the sign.  If there is not one, ask the lifeguard.

- Some pools have signs designating speeds.  If there are no signs, try to join a lane where the people are going the closest to your speed.  Even with signs, remember that speed is relative.  I have nights where I am the fastest in the pool, but there are times I'm among the slowest.  Take a moment to figure out where you fit in speed-wise on a given day.

- Five year olds do not belong in lane swim.  I'm sorry.  They just don't.  I have kids.  I love kids.  I am not anti-kid, but there are some places they don't belong.  Lane swim is one of them.  The only kids that should be in lane swim are the super serious ones who are capable of doing it properly and have the ability and maturity to do so.  And, don't get me wrong.  I've swam in the same lane as some of those kids and they have smoked me.  They weren't 5 years old.

- It is polite to let people know you are joining their lane.  If you don't ask, make sure you know how they are swimming (circle or split) prior to joining.  If someone is swimming down the middle (which isn't very polite) or you need them to switch from splitting to circle swimming, you must make sure they know you're there.  

Saturday nights at my pool tend to be among the quietest nights there.  When it's that slow, the lanes get split with two people per lane - if that.  Often you get a lane to yourself.

Last night, about 10 minutes into lane swim, there were 5 people in the pool (there are 4 lanes).  I was in a lane by myself, so I was swimming up and down one side so that if somebody wanted to join, they would see that I was leaving it open.

I had a long set, and wasn't stopping much.  I turned around at the wall, started swimming back and almost had a heart attack, as I was on a collision course with a kid and an elderly man.  I quickly corrected course.  However, in the few strokes it took to reach them, I quickly calculated that this was going to be a problem. This was a kid.  Maybe 5 years old, wearing a life jacket.  Probably taking 2 plus minutes to swim the length of the pool.  The man was walking.  Seriously?

This is actually a night where I was the fastest one in the pool.  So, you choose the lane with the fastest person, who is doing front crawl at 4 times the speed you intend to travel?  So, I stopped and started asking them to split the lane rather then circle swim.  Normally, I would never ask people to do this when there are over 2 people in the lane, but this Grandfather and kid (who should have been in bed) were obviously not really "swimming".  Yes, totally judgemental of me, I know.

He totally did not get the concept.  Initially he thought I was just telling him how to circle swim.  I tried to explain it again.  Not getting it.  Then, a woman (who turned out to be the mother) joins the lane and starts doing a very slow breast stroke.

 I give up trying to explain anything and just make the decision to move over a lane.  The woman asks me what the problem was.  At this point, I've already decided to switch lanes, so I try to give a very brief explanation.  She also has no concept of why it's not okay for three people to jump into the lane of someone working out and go a quarter their speed.

Okay, so there are 4 lanes, 2 others of which only have 1 person, and somehow it's okay for three people to join one lane?  Sorry, but if you want a lane to yourself, arrive at the beginning of lane swim.  Don't just hop in and try to screw up somebody else's workout.  If they had even had marginal politeness and touched base with me prior to jumping in, I probably would have just switched lanes right off the bat, without as much annoyance.

In the end, they got their lane to themselves, and I joined the woman in the lane next to me.  I got a good training session in, with a brief annoying interruption.

I promise, at least a couple more months before I rant about another person that totally lacks lane etiquette... 

Any other etiquette that the experienced swimmers would like to add?
Was I totally out of line?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

PSA: Cheap race registrations (Canada)

If you're like me, the biggest limiter on how often you race might be your wallet rather then ability.  I'd love to do a race every few weeks, but can't justify the fees, especially since most of them would be glorified training days.

For those Canadians out there, MEC is now doing races!  Cheap registration, at $10 for the 5K and 10K distances in Calgary.  I've signed up for the 5K on April 21.  Time to update my personal best on that distance!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pedals, bells and brakes

So, first off, I've seen the bike fitter again, and we changed the pedals on my bike.  I was using Shimano 105 before, and have now switched to speedplay.  The hope is that the free float will work better with my knees.  So far, it feels good, but I haven't had a chance to ride a lot on it.  That will come soon, but I'm optimistic already.

Now, although I haven't got to ride outside yet this year, there are others that have.  Most notably, Spud and Sweetpea.  Spud is getting pretty good on his bike and I suspect the training wheels will soon be gone.

Here he is, trying out an aero position for his next triathlon
 Sweetpea is also getting better, but there's still some work to be done.  One area that could use some focus is paying attention.  Last summer, I picked up a couple bells for Spud and my husband's bike.  They didn't get put on until this weekend, so of course the bells instead graced Spud and Sweetpea's bikes.  I'll have to get another one for Beejay.

She likes to go fast
The problem with the bell is the fact that she started the ride off by looking at the bell instead of where she was going.  It took many reminders to get her focused on the direction the bike was moving instead of ringing the bell.

Then, there's the brakes.  Her bike has coaster brakes, which means she has to pedal backwards to make them work.  It's been a challenge to convince her that there is any point in stopping.  Today was a victory!  I managed to teach her how to use her brakes and she actually started using them.

Of course, the rest of the ride this is what was coming out of her mouth (with actions to match): "and stop!  Now go!  and... stop!  Now go...)  Rinse, repeat.  I think she practiced using those brakes about every 3 seconds for the rest of the ride.

I'm looking forward to getting out myself.  It won't be long now until the trainer stops getting so much use.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Something's fishy...

Nope.  No April fool's day joke this year.  To be honest, I just couldn't think of a good one.  Last year, I got a bunch of people with my "I'm moving!" post.  This year, it's just the real thing at DebTris.

So, I've had a couple "poor me" posts about my bike issues lately.  I'm hoping to get the fit worked out tomorrow, and then should be able to get the saddle time in.  In the meantime, I decided to stop whining about it and deal in a  positive way.

I've often said that one of the great things about triathlon is the built in cross-training.  In many ways, it's easier on your body, and if something happens to keep you from one of the disciplines, you've still got two other options to keep you from going crazy.  Now admittedly, I kind of thought that the run would be the most likely thing to be out of the game for, but lately it's been biking I can't do.

So, what to do?

As much as I'd love to run more, it isn't really a good idea to suddenly increase my run volume.  I tried that last year when I was travelling and was without a bike or easy access to a pool.  It didn't go so well and I ended up having to take off more running time then I had gained with running every day.

On the other hand, swimming is low impact, and throwing in a bunch of extra swimming will do no harm and likely lots of good.  This is, of course, assuming no shoulder issues, which I've been lucky enough to avoid so far.

So, I've been doing exactly that.  Lots of swimming.

I know some triathletes don't love the swim, but I really enjoy it.  It is such a skill based discipline and I love seeing the tiny little improvements.  I also just feel at peace in the water.  Seriously, I could be a fish.  I love feeling the water around me and me going through it.  I actually really feel it now, and I think it's so neat when I can observe how a slight change to the angle of my arm increases my catch and gives me more leverage.  How one position of my head creates drag while another seems to cut right through.

At some point, I really want to learn the other strokes.  Get better at backstroke.  Become coordinated enough to do breaststroke.  (The instructor for the last adult swim class I took laughed at my breast stroke attempts.  Seriously.)  I'd even like to learn fly.  It is amazing watching somebody go across the pool with a well executed butterfly stroke.  One of these days...

Right now, that isn't my focus.  I also can't maintain swimming 5 days a week once I start getting back on my bike.  But, getting in the water and just enjoying it has been great for me.

Now, the other thing I really ought to spend some time on is core, but that's just not as fun...