Sunday, August 10, 2014

Race Recap: 5 Peaks Albion Hills

So, the Friday before last, I did one of my morning runs with the Lightning Kid.  During my lunchtime spin class, I could feel both a tug in my hamstring and my Achilles acting up.  That didn't seem good, but I took it easy that weekend at the cottage, except for an open water swim, so I figured I'd be fine.

The same thing flared up in a Boot Camp class on Tuesday, and I began to think I was in trouble, since I had signed up for 5 Peaks Albion Hills that very morning.  I had to take an Ibuprofen just to get through my Wednesday and by Thursday night I was soaking in a cold water bath (no ice, though, I just can't do that to myself).  The latter seemed to help and I was willing to brave it by Saturday morning.

Albion Hills is a great park that we visit often for cross-country skiing.  I wish I could say that the skiing made the trails familiar to me, but everything looks different in snow, but at least I'd done this race 2 years ago... but more on my race later.

As always at the 5 Peaks series, it starts with the Kids Challenge; all participants get a bib with the number 1 on it, because they're all winners.  We were rushing up to get the kids' bibs and safety pins when I ran into Robyn Baldwin (whose blog I'm sure you read, right), and though we didn't have time to greet her as well as we should have, did us a solid of capturing great race photos of the kids, so big thanks to her.

The Lightning Kid gives Robyn a High Five

Thursday, July 31, 2014

This Summer's "Training" "Schedule"

It’s been a bit of a rough summer so far.  In the Holding Your Ground post, I talked about how I wasn't going to be breaking new ground in terms of distance or performance this year, and the way things are shaking out, I don’t think I’m going to do any triathlons this year.  I had thoughts of doing Bracebridge again, or maybe dropping down to the Sprint level, but I think I know I’d be pretty much limping through it, and needing the better part of a week to recover.  The concept of merely doing the race for fun and simply enjoying completing it appeals to me, but I know I’d be cursing how slow I am and everything that woulda/shoulda/coulda (Shel Silverstein shout-out!) happened this season with every stroke, revolution and step.

Immediately after getting back from Germany, I underwent a vasectomy.  The snip.  I’m thinking of devoting a post to it in case anyone was considering it and wondering about effects and impacts (don’t worry, there wouldn't be any pictures), but for now, I’ll just leave it at the fact that I was unable to exercise (or even pick up the kids) for a week after a less-than-completely active vacation just as the summer was getting started.  A summer that follows a brutal winter, where getting/keeping a good base was very unlikely.  It also meant missing out on Band On The Run (at least the racing part, but the music festival/live concert was a lot of fun); I don’t think I’m going to post about it since it’s so long ago and I didn't run it myself, but it’s a must-have for next year; family friendly, lots of fun.  

So here we are, without racing goals, without a formal training program, with a weak training base and the summer has been rather rainy, if you ask me.  Rain and storms has meant cancelling rides and open water swims at the cottage where I spend most weekends.

Still, I’m not writing this to describe what hasn't happened, I’m here to celebrate what has been happening.  For one thing, like they say in the movie The Crow, it can’t rain all the time, so the cottage has been good for open water swims.  Unfortunately, due to some weird Garmin firmware crash (that my Forerunner 910XT has fortunately has recovered from) I don’t have any data to show you for it... the Garmin ate everything from June 23rd till sometime in Mid-July.  I can tell you that I did the first one sans wet-suit.

That decision to swim without it was a good one, I got 1.4 km of swimming done in 33 minutes which made me feel good about where my technique, body positioning and endurance were at.  I had a couple of other swims, one of which was in very windy and rough conditions and was really unpleasant, but at least it would toughen me up for adverse conditions, right?

We've taken the kids kayaking a couple of times too. The first time was about 1km, the second we got up to two. They're pretty good about patiently sitting still, to the point where our arm endurance is a bigger limiter than their fidgetiness (I just made that word up).

The other thing the cottage has been good for is using my mountain bike.  Rather than cart my tri-bike back and forth from the city, I just try and get out on the mountain bike, which I’m treating as part cycling training, part cross-training.  The first time I looked for a trail in the area I encountered a massive mud puddle which a little too much for this novice mountain biker.... but when I hit the same trail the week after, it was dry enough to ride through and I got a little further.

Whenever I hit some challenging terrain (which, for me, is just about anything more than a dirt road) I giggle and hoot. I bet I sound like Daffy Duck out there.

Back at home, the Lightning Kid’s sleeping schedule has returned back to its horrible default condition.  He’s less accepting of me as means to get back to sleep, but the good news is that when I’m industrious and organized, I prearrange my running gear so I can get up, grab it, change quickly in his room, and take him out running before he can wake anybody else.

It’s been a great opportunity to play with fasted cardio, since I don’t take any fuel before I go (though it’s super important to hydrate before and during, because I wake up as dry as a bone).  I’m pushing the Chariot and taking it easy and just trying to kill 30-60 minutes so that the rest of the house can sleep.  I don’t push the pace, and I’m just happy to be moving, and even then, I find myself tempted to stop running or turn around early.  I’m training my body to recruit more of my fat stores, and training my mind to keep going even though I’m tired which is key for triathlon.

I wasn't sure how much he was enjoying it, and in fact, when he starts asking for ‘Mama’ I know it’s time to get home quick, but I was surprised at how quickly he’s come to expect it: I got up early with him on Tuesday, and since I didn't have my gear out and ready (and I was pretty groggy), I didn't take him out.  He grabbed my running shoes and though I took him out on the porch for a few minutes when he asked to go outside (not for long, because it was surprisingly cold and we were just in pyjamas), he threw a tantrum when he found we were going back inside.  Sometimes when we’re out on the run if he starts to fuss I give him my water bottle to drink from.  He hardly ever drinks from it, but he does play with it a little.  The funny part is when he starts calling me to take it back; he’s like a little coach reminding me to hydrate.

So, though I haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire, I've had some fun and that's what summer's all about... and it's half over!

How has your summer been so far?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Five Favourites

It's Friday, and I'm going to list some favourite things I've discovered over the summer.  It's a series from You Signed Up For What?

  1. My Mizuno Wave Rider 17s - I actually bought these before the trip to Germany, and it was there that I wore them running for the first time.  My Salomon trail shoes were showing their age, and I figured it was time for new shoes.  So many running bloggers I know love Mizuno, and these came recommended for runners who like/need cushioning, without being heavy.  Since buying them, I've found out Mizuno makes trail shoes, but I still really like these, as they've lived up to their weight vs. cushioning ratio promise.
  2. Cheddar & Caramel Smartfood - A while back, my wife managed to grab something called Chicago Mix, which was a mixture of Cheddar cheese popcorn and caramel corn.  I'm all about the savoury/sweet mixtures (e.g. salted caramel) these days.  Sadly, Chicago mix was hard to get our hands on, but this version of Smartfood is the next best thing, and I keep stumbling across it in every grocery store.
  3. Kobo Glo e-Reader - This thing has kept me reading a little better than I might have otherwise.  I forgot it at the cottage this weekend, but I'm currently reading through A Feast of Crows (Book 4 of A Song of Fire and Ice a.k.a. the Game Of Thrones books).  It also came in handy when I wanted to read the short fiction work of fellow triathlon blogger Dan T. Head, and as long as it's connected to WiFi, it syncs my progress so I can continue reading on my phone (or iPad) app.
  4. Mill Street Brewery Seasonal Sampler - Every time I drink a Mill Street beer, I feel good about supporting a home team brewery, but the beers themselves aren't always my absolute favourite (I really want to love the Organic Lager, but I don't).  The seasonal sampler is a six-pack of six different flavours, 4-5 of which I would love to have in their own 6 (or 12, or 24...) packs.  100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager (distinct from the aforementioned Organic Lager), Palomar (Chipotle Lime) Ale, and the Belgian Cherry IPA are all new, and the Belgian Wit was new(-ish) to me. 
  5. Spi-Belt - I heard about Spi-Belt a while ago, and I kept hoping some blogger would post a giveaway or discount, but I ended up cracking and buying one.  The concept is simple: provide a belt for runners with a generic pocket that can store ID, keys, smart-phone/other device.  So many products are dimensioned exactly for a particular thing, making them useless if you're not using, say, an iPhone.  The Spi-Belt's pocket expands to fit a variety of items.  It's a bit of a pain to get my smartphone in and out when I want to do things on the run (skip songs, pause the workout recording, take a photo), but for the better part of a year I was without a solution for storing things unless I wore my hydration pack or a water bottle belt.  I've since found out there are models that have even bigger pockets; the Endurance model and the Messenger Bag.
Happy Friday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Snapshots From Germany

In my on-going game of blog post catch-up, I would like to engage in the (probably pointless) exercise of telling you, dear reader, about our annual family trip to Germany.  Last time I kept a detailed journal, not so much this time, so I’ll wrap it up in a single post, with just the broad strokes. With Germany in the World Cup final, I'm sure you're all eager for a little taste of the Fatherland, right?

Travelling with small children is indeed exhausting, especially the flights, but I have to say, my boys are actually pretty good, all things considered and they get compliments from airline staff and other passengers.  They've both been on planes since they were 6 months old, and while the Lightning Kid still doesn't get the need to stay seated, they show their veteran flyer status in their general behaviour.

Due to the German holiday calendar this year, we weren't able to spend as much time with my brother’s family, and we ended up heading to the Berlin area shortly after landing.  Germany gave us some great weather this year, though it was late May, it felt like a full-on summer (meanwhile, back in Canada, the climate was still shaking off the Polar Vortex).

This gave us an opportunity to swim in the Havel river a bunch including off a boat!  Shark Boy really improved his swimming and it ended up paying off a few weeks later at TriKids Burlington.  I even got my own open water swimming training session, and though it didn't feel great in terms of technique, performance or accomplishment, this is the first year I've gotten one done while on vacation though that river has been there the whole time, so I feel proud of it.

This boat was docked nearby, and it gave me a daydream about living on it, and having constant access to open water, living a nomadic, triathlon lifestyle a little like Team Wuertele.  Having a cottage is pretty good too, though.

We don't do much sight-seeing while there and prefer to be homebodies... it's quite cozy. Apparently some ducks thought so too - but nobody told them that ducks aren't roof birds...

The other big physical activity we did as a family was a bike ride; Shark Boy rode at 10 km on his own, and now that the Lightning Kid is a little bigger, he can ride longer in the rear seat - he is also carrying on his brother's tradition of reaching forward to try and give me a wedgie.

While we didn't sightsee, we did have to find ways to keep the kids entertained, and we looked into a couple of amusement park and play centres as we've come across them over the years. Lots of jumping and climbing for both boys, and it's great to see the Lightning Kid really rock his gross motor skill development.

After Berlin, we did finally get a chance to spend time with my brother and his family, and what we didn't have in quantity of time, we made up for in quality. Seeing the cousins play and bond really reinforces the feeling that family is something to be treasured. We took a nice hike up one of the Taunus mountains.

I also got a nice run in with my brother.

Like any vacation, it was over too quickly and now seems so long ago.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Race Recap: Shark Boy's Triathlon Debut at Sunrype TriKids Burlington

Happy Canada Day!

After the 5 Peaks - Heart Lake event, we headed to Burlington for our race kit pickup.  The best race kit pick-up systems in triathlon have you report to stations in order, with big numbers to identify each station.  This is probably doubly important with dealing with kids.  I was really impressed with how organized the TriKids event was.  Finding the bib number, body marking, swag bags, it was all there, and there was even an orientation session.

The orientation session

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Race Recap - 5 Peaks Trail Run - Heart Lake

Whenever a blogger hasn't posted in a while, they always lead with something like "Don't worry, I'm not dead!" and I always have a reaction along the lines of "I wasn't thinking that at all."  I've been swamped (still am, in fact), and there are quite a few topics I want to write about to get caught up on, but last things first....  I raced the 5 Peaks Trail Run Series - Heart Lake Sport course this weekend.

I ran this race last year in September, and doing it in the summer had an entirely different feel. Just like last year, there was a Kids' Challenge Fun Run of just under 1 km that both Shark Boy and the Lightning Kid participated in.  It's fun to see them actually improve year over year: I'm pretty sure Shark Boy can pace himself better so that he keeps up a more consistent tempo, and the Lightning Kid finished much faster too.  They make me so proud.

Game Faces.

Shark Boy raises the flag (or ribbon) of victory (or participation).

The Lightning Kid approaches the finish line with Mama in tow
The Kids' Challenge course had many of the same features as the sport course, only shorter, naturally.  We took off from the starting line and dropped down into a little valley where we circled a field, while going up and down a few hills that surrounded it.  It was all led by a volunteer and there was a tiger mascot to motivate them right to the end.  The really great part about this venue for kids is there was a splash pad right next to the race site where the boys got to spend the time while I was off on my race.

This year, I decided to seed myself in the 4th wave rather than the 3rd.  I think I got passed a little too much in the early first kilometre last year, and I wasn't exactly at my fastest going in.  In spite of the guidelines they give you as to wave vs. benchmark time (the pre-race bulletin called it "...the 5K time you could run immediately after eating a plate of nachos, with a beer or two to wash them down, followed by an ice cream sandwich for dessert.").  By the time I had finished getting my good luck kisses, I had a little trouble getting to the front of the 4th wave, but I still think it worked well.  

The single-track didn't start till 500-700m into the race, so there was plenty of time to get things sorted out in terms of runners' paces and who should be where in the pack.

I started my Garmin a little late (and my MapMyFitness app even later - I hope no-one was listening to the robot lady in my phone calling out false kilometre marks), and I quickly noticed a little problem.  I recently added a new heart rate sensor and I think that reset my HR Zones and values; according to what it displayed, I did nearly the entire race above 90% my maximum heart-rate (I later found out that the programmed max was 187 bpm, and my max of the day was 197, so now at least I have a new, up-to-date maximum heart rate).

The course spent a lot of time in the shade of the forest, which I really appreciate; I had a hat and sunscreen, but I don't like to rely on those more than I need to.  Even the little bit toward the end (I think well after 4km on a 7km course) that was more sun exposed was well thought out - there was only a single aid station on the course, but I thought it came at the perfect place the first time I passed it, and you got to pass it again another time.

I took a couple of walk breaks during the race, but they were more in anticipation of hills and wanting to be properly energized for the climb than necessary to recover from fatigue.  My favourite hill was a near vertical climb that slowed people down to a crawl.  I used my trick from last year to make the crawl literal and used my hands to get extra traction to make the climb.

I made the final climb to the finish line with a smile on my face, and finished in 45:46 which is more than a minute slower than last year, but with my training schedule (or lack thereof) I wasn't too surprised and quite pleased.

After a slight cool down in the shade and getting a few snacks into me (including mint-chocolate Clif Bar Builder Blocks!) I met my wife and kids coming back from the splash pad.  We had the briefest of moments to meet with Jessica of Laces and Lattes (which is not only a good blog, but an excellent running resource) - if not for her, I think I would have forgotten that the race was that weekend.  I also got to meet Robyn Baldwin, and she fell victim to the charms of the Lightning Kid:

He didn't give her nearly the attention I wanted him to, because he was so busy stuffing cookies in his mouth, but maybe he knows more about playing it cool than I do.  Rounding out the group of tweeps I met is Mark Sawh, who was better known to me as Spider-Man (from the Yonge St. 10k).  Based on the conversation I had with him, trail running has another convert...

I wish we'd been able to hang around more for draw prizes and other fun, but we had to get to Burlington for the race kit pickup of the TriKids Burlington triathlon Shark Boy would be doing the next day.  Guess what my next post is going to be about?