Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do your workouts!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Post-ultra-marathon blues

Bill Meisner talks about the long recovery from ultra-marathon muscular effort in "The Awful Afters."

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

My (triathlon) goals for 2009

We were watching some TV programme and they were going on and on about making, keeping, and breaking New Year’s resolutions. And I realized—not that I was ever much of a New Year’s resolver—that I hadn’t given resolutions a single thought. Because I’d already established some big goals for 2009:

Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, April 5—this is a B or B+ race—the current plan is to combine it with one of our 2½- or 3-week driving vacations
Ironman Canada, August 30—my A race
Ironman Florida, November 7—my B or back-up race

I have no C races planned, though they may arise as the year progresses. I know I’d benefit from some race, and particularly transition, experience.

To get there I have some other goals:

First and foremost is to get my work life under some control. I’m in one of those weird situations where I’m so busy I can’t spend time on getting help. But also, as a certain Tri-Dead told me off list, I need to be tougher-minded about work. It’s hard for me—a kind of weakness—that I don’t like saying No to people. And that doesn’t help when you have to clear aside twenty hours or more a week for training and training-related activities.

Some other contributory goals—or perhaps they're more like working principles:

• (Continue to) learn to suffer.
• Stay focused! (Always!)
• Get to the weight room twice a week at least.
• Improve my technique, in all three disciplines, but especially swimming.
• Lose some weight; it'd be nice to get under 180 lb—but I don't lose too much sleep about it.
• Maintain a positive mental attitude.

And I’d like to focus on the things I posted about on Monday.

Did my two-work-out New Year's Day—both work-outs precisely as Coach Steve listed. But yesterday I worked at home, and somehow being in my home office just made it easy to avoid going to the gym and to the pool, just to work instead. I’m wondering if that’s why when I headed out on my run this morning I crapped out so badly. Oh, well. I don't think the weather is (or more precisely the road surfaces are) going to favour a bike ride outside—not looking forward to 2½ hours at base pace on the trainer, even watching the NFL play-offs. Ah, a test of mental toughness!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What is Canada’s worse problem? Ignorance or apathy?

“I don’t know and I don’t care!”

One of my favourite jokes.

I’ve felt apathetic for a couple of days—especially yesterday. Today was almost as bad.

But today I know I’m sick. So nothing to report. Barely worked. Three naps during the day. Read all of the current Sports Illustrated, another chapter of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and I began Frederick Forsyth’s The Fist of God. I’m even too apathetic to watch the Holiday Bowl on HDTV; that’s a very bad sign. Instead, Mona and I are watching a Discovery Channel documentary on MV Paul R. Tregurtha, the longest ship on the Great Lakes.

Tomorrow? I don’t know. I’m thinking of deleting my swim work-out but still getting to the gym. Oh, and once again I have to reschedule my blood donation. And I do plan to go to work, probably by transit.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Box-Box- Boxing Day

Today is December 29, but it feels like Boxing Day (Dec. 26; a term Americans don’t use, but a statutory holiday in Canada and Ontario).

So I’ve had two public holidays (Dec. 25 & 26), two weekend days (Dec. 27 & 28), and today (Dec. 29) a vacation.

Christmas was a very quiet day for us. Liz called a couple of times. Monado and I didn’t exchange gifts.

After sleeping in a bit, I ended up going for a run at midday. Because I anticipated that residential sidewalks would be very icy and the ravine bikepaths impassable, I ran along Danforth Avenue, a major arterial road (and, until 1998, a provincial highway). This was my “long” run, about 90 minutes, so 45 minutes out and back. I basically ran from my house south on Pape Avenue to Danforth, and then east on Danforth to Danforth Road.

I’ve noticed this before: east of Victoria Park Avenue, the ancient townline between York and Scarborough townships, the property owners of Danforth Avenue are careless of clearing their sidewalks. West of Victoria Park, the sidewalks were generally clear (though the windrows occasionally encroached, and the intersections could be bad); east of V.P., the opposite. Particularly egregious, I thought, was an Anglican church whose sidewalks were a mass of irregular ice.

My other odd sighting was a streetwalker at Danforth and Pharmacy avenues. First, I don’t think of that area as a “stroll”; second, it was the middle of a sunny Christmas day. The only word is: sad.

On the real Boxing Day, Monado picked up Andie and I did a trainer work-out. Boy, I’m out of shape! A fairly straightforward work-out (15 min warm-up, then 3 x [10 min at tempo, 10 min easy]) was hard to do. I had to cut short the 3rd tempo section. During the tempo sections I was just able to touch HR=140, and my power output was just over 170 W. My legs were toasted from Christmas Day’s run.

Dec. 27 I actually made it to the pool at the East York Community Centre, and shared the medium lane for an hour. I did the whole listed work-out, which was only 1500 yards but left me exhausted and ravenous. The McDonald’s I pass on my way home was very tempting!

This was also an exciting day because I got my January work-outs from Coach Steve. There’s something exciting about the fresh set of work-outs, and laying them into my calendar; it makes it seem possible and exciting.

Yesterday, I’d planned on getting a two-hour ride outdoors. The temperature was in the high single digits (Celsius scale, so well into the forties Fahrenheit), but at sunrise Toronto began to suffer high winds that had been forecast for the afternoon. My concern was not a strong steady wind—it was the forecast 30- and even 50-knot gusts; even the arterials were still a bit narrowed by windrows, so I didn’t want to be blown into a traffic lane. I made this decision and fell back asleep. Sigh.

By the time I got up again, it was time to get ready for our annual Christmas potluck. It was a little different this year—my brother had gone out and gone beyond his siblings and their offspring, and included our uncle, his kids (my cousins), and their kids. Andie was good-tempered but bored until my 14-year-old niece Lexi arrived late.

This year we finally gave up on gifts. All my nephews and nieces got were “Mackenzie Kings”—fifty-dollar notes with a dour portrait of our longtime Prime Minister. They seemed to appreciate. For my step–first cousins once removed, I gave their parents three Mackenzie Kings to spend as they saw fit.

It’s a long drive to and from my brother’s house in Snelgrove and I had some time to think because everyone was being quiet.

I’ve set myself a Project in David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology to improve my consistency and to rehabituate myself to good habits for an Ironman year. This is what I came up with last night as I lay in bed:

Body work: At my age I really, really, really need to do my body work every single day—flexibility, core strength, resistance to injury. I read Peter King’s Monday Morning QB blog this morning about how Peyton Manning rehabbed himself to recover from a serious knee injury to lead his team to a 9-0 record their last nine games, and make himself a leading candidate for league MVP. I neither need, nor am I paid, to spend two hours a day (as Manning did) getting therapy; but Manning’s mindset, his dedication, is a good example.

Early-morning work-outs: I know that getting out at 6:30 a.m. would help me a lot; I would always have one work-out marked done by the time I showed up at work. The days I’ve done this I don’t beat myself up mentally all day about skipping work-outs.

Consistent sleep, meal patterns: This serves the previous sub-project by making it easy to slot things in. Although I’m not as bad as many folks, I have cluttered, demanding days, and it’s important to maintain consistent sleeping and eating; if I do, I can work out when a window opens.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Favourite sporting nicknames

Monado & I were just chatting about sporting nicknames. Her favourite is the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs of the Century Hockey League (ice hockey in Louisiana!).

Here are some of mine:

- Anteaters (University of California, Irvine)
- Banana Slugs (University of California, Santa Cruz)
- Horned Frogs (Texas Christian University)
- Salukis (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
- Columbus Blue Jackets (National Hockey League)
- Atlanta Thrashers (National Hockey League)

What these all have in common is that they’re far from the Bearcat, Wildcat, Fighting this or that, Warrior names; they don’t take themselves too seriously. But the Horned Frogs and Salukis are Division I programmes with particularly good football and basketball teams; so they can take themselves seriously if they wish.

Worst name? Most names are just mediocre (I know that’s illogical!), but the most inappropriate is probably the Black Knights of the United States Military Academy (i.e., West Point). A black knight is a knight who’s painted over his arms, who owes loyalty to no one, who looks after his own interests; surely very far from the ethos of the U.S. Army’s officer corps. (Nice, brief discussion, as so often, in Wikipedia.)

An odd day

Yesterday (Tues., Dec. 23) was an odd day. This mantle of fatigue that I’m carrying really slowed me down. We barely got out to my blood donation at 11:30 a.m. The work-outs went by the board.

Canadian Blood Services
’ Toronto Centre seemed a bit more chaotic than usual, but eventually I saw the nurse. BP and pulse were excellent (124/68 and 55); but then the nurse got to the questionnaire. I had admitted that, yes, I’d had cancer: a basal-cell carcinoma that was removed in 2001; I mentioned casually that I was seeing a dermatologist that very afternoon to have a spot looked at—and the nurse immediately rejected me.

I believe I’ve been giving blood for 35 years, and this was the first time I’d been rejected; I understood it (in the context of Canadian Blood Services’ extremely rigid criteria), but it still was a bit depressing.

Mona was rejected, too, but because her pulse was too high for their taste.

We had lunch at Pogue Mahone, and tramped in the snow up Yonge Street, remarking on how little that street had changed since the ’70s. A fairly quick stop at the Watch Service Centre of Canada (whose very poor Web site you can find here) and my Polar watch and transmitters were rebatteried; the technician said to me, “Now you have no excuses.”

Then we tramped to The Runners Shop where we wished Sava goodbye, and bought Andie a Christmas present. Thence to Specs on Bloor, where we picked out a new frame for me; I never grew to like my wireframes, so a new prescription gives me an excuse for new glasses.

Finally we got to the Dermatology Centre, and saw Anne Curtis, the dermatologist who treated my cancer. The spot on my face? yet another example of seborrheic keratosis (SK), which is all over my ageing skin; i.e., not cancer. Phew! (When I got home I rescheduled my blood donation to next Tuesday.) At my request, she used a can of liquid nitrogen to blast off a particularly annoying SK from my back.

After that, we spent some time at the Atelier Grigorian, where Mona picked up some CDs (how 20th-century!), and at Lululemon where we had no luck with my plan.*

We got home, and I “lay down for a minute”. Of course, I fell asleep. What’s happening to me? This is really weird.

Today (Christmas Eve, Wed., Dec. 24) I’m hoping to get out to the East York Community Centre for a thousand-yard swim (i.e., nothing very hard), and do a home-based strength work-out, trying out some things.

Other than that, it’s just work! And maybe some football on HDTV: but the only game today is the Hawai’i Bowl, featuring two unranked teams, the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-6; why are they in a bowl at all?) v. the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Warriors (7-6, 5-3). Not at all promising.

* Ah, my plan. I’d like to do my stretches several times a day, but in the PRESTO System Project office I work in a vast bullpen, so lying down on the floor would only add to my unfortunate reputation for eccentricity. My thought was to get a Lululemon-branded mat and bag for said mat, and use them in unused meeting rooms. The mat, the bag, and the branding would somehow signal that this was all “official”, and thus betokened dedication rather than late-middle-aged eccentricity. We’ll see.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Target races

Yesterday I created “countdown” Outlook events for my three 2009 target races. Thus, every day’s calendar shows how many days and weeks I have till each race. This is reassuring for the Ironmans—lots of time to get back on track; but not so much for the 70.3. Here are my target races:

- Ochsner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, Sunday, April 5, 2009—103 days, 14½ weeks (eek!)
- Subaru Ironman Canada, Penticton, B.C., Sunday, August 30, 2009—250 days, 35½ weeks
- Ford Ironman Florida, Panama City Beach, Saturday, November 7, 2009—319 days, 45½ weeks

Movies to watch

Probably not going to work out today. Still going to give blood (which means I can’t work out this afternoon), see my dermatologist, and buy Andie a Christmas present at the Runners Shop.

Over the weekend, I saw Iron Man and The Dark Knight. Iron Man was surprisingly structured for an action movie—a long set-up, a key character killed midway through the move—before the action, and a short pay-off action sequence.

The Dark Knight was one of the fastest 2½-hour movies I’ve seen. It had some nice touches, and was much more optimistic than we’ve come to expect from Batman movies. For one thing I can’t imagine how the sequel (if any) would derive from the end of The Dark Knight. Getting a great actor, Gary Oldman, to play James Gordon brings much core strength to a long underdeveloped character in the Batman universe.

Here are the movies in my viewing queue, all from Zip.ca:

- Der Ring des Niebelungen
- The Wild Bunch
- The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner
- Seven Samurai
- The Bicycle Thief
- Dances with Wolves

Starting again …

Yesterday (Monday, Dec. 22)

Swam a bit more than 2 km under Coach Kelvin’s direction at the new (to me) St Lawrence Community Recreation Centre (this was only the 4th time I’ve swum there, even though Liz spent her childhood across the street):

- 4 x 200 warm-up (plus an extra 25 because I always jump into the deep end)
- 6 x 3 x 25 working on stroke count; it varied wildly, from 32 (very inefficient) down to 23 or 22 (quite good); weirdly the eastbound lengths were consistently more efficient, often much more so, than the westbound
- 8 x 100 with good effort

No cool-down: they were taking in the lane ropes and I was beat.

So beat that by midafternoon I couldn’t concentrate on work, so I took a taxi home(!), had a p.b.&j. & a bowl of cereal, and started a “lie-down” at 6 p.m. that lasted until 5:44 a.m. this morning.

Today (Tuesday, Dec. 23)

- easy trainer work-out before work—“Cycle 60" easy spin”; I wonder what I’ll watch?
- my first strength work-out in ages
- blood donation (O-negative always appreciated) at Canadian Blood Services’ Toronto centre, which is in the original building of the Hospital for Sick Children at College & Elizabeth streets
- finally a get-together with my dermatologist about the dark spot near where I had cancer seven years ago

Will try to fit in some errands, some self-centered—getting my Polar stuff re-batteried—some not so much—getting Christmas presents?