Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Actually It IS All About The Bike

I've never been one of those people that thought that having the best and newest equipment made a huge difference in performance and maybe for some people it doesn't. However today I became a convert, I felt an incredible difference between my new TTX and my old Griffen. The first major difference was the fact that the Trek is about 10lbs lighter than the Griffen, I know that the Boron Carbide that Griffen uses isn't the lightest material but WOW, what a difference a full carbon frame makes, I was flying up the hills. The ceramic bearings were unbelievably smooth it made my old bike feel like a rusty clunker. I have to adjust to the smaller frame size, I bought my Griffen from a guy who was about 6'2" and it was always a little big but now I feel really compact and low to the ground and it's going to take some getting used to.

I rode 90kms today and aside from a couple adjustments I can't believe how smooth it is. On my Griffen I felt every little bump in the road and after a long ride I would be so tired from the constant rattling from the road. I was so fresh after 90kms today I could have run a half marathon no problem. Thanks to Robert and Dean for setting me up with the new ride and of course thanks to my beautiful wife for realizing it was a big expense and supporting me in buying it. I guess I better race well this year now! Watch out Robert and Dennis now I know your secret.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hello Pain, It's Been a Long Time

Today was the first "official" race of the year for me the Brian Harms memorial 10 mile and I have to say that it was a tough way to start off the race season. I didn't have the easiest week leading up to the race, I had an 8km x-country race on Wednesday which I pushed pretty hard, a tough swim on Friday, a really hard 50km bike ride on Thursday and another 40kms in freezing weather on Saturday. So I went into the race a little tired but I was excited to start racing in GP again and hoping I could have a good day.

It was a little strange to start racing at 11am but I had an opportunity to walk Harley in the morning and stay calm. I picked up Sarah (sister-in-law) who was running her first 5k and did fantastic and we made our way to the start. Amber was out running for 5 hours and 50kms today and she was going to meet us at the start to run with some of her girls. I met up with a few friends at the start and waited for the horn to go off so I could get the suffering over with.

It finally started and a couple guys went off like a bullet I wanted to stick to my pace but I also wanted to compete so I just said forget it and went out hard. I was running stride for stride with a young track kid who held the pace for the first 3kms and then started to fade. The run through the trails is beautiful but it's was hard to enjoy it when my body was absolutely red lining and everything was screaming for me to stop and walk. I hit the gravel road at 4kms and felt like I was running backwards but did my best to hold it together and when I had to turn around and do another lap I wished I had signed up for the 8k instead of 16k. The second lap was very hard and I definitely slowed down but I managed to pull out a sub-hour race and I was very happy to see that finishing stretch. Yes it was painful but definitely worth it, this was a great start to the race season and I'm hoping my fitness improves. The Blackfoot Ultra is next, that's Amber's big 80k and I'll be there cheering her on while doing the 'baby ultra' 25kms.

The Last Mile- I was HURTING

Team Speed Revolution- Robert won the 8k and I won the 16k

Friday, May 7, 2010

Swim Hard Today?...really...

I've been slacking a little bit since I've been back home, usually it's the opposite; I head out on my work trips and the training drops off the map. However my southern loop, Whitecourt-Edson-Jasper is awesome for training, Whitecourt has a brand new rec centre and there is literally no one in the pool! I can't believe it, they have a pool that is 100 times better than Grande Prairie and there is literally no one in there. I not only have a lane to myself but I have the whole pool, that is unbelievable for someone from Grande Prairie where you'd be lucky to have a day where there is only 2 other people in your lane. Also there is a beautiful isolated road towards Edson where you can bike out for 20kms and back with a good shoulder and incredible scenery. It hasn't been nice enough yet for me to ride it yet but next trip for sure.

Edson also has an excellent pool with no one in it, although the showers take a little time to warm up. Plus I usually hit the treadmill fairly hard at the hotel I stay at, last time it was some speed work, 15km/hr at 2% grade for an hour. Usually it's 13-14km/hr at 2-4-6% grades 5 minutes at a time. What can I say about Jasper, it is literally the best place for a triathlete or ultra runner to train. Everything is accessible by foot, it has the best trail system I have ever seen, the pool is not busy and beautiful, and the road biking is head-and-shoulders above everything else in Alberta. So I'm getting into a nice routine with training when I do that Southern loop, it was just a shame that I didn't do any biking last trip it was rainy and cold the entire week.

Today I had a nice surprise when I finally made it to the pool at 8am I was surprised to see Robert there when I was getting changed. He was too, his reaction was "oh you're here... well I guess today is going to be a hard swim..." I'm the one who should have been worried he's been hitting the pool very hard, today was his 4th swim this week and only my 2nd. He said, "okay we can go easy today and hard tomorrow or hard today and easy tomorrow." I chose the latter because we are doing a swim-bike tomorrow and I want to be able to survive a 3hr bike after swimming. So we started off easy for the first 30 minutes and just did some technique, paddles, and form work. Then it was time to decide on the training for the day, I suggested a 500-400-300-200-100 descending ladder but I'm pretty sure Robert doesn't like those long sets because he countered with 50's. I kind of laughed because we were at two opposite ends of the training spectrum but I compromised with 15 x 100's at 90 seconds with 30 seconds rest and he was okay with that. The first 5 went okay but I could feel my arms getting more and more tired each set. I was holding my pace but by the time I hit the 10th rep I was really starting to wonder if I could finish off this workout. I just kept thinking that this is the same distance that I will be swimming in Hinton in 4 weeks, I better be able to complete this distance at race pace by now! The final 5 my form was starting to really suffer but it was nice to have both Robert and Dennis there to push me, yes Dennis joined us for the 100's and he looked really strong.

I'm looking forward to the weekend, an hour swim Saturday morning followed by a 3 hour bike with the gang and then the first 'official' race of my season on Sunday; the Brian Harms memorial. They changed it this year from an 8k to the original distance 10 miles (16k), which basically just means twice the suffering. Brian Harms was an incredible athlete in the GP area who set a PR in this 10 mile race of 52:11 in 1985 and he was involved in some epic battles with another incredible local athlete Terry Smith. I don't think I'll be running anywhere close to that time but I'm going to go out and see what I can still do, I'm secretly shooting for the 55 minute mark but we'll see how that turns out on Sunday. Tragically Brian Harms committed suicide many years ago but we all still remember him and his running prowess through this race. To learn more about him take a look at the following link;

Monday, May 3, 2010

Out With The Boys!

I think the thought of being 'out with the boys' for most people entails a night of binge drinking, strip clubs and streaking. Well for us athletes it meant 2kms of swimming and a 17km run right after. That may sound a little boring for most people but I like to think that I am getting better with age, not worse. In my opinion most people have this perception that you need to 'slow down' as you get older and I will admit that at some point your body will force you to do so but why not take advantage of the times when we are 'fast' when we have them. I've been battling this feeling of having a lingering flu since the end of January and it's been incredibly frustrating. However I'm learning that my body will tell me when it's ready to train again and there is absolutely no use in getting frustrated or upset with bad workouts. The progress will come but it doesn't come all at once.

I can already feel myself getting stronger as the days start to get longer and warmer, last weekend I had a race and although I struggled through most of it, it was sooo nice to race again. I forgot how much I love it. My running seems to be at least on par with last year and I'm slowly feeling better and better in the water as I start to rack up the kms. Biking has been the tough one for me, I've worked very hard at maintaining my fitness on the bike but the weather and travel has limited my riding time. I just need a good block of training in May and I'll be right back in the 'zone.'

Back to this weekend's activities, Amber and I went for a cruiser ride through the streets of GP with about 20 people from Ernies on Saturday and it was a nice change of pace. Just lounging around on some huge heavy bikes looking like an eco-friendly motorcycle gang, it was cool.
I made a plan to get together with Robert and Dennis that night for our swim-run session on Sunday morning 8am. Now you have to know Robert and Dennis to know that Sunday at 8am is not a good time to start training but they are obviously committed because they were both there, bright and early. Robert even beat me to the pool, wow. Both of them had their morning grumpy pants on (but I live with the queen of morning grumpy pants so I was used to it) I just tried to be as energetic as possible and they seemed to perk up pretty quickly after that. Robert wanted to keep the swim to 45 minutes so I agreed but I was going to make it HURT. Sure we can keep it to 45 minutes but that means we are going to pack in 90 minutes worth of swimming in a 45 minute session. I started off easy with 500m warm up and 500m paddles and then gave them a choice, descending ladder (400-300-200-100) at race pace or 5 x 200m at race pace. They didn't like either choice because they tried to negotiate me down to 10 x 100m at race pace but I wouldn't budge. I wanted them to really feel the effort after 100m how your body is dying for O2 and you need to keep your form as your arms and legs are getting heavier. So they reluctantly agreed to the 5 x 200m set. The first couple went off fairly well, they were definitely a struggle but we made it through them, after the 3rd I could tell I my body was feeling the effects of pushing that hard with very little oxygen. By the end of the 4th set Robert was done and I was barely hanging on for the 5th one, if those guys hadn't been there I probably would have called it a day after the third. We just need a few more of those efforts, with a little longer distance, and we'll be ready for Hinton in 5 weeks.

Then we headed out to the trails for a 90 minute easy run it was great weather for running, cool but sunny and we all had a blast talking about Ironman training, racing, bikes, run gear, etc. Usual athlete talk, I loved every minute of it. I have to thank Robert, Dennis and Amber for keeping the training fun this year, I usually do a lot of my training alone because a lot of times I just try to fit it in whenever possible but so far this year it's been great meeting them for whatever their workouts call for, hard bike, easy run, whatever it's all been great. It's really important to keep the fun in my workouts because last year after racing a lot, I was feeling a little burnt out. Now everything I do I'm just doing because I love to be outside on my bike or running the trails with Amber. I know Amber and I have different race goals this year but I don't think it's going to be a problem, she knows I need to be on my bike and I know she needs to be running the trails plus it's great to get together later and swap stories. It's going to be a fantastic summer!