Monday, December 26, 2011

My Cadence Workout (Mind-Body Synergy) (Pt. 1)

It's been a while since my last post, and I really hadn't intended on doing one now, but something that someone wrote in response to one of my Daily Mile posts (a site that I keep pretty up to date cause the additions are brief and to the point) got me to thinking.  By the way, if you have the desire to get fit and would like to join a site where you encounter a lot of like-minded and motivating people, you might want to have a look at Daily Mile.

Back to the topic at hand............ During the last month or so I have been going down to my wonderful local YMCA fitness centre (H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre) on a fairly regular basis (3 to 4 times a week).  Almost every time I go I try to do some kind of a brick involving 2 out of 3 of swiming, biking on a trainer, or running on a treadmill.  Focusing specifically on biking for the moment, I generally try to do 1 minute cadence intervals, alternating from 85 -100 up to 100 - 110.  I typically get into this rhythm after a  4 - 5 minute warmup during which I get my body up to speed.  After posting one of these sessions to Daily Mile, one of my favourite friends and motivators asked the following question...... "Got any tips for me on getting my cadence increased?"

At first this seemed like an easy enough question to answer, but after giving it some thought I realized that a discussion of this topic opens up avenues of thought that are central to my personal view of biking, swimming, and running, and can certainly (in my opinion) be applied to other life activities as well.

Before I get into the more philosophical aspects of this topic, I will spend a bit of time answering the question head on......from my own personal experience.

My typical trainer session at the gym lasts 30 minutes.  When I first get onto the bike, my usual cadence for the first couple of minutes is about 75-85.  I set the tension on my bike at a level that suits me for what I'm going to do for the next 30 minutes, and leave it at that level.  That level will, logically, increase in future sessions as I become stronger and my fitness level increases.  By the end of the fourth or fifth minute I am usually at about a comfortable 90 and am well warmed up and ready to get serious.  At that time I crank up my cadence to 105 - 110 and keep it there for the next minute.  During the high cadence sessions I am in aero position and trying to be as relaxed as possible.  My focus is to keep smooth and keep my upper body still.  No jerkiness allowed(!!!!) in my pedal stroke.  Pedal through the entire circle, not just on the downward stroke.  If my upper body is jerking from side to side I know that my form is not correct, I gently reprimand myself and remedy the situation.  Being in aero position helps me keep my body still and calm.  My breathing is typically relaxed (at least during the first half of the workout) and usually in sync with my cadence.  I usually find that I am counting to myself during the high cadence minutes.  Each minute I count from 1 - 20 about three times(1 and 2 and 3 and.....). 

At the end of the high intensity minute, I sit up and relax my cadence a bit, bringing it down to around 90.  I keep it there while I prepare myself for the next intense minute.  How do I prepare myself.  Well, I relax as much as I can.  Perhaps I have a sip of beer (just kidding) from my water bottle.  I look around the room and see what's happening.  I see how I'm doing on that little screen that my trainer has.  It shows my progression around a little track and it's kinda fun to watch.  I find that at the lower cadence level and at the tension I have it set at, I am going about 30 -34 k/h.  At the higher cadence I am in the low to mid forties.

During the last few seconds of the relax minute I get down into aero and crank up the cadence one again.  Onto another intense minute.  Count. Relax. And above all, be smooth.  Aim for a calm body and mind.  And so the intervals continue.  I find that I really start to sweat 10 - 15 minutes in, and a towel off becomes part of every relax minute.  When I get to minute 26 or so I am typically pretty bushed and I stay under 100rpm's for the last few minutes.  After the 30 minutes is up I loosen the tension and spin easy for 2 or 3 minutes before calling it quits.

The keys factors that I think are really important keys in my workout if my goal is to maintain my  desired cadence are:
1.  Make sure the tension you've set the trainer at is manageable.
2.  Always warm up the 4 or 5 minutes first.  If I tried to hit 105 - 110 during the first minute it would be very difficult, and I would become prematurely discouraged and exhausted.(and I would probably hurt myself)
3.  Keep calm, still, and steady.  Don't waste energy.
4.  One minute at a time (or you'll tire yourself out just thinking about the upcoming minutes).
5.  Take ownership of YOUR workout.  Make sure that you set your personal interval times, cadence and difficulty settings at a level that's manageable for you.  To ensure success you want your mind and body to remain friends and work as a team (mind-body synergy). 

This ends Part 1 of my discussion of my cadence workout.  Part 2 is going to focus on the importance of the mind-body synergy that I just mentioned.   I can hardly wait to see how it turns out!

Oh, and by the way, MERRY CHRISTMAS and Happy New Year!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Race Summary


Bare Bones Duathlon (Penticton) -  May 2009


Kelowna Xterra Sport Duathlon - Sept. 2010

Goodlife Fitness Victoria 8K Road Race - October 10, 2010


Desert Classic Duathlon (Phoenix, Arizona) - Feb. 20, 2011

Okanagan College 10K (Kelowna) - March 27, 2011

Bare Bones Duathlon (Penticton) - May 7, 2011

Shuswap Century Ride (Armstrong) - May 29, 2011

Vernon Xterra Sport Duathlon - June 25, 2011

Desert Half Iron Relay Run (Osoyoos) - July 10, 2011

San Francisco (Half) Marathon - July 31, 2011

Apple Triathlon Try-a-Tri (Kelowna) - August 20, 2011

Kelowna Xterra Sport Duathlon - September 11, 2011

Okanagan Marathon 10K (Kelowna) - October 9, 2011

Ginger Jar 10K (Vancouver) - November 27, 2011


Desert Classic Duathlon (Phoenix, Arizona) - March 10, 2012

Bare Bones Duathlon (Penticton) - May 5, 2012

Crawford Spring MTB Classic (Kelowna) - May 20, 2012

Vernon Xterra Sport Duathlon - June 18, 2012

Desert Half Iron Relay Run (Osoyoos) - July 8, 2012

Kelowna Xterra Sport Duathlon - September 9, 2012

Victoria Half Marathon - October 7, 2012

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kelowna Xterra - The Agony and the Ecstasy

It's 2 days after the Kelowna Xterra and I must say, overall, that the race and the preparation for it was a very challenging scenario, both physically and mentally.

After completing the Apple Try-a-Tri on August 20th my intention was to spend a lot of time biking and running (both road and off-road) in preparation for the September 11 Kelowna Xterra (sport duathlon).  I had 3 hard workouts (2 of which were bricks) during the next 4 days and was feeling great.  Then for some reason(s) my back started aching a bit and I had to "back" off a bit.  Maybe it was because I pushed too hard in my workouts... or maybe because I spent a few hours painting down in the basement.  Even though my back was still not perfect, I got on my road bike on the following Monday and Tuesday and  pushed hard for 33 km on both those days, averaging well over 30k/h.  I find that I can continue to bike when my back is a bit sore.  I think perhaps it might actually be therapeutic for it to get the blood flowing.  Thinking my back was now pretty well okay, I headed out to the Nordic Trails on Wednesday with Rob Swan to help him prepare the course for the Xterra.  For the next 7 hours we used heavy duty weedwackers to help make the course more rideable and runnable.  I found out after about 3 hours that my back really wasn't in any condition to be doing this type of work.  But being my father's stubborn Danish son, I decided to continue,  turning the remainder of the day into a bit of an endurance workout for my back, choosing to believe that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. 

Well in the end it just about did kill me, and it didn't make me stronger.  I spent the next day on my back, trying to rest it as much as I could before Barb and I headed down to Washington the next day for our "end of the summer" vacation.  We stayed in Leavenworth for 3 nights, spending our days exploring the area, eating and drinking, and generally having a great time (like we always do when we're together).  We had taken our mountain bikes and runners with us in the hope that we cold train a bit while we were there, but, for me, that was out of the question.  I had enough trouble just walking!

We got home on the Monday, the day before Barb had to officially head back to the classroom, and only 6 days before the Xterra.  That night my back rebelled totally.  Trying to get up to make one of my occasional trips to the bathroom turned out to be a hellish experience.  As my back started to cramp a little, I tensed up and my back cramped even more.  This cycle continued for the next little while (it seemed like a really long time) until I was standing frozen in the middle of the room hanging on to something so I wouldn't fall over (cause if I fell over I knew there was no way I was going to get back into bed (or go to the washroom)  My back was so tight, and the pain so great, that little rivulets of sweat were running down my body.  The trick to getting rid of this kind of pain (I have learned through experience) is to relax, but that is not an easy thing to do under the circumstances.  Barb got up and assisted me in whatever way she could, and we finally got me back to bed, but the damage, physical and emotional, was done.  Every movement after that was very carefully orchestrated, taking care to always keep those back muscles as relaxed as possible.

Barb had to head off to school the next morning and I stayed at home in bed, cause I really wasn't able to do anything else.  My plan was to phone my doctor as soon as reasonable and get him to prescribe some suitably powerful medication which would enable me to remain relaxed.  Since he is a good friend and he had helped me through a similar episode almost exactly 2 years before, I knew that this would be no problem.   To my horror he turned out to be on vacation and nobody was covering for him.  I ended up having to deal with this situation on my own.  I survived the day by taking some of the left over medication that had been prescribed 2 years previous, and by staying in bed and sleeping as much as possible.

I was not looking forward to the next night, fearing that it might be a repeat of the previous nightmare.  My plan was to keep loading up on Vitamin I (ibuprofen) and using a heating pad as much as possible.  I also decided that when I woke up in the middle of the night, I would very carefully get up and walk around a bit, with my heating pad, and try to keep my back loose.  Then after stretching it out a bit, I would take some more Vitamin I and head back to bed.  My main goal was not necessarily to get any sleep, but to maintain control of the situation (unlike the night before) and survive the night in a reasonable fashion.  Fortunately, my plan worked well and in the morning I was a bit more optimistic regarding the fast approaching weekend race.

It was now Wednesday and my back, although sore and sensitive, was manageable.  That day I rode an easy 5 km around the neighbourhood and followed it up with a slow and relaxed 1 km run.  Luckily everything went smoothly and painlessly.  As Sunday was getting disturbingly close I figured I had to take a few risks if I was to have any hope of competing.  So, the following day, Thursday, I headed out to the Nordic Trails to pre-ride the bike course and run a bit of the run course.  I rode the course at a pace that felt manageable and completed it in a reasonable time, just 3 or 4 minutes slower than last year's race pace.  Emotionally, that gave me quite a boost.  I also ran an easy 2 km section of the course.  I left that session feeling far more confident in my ability to compete in, and complete, the Sunday race.

Aside from doing a bit of transition practice and making sure my bike was ready to go, I did very little else on Friday and Saturday.  I kept popping Vit I as needed and used a heating pad almost constantly.  I headed to race registration at Chainline Cycle on Saturday morning to pick up my race package (#301) and a cool Icebreaker shirt (which alone, almost covered the cost of the event).  While I was at the bike store Darrin (the owner) found the time to replace my rear derailleur cable, which was looking a bit questionable.  On the way home I purchased one of those chemical type heating pads that heat up once you pop the water pouch inside.  I decided to take that with me to the race and keep it on my back right up to race time.  The remainder of the day was spent making sure that all was in order and that I was as prepared as I could be.

So, the preparation, or lack of it, was done and 6:45 Sunday morning rolled around.....time to get up and get going.  Barb and I got organized and on the road to the Nordic Trails at 7:30.  I decided to take the highway instead of the shorter, bumpier route as I wanted to take it as easy as possible on my back.  We arrived at the site at about 8:20 and I had lots of time to set up transition, get changed, get body marked, etc. before the 9:30 race meeting down at the lake.  I put the heating pack on my back at about 9:15 and left it there for the next half hour.  I actually felt pretty good.  Met up with a lot of super neat people who Barb and I know or have come to know as a result of being in the run-bike-swim community.  Being involved with these healthy and happy people, both volunteers and competitors, is certainly one of the major benefits of participating in these events.

The approximately 60 athletes competing today gathered down by the lake for the race meeting at 9:30.  Seven of these were in the sport duathlon division that I was in (4 women and 3 men).  I had competed against both the men at previous races and had yet to finish before either one.  I was by far the oldest, but that hasn't stopped me.......yet.  Our task was to run 2.61k, bike 12.09 k, and run 4.18 k. (distances taken from my Garmin).

At 10:00 the horn blew, and we were off.  The first 600m involved a bit of dusty road running, a slight downhill followed by a slight uphill back to transition. At this point I was holding my own in 5th place, followed by 2 of the women.  We ran by transition and onto the trails.  By the time 2 k had passed I really was starting to get a bit tired, already(?), as we proceeded up a bit of a climb.  I slowly passed Graham Hood, one of today's invaluable volunteers.  It gives you a bit of a boost when a former Olympian is encouraging you onward, even though you feel like a slug.  Made my way back to transition, put on my helmet and shoes, and happily hopped on my bike.  I took off my sunglasses cause on my preride I had found that they hamper my vision (shadows) instead of helping, and the course was a bit rutty and you had to watch your line.

Two or 3 of the sport triathlon athletes, who had started at the same time as us, made it into transition at about the same time as we did, so there were about 3 or 4 people in sight up ahead who I could chase right off the bat (incentive).  When I get on my bike I tend to go all out because I know that biking is my strength, and if I don't make up time here, I'm toast.  It didn't take me long to pass 2 of the 4 people in my own division who had been ahead of me at the end of the first run.  I also passed a couple of the triathletes who had left transition before me.  There was one of the tri-guys who I maintained contact with for a long time.  He was stronger on the uphills but I always closed in on the downs.  Although I passed him when he dropped his chain, he caught me fairly quickly and then left me in the dust, never again to reappear in my sights.  I did catch sight of the remaining woman in my division, who was ahead of me, as we headed into the steep hilly section near the end of the course.  She was a girl (Monica) who worked at Tree Brewing, and she was one tough competitor.  I did manage to pass her just before we entered transition (but she passed me, in return, before we left transition).

Onto the final 4 k!  I was tired after my bike section and I found the final run to be very tough.  My heart rate during this section pretty well remained over 170 and maxed at 178.  It was a matter of mind over body to maintain a decent pace, although often the body won out.  I kept Monica in sight for much of the run, but ultimately she had more in the tank than I did and left me behind.  If I could have maintained a run instead of being relegated to walk-run status, I am fairly sure I would have caught her.  But such was not the case.  I eventually reached the finish line and was quite happy when I crossed it.  I finished third out of seven in the sport duathlon, behind Eric(a biathlete teenager) and Monica, and managed to finish before one of the fellows (Tom) who beat me last year.

I managed to get in for a massage right away, which was likely a good thing.  Although my back felt quite good, I do think that an immediate massage has its benefits.  Another welcome benefit was the beer that Tom had once again brought with him (He brought a cooler full last year as well).  Monica and I appreciatively joined him for a very cold brew that went down quite easily.  Next year it is definitely my turn to bring the celebratory brew.

Race Summary
                         Run 1 (2.61 k)        Bike (12.09 k)         Run 2 (4.18)         Total (18.88 k)
    2010                14:27                       46:44                       28:05                     1:29:16
    2011                14:24                       44:09                       27:28                     1:26:01

  Initially when looking at my results I was pleased with my bike section, but kind of disappointed in my runs.  I really had hoped to make significant improvements in that area.  But I guess when I think about it a bit and realize that I was flat on my back and hardly able to walk five days earlier, I should be satisfied.  Also, looking at my heart rate data, I couldn't have pushed much harder.  Thirdly, I unfortunately was not able to train as much as I had hoped to in preparation.  Finally, I neglected to do something that I should have taken the time for.  I drank very little during the course of the race and was quite likely very dehydrated at the end. (STUPID) I was too focused on just keeping moving and not stopping for anything.  Live and Learn!

Oh well, I'll be back next year ----- with the beer!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August and My First Triathlon

It's been a busy August and the weather has been just like summer should be - hot and sunny.  I decide that it's time to do a bit more writing as lots of things have been happening.  Besides, my back is killing me and there isn't much else I can do except sit at my computer and type away.

First things first...... Why is my back causing me grief this time?  Well, a week or so ago I was doing a lot of running, and also painting my basement, generally pushing my body a bit too hard maybe.  Anyway, it got a bit sore and I took about 3 days off.  I figured by then it would be pretty well healed and ready to get back to  business.  After all, I do have an Xterra to prepare for (Sept. 11).  So yesterday Rob Swan (coach and Xterra organizer) and I headed out to the Nordic cross country trails to prepare them for the race.  We spent about 7 hours out there grooming the trails with vicious, powerful, (and progressively more heavy) weed wackers.  Unfortunately, my back had had enough after 4 hours.  Regrettably, I chose not to listen to it and pushed it harder than I should.  When I got home I "crawled" my way to the couch and watched US Open tennis for the next few hours while drinking beer and pigging out on nacho chips, salsa, sour cream, and Ibuprofen.  I had a pretty decent night except for the pee break episode in the middle of it when I had to not only deal with a spasmodic back, but also (at the same time) had to negotiate my way through the chocolate lab, golden retriever, and Zoe cat maze on our bedroom floor.  I constantly had to remind myself that what doesn't kill me will ultimately make me stronger.

Anyhow, back to writing about end of July and August.  On July 27 Barb, Jesse, and I flew down to San Francisco for a bit of a vacation, and to participate in the San Francisco Half Marathon.  We had a great time, visiting the Santa Cruz-Monterey area for a few days and then exploring San Francisco for a few more.  On July 31 Barb and I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon (which was the primary reason that we headed down in the first place)  It was a rather cool experience getting to run across the Golden Gate Bridge with thousands of other athletes.

On arriving back home in Kelowna and reminiscing about the 2 half marathons (Osoyoos and SF) I had done in July, I set a new tentative summer goal for myself (as I was feeling real good about my running and biking).  I decided to work on my almost non-existent swimming skills and prepare myself for the Kelowna Apple Try-a-Tri (August 20).  For the next couple of weeks I swam 4 or 5 times a week(initially at the pool and later in the lake) to find out if my goal was a reasonable one.  During this time I was hoping to become more comfortable in the water and and work primarily on my "breathing".  I'd be a great swimmer if I didn't have to breathe while I swam (I think they should have a snorkeling triathlon category).  On August 12 I phoned the Apple Triathlon people and asked them how deep the water would be for the Try-a-Tri.  After they told me it was 3 feet to 4 feet, and realizing that I would therefore probably survive the swim, I promptly registered with a renewed sense of optimism.

On August 20 Barb and I arose at the ungodly hour of 4:30 in order to get organized and ready for the 7:15 or so race start.  I really was rather calm as I knew that even though my 300 m swim would be embarrassingly slow,  I could stand up anytime I wanted and consequently would not drown.  I also knew that once the swim was done I would likely be able to make up the time lost on the swim during the bike and the run.  There were a total of 110 starters in the Try-a-Tri and they were going to start us in 4 waves, 10 minutes apart.  The first 2 waves were the men, and I made sure I was in the first, as I wanted to get this over as quickly (or should I say least slowly) as possible.  My goal was to relax in the water so that I would feel good at the end of the swim, but at the same time I had the lofty goal of beating at least 5 of the other 109 "swimmers".  At the gun I sputtered out of the starting gate, bumped around a little and eventually settled into position fourth from the end.  I was pretty pleased as I was ahead of 3 other people, and this was just the first of four waves.  I only had to stop and briefly rest once during the first 100 metres just to get my bearings.  I really was glad to get that first 100 over with and head into the middle third.  I think I stopped once during this section as well, but still managed to maintain my lofty position.  It was a relief to get into the last 100 as I knew I was almost there, and then the fun would start.  I didn't stop during the last 100, but instead rested by doing the sidestroke or paddling away on my back, conserving energy for the bike ride.

I also talked a bit to the lifeguards on paddle-boards who seemed to be watching me fairly closely, probably curious to know what unique stroke I would next be incorporating into my journey.  Finally, after 10:48, I stumbled out of the water and across the timing mat, joyfully heading for my eagerly waiting bike in transition.

After a fairly quick transition (2:31) I got on my bike and got up to speed as quickly as I could.  I knew there were about 21 riders in front of me, and I was going to reel in as many of them as I could (kind of "the tortoise awakes" scenario after lulling them all into a false sense of security).  I found that it took about a kilometre to get up to speed (30+) as there were a few initial corners to deal with.  After that though I put the hammer down and was not concerned at all with leaving anything in the tank for the run.  My thinking was that this would be the section where I would make up time, and I would worry about the run when I got to it.  I started closing in on and passing people fairly quickly.  It seemed to me that the others were slowing down far too much during the turns.  Logic dictates that you have to regain any momentum sacrificed during the turns and that just takes extra energy.  On a flat course like this one you should be constant and smooth.  There was only one 180 degree turn where I found I had to slow down significantly.  There were a couple of locations on this 5k circuit where I passed (going the other way) cyclists I was chasing.  One that I focused on specifically was a young fellow (from my perspective they were all young) who was wearing the same tri top as me.  He was three and a half minutes ahead of me going into the bike and I passed him on the third lap, near the end of the ride.  I find that little goals along the way motivate me.  One good thing about being so slow in the water was that there was always someone to chase while I was on the bike.  Overall I was really pleased with my 15k bike ride (26:38).

 After a 1:22 transition I was out on the final section - a 3k run.  My ideal goal during this portion was to average a pace of 5min/k, with a total time of 15 minutes.  I found that, once again, the first little bit of the section was the slowest.  It always takes a bit of time to get into the "rhythm".  It seems the guy that I passed on the bike who was in the same top as me liked to run.  He reeled me in in no time and left me in the dust.  After that, the run was pretty uneventful.  I completed 2 - 1.5 k laps of a beautiful along-the-lake course.  Passed one fellow along the way and was hoping to overtake one other before the finish line.  But it seems he had a bit more left near the finish and I kept dropping a bit farther back.  I was tired when I "ran" (not "plodded")crossed the finish line after a 15:04 run.  Total time for the race 56:21.

Summary do I feel about my first "experimental" triathlon.  Overall, I am really happy with my performance.  My swim was what I expected.  I came 99/110, developed a bit of confidence and came out of the water chomping at the bit.   I expected to do well on the bike, and did even better, finishing second out of the 110 competitors.  I had hoped to get a time of 28 minutes, but instead got 26:38 with an average speed of 33.8 k/h.  I was also really pleased with my run, finishing 20/110, and basically reaching my optimistic goal, 15:04, with an average pace of 5:02 min/k.
I finished 19th overall out of 110 with a time of 56:21. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bare Bones Revisited

I am nearing the end of my first year of retirement, and I must say "retirement rocks"!  I really can't understand why anyone would work any longer than they have too...... Okay, on second thought I guess there are a couple of reasons.  One would be that the potential retiree really, really, really loves their job.  The second reason might be that this person has only one main interest.....their job.  From my perspective, that's kinda unfortunate cause I think diversification (in all sorts of areas) is the key to a long and happy life.  At least, that's the way I've chosen to live mine.

I view myself as being capable of doing anything I set my mind to (within reason).  That's why, for example, I've chosen to participate in the construction of a couple of my houses and done the majority of the landscaping as well.  Right now I'm finishing my basement.   It is taking quite a while, but I'm doing a good job.  By the way, one of the most important things you can do when tackling your own renovations is to make friends with the inspectors that you have to deal with (plumbing, electrical, general construction, etc..) If you have them on your side, you've got it made.  If not, they can make your life miserable.  I deal with them as I would with anyone else.  I smile at them and try to be friendly, I listen carefully to what they say and try to be as agreeable as possible.  Right now I'm tackling the drywalling, which is quite a learning experience.  People tend to say to me...."Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier to just hire someone?"  My answer to that would be "Yes....but I wouldn't learn or accomplish anything.  I have difficulty taking pride in something that I've paid someone else to do.  Life is all about doing and learning, and that's what one of my main retirement goals is, particularly now that I have the time.  Besides, it's (usually) cheaper when you do it yourself.

Now.....on to the main purpose of this post....... the Bare Bones Duathlon.    On May 7 Barb and I drove down to Penticton to compete in the annual duathlon that is held near Skaha Lake.  I was competing and Barb was the invaluable support crew.  The weather was marginal.  At 12 noon it was about 15-16 C and the skies were threatening to open up.  The weather report didn't leave much room for optimism.  Generally I don't worry much about the weather, but I was concerned with the condition of the long downhill on Maclean Creek Road, and didn't welcome the possibility of crashing and burning at 50 or 60 kph.  Fortunately, the weather ended up not being a factor.

We arrived at the race site at 12:30 (race time was 2:00)  The reason for early arrival was that I hadn't registered yet and wanted to leave enough time for for this and other organizational trivia.  There were only about 5 or 6 bikes in transition when we arrived, so I really did have the opportunity to choose the spot I wanted (as they weren't assigned).  I tried to find a spot that would help to minimize the amount of running I had to do.

Eventually the race director called us together for our pre-race meeting and soon after we all headed to the start line.  I started my Garmin and off we went.  As per usual I was well back in the field as running is not my strong point.  The first run involved 3 laps of a very flat 1.67 k circuit.  My goal for the first run was a 5:20 pace, however I felt pretty good and everyone else seemed to be going quite a bit quicker. Since I didn't want to get totally left in the dust, I upped my pace slightly.   I really did try my best to control my pace as I still (not so fondly) remember the consequences of not doing so 2 years ago.  I was so focused on the job at hand that I almost didn't notice a telephone pole that unexpectedly jumped out in front of me.  At the last second I nimbly navigated around the obstruction and averted a potential disaster.  I emerged from that near catastrophe with renewed confidence in my physical capacity to succeed.  And so I proceeded.  The rest of the first run was rather uneventful as I had placed myself at an appropriate location in the field (behind about 85% of the competitors).  I was pleased with the first leg of my duathlon as I ran (according to my Garmin) 5.13 k  in 27 minutes - pace 5:10/k.

Transition went very smoothly (1:00 minute).  Nobody got in my way as most people had already come and gone.  I jumped on my bike and got to work!!  Although my running is relatively weak, I am a good biker.  I headed out along the road on the east side of Lake Shaha. Managed an average speed of around 35 k/h and passed about 6 or 7 other riders during the first 10 or 11 k's. Then as we got close to Okanagan Falls and Maclean Creek Road, it got a bit hillier and the pace slowed a bit. During the climb and the subsequent descent I passed 4 or 5 more riders. Luckily the threatening rain did not really materialize, so wet roads were not a factor. Once back on east Skaha road and heading back to Penticton, I passed another couple of people and finally made it back to transition, hoping to have enough in the tank to run the last 5k without plodding and suffering (like 2 years ago).  I biked the 31.19 k in 1:01 - average speed 30.5k/h.

After another relatively quick transition I headed out on my second run.  This was definitely the part of the race that I was the most concerned with, as previous duathlons have made it very clear to me that I may not have the necessary endurance to run this leg effectively.

During this final segment 3 or 4 of the people I passed on the bike reeled me back in (not surprising), but I was able to maintain my goal pace (5:24). Unlike previous duathlons, I did not have to "plod" and struggle to the finish line.

Even had the where-with-all to appreciate a unique encounter with a beaver on the run course. I had enough energy to up my pace for the last k and run across the finish line (instead of crawl).

I was pretty happy with my race today!!! All 3 segments went at least as well as I had planned. I had hoped to finish under 2 hours - in actual fact my final time was 1:57:09. Next year all those people who chuckled when they passed me on the run today will find their task a bit more daunting. I am finally starting to become a runner! Yahooo!

Bare Bones 2009       R1  28:02  5:35min/k      B  63:25       R2  31:44   6:20 min/k      Total  2:05:40
Bare Bones 2011       R1  27:00  5:10min/k      B  61:00       R2  27:00   5:14 min/k      Total  1:57:09
       Note : You may notice that my R1-B-R2 don't add up to the given totals.  That's because there are also about 2.5 minutes and 2.0 taken up in transitions in 2009 and 2011 respectively.

Needless to say, I am quite pleased with my improvement over 2009 and expect to be an even better runner in 2012.

Friday, April 1, 2011

First Race of the Year

It's been a long time since I've written anything and I'm not even sure what I'm going to write.  Think perhaps I'll stick with the more recent stuff seeing that's what I remember the best.

Job update.........I do believe that it may be just about time to call the brewery gig quits.  Since the new year there have been a couple of turns for the worse happening there and morale among the staff isn't what it was in 2010, and the benefits aren't what they used to be.  It doesn't make much sense sticking around in a job that is starting to bring me down.....particularly when I really don't have to work at all.  I am still working "occasionally" as I am a person who thinks carefully before burning his bridges......and it is good beer, (although there is a lot less of it).

So what's next then?  Well, there is a federal election coming up and I think I'll try to get a few days in working as a polling clerk.  That would be different....and not too strenuous or long term.  If I don't get hired, big deal.  Spring is coming (I hope) and I'll spend my time enjoying the sunshine. 

Talking about strenuous,  during the new year I have been working out regularly in an effort to get this old body super fit.  My first goal during the new year was to compete in the Desert Classic Duathlon down in Phoenix February 20th.  During January and the first half of February I followed a fairly structured workout schedule to prepare myself for that race.  I ran and/or biked 5 days a week and by mid February I felt I was ready.

I flew to Phoenix from Kelowna on February 16.  I was originally scheduled to have about a 2 hour stopover in Vancouver, but due to the fact they had to de-ice the plane in Kelowna, I got into Vancouver an hour late.  I just barely managed to catch the connecting flight in Vancouver (had to actually run through the airport ----- training till the last minute).  Finally got into Phoenix in the early afternoon where my brother and his wife met me at the airport.  Waited for my baggage to arrive.  No problem getting my suitcase.........but, unfortunately, my bike was not able to run as fast as I was in Vancouver, and missed the flight.  Westjet was very apologetic and did everything they could to get me my bike ASAP.  It eventually arrived late afternoon the following day.  They brought it directly to where I was staying with my brother in an RV Resort in Mesa.  Although I was stressed out and worried about my bike, Westjet did all they could to make the experience as painless as possible.

Once my bike arrived, I was able to relax a bit and prepare myself for the race.  On the Friday we headed to Focus Cycle to pick up my registration materials (ended up with the coolest number....99).
  On the following day we headed up to the race site to pre-ride and pre-run the course.  However, the weather was such that we were able to do neither.  It was about 8 - 10 C, raining like heck, with wind gusts so fierce that everything that had been set up at transition had been promptly and unceremoniously blown down again.  So, aside from driving around the bike course in the warmth and safety of the car, and walking around the transition area while being buffeted by the wind and pelted by the rain, I really didn't get the pre-race experience I had hoped for.  It should also be said that my brother stayed inside the truck while I bravely slogged around the transition site.  Everyone was hoping that the weather would dramatically improve by the next day.  I couldn't see competing in the conditions that we had just experienced.

The next day dawned cloudy and cool, but at least it wasn't windy or rainy.  I was ready for the long anticipated battle. 

My wave of the race started at exactly 8:15, and off we all went.

The first run was about 5.6 km long, and the first 2 k or so was a gentle uphill section, first along a paved road and then on a service road through the desert in McDowell Mountain Park.  Later we made our way through up and down single track before getting back to transition.  Once back there I changed shoes, got on my helmet, grabbed my bike and headed out onto the road for a 33 to 34 k bike ride. 

Although I was grateful to get onto my bike (we are pretty good friends) the next hour plus was a tough grind.  I  didn't maintain the speed I had hoped for and consequently ended up taking more time than I had hoped.  I think maybe my legs were feeling the effects of the previous run.  By the time I once again got back to transition I was really looking forward to getting this torture over with.  My legs were not thrilled with having to run yet another 4.6 k.  My quads and calves were loudly complaining from the get go, and reluctantly permitted me to plod around the final leg of the journey.  This final bit of desert trail was actually an intermediate mountain bike trail that was composed of brief but more intense elevation changes than the first run.  I suffered through this section, being passed by a few runners, mostly of the opposite gender.  I did follow this one 40 year old fellow for a good distance and passed him a few hundred metres before the finish.  I talked to him a bit and he was having trouble with his back.  I jokingly like to think that the only guy I passed on the run had a broken back.  I finally made it to the finish line.....yaayy!!!!!  During the latter portion of the race the temperature had been falling, and about a half hour after crossing the finish line the skies opened up.  I hardly noticed cause I was too tired to care.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed in my performance at the race, but I'll be back next year and I'll be better prepared than I was this year.

These are my official times.  I was 4th out of 5 men in my 60 to 64 year old age group
Run 1 - 31:04      Transition - 1:56       Bike - 1:14:35     Transition - 1:39     Run 2 - 33:05

I have a lot more to say, but I think I'll save it for the next time.  If I don't get this post published right now, it might take me another 2 weeks to get it out there.