Wednesday 27 February 2013

Alkalizing My Body and Overhauling My Diet

   I was diagnosed with chronic Gastritis a few months ago during an over-night trip to the hospital with horrible stomach pain which I get from time to time. The next day I began researching gastritis, its causes and management. It's an inflammation of the stomach lining caused by an acidic diet and overuse of NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as Ibuprofen. Guilty as charged on both counts. 

   After I looked into an alkalizing diet I discovered mine was way too acidic. Meat is highly acidic to the blood's PH levels and was part of my decision to go vegetarian. Canned & processed food is also highly acidic. This was my next foe to vanquish. Rich Roll a vegan ultraman competitor said it best, "At the grocery store, stay to the outside perimeter where all the fresh foods are." "The isles contain mostly processed foods" It's common knowledge that these foods contain additives in the form of preservatives, thickeners, sweeteners, artificial flavouring agents and colourings. None of these things were meant for the human body. In fact some artificial sweeteners have actually been shown to be carcinogenic. 

Cold brewed for 24 hours!
   Coffee, my favorite drink was also a culprit. As a chef for years the coffee flowed like water in kitchens, mostly to stay alert during long, late nights. Through my research I learned of cold brewed coffee. Basically it's regular ground coffee steeped for 24 hours (we use a french press) and then the grounds are filtered out. What you're left with is a coffee concentrate. Cold brewed coffee has been shown to be up to 67% less acidic than regular brewed coffee and because of this needs no cream or sweetener, but actually tastes almost sweet on it's own. Simply keep in a container in the fridge and add boiling water in a ratio of approximately 1/3 coffee concentrate to 2/3 water. Try it sometime, you'll be amazed that even cheap coffee will taste great. You can see Chris' blog for how we make ours!

   So now that I've explained what I removed, what did I add? Good question me. Well it's very simple really. One of the best alkalizers are salad greens and green vegetables. So that's what I added. The only issue to watch for is that greens contain low level toxins called alkaloids. These are naturally occurring and are the plants natural defense system against insects and predators (like humans). As long as I rotate through different greens this will never be an issue and I reap the benefits of the different vitamins and mineral profiles unique to each plant. I originally tried the green smoothie which is gaining in popularity. After a few weeks of gagging down many different recipes I decided this was just not for me. Luckily I found a great back up plan. Liquid chlorophyll. What works best for me is a liter of water mixed with the juice of half a lemon and approximately 2 tablespoons of liquid chlorophyll concentrate. Here are just a few of the benefits of liquid chlorophyll. It's anti-carcinogenic, an anti-inflammatory, a powerful antioxidant, an antiseptic, a natural breath deodorizer and contains vitamin K, C, folic acid, iron, calcium and protein. Wow. 

    I mentioned fresh lemon with my chlorophyll water and there are a few good reasons for this as well. When I was thirty I was working as a cook and sweating over a 500 degree grill for 8-10 hours at a time. Cola was free so I drank a lot. Constant sweating and soft drinks with no water lead to kidney stones and two surgeries later I would do anything not to go through that again. The doctor said lots of water and fresh lemon. Lemon are very effective at dissolving mineral deposits which lead to kidney, gall and pancreatic stones. It helps to purify the blood and detoxify the body. It reduces phlegm and helps respiratory problems. Contains potassium for nerve and brain functions. It assists with digestion and after being digested has an amazing alkalizing effect on the body's PH levels. Lemon also has antibacterial properties to help control bad bacteria, such as colds and flu. It strengthens liver enzymes and helps correct calcium and oxygen levels in the liver. Finally it dissolves uric acid which can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. Need I say more. Now 
go get some lemons.

   Chia seeds are another amazing addition to my diet that I was introduced to. Apparently they are for more than just growing a delightful green coat on a clay pet. Chia is very high in fiber  11 grams per ounce. The soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar by slowing down carbohydrate to sugar conversion, lowers cholesterol and works as a prebiotic feeding the good bacteria in your digestive tract. The insoluble fiber helps to cleanse the intestinal tract. They are a great source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, but because the body has to convert the plant based form of omega 3 it's not quite as effective as the ones found in fish oils. Chia is a good source of protein and is composed of over 20% of it, but only about 35% of that protein is digestible. It helps hydration and provides long lasting, sustainable energy. This is one of the reasons it's used by many athletes. Chia seeds contain calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, zinc, and even boron which aids in calcium absorption. They also contain as many antioxidants and fresh blueberries. Finally they are gluten free and have a very low glycemic index value of one!

   So that's it for now. I'll continue to write about what new things I try and find work for me. I cannot recommend what I do for anyone else. This information is just what I have been able to research and discover through my personal experience, but by no means is a complete picture of these foods or what they can do for the body. If your interested do some of your own research and see what you can find.

Good luck!    

Sunday 24 February 2013

Feb 24/13 - Race Results!

   Well this was the week of my first race, but we'll get to that in a little bit. Let's review this weeks training as is usually the agenda with my training log.

   Recently I made a post entitled "The Good Life?" where I shared my struggles with time, workload and leading a balanced life. I decided that to balance my life a little better and to dedicate my training a little more towards running I had no choice bu to "cut the fat" so to speak. My race season now consists of 18 races. 3 are triathlons, 1 is Tough Mudder - an obstacle course - so not really a race and 14 are running events. I had to gear my training to where it would benefit me most. I guess this is the long way of saying I had to drop to 1 workout in the pool per week. I also slimmed my bike training to 1 thirty minute speed workout and a long ride. I've added a day of running speed work or hill training to my mid-distance and long run per week schedule. Once again, I'll try this for a few weeks and re-access how it is fitting into my life, as well as how it is working towards my training goals. I'm certainly finding a learning curve to all of this. What seems like it works now, may not next week, next month, etc. We all know the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", well the opposite is also true. It was, so I did.

Hiking at Websters' Falls
   Monday was Family Day, so I spent it with my family, Chris. We went to Websters' Falls for an hour hike, more than enough for my legs which were still recovering from the previous Saturdays long run. We followed that up with a mid-afternoon yoga session and called it a day.

   Tuesday, and it's still winter so no skateboarding to be had. What is taking Spring so long to show up?? Or at least it feels that way. Spent the night editing skateboard footage. At least I can watch it if I can't do it.

   Wednesday I was totally destroyed from a long day of installing baseboard, but knew I would feel overwhelmed with guilt if I didn't run. I had the Grimsby 3km coming up and had been focusing too much of my time on distance instead of speed. It was dark and -18C with the windchill down at the Bayfront when I arrived. It's been scientifically proven to be cold enough to freeze your balls off. I had my phone and trusty "Mettie" the metronome app with me. I set it too 190 bpm and away we went into the night. Unfortunately as soon as we did I realized very quickly that I didn't have any gas in the tank. I did my best to push through by running 1/2 km at 190 and dropping to a jog for the other half, repeating the process for 7.5km. By the time I reached my truck I was actually nauseous and wanted to die. What I learned from this night was sometimes there is nothing you can do about having a shitty workout and running at 190 foot strikes per minute is ridiculously hard.

   Thursday was an early day off work. My boss and I finished the baseboard in the morning and were on our way home by 2pm. The sun was shinning and calling to me too strongly to ignore. Knowing I wasn't in for a long run on Saturday I decided to go for a recovery run. I think someone should instruct me as to what that really entails, because my version turned into 8.5km in 45 minutes. I didn't pay attention to any stats spouting from my gps watch, I just ran. There was plenty to distract me as I did a loop through the downtown core of Hamilton during rush hour. This city is full of freaks, but they were probably all reciprocating the thought as I sped by smiling and humming to songs bursting from my headphones. Interestingly after returning home and checking the data, my natural cadence has reached the recommended 180 foot strikes per minute. Sweet! Thursday evening I was back in the pool and working on the drills given to me by my new coach Saskia to attempt to remedy shortcomings in my freestyle technique. I was pretty much gassed from the days run, but managed 1500m of catch-up, zipper and underwater recovery drills. It's all feeling awkward which I guess is good, because it must mean I've changed something.

Yep those are now mountain bike bars on my road bike. Jealous much?

   Saturday involved a lot of errands to clear my Sunday for racing. I did manage to get on my bike trainer for 20km in 50 minutes. I can't wait to ride outside. Riding the trainer is getting old, fast.

   It's Sunday and although I wasn't stressed about the race at all, I must have been in the back of my mind because I slept like a baby. By that I mean waking up every hour. Terrible sleep mixed with nights sweats. I have had night sweats since I was young and always for one of two reasons. Either I'm sick or I'm stressed. Guess the race anxiety was getting the better of me. This race meant a lot to me. It was the first of the season and I knew a good result would help set the tone for my season as well as build confidence in my running. Chris and I got up early, gobbled down coffee and oatmeal and zipped off to Grimsby. I was as green as you get when it comes to racing. Uhm where do I go? Bib pick-up? how does this get pinned on? Thankfully racing veteran Chris was my guide and support through all of it. I wish I could convey to her how much her support really means to me. She is unbelievable. Whether listening to my incessant ramblings on new running techniques I've researched, massaging knots out of my muscles or just cuddling up after a long run she is always there for me. Today she was my guide, bag carrier, cheerleader and camera crew. I don't know what I would do without her.

   Long story, long... 

   I was corralled behind a candy apple on legs and a group of children, just perfect. The horn blew I zig zagged the candy apple and dodged the kids sprinting my way up the hill to catch the lead group. I had a plan though and I had to stick to it. Chris was doubtful I would be able to curb my enthusiasm and just run myself into oblivion, but I knew what I had to do. Train like you race and race how you've trained. I checked my watch and my pace was 30 seconds too fast. I had to slow down or I would burn out. During the first kilometer I began picking off runners one by one. I had no idea how many were in front of me and settled into stride behind a fast paced girl. This is where I remained for the rest of the race. I was now matching her pace, but she was too far ahead to catch and pass. I sprinted the last 200m even though I thought my lungs were going to seize. Once the dust or in this case snow settled, 12:05, 5th place overall, gold medal for my age group. Not bad for my first effort, but still a long season left to unfold.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Dedication or Insanity?

  I have had a question burning in my mind for a while now. Why does it seem like running, swimming, cycling and the all encompassing triathlon is only for professionals? I don't mean athletic professionals, but people with careers. Let me be more specific, more or less office type careers. Careers like lawyers, doctors, professors, those in management, deskies (desk workers and yes I just made that nickname up), just to name a few. I think you get the idea. Now I don't want this post to offend anyone, but I have a few things to say about this topic and what I'm dealing with. Also let me say this is certainly not a pity party point of view. Just a few issues I don't think a lot of athletes past their late twenties have to deal with.

I think I worked with this guy...
   The reason this came to me is that everyone I have met and every athlete I've researched since I began triathlon training all seem to come from this working background. It leaves me feeling very underemployed for these sports, something I never would have considered as an issue prior to beginning. I work in construction as a finish carpenter. I install and case doors and windows, run endless miles of baseboard and other trim, lug heavy wooden mill-work and tools around and build bitchin' built-ins. It's certainly not the absolute most physical job in the world, but after a 10 hour work day, yep 10 hours, it takes its toll. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not jealous of the deskies nor do I hold that thought of work with disdain. I used to be one myself and may in some shape or form work in that environment again. Life's funny like that. I have 5 years of college behind me and have worked the gambit of jobs and careers. I worked in a call center and made my way up the corporate ladder to support desk which was help desk for the help desk. I became operations manager of a custom sportswear company in Toronto call "To Be Seen Promotions". As my skateboard career winded down I ran my own production company for action sports videos. I have been a cook off and on for more than 18 years eventually working my way up to a food service manager in a large corporation complete with a shirt, a tie and weekly "bored" meetings. This was my last desk gig. I became disheartened with corporate bullshit and sitting in front of a computer all day. I feel now like I felt then, it's not the human condition to be sedentary all day. I wanted to work with my hands and create something I could be proud of. Not looking at the corner of the task bar every 15 minutes to see how much time had passed. I'm aware that I made the choice to work a physical job and leave the office and money behind. I don't regret that choice for a second, but why have I never met another athlete that works a job like mine? The stereotype of the construction worker with the fat belly is truly not a stereotype at all. It's too close to the truth for comfort.

   Is it a money thing? Triathlon sports do cost a bit to start. I've spent well over $2000 already on running shoes, running, cycling & swim gear, wet-suit, neat toys like my Garmins, and it would have been a hell of a lot more if Christine hadn't given me a hand-me down-bike that was already a hand-me-down bike. I've seen people spend as much or more on hobbies without a high paying job, so no I don't think it's an income thing. Hmmm drive maybe? Well a lot of the guys I work with own their own companies and hustle everyday for jobs. They must have drive to do that, right? it must be a time restraint thing. Now that I think about it, my perfect partner Chris works as much as me with her commute time and is still an amazing type 1 diabetic athlete. Double strike for her and she does it. Not money, not drive, not time, then what? Are professionals the only ones intelligent enough to know exercise is necessary for a healthy life? As I look around at my beer bellied, chain-smoking co-workers one might think so, but I still don't think that's it. I think it boils down to dedication, a value I hold closest to my heart. 

It was -18C after 10 hours of baseboard
   Let me be the first to say it is not easy to sit in front of a computer all day. It leaves you mentally exhausted. Mentally, but not physically. In fact most people after sitting all day would want to get up and go do something active. Now try climbing ladders to case windows and crawling on your hands & knees nailing baseboard for 10 hours. Let's see who the hell feels like doing anything except going home, eating a hot meal and flopping on the couch in front of the mind-melting boob tube with a beer. I understand why no one from a physical job wants to do anything unless it's the weekend. That's what we call the weekend warrior, not an athlete. I am and have been since my teens an all around athlete. It's how I identify myself. It's where I gain my sense of pride. So this is why I chose the hard life. It's about building character and fueling dedication. It's why I'll be out running, in the dark, at minus 18 with windchill, in the snow, all my muscles sore from working 10 hours. This is why you'll see me next to the lawyers, doctors, professors and the rest of the deskies on race day. At least on that day careers don't matter anymore.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Diet, Nutrition & Health

   Well this would seem like a straight forward topic, but anyone who has looked into this at any length knows all too well that is gets murkier and more confusing the deeper you go. With opinions from medical professionals, nutritionists and anecdotal evidence from everyone else it get difficult to decide where to place your beliefs. 

   I'll begin by giving a disclaimer of sorts. I have studied and read about nutrition and basic anatomical functions of the body for a few years now. I have a good understanding of what macro nutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrates do to the body, as well as micro nutrients like vitamins and minerals.  I have looked into all kinds of diets, but here I will be focuses on athletic nutrition. More specifically the diet I use to maintain my stamina, build muscle mass, lean fat and boost recovery. I am by no means a dietitian by any stretch of the imagination and do not promote my diet or nutrition ideas to others. I'm simply stating what I've learned works for me and how I use food and supplements. I will however state emphatically that I practice what I preach. To be serious as an athlete, specially past your thirties you need to pay attention to what you put into your body.

Diet & Nutrition

   The use of the word diet here is not as some think. It's not a period of low caloric intake, cutting out certain foods for a short time or any other passing fad. It refers to a consistent way of eating. For me there are no cheat days. I have a diet that I enjoy and I have not cut out all the foods i like. I have however had to make specific choices as to what works for me and what I can live without. 

   Here is my basic diet day to day. The weekends change a little and I add a bit more variety as I simply have more time to cook and eat. I no longer count calories because with the amount of training I do I basically eat as much as I can without overloading in one meal. Also numerous small meals throughout the day help keep your blood glucose levels more even, encourages weight loss and is generally a better way to consume calories. I will get into a few of the key items in my diet which I feel are a little out of the norm and have shown to do great things for the body.


5:30am:          1/4 bottle lemon & chlorophyll water (to alkalize)
                        Oatmeal with dried fruit & chia seeds
                        cold brewed coffee (less caffeine & acidity)

7:30am:          breakfast bar
                        1/4 bottle lemon & chlorophyll water (to alkalize)

9:00am           1/2 peanut butter & honey sandwich on whole grain bread

10:30am         frozen fruit, chocolate almond milk & protein powder smoothie
                        homemade banana bread or cookies
                        unsweetened applesauce

1:00pm           1/4 bottle lemon & chlorophyll water (to alkalize)
                        low sodium soup (winter) or fresh greens & veggie salad (summer)
                        whole wheat pita wrap with spinach & fresh greens
                        - salmon salad, egg salad or bean salad
                        raisins (alkalize)

4:00pm           granola bar & apple juice

6:00pm           chocolate almond milk
(Pre-               peanut butter & honey sandwich
workout)         1/4 bottle lemon & chlorophyll water (to alkalize)
                        apple or fresh fruit

Post-               recovery drink:
workout           lemon juice, chlorophyll, honey, salt

8:30pm:          banana, chocolate almond milk & protein powder smoothie
                        Vegetable: omelet, rice stir-fry, corn or rice pasta

Supplements: multivitamin, greens plus, alpha lipoic acid 200mcg, selenium, 200mcg, probiotics,  biweekly B complex 100mg, Vitamin D 3000mg (winter only).

   I have done my best to remove processed, prepackaged foods from my diet. I have had stomach issues for a few years now and recently found what seemed to be the cause, chronic gastritis. This lead me to researching an alkalizing diet. From what I learned acidity in the human body is a killer, literally. Everything from the common cold & flu to the worst diseases like cancer thrive in an acidic environment. I was sick for almost 3 months late last year with a cold to a sinus infection and finally it transformed to a throat infection. When I look back at how horrendously acidic my diet was it was obvious to me. Within a few days of switching to a highly alkalizing diet all of the symptoms began to disappear and my energy began to skyrocket past what it had been before I became ill. It was proof enough for me.

   In the next few blog posts I'll explain a few of the highlighted items so I don't overload this one.  I'll explain what they are and how I feel they have truly benefited me in my health and athletics. Besides who doesn't love a good cliff hanger!



Sunday 17 February 2013

Feb 17/13

   We're in the depths of winter now and I feel like it's butt-humping me into submission. I can feel motivation to get outside and run slipping. As the realization of the dark, cold, desolate night I'm about to step out into creeps into my mind I can't help but think how much easier it is to just stay inside and curl up. It's not me to take the easy way out and I'm certainly not going to start now. That being said I had a strange week as I spoke about in this weeks previous post, so I did decide I needed an actually recovery week and didn't train much at all. I did however get some good running in despite the cold temperatures.

   I had a few early afternoons off from work this week and with errands and chores pilling up decided to catch up on life instead of training. Wednesday I ran in the evening and decided to try something new after researching running techniques earlier in the week. When I began forefoot strike running last August one of the things I learned from the Evolution Running system was cadence. Specifically that of a minimum of at least 180 foot strikes per minute. I have been working on technique and distance, but have neglected to develop my cadence until now. I downloaded a metronome app and set off to run some flats, as well as some hill repeats with my new rhythmic friend. Bap, bap, bap went the sound of the metronome as I sped off at my first attempt. 

   The reason for the cadence is simple. To effectively use the elastic response of your tendons your foot can only be in contact with the ground for a fraction of time, otherwise the store energy in the tendons dissipates. Also it doesn't hurt to know that all of the worlds top runners have foot strike cadence of far more than that, 190 to even over 200.  This issue with lower cadence, which most recreational and beginner run settle into is that it means you're over-striding and getting to much height of the ground increasing the force of your landing.

   All that being said, I never liked making just the minimums so I set my new friend "Mettie" to 184 bpm and took off. It felt a little strange at first, but like toe tapping to a great song I found myself slipping mindlessly into a perfect rhythm. Bap, tap, bap, tap. My stride quickly assumed the beat until the sound of my foot strike and the metronome became indistinguishable  Btap, btap, btap. First thing I noticed that I was putting in a lot more steps into my 5:00 min/km pace, the second my heart rate was around 151 bpm and usually at that pace i would be in my zone 2 with about 147 bpm. The next thing to cross my mind was a fluency I hadn't felt before. I could tell my technique felt different. Since I couldn't see myself I could speak to better or worse, but different. I could feel my recovery leg was coming a little higher and tighter towards my butt, my foot strike was more under my hips and I was using more of a pedaling motion that I have seen so many times watching top runners. What was really strange was how I could speed up or slow down my pace greatly all while maintaining the same 184 bpm cadence. Btap, btap, btap. The last amazing change was discovered as I hit the hill repeats. I kept the same cadence, but my stride became smaller as I hit the "meat" of the hill. My heart rate however barely changed during my climbs or descents  Physiologically speaking, my body barely noticed a shift from flat to up or down. I will keep working and experimenting with cadence and keep posting my findings

  Saturday brought the weeks long run. I decided with Around the bay, just around the corner I needed to ramp things up a little. I planned a course starting with a long, slow climb up the Chedoke Radial trail, back down again, then through the city with a back and forth along the hill section of ATB. it would be 28km in total, the furthest I have run to date and with the most hills I could pack into this brutal course. Only one flaw in my plan. The weeks thaw and freeze had left the Radial Trail a complete train wreck of frozen foot imprints and sheets of ice. A broken ankle or fractured face waiting to happen. I told myself, just another challenge and decided to press on. It was insane. An absolute clusterfuck of icy jagged edges and foot flexing ridges. I made it to the top and back in one piece holding around a 6:00 min/km pace, but it completely wasted me and I had only completed the first 6km. Ugh. I told myself do the best you can with the rest of the run and when you can make it another step pull the cell phone from your Camelback and call Chris for an emergency pickup.

  Let me side track for one quick second to ask why distance runners don't all use a hydration backpack of some kind? Maybe coming from mountain biking it just feels natural to me? I feel like a have a little friend with me on my adventure, there to help when I need it. Like Yoda on Luke Skywalkers back coaching him the become a Jedi in the swaps of Dagobah, my Camelback rides along unnoticed carrying my supplies and quenching my thirst as need be. Just seems a lot easier to me than a belt full of water bottles. Maybe it's because in the winter the water tends to freeze up in the hose, but I have come up with a simple and effective solution. Wrap some toe warmers around the hose. They're self adhesive and good for a few hours. Or maybe people don't like the feeling of a lightweight backpack and would rather feel the water bottles swishing side to side with their hip movement? But I digress.

 I managed to quiet thoughts of quitting with a little help from Eminem's "Till I Collapse" rapping inspiration into my ears from Chris' playlist on her Ipod shuffle. The last 5km was absolutely brutal, but I just kept telling myself what if this was the race, would I just quit then? No. I would finish. So I did, only a few hundred meters from my door, dragging my exhausted body up the porch and inside to a loving hug from Chris and a much needed hot shower.

Friday 15 February 2013

The Good Life?

   The nice thing about my job is it's task oriented so I have a lot of time to get lost inside my own head.  This week has been exceptional though. I've been tangled in a web of non-stop thinking that has left me mentally exhausted, but given me some clarity in the end. I have been feeling my motivation slipping and a mild malaise washing over me for a couple weeks now. Outside of the obvious, that we're all suffering from the long, dark and cold winter, it was something else. I began this journey into triathlon in the Autumn of 2012.  I was excited at the prospect of new challenges, but I let it get the best of me as I tend to. The sports that make triathlon are about learning and practicing technique, as well as building endurance. It is only lately that I'm beginning to realize this isn't going to happen as fast as I would like. I've been getting so serious about training that I've neglected to really slow down and enjoy it. I started well enough, but lately it has only been about personal bests and picking apart everything I'm not good enough at yet. 

  This lead me to think what would make me happy. How do I approach training or any aspect of life for that matter? So all week long I have pondered this question and here is what I have come up with so far. Not in any particular order, but here are my thoughts on what is a good life...

Take everyday as it comes. Life won't bend to meet my rigid schedule. 

Find a sport or activity you love. Strive to be the best you can at it.

Listen to your body. It's no good pushing when your body has had enough.

Learn about the world around you. Question everything and demand proof.

Even if you don't love your job, find a way to enjoy it and take pride in your work.

Love with everything you have.

Live simply. Live within your means. 

Eat naturally. Consume real food and avoid processed junk.

Keep a few close friends and even fewer possessions.

Lead a balanced life. Work, rest and play.

Find a reason to smile everyday. Actually smile as much as possible.

   So where has his lead me. I'm not sure yet, but I need to start thinking how I can incorporate my own advice. I do know to my own surprise that I need to throw out my schedule for a while or at the very least all the specificity. I'm going to schedule in terms of generalities. A run this day, a swim another, etc. I'll just figure out what I want to do when the day comes. I need to relax and get back to enjoying my sports, also my life. Take a few minutes to appreciate life for what it is. An organic, evolving, beautiful experience to be savored as it unfolds, not a schedule for what should happen every minute of every day. As triathletes we need some sort of schedule, but even I can't live like this any longer.

   This did lead me to an interesting conclusion though. After a lot of so called "soul searching", I have to be true to myself. I'm becoming a runner. It's actually becoming an obsession. I find myself relentlessly researching all aspects of running and I'm developing new heroes in the sport to aspire to. Ultra-runners like Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka & Ann Trason. The original barefoot runner and 1960 Olympic marathon winner Abebe Bikila. Ultra-runner Barefoot Ted and the amazing Tarahumara "running people" from the Copper Canyons of Mexico. I love the speed and power of 3km and 5km as well as the pace of 10km. I love pushing my distances from half towards full marathons and the new goal of making a 50km or even 100km ultra race one day . 

  I still love my cross training. Swimming is one of the most technically difficult things to learn and perfect. I have always relished the feeling of being in the water and I still have a lot of work to become proficient. Coming from BMX and mountain biking, road cycling is just an extension of my bike love, so that's here to stay too. I'm still very excited to give triathlon my best effort this season, but I'm currently working to revise my training to focus on running. It may require cutting back to one day in the pool and one day on the bike, but I need to follow my passion. Working 60 hours a week, maintaining a fantastic, loving relationship and training, all while leaving a few moments to relax means living within the time I have available.

   Many of the other aspects I spoke of I have already worked into my life thanks to the inspiration of friends, family and of course my best friend and partner in crime, well partner in life actually, Chris. I will continue to ponder these ideas and where I should look next to find, what is the good life.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

2013 Race Season Schedule

   Ok I know this is my first year in racing, so I may have gone a little overboard. I have to say though that anyone who knows me will testify to this character attribute, so why would it be any different now! 

   I have already registered for a number of these races and will mark the tentative ones with an asterisk (*). The only reason I haven't registered for these are because the registration hasn't opened yet, but I'll be first inline, online when they do.

   So here it is. An ambitious first year in Racing. I really wanted a good mix of races. Quite a few 5km running and sprint distance Tri's which is where I want to be. I really don't have a drive for distance or endurance yet, it's more about speed and power right now. I want to be more like a drag race than a Daytona 500. I have 3 half marathons spaced throughout the season. I still feel like I can work up to a decent speed over 21.1km. The idea for Around the Bay 30km was started back when I met Christine, as it was something we could do together. We began the training, but she quickly realized cycling was where she needed to focus her attention and decided not to run. Since I started training for it and it's what has motivated me to the point of half marathon distance I'm going to see it through. 

   Eighteen races is the total (I'm not counting Tough Mudder as a race), commencing February and coming to completion in December. It's almost 2 per month.

   Here goes nothin' as they say...

Sun Feb 24/12 Run Grimsby 3K Grimsby, ON 3km
Sun Mar 3/13 Run Chilly Half Burlington, ON 21.1km
Sun Mar 24/13 Run Around the Bay Hamilton, ON 30km
Sat Apr 6/13 Run Jordan 5k Jorndan, ON 5km
*Sat Apr 20/13 Run - Trail Head for the Hills St.Catharines, ON 5km
Sat May 11/13 Obstacle Tough Mudder Mnt St. Louie ON
Sat May 25/13 Run Whitby Half Marathon Whitby, ON 21.1km
*Sat June 1/13 Run Moon in June Burlington, ON 10km
*Sat June 15/13 Tri - Sprint Guelph Lake Tri Guelph, ON 750m/20km/5km
Sat July 13/13 Run Beamsville Bench Beamsville, ON 5km
*Sun July 28/13 Tri - Sprint Niagara Triathalon Grimsby, ON 750m/25km/7km
Sun Aug 25/13 Tri - Off Road Mine Over Matter Kelso CC Milton, ON 500m/7.5km/4.9km
*Sat Sep 7/13 Tri - Sprint Wasaga Tri Wasaga Beach, ON 750m/20km/5km
Sun Sep 15/13 Run Run for the Grapes St. Catharines 21.1km
*Sun Oct 13/13 Run Turkey Trot Oakville, ON 5km
Sun Oct 27/13 Run Halloween 7km Stoney Creek, ON 7km
Sat Nov 9/13 Run Casablanca Classic Grimsby, On 3km
*Sun Nov 24/13 Run Santa Shuffle Hamilton, ON 5km
*Sun Dec 1/13 Run Tannenbaum Toronto, ON 10km

   Wow now that I see it all written out like that it does seem a little crazy. All I can do is train hard and give it my best on race day. I will be posting outcomes on my blog as they happen.

   Let the madness begin...

Sunday 10 February 2013

Feb 10/13

   I can't wait for spring... Since the only time I spend outdoors is training for a few hours a week or my commute to work, the days and weeks have blended into a haze of darkness and training stats. At least it's been light until almost 6pm this week so I am beginning to feel a glimmer of hope.

Down to business.

Monday the boss had to take the day off so I read for a long while. I'm hooked on Chris McDougall's "Born To Run". If you're a serious runner you're probably saying to yourself "WTF took this guy so long??" Either way, it's blowing my mind. It has now proven to me at least two things. We are born to run, using a forefoot strike (in bare feet preferably) and that one of the guys who started Nike, Bill Bowerman screwed everyone up by deciding we could run better as heal strikers, then creating a shoe and a market to do just that. Thanks Bill...  
   In the afternoon I traded out my usual weight training for a strength training yoga session. It's not the kind of yoga people usually think of. Lots of time holding plank and warrior postures, pouring sweat with every muscles trembling with strain. Then on the bike to bang off 15km. Great day, but my old friend gastritis, a sometimes debilitating stomach condition returned for the night. I'll speak more about this issue in some up coming post. Just know for now that it seems to show up whenever it wants and reduces me to the fetal position for between one hour and twelve.

   Tuesday Is my usual night off to recuperate  Not much to say here except more book enjoyment and motivation.

   Wednesday I went for a 5km full out race pace run. Another PR! 21:20! I'm finally creeping up on my goal of breaking the 20 minute mark, putting me under a 4:00min/km pace. It was super cold though and my lungs got burned. Coughed for the next 12 hours.

   Thursday was back in the pool and I went for another 750m pace swim after a good warm up. Still trying desperately to get my times down. I made it in 16:17, so another best time for me, but still quite lousy in comparison to what I'll have to do to be competitive this season.

   Friday I was home for the day due to the nice snow drop we received from mother nature. I used it to put a 25km trainer ride down in an 1:10 while watching a movie about Dean Karnazes where he does 50 marathons in each of the 50 states in 50 days. Uhm, yeah... who does that?

Try running 23km in these conditions!
   Saturday not to be outdone by mother nature I pushed myself outside for my long run. In a great suggestion from Chris I ran right from our cabin, through Hamilton and along the North Shore hill section where Around the Bay will take place. 23km in the snow in just over 2:20. I felt good when I got home, but it was a huge struggle for me and none of the sidewalks or streets were clear yet. More like a crazy trail run than anything else. My legs have finally adjusted, but the balls of my feet are still sore after a long one.

   Sunday I went for my first coaching session with a great lady we'll call Mrs. S, as I'm not sure how she would feel about being mentioned by name. She is a seasoned triathlete with a good reputation as a coach. She put me through some awesome drills I had never seen before in order to help repair my still amateur swim technique. I did my best to comply, but my brain was overloaded trying to think of so many details at once. I'm going to need some practice with them.

Until next time...

Friday 8 February 2013

tale of the Tape - My Stats!

January 2013

    I'm not even sure why I thought this was a good idea to write a blog about my stats. I'm hoping that putting my base or starting numbers out there will be additional motivation for me to push my training and provide great results. My plan is to update this every few months to show my progress. The stats will provide my personal speed and time records, as well as my body stats. This way the chart provides no where for me to hide. My progress good or bad will be up for all to see. My body has already changed considerably over my first 6 months of training. On the left is my "Rich Roll" photo (it's the same pose one of my racing heroes used for his book Finding Ultra, but that's another post!). I'm currently 38 years old and will be turning 39 in April. I feel as though with my current diet, training results and body stats I'm the healthiest I've ever been and in the best shape of my entire life.

Here are my stats current as of February 1, 2013:

Body Stats Running
Height: 6' 1000m (1km) 3:49
Weight: 150lbs 3km 12:10
Body Fat %: 4 5km 21:52
Resting Heart Rate: 45 10km 52:52
Max Heart Rate: 181 21.1km 2:06:22
VO2MAX: unknown 30km -
Furthest Distance: 27km
Cycling Swimming
Trainer 25m Pool
Avg. Speed 23km/h 100m 1:55
10km 25:58 750m 16:39
20km - 1000m -
30km 1:26:50 Furthest Distance: 2550m
40km -
Furthest Distance: 56km

   I thought I'd include for entertainment purposes a list of my injuries from the past 25 years as a skateboarder.

10 complete knockouts and concussions 
(yes I am aware of how bad that is, but they weren't planned!), on the last one I couldn't figure out how to operate my socks...
1 of these included a fractured skull, hours of blindness from brain swelling and 10 stitches
3rd degree spearation in my right shoulder - 4 months recovery
Chipped 5 teeth and 6 stitches in my chin
Broken nose
Broken bursa sacs in both elbows
Right elbow fracture
Right thumb fracture
Spiral fracture in 7 places left thumb and wrist
Left wrist fracture
Dislocated right hip - 3 months recovery
Torn medial meniscus in right knee - 2 months recovery
Torn ligament left ankle - 2 months recovery
Torn ligament right ankle - 3 months recovery
Torn ACL in right knee - 2 months recovery
Torn ACL & PCL in right knee - 5 months recovery
Heel fractures both feet
Acute Onset Achilles tendonitis (left or skateboarding "push foot") - 6 months recovery, including laser treatments
Chronic patella tendinitis in both knees
As well as a plethora of cuts, bruises and contusions

  Just a few of the reasons it was time to try to excel at a different sport...