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Thursday, May 29, 2008

X-Weighted - the summary

My buddy did great! Dropped 51 pounds in 6 months. Much of this was through sweat, although obviously his diet changed 180 degrees.

Seeing someone's life on Reality TV was interesting in itself... it was Chris, but it wasn't. He's usually so easy going, laughing, etc., but he came off as far more serious. And he wasn't anywhere near the train-wreck they portrayed him as at the start! I suppose they want to show a progression in more than just weight so they play up the contrast, but it was overly harsh. But hey, they couldn't have shown it if he hadn't said it!

I had a very brief cameo in a restaurant near the start... made a comment about everything being deep fried and you can hear me giggle. I'm told that's my trademark giggle... thanks mom. :)

Congrats again Chris, I'm impressed! I'll be even more impressed when you drop me on your new Cervelo. :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


A friend of mine (Chris) is on this show on the Slice network called X-Weighted.

His episode:
Wednesday, May 28 - 8PM and 11PM
Saturday, May 31 - 11AM
Sunday, June 1 - 7PM

(all times EST)

I might be in it too, in some of the "before" scenes. I was at a BBQ at his place, and we went for beer and wings.

It's a great show, there is a personal trainer on it Paul Plakas who has a lot of solid nutritional advice, as well as great exercise tips. I don't know how much my friend lost in total, but it was a LOT... looks like a totally different guy. But it was a hectic schedule... he worked out a lot, took up running, played ultimate Frisbee, etc... almost every day of the week he was doing something.

Since the show, he's kept up the running, with plans to do a half marathon. Had some injury trouble or he'd have done it already I'm sure!

Congrats Chris! :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Indy 500

This weekend, I'm going down to Indianapolis to join 400,000 of my closest friends at the Indy 500. 33 open-wheel race cars will line up and take the green flag for an all-out battle for 50 miles.

Hey, it can't all be about training, right? :) Taking a break for some suds and buds, cars and stars.

But wait! There's a 1/2 marathon!

35,000 people ran the course through parts of the city, then ended with a lap around the famous 2 1/2 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How cool is that! If it were closer to the race I'd do it for sure... maybe another year.

Enjoy the Memorial Day long-weekend! :) Back to training on Tuesday!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Halton Hilly Hundred - Soaked to the Bone Edition

We did the Halton Hilly Hundred as planned Sunday morning.

From about the 50K point on, it poured and poured. I wasn't prepared at all for the mix of rain AND colder temperatures AND wind... I wasn't alone, only two of us actually finished the ride, of the four who started!

I made a lot of mistakes with respect to clothing on this one, so I'm going to impart a few things I learned (thanks to my experienced cyclist buddy HV).

Foot covers - I have winter foot covers, but I'll buy rain ones too. My feet were cold and numb by the end.

Leg warmers - Instead of wearing full cycling pants, these just pull on and cover from where your shorts end down to your socks. If it clears up, you can take them off.

Rain jacket - I know it sounds obvious, but in previous rain rides I took the philosophy that the water would get in anyway, so might as well let it in. This time the cold wind combined with the wet to make my arms and torso fairly uncomfortable.

Glasses (if you don't wear them already!) - I got a lot of spray from bikes in front of me, even from my friend's bike with a rain fender added. But with the glasses on, it was tolerable.

Despite the discomfort, I had a great time. It's an amazing ride, from the escarpment climbs to some of the rolling hills and valleys through the countryside. We'll do it again later in the season, hopefully with more cooperation from the weather!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Halton Hilly Hundred

The Halton Hilly Hundred is a 100K route through Niagara escarpment country. It's a beautiful area just west of the GTA that gives a pretty wicked challenge for any cyclist.

Over the course of the ride, you climb the escarpment 5 times... they are long and steep climbs by Ontario standards, making this route a very tough metric century!

The route is documented here, including a route map.

Not doing anything May 18th? Join us to take on this beast! Details are here. Nothing formal, just a couple of us hitting the route together. Please note the speed we intend to ride, and make sure your abilities match (although no matter who you are, you're going to climb those hills faster than my 190+ pound butt!!!).

There is also a charity ride for MS that will do this route later this summer.

Enjoy! And suffffer... :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Binbrook Triathlon: Give-It-A-Tri!

I've signed up for the Binbrook Triathlon Give-it-A-Tri.

The Give-It-A-Tri is for people who have never done a triathlon to get out there and try it. The distances are all short enough that most people can do it with minimal training, and you get the experience of doing the swim-to-bike transition and the bike-to-run transition.

It's special for me because it happens to be on Father's Day! My kids (5, 4, and 10 months) have never come to any of my events, mostly because they're long and you don't see much at most of them. Bikes go by and you have 2 hours to kill, that kind of thing. But with the try-a-tri, you start near the transition area, then you come back before the bike, again before the run, and then finish there. I'll be passing through there every 15-20 minutes or so, and there will be plenty of other action between. So lots to see and do, I'll have a great "Go Daddy Go" cheering squad!

Although I'm a bit sick of answer the question "are you going to win?"

Not a chance. But just being out there and finishing is a bit of a victory.

The distances:

400m swim
10K bike
2.5K run


The swim is a big unknown for me, I haven't swam in a lake since I was a kid, and I was more playing in the water than really swimming! I'm guessing my pace will be about 3:00/100m, hopefully faster, for a finishing time of around 12:00.


I can bang out a 30km/h average over 60K, so anything slower than that would be disappointing! I don't know the course, but I'm going to hammer through this one...


It's really short, but maybe I'll be a bit tired by then. I also read that the course includes trails and such, so it's not a straightforward road run. Tough to set a goal, other than to finish strong!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back to Work Training Plan

I had a nice break from work in April, was able to get in a lot of swimming, biking and running.... but now it's back to work.

Back to Work Training Plan

During the week: get in a 20-30K bike, a 5-10K run, and a swim.

Weekend: A swim and either:
- Long bike (65-100K) or
- Long run (TBD based on goal)
- Some combination of biking and running

Squeezing it All In

I have 3 kids! I work full-time! I have a long commute! When on earth am I going to do all of this???

There's really no excuse, it can be done, you just need to be willing to make it work for you.

Tip 1: Find an understanding spouse.

I already have one, so that makes things a bit easier!

Tip 2: Wake up early

6:00am for me.

Tip 3: Figure out a schedule that works for you

If I swim, I have to leave the pool at 7:30am to make my 7:45am train. If I get to the pool for the 6:30am lane swim, I can get in a 45 minute swim without any trouble. Swimming - check!

If I run, I have to leave the house at 7:30am. Up at 6am, running by 6:15, done by 7:00am, showered and dressed by 7:30am. Running - check!

The only trouble is biking, there's not enough time in the morning, so it's going to be an hour or so out of one evening a week. That's not that hard to find, especially if you followed Tip 1 (thank you understanding spouse!).

Tip 4: Use workout time wisely

Rather than just going out and plodding through miles, have a plan for what you're targeting and go do it. I'm researching this, but I'll use interval training and other techniques to make sure I'm getting the best bang for my time.

Tip 5: Use all time wisely

For me, this means working on the train to work. Find ways to be more efficient with your time. I recommend this book "The 4-Hour Work Week", it's got some great advice on getting more done in less time.

Tip 6: Follow Tip 2, even if it's the weekend! I get up a little later, 7am or so, but hit the bike early and I can get in those 2-3 hours by 10am, and still have the rest of the day.

Does all of this work? It did for me when I was training for a 1/2 marathon! I woke up early to get in those mid-week runs, then did my weekend LSD's without taking too much time away from my family duties or my work.

Good luck!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Aero bars

I recently added these Bontrager carbon aero bars to my road bike.

Adding aero bars to a road bike is not ideal... it's better to get a purpose-built tri bike as they have the right geometry for being that far forward. But for now, though, these are a nice compromise.

First thought: OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO DIE. I almost wiped out... not only is your grip much narrower than usual, but you're resting your body weight further forward on your elbows... it's a different sensation, and one I wasn't prepared for.

Second thought: I'm glad I already had my 3 kids, because I won't be able to father any more. Leaning that far forward put some serious pain in my delicate regions. I managed to find a position that is a bit more comfortable, but I think a new seat is probably in the cards to make this work.

Third thought: I need to upshift! In fact every time I get down on the bars, I find I need to upshift. This tells me that these things really do work... with equivalent effort I'm going faster. I don't know how much faster, but enough that it was noticeable. When we were going into a particularly strong head-wind this effect was even more noticeable, I was gaining a couple of gear changes.

My riding buddy noticed that my back was almost flat. I felt nice and long and efficient, more like a dart and less like a giant sail. And it felt like it really focused my stride on my legs, rather than doing a whole-body jiggle.

The one downside - by bringing the hands so close together, I found my chest was a bit compressed. I'm not sure how much this impacted my breathing, but it didn't feel great.

$150 well spent!

Bonus article.
Setting up a bike for triathlons.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ten Swimming Tips

In no particular order, I thought I'd gather some things I learned so I don't forget them and to hopefully help others.

1. Goggles fogging up? Spit on them!

At the advice of the good people on the forums, I spit on the inside and rubbed it around a little... as gross as it sounds, this actually worked. No fog. Fantastic and free!

2. Get a tri-specific wetsuit

I bought a cheap Ski-doo suit at Costco... seems it's ok for practice but it's not nearly as good as a true triathlon suit. Might be great for jet-skis!

3. Drink water while you swim

You're surrounded by water, but none of it is getting to your stomach (hopefully!), and even though you don't notice it, you sweat when you swim. So replenish the water as if you were on land.

4. Look straight down, not forward

The tendency is to look forward as you go along, but looking straight down helps bring your feet up.

5. Bring your feet up!!!

My feet drag below the surface. I don't know how to fix this yet... something I need to work on. But when I put a flutter board between my knees to keep them up, I was so incredibly fast, instantly! So I know this is a key to efficient swimming... I'll post here when/if I figure out how to solve this.

6. Don't reach straight out, reach down

I used to reach out as far as I could, then push down on the water at the start of my stroke. What a waste of energy! So now I plunge my hand forward under water at an angle, about 45 degrees to the water surface... and all the arm strength goes to propelling me forward, not up.

7. Breathe with the diaphragm

Taking a deep breath from my stomach helped me keep my breath longer. But if you're like me and you find yourself gasping for air, it's probably because you're horribly inefficient and need to work on technique. I sure do!

8. Breathe out under water, breath in above water

It's important that you exhale under water, not above... don't hold that breath!

9. Don't kick like you run

My kick needs a lot of help, but the first order of business was pointing the toes. This may require some stretching to be more ballerina-like. If you run, you probably point them, but the wrong way! I read that some people end up going backwards when they kick because of this.

10. Swim fresh

When you're learning technique, it's best to take a lot of break to keep your breath, rather than trying to push through your panting. When you're tired and out of breath, your technique is going to be terrible. Swim slow and smooth rather than trying to go fast when you're just learning, and keep your breath. Endurance will come with practice (I'm told!).

Hope that helps. :)

I went from not even being able to exhale smoothly under water to being able to do some nice laps in a few months of practice and lessons. I have a long way to go, but I've come a long way, and there's small improvements and discoveries every time I get in the pool.