Swim Analysis Via Data – A Tridot Check-In

Here lies Axel “Iron Rogue” Kussmann.  Loved by the best of us, barely tolerated by the rest of us.  Drowned in the moonlight, strangled by his own bra died by exhaustion.

This training program may be too much for me; in fact, I’m nursing a pulled right calf muscle as I write this (a Finding Nemo frozen gel pack stuck under a compression sleeve).  When I wake up tomorrow I’ll know how bad it is.  When I look at the weekly totals it doesn’t seem that bad (though those don’t include warm-ups – the calf got yanked trying to do “butt kicks” for my run warm-up), but you’ll see there are 3 workout days, which apparently is due to me designating Thursday as a day off.

 

I’m not posting to complain though – that’s not the informative writing I strive for, but to tell you about a cool feature of the Tridot system.  When I was putting in initial data like age, height and weight, I also filled out a questionnaire regarding my swimming.

 

Based on these answers and stroke rate (which gets updated from Garmin data), Tridot has diagnoses me as a combination of different types.  I am:

  1. An “Overglider” (55%) – “As an Overglider, you’re likely over thinking your swim form and trying to stay streamlined at the expense of generating propulsion. Swim speed is Distance per Stroke (DPS) x Stroke Rate (SR)–not just DPS. It’s likely you’ll see solid improvements by focusing more on increasing your stroke rate and generating more propulsion even if you sacrifice your streamline a little. Remember that the most streamlined gliding position doesn’t have any propulsion. Make the mental shift from pursuing only form to pursuing fitness too. Work on your prescribed drills, and you’ll find the right balance.”
  2. An “Overkicker” (30%) – “As an Overkicker, your able to swim at least at a moderate pace and may not perceive the ‘need’ for much form improvement. However, with a little more emphasis on generating propulsion form your front quadrant and reducing your kick you’ll be able to swim further, faster, and with less energy. Focus on each of your prescribed drills and be open to re-thinking and re-learning how you swim.”
  3. A “Lightweight” (25%) – “As a Lightweight, you’ll need to really focus on your ooomph and confidence. You may not have much experience in the pool, but that won’t be true for long. Focus on making small improvements each session. Try to relax in the water and focus on strong execution of your prescribed drills. Much of your improvement will come from having a positive mindset as you go into each session. Swimming is not ‘natural’ for humans. It’s learned. You can learn to be a great swimmer!”

The percentages reflect a degree of confidence in the diagnosis, which is why they don’t add up to 100%.  The other types (which aren’t a match for me) are:

  • “Tarzan” – “As a Tarzan, you’ll need to learn to rely less on your strength and athleticism and more on skill and technique. As you execute your prescribed drills, learn to work with the water rather than fighting against it. Focus on reducing drag and having a long, balanced body position. Relax and let your body glide through the water. Improving your swim form can take time. It’s often not a matter of more effort, rather it’s patience as you repeat the movements (drills) over, and over, and over until they come naturally. “
  • “Swinger” – “As a Swinger, you’re already a relatively fast swimmer. Understand that the Swinger form isn’t a ‘lesser’ form than the Classic. You can achieve great results with either. The amount of ‘form correction’ you’ll want to pursue will be relative to your fitness and results. If you’re already turning in strong swim performances and are not experiencing shoulder pain, you may not want to change too much. Work on your prescribed drills as a Classic would to maintain and refine your form not overhaul it.”
  • “Classic” – “As a Classic, you’re already a very strong swimmer. You’ll always want to watch that bad habits don’t creep in and impact your form. Don’t take your swim form for granted and neglect doing the drills that are prescribed in your swim sessions. As a triathlete, you will do well to spend time working on open-water skills such as sighting and drafting.”

I’ve noticed they put a lot of “sink-downs” in my warm-ups.  These are for getting more comfortable in the water – you empty your lungs and let yourself sink down to the bottom.  These are to be immediately followed by swimming a short interval.  I think the idea is to get me more used to swimming with less air in my lungs – I’m probably spending a lot of time getting more air in than I strictly need and it’s hurting my stroke rate.  I also recently got to play with my head position; looking less up seemed to help me be more efficient but the stroke data didn’t look radically different over the short intervals I got to play with that aspect.

 

Air Riderz Trampoline and Climbing (featuring Shark Boy)

I had first heard of Air Riderz from birthday parties that Shark Boy had attended.  I thought the combination of trampoline park and climbing gym was interesting, especially since they had exercise classes (“AirRobix”) for adults – I thought I might try sampling one and doing a write-up here.

Instead, I found myself taking Shark Boy there.  You see, this past weekend my wife took the Lightning Kid to a live Paw Patrol show on the Saturday and a birthday party on the Sunday, so I had my eldest all to myself.  Between Air Riderz and another climbing gym we had visited once, he chose Air Riderz.

I bought us a 2 hour pass (time slots start at the half-hour, and we got there 10 past noon, so I guess we had a little less than that since neither of us had the patience to wait for 12:30).  Unfortunately you need to be wearing official Air Riderz socks to use the facility – this wouldn’t have been so bad, as we have at least 2 kid sized pairs at home from the aforementioned birthday parties, but we didn’t bring them.  So now I have a pair of my own, that I think will also come in handy for yoga in cooler environments like my basement – the soles have little grips.

 

Our pass included both the trampoline zones and the climbing area; you can only put on your climbing harness once, so you’ll want to get your fill all in one shot.  For that reason, I encouraged Shark Boy to enjoy the trampoline zone first.

I’ll be honest, it made me feel old.  Not many adults were jumping, so I  checked multiple times that adults were allowed to partake in the fun too.  There was also the fact that I noticed every bounce in my bones, at least till I got warmed up, so I’d recommend starting slow and not throwing yourself into it till you get more of a feel for it.  I had envisioned myself pulling flips or bouncing from my back, but I just didn’t have the nerve for it.

 

The main area has a grid of small trampolines that are great for individual use, as well as longer strips that are more suitable for running (or flips).  Some of the walls are trampoline-like so that you can throw yourself against them.

There are 3 basketball hoops (of varying non-regulation height), but we only got to try the highest one, and I couldn’t get high enough to dunk; it’s actually pretty difficult to make the shot from the highest point in my jump – even though the distance was short, being in mid-air made aiming difficult.

There is also a foam pit with segregated lanes (with trampolines of course) – you pull your best flip and are guaranteed a soft landing.  I should mention that all these areas have lifeguard-like supervisors to enforce safety rules.  The last area of the jump zone are the dodgeball courts.  One was being used for a toddler area, but the other had games going.  I had half a mind to enter myself into a game and be an avenging ‘big kid equalizer’, but I thought better of it.  I did notice signs for an adult league that I hope to investigate in the future.

After a while, Shark Boy wanted to try his hand at climbing.  There are several walls and one tower that is limited to climbers under 100 lbs.  He did fairly well, and you could see how some walls were easier than others based on his performance, but having tried some of them myself, I can tell you it’s not as easy as it looks.  I think more serious climbers will miss having access to chalk or better footwear, but it was still fun to give it a try.

I had a lot of fun climbing the towers in the photo above.  You’re anchored to 2 safety lines to reduce the amount of swing when you dismount (or fall).  Since I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of good images/video of myself, I decided to let Shark Boy record my climb.  I think he did a fairly good job of it, for his age.  Have a look – you might be able to tell when I made the mistake of looking down.

Once we got tired of climbing, we took off and returned our harnesses, we rounded out the rest of our allotted time in the jump zone.  I wondered if I would be sore the next day, and if I’d be OK to complete some speed work I had planned (according to my TriDot training plan) for the late afternoon.  I can tell you now that yes I was sore in my legs, but I don’t know whether the speed work (which went fine) or Air Riderz was to blame.  According to a little research I did, trampoline (or rebounder) work is good for the core, as well as all lower body muscles (the upper body does get addressed somewhat to as you flail your arms for balance) – sounds great as running cross-training, especially as the impact is much lower than running, skipping rope and other high-impact activities.  There are also circulatory and internal organ benefits.

Between these benefits, and my curiosity about the Airobix classes and dodgeball, it’s probably not my last visit to Air Riderz.

Have you tried rebounding or climbing? What do you think about it as cross-training?

Top 5 Reasons to Run a 5Peaks Trail Race (Starting with Rattlesnake Point)

While the Terra Cotta event is already sold out, you can still get a jump on the second race at Rattlesnake Point.  See my recap for my first time here, and some stories from last year here.

If you want to sign up (and you do), be sure to use the code “Iron Rogue” at checkout to save 10% on all race entries (and if you’re in another part of Canada where 5Peaks races occur, you can still use that code.   My top 5 list of reasons to sign up for this race apply to every one of their events anyway.

  1. Low(ish) Impact: Running is bad for your knees!  NOPE.  However, if you are worried about impact on your joints, natural ground like wood chips, dirt, grass, etc. is much softer and springier and easier on all those joints, so trail running is an excellent way to have the cardio and movement components of running without pounding the pavement.
  2. Higher Intensity: The biggest trend in fitness over the past 2-3 years is High Intensity Interval Training.  The idea being to go super hard and intense for short bursts with slower recovery periods in between.  With its up- and downhills, trail running naturally fits into this kind of profile.  Most people compare a trail race with a road race of at least  10% (though I’m used to hearing more like 25-30%)longer distance, and you only have to do one big hill before you realize managing your heart rate is going to be fundamental to finishing your race strong.  Rattlesnake Point fits this profile especially well, as stepping up some of the big rocks is like a lunge or split-squat.
  3. You need to address your nature deficiency.  From Wikipedia:  “Nature deficit disorder refers to the phrase coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods[1] that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors[2] resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems.”  Though the legitimacy of this condition is in question, you will probably agree that you (and your family – see below) might not be getting enough fresh air.  If you’re  a runner, a lot the fresh air you might be getting is on sidewalks, below streetlights, etc. rather than a forest canopy.  Hearing the birds and listening to the leaves rustle in the wind are things we don’t get to do enough of in our current lifestyle…
  4. You don’t like crowds.  If you’re used to running races like 10k’s, marathons (or half-marathons), you might recognize the following: slot yourself into a crowd of people of similar pace, according to posted signs you can hardly see through the masses, and wait several minutes after the gun goes off to cattle drive yourself through the start line.  5Peaks events are much smaller than road races since the condition of the trails has to be protected.  Though there are starting waves (divided by expected speed/pace), and the single track can mean waiting behind someone slightly slower in the early stages of the race, it’s not long before it’s just you (and any pace buddy you might have invited to join you) and the trail.  And if you consider yourself slow, or would even rather power-walk than run the course, use the last (and always least populated) wave as your start.
  5. Family.  Last but not least; in fact, probably the most important and the reason we keep coming back.  My favourite photos of my sons are those of them running in the kids’ fun run.  Before the adult races take place, they always have a 1km (approximately) fun run.  Parents can run alongside (or even carry) their kids and cheer them on – it’s non-competitive and just a great way to introduce them to the joy of movement and physical outdoor exercise.  It’s not uncommon to see toddlers who are barely walking give it a shot, and they love soaking up the admiration of cheering parents – you can see it on the smiles of their faces.  I’ll admit, some kids don’t finish and have meltdowns, but I feel it’s important to keep introducing kids to new experiences; growth happens outside the comfort zone.

There is also a timed race (3 km or so) for older kids which is a little more serious.  Shark Boy started competing in them last summer, and then this fall competed in cross country running for his school.  After the kids’ events, there are snacks, meeting Buffy the Tiger, and generally having outdoor unstructured play in a wide area, the way kids should.

 

The Rattlesnake Point Race takes place June 10th.  The Sport Course is 5.3 km and the Enduro Course is 12.7 km.  Sign up using code ‘Iron Rogue’ for 10% off!

The Tridot Pre-Season Project (and me)

This post is part of the #MotivateMe Link-up that takes place on Salads4Lunch and Run Mommy Run every Monday.  Visit them to see more great active living content.

Triathletes sometimes refer to themselves as ‘tri-geeks’.  While everyone is a ‘geek’ for what they’re passionate about and will discuss these subjects at great, great length, what I think puts the ‘geek’ in ‘tri-geek’ is the attention to the technical minutiae.  Even though I’m an engineer and an analytical person by nature, I’m actually pretty laid back about the number-crunching aspect of training.  I do like to keep records and quantify things, but that’s about as deep as it goes for me.

I started following Tridot about a year ago.  Tridot is a website/training system that is data-driven at a whole other level.  They’re working at an algorithmic level, and putting a lot of effort into doing things differently – one aspect they’ve been pushing is their Pre-Season Project.  They were recruiting athletes who had

  1. Done a triathlon before
  2. Planned on completing an Olympic, Half-Iron or Full Distance Tri this year
  3. You are not a pro or coach or have benefited from a previous Tridot program.

I qualified for this, and sent in my application for 2 months of free training.  While I’ve been a little anti-coach in the past, under this program I’m still a DIY type athlete – I’m just following a training program that has been  customized to me by complex algorithms.

Once I was selected, I completed a few steps of an ‘on-boarding’ process which included not only my height, age and weight, but benchmark assessments, which I had to take very rough estimates of – 400m/200m swim times, 25km bike time (with average heart-rate) and 5km run time (again with average HR).  They ‘normalize’ a lot of your performance by location (because of temperature, elevation and humidity factors), and ask for you bike weight, arm span, you name it.  Like I said, it’s data-driven to the next level.

I was really impressed by their interface.  It’s not exactly clean,  but considering how much data they’re presenting at a glance, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate and interpret.

I’m still learning a lot about it (between jumping into the training program, writing this up, and the rest of my life, there hasn’t been a lot of time for other reading and research), but I can tell you the little circular graphs show your planned vs actual volume and the colours are mapped to training intensities like Endurance, Threshold etc.  The intensities for each sport are explained on the dashboard, based on your current data.

The day after I was accepted into the program, there were assigned workouts to do, and they were quite technical.  The great part is that each workout has explanations and/or videos for any part of the workout you don’t understand.  I opted for 2 strength workouts per week (rather than zero) and those are included in my schedule with triathlon specific exercises.   You pick your ‘off’ day (if any).

Completed workouts can be manually entered, or you can connect a Garmin account.  While that was convenient, I hadn’t used my account in months, and my a lot of my accessories weren’t working too well.  I’ve made a point of wetting the pads on my HR strap and I’ve replaced my speed and cadence sensor.

The training schedule for my first week looked like this:

The time and effort profiles are easy to see and the logos make it quick to determine what you’re doing on a given day with just a glance.  Clicking on a workout brings up that day’s workout(s).

For strength workouts, you mark them complete as a percentage of intensity, which I found a little odd (I was prepared to record reps).  The great part is not only are there videos to show the exercises, but they’re on the same page, available by selecting a drop-down menu which is populated with only that workout’s exercises (or drills/other terminology for swim, bike, run workouts).

As Instagram will prove, I had a lot of fun with these workouts.

I should also mention Tridot’s customer service.  While the immediate volume and technical sophistication of the workouts was intimidating, they’ve been very helpful.  One issue I had was getting reminders to do my assessments (time trials at prescribed distances) while having a full training schedule.  They explained that my formal program hasn’t started yet, and the assessments were more important than the prescribed workouts and I should slot those in instead.  In fact, the assessment protocol descriptions showed that they can be substituted for a given workout,  for example, when the time trial takes less time than the prescribed workout, you just extend the cool-down period till you get the same time spent.  One thing I’ll have to get better at (besides time-management) is recording the entire workout with my Garmin.

It’s still early days in my Pre-Season Project, and I have a lot to learn, but I’ll report back every few weeks on progress, opinions, notes and the overall experience.

Flashback: Run About Town, November 20th

WARNING: Do not try this at home.  Well actually, you couldn’t anyway, since it involves going outside.  And if I really didn’t want anyone to do it, I’d probably keep it to myself instead of blogging about it.  Still, as you’ll see, this sort of thing isn’t for everyone.  I guess, what I’m saying, is attempt this sort of thing at your own risk.

In late November of last year, we had a stroke of luck in our scheduling I suppose.  My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were attending her company’s Christmas party, and the company had rented out the Better Living Centre at the Canadian National Exhibition and filled it with rides and attractions for kids.  They didn’t have kids of their own, so they invited our kids to take advantage and have fun that particular Sunday.  Normally, my wife and I would take advantage of the time for a date of some kind, but she was otherwise engaged (I don’t remember what).  What I ended up doing, is resolving to go for a run (or maybe rollerblade along the Martin Goodman trail) once I had dropped the kids off.

I found the trail to be a little wet and slippery, so I opted for a run.  I knew I had hours to spend, but I wasn’t in the kind of shape to go far (or fast) so I figured I would do a long, slow distance with plenty of breaks and sight seeing.

 

I even wore a backpack with my laptop and a book in it.  This is the first thing you might want to think twice before attempting.  My pace was a slow jog, so the bouncing around was minimized.  This backpack also has a nice laptop sleeve to keep the hardware still and stable, still the risk of falling and breaking it was there.  The first stretch of the Martin Goodman trail offered some pleasant reminiscing to when I was training for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon in 2006.

The weather got a little nastier and I felt like I needed my first break so I found a Starbucks and had an Eggnog Latte.   This is risky item number 2.  I’ve never been the fastest or the strongest in body, but I have pretty close to a cast-iron stomach.  I sipped my holiday coffee treat, and started putting things in motion to move this blog from its old home on Blogger/blogspot to self-hosted.  I read a little in a book called Sapiens: A Brief History or Humanity by Yuval Noah Harari.  It’s a really interesting book, but I confess, I haven’t been keeping at it; I’m a very slow reader when it comes to non-fiction.

After I left Starbucks, I turned North away from the Lakeshore area toward the city.  I passed by Old Fort York, which I’ve seen plenty of times, but I also saw something that puzzled me:

That is a canoe – sitting by some old railway tracks, with no water nearby, in the middle of the city.   Stay weird, Toronto.

I hadn’t had lunch, and just the day before a friend had told me about Toma Burger Addiction.  I already knew of the place, I think it had been in the papers even, but my friend was giving me a first hand account of how good it was.  When it comes to gourmet burgers, we live in a golden age.  I had the El Diablo, and it took a while to prepare, not that it bothered me – I was enjoying listening to the Australian accents of some exchange students (I think) at the next booth.  I even had a beer – remember what I said about the cast-iron stomach? That was about to be tested, but first, let me show you the burger:

I honestly didn’t feel it to be that mind-blowingly good (I think Burger’s Priest still holds the championship in my opinion) but still it was a gourmet burger that I got to enjoy…. and then it was time to try to run back to the car.

Not to worry, I didn’t puke up my lunch on the way, but to say I didn’t notice any detrimental effect either would be a lie.   My pace dragged, and my stomach felt like I was dragging a boulder along on the inside of me.  Still I made it into the Exhibition grounds, and took what seems to be a ‘frustrated selfie’… I guess I was tired.

All in all, it was a fun way to spend the mid-day, and see a bit of the city.  The kids were sweaty and exhausted and grinning when I picked them up, so they matched my mood exactly.

Have you ever gone against the recommended practice in your fitness endeavours and NOT regretted it?

Meet the Latest 5 Peaks Trail Crew Leader – Me!

This post is part of the #MotivateMe Link-up that takes place on Salads4Lunch and Run Mommy Run every Monday.  Visit them to see more great active living content.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve taken my already great relationship with 5 Peaks to the next level!  I am now a “Trail Crew Leader” which is their new term for ambassador; I’ve already sung their praises on this blog and in all my social media channels… but now we get serious.

And not a season too soon either – I’ve managed to convince a few people to try it out, but 5 Peaks is amping up the promotion and swag at their races, so it’s time for me to put a little extra pressure on you dear reader.

Convertible gloves as an example of 5 Peaks new merchanise

I’ll be putting out a series of posts, each one covering one facet of what makes these events so great, and the good news is that I’ll soon have a discount code for you to save money on registration, and this year my code will be usable for any of the races nationwide (there are events in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec).

You too, could have a smile of satisfaction and accomplishment on your face. I might even be able to arrange a hug from the Lightning Kid.

So I ask you, especially those in the Greater Toronto Area: WHY HAVEN’T YOU JOINED ME AT ONE OF THESE EVENTS IN PAST YEARS? TELL ME! I WILL DESTROY YOUR PUNY EXCUSES!!!  Ontario race number one is Terra Cotta on April 22nd; save the date!

#MotivateMe: Snowshoe Fondue at Hardwood Hills

This post is part of the #MotivateMe Link-up that takes place on Salads4Lunch and Run Mommy Run every Monday.  Visit them to see more great active living content.

 

In a rare win for Facebook advertising, I came across this event that was being run by Hardwood Hills Ski and Bike.  It sounded like a great date night; my wife and I had a similar experience on our trip to Smuggler’s Notch in 2015.  The combination of fresh air and exercise with a bit of decadent comfort food is hard to resist.

We pulled into the Hardwood Hills parking lot a few minutes after 6PM, and picked up the snowshoes my wife was renting, along with some tickets to sample beers from the Barnstormers Brewery (there was also wine).  I got to try their Polar Pumpkin Ale (the best pumpkin beer I’ve ever had, some sweet notes) and the Smoked Billy Bishop which was a Brown Ale, but the smokiness was something interesting I hadn’t had in a beer before – I’m not sure I’d love to drink a lot of it, but it was still pleasantly complex.  Just before we headed out, we got to try some butternut squash soup.

Sorry about the picture quality – not as good as the soup tasted!

The guide for our ‘team’ ended up being our friend Sam who we knew from when we used to volunteer with the Track 3 Ski Program.  I do regret not packing a head-lamp; I guess I thought the (near-)full moon might provide enough light or that there might be some lanterns on the trail.  The moon didn’t rise till we were well past the halfway mark of the 5.5 km walk, and then it hung low in the sky.  It was a spectacular orange, and I wish I had gotten a photo, but the trees prevented getting a very clear shot.

Even without a headlamp we got by fine.  Sometimes I used my cell phone as a flash light, sometimes there was light from the headlamps of others, sometimes following the footsteps of the person in front of you was good enough.  When you did stray from the trail into deeper snow, well, you were wearing snowshoes anyway.

It wasn’t my first time snowshoeing, but I was still surprised by how much of a workout it was – the first kilometer took us over 25 minutes to complete.  We learned the tricks of leaning back a little on the downhill and forward (with digging in your toes) on the uphill.  After a few breaks to shepherd the stragglers (i.e. us).  We found ourselves at a gorgeous lookout above the city of Barrie, with a refreshment of cider and delicious cookies.  They had even transported a fire via snowmobile.

On the way back to the chalet, I found things both easier and harder.  I stumbled more often, yet I felt like I was keeping a better pace and navigating better without my cell-phone flashlight – I had run out the battery and thus wasn’t able to track the route to show you the final time and mileage.  Luckily, my wife’s cell phone was there to provide more pictures.

Now that the snowshoe part was done, it was time for the fondue!  They had created a nice intimate atmosphere in what they call the ‘West Wing’ of the chalet, complete with live music.  The singer was pretty good, and I admired the different spin she put on songs that would have been described as hard rock in their original incarnations.

In addition to bar beverages, there was also punch and water available, and you could munch on french fries before the fondue course.  I have a theory that french fries taste better after skiing, and I’m pleased to report that this holds up for snowshoeing too.  The fondue platter was 2 different breads, along with an assortment of fruits and vegetables.   The cheese sauce was delicious!

The swag bag on my left had some flyers and a couple of coupons.

For dessert, there were cookies, rice krispy squares and some really decadent brownies.  I think the event was a real success, and there are 2 more of these events in February and March.  In fact, the February one (which we can’t make it to) will be a Valentine’s themed ‘Ultimate’ Snowshoe Fondue.  Check the events out here.

 

Have you been snowshoeing in the moonlight? Do you think outdoor winter activities and decadent food go hand-in-hand?

Welcome Back – Revenge of the Iron Rogue

Hi Everyone!

If you’re here as a previous reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed my new digs on WordPress and the new look of the place.  If this is your first visit, welcome!

2016 was a rough year for me and my family – I don’t want to go into gory details, but there was job loss, terminal illness, death, hospital visits, emergency home renovation… you know what, I’m getting bummed out just listing them all, even vaguely and generically.  The point is, both blogging and the kind of adventures that I love to write about took a back seat all year long, in spite of my efforts to “dig myself out of a hole.”

There were a few positives in 2016 and while they really deserve their own individual posts, I’m going to start 2017 with looking forward, but I’ll just list a few honourable mentions…

 

We took a trip to Jamaica….

The kids did the C3 /Kinetico Caledon  Kids of Steel Triathlon,

with Shark Boy also competing in the East End Kids of Steel (the Lightning Kid was sick that day).

While the 5 Peaks Terra Cotta Trail Race got its own post, you guys never got to hear about the 5 Peaks Rattlesnake Point Race…

which we used as an opportunity to take our first family camping trip.

 

We managed to make a shorter, later version of our annual trip to Germany.

We capped off the year by spending New Year’s at the cottage, which is the first time we did that as a family.  We tried some downhill skiing, some cross-country skiing, and lots of snow-frolicking.

 

What does 2017 hold for this space? Lots of the same outdoor, active family living, with a focus on multi-sport/triathlon.  Some things in our life have changed; the kids are older and pursue their own extra-curricular activity with less parental involvement (except driving them to and from the venue), and I’m less fit than when I was writing this blog regularly, so some of the fitness subjects will be more on the rehabilitative side (though I’m not going to turn this into a weight loss blog).  I will probably incorporate more mental health and productivity content, and I’d really like to step up the amount of gear and technology review.  Also, this might not be the final look of the blog, but I have to shout out and thank Janice from Salads4Lunch for getting me this far!

I’m already looking forward to my next post, recapping the Snowshoe Fondue event at Hardwood Hills!

Race Recap: 5 Peaks Trail Run – Terra Cotta

Well, race season has started!  It looks like this is not going to be a season of great personal accomplishments in endurance or fitness, but I’m happy to report we’re keeping active as a family.  Our inaugural race for the warmer months was the 5 Peaks Trail Run at Terra Cotta.

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Shark Boy was participating in his first timed event.  He’s quite fixated on numbers and quantifying things; it’s always a big deal who’s older, who’s bigger, etc.  I’m a little apprehensive about introducing him to more competitive events – he seems to be the fastest kid in his own schoolyard races, but I don’t want him to get upset if he’s not the biggest fish in a bigger pond, if you follow my meaning.
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Luckily, 5 Peaks seemed to have no problem with parents running alongside their kids at this event; I guess there was plenty of space on the trail.  Though plenty of kids took off in front of us, I tried to get him to reign in his pace and save the best for later on.  I’m really glad he listened, because he got to trade in his disappointment at being in the back of the pack for the thrill of passing others on the uphill climbs, who had already blown up.  He did give me a good scare when he tripped and landed practically on his face, but he got up again and kept running without any tears, so no blood, no foul, I guess.  He ran the entire 3 km and ended up in 20th place overall.

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The Lightning Kid did the 1 km ‘fun run’ with his mother. He’s picked up some speed from last year, and I think the concept of racing is starting to sink in, but he still does take his time to smell the roses on the course. I think he just loves all the attention he gets.
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I participated in the Sport course race. Since the race was some time ago, I don’t really recall too many details, but Terra Cotta isn’t the hilliest course in the series, but it is still very pretty. I came in 22nd in my age group, which I was happy enough with, considering I wasn’t really training prior to the race. 

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I mostly wrote this recap to entice readers to come join us next time at Rattlesnake Point. You can use the discount code of MARK (courtesy of my friend Mark Sawh) or JESSICA (courtesy of lacesandlattes) for $5 off each registration. The 1 km fun run for kids is free. Hope to see you there on June 25th!

Climbing Out Of The Hole

“No, no… Dig Up, stupid!” – Chief Wiggum, The Simpsons – Homer the Vigilante

I think this is becoming an annual tradition.  Every year around Christmas time, the chaos of the holidays eats up my ability to get any blogging done.  So that when other bloggers are writing up end of year round-ups, Iron Rogue is in radio silence.  After that, come the new year resolution/goal/plans posts, and this space is still in hibernation.


I almost don’t mind.  While I don’t have a problem with the end-of-year and new year stuff, I certainly don’t need to do what everyone else is doing.  The start of 2016, though has dealt us some extra turmoil that has kept me from getting started again.   The nature of that turmoil, I’m going to choose to keep private, but it’s comprised of more than one unexpected event, and dealing with it has eaten up not only time to blog, but also time to exercise and take good care of my health and fitness, which dries up the well of subject matter for this space.


That means, among other things, that I’ve put on holiday weight and then some, and I’m not in good shape physically – or at least not the shape I’ve come to expect of myself.  I think of myself as being in a hole, and climbing out of a hole is always challenging even if I’ve done it before.

I’m going to start, and this post is a declaration of that beginning.  Does that mean I have goals and plans?  No, not yet.  I guess I have… Ideas. If I discuss those ideas here, that won’t make a plan, but it’s a good start to not only creating a plan, but starting to write again. Also, many of these ideas will make for future posts, which I will label in an effort to pique your interest in reading this blog going forward.

To start getting my house in order physically and creatively, I started following BexLife more seriously.  I signed up to do a 21 day mantra challenge, where she provides a mantra every day (the above image is from Day 6) that you meditate on for 4 minutes.  I’m generally lousy at this kind of thing, and I did struggle with some of my meditation sessions, but for others, I had an epiphany or two.  You can see some of my experiences on my Instagram account.  As Bex says “Look How Dope My Life Is” (#lookhowdopemylifeis).

I have to be honest and report that I didn’t get it done every day of the challenge, but I did learn about myself and I think I can make meditation a more regular part of my life – daily would be ideal.  I also didn’t manage to make every day of a core challenge called #thegetthatcorechallenge organized by Heather Rose Scott of Fit Strong Fierce.  How did I drop the ball on two daily challenges that didn’t have much of a time commitment beyond a few minutes each?  

WE WENT TO JAMAICA! [future post alert!] 


So I guess I traded guided meditation for feet-in-the-sand and core exercises for swimming with the kids, but it didn’t do much for getting back in physical shape.  It wasn’t the most active of our family vacations (plus unlimited Jerk and Red Stripe), but I will do a write-up to talk about it soon.

Before I even started the 21 Day Mantra Challenge, I did an exercise recommended by Bex to build Do-It-Yourself Mantras.  You can find the video to explain it on the page linked above.  Briefly, you take a list of 10 things you want…

I WANT…
  1. …freedom to go outside
  2. …a super hero body [future post alert!]
  3. …[PRIVATE]
  4. ...harmony in my family
  5. …robots [future post alert!]
  6. …a working side hustle (i.e. monetizing this space, as mentioned in last year’s Vision Board Post)
  7. …to keep learning
  8. …to be a good Scouter [future post alert!]
  9. …to travel as much as possible
  10. …respect for my contributions
You also need a list of 10 things you can offer…

I CAN OFFER
  1. …my integrity
  2. …my knowledge of active family life
  3. …my knowledge of mobile communications and wireless networks
  4. …my empathy
  5. …my strength
  6. …my experience with scouting
  7. …my willingness to learn
  8. …my words
  9. …my love
  10. …my flexibility
Anytime you want a mantra, pick one from each list (with some correlation between the two, hopefully) and your meditation session is good to go.
So, I’ve slipped in my meditation, my core challenge exercises, and many other ways as I try to put my life back into the shape I want; climbing out of a hole means slipping back down sometimes.  If you watch this space (and also my Instagram, especially with the #ClimbingOutOfTheHole hashtag), you’ll see how that shapes up.


I’m hoping to build a community around this site, too.  That means active families, and hopefully some novice triathletes too [future post alert!].  Besides BexLife, I’m also getting plugged into Nerd Fitness; I think this year’s adventures will be guided by the kinds of connections I start making.

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.

“A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
“Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
“Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”
 -Leo McGarry, The West Wing – Noel.