This Summer’s “Training” “Schedule”

It’s been a bit of a rough summer so far.  In the Holding Your Ground post, I talked about how I wasn’t going to be breaking new ground in terms of distance or performance this year, and the way things are shaking out, I don’t think I’m going to do any triathlons this year.  I had thoughts of doing Bracebridge again, or maybe dropping down to the Sprint level, but I think I know I’d be pretty much limping through it, and needing the better part of a week to recover.  The concept of merely doing the race for fun and simply enjoying completing it appeals to me, but I know I’d be cursing how slow I am and everything that woulda/shoulda/coulda (Shel Silverstein shout-out!) happened this season with every stroke, revolution and step.

Immediately after getting back from Germany, I underwent a vasectomy.  The snip.  I’m thinking of devoting a post to it in case anyone was considering it and wondering about effects and impacts (don’t worry, there wouldn’t be any pictures), but for now, I’ll just leave it at the fact that I was unable to exercise (or even pick up the kids) for a week after a less-than-completely active vacation just as the summer was getting started.  A summer that follows a brutal winter, where getting/keeping a good base was very unlikely.  It also meant missing out on Band On The Run (at least the racing part, but the music festival/live concert was a lot of fun); I don’t think I’m going to post about it since it’s so long ago and I didn’t run it myself, but it’s a must-have for next year; family friendly, lots of fun.  

So here we are, without racing goals, without a formal training program, with a weak training base and the summer has been rather rainy, if you ask me.  Rain and storms has meant cancelling rides and open water swims at the cottage where I spend most weekends.

Still, I’m not writing this to describe what hasn’t happened, I’m here to celebrate what has been happening.  For one thing, like they say in the movie The Crow, it can’t rain all the time, so the cottage has been good for open water swims.  Unfortunately, due to some weird Garmin firmware crash (that my Forerunner 910XT has fortunately has recovered from) I don’t have any data to show you for it… the Garmin ate everything from June 23rd till sometime in Mid-July.  I can tell you that I did the first one sans wet-suit.

That decision to swim without it was a good one, I got 1.4 km of swimming done in 33 minutes which made me feel good about where my technique, body positioning and endurance were at.  I had a couple of other swims, one of which was in very windy and rough conditions and was really unpleasant, but at least it would toughen me up for adverse conditions, right?

We’ve taken the kids kayaking a couple of times too. The first time was about 1km, the second we got up to two. They’re pretty good about patiently sitting still, to the point where our arm endurance is a bigger limiter than their fidgetiness (I just made that word up).

The other thing the cottage has been good for is using my mountain bike.  Rather than cart my tri-bike back and forth from the city, I just try and get out on the mountain bike, which I’m treating as part cycling training, part cross-training.  The first time I looked for a trail in the area I encountered a massive mud puddle which a little too much for this novice mountain biker…. but when I hit the same trail the week after, it was dry enough to ride through and I got a little further.

Whenever I hit some challenging terrain (which, for me, is just about anything more than a dirt road) I giggle and hoot. I bet I sound like Daffy Duck out there.

Back at home, the Lightning Kid’s sleeping schedule has returned back to its horrible default condition.  He’s less accepting of me as means to get back to sleep, but the good news is that when I’m industrious and organized, I prearrange my running gear so I can get up, grab it, change quickly in his room, and take him out running before he can wake anybody else.

It’s been a great opportunity to play with fasted cardio, since I don’t take any fuel before I go (though it’s super important to hydrate before and during, because I wake up as dry as a bone).  I’m pushing the Chariot and taking it easy and just trying to kill 30-60 minutes so that the rest of the house can sleep.  I don’t push the pace, and I’m just happy to be moving, and even then, I find myself tempted to stop running or turn around early.  I’m training my body to recruit more of my fat stores, and training my mind to keep going even though I’m tired which is key for triathlon.

I wasn’t sure how much he was enjoying it, and in fact, when he starts asking for ‘Mama’ I know it’s time to get home quick, but I was surprised at how quickly he’s come to expect it: I got up early with him on Tuesday, and since I didn’t have my gear out and ready (and I was pretty groggy), I didn’t take him out.  He grabbed my running shoes and though I took him out on the porch for a few minutes when he asked to go outside (not for long, because it was surprisingly cold and we were just in pyjamas), he threw a tantrum when he found we were going back inside.  Sometimes when we’re out on the run if he starts to fuss I give him my water bottle to drink from.  He hardly ever drinks from it, but he does play with it a little.  The funny part is when he starts calling me to take it back; he’s like a little coach reminding me to hydrate.

So, though I haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, I’ve had some fun and that’s what summer’s all about… and it’s half over!

How has your summer been so far?

Friday Five Favourites

It’s Friday, and I’m going to list some favourite things I’ve discovered over the summer.  It’s a series from You Signed Up For What?

  1. My Mizuno Wave Rider 17s – I actually bought these before the trip to Germany, and it was there that I wore them running for the first time.  My Salomon trail shoes were showing their age, and I figured it was time for new shoes.  So many running bloggers I know love Mizuno, and these came recommended for runners who like/need cushioning, without being heavy.  Since buying them, I’ve found out Mizuno makes trail shoes, but I still really like these, as they’ve lived up to their weight vs. cushioning ratio promise.

  2. Cheddar & Caramel Smartfood – A while back, my wife managed to grab something called Chicago Mix, which was a mixture of Cheddar cheese popcorn and caramel corn.  I’m all about the savoury/sweet mixtures (e.g. salted caramel) these days.  Sadly, Chicago mix was hard to get our hands on, but this version of Smartfood is the next best thing, and I keep stumbling across it in every grocery store.

  3. Kobo Glo e-Reader – This thing has kept me reading a little better than I might have otherwise.  I forgot it at the cottage this weekend, but I’m currently reading through A Feast of Crows (Book 4 of A Song of Fire and Ice a.k.a. the Game Of Thrones books).  It also came in handy when I wanted to read the short fiction work of fellow triathlon blogger Dan T. Head, and as long as it’s connected to WiFi, it syncs my progress so I can continue reading on my phone (or iPad) app.
  4. Mill Street Brewery Seasonal Sampler – Every time I drink a Mill Street beer, I feel good about supporting a home team brewery, but the beers themselves aren’t always my absolute favourite (I really want to love the Organic Lager, but I don’t).  The seasonal sampler is a six-pack of six different flavours, 4-5 of which I would love to have in their own 6 (or 12, or 24…) packs.  100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager (distinct from the aforementioned Organic Lager), Palomar (Chipotle Lime) Ale, and the Belgian Cherry IPA are all new, and the Belgian Wit was new(-ish) to me. 
  5. Spi-Belt – I heard about Spi-Belt a while ago, and I kept hoping some blogger would post a giveaway or discount, but I ended up cracking and buying one.  The concept is simple: provide a belt for runners with a generic pocket that can store ID, keys, smart-phone/other device.  So many products are dimensioned exactly for a particular thing, making them useless if you’re not using, say, an iPhone.  The Spi-Belt’s pocket expands to fit a variety of items.  It’s a bit of a pain to get my smartphone in and out when I want to do things on the run (skip songs, pause the workout recording, take a photo), but for the better part of a year I was without a solution for storing things unless I wore my hydration pack or a water bottle belt.  I’ve since found out there are models that have even bigger pockets; the Endurance model and the Messenger Bag.
Happy Friday!

Snapshots From Germany

In my on-going game of blog post catch-up, I would like to engage in the (probably pointless) exercise of telling you, dear reader, about our annual family trip to Germany.  Last time I kept a detailed journal, not so much this time, so I’ll wrap it up in a single post, with just the broad strokes. With Germany in the World Cup final, I’m sure you’re all eager for a little taste of the Fatherland, right?

Travelling with small children is indeed exhausting, especially the flights, but I have to say, my boys are actually pretty good, all things considered and they get compliments from airline staff and other passengers.  They’ve both been on planes since they were 6 months old, and while the Lightning Kid still doesn’t get the need to stay seated, they show their veteran flyer status in their general behaviour.

Due to the German holiday calendar this year, we weren’t able to spend as much time with my brother’s family, and we ended up heading to the Berlin area shortly after landing.  Germany gave us some great weather this year, though it was late May, it felt like a full-on summer (meanwhile, back in Canada, the climate was still shaking off the Polar Vortex).

This gave us an opportunity to swim in the Havel river a bunch including off a boat!  Shark Boy really improved his swimming and it ended up paying off a few weeks later at TriKids Burlington.  I even got my own open water swimming training session, and though it didn’t feel great in terms of technique, performance or accomplishment, this is the first year I’ve gotten one done while on vacation though that river has been there the whole time, so I feel proud of it.

This boat was docked nearby, and it gave me a daydream about living on it, and having constant access to open water, living a nomadic, triathlon lifestyle a little like Team Wuertele.  Having a cottage is pretty good too, though.

We don’t do much sight-seeing while there and prefer to be homebodies… it’s quite cozy. Apparently some ducks thought so too – but nobody told them that ducks aren’t roof birds…

The other big physical activity we did as a family was a bike ride; Shark Boy rode at 10 km on his own, and now that the Lightning Kid is a little bigger, he can ride longer in the rear seat – he is also carrying on his brother’s tradition of reaching forward to try and give me a wedgie.

While we didn’t sightsee, we did have to find ways to keep the kids entertained, and we looked into a couple of amusement park and play centres as we’ve come across them over the years. Lots of jumping and climbing for both boys, and it’s great to see the Lightning Kid really rock his gross motor skill development.

After Berlin, we did finally get a chance to spend time with my brother and his family, and what we didn’t have in quantity of time, we made up for in quality. Seeing the cousins play and bond really reinforces the feeling that family is something to be treasured. We took a nice hike up one of the Taunus mountains.

I also got a nice run in with my brother.

Like any vacation, it was over too quickly and now seems so long ago.

Race Recap: Shark Boy’s Triathlon Debut at Sunrype TriKids Burlington

Happy Canada Day!

After the 5 Peaks – Heart Lake event, we headed to Burlington for our race kit pickup.  The best race kit pick-up systems in triathlon have you report to stations in order, with big numbers to identify each station.  This is probably doubly important with dealing with kids.  I was really impressed with how organized the TriKids event was.  Finding the bib number, body marking, swag bags, it was all there, and there was even an orientation session.

The orientation session

They not only explained the overall flow of the day and the event (which is a little different for each age group) but also their dedication to the enjoyment of all the athletes, safety, and the ‘complete not compete’ philosophy.  I thought it was a little long for kids (especially ones like Shark Boy) to sit through, but frankly, all the information was necessary and reassuring for the parents.  They had at least 3 different orientation sessions that people could attend, so I don’t think they can do any better.

We met some friends of ours who decided to sign their son (same age as Shark Boy) up for the triathlon too.  The rewards of being physically active are for the self; it’s basically a selfish act, but the values of it is something we want to pass on to our children.  The reason we crow about it on blogs and social media, however, is in the hopes of inspiring someone else to start reaping the rewards, so I can’t tell you how much it pleased me to see them there and on race day.

Speaking of race day, it was an early morning to make sure we made it in time for the cut-off to get our stuff set up in the transition area.  And when I say ‘our’, I mean it.  I had to put my own Zoots (which were ideal for slipping on to my wet feet) and a t-shirt that I could slip on after getting out of the pool.  I was beside Shark Boy every step of the way, and he double-checked that fact every time we discussed the race right up till race day.  He had shoes, socks (ankle socks were recommended for ease of putting on), small towel bike and helmet all there too.

Shark Boy’s is the Spider-Man bike WITHOUT training wheels.

I actually bought a t-shirt there, since the veteran triathlete somehow managed to forget.  It’s hard to communicate the need for foresight to a four year-old, as I couldn’t seem to get him to drink much water before we started.  We had changed into swim stuff and awaited the command to gather for our wave.

We were in Wave 5, and after lining up outside the pool area, we were brought into a small yard outside the pool, and each athlete was called by name and bib number and given an ankle chip.  Then we filed into the pool deck and lined up to swim one width of the pool.  We actually took a false start, because I didn’t quite realize how the timing would work, but I figured it out quickly enough and no harm done – we’ll call it a warm-up.

A volunteer did a great job of calming everyone’s nerves, and then we were off!  It was a little disappointing seeing Shark Boy lag behind since he was one of the only kids swimming unaided, and the water was shallow enough that even he could touch bottom, but I’d rather have an event that can include as many kids as possible that some kind of ultra-tough weeding out race.

We’re way at the back.
Once we hit the other side, it was walking only on the pool deck (though we walked briskly!) and out to transition.  The ankle socks were still really hard to get on his feet, but it’s taken this long to get him to wear socks with running shoes so I wasn’t going undo all that work for a few seconds.  And then we were off!  Shark Boy knows from his duathlons (and my constant reminders) to walk his bike to the mount line.  Once he mounted, I knew we were going to put on a show.

If I lead him he not only goes faster, but keeps his eyes on where he’s going.
It was a 500m bike course (the swim was the 15m width of the pool, by the way), and Shark Boy was not only one of the fastest kids on the bike, but he safely navigated around a lot of little traffic jams that crept up.  He really shines on the bike, that’s all I can say.

This race had one unusual thing that I haven’t (yet) seen in a triathlon; the second transition area was at another location.  We dropped off the bike at the other end of a soccer field where it (and the helmet) were taken by a volunteer, and then we sprinted down the field 100m to the finish line chute (I first typed that as ‘cute’, which also applies).

We crossed the finish line smiling, and for a few seconds I got too pre-occupied with handing off his race chip and finding my wife and the Lightning Kid to properly hug and congratulate him, but I soon corrected that.

We try to do a daily gratitude exercise (usually at dinner, sometimes bedtime) where we talk about our favourite part of the day.  His was this moment right here, not any part of the race.  He’s an athlete (a TRIathlete!), but best of all, he’s got a great heart this one.

Our friends completed their race too (with both parents and grandparents) chaperoning various stages of the race.   We had coffees and cookies and it was one of the finest summer days an active family could ask for.  I heartily recommend the TriKids series, sign-up early though, because they sell out early… maybe we’ll see you next year?