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…

  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…

  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.

Introducing the FAT Project

Do you like transformation stories (as in, whole body makeovers/big weight loss success stories)? I confess, they are generally not my thing, but in this case, I’ll make an exception, maybe because the end goal of this one is to become an Olympic distance (not in the actual Olympic Games, mind you), triathlete, and because it’s a friend.

Paul McIntyre Royston named his weight-loss effort/triathlon dream the FAT Project not to invoke the pejorative use of the word FAT… it’s actually an acronym for Food Addict to Triathlete.

One of the last times I saw Paul in person was the Wasaga Triathlon in 2008 (sadly, I don’t have a recap of that race as I wasn’t blogging regularly yet), where he completed their Try-A-Tri event of a 375 m swim, a 10 km bike and a 2.5 km run.  He’d spent the summer getting healthier, and completing the race was the culmination of that effort.  Sadly, the results didn’t stick, which can be a problem in getting healthy for any of us.

He’s now over 400 lbs, living in Calgary with his wife and 3 daughters, but this time, he’s building a village, or at least surrounding himself with a team.  His weight loss efforts will be medically supervised by a doctor, dietician and nutritionist.  He’s also documenting everything through a website, with a PR firm and Film company on board to capture the big milestones on his journey.  And of course, putting his message out there helps with accountability, so there’s a full on social media campaign too, see below.


I’m really excited to be able to follow Paul on his journey – I think it’s going to be uplifting and a lot of fun, and I’ll hope you’ll join me in cheering him on!

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

I’m back from our annual trip to Germany and while I should be typing up a recap of it, or attending to other important (at least, important to this blog) topics, I thought I’d use a Thinking Out Loud Thursday Link-up as a way to clear some of the junk that’s been rattling around my brain lately.

Robots is Good People

Far too many people are still talking about the Zombie Apocalypse and not enough are worried about the Robot Uprising.  Not me, I’m going to work on making friends with our future overlords – I’m a survivor like that.  The Lily Camera has been getting some attention from outdoor and extreme sports enthusiasts for being able to intelligently follow its user that is wearing a small tracking device.

I had fantasies of making cool videos featuring me swimming, biking and running (not to mention *Burbathlon*, cross-country skiing, maybe mountain biking ) with chase cam footage.  A couple of days after I came across the video, I started seeing it everywhere – Facebook friends shared it with me having similar ideas to mine, and I even saw a couple of co-workers watching the video too.  Apparently one of the gotchas of drones is how much skill it takes to fly them, so this one having automatic ‘Follow Me’ modes (among others) is something of a breakthrough.  I also like how it’s waterproof and portable.

The thing is, with the autopilot feature being so desirable, they can’t be the only ones who have come up with a potential solution.  I also wondered if I might want a GoPro or other action cam to do First Person video too, and then have a drone that can mount the camera for the chase cam stuff.  I found the Iris, the Hexo+ as well as some highly experimental smaller drones like the Extreme MicroDrone 3.0 and the Nixie.

Of course, these are the serious thoughts of someone richer than me – I need to stay focused on getting my bike up to snuff for Barrelman.

Video Killed The Blogging Star

In a fit of Shiny Object Syndrome/Me Too Disorder (a.k.a Blogger Peer Pressure), I started using Periscope, an app for doing live broadcasts from your mobile device.  Tamara from Fit Knit Chick did a great little beginner’s tutorial and you can see it here.  I guess I thought I’d do similar content to what I had in mind for the drones and action cam; walking an audience through what I consider to be a fun workout or something.

I started with trying to incorporate a Bike Hill Training/Strength #WorkoutHack, previously seen here.  I don’t think the broadcast was terribly good or successful, though people were kind and generous with their ‘hearts’ (which are like ‘Likes’ on Periscope).  I didn’t enable a tweet share, and I haven’t found a way to share it now; even by uploading the MP4 file to YouTube (and the file doesn’t seem to be able to play natively on my phone either).  You may be able to see the replay if you find me on Periscope (in app, search for apkussma).  Based on that initial experience, here are my thoughts on Periscope (and yes, I’m aware of Meerkat, which is pretty similar).

  • You have to have something to say or show.  Either you have a prepared presentation/speech/lecture or tutorial, or your location is interesting enough to provide the scenery giving your audience a show and a way to virtually join in your experience, (for example, a concert or show).
  • You have to have a good network connection; this rules out doing any kind of swim or underwater video, and if you’re outside your home network (and are unwilling to pay roaming charges), there’s no chance to do a live broadcast.  This kept me from doing some Periscope video while in Germany… I could have shown you guys around.
  • If you want to broadcast action, be prepared for technical hiccups.  My broadcast ended accidentally and an error popped up.  I’m not sure if it was because the phone was being manhandled by me while trying to ride my bike, or if the phone ran out of memory while recording (you can enable the video to store a local copy) or if it was just a bug.  I’m glad I didn’t put too much thought or preparation into it.

With those caveats, I’m probably not done with Periscope, but I think I prefer doing video with Instagram; 15 seconds is enough for a lot of the messages I’m trying to send, and I’m not limited to a character count for when I want to add some extra hashtags (unlike Vine). Here’s an example:

Last but not least on the Video Star front, here’s the official video recap of Spring Into Action 2015.

Mo’ Media, Mo’ Problems (Mo’ Money?)

Both of the aforementioned feelings (desire for a little cash to spend on gear and tech abd Blogger Peer Pressure) have coupled which has me looking at expanding some of the ‘business’ aspects of the blog.  I’ve already joined some affiliate programs, you may have noticed some of the links in previous posts.  Affiliate programs, Ambassadorships and Partnerships, better advertising are all potentially on the horizon, and yet I constantly remind myself that this blog is a hobby… about my hobbies.  I do this mostly to go through the practice of writing, and share my experiences like some kind of glorified post-card. I train, I get outside, and I try to develop my writing ‘voice’ by describing those adventures. I do like to try new things, obviously, so I’m willing to put some effort into the kinds of things more professional bloggers spend time on, but I need to balance that with my sanity, and not make blogging yet another chore.

Ahhh… that feels better. See you next time with something more triathlon/family/something related, OK?

Indoor Sky-Diving at iFly (with Shark Boy)

I’m linking up with Lakeshore Runner for Tri-ed It Tuesday.  Wait till you get a load of what Shark Boy and I tried the weekend before last!

OK, this post is going to be off-topic, since it’s got nothing to do with triathlon, or fitness or any of the usual subjects.  I suppose it is related to active family living, as one of the ways we manage to get the whole family involved in physical activities and travel is to treat our life as an ongoing adventure.  Plus, the experience was simply too cool not to use this space to shout about it.

During the winter, we were taking the Lightning Kid to a hearing test at ErinOak Kids.  I spotted a building called iFly and deduced it was dedicated to indoor skydiving; something I had read about when I was a kid, and seen on TV, but never experienced.  The idea is that you’re put in a wind tunnel that simulates the air rushing by you when you’re in free fall.  By assuming a spread-eagle position, you float on the air currents.   All the fun of sky diving without jumping out of a perfectly good airplane – far less risk, somewhat less adrenaline.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my wife was taking mental notes, and gave me a pass to be used in the future as a Valentine’s Day present.  I waited for my chance (i.e. a break in our weekend schedule) and took Shark Boy, as they take kids as young as 4.

We had booked a 6:00PM slot, so after a rushed dinner at Boston Pizza, where I think Shark Boy was too excited to eat even his favourite foods, we walked into the facility and reported to the front desk.  I was sent to a screen to fill in waivers for the two of us.  They asked the usual health questions you’d expect, as well as asking about a history of shoulder dislocation.  Doing it digitally was nice since it auto-filled a lot of Shark Boy’s information with mine (e.g. address, email, and phone number).

After that, we were weighed for the record and sent upstairs to the viewing area where we could see flights in session.  We were told we’d have about 2 and a half hours of time to spend there which would include some training time.  I worried about Shark Boy’s attention span for any classroom orientation, but watching others tackle their flights was exciting enough to keep him engaged.

We were assigned a group number, and our instructor, Mike G, came to the viewing/waiting area to gather us into a classroom.  He was very laid-back and casual, and told us the classroom training would be an hour and a half.  That was apparently a joke, as it turned out to be about 15 minutes.  He was great and engaging kids and adults alike, and walked us through the basic rundown of what our flights would be.  We had two flights each, although you could book 4 beforehand and one lady in our group had.  The suggested method for her was to make her flights twice as long, and still have two sessions which would give her more time to hone her skills.

Mike explained the basics of the correct body position; the hips should be the lowest point of the body, the hands should be level with the plane of vision and most importantly the chin should be up.  There are hand signals used in the tunnel because between the ear plugs and helmet for protection and the noise of the turbine, you can’t communicate verbally. Some of the signals are for safety, some for guidance (straighten your legs=two straight fingers, bend your legs=two bent fingers), but my favourite was ‘relax’… it’s the old ‘hang loose’ sign from surfer culture (thumb and pinky extended from the fist).

He showed a video to get us oriented with the basics of entry and exiting the tunnel, and it ended with an expert rising to the top of the chamber and diving back down in an array of flips and turns.  One concerned parent asked if it was possible for someone (especially a child) to rise up that high accidentally.  The answer was no, it actually took a high degree of skill to get up that high – you need to build up momentum somehow.  Of course, getting us excited about getting to that skill level is how they get people to come back!

I made sure Shark Boy was paying attention and repeated as much as I could to him to make sure it was sinking in, I also volunteered him to lie on a special chair to simulate the position.  I probably came off as a little intense, but I just wanted to make sure we got the most out of the experience (it’s not cheap!)

We headed out of the classroom, and got suited up.  The jumpsuits have little handles on the back to make sure the instructor (who is in the chamber with you) can control your motion if necessary.  You can’t bring valuables (including cameras or phones) into the wind chamber with you, but they have lockers which are easy to use.  I snapped a few pics before putting everything away.

There’s a control booth with a window into the chamber where an operator can control the wind speed (or shut it down completely) and also a camera recording video (so they can sell you a DVD of the experience, of course).  While we were waiting for our group to get its turn, I checked out a few facts that were printed on a wall.  Apparently the wind tunnel is built with the motors at the top, meaning the air is actually being sucked from the top as opposed to blown from the bottom – though it does feel like the wind is coming from below, and your cheeks and face show it.  There was also a list of other such facilities all over the world – I only counted 26, so figure we’re lucky here in the Greater Toronto Area (this place was built in 2014).

I have to tell you, each individual flight is only a minute long, which seems dreadfully short when you’re spending 2 hours there, but I swear the time flies  (my puns are always intended).  The inner chamber’s floor is simply a net that air can flow through, but enough to cushion your landing should your flight skills not be up to scratch.  You enter the inner chamber through a doorway, and just outside that is a bench where you wait for your turn.  The kids went first, and when they get in, they all flop around like fish out of water.  The instructor is very attentive to every possible movement and keeps the whole situation under control though – that’s for adults as well as children.  I sat on the bench next to Shark Boy, because I wanted to make sure his exit was as smooth as possible.  I needn’t have worried, since it went perfectly.

For my first flight, I was glad to be able to go independently, without Mike holding on to me, though I had a bit of a laugh at how I crashed into the sides.  I even mugged for the camera.

We went through the entire line-up, and when it was the second round, the girl at the front of the line had lost an earplug.  The effort of getting it put back in meant shutting down the turbine for a minute or two, and by the time we had everything going again, she had lost her nerve.  She declined a second flight.  Then the kid behind her (her brother, same age as Shark Boy, I believe) declined too.  I was worried that it would be contagious and Shark Boy would follow suit, but no, he was game.  On the second flight, you’re a little more comfortable and you do a little better.  Shark Boy flew in what we called a ‘helicopter’ with both he and Mike in the air unanchored, spinning around the tunnel, and I got right up to the top of the viewing window, which apparently is as high as a beginner can get.

The session ended with our instructor Mike demonstrating flips and spins with  big rises to the top of the chamber (a good 30 feet up from the floor) and dives to within inches of the floor.

Once the group’s session was over, we got out of our flight suits, and there was an option to save on future flights if we purchased them that day.  It was enticing, but I wasn’t willing to commit.  If we do go back, we’ll spend less time in orientation and the flights will cost less. As part of our package, we got the DVD and I managed to not only rip the video from it, but edit it to show only the exciting parts (i.e. Shark Boy’s flights and mine).

I talked at length with Shark Boy about how glad I was that he didn’t chicken out because this was a really rare experience that not everyone will ever get to enjoy.  I really meant that.

What do you think? Would you give it a try?  What about the real thing (i.e. jumping out of a perfectly good airplane)?

Review: Everlast VP Vegan Protein Mix

Disclaimer: I’m officially an Everlast Nutrition Ambassador.  I earn commission on orders made through my discount code.
Vegan Protein

Everlast is a known brand in fight sports; I’ve got a heavy bag (from a previous life where martial arts played a bigger role in my fitness) and a jump rope from them, and they’re still part of my workout regimen today (stay tuned to this site in the future to find out how).  What about the nutritional side of things?

I see two dueling trends when I look around the fitness/wellness blogosphere:
  1. Athletes with incredible bodies who take pre-workout, post-workout supplements to optimize everything from performance to recovery.
  2. A trend toward “real food”, and staying away from artificial ingredients and compounds with unpronounceable names.

My experience with supplements is limited. I do take a multivitamin more or less as insurance against nutritional deficiencies that I might be accruing through an imperfect diet.  I also try and get extra protein for two purposes: a) re-building muscles that are getting torn up from daily workouts and b) feeling full so that I stay clear of less healthy snacks that I run into throughout my day.  Sometimes I throw hemp seeds onto cereal or other foods, but my most frequent protein supplementation is to make a smoothie, usually for breakfast.  Typical ingredients include some combination of
  • Milk
  • Strawberries
  • Peanut/Almond butter
  • Banana
  • Coconut Water
  • Hemp Protein
  • Ground Flax Seed
  • Blueberries
  • Kefir

I had tried the pre-ready protein powders in the past, but because I liked my shakes to be creamy, I always used milk which never dissolved the powder well, and I found eating the powder after drinking a near-flavourless shake to be a little unappealing.

Everlast nutrition sent me this sample pack of their new Vegan Protein mix to try.  Looking at the ingredients I saw:
  • Pea protein
  • Carrageenan
  • Sea Salt
  • Natural Flavor
  • Rice Protein
  • Hemp Protein
  • Stevia Glycoside

The carrageenan would be a source of concern, but the truth is, I haven’t found a chocolate milk product (even organic ones) that don’t have it, so I guess it’s necessary for the whole ‘shake’ experience.  A lot of people swear by stevia (I’m not a convert), but I guess I’m grateful for sweetness without sugar (or the attendant calories).  The rest sounds like really good stuff.  The sample pack was only good for one serving, so I opted to try it simply with milk to get the best idea of its taste without going the watery route.

After a really intense session at the gym, I bought a large milk and went to my desk to try mixing it in a smoothie bottle.  I’ll bet I shook that bottle for at least 5 minutes before I tried it. Bad news first: like all other protein shakes I’ve tried to make in the past, the end result had only a portion of the powder dissolved and the rest sat at the bottom.  That makes the flavour weaker than it needs to be, and the idea of eating the remnant powder alone is disgusting.


Now the good news: the taste is fantastic.  I think it’s the sea salt; you know how the only thing better than caramel is salted caramel? It’s like that, only with vanilla plus a little bit of nuttiness.  I refilled the container with water and enjoyed the rest of the drink.  And in case you hadn’t figured it out (and it’s important to you) the product is vegan (though the warning label admits it’s produced in a facility where dairy products, eggs, wheat and soy are also handled).

If you want to try Everlast VP Vegan Protein, you can use the code IRONROGUE at checkout when you visit  In addition to this Vegan Protein, they have a performance drink mix called Everlast Fuel that has both electrolytes (for optimal re-hydration) and protein (for muscle recovery).

Motivation Monday: Crashing the Sport Chek #SweatForThis Party

Sport Chek invited some of my favourite local bloggers, like Wildly Fit, Robyn Baldwin and Darwinian Fail (as I composed this sentence, I envisioned them as Charlie’s Angels, and I’m like Bosley or something) to participate in their #SweatForThis campaign.  

Krysten (a.k.a. Darwinian Fail) is even on a TV commercial which you can see here.

I love this campaign, because everyone has their reasons to run, swim, bike, lift and generally break a sweat, so I decided to crash the party with my own reasons.  I’ve compiled them into this video, I hope you like it.  

I #SweatForThis

For some of the stories behind those images, our active family adventures can be found under the tag ‘family‘. I’ll call out some particular highlights like the 5 Peaks Heart Lake Race, our Ski Vacation to Smuggler’s Notch, the 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10k, and our First Kids of Steel Duatlhon.

What do you think of the video?

Friday Five: Top Five Father’s Day Gifts for the Many Faces of Iron Rogue

Disclosure: The links in this post are referral and/or affiliate links.  I get a credit/commission for items purchased through them.

1.) For the office drone who needs to get more active and/or stronger on the bike:

In a triathlon, you’re likely to spend more time on the bike than swimming or running, yet it seems to be the hardest to get out and do; the extra equipment and getting to a safe route can be time consuming.  Enter the Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL. This thing sits under a desk and lets you quietly pedal during your workday.  

2.) For a guy who, kind of, sort of, cares how he dresses.  Frank And Oak make some of the clothes I most like to wear (except my flannel sweatpants and old hooded sweatshirts though they do make hoodies too).  A Frank and Oak shirt is my go-to when I have an important meeting or it’s date night.  I’ve also got khakis, slacks, jeans, shoes and blazers from them.  All their stuff is affordable, and special mention goes to the shirts which are tailored well to an athletic physique; the more generic shirt you get from department stores tend to billow out if you’re slimmer than a husky man.  The styles lean toward hipster, which helps this 40-something feel younger, but not to the point of embarassment.

3.) For the dad who likes turning play time with the kids (or any other semi-reasonable time) into a workout.  Gripsling is an innovative, tough training device that basically can give you a handle on anything you can loop it around for lifting, or pulling yourself up.  Their base model has a loop on one end and you grip the other end of the strap, but I like their next model up which has loops on both ends.  If you don’t need the second loop, you don’t have to use it, but I always prefer have-it-but-don’t-need-it to need-it-but-don’t-have-it.  They’re light and portable so it would be easy to take them along on a run to make a burbathlon more interesting.  I can’t wait to integrate them into trips to the playgrounds and parks with the kids or even impromptu backyard workouts.

Save 20% on your order when you use the discount code “IronRogue” at checkout.

4.) For the multisport smart phone addict: I had a waterproof dustproof camera that I used for taking pics at races for the blog and for when the family was out and about the way we often are, but the quality was never very good, and in the meantime, my phone’s camera has eclipsed it in megapixels and capabilities.  While the Samsung Galaxy S5 has some baseline waterproof capabilities, I needed to not only feel safer in the water, but account for my own clumsiness which was going to result in a dropped phone (it’s happened in the past).  Enter Lifeproof.  I use the FRE case on my S5, and it’s saved it from multiple drops, and if you’ve ever seen one of my swim videos on Instagram, that’s how I capture them.  Customer service is very good too, as they replaced the first one I got after a scratch showed up, and they did it quickly and efficiently.
Galaxy S5 Case – frē $79.99

Once you have the case like I do though, the bulkiness of it can make it less convenient to have around at any given time, so I’m thinking about adding the quick mount accessories like this bike mount,
Bike + Bar Mount with QuickMount $39.99

or a simple belt clip.
Belt Clip with QuickMount $29.99

5.) For the father who’s not getting any younger… I only know two things about aging skin… a) sun makes it worse and b) you should moisturize.  I’ve gotten a lot of skin care products as birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day gifts over the years and some are expensive, but I’m simply not fussed enough to go about multiple steps in any kind of regimen, at least not on a regular basis.  Most days, I’ve been using the Every Man Jack Daily Protection after my shave; my skin gets moisturized against the irritation, and I get SPF 15 protection for the walk to and from my car and dropping the kids off (I use a higher SPF product if I’m training outside).  You can get Every Man Jack products, and other grooming items (as well as socks, underwear and neat things like deodorant wipes for when you can’t shower) at

Linking up with Friday Five from You Signed Up For WHAT? and Fit and Fashionable Friday from Fitful Focus

Tri-Talk Tuesday: My Burning Transition Questions For Half-Iron Distance Tris

I’m participating in the Tri-Talk Tuesday Linkup hosted by Blisters and Black Toenails, TriGirl Chronicles and You Signed Up for WHAT? They’re talking about transitions this month.

So I’m doing the Barrelman Half-Iron distance triathlon.  I’ve been doing triathlons for 7 years now, but it’s my first half-iron.  For the most part, the only new thing is simply going longer in all three disciplines, but transition is really, really different.  I’m a member of several Facebook groups that revolve around triathlon, and there’s many other ways to access the online triathlon community, but to be honest, this post is a little rushed, so I figured rather than crowdsource and research, then write up my findings here and make an informative post, I’d simply put my questions on this very page, and let it become the forum for discussion… that’s what blogging is all about, right?

  • Should I/Can I change clothes?  In sprint and Olympic distance, my tri kit is on me from when I leave home to when I get home after the race.  Everything has to work in the water, on the bike and while running, every second spent in transition counts.  On the full distance (Iron) scale, you’re not often worrying about the lost minute you spend getting into the most comfortable pair of bike shorts (which would have been terrible in the water, but will literally save your butt on the bike), because being a little more comfortable for several hours in the saddle is worth it.  What about the Half-Iron distance though? Is it worth the time? Is it even plausible or is there no opportunity to do it without being arrested for indecent exposure?
  • Can I use my triathlon bag?  At the Lakeside Tri, I was told by an official that my bag was not allowed in the transition area.  The bag not only carries my gear efficiently, but folds out into a mat and helps me lay out everything I need to race.  In a longer race, I’m only going to need more gels, liquids, gear and accessories, and the need to keep it organized is going to be greater.  I can’t see that happening if stuff is just laying willy-nilly on the ground.  In the Course Details they seem to mention Swim To Bike Gear bags that are provided by the race.  They are numbered and used to transport wetsuits and other swim gear to the finish, so I guess that’s one question answered, but my worries about a chaotic transition area are not allayed.Muskoka5150 001.JPG
  • What kind of problems is having 2 different transition areas going to bring about?  I’ll need to think about items as being ‘only for the run’ or ‘only for the bike’, I can’t take anything for granted!
  • Will I ever spell ‘Transition’ properly the first time? I think I’ve written ‘transistion’ about a dozen times now.

Pin-It Party (with the Lean Green Bean)

I’m taking part in a party! Lindsay from the Lean Green Bean, is nice enough to host a little linking party where we can share the posts that are most Pinterest-worthy! You follow me on Pinterest right?

So here are the posts I’ve made over the years that I think should be part of your Pinterest collection.  Pay them a visit (clicking on the image will open the page), and then pin them!  Then head over to Pin-It Party Headquarters and pin a bunch of that stuff too.

1.) A way to get a whole-body workout with a small number of dumbbells and very little time.

Dumbbell Doubles #WorkoutHack
2. A way to combine bike hill repeats with strength work to save time.

Bike + Strength #WorkoutHack

3. 5 Tips to have an Active Family Life.

5 Tips for Active Family Living

4. A Low impact alternative to Burpees that also targets obliques.

Introducing: Roguees!
Swim Workout: Thursday 300s

Motivation Monday: My Vision Board

Vision Boards are a way to maintain motivation and maintain focus on your life goals.  It’s one of those new-age semi-hokey things that I’m guilty of rolling my eyes at when I’ve read or heard of them, but I’m nothing if not open minded, and when I started making goals for this year, some of them loomed a little large, so a little extra help staying focused might be a good idea.

I made a Vision Board of the things I don’t want to lose sight of.

Let’s break this thing down

  1. Barrelman Triathlon – My first Half-Iron distance triathlon, and the biggest goal for the year.  It’ll be just after my 42nd birthday, and if you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (like I am), you’ll know 42 is an auspicious number, so it feels good to commemorate that birthday with something big.  It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to get ready for that race, so it’s important to keep it in the forefront of my thoughts.
  2. 187.  That’s my goal weight in pounds;  back in the 90’s it was passed around as a kind of gangsta symbol (let’s not go too deep into the darker meaning of it… it’s a good weight for me and it sounds badass).  I’ve kissed that line, and moved back up a pound or two only to return to close to it.  I need to hold to the principles of the Doctor’s Diet for the majority of the time.  I think my increasing training schedule will help me even travel below that line but I need to make sure that I don’t start burning muscle by not allowing my calorie deficit to get too big on bigger training days.  And those calories, of course, need to come from the right (i.e. healthy) sources.
  3. Monetizing the blog (or at least making it a little more professional). This is the least serious of my goals both in priority and in defining what the goal is. The truth (or at least what I tell myself) is, I just like writing and I would do this even if no-one read. Still, I do get a kick when I get engagement from readers, and I enjoy when the blog generates an opportunity to try new things, and I get a wee bit envious when I see other bloggers get opportunities that have passed me by. Because writing is the part of blogging I enjoy most, when I get time to devote to the blog, I write a post. If I want to capture more opportunities (reviews, events, sponsorship), I know things have to change a little. Self-hosting the blog (on its own domain) and re-design could potentially generate things like brand ambassadorship or other opportunities. The driver is more recognition and/or status than actual money, however, I do need to keep in mind the fact that this blog is a hobby about my hobby, and will always be prioritized as such; i.e. way down the line from some of the other items on this vision board.
  4. Bicycle. A half-iron is serious enough mileage that a new bike is called for. My old bike (with aero-bars I put on myself) is not going to cut it; it’s at least 14 years old and I’ll bet the frame is a bit fatigued – I can see lateral motion in the lower parts of the frame when I pedal on the trainer. The bike in the pic is a the Trek Speed Concept, and while I haven’t decided necessarily on that particular one, I do have to admit both the old steed I’m thinking of putting out to pasture and my mountain bike are by Trek, they’ve served me well, and the Speed Concept is available at price points in the kind of range I was imagining myself spending. Plus, there’s that whole ‘Trek’ name that gets a rise out of my inner geek, you’ve seen me show the Live Long and Prosper (RIP Leonard Nimoy) next to the Rock Devil Horns… I mean it ‘Live Long and Rock On”.
  5. Resolve. My word of the year. There are bound to be challenges to all these goals, so central to achieving them is RESOLVE. I can either find a way around an obstacle (RESOLVE the problem) or show grit and determination to power through it (using my RESOLVE).
  6. Reading. Shark Boy has learned to read independently (simple words, but he does get them on his own) and obviously we want him to progress. I’m reading him a few pages from The Hobbit every night too, and it’s great seeing him get engaged by longer form story-telling (and dragons and wizards etc. too). We need him to improve his printing, and I hope I can get him do to a little writing of his own. The Lightning Kid needs to work on letter recognition and some of the basic precursor skills that feed into reading; it’s early yet, but we know it will take him longer so it’s great if we can get a head start. I’m proud of how we get outside and active as a family (and looking back at the February goals, I know we rocked them), but the more academic stuff can’t get left behind either. I’m also happier myself if I can get at least a little book reading (sorry, blogs and articles on the web don’t count) done every day.
  7. Walk The Line. I’m proud of my kids, which means I’m proud of my family which means I’m proud of our marriage. For a marriage to withstand raising children, never mind rambunctious, dynamic ones like ours, never mind if one has special needs, never mind if you’re constantly out and about as a family, it needs resilience. Resilience is built into a marriage in a similar way to how it is built into a body: it takes a variety of factors. For the body, it’s the right mix of nutritional ingredients and varieties of exercise. A resilient marriage has a similar variety of necessary components – and I probably haven’t learned them all yet, to be honest. I know respect, time for meaningful communication, affection, quality time and actual adult date nights are in there for sure. I’m proud of how well we’ve been able to stick to those things during the past 7 years. Training for a longer distance triathlon will impact all those things, I can’t deny it. What is important is that I keep to that line as closely as I can, even if I wander off it a little. I mustn’t, as Joey Tribianni might put it, let the line become a dot to me. I was going to call it Holding the Line, but then I couldn’t make a Johnny Cash reference, and you should always make a Johnny Cash reference if you’re given the chance.

Have you ever made a Vision Board? If not, what other motivational focus tools would you recommend?