Birthday Swim

For the last few years, it's been a bit of a tradition to swim the number of years I've been alive x100 on my birthday.   Someday that will have to stop!  I actually wasn't going to do it this year, until Donna taunted me about doing a birthday swim, and my yesterday's swim got rescheduled to today.  So I was in.

Birthday workout 2013, age 43:

warm up:  300 swim, 300 kick, 300 pull, 100 build to fast

main set:  8x250 as 200 steady, 50 fast (10 seconds rest between each)
               5x200 full gear (pull buoy, band, paddles) alt. easy & steady by 25's
              (10 seconds rest between each)

cool down: 300 easy

When I started doing birthday swims a few years ago, they were so hard!  But Noa has had me swimming 4200m every Saturday for the last few months, so this one was no biggie and I swam the whole thing really well.

Happy birthday to me!

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Not the book... although it's a great book and I highly recommend it!  But yesterday's race was held in typical "wet coast" conditions... grey, overcast, and somewhat rainy.  Jason and I took part in the Subaru Shawnigan Lake Triathlon - there's something for everyone with distances including a super sprint, sprint, Olympic, and half iron.  As we are racing Boise 70.3 in two weeks we needed a practice race, so Jason toed the Olympic start line and I did the sprint.

The weather wasn't great but wasn't terrible, and for the most part the rain held off (but not for those racing the half).  Neither of us had actually done this race before, despite it being only 20 minutes away from our house and part of some pretty standard training routes.  It's an absolutely beautiful course, but I think sometimes you take that for granted when you live here and are accustomed to the scenery.  My only complaint (besides general race logistics stuff on behalf of the organizer - they could be a bit more athlete-focused) is the pavement around the lake... I ride around there regularly and the pavement really sucks.  I know where the bumpy and bad spots are so was always prepared or knew how/where to avoid them, but I definitely felt for people from out of town.

Jason started almost an hour ahead, so we figured we'd finish close to the same time.  The lake was cold but absolutely flat calm, and my wave was pretty small so I ended up swimming the whole way on my own.  Not that swimming 500m without anyone to draft off is a big deal.  I ended up coming out of the water and crossing the timing mat in 8:04, which is most likely a PR swim for me for that distance.  I'm not totally sure, but it's got to be close.  That was the fastest swim in my age group by a minute - which is a lot over 500m!  The run up to the transition was pretty slippery as it had rained off-and-on before the start, and I saw people in earlier waves sliding all over the place.   I was through T1 somewhat quickly and onto the bike.

The bike course for the sprint was one 22 km lap around Shawnigan Lake (the Olympic was 2 laps, and the Half was 4).  Some of the faster Olympic guys were coming through after their first lap so it seemed like I just missed Jason.  I had a couple of thoughts for the bike course: one was to try to ride with the same effort I hope to ride Boise, and the other was to go as fast as I can.  I chose option two.  Because I ride around the lake a lot, I know the course pretty well, and I know how hard it is.  There is a lot of short, punchy climbs, a couple of longish ones, lots of twists and turns, and basically nowhere to relax and cruise.  I can't imagine doing the half and going four times around, and the energy those hills would sap from you over and over again.  I really hoped to ride around the 50-minute mark given the hills and bad pavement, so I just kept on the gas the whole time.  The roads were wet from the on-again off-again rain, so cornering and flying down some of the hills took focus.  Despite the almost 3.5 hour training day on Saturday, I never felt tired so I never let off.  I ended up with a 43 minute bike split, something I would have said was next to impossible for me on that course - and the second-best bike time in my age group.

I had an OK T2 except for my sock choice - I was wearing Compressport Pro Racing socks and they are really tight and I had trouble pulling them on quickly.  They're great socks, but I think I'll stick with the Sugoi ones I usually wear next time unless I can figure out how to get these on faster.  The run was through a nice wooded singletrack trail up onto a section of the Trans Canada Trail (one of my common winter riding routes), and basically out-and-back to a turnaround down the trail.  It's a wide gravel path, and there were a lot of athletes given the different races all happening at the same time, so lots of people to watch for.  I ran comfortably and again didn't feel tired, so tried to pick it up to tempo pace for the last kilometer.  Just before I got to the turnaround, I saw Jason coming back in second place overall in the Olympic race.  The half iron course goes out to the Kinsol Trestle, a restored rail trestle that is one of the highest in the world (apparently) and the largest wooden trestle in any of the "Commonwealth" countries.

The Kinsol Trestle - taken from one of my
winter rides out on the Trans Canada Trail.

I finished the race with an ok run - not my best and not my worst - and vow to someday break the 30 minute barrier in 5km.  The only real positive to my run is that my knee - which has been given me lots of grief lately - didn't bug me at all.  I finished 4th my age group, just 35 seconds off the podium.  I'm pretty pleased with that, as I went in to this race just as practice for the main event in two weeks.  Hopefully it's a good sign that Boise will go smoothly, and I will have a strong swim and bike (and survive the run).  Jason won his age group easily (by 8 minutes) and took second overall in the Olympic race, so I'd say he's set up for a good Boise as well.

We hung around for the award ceremony and had to endure the rain that had kicked in full force.  Not really sure why we stuck around, as Jason's medal was just a generic one for the series, without any details on which race, place, category... not really worth getting soaking wet for.  Nice race, beautiful venue, but a little on the cheaped-out side when it comes to the little details.

Time for another week of training, then a taper week, and we're off to Boise!


Last night was a real treat - Jason got us tickets to a live recording of my favourite radio show:  Q.  It's a daily arts, entertainment, culture, and political show on CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Company for those non-Canadian readers).  I have long been enamored with it's host, Jian Gomeshi, and he was as fantastic in person as he is over the airwaves.

Jian welcoming the full house at the Royal Theatre.
Tickets sold out in less than a day!
Q is normally a studio show in Toronto, but is doing a few live shows in different cities with Victoria lucky to make the list.  The show captured the essence of Victoria and what a fabulous place Vancouver Island is to live.  Guests were all local - musicians, artists (none other than Robert Bateman), political journalists, scientists (Dr. Andrew Weaver, Nobel Prize winner and newly-minted Green Party MLA), athletes (Simon Whitfield) and more.  The show will be aired tomorrow (Friday May 24) at 10 a.m. - I highly recommend tuning in!

You can find Q on:
- CBC Radio One across Canada
- Sirius 159 anywhere on the planet
- Public Radio International in the US
- Youtube's Q TV channel
- and of course no matter where you are, you can live stream CBC Radio One from their site

Even if you don't listen to the whole show, tune in right at the start (just after the 10 a.m. news) to hear Jian's opening essay - it fully captures everything I love and how I feel about Victoria.

Life in the Pool

First off, let me stress that I am more than happy for anyone who is getting in whatever kind of workout they can.  However, I am confronted on a regular basis by a cast of characters in my lane when I'm trying to swim.  Here are some pieces of advice I'd like to broadcast, in the hopes that some of those Cowichan Aquatic Centre patrons will heed them.

1 - The end of the lane, in particular right on the black T, is not a convenient place for you and a friend to have a half-hour conversation.  That is what the hot tub and sauna are for, or maybe the lazy river.  I'm sorry to disrupt your chats with my flip turns.

2 - I'm sure sidestroking is as good a workout as any, but doing it in the fast lane (or even medium lane - let's be real) all the while trying to keep your hair dry and asking me to splash less when I pass you is slightly annoying.  Or slightly funny, depending on the mood I'm in.

3 - The black lane along the bottom is to be swum around when sharing a lane and swimming circles.  It's not a slalom course marker, and the objective is not to cross it as many times as possible in one length.  I'm just saying.

4 - There is a cart with a bunch of kickboards for everyone to help themselves.  You don't have to steal mine, especially when I've tried to make it obvious that I'm using it by piling all my stuff on top of it when it's waiting at the end of the lane for me.  Plus, I ask the lifeguards to get the "special" ones from the back room that they don't keep on the cart (for whatever reason).  If you want a special one, ask the lifeguard too.  Yes, there are "special" kickboards.  Those who swim at the CAC know what I mean!

5 - I am a terrible breaststroker, but there's one thing I know for sure about it.  The goal isn't to make the kick phase as wide as your height and kick other swimmers in their face in the next lane over.  I'm pretty sure that messes with the whole "streamline" thing.

6 - If I am swimming faster than you (and believe me, there are plenty of swimmers faster than me!) and we've established that by me passing you several times... the best time to push off from the wall is NOT when I'm about one stroke away from turning.

7 - The signs at the end of the lane mean something, and if you're not sure what they are saying, I'm sure a lifeguard will help you interpret them.  For example, "Fast Lane" means you should be moving at least faster than swimmers in the medium lane, not faster than a ball floating on the surface.  (Also, see #2).  Spend a minute or so checking out the speed of people in the fast, medium, and slow lanes, and then jump into the one you think you belong in.  Not simply the lane with the fewest people.  And the arrows indicate the direction to swim, it's not a free-for-all interpretation of a zig-zag pattern. (Also, see #3).

8 - Kickboards and pullbuoys are mutually exclusive, not to be used simultaneously.  Seriously.

9 - Diving off the blocks while people are swimming circles is frowned upon at the very least (as in: a no-no).  I'm pretty sure that's why those orange cones are on the top of the blocks.  You know, as an indicator that you're not supposed to use the starting blocks right then, not just move the cone off before you dive in on top of someone.

10 - If your swimsuit is see-through and threadbare, please buck up and buy another one.  I don't need to know that much about you!  One indication that's it worn out is that it's so loose it flaps around when you push off the wall.  If you're not sure, ask a lifeguard - that would be a fun conversation to overhear!

Short Attention Span Fun

Saturday's workouts will go down as one of my favourite training days of all time.  It was a five hour training day, but it didn't feel very long at all because of how it was structured.  

It started off like any other Saturday, with a 4200m swim.  Then the schedule called for a bike-run-bike block.  I love stuff like that and have done similar workouts before.  This one had me start off with a warm-up ride out on the road, then onto the trainer for a tough main set of some tempo & fast intervals. One of the those trainer workouts where the sweat runs off you!  After the main set, it was a short run on some neighbourhood trails.  For some reason I don't fully understand, I always run well off a hard trainer workout.  Then it was back on the bike out on the road for a base ride.

I loved the variety and all the different elements to the day.  Maybe that's why I like multisport: there's always something new coming up. Perfect for someone like me with a short attention span!