Beware the Black Mamba

Posted: July 25, 2014 in Gym, In Transition
Tags: , ,

Despite blogging candidly about peeing, pooping, the time I seemingly shit myself in the locker room (click HERE) and, oh, let’s not forget about being perceived as some deviant who likes to watch roadside animals fuck (click HERE), I am actually a somewhat modest person, especially when it comes to nudity as I’ve already discussed in my post about locker room etiquette.  In high school Phys-Ed I would marvel at the other boys who’d casually stroll around the locker room buck naked while I showered in my underpants.  Yes, I was one of those poor shy bastards.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against  nudity; I just prefer to keep my shit covered up to everyone who’s not my doctor or my girlfriend because the general public doesn’t need to see my intimate bits.

Nowadays I’ve gotten pretty skilled at slipping out of a wet swimsuit or soggy exercise clothes and into a dry outfit without exposing so much as a random fold, pube or crack.  Of course, I shower and everything but, even then, it’s all business.  I keep my head down and focused on getting back to my locker (discretely wrapped in a towel, of course) and into my street clothes and out of the locker room as innocuously as possible…

…unless someone takes it upon himself to strike up a conversation with me while his monster schlong dangles in front of me like an uncaged python.  That’s  when things tend to get a little awkward.  Because you know what? If you’re naked and you’re talking to me, I’m probably gonna stare at your unmentionables.  How can I not?  You’re freaking naked, for crying out loud, and you’re talking to me about the weather and how humid is out today while I try not to gawk at your junk.  It’s human nature to stare at something that’s out of the ordinary, and an old dude (honestly, this guy was probably older than fire) with a penis you could use for home defense qualifies as being a bit on the “abnormal” side of things.  Typically, my encounters with old dudes at the Y never go well.  Click HERE  for a little reminder.

Take this most recent encounter.  Today I went to the Welland International Flatwater Center for an early open water swim which is one of the true joys of triathlon training if you ask me.  It’s just you, the mist, the ducks and the peaceful serenity of still water.  Afterwards, I made my way to the YMCA for a sauna, shave and shower before heading onto work.  Because, you know, nobody wants to smell canal all day long.  Anyway, as I plodded towards the shower portion of the program I noticed an old black guy engaged in his own morning cleanse ritual which, apparently, included lathering up his asshole but, hey, who’s judging?

I think it’s an unwritten rule that if given the opportunity to allow for a little distance to exist between exposed naked bits then it is ones responsibility to take that initiative and position themselves as far as possible from the other exposed bit.  I call this the ‘Urinal Philosophy’ that guys typically observe at ball games and such.  You don’t use the urinal directly next to another dude doing his business if there’s an opportunity to use a free urinal elsewhere and thereby allowing for some ‘privacy’, what little it may be (unless, of course, it happens to be John Stanton).  I take this same philosophy to the showers at the gym: NEVER shower directly next to another dude if there’s the option of showering one shower head over, or elsewhere if possible.  In this case, I made my way to the other side of the showers altogether as I definitely have a limited quota of soapy bungholes in my day (i.e. zero).

The guy was naked, obviously, gettin’ his scrub on.  I quickly glanced in his direction as I walked by when I entered the shower room before looking away because I didn’t want to stare at his ridiculously huge cock.  I mean, seriously, this thing was scary. Like way scarier than anything I might have encountered in the canal (for example).  It was like a policeman’s baton with a nutsack that resembled something a bank robber might be carrying had it a dollar sign tattooed on it.  It didn’t.  I checked.  I fumbled with the shower faucet and began my quick rinse.

And then:

Dandy McDinoschlong: “You think it’s gonna be hot out today?”

Oh god.  No.  Don’t do this.

Me (staring at the farthest corner of the room): “Hmm?”  Maybe he wasn’t talking to me.  Maybe he was…talking to himself?  I dunno.  I just hoped he wasn’t trying to get a very exposed me to talk to a very nude him.

Dandy McDinoschlong: “Do you think it’s gonna be hot out today?”  Damnit.  Now he had moved over to, you know, talk.

I shot a brief glance back at him and my eyes tractor-beamed back to his gigantic Johnson before I forced them to pull their gaze up towards his face.  He was staring at me inquisitively while sudsing his crotch.  I flashed back to a previous experience in the locker room a few months ago (click HERE) and, honestly, this couldn’t have been anymore awkward had the ‘Crying Game’  started to play over the muzac system.

Just excellent.

Was he lonely or what?  Why now of all times and places to strike up a conversation?  At the very least, couldn’t he choose a moment when he wasn’t also rubbing and fondling his pet anaconda?

Dandy McDinoschlong: “I don’t mind the heat, but I can’t take this humidity”, he continued.

He bent down and started washing his knees and – I swear – his disco stick plonked itself on the floor with an audible ‘thud’.  I bet this man’s poor wife hasn’t walked right since their honeymoon.

Me: “Uh huh”, was all I could muster in response.

Maybe if I ignored him he’d simply go away back to his own shower head.  No dice.

Dandy McDinoschlong: “Yeah, I used to live in Florida so I know humidity and this is about as bad as it gets.”

My brain: “Goddamnit, eyes, stop looking at his dick! Look anywhere else! ANYWHERE!!”

My eyes: “You got it, boss!” (immediately flicks gaze to his crotch)

My brain: “Oh for crying out loud…”

Dandy McDinoschlong: “So, you going to work then?”

Me: “Uh, yeah.”  Maybe this was my way out but he wasn’t having any of it.

Dandy McDinoschlong: “I’m retired now so this is my only workout before going home to watch television.”

My brain: “I bet just lifting that thing to scrub yourself is a workout!  I wonder if you can use that thing to change the channel too?”   Damnit!  Shut up brain!

Me: “That’s great.  I’m late as it is so…”

At this point I would have literally limbo-ed my way under his monstrous black mamba just to get out of there.  I was desperate.

Dandy McDinoschlong: Oh yeah, well don’t let me keep you. Welphaveagoodone”, he offered.

Me: “Thanks! You too!”, I replied as I made my big prison break towards the shower exit, desperately trying to keep my eyes forward on where I was going.  I failed.

My brain: “C’mon, one last looksee…”  Fuck!

This man’s phallus will forever be etched in my mind.  I probably now know it better than my own.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe every other dude on this planet enjoys chatting with his peers in the shower while nude, furiously washing every wrinkly nook and cranny like a raccoon on crack while discussing the weather, the local sports team, or what have you.  Maybe I’m  the weird one because I don’t particularly like partaking in conversations while my taint is exposed and vulnerable.

If that’s the case, so be it.  Personally, I don’t relish being naked in front of strangers and I don’t particularly enjoy naked people talking to me, so if you’re thinking of striking up a convo with me while you’re bent over with your leather Cheerio thrust up towards the ceiling, please grant me the courtesy of throwing on a pair of pants before chatting me up.  Because contrary to what you may think, I assure you that I don’t  want to see any of that.

Unfortunately, my yoga practice has been suffering a bit.  Well, suffering in the sense that I’m not doing it daily as I used to do.

Mostly, I do a little at the gym as either a core strengthening routine, or as a warm down after a heavy weights session (or workout).  Sometimes I just slip down to the lake and spend 45 minutes or so stretching lightly, or doing some Sun Salutations.  Mostly, it’s an excuse to listen to some tunes on my iPod and enjoy an easy, effortless stretch down by the water.  It’s not that I no longer subscribe to yoga as an important strengthening tool or recovery vehicle – it is – but time simply does not allow me to do everything I’d like to do so concessions have to be made.

Anyway, I received a pass recently for my birthday to enjoy a free yoga session.  What a treat!  I miss my near daily instructor lead yoga classes so I was kind of eager to participate.  I packed my shamefully neglected yoga mat (I never use it down at the lake as the grass works just fine) into the car along with a change of clothes and after work, made my way to the studio nice and early to claim my spot in the class.

Let the bendy-twisty commence.

However, it seems I am a little out of the yoga loop now.  Sure, there were still all the cutesy frog, dolphin and Sanskrit tattoos galore, but the mood of the place was decidedly…different.

When I first arrived, I was recognized by a few patrons of the studio who greeted me enthusiastically so which I responded in return, to which I was shushed.  The girl at the desk wagged her at me finger (albeit very nicely) and pointed to the sign on the nearby door that read ‘Class in Session’.  Oops, my bad.  So I lowered my voice to a whisper.  Hell hath no fury like a granola cruncher scorned.

I got changed next and waited patiently with the other Lycra Lululemon clad yogis in the lobby for the class to let out so we could get in and get set up, as you do.  When the door opened, it was chaos.  It was like rush hour on the TTC or something, with an entire mob of yogis all pressing forward to get in quickly and claim a spot of available floor space.  It was like the great California Land Rush.  I ended up stuck between two girls who were, apparently, making a nest with pillows and blankets and stuff.   Both of them had dolphin tattoos…in the same place.

I tried to be friendly and polite by saying ‘hello’, but they just gave me a blank stare and resumed with their pillow forts.  I swear the temperature dropped a degree.  But it wasn’t just these girls as nobody was talking, like, at all.  Everyone seemed to be avoiding each other as they fussed with their mat and assorted accoutrements.  Eventually, the class filled up as other exercise bunnies also poured in and I ended up sandwiched between two sets of feet directly above and below me, both decorated with some sort of cosmic henna pattern on their feet.  Maybe there was some sort of deal down at the local Henna Shop or something.

This sure wasn’t the lake, believe me.

While the class itself was great, I couldn’t get into the mental swing of things.  I found the rather devout dedication to silence to be awkward. I’m a talker – I admit it.  I hate having to be 100% silent.  Now, I definitely get the whole ‘Silence is Golden’ rule of yoga but, I still like to feel as if I can openly communicate with the instructor and maybe the participants around me when it is appropriate and fun to do so and, even then, only sparingly.  After all, if it’s not fun why bother?  This, however, felt decidedly different.  It was rather like being in a Trappist Monastery.  Definitely not the ‘fun’ I had originally envisioned and remember.

So what changed?  Was I once so dedicated to my practice that I was this serious too?  God I hope not.  I don’t think so anyway.

So what is it then?  Why did this class feel so different from what I remember loving?  Of course, the faces had changed since the last time I practiced at that location but, that couldn’t be it could it? I did try to be friendly and that clearly failed.  So what gives?  I felt like that creepy stalker guy who’s more interested in scoping out fresh ass than they are in the yoga.  Is that how the girls viewed me now?

Maybe part of the whole issue resides in that I haven’t been attending regular classes for a while, preferring now to do them solo now as time allows.  And when I do, I’m typically outdoors and plugged into my own world completely void of others.  Suddenly, being back in a crowded studio with a group of other strangers all doing the same thing had a rather cultish feel to it.

Maybe I’ve just temporarily lost my tolerance (interest?) for the whole dogma surrounding yoga.  Perhaps when we attach too rigidly to a belief system as the others seem to be doing (my opinion only), it’s possible that we also shut down the potential for connection.  My best experiences in yoga have been about having fun and building a connection to myself, to pushing into my self-imposed limitations, to my physical body, to the teacher, to the practice, to the other students in the class.  This typically involved some sort of spoken communication, albeit brief. But these students didn’t seem to be too interested in connecting to anything verbally or otherwise; much less having fun.  I mean, I’m sure they are having fun otherwise they wouldn’t be there in the first place, but maybe their idea of fun just happens to be much different than my own.

Thing is, I don’t mind a little distraction with my yoga.  I like the open communication; the teasing, the laughing, the music, the assorted yoga weirdoes, the regular poops, the sweat and, yes, the occasional yoga fart…the whole enchilada.  The workout is nice too of course as it is always a good idea to get feedback from the instructor regarding form and technique which might begin to slip when you only practice on your own.  I’m sure I was far from perfect yesterday.  And sure mediation is nice as well as I love me some good Shavasna but, really, that it’s not the entire be all and end all point of the practice.  To me, I shouldn’t feel like I’m going to church.

I also realize that many people do go for that whole meditation-spirituality thingee (and good for them!), but I think I’ve either moved past that or I just missed it altogether.  I think for the time being, my yoga practice will remain solo, on my own terms.  This may change in the future and I may wander back into the neighborhood Ashram once again but for now, the lake and my iPod suits my needs perfectly.

With my last intended 2014 challenge quickly approaching (September), I have been feeling rather nostalgic.  I mean, this isn’t my first rodeo as far long course triathlon is concerned, but in many ways it rather feels that way.  Perhaps it was the absence of serious competition last year, my concern for being a bit behind in building my base this year, or maybe it’s just totally psychological given everything that has occurred in recent months.  Who knows?  But for whatever reason, I’ve been spending a lot of time during my workouts reminiscing about when I first got started in this sport and how things have changed since then.

With that premise in mind, here is a brief synopsis of what I consider to be the significant milestones as far as ‘triathlon firsts’ are concerned.  Remember, I’ve come a long way since these first few initial incidents but I can still recall each these moments as clear as day.

1.  First spin class – I had no idea what I was getting into.  I didn’t have padded cycling shorts or any dry-wicking shirts, and I only had normal running shoes…and not even good ones.  In short, I suffered.  Later I acquired a cheap pair of padded shorts and clip-in cleats and, low and behold, things were marginally more comfortable, yet not exactly easier.  The class was still every bit as tough but at least I didn’t look like the guy who had just stumbled into class accidentally.  If you’re going to suffer, you may as well look the part while doing it.

This could have easily been me.

2. Riding a bike with gears – Prior to my first group ride with my TryForce gang, the only bike I had ever ridden was an orange Schwinn with banana seat and ape handle bars, and that was nearly 30 years previous.  I knew about as much about gearing as I did about nuclear physics and I spent the first 2-3 kilometers being coached on how to switch gears on the ride over to our prearranged meeting place.  Oh, and I also managed to fall onto the hood of a adjacent car at an intersection when I failed to unclip my cleats before fully stopping.  Lesson learned.

3. Putting on a wetsuit – Swimming in a wetsuit is a rather nerve wracking experience for some people; they might find it too restricting, too claustrophobic, or just plain uncomfortable.  Not me.  I loved it.  I felt like a super hero.  It might not have looked too flattering on me, but inside I was all like:

 

4. Peeing in a wetsuit – I resisted this urge for years as I thought it was beyond gross.  Now I love it and it’s actually one of my favorite parts of the race.

5. First 5k run – It’s seems so short and effortless now, but at the time 5k seemed like I was running to the ends of the earth and back and it was anything but effortless. In fact, it damn near killed me.  I’d run the distance as a kid, even longer, but that was a LONG time ago and

6. First 10k run – This was even worse.

7. First Half marathon – I was so unprepared.

8. First blister – It was huge.  I’m pretty sure it had its own field of gravity and it totally freaked me out it was so nasty looking.

 

9. First lost toe nail – This was even nastier (click HERE).

10. Century ride – Believe it or not, this was with my coach as she prepared for the Muskoka 70.3 competition five years ago.  It was the start of our developing friendship.  I decided to join her in the early morning, failing to mention that I had never ridden more than 45k before.  I survived.  But only barely.

11. First Brick workout – This was organized through my TryForce Club. I had done a spin class (one) before but I knew this was destined to be much, much harder and I will freely admit that I was terrified.  Even the instructor was scary.  It was rather like how I imagine the first day of basic training in the military:

 

12. First podium finish – You’d think this was destined to be a positive experience, right?  Wrong.  I remember being so desperate for a medal that I registered into the Clydesdale category (over 200 lbs.) which I would then end up winning.  However, being first in the Fat Guy category was not as rewarding as I had originally thought.   Likewise, by this point (we were the last category to be announced) all the other athletes had long since left leaving us standing there with our medals in front of exactly two fat girls (also the wives of the 2nd and 3rd place finishers).  Big deal. Pass the pizza.

No doubt more of these ‘triathlon firsts’ will come to me in the next few weeks of training as I continue to prepare for Septembers challenge (hint:  think back-to-back triathlons).  It passes the time and I find it therapeutic to remind myself about how far I’ve come physically and mentally in this sport; particularly as I will have a few more ‘firsts’ to add to this list at the end of this season.  So this whole reflecting back thing has really provided me with ample motivation out on the road and in the gym, or wherever it is I happen to be, that I am still on the right track with this chosen lifestyle, difficult as it is.

  • 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run
  • Chip Time = 2:40:19
  • Category Place = 19/45
  • Overall Place = 70/300

In lieu of my father’s recent passing and all the imminent shittiness that went along with it over the past two weeks, I decided to press forward with my planned Olympic triathlon in Gravenhurst, Ontario last Saturday.  I decided that a brief getaway out of town, a nice and easy scenic ride on the Friday with Kelly through the rolling hills (not to mention the fast burn the following day), and a comfortable stay at the Four Ninety Bed & Breakfast would be ideal to get my mind off things and maybe burn off a little pent-up stress and frustration.

Oh, and there was always the added bonus of finally getting to use this bad boy:

SHAZAM!

SHAZAM!

Yeah.  Take it in bitches.

This Thule Vertex bike rack (click HERE) was the latest investment into our healthy lifestyle and this trip served as it’s maiden voyage.  In short:  It’s awesome.  I love it.

But on with the story…

We left for Gravenhurst, located in the gorgeous Muskoka County, early Friday morning and after about a dozen bathroom breaks and a mid-trip Butter Tart pit-stop in Barrie we arrived in the parking lot at the local Bike Shop (yes, that’s actually its name) for suggestions on a nice route, some gels, and with one quick wardrobe change we were on our bikes and riding out of town in near record time.

We followed Bethune Rd. out to Doe Lake Rd. and onwards to Uffington Rd. and past the pretty riverside cottages along Mathiasville Rd., before returning back along the glass surface of Airport Rd. and back again to our B&B to get settled in. They say pictures say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s 5000 words worth about our ride:

Rural amenities.

The rural amenities.

Nearing the end down Airport Rd. back into Gravenhurst.

Nearing the end down Airport Rd. back into Gravenhurst.

The wharf.  Definitely NOT the ship we would be riding.

The wharf

Mathiasville Road.  Yeah, this didn't suck.

Mathiasville Road.
Yeah, this didn’t suck.

Fancy a swim to cool down?

Fancy a swim to cool down?

All in all, we covered approximately 55 kilometers together with a few roadside breaks. I do enjoy these easy rides with Kelly as a way to warm up ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning prior to the next day’s test.  Plus, it’s really nice to explore together and get off the beaten path after stupid amounts of time driving.  Later we enjoyed a nice pasta dinner (butter chicken fettuccine) on the patio of Boston Pizza over-looking Muskoka Lake and began the process of packing and getting ready for competition the next morning.  Truthfully, I knew that my training has not exactly been stellar over the past two weeks given the circumstances, so I figured that the event was either going to be an epic success thanks to one big release of anxiety and sadness, or it was going to be an epic blow up of Big Bang proportions.  Either way, it was going to be therapeutic to get it out of my system.

This particular triathlon has been on my bucket list for a few years now, but since they only have availability for 300 athletes or so, I’ve always missed the registration cutoff as it tends to fill up quickly.  The allure comes from the opportunity to start the swim in the middle of Muskoka Lake after jumping off one of the steamships and swimming back to the wharf again to begin the bike/run. How awesome is that?  So I was pretty excited given that the swim leg is easily my favorite.

Tell me this isn't cool as shit.

Tell me this isn’t cool as shit.

Anyway, we got a good night’s sleep and in the morning and after a breakfast consisting of a muffin, a glass of ozonated water (thanks Jeff!) and a healthy protein shake courtesy of our B&B hosts we made our way down to the wharf to set up and get ready.

Swim: 26:55

Pace: 1:45/100m

Now, I don’t know if it was the “special” ozonated water, or if I was still feeling overly lethargic or what, but I didn’t really have any of the pre-race nerves prior to the start like I normally do.  I still had my prerequisite poop and whatnot after officially registering, but other than that, it was all rather serene as Kelly and I made our way down to the dock to board the RMS Segwun  that would ferry us out to the middle of the lake.  This was a pretty neat experience actually.  I prefer open water starts and this was about as open water as it gets, never mind the grandeur of being out in the middle of a picture-perfect lake.  After a five or so minute ferry ride, we jumped off the boat and swam to the swim start to begin.  The water was absolutely beautiful; warm and smooth.  This was going to be awesome.

That's me.

That’s me…I swear!

I was scheduled to be in the first wave consisting of the pros and elites and men under the age of 45 so I lined up near the front on the inside of the course next to a girl in a pink cap who, later, I would learn was Kristin Marchant, an elite athlete who would ultimately be second out of the water and finishing third overall.  We talked casually for a few minutes (my still being oblivious to who she was) when another athlete suddenly pressed past us to position himself immediately in front of us.  He really seemed to want to be in the front and first out of the block.  Eventually word was given that we were set to begin in approximately a minutes time and this dude in front turns and informs us that he hasn’t swam 1k all summer.  Umm, really?  So either he was a total pro swimmer with no fear at all, or he was a complete moron ( a la Captain Boogie Nights from Goderich a few years ago), but I guess that would all be revealed in 60 seconds time.

Finally our start was signaled with a horn blast from the RMS Segwun  and we were off…and right over the numb nut in front of us.  He couldn’t have taken 4 strokes before about a dozen of us had steamrollered right over him in a mixed flurry of knees and elbows.  I kind of felt sorry for him as that was no way to begin a race but, hey, what can you do?  You can’t help stupid.

Pretty buff, huh?

Swear. Pretty buff, huh?

Anyway, I latched onto the feet of the pink swim cap girl (Marchant) and together with a small group of fast swimmers, we went out pretty hard towards the first (and only) turning buoy.  I managed to keep up for a few hundred meters but pink swim cap girl was on fire and eventually I had to drop back a bit.  By the first turning buoy I was approximately a hundred or so meters behind but still well ahead of the main field…swimming all on my own, exactly where I have become accustomed to being this year.  The turnaround was more than a 90°   turn and unfortunately I went a little wide.  Shortly afterwards, I saw the splashes of the feet in the lead group off to my side so I altered my direction and made an effort to make up a bit of that added distance.  I have to say, it’s hard to site in an open lake when all the reference points, including the islands and shoreline, look exactly the same, particularly with the morning sun is shining directly in your eyes, so I veered a bit off course once or twice more before I was able to realign myself and continue onto the dock.

I exited the water about a minute and a half behind the lead pack of swimmers in 11th  position, climbing out onto the dock to began the long run into T1 (my actual swim time according to my stop watch was approximately 24 minutes).  I do have to say, it was pretty awesome to run down the dock and into the frays of cheering onlookers (Kelly included), knowing they were all cheering for me alone as the main field of athletes were still in the water behind me.  A great start indeed.

So far so good.

Bike: 1:14:45

Pace: 32.1 km/h

I definitely have to work on my transition time as it took me exactly 1:47  to get out of my wetsuit, into my bike gear and out to the mount line to begin (I know I can do much better).  Anyway, once aboard Lucille we fell in behind a few other riders (who had also lingered in transition apparently) making our way out of the wharf up a long, gradual hill before hitting the town center and turning left onto the winding Muskoka Beach Rd. and out into the rolling countryside.  I already had a taste of what the ride was going to be like on the previous days ride with Kelly, so I knew it was going to be hilly and I was mentally prepared for that and the course certainly did not disappoint.  I settled into a pace that I knew I could maintain for an hour or so, arranged my nutrition where I could get at it easily and proceeded to get on with it.

Climbing out of the wharf.  I'm the stud on the right.

Climbing out of the wharf

Firstly, I’d like to say that the Muskoka Beach Rd. is beautiful and every bit as scenic as I had hoped; more so than what we experienced the day before.  However, it was also very challenging with the hills and crosswinds that tended to surprise you around hidden corners.  The road was also rough in a few places as you might expect, and on one occasion my aero bars suddenly tilted downwards after hitting a small unseen pothole.  Fortunately, I managed to quickly pull it back into place and pretty much carried on without further incident.  Whew!

For the most part though, the route was shady and cool so we didn’t have to deal with the added pressures of the heat and humidity they had been warning us about at the pre-race meeting. There were definitely some challenging climbs requiring me to get up and out of the saddle but, fortunately, what goes up must also eventually come down so these ascents tended to be rewarded with some fast breaking descents as well.  All in all, it was a fun ride…in the beginning.

Some of the original few riders I entered onto the course with broke away around the 10k mark while a few other riders dropped back so, once again, I was pretty much cycling on my own again. It seemed like today was simply destined to be one of those days when it’s just me having to create my own push which was fine as this has tended to be the case all year (in both competition and training), but towards the end, those last few climbs back into Gravenhurst proper were beginning to take a toll on my legs and I was glad to finally pull into T2 with a not-so-bad time given the conditions.

Time to get on with the suck.

Run: 55:40

Pace: 5:34 min/km

I already knew that the 10k run was going to be my Achilles Heel in this competition as I haven’t been running off the bike well this season, nor had I run much in the past two weeks in dealing with my dad.  Furthermore, what I hadn’t counted on was the significant degree of difficulty that this run course would end up being.

After tossing on my dad’s favorite sweat-stained CSL ball cap (my homage to my father today) and immediately upon leaving T2, we started the looooong climb out of the wharf again and from there, the climbs never seemed to stop.  In fact, if there were any flat sections along the route I’m not sure I ever noticed them.  Pretty early on, I had to give into the temptation of walking through the aid stations and, occasionally, on the hills as well as my heart rate had spiked significantly on that first climb and never quite recovered afterwards.  Needless to say there aren’t many hills to train on back in Ridgeway and I haven’t broken out the tire in quite a while (something I endeavor now to do more often).  It felt like you would no sooner get over one hill and another would begin immediately and I really struggled, getting passed over and over again by other members of my age group.  I wasn’t an overly happy camper at this point knowing that I wasn’t performing to my potential.

It wasn’t really until the 7.5k  mark that my legs began to feel somewhat normal again and my breathing began to regulate itself; much longer than I typically need.  Again, my brick sessions and run training having been going a bit off track lately so, really, this left little wonder.

Please don't let make me do no mo' hills.

Finally finished.

I finished as strong as I could in the last 1k or so and at least managed to give the appearance of doing well for the spectators benefit. In the end, I had finished 70th, a little over a minute behind my coach who looked to have had a really decent run (our swim times were identical, and I was less than a minute ahead in the bike).  Truth be told, I have some unfinished business here but, it was what it was, a chance to deal with my mounting sadness and melancholy and ultimately purge as much of it as possible from my system.  And while it may not have been the PB that part of me was hoping for, it was not the epic blow up either and the primary mission of blowing off steam was definitely accomplished.  I know now that leading into my next ‘Ultimate Challenge’ in September, I need to refocus on dropping weight (hence my going gluten free again) and getting more confident running off the bike, both of which I knew already.  Gravenhurst only cemented that fact.

Anyway, later, after an amazing breakfast back at the B&B of French toast with a mountain of freshly whipped cream and maple syrup (and bacon…lots of lots of bacon), Kelly and I took a leisurely drive around Lake Muskoka visiting the quaint townships of Bala Falls, Port Carling, Milford Point and Bracebridge followed by another fantastic meal of pulled pork egg rolls and battered perch (not to mention a few wobbly pops) on another scenic lakefront patio at the Creative Plate Eatery.

Peachbud 1k

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Races
Tags: ,

Nearly two weeks ago, the kid and I took to the mean streets (and sidewalks) of Grimsby for the annual kid’s 1k event.   I have to be truthful, I didn’t like our chances.  We haven’t trained the way we had in previous years but, she seemed eager to go and cruisin’ for a bruisin’ which, in fact, we did.  She killed it, shaving almost 2 minutes off her previous years effort with a finishing time of 7:34.2  (not that any of this matters, like, at all).  Most importantly, she embraced the whole good natured happy runner philosophy we talked about just prior to the start.  So what was this profound philosophy you ask?  Well, besides the obvious ‘if you don’t win don’t come home’  thing, she opted to go with something a bit more, well, unconventional: “Eat Hot Death”.

*Sigh* 

“From the mouths of babes…”  they say.  Anyway, it’s a long story.  ‘Eat Hot Death’ it was.

Afterwards, I attempted to run out 10k worth of pent-up anxiety and frustration during the 10k event and ended up totally shitting the bed, err, not doing so well.  But that’s also a long story.

So without further adieu, I present you this latest video diary from this years epic Peachbud 1k Fun Run.

 

Word.

Big thanks to my buddy at ‘Waving Cat Media':  http://wavingcatmedia.com/

The Welland Review (2014)

Posted: June 18, 2014 in Races
Tags: ,
  • 2k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run
  • Chip Time = 5:10:12
  • Category Place = 14/38
  • Overall Place = 78/286
The usual set-up, with my 2014 addition.

The usual set-up, with my 2014 addition.

This past weekend marked my return to long course triathlon in nearly two years having taken last year off to address some injuries and regroup.  It’s been a long process involving many long days of running in near-zero visibility and -stupid degree temperatures, numerous ridiculous leaping and skipping drills down the public Friendship Trail here in town in front of my neighbors, a rigid functional strength building program (which isn’t much more manly than the leaping and skipping drills) and, yeah, lots of other tedious stuff.  It has not been an easy road, like, at all, and Sunday was the first real opportunity to see it all in action.  Of course, there’s been some signs along the way this year that things have going well with new PB’s set at the Around the Bay 30k in March (click HERE  for results) and the Binbrook Sprint triathlon one week ago, but my focus and interest has always been on long course.  So this was the first ‘official’ test of the season in my mind.

Truthfully, despite my training successes so far, I was very nervous going into this event given my outdoor training season had been delayed almost an entire month thanks to Mother Nature being a total bitch throughout late March and early April, and this event itself being pushed forward two weeks.  I just didn’t have the immediate confidence I’ve had prior to competing in this event in the past, so this was going to be…interesting…and I’m chalking it up as a ‘successful failure’.

Swim: 32:54

Pace: 1:39/100m

This was actually the one part I wasn’t so worried about, as I love open water swimming and I have become pretty confident in the open water.  I’m still working on getting my 2k swim down under the 30 minute mark and I had some pretty lofty hopes of that happening Sunday, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

After setting up in transition, it was time for the traditional ‘Plucking of the Arm Hair’ ceremony where Kelly helps me into my wetsuit by coaxing my Nineteen Rogue swimsuit up my arms and over my shoulders with the assistance of a pair of industrial rubber gloves and copious amounts of baby powder.   Oh, it’s quite the process – believe me.  Check it out:

See how much fun this is?  (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

See how much fun this is? (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

Eventually, we managed to wedge all my bodily folds into place and I made my way down to the swim start with approximately 15 minutes to go.  The water was brisk, but completely bearable which was a nice surprise. The last report I got was that the water in the canal was still at Arctic temperatures but, thankfully, the water had warmed up a bit in the past two weeks.  I had a short warm up paddle and a pee before taking my place in the scrum of swimmers on the starting line.  I love this part.  I love the camaraderie of athletes all joking, shaking hands and wishing each other luck just before the madness is about to ensue.  It’s the total calm before the storm.  Different from the past years’ event, we were all to start in waves as opposed to one big mass group so any hopes of swimming with the coach again this year (click HERE  for a reminder) were shot as I was to be in the 3rd wave and she starting in the 4th wave five minutes behind me.  Oh well.

As per my strategy, I lined up on the inside of the course with a smaller group apart away from the main pack of swimmers in my wave.  When the horn sounded to signal the start our wave, my group went out fast and I fell in line behind some other swimmers whom I figured were going to have faster swim times; ‘Let’s see how long I can hang on’  I thought to myself.  This time around though, this strategy ended up being a mistake.

The swim start (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

The swim start (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

For the first 500m or so, it was all good and we maintained a pretty fast pace leading up to the first turn around, but just short of arriving there, we rejoined the main group of swimmers who were swimming to the outside of the course.  Now, either my group wasn’t as fast as I thought, or the buoy was closer to the shore than last year meaning we had actually swam a longer distance on a diagonal in order to get to it.  I’m thinking it was the later.  As we maneuvered around the buoy, I had to go over, around and even under some of the other slower swimmers all wearing the same white swim cap.  It was madness and I ended up swallowing a few mouthfuls of water in the process (luckily I don’t have a panic mode while swimming).  The second turning buoy comes fast and I worked to get ahead of as many swimmers as I could to avoid another melee and upon turning, it was suddenly WHAM! – straight into the oncoming current.  Furthermore, I had now lost the heels of other faster swimmers in the confusion and for the next 200-300m  I was all over the place trying to get around and past other swimmers.  I must have been swerving all over the course like a drunken driver making his way home after a night out.

Exiting the water (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

Exiting the water (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

Another few 100m’s in, around the half way mark, I ran headlong into members of the first wave ahead of me; it was an entire flotilla of yellow swim caps spread out over the course.  Usually, I’m pretty adept at weaving between and among slower swimmers, but this was a solid mass of neoprene bodies – side by side – approximately 20 swimmers wide; total roadblock.  I didn’t really see any other choice but to swerve all the way over into the middle of the swim course in order to get around them (aside from bullying my way through, which, while I have no problems doing this sometimes, with more ‘challenged’ swimmers I figure it’s just unsportsmanlike).  I veered around them knowing full well I was adding unnecessary distance to my own swim in doing so but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

I continued to fight the current all the way into the third turnaround and by this time I was swimming pretty much on my own again. I could feel a few hands slapping my feet but other than that, I was pretty much in the clear as far as slower swimmers directly ahead of me were concerned.  In the last 300-400m, I picked up the pace a bit trying to steal back some time and exited the water in 32:54, well off from not only my best time here so far (31:48), but what I know I am capable of.  Not that I was terribly disappointed considering that I now had to make not only my longest ride f the year so far, but also my longest Brick run to boot; so one minute in the grand scheme of things is nothing.

Bike: 2:41:18

Pace: 33.5/km/hr

My transition was a bit slow (2:00), but I was being meticulous in making sure my shoes were on properly and everything was set up just so since I haven’t had the long opportunities on the bike yet, so I knew comfort was going to paramount with any chance of a decent bike split.

On the bike course

On the bike course

I entered onto the course uneventfully and got up to my cruising pace of 35km/hr  rather quickly, making sure to take in some water and focusing on getting my breathing back in check.  So far, so good; it was cool out but not cold and everything seemed to be turning over well.  Then we turned onto Feeder Rd. to head out of Welland and – BAM! – directly into a headwind which never – ever – let up for the rest of the ride.  Seriously, I fought the wind as best as I could for as long as I could and at every corner I thought to myself ‘okay, just get around this corner and there will be a tailwind’  but, nope, it was just more headwind.  There was simply no escaping it so I just accepted it and pedaled on.  It is what it is.

All things considered, my legs felt good as did my energy levels as I was being conscientious to fuel every 15-20 minutes or so as I am prone to forgetting to do (hence my shitting the bed in 2012 when I completely bonked in the last few kilometers from the finish).  I kept reminding myself that this was merely a practice day for my feeding strategy prior to my last completion of the season in September since I haven’t had that opportunity yet this year, not having done the distances I normally would have by this point.

At the 60k mark, I did something I have not yet had to do in a triathlon…stop to pee.  I’ve experimented with on-the-bike evacuation before, but I’m nowhere near that kind of mental dedication (or stubbornness for that matter) yet so I opted to pull over and let’er rip…directly into a headwind.  I’ll spare you the gory details.

Heading into T2

Heading into T2

The upside to this is that I felt, like, 3lbs lighter, and the minor cramping I was experiencing in my stomach subsided immediately.  The downside is that, while the entire stop might have only cost me, say, 1 minute in total, I had now lost my pace group heading back onto Feeder Rd. for the long 15k straightaway back into Welland…right into that damn wind.  Now, riding into the wind sucks at the best of times, but without pacers or even other cyclists in the vicinity, it’s particularly tedious…and it was.  I knew I had lost my ideal pace, but I had little choice.

As I turned back into Welland near the end of the ride, I emptied my water bottle and had the last of my Shot Bloks, got out of my cycling shoes and proceeded to spin out the legs a bit as I coasted into the dismount line to begin what I already knew what was going to be the hardest part of the day.  But isn’t it always?

I dismounted the bike nearly 10 minutes off my best 90k time (stupid headwinds, got through T2 fairly quickly (1:25) and after tucking my motivation into my jersey, proceeded out onto the run course to really begin embracing the suck.

Run: 1:50:59

Pace: 5:16/km

heading out onto the run course (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

heading out onto the run course (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

I already know that I haven’t spent enough time running off the bike – this became very apparent in Binbrook.  My last (and only) long run off the bike a month ago didn’t go particularly well either and it was with lots of anxiety that I started the half marathon on on this day.  I tried to find the right gear as I exited transition onto the run course.  Kelly was there in the early going as were some of my fellow TryForce gang and that was enough to get my mind past the nervousness and back onto the task at hand.  In the first 500m  or so I passed by my coach going in the opposite direction (she was, maybe, a minute or two behind me) and noted that she must have had an amazing bike (and swim). It did however light a little bit of a fire to get into my race pace to stay ahead of her.  Kristin from Legacy Performance with whom I have worked with on my run technique (click HERE) over the off season reminded me from the sidelines to loosen up my shoulders and give myself a shake out.  Yes, it’s true…I tend to run like a ‘football player’, I know.  I’m trying to loosen up and I am usually pretty successful with it during my training runs, but after 2 hours and 40 minutes of being aero, well, I was a bit stiff in my upper body.  Thanks for the reminder, Kristin.

All in all, I was pretty happy about the way my running legs were holding up off the bike.  As I passed through the first aid station manned by my TryForce peers things were going fairly well and their encouragement helped me get into a rhythm.  I knew it was going to get more difficult (much more difficult) in the later stages, but for the time being ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning didn’t feel so heavy and my heart rate was smooth and even, unlike what I experienced in Binbrook the previous week.  So that’s good.

Finally done!

Finally done!

Unfortunately, the “cool” weather they had predicted the day before (and, in fact, it was just that during Saturday’s sprint event) had instead become hot and humid…and me without my sun block.  Crap.  By the 10k  mark I was a gross sweaty mess (as usual) and I was pouring as much water over my head as I was pouring down my throat in an effort to keep from overheating.  I took cups of ice, sponges of cold water, anything they handed me in a matter of fact providing it was a single degree cooler than the air on Merritt Island which was getting to the point of feeling like breathing in hot soup.  I don’t know what it is about Merritt Island, but it always feels hotter than it probably is.  I followed my new routine of walking through the aid stations in order to get the water in as well as give a quick break to the soles of my feet which were by now burning from running on completely saturated soaks which, I have to say, is my least favorite part of racing.

As I kept watch over my time (on the new Ironman Timex I got for Father’s Day) I knew that meeting my personal best was not going to happen on this day but I still wanted to turn in as best a run as possible to the end. By the time I crossed the finishing line I had run a time of 1:50:59  which ended up being only two minutes slower than the personal best of 1:48:59  I set here back in 2011 (click HERE  for more details)…not too bad for a comeback year I guess.

In summary, my overall time doesn’t seem that impressive, hence the ‘failure’ part of my original sentiment.  However, I did have a quicker swim time than both my previous outings at the full distance and my run was only two minutes off the pace.  What ending up killing me were the headwinds out on the bike course which, is completely beyond my control.  Sure I haven’t done the same volume of training on the bike that I might have by this point in other years but, all in all, I didn’t suffer…much.  Had I gone harder on the bike which I know I am capable of, I inevitably wouldn’t have had the run that I did, so I’m considering this as my ‘success’.

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Challenge #3 complete (picture courtesy of: Garrison|McArthur Photography)

So while I fell short of my ultimate goal of going under the five hour mark, I’m still happy with the performance given the challenges I’ve been addressing the past two years.  I have one more ultimate challenge this season aside from my other planned events (see my EVENTS  tab) this year and the plan now continues to spend more time running off the bike and drop a few more pounds prior to September.

Onward and forward.

I know it’s probably poor blogging form (not to mention severely lacking in creativity on my part) to post back-to-back video posts, but this was simply too good to pass up.

Enjoy.