(Author’s Note: I might suggest playing this video in the background as you read because it’s what’s currently going through my head right now as I write this.  It might be a bit dramatic, sure, but it does accurately reflect the mood I’m trying to aspire to here.)

Well, it wasn’t the start I was initially hoping for.  A little more than one week after I took my “first steps” (click HERE) back towards this next Ironman challenge and my workout consists of walking to the corner store to check a lottery ticket and buy a bag of Ruffles; ‘Loaded Potato Skin’ flavor.

The ticket was a loser and the chips were…meh.

I’m trying to tell myself that this is “normal” and just a part of the routine as it seems I always start my off-season training with an unanticipated injury.  This time last year I was dealing with Morton’s Neuroma, a sore Achilles tendon, and emotional trauma (click HERE) following my parents deaths, the year before that a strained muscle in my left shin (click HERE), and this year it’s an acute case of ‘Dorsal Scapular Nerve Syndrome’ (click HERE).


I’m trying to tell myself that there’s no better way to start a new beginning than with the tail end of an epic finish so that it can only get better from here.

I hope.

But part of me is still all like WHY ME?’ 

Needless to say that I’ve had lots of time to ponder my pathetic situation this past week while lying around on my back trying to be as motionless as possible. I have watched one friend tackle an epic 100 kilometer trail race (click HERE), two friends complete an Ironman (click HERE), and two other friends are now completing their final workouts before competing in the Kona World Ironman Championships in three short weeks.  One friend posted about his awesome 30k training run recently for the Boston Marathon while another friend frequently updates her progress over Facebook regarding her steady and successful weight loss over the past month.  Other friends still ran the Terry Fox 5k charity run or some other type of endurance feat on their own, to support a great cause in St. Catharines this weekend. Greatness is everywhere.


I walked to the store for chips (click HERE).

I’m trying however not to let this get me down, which is definitely harder than it appears. In the company of so much greatness it’s definitely hard not to be frustrated at being temporarily laid up.  Even though I plan to get back in the pool this week and start running and cycling easy again, my confidence has certainly taken a blow for the worse.  I haven’t been able to keep up with the circuit training I started two weeks ago and I am horrified to discover that I’ve ballooned out to 225lbs since mid-August.

Not. Good.

Regardless, I’m trying to remain positive and console myself that this will just inevitably add to the total epicness of the challenge that I’ve laid out for myself this year, so if I did have  to get injured, than this is the perfect time to do so rather than sacrifice weeks or months of hard work and fall behind.  As it is now, I can’t fall behind in what I haven’t started.

So I tell myself anyway.

Hopefully this is all just temporary and in no time, I’ll be right as rain again and able to get back to the task of reestablishing my healthy base of fitness and monitoring my diet more closely; the pieces will fall together and I’ll be on my way with all guns a-blazin’, chasing down chickens and leaping over park benches with throngs of kids chasing behind me…the whole bit.

In the meantime I’m trying to remain patient, keep doing my exercises, and aspiring to the greatness going on around me.  Good things have got to come…


Exactly seven days ago (as of this writing anyway) I came down with a stabbing pain in the middle of my back. It was (is) absolute agony.  I have no idea from whence it came.  Did it come as the result of my first easy drill run that afternoon, or is it the residual effect of lugging around heavy tents and wet floor mats on and off a truck for the SunRype Tri-KiDS days earlier?  I dunno.  All I do know is that it feels like somebody is repetitively plunging a carving knife into my back.  It totally blows.

I initially thought it was a knot or some sort of muscle spasm and tried to treat it with a topical pain relief lotion but that only ended up with my nearly getting third degree burns (click HERE).  I then dosed myself up on ibuprofen to no avail. I even went so far as to have a co-worker at the office walk on my back.  Nada.  Although I might have developed a new fetish for Geisha girls.

Nothing worked.  The pain just got increasingly worse and worse and for five days I barely slept and I pretty much existed in a constant state of agony and while things have improved marginally since then, I am still in lots of discomfort and I’m popping Tylenols like Pez.  Likewise, I’m now constantly walking around slouched over like a vampire cowering away from the sun.


This was supposed to be my big week back to Ironman training and here I am barely able to make it up the stairs without crying out in pain.  Needless to say I’m pretty frustrated.

Eventually I figured that I had had enough and decided to call in the Big Guns, namely the good people at Legacy Health & Performance, my go-to peeps for all things ouchie.  I booked a massage appointment with Nicole and also received an initial adjustment and assessment by Dr. Burr.  Neither really seemed to know what the issue was as it’s very difficult to treat something so completely systemic.

FML x 2.

I went to my family doctor and was told it was a simple muscle spasm (it wasn’t) and that I should just try and relax and wait for it to pass.  Oh, and she prescribed me some anti-inflammatories which were rather like throwing water balloons at a twelve alarm fire.  Fuckers!  Relax?  Yeah, right!  Ever try to relax  with an ice pick constantly being twisted between your shoulder blades?

Good luck with that.

Since then we have made some progress (at Legacy, not the doctor) in that we now realize that my symptoms (as they’ve changed somewhat since the first few days) indicate something known as ‘Dorsal Scapular Nerve Syndrome’ (click HERE).

Sounds catchy, eh?

Hey, wait, I thought it was dolphins and whales that had dorsals?


Basically, DSNS is characterized by symptoms of a generalized dull ache along the medial border of the scapula, radiating into the lateral surface of the arm and forearm (which has only started to occur recently).  Now, when you read “Dull” here, think “OMFG that’s torture!”  because, baby, it was.  “Dull” just doesn’t do it justice at all.

So what’s the plan of attack?


FML x 3.

I’ve actually had acupuncture before years ago when I was suffering from plantar fasciitis.  At the time I was seeing some quack chiropractor who was more interested in hooking me up to his TENS unit which, I’m sure, was a relic of the Cold War.  Afterwards he would jab a few needles into the souls of my feet and then fuck off for an hour or so leaving me alone in the darkened room to contemplate by pathetic circumstance.

I still remember my first appointment. When I entered the examining room he immediately lowered the lights, closed the blinds and switched on some soothing muzac.  I recall thinking: “is he going to treat me or fuck me?”

Now, if you’ve never had needles plunged into the souls of your feet before it’s really no different than what you’re probably thinking already:  it sucks.  An action you would expect to be preceded by the statement “we ‘av vays of making you talk”.  Anyway, this process repeated itself a few times a week for over a year with no improvement whatsoever.  I realize now being a bit older and wiser, that he was just milking my benefits until they ultimately ran out and I was cast aside like a discarded coffee cup.

That was seven years ago and my feelings about acupuncture are largely connected to that experience.  A barbaric practice geared more towards satisfying the sadistic impulses of the administrator than for the benefit and ultimate relief of the patient.The whole thing kinda made me feel like this:

Or, maybe this guy:

I wasn’t a fan.

So when Dr. Burr suggested we also try acupuncture I was all like:

However, in an effort to make peace with this whole acupuncture thing I decided to do a little research on why so many people seem to accept and appreciate it as a viable treatment practice.  After all, how can 1.3 billions Chinese people be wrong?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involving inserting thin needles into the body at acupuncture points.  Most commonly, it is associated with pain relief. Acupuncture as a practice can be traced back at least 2,500 years.  The general theory is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health.  Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease.  Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.

The practice of acupuncture to treat identifiable pathophysiological (disease) conditions in American medicine was rare until the visit of President Richard M. Nixon to China in 1972.  Since that time, there has been an explosion of interest in the United States and Europe in the application of the technique of acupuncture to Western medicine.

Now, does any of this help my feelings towards acupuncture?

Not one bit.

So Tricky Dick liked him some acupuncture.

Whoopee shit.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, plus I trust Dr. Burr implicitly (she did successfully lay out the foundation for the whole “We Can Rebuild Him” plan two years ago).  So if acupuncture is what she recommends, acupuncture is what I will do.  I made another appointment then with Nicole who also doubles as the clinics acupuncture specialist.

At my appointment I was invited to lie face down on the massage table which, it has to be said, is my favorite thing about the Legacy Health & Performance clinic as this table and I have really bonded over the past two years. This made sense given that I wouldn’t be getting needles into my feet today but, rather, my back and neck.  This was fine by me as I’d rather not watch the entire process as I had before, thank you very much.  Nicole asked me try and relax which, again, I find to be pretty impossible given the situation.  I did my best however.

For the next 5-10 minutes or so, she popped these needles into specific spots in the back of my neck, my back and along my left arm and hand since I have been experiencing numbness and a tingling sensation down my left side.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the one that she stuck directly into the top of my head.

Ever had a needle shoved into the top of your head?


Once they were all in and I adequately resembled a human pin cushion I was left to “relax” (there’s that word again) for 15 minutes or so before they were then extracted which, I must say, was less harrowing then the whole inserting them thing.

Did I notice any improvement afterwards?

Maybe a little.

Did I find it relaxing?

Shit no.

Will I go again?

If it’s suggested, sure.

Will I enjoy it anymore?


But if it’s a means to an end to get over this damnable pain in my back once and for all so I get on with my Ironman training (nevermind just being able to sleep normally again), I will do whatever it takes.


Needles in the head and all.

The Big Move 2015

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

One of my staple events every year is The Big Move Ride for Cancer in support of the Walker Family Cancer Center at the St. Catharines hospital.  I’ve been the last person to cross the starting line and last to cross the finishing line for the past seven years; ensuring that everyone…EVERYONE…gets to the end of the 100k route successfully and safely.  However, given my recent back issues I’ve been coping with this week plus the fact that it was cold and rainy, I was rather apprehensive about the ride this year.

Usually, when I spring out of bed the morning of the Big Move I’m all like:

This year, it was more like this:


Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t even have been riding but this ride is very meaningful to me and I believe that there are people genuinely counting on me for support so, come Hell or high water (we actually got a bit of both), I was determined to show up and make it around; albeit painfully.

This year was also particularly significant as this was the first year we’ve all volunteered at the Big Move as a family unit.  I would continue on as a sweep rider while Kelly and HRH  would work in one of the sweep vans helping to support the riders, aid stations, marshals along the route as well as keep track of all the signage, etc.

Here’s our family selfie:


We arrived early at 7:00am to get all set up which, for the most part, meant sitting inside the car with the seat warmers on keeping dry and drinking coffee.  Many of the event volunteers were already out in force setting up the starting/finishing line, registration tables, vendor tents, barricades, etc.  Basically, I just sat in the car and stressed about my sore back and the weather. Eventually, it was time to get suited up for the ride itself and start preparing for a long haul into the wind and rain set to begin at 8:30am.

Here is my inspiration this year:


The whole process went kind of like this:


After a brief delay though, our ride was out and underway heading out from Club Roma and directly up the escarpment at Rockway.

The climb up to Rockway Glen comes pretty early in the ride representing my first opportunity to begin providing real encouragement and support for some of the less experienced riders; never mind it’s already wet and slick out. I’ve done the climb up Rockway billions of times but for the uninitiated, it’s definitely a formidable obstacle.

Like this:

What they see

I trudged up the steep incline with Bonnie, a lady riding in memory of her husband and sister (judging by the ‘In Memory of…’ sign on her own back).  With some coaxing and encouragement and constant reminders to remember to breathe, she made it to the top to the first rest station.  She left pretty quickly afterwards though and I never saw her again (which, in the sweep business, isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Around this time, my sweep partner declared that she was going to ride up ahead a bit and that she’d see me later.  I never did. So for the next 30-40 kilometers through Silverdale and down Silver Creek Rd., I rode with Lisa, a local tax accountant, who was braving the elements with a head cold.

There is a bit of a negative stigmatism about being at “the end” and Lisa was bit conscientious about it at first but we filled the next 90 minutes or so with fun, motivational conversation and whatnot and before I knew it she had become my “adopted sweeper” and was happily informing the marshals we passed that we were the tail end of the ride (one of the roles of sweeping).  What this really means is that I probably blabbed on endlessly about all the minute banal trivialities of my day-to-day life while she smiled and sniffed politely and then speaking to the marshals as a way of interrupting the full-blown conversational diarrhea from the crazy person riding beside her.

Like this:


A short while later, I happened across what would, inevitably become the first of my many mechanical issues (another inevitable duty of the sweep rider) of the day.

“Duckie” and her friend had been abandoned by the roadside and were quite distraught that she may not be able to finish the ride due to a flat back tire. Changing tires has never been my specialty, but after 10 minutes or so of gentle reassurance and a lot of pulling, prodding and swearing as the result of a stubborn rear wheel, we had her back on her way and en route. I continued along with Duckie & co. for a while longer until she reunited with her group at the next aid station at the Old Pelham Town Hall.

Now, I have to say, one of the best parts of sweep riding is the hero’s welcome we typically receive at each of the aid stations from the volunteers. They really are amazing in the positive encouragement they provide the riders, especially given the harsh conditions they were enduring on this day. The real awesome thing about this particular rest stop was the fresh, home baked muffins available.

Like this:


Not long afterwards, I happened across my 2nd, 3rd and 4th flats of the day.  Each rider was in varying states of panic and I’m happy to report that each rider was very quickly gotten back on track with a fresh tire and all made it back to the finish safe and sound.  Yay me!  I was definitely, getting lots of practice changing tires.  At one point, I was introduced to this incredible gizmo (click HERE), the ‘Crank Brothers Extendable Speed Lever‘ and I was all like:


I need to get me one of these.

The problem now though, is that after tending to so many other riders mechanical issues I was well and truly behind the other 100k riders.  In the sweep world this is akin to being separated from your flock.  Not good.  So after that last flat, I peeled out on my own with the intent of making up some time, turned onto Wellandport Rd. and, BAM!, directly into a strong headwind.  Crap!  Fortunately, my sweep van pulled in ahead of me and I was able to draft behind to the next aid station in time to catch the other riders.  It was a real ‘Tour de France’ moment and over the next 7 or 8 kilometers it went something like this:

34 km/h…


This is awesome.

36 km/h …

Okay, this sucks.

Stupid headwind!

38 km/h …

My back was starting to scream.

40 km/h …

Beginning to bury myself now…

42 km/h…

I was almost in tears.

44 km/h…

Fully in tears.

I think for some strange reason, I don’t know why, I felt the urge to suffer for a little bit.

Call it old habit I suppose.

Thankfully, I made it to the ‘First In Counters’ rest station moments before everyone else was set to head back out.  I had definitely burned a few matches in getting back to the group but, once again, fate intervened in the way of some incredible home-baked cookies which were more than enough to keep me fueled and going to the end.

The last 30km was pretty uneventful and lonely to be honest.  By now, my back was in full on complain mode and I was completely sore and uncomfortable as all my pre-ride pain meds were wearing off.  Plus, we were now riding directly back into the shitty weather again that seemed to continue hovering directly over St. Catharines.  I admit here that I had some dark moments along River Rd. as I trailed silently behind the last two riders in the group.  I thought about my mom and dad and just otherwise tried my best to stoically deal with it all in stride.  I summoned a smile and a sincere ‘thank you’ at each turning point to the marshals as my passing would inevitably mean they could now head back to Club Roma for their hot pasta lunch which, hopefully, would also be waiting for me.

My small group of stragglers eventually met up with Duckie and her gang at the last rest stop and together we all plowed onward to the end finishing in just over 5 hours of very challenging riding (6 hours in total) in the midst of a total deluge of cold, drizzly rain…just as we had started it (click HERE). It was all smiles at the end for the accomplished riders as I anonymously crossed the finishing line behind them…in last…and sought out my own cuddles and congratulations along the sidelines from Kelly and HRH  who were there waiting faithfully for me. My back was well and truly spent by this point.

Here’s the big finish photo:


Thankfully, a pasta lunch had been set aside for me (complete with a much-needed alcoholic beverage) and not long afterwards we pulled out in anticipation of a hot shower and coffee.  Likewise, Daisy had more than earned herself a good cleaning and toweling down as well.

Just another day/year in the life of the ‘Tail End Charlie’ I suppose, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Everyone gets little niggles from time to time.  In my case, lately, it’s been this nagging knot right between my shoulder blades.

I woke up with it this past Sunday morning but at the time it was no big deal and I wasn’t worried about it, like, at all.  I just chalked it up to sleeping wrong, or maybe twisting the wrong way in the shower, or whatever, and I simply went about my business.  I barely even noticed it for the remainder of the day. On Monday morning, there it was again, only a little worse this time.  I went for a fun swim in the canal with the Coach and kids and it seemed to work itself out.  But that night, ouchie, the small niggle had worked itself up into a bigger niggle and suddenly going to sleep wasn’t quite so easy as I couldn’t get comfortable enough.  Instead, I lied awake, tossing and turning and readjusting the pillow over and over again hoping to find a position that allowed me to lie more comfortably and fall asleep.  It didn’t happen.

By yesterday I was more than annoyed and even straightening up to walk around the house was a chore.  I felt like some decrepit old man, which, HRH  was kind enough to keep pointing out; ever my biggest fan.

Anyway, by yesterday evening I had had enough and decided that I had to do something.  I went routing through my gym bag looking for my trusty tube of A5-35 but, when I fished it out, I was disheartened to see that it was all caked with crude and mold.  Clearly, I haven’t used this thing since the early 90’s judging by the green ring of crust around the cap.


I scoured the cabinets, my shaving kits, the cupboards and turned up nothing.


Then I came across this:


A little sample packet of ‘Lakota Topical Pain Reliever’ with the words “MUSCLE PAIN” emblazoned in green across its front.  It was like a gift from God sent directly down from the Heavens for my benefit.  I think I might have even given a little prayer of thanks.

Anyway, they used to hand these things out in the schwag bags at local running races and triathlons and, usually, they just ended up in the garbage.  But, hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, amiright?

I quickly browsed the back of the packet and was pleased to read:

“For temporary relief of aches and pain of muscles. Relieves muscle pain associated with overuse, intense exercise, sprains and injury.”


Sign me up.

So after dinner I cracked open the packet and had the kid liberally apply the rather odd smelling goo to my back. “It looks like snot”, she told me.  It was a real bonding moment, let me tell you.  Afterwards we went down to watch some television.

At first, it kind of tingled and I figured, ‘Great! It’s working.’  But then the tingle turned to heat.  ‘Okay, this is a bit intense, but I can manage’  I thought.  Then the heat turned to REAL heat and I started to worry.  In fact, calling it ‘heat’ at this point would be like describing molten lava as simply ‘tepid’.  And even then, there’s “hot”, and then there’s HOT.  And this was definitely HOT.  I started to stress as sweat began to pour off my forehead.  Surely this weird devil’s concoction would reach its critical mass, boiling point, or whatever, and begin to subside, right?


It just kept escalating, like, seriously escalating.  It was like a hot plate had been applied directly to my back.  What the fuck are the Lakota’s putting in this shit anyway?  Napalm?

After 20 minutes or so, it was like somebody had poured gasoline over my back and lit it on fire and I was concerned I was blistering…it was that bad.  Furthermore, HRH’s little pinkies were also beginning to burn as well.

Oh crap.

What have I done?

I scanned the packet again and was dismayed to see further down, ‘Risk Information’.

“Transient irritation, burning, stinging, or redness are normal, expected actions and usually diminish after repeated application.”


They’re fucking with me, right?

Being on fire is not normal.

Warm and tingly, surely…hot, maybe…on fire, shit no!

By this time I was in a full blown panic and went to the bathroom to take full stock of the situation.  Upon doing so I hear, “Terry! Oh my god! Your back!”

Oh shit.

And don’t just take my word for it, check this out:



Here’s a closer look:


Not good.

In short, I freaked.  I jumped into the shower and blasted the cold water over my back.  Except in its current angry state this wasn’t exactly as relieving as I had hoped it would be.  Every single drop of water that spit out of the shower facet felt like a little razor slicing into my sensitive skin.  It was painful and I could only stand a minute or so before I hopped out and sprinted upstairs to find the cold, soothing sunburn cream which I then had HRH  rub into my back as well.  I’m sure I’ve probably left some sort of mental scar on her at having to rub lotion into the back of her half naked stepfather but, at this point, I was in absolute agony.

I shit you not.

The only thing that would ease the burning scalding sensation was applying an ice pack directly to my back.  Afterwards, I had to wrap myself in a towel soaked in cold water so that I was now walking around like a genuinely injured man.

Not unlike this:

Except with less dancing, of course.

After an hour or so the burning finally started to subside a bit and my back slowly returned to normal.

Thank Christ!

The knot, however?  Absolutely no difference; it was still right there between my shoulder blades where it had always been.  I guess my suffering had been in vane.

So, this begs the question: what in the sweet Sam Hell is in that Lakota crap anyway?

Reviewing the packet once more I note the ingredients include: Canada Balsam, Birch Oil, Juniper Berry, Yarrow and Capsaicin. Sound innocent enough, right?  Well, I went looking on Google this morning and discovered that Capsaicin is actually a by-product of chili peppers.


So, basically, it’s pepper spray for your skin.


I also noted that that the Lakota website suggested that I might have to apply it 3 or 4 times daily during the “initial stages of use”.  Umm, yeah, no.

Not. A. Fucking. Chance.

Personally, I’d rather dive into an active volcano than ever apply this stuff again.   I mean, seriously, you’d have to be a complete and utter sadist to ever rub this shit into your skin more than once.

So, what do I think of this Lakota product in general?


Note the ice pack still on my back.

I think I’ll just carve out the knot myself with a soup spoon as that would be infinitely less painful.

After a long weekend and an even longer night on Sunday thanks to a whiney, grumpy 10-year-old with a bellyache that may or may not have been a real issue, I was feeling the need to burn off a little anxiety yesterday.  I decided then that I’d test the waters a little and try out the Circuit training class that runs for 45 minutes before my own Masters Spin class that I teach on Monday nights.  After all, I’m starting to gear up for the “big burn” which I know has to happen shortly so I’m exploring new options to add to the routine as per my 2016 goals (click HERE).

My only familiarity with this class for the past year or so, has been sitting on the bench waiting for the ladies to finish up so I can begin rolling out the spin bikes for class.  By the looks of things they were working pretty hard but it didn’t look too  challenging.  After all, I’m a triathlete and past Ironman right?  What real benefit could I gain from a 45 minute workout when my own “easy” workouts typically last nothing less than an hour?  Besides, it’s all girls. It can’t be that  hard.

What an idiot I can be.

I remembered way back when I tried “Crossfit” (click HERE) a few years ago but I realize now that what I was doing then wasn’t really crossfit (which was still relatively new and not as hugely popular as it is now), it was Circuit training.  This became all too aware to me about 5 minutes into yesterday’s workout, but I’ll get there.

The workout, lead by Andi, was designed to be 12 different plyometric exercises (click HERE) to be run for 1 minute at a time with a 15 second break in order to rest and move onto the next “station”.  I opted to start with the jumping jacks.  Yes, they were the easiest as Andi was quick to point out jokingly, but I figured I’d start easy and then build myself into the harder and more intense exercises I figured were to follow and end with the sprinting exercise at the end.  That’s my story anyway.

Remember, I’m an idiot.

Anyhow, 1 minute of jumping jacks was no big deal, but I did begin to sweat a bit.

Good start.

Next, I moved to the V-sit station, otherwise known as “Boat Pose” for all you yogi’s out there.  I have included boat pose into my usual off season core routine for years so I felt I was in a good position (no pun intended) to rock this shit out just as I had done with the jumping jacks.  However, 20 seconds into my V-sit and I was like, “hey, this is pretty fucking hard” as my core muscles began to bitch and complain.  Then it hit me: I haven’t really done any core or upper body strength conditioning since April/May when I switched my training to a more outdoor orientated endurance focused program.

Shit, this might really suck after all and the sweat just definitely beginning to flow.

The next circuit was side-planks which I can do fairly well, not that this prevented any of the sweat from flowing, that’s for sure.

Next up was Burpees.  Oh sweat Jesus, no.  Not the burpees!


If you remember anything about my ranting about burpees before (see link above), I hate fucking burpees.  I even hate Royal H. Burpee for conjuring up this god forsaken exercise.  Couple that with the fact that Andi added this new little kick out with the legs at the end and, yeah, it totally sucked balls.  After the 30 seconds or so, I was sweating like the pig who knows he’s dinner and my bandana was producing a slow and steady stream of sweat down my face.  By the 1 minute mark I felt 100% spent and was wondering how I was ever going to complete the rest of this circuit.  Making matters worse, the other 3 ladies in the class looked like this was just another day at the office and making it all look so simple.

My motivation was definitely beginning to wane some.

After those stupid burpees, it was skipping.  Now I can’t skip to save my life but, actually, it wasn’t so bad and I was able to more or less keep a decent skip going without too much interruption.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Take THAT you Grade 3 playground bitches!  FINALLY!  Something that was better suited to my preference for cardio-related exercise; a singular repetitive action held for a specific duration of time.

By this time the sweat was now volleying off my brow with every hop, skip and jump as my bandana had reached its maximum saturation point.

Next on the Devil’s circuit was push-ups.  Thank Christ!  Something I can do to show off my imminent manliness.

I assumed the position and on the final count of 15 seconds, started to put on what I figured was going to be a total display of upper body uber-awesomeness. “Hey ladies, check this shit out”, I thought.  After all, I like to rock out the medicine ball push-ups in my workout warm-ups, so normal push-ups would be easy right?


I got to about 18 and my arms and shoulders started to give out.  Ho-lee shit.  By this point, a pool of bodily fluid had formed under my forehead where the sweat was now cascading off in a complete Angel Falls-esque deluge.  After 22 push-ups (about 45 seconds into the circuit), I had to take a break.

Not. Good.

Next up was the “Up and Down Plank”; rising and lowering yourself up and down on your forearms which, after all those push-ups ranked up there with dipping my forearms in battery acid.  I think I managed for the whole minute but, truthfully, I also think I was hallucinating by this point so I may not have.  I don’t rightly remember.  What I do remember is that the mat underneath me was a total lake of sweat and tears meaning, of course, that all the other ladies coming into the station after me would now have to do their own routine in a pool of my rankness.

Sorry girls.

The side-to-side bench jump was next; hopping back and forth over a bench.  As much as this sucked, I know from my limited experience with plyometrics that this is an ideal exercise for runners so I tried my best to cinch up the ‘ol apple sack and get ‘em done.  I think I managed about a dozen or so before having to take a quick break lest I suffer a total cardiac arrest and end up doing a face plant into the bench.  By now, I was dripping fluids from just about everywhere and my shirt, shorts and bandanas was now carrying about 10 extra lbs of moisture.  I swear, I think even my eyeballs were sweating.

The other ladies though were still smiling, joking, and chatting amongst themselves.  Me?  I had forgotten what my name was and my motivation was somewhere between “fuck this shit”  and non-existent, particularly since I realized that only 10 minutes had passed.  So much for being an Ironman, ha!

The next 15 second transition couldn’t come soon enough.

Mountain Climbers” were next.   Now, it has to be said, I like my mountain climbers like I like my burpees like I like hot lead being poured down my pants. “Andi, you suck”, I thought to myself.  Luckily (or ‘unluckily’, depending on what side of the tipping point you prefer to look at it), my Morton’s Neuroma didn’t bother me so bad and I was able to do about a dozen without much pain or discomfort.  I confess though, I did cheat a bit when Andi’s back was turned and I assumed the child’s pose for a few seconds.

I was dying.

After what seemed like an hour, she blew the whistle signaling us to move on.

The wide grip “lat pull down” with bungee strap was next on her hit list.  Any thoughts I had of this being easy were immediately shot down when my chest muscles were aching after about 20 seconds.


Stop the madness.

“Bent over row” with 15 lbs weights were immediately afterwards and, while not torturous thanks to my swim conditioning, they certainly weren’t “easy” after two minutes of lighting my chest muscles on fire with that damned bungee strap.  A lake of pain and disappointment was now forming on the floor underneath my brow while I struggled through this second to last exercise.

The whistle blew again and I moved to the last exercise to complete the circuit: sprints.

Well, they weren’t sprints so much as they were a slow, painful shuffle between gym walls.  However, I gritted through it as, like the skipping, this was within my endurance-based wheelhouse.  I will admit though, I’ve never been happy to hear that final whistle blow completing…the first  circuit.

Fuck. Wait.

You mean I have to do this all over UH-again?

For the past 15 minutes, a not-so-small snail trail of sweat and tears was being left behind me in a grosser, moister breadcrumb trail from station to station.  How in the Sam hell was I ever going to do this one more time?  Maybe I would be lucky and Andi would offer us a 13th exercise, a Colt 45 to the temple in order to put me out of my misery (I’d say “We” here, but the other ladies looked perfectly fine).  So much for my thinking that this wouldn’t be “too  challenging” and I made a mental note to never believe myself again.

My realization here is that endurance training is fine and dandy, and I have taught myself to endure long sustained painful efforts, but this short and fast circuit shit really fucking sucks.  Meaning, it’s perfect for what I believe I need right now in order to begin rebuilding my fitness base, lose weight and start preparing for more the focused strength training to come.  I wasn’t terribly happy with this realization at this particular point in time, mind you, but there it was.

Somehow, through the grace of God, I managed to persevere through another round of torture, being mindful to flip the mats after me for the ladies since I was by now leaking profusely from every pour.  So much so, it was hard to not slip and slide all over the place during some of my exercises (again, that’s my story).  As a warm down we had to do 5 minutes of abdominal exercises including reverse and bicycle crunches.  Basically, this was just adding insult to injury by this point as I could barely hold my legs in the air and lied there like a bloated beached whale.

Finally, the 45 minutes passed.

The bad news: I need work…LOTS of work.  The good news: I now have my inspiration to get back at it if any of this Ironman business is ever going to happen in July.  My goal now (as much as I am loathe to say it), is to join this class each week for the next few months to begin burning off all the craft beer and tapas plates I’ve indulging in lately and build back my core strength that, somewhere down the road, I’ve managed to lose altogether.

Yup.  One thing is for certain, it’s going to be a long, upward (not to mention wet) struggle this winter.

God help me.

Tour de Ridgeway

Posted: August 27, 2015 in Lifestyle
Tags: ,

Tragedy befell our office recently when a colleague of mine had her husband up and pass away very suddenly leaving her and three girls behind. He was 46 years old.  And being through more funerals than I care to mention in the past year this, well, struck home with me quite significantly.  More than I had initially thought it would.  I know all too well the challenges that my colleague is facing and this got me to thinking recently: “what if?”

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser

What if it was me?

What if during a hot long run, or bike ride or whatever, I just up and keeled over?  What would I regret the most?  What could I have done better?  Did I spend enough time with those that matter?

You get the gist anyway.

It’s become pretty important lately then to spend some quality time with HRH  in what remains of our summer.  Up to this point in the summer season we’ve pretty much booked our calendar 100% with all my events and commitments.  Oh, and we even got married in there somewhere too.  Anyway, needless to say we haven’t spend much time riding our bikes together now that every available minute of home life revolves around my getting to slip in a workout amongst everything else.  Really, our daddy-daughter bonding time has been spent in the car to and from day camp, so I’ve decided to rectify that.

Effective one month ago.

To that regard, HRH (Fabia van Hall unt Hauser) and I (Pino Grigio ) decided to plan out our own “Grand Tour” of the neighborhood, a seven stage race around the Ridgeway and Crystal Beach area.  We were still coming off our ‘Tour de France’ high (she watched approximately three stages with me this year) so while we joy ride around the neighborhood we mocked up the events of each “stage” as it transpired between us – the riders – and this commentary was then included on my Strava feed once I uploaded all the “race data” onto my computer afterwards.  There, the friends and training peers I’m connected with could follow along, provide some ‘Like’s and maybe even add some commentary of their own.  Whatever it was they did contribute, HRH  loved seeing it all.

Pino Grigio

Pino Grigio

“We’re celebrities”, she once informed me.

Other times, I included a short solo ride as the ‘time trial’ stage, as well as a fun ride that I did with Kelly (Mona de la Crème Brule) one weekend.

In it’s totality, it was a simple fun family project of mine aimed at passing some active quality time together in the saddle, being active and generating some fun dialogue; the perfect excuse to simply get on our bikes and ride.

The following then is the stage-by-stage account of our ‘Tour de Ridgeway’ as it unfolded for those of you who couldn’t follow along on Strava which, probably, is most of you.

Stage 1 (click HERE)

Long, arduous climbs were the order of the day for today’s grueling 10k mountain stage; climbs along Mt. Schooley and the Col De Derby.  Attacks were fast and furious and it was only through the gutsy determination on part of this years’ new comer, Fabia van Hall unt Hauser of the iPad-iPoop  team, who, having successfully defended against all attacks, completely ruled the day and emerged as the new White Jersey holder in the Peloton; the undisputed Queen of the Mountain for Stage 1 of the Tour de Ridgeway.

Likewise, her ‘No retreat; No surrender’  attitude has also earned her second place overall in the General Classification just 47 seconds down from the current tour favorite Pino Grigio of the ProWaffles  squad.

Stage 2 (click HERE)

Where all the climbers came out to play during yesterday’s steep mountain stages, today’s stage of the Tour de Ridgeway has been labeled as a “Sprinters Stage” given the relatively flat terrain and long gradual descents perfect for high speeds, big gears, big quads and ultimate glory.  Much to everyone’s surprise, and owing largely to her own versatility as a serious rider, Fabia van Hall unt Hauser managed to mix it up with other top sprinters and extended her rankings in the battle for the Green Jersey into second place, only 20 points behind current leader Georgio d’Thundercalves.

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser of the iPad-iPoop  team was also able to successfully defended her White Jersey early on with the one and only day’s climb up Mt. Pleasant.  Even the fast urban straightaways afterwards through the township of Ridgeway d’Lesser proved to be no match for her quick accelerations and cunning reflexes at the finishing line.  Pino Grigio should be a little nervous now about the maillot jaune  and his dwindling lead over the White Jersey holder, now only 23 seconds behind him.

Stage 3 (click HERE)

There would be need to fend off attacks, no mountain summits to traverse, nor any checkered lines to sprint for in today’s Stage 3 of the Tour de Ridgeway; the individual time trial. Today’s challenge was only one thing: the clock.

Not to be outdone by his narrowing lead over the fierce rivals in the general classification, current tour leader and owner of the maillot jaune, Pino Grigio, opted not to play it safe today and instead chose to bury himself in record time around the 27 kilometer route of rolling heads, long straightaway’s and a lot of headwind.  While some might now question his ability to handle himself over the next few stages of the tour after a performance like, Grigio did successfully extend his lead by another minute and 32 seconds over Fabia van Hall unt Hauser, increasing his overall lead to 2 minute and 19 seconds. And with only a few stages left, it will be hard to catch Pino now.

Stage 4 (click HERE)

If the goal yesterday was to make the point to the other riders that he’s nowhere near fighting then today was the day that Pino Grigio put an absolute stranglehold on his maillot jaune  in this year’s Tour of RidgewayIn a suicide attack immediately off the front upon exiting the neutral zone, Grigio broke away from the pack with ex-teammate from the Bitch-n-Moan  team, Mona de la Crème Brule, and proceeded to drive a blistering pace through the 35k stretch of roadway winding through the rural townships of Ridgeway, Crystal Beach, Sherkston, and Port Colborne; often in excess of speeds of up to 21 km/hr.

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser was nowhere to be seen during today’s stage and her 2nd place time evaporates to 3 minutes and 4 seconds behind current tour leader Pino Grigio.  De la Crème Brule climbs the rankings of the general classification, however, into 3rd position overall, only 1 minute behind van Hall unt Hauser.

Stage 5 (click HERE)

After two rest days the peloton was prepared for an inevitable tough day in the saddle and while the overall lead in the general classification has been all but sown up, the battle for both the Queen of the Mountain and Sprinter’s jerseys are still very much in play.

Today’s route had the cyclists returning to cottage country deep in the heard of the Crystal Beach valley.  That means there would definitely be lots of opportunities for both the sprinters and climbers to chip away at the overall leader’s board. Right out the gates the two big dogs in contention for the sprinters Green jersey went at one another down the first “Brunswick Bomber” with newcomer Fabia van Hall unt Hauser and Georgio d’Thundercalves, finishing 1 and 2 and catapulting van Hall unt Hasuer into the Green jersey by 10 points.

While Grigio continued to relax in the Peloton, van Hall unt Hasuer continued her all-out assault on today’s stage by then out-climbing the climbers up the Col de Shannon in record time as well as up the dreaded “Elmwood Wall” and thereby solidifying herself as the wearer of the tour’s White jersey as well.  Gaining only 30 seconds over Grigio by the stages finish, van Hall unt Hauser is making quite a mark for herself as the  person to beat in this tour for all contentions.

Stage 6 (click HERE)

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser continued her all-out assault on both the Sprinters and Queen of the Mountain jerseys in today’s Stage 6 of the Tour de Ridgeway.  However, Pino Grigio was unwilling to allow her to make up any more time on his 3 minute lead over van Hall unt Hauser.  Rolling eastward down the Friendship Trail at a staggering 14 kph, both Grigio and van Hall unt Hauser broke away from the rest of the Peloton in an early breakaway, only seconds after leaving the neutral area.

The two leader breakaway would then continue to stretch their lead over the rest of the peloton in all but a single kilometer of today’s entire 10k route; longest of the tour so far.  van Hall unt Hauser valiantly fought off Grigio to win vital sprinter points along both the ‘Burleigh to St. Bernard’ causeway and the ‘Jewell Avenue Bomber’, but it was Grigio who would not relent with the sadistic pace over the rest of the stage.   Neither warrior was willing to concede to the other.  Not even angry bees could slow down their full on attack on the rest of the peloton.

Ultimately it was the tour leader, Grigio who would pull out all the stops to beat van Hall unt Hauser in a wheel-to-wheel sprint for the finish by a mere split second and all but sealing his claim to the maillot jaune  and as this years’ Champion of the Tour de Ridgeway.

Stage 7 (click HERE)

After more than a few days off for recovery, the Tour de Ridgeway is set to complete the final seventh stage of this years’ tour.  While, Fabia van Hall unt Hauser has used the opportunity to rest up and, save, one impressive outing at the SunRype TRi-KiDS triathlon in Niagara one week ago and is now more than ready to defend her Sprinters and Climbers jerseys, Tour leader, Pino Grigio, has remained active by participating in the La Bici Classica, the Pedal 100 and the Tour de Rochester in past weeks so it will interesting to see how he will perform on tired legs in today’s final stage in defense of his maillot jaune.

All questions were soon answer, however, as both van Hall unt Hauser and Grigio decided to cross swords once again and form another two man breakaway from the rest of the Peloton early in the stage over the challenging 10k course, with neither racer willing to relent their stranglehold on the rest of the 2015 participants.  While van Hall unt Hauser laid claim to her white jersey by set ting another blistering pace up the grueling double Level 1 category climb up the Col de Point Prospect, not to mention collecting even more points along the ‘Beachwood Bomber’ towards securing her green jersey as well, Grigio was content to sit on her wheel and protect his 3+ minute overall lead over van Hall unt Hauser.

At the last sprint, however, it was Grigio once again proving to van Hall unt Hauser and the rest of the Peloton who has been the dominant force in this years Tour de Ridgeway by inching ahead of van Hall unt Hauser at the finishing line and thereby proclaiming himself as the overall winner of what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most memorable tours in recent history.

I just participated in the Rochester Triathlon this past weekend (story to come) but my heart wasn’t really 100% into it.  I anticipated a decent swim and bike (and I did) but the run, well, let’s just say that if I could manage the whole 10k without stopping I’ll be doing well.

I didn’t.

You see, I’ve gotten fat.  Well, fatter  anyway.

Yes, it’s true.  Despite all my daily tri-workouts – sometimes two a day – I haven’t really been following any structured training plan and so, my week has been subject to being peppered with lots of additional distractions which, unfortunately, tend to include extra opportunities to eat, drink and be merry.  It’s the summer, after all, and I enjoy spending time with my family doing “fun” stuff just about as much as I like swimming, biking and running.  My fitness hasn’t suffered too badly but I know I could be doing much better…and I have  performed much better.  As I said before, my heart just hasn’t been into racing this year.  I’ve trained because I wanted  to, not because I had  to.  There’s a difference.

But that’s all starting to change.

Lately I have been feeling the need for a new goal; something to really  sink my teeth into again, especially over the coming off season.  I’ve had my fun (and I will still continue to have fun) but I once again feel a need for a new “goal” to work towards on par with the whole Ironman Wales adventure of 2012.  This whole year has been aimed at enjoying my workouts again and getting into the habit of working out once again and, despite the distractions, I believe I have done that…I guess.   Racing just wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.  Maybe I needed a break from competition or maybe I was a bit bored with “structure and discipline”.  Whatever it was, I only ended up competing in two – TWO – events this whole year.  And, trust be told, I liked it that way and I do feel somewhat…refreshed.

However, I have other friends and training peers who have aspired to and are completing some amazing feats of strength and endurance this year including two local triathletes who will be competing in Kona this coming October and a buddy who is running a 100k trail race in support of Team Active Kids. That’s all fucking awesome, and I long to be one of them once again.  So while I’ve been having fun and taking a bit of break, that need to compete is and has been increasing.

To this regard I am strongly considering an early season Ironman distance event next July 3rd, 2016. The Subaru EPIC Dartmouth Triathlon to be exact. The idea here being that I will have my focus over the winter months to be race ready once again come early summer and then have the rest of the summer off to do the other  things that I also love doing: spending time with the family, my charity events, working with the SunRype Tri-Kids gang, spin instructing and, well, eating, drinking and being merry, of course.  Hey, I’ll have earned it by that time!  And the best part is that none of it will be ever be hampered by the need to complete long weekend workouts in the God awful heat and humidity as I will already have had my A-race over with.


Well, that’s the plan anyway.

So the way I figure it, beginning the 1st of October, I have exactly 9 months to accomplish some very specific goals.

  1. Get my weight back under control.

Forget the “Dad Bod“, ideally, I’d like to get back to my optimal ideal AJB race weight.  I raced Wales at exactly 180 lbs and I felt strong and confident.  I’m weighing in at about 202 lbs currently, so I know I could lose more than 22 lbs between now and July 2nd, however, if I’ve learned anything from my tours of duty in the Brock Kinesiology lab it’s that weight plays an important part in my overall VO2-Max.  So while I scored high in my most recent absolute VO2 testing this past April (details to come) while weighing at 195 lbs, I would have rated as “Superior” (46 ml/kg/min ) had I maintained my race weight from the 3 years previous.  So the goal now is to find an ideal race weight where I can race optimally without sacrificing strength, and not simply “lose weight” for the sake of losing weight.

  1. Get strong.

This plays very closely into my first goal.  I’ve kind of slacked off in the weights department this year.  I usually do in the summer anyway, but while I still went to the gym throughout the winter to heave around the heavy iron, I didn’t really follow any structured strength building plan. Knowing I only have 10 months before “Go time”, I am going to align myself with Andie, the personal trainer at my local gym, and have her start to put me through my paces to better strengthen my overall core and major swimming, biking and running muscles to become a lean, mean, triathlon machine by July.  And, hey, if I lose a bit of this beer gut in the process… so much the better.

I also plan to carry on with my “We Can Rebuild Him” injury prevention routine as laid out for me by Dr. Burr at Legacy Health & Performance two years ago.  Can’t be too careful can I?

  1. Get fast.

One thing that has really dropped off the radar this year was my speed and interval workouts; no wonder given the extra flab I’ve been lugging around this year.  Sure, I’ve done some (click HERE for some samples)…but they haven’t been regular and they need to be once again.  I have read about recommended and “go to” workouts by the pros, but I prefer to subscribe to the notion that there is no such single workout to boost your performance. Instead, performance comes as the result of doing a certain workout consistently over time and ‘Speed’ would certainly fall into that category.  In 2012, I did one intense speed interval workout every week for nearly the entire year and was pretty much clocking my fastest and best swim, bike and run times in my short triathlon/running carer.  So do them I must.

  1. Run off the bike.

It’s been no surprise to be that my run off the bike has suffered in the past two years with both time and motivation being prime factors in this.  I used to think nothing of running off the bike in competitions and once bragged a 1 hour and 47 minute half marathon run time.  In Wales I ran a 4 hour marathon off the bike.  This year I ran/walk/ran my way into a 2 hour and 10 minute half marathon finish and this just past weekend in Rochester (post to come) I just squeaked inside of one hour for 10k.  Not exactly my personal best.  This winter I’m going to supplement my long runs to coincide with my long rides more regularly to retrain my legs to run better fatigued which, hopefully, will be a little easier after having lost about 20 lbs. of flab around my mid-section.  Forget solely relying on the 15-20 minute treadmill sessions after my Thursday night spin class, it’s time to get mentally hard again and there is nothing as mentally hard in triathlon as running strong and long off the bike.

Going forward, this is the plan.  I have other “endurance goals” in the coming years so I’m going to think of this year as the first step to getting back in “Iron shape” and, hopefully, set myself up to be able to accomplish them.  None of it is going to be without significant challenges; long trainer sessions, early mornings, managing training and family, etc.  After all, I’m not the same single dude I was when I first committed to Ironman Wales back in 2011 so it’s not a solo effort any longer (it wasn’t then either really, but I did enjoy more flexibility to complete my daily workouts), it’s more a team effort.  And then there’s the whole fact that only 14 people raced this year which means it will inevitably be a lonely race but, hey, at least it guaratees to be very scenic.  And, shit, looking at the times from this year, with some work…I could even podium this thing!  Hows that  for motivation?

So it’s now “on like Donkey Kong” for 2016.

God help me.