A New Direction

Posted: July 4, 2021 in In Transition
Tags: ,

Suffice to say, there has been a whole more ‘fat’ than there has been ‘furious’ going on in my life currently. Where most people have spent the better part of last year hiding away in quarantine from the rest of the COVID-riddled world and getting all fit and buff as a result of working out – what with all the extra time n all – I instead decided to do absolutely bupkis but stay at home and do diddly-squat.

Go me.


I’ve done other stuff sure, like restoring a few things in the garage (click HERE and HERE), reading more books on polar exploration than anyone should ever endure*, building a few bird feeders and planter boxes, and even dabbled a little in gardening and basic yard maintenance.

Not exactly Ironman worth shit, I assure you.

In short, over the past year of self-isolation and quarantine I’ve basically evolved into being one pair of socks and sandals away from wandering around in my driveway with a garden hose and offering you a ‘tomay-tah’ – sad and pathetic as they will inevitably be. The only planks I hold these days are the ones that I sand and stain, and the only curls I ever do are the ones that will bring cans of craft beer to my lips whilst sanding and staining so yeah, as a result, two years down the road and I’m more or less starting all over again from scratch fitness-wise.  

Needless to say, that’s pretty damn embarrassing.

In truth, I am starting to do more these days than simply sponge up stress and drink cans upon cans of delicious, delicious beer, and one of those things also happens to be as completely alien to me as, say, cheese-sculpting is to a spotted bushfish; certainly something I never would have seen me ever being interested in – martial arts.

Judo to be specific.

You see, as luck would have it a few months ago, Ron, a member of our local constabulary …


… invited me to join him for an introduction.

Okay, that’s not actually what happened, there was a lot of begging and pleading on my part but the end result was that Ron was gracious enough to begin showing me the ropes, err … mat. Along the way (as is usually the case with my “shadow”), Hailey has become involved as well and we are now getting a much needed “hand-up” at a time when we – *I* – really needed one. And in light of no pools or gyms being officially open yet, I am very grateful for this opportunity. However, as with most things I end up taking on – I knew absolutely buckus about judo. So after I had made the initial arrangements to meet up with Ron and his wife Kristen, I decided I should Google to see what it was that I had actually gotten myself into.

Sadly, I quickly learned that there would be no “Superfly’s” or “Superplexes”. In fact, in so far as I can tell there was no to be no “super” anything of any sort. Also, there was also to be no “piledrivers”, “running bulldogs”, “flying elbows”, or “Stone Cold Stunners” in my immediate future either. Furthermore, the chances were also poor that I would ever the chance get to roundhouse kick a watermelon off a fence post like I’ve seen in a thousand martial arts movies.


I admit, I also called him back and cancelled altogether.

Instead, Judo is a modern Japanese martial art utilizing the throwing and taking down of your opponent and then pinning them to the floor for twenty seconds, or force them to submit through some sort of joint lock or choke hold. Not exactly Jean-Claude Van Damme stuff truthfully, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway – disappointed as I was that I was also never going to get to dip my fists into buckets of glue and broken glass a la Kickboxer. In actuality, Judo means “the gentle way” so, yeah … ‘not very hard core sounding’ I thought to myself.

What did I know?

I can be such a dumbass.

With it’s origins based in jujitsu, the now Olympic sport of Judo was created in 1882 by Jigoro Kano as a physical, mental, and moral pedagogy in Japan. But if I’m being honest, the only other previous time I ever remember hearing the “judo” being referenced was while watching the Flinstones escape from the evil Dr. Sinister’s island lair as a kid.

So, yeah, I obviously have lots of necessary and important questions then.

1) Is it actually just a bunch of hand chops?

No. What works in the cartoon Hanna-Barbara fantasy world doesn’t necessarily reflect real life.

2) Will there be oil of any kind involved?

This is just an ordinary everyday fear of mine regarding, well, just about anything new to me. If I ever have to either oil myself up in any way, or worse, allow myself to be oiled up by another … then I’m automatically out! Thankfully, there is no oil involved in judo and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

3) Do I have to wear one of those diapers?

No. That’s sumo, so there will be no need to consume 30 cheeseburgers before bed every night, nor will I be required to wear anything “diaper-ish”. In judo, participants wear what’s known as a judogi (or “gi” for short) made of a heavily woven cotton blend. And contrary to what my wife may think, it most certainly does not resemble a “smock”. We’re “gentle warriors”, not medieval serfs – thank you very much.

4) Will I ever have to fight/compete bare-chested?

I mean, I love a good homoerotic martial arts fight scene as much as the next guy, but I’ll need a few months to work on my abs first before I’m ever comfortable taking off my short and putting my flabby “dad bod” out there for all to see.

5) Will I ever be required to kick over a tree?


No. And that’s good too because I happen to like trees.

6) Will I ever need to have my junk stretched open and strung up on poles?”


Thankfully, this was a resounding ‘NO!’ as well.

(Thank Christ!)

So armed with this new knowledge, Hailey and I have more or less committed ourselves twice a week to learning how to throw and be thrown; we have yet to deliver one another any superfly’s or put anyone through a table.

(Here’s hoping though)


As it turns out, throwing someone to the floor is kind of fun. Being thrown however, well, maybe not so much … as I was to learn anyway. I was actually contemplating this uneasiness with being thrown when Hailey, practising her Ippon seoinage (one armed throw), grabbed a hold of my gi, pivoted her hips, loaded me onto her back, and before I knew it my ass was up and airborne before coming to rest squarely on the mat like a beached whale with Hailey lording over me.

Her eyes said it all:

It was as if my shy, placid, teenage step-daughter had suddenly morphed into Randy “Macho Man Savage” and, unfortunately, I was the Brooklyn Brawler. It’s true, I had been “Fabulous Moolah-ed” by my own 16-year-old step-daughter right there in the middle of the mat.

The result: four broken ribs.


For the next six weeks then I had to forgo my judo lessons, but we’re currently back it once more and, hopefully, a little wiser and a little tougher. I’m not sure how this ultimately plays into my future fitness plans to be honest, but for the time being I do enjoy tackling something completely new and different from anything I have ever attempted before. Likewise, I am also appreciating having the guidance from both Ron and Kristen – both very positive people – through this transition as it has been a long time since I’ve been “coached”.

And as it turns out, I really miss being coached. Somewhere down the line, I stopped being coachee and instead became the coacher, so this otherwise simple act of simply showing up and doing as I’m shown over and over again is very welcome to me. And sure I might be taking my bumps along the way (as I did with all my other ‘new’ hobbies at the time), but I’m determined and interested to see now where this new chapter leads me.

*Seriously, there is only so much one should know about cannibalism.

Remember when I said I was going to try and do more core workouts in the morning, and then I didn’t, but then I did again and quit once more, only to take it one last time, but ultimately even failed at that too?  (click HERE, HERE, and HERE)

Well, I started again.


Don’t worry, though … there’s a very good chance that this attempt isn’t going succeed either.

However, while that “is he or isn’t he” drama unfolds itself on my mat each morning not unlike my sore, stiff, beat up body, there is one considerable change to my once usual morning “mat routine” … well, two actually.

The first and most significant, is that I’ve stopped really taking any notice of any kind ‘measure’, be it time, number of reps, or duration, and focused more simply on the being and the doing; “being” meaning to just revel in the fact that I’m there, and not allow my mind to wander to any other place than the four haggard corners of my tattered yoga matt, and the “doing” being my remaining cognisant of what my body says is appropriate in that specific moment and no more.

Good lord, I want to puke just re-reading that.


Remember when I used to despise the whole common “just be present” mantra of yoga; considering it to be mere hocus pocus typically spewed forth by the young “spiritual” girls in $200 Lululemon tights and buns you could crack walnuts on?

(click HERE)

Well, I’m not thinking that so much anymore.

Originally, my mind needed to comprehend what I am doing and quantify that by carefully recording the different variables whether they be kilometers, pace, laps, reps, minutes or what have you.  It’s exhausting really but I did anyway as it made me feel good to know the end product of my overall output; the ultimate culmination of my spent blood sweat and tears if you will.

In fact, since I first started those initial first steps down this healthier path and, dare I say it ”sporty lifestyle”, I’ve been counting those metrics.  However, somewhere around the beginning of last year when the whole COVID dumpster fire really started to tip over I lost my drive to keep track of, well … anything really.



My motivation all but left me … even for my precious morning core workouts.

I simply could not fathom getting up out of bed to do however many reps in whatever length of time over whatever duration of minutes … I simply did not care.

The ‘cat and coffee’ part?



No so much.


Now I feel like I’ve whined enough about that in other blogs, but long story short: I have recognized more and more lately that I have become very discomforted in this new pandemic virus-riddled world and, as such, I am carrying a lot of stress around with me.  So I guess where my original attempts at re-establishing my “Core Project” (then just known as the ’28 Day Challenge’), the routine to get up, pour myself a coffee, put an old Goodwill record on the turntable and begin cranking out the 15-20 different 1 minute sets mostly insisting of planks, push-ups, bird-dogs, squats, etc., with Toby the Cat at an ever-present and convenient arms reach was enough, they inevitably fizzled out largely because I was simply not mentally tough enough to enable myself follow the same routine ad nauseum simply because I am a creature of habit.

Let’s just say that I wasn’t finding the same satisfaction them anymore.

In fact, there was little motivation to do anything.

Maybe it’s because there’s no final goal to prepare for, or ultimate endgame like there was before.

Or maybe I just got fat and lazy.


But where the regular routine of coffee, cat and planks was enough to keep me “de-stressed” in the beginning, having felt that I had accomplished something positive and healthy for the day, I recognize now that it does not have the same positive effect anymore.

Who cares how many minutes I could hold a plank for, or how many push-ups I could crank out in 60 seconds?


That’s who … least of all me.


So what has now changed so drastically that I’m feeling enthusiastic again?

Well, I simply stopped counting and now I really can’t be arsed: meaning, I’m not really keeping track of my workouts anything.  Instead, I just do whatever I feel like and rest in between those indiscriminate sets of, again, whatever.  I simply do whatever “feels” to be the right amount of time doing any one exercise and, truthfully, that has been very liberating.  I would like to think that I average something in the neighborhood on 15-20 minutes each morning, but that all depends on many factors such as how much sleep I had or how enthusiastic I feel, or perhaps if my shoulder decides to act up in my initial attempts at downward dog.  Other times, Toby the Cat is feeling particularly needy and will demand a little more attention than I would otherwise consider affording him seeing as how I had push-up’s to count and plank to hold, so that now becomes the immediate principle aim of the workout in that moment … just loving on the cat.

(I call it the “Cuddle Pose”)

See how it works?

I just don’t care and enjoy the simple act of being and doing … whatever it is.

It’s a total reset back to basics.

Al the mental stress I once had about my morning workouts, even as less intense and demanding as they are lately, is now gone and I’m just simply enjoying being “in the moment” like all those hippie chicks used to cluck about.  Now my workouts have become more spontaneous and fun depending on what I feel like doing at any given point.  While I still have favorite exercises and “go to” poses and Pilates stretches that I prefer (not to mention made possible by the modest equipment I keep around)con my mat, I am largely %100 free-styling it again and, low and behold … it’s cathartic as fuck.



The second important change is that I have been doing it all sans music.


Yup … it’s true!

No records, no iPod, just the sounds of my own labored breathing (or not so labored, depending on the morning), the slow sipping of coffee, and Toby the Cat purring in the near distance – there may be the odd fart too – and it’s absolutely divine!  Honestly, part of the whole “not keeping track” philosophy is allowing my brain to turn off outside what it is doing in the moment, and I figure that also means excluding the usual clatter of racket I will typically surround myself with during my usual workouts.

So, yeah, I’ve even been giving the records a break too.


I figure it’s kind of the ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ philosophy of exercise; bucking the popular trends and, instead, just doing what feels good.  And in these difficult, shitty times, I need more of that “feels good” approach to working out and – surprise, surprise – taking a more quiet approach to my morning routine makes me feel that way.

Nobody is more surprised that I, believe me.

Just like every other person on this planet sensible enough to take this whole social distancing thing seriously, I am beginning to suffer a bit from “Cabin Fever” given that aside from working as an essential worker four days a week, and the very odd bike ride when the weather cooperates, I have been abiding by government mandated social distancing strategies and simply staying the fuck home!

That means there’s been no running, no swimming, and no weights; not much of anything that doesn’t involve the couch honestly.

And, really … I make no apologies.


Of course, I’d like to say that I’ve managed to keep up with a home fitness plan that I accomplish regularly but, truthfully, aside from at various points of boredom I dug up my front yard, dismantled the picnic table and affixed a set of swiveling handlebars to a fence post for God knows what reason, and eating fistfuls of jellybeans, my motivation to do anything physical more or less died on Day 3 of the official quarantine back on March 28th.

Today, however, was one of the few days I decided to throw caution to the wind, and while still practicing social distancing measures (i.e. I was alone) I set out on my bike for a ride down the Niagara Parkway.  It’s a beautiful day, and the first this year that I could just wear a normal summer riding kit without being cold.

It was glorious.

It’s times like these where I’m not necessarily pushing the pedals too hard, or focusing too much on a workout, where my bring gets to thinking and this, that, and everything else.  I’m pretty sure that on easy rides like these my lizard brain comes up with, turns over around and around, and then discards altogether before moving onto another, a fresh topic approximately every .0046 nanoseconds.

It’s true.


Anyway, while out riding the more quiet roadways my eyes will periodically drift around to the landscape passing by around me as well as the roadway passing underneath me, and as is often the case this was the view today:


Sorry … let me crop out my junk and flabby COVID thighs.



You see it now.

But just in case you still can’t (in which case, you must be totally blind):


Yup … I’m taking about the water bottle.

And not just any water bottle, my vintage SunRype Tri-Kids Triathlon Series water bottle.

So, yeah … this is a random post about a water bottle.

My second post about water bottles, in fact (click HERE).


To say that I’m not an “Ambassador of Change” as they say, would be the understatement of the century.  I’m more the passive obsessive-compulsive type that, once I find a style, system , route, or as it is in this case – an item, be it a convenient instrument, tool, or piece of training equipment – well, let’s just that that I tend to stick with it come Hell or high water.


What can I say?

I’m a unique and beautiful snowflake and, yes, another post about a water bottle because, shit, I’m …


Why this particular water bottle then?

Well, for starters it hearkens back to one of the very first outings I had with Tri-Kids team dating back to 2012-2013 (click HERE), meaning that it’s pretty much indestructible given how much I have used it over the past near decade. It’s made of that nice, soft, “mushy” pliable plastic that’s easy to squeeze and utilize and under no circumstances does it ever, freaking drip.  Serious.


It’s also nice that it seems to be impervious to mould, so that’s also good.


It has accompanied me on many, many long and difficult rides and was even with me throughout my last Ironman distance triathlon two years ago (click HERE), satisfactorily managing the coveted role of carrying all my fancy performance mix – a very important role no doubt!  Let’s just say that I have some serious history with this water bottle and, believe you me, it has more than earned it place in my personal Pantheon of Water Bottles.  There was the unfortunate business with the chewed lid at one point many years ago (see previous link), but that issue has since been remedied by replacing it with another cap and yeah, Bobs your uncle … it’s currently back in service and riding along in my bottle cages eight years later.

Often, when I have been on a training ride (or at the gym working out, spinning, swimming, etc.), this particular bottle has brought me strength and motivation; other times it has brought me comfort and familiarity. Today, it’s with a bit of a heavy heart that I see it, knowing that the up-coming Tri-Kids season has inevitably been either cancelled, postponed, or otherwise up in the air thanks to this whole global pandemic crisis.

Just another reason to hate on the 2020 year so far, I suppose.


(It’s not like it was off to a rousing start anyway – click HERE)

While we’d be gearing up and getting ready to kick off the season in Burnaby, British Columbia at the end of the month (not to mention that I’d likely be riding a lot longer than the mere 90 minutes I did today), currently we’re on a holding pattern as is the rest of the world I suspect.

For the time being then, it’s more of these easy, solo “steady as she goes” rides (with the water bottle, of course!), and continuing to do my best to keep a healthy 6ft from the rest of you contagious germ factories.

BRING ON 2021!

(There is no intended point, or specific goal being made with this post.  No, this is simply more of my own personal weighing in with myself on this new, bleak future Mankind is now facing; namely the coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19.  It’s a strange new world and everything is changing, and one of the few “coping mechanisms” that I have that I can still do relatively safely here at home, is this blog, so this post is more an effort to document these strange times in which we now exist and, specifically … train.  Be smart out there people.)

It’s already April and I should be well on my way to building some serious fitness heading into the outdoor season but, of course, that was all before this global COVID-19 pandemic crises swept in and shrouded the world with a palpable air of gloom and despair.  Borders have been either closed or have newly imposed restricted access regulations, travel bans have been placed on international and non-essential traffic, schools, restaurants, and “non-essential” businesses have shut their doors, professional sports and live sporting and entertainment events have all been cancelled, “social distancing” is now strongly encouraged and gatherings of more than five people are not permitted, even the Olympics have been postponed to July 2021 for fuck sakes!

Know the last time the Olympics was ever delayed?



That’s when.

In fact, the modern Olympics as we know it have only been cancelled twice before in history.

Of course, there were little things going on at the time known collectively as WWI and WWII … but I digress.

Our world has now been forever altered, and not necessarily for the better either.  Now with the recommended self-isolation measures and “social distancing” practices, gyms pools are all closed, and most running and cycling groups have suspended their weekly workout programs and, instead, are asking their athletes and participants to stay home; or at least go it alone if they absolutely must venture outdoors.  Suddenly, that glorious outdoor training season that we’ve all been looking forward to is in jeopardy, as are all the anticipated events and competitions that we’ve been counting down in our training calendars all winter.

Everything is now (quite literally) up in the air.

Now, you’d think then that the triathlete in particular would be faring a bit more than most, as we have more or less have been training for just these kinds of new isolated conditions and, ordinarily, I would agree with you.  We all spend, and have spent lots of time in our own basement “pain caves” to be sure.

What’s a few more weeks … or months?



However, this whole current coronavirus outbreak is doing me no favors whatsoever.  I can’t swim as the pools are closed, our public trails are clogged with pedestrians (often quite in conflict with the “social distancing” guidelines), joyriders are making it challenging and stressful to be out bike riding and, shit, I’m not even sure I want to be outside anyway.  I’m not really smart enough to figure out Zwift and other online group workout sites, and I’m too cheap to pay for any online memberships.  Our grocery runs are delivered now to our front porch to be in as best correspondence with our self-imposed quarantine as possible and, therefore, our access to readily available fresh produce is proving to somewhat of a challenge and maintaining a healthy daily regimented diet is problematic to say the least*.

And we are not giving in to the temptations of panic hoarding either.

“We are all in this altogether” as they say.

These are some dark fucking times, man.

Some peers of mine are simply choosing to continue on “business as usual”, and attempting to maintain their disciplined training programs regardless – and “Power to them!” I say.


For me, however, this is simply not going to be the case.

I am in an awkward position where, happy as I am that I am still considered an “essential resource” and permitted to maintain working, it also comes with the greater inherent risk that I could be exposed to or contact the COVID-19 virus, especially given the often “less-than-ideal” sanitary conditions that I need to work in.  As such, on my mornings, evenings and weekends, I do not tend to stray too far from home.

I guess you could say that I am becoming aware that this global COVID-19 pandemic is a sign of sorts, that the human race collectively needs to slow down and reconsider its current pace of life if we are ever going to continue existing prosperously on this great blue marble of ours floating around in the celestial infinity of the cosmos.


Too deep?

Anyway, what does this mean then for my health, both physical and mental, in the coming weeks to months?

To be truthful, I don’t know exactly.

While I have been out for some recent solo rides out in local country roads nearby now that the nicer weather is upon us, I have pretty much circled the wagons for all other activities and instead, embraced the quiet life that inevitably goes with this bonus “down time” we’ve all been gifted.

Hey, sometimes you just “have to go with the flow”.

For me then, that means I have been reading more and – get this – yard work!  That’s right folks, the other day I raked the front and back yard (after fixing said rake), cleaned out the window wells, swept out the garage, tidied up the workbench and sorted out my grandfather’s tool box, sorted and separated a shit ton of screws and nails, and rehung a metal bracket to hang a bird feeder meaning, of course, that I hand to operate a power tool.

That right, bitches … I used a POWER DRILL!


While all this was going on, there was RUSH playing barely audibly over a broken radio and a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee going cold on a shelf within arms’ reach.  And if that isn’t the very epitome of the true Canadian in his natural habitat, I don’t know what is!


You know the last time something like that has happened on a weekend?


(Once again)

Ordinarily, I would be out for a long ride or run, so that I could slip in a few errands and maybe drop by the local boozer for a pint before retiring home again in time for dinner.  There was seldom time in the day to scratch my ass, much less sort screws from nails … and all things considered, it was very satisfying indeed.

Also on the “Pro-Quarantine Front”, is that I have embraced reading once again.

You know, books n’ shit.


Yup, me!

Being almost exclusively a non-fiction kind of guy, I have read biographies on such historical figures as Ernest Shackleton, Iggy Pop, Rev. Jim Jones, Patti Smith, Van Gogh, Bonnie & Clyde, King Leopold, and Theodore Roosevelt to name but a few.  Let it never be said then that I’m not a genuine Renaissance Man.  I’ve been seriously enjoying this somewhat rejuvenating quiet time on the couch with a record on the family turntable and a cat lying at my feet; a cold drink within an easy reach.  It’s almost as if I’m putting my mind and body in permanent “recharge mode”.

I’m not gonna lie – it doesn’t suck.

Not having to stress about the next workout, the next upcoming race, or how much I may be falling behind in my training regimen is, well … liberating.

I like it.


As for the more physical health aspect, that too is being slowed down and more “strategically compartmentalized”.  That’s my way of saying that as far as exercise goes, I’m more doing what I feel like when I feel like doing it.


For example, now that the weather is nicer and the winter seems to be finally behind us, I am taking my usual morning core workouts to the back porch in the mornings and, instead, enjoying a nice, invigorating and gentle-flowing yoga practice.  Sure, gone from the routine is my faithful morning mat companion, Toby the “Morning Crack Cat”, as is the usually weird record from my “Cornball” collection of oddball records as a soundtrack, but there is something now to be said about waking up to a lungful of fresh air, while the squirrels forage the yard for lost buried treasure and red-wing blackbirds patrol the area for potential threats; a hot coffee steams nearby.

Sounds pretty sweet, right?

It is.

Of course, for God knows what reason, there is also in the near vicinity during these workouts an old axe, as well as rusted out squirrel trap. I’m not sure what this does for my chakra’s exactly, but I’m sure will won’t hurt any.

Yes, if it was an ordinary training day I’d already have done some laps, or be getting back from a morning tempo run, but it’s not.  I’m at home – where I should be.  And if this is what training is now in the absence of that fast-paced “Go! Go! Go!” world, especially when you’re not directly and constantly wired into it … then I dig it.

What can I say?

It is what it.


And if quieter and more introspective times should genuinely lie ahead, then I want my exercise routine to be also reflective of that more, shall we say, magnanimous shift and, hopefully, lend to not driving myself insane in the meantime and then, once this whole coronavirus bullshit finally blows over, we can all get up and together and rise from the ashes like the unique and beautiful Phoenix’s that we are, ready to once again tackle the fitness world.

But for the time being, it’s time for us all to rest.

Stay at home, folks.

And wash your hands, for God sakes!

*Don’t even get me going on toilet paper, basic PPE’s and essential cleaning and sanitizing products.

It was exactly 10 years ago when I first started this blog.  Obviously, if anyone can recall (click HERE), I was a very different person and the circumstances surrounding my life and lifestyle were vastly different – that simply cannot be helped.  I made my choices and lived by them and, largely, I was very successful in the beginning, and while my initial goal of being the first “Stoner Ironman” were never realized, I did crush Ironman Wales as the ultimate end product of the whole transformation process.

But that was the peak.

Sure there have been other successes and triumphs along the way too, both competitively and personally, and this blog is full of those stories.  But, of course, there has been a fair share of serious setbacks as well through these years.  In some cases there have been resurrections from these challenges; other times not.  These past ten years have been more or less a continuous roller-coaster of ups and downs; triumphs and tragedies; being broken and being rebuilt again – all in a seemingly endless cycle.  It just so happens then, that rather than when I first started this blog and was well on my way to becoming my personal best, I now find myself one decade later having slid back down towards the very bottom.

And it’s galling.

More than anything over the past decade, more than any of my other “accomplishments” was a general belief that I had transitioned myself through doing the necessary hard work, of being one tough son of a bitch.  The kind of person who can go ride a century ride at the drop of a hat, or join others on a long open water swim just for the fun of it – often in the same day if time allowed.  I had finally accepted to myself that I wasn’t likely ever going to be the sleek-looking super pro riding the fanciest equipment at mach speeds in all the local triathlons, but turn that event instead into a long, slow, arduous, and often painful task?


Let’s go.

Keep in mind, all my “personal bests” have taken place in the worst possible conditions and I have learned to genuinely cross my fingers for shitty weather come race day.  Heavy rain, strong wind, driving sleet, excessive hills, extreme heat or frigid temperatures, six foot swells … bring it on!  Throw everyone into the same shit equally, and I suddenly tended to fare much better than most.

I was tough.

Of course, I was still doing all the necessary hard work in training.

Among my most favorite and, truthfully – feared – “tough guy” proving grounds were my repeated invitations into the Brock kinesiology lab to be a willing participant in their various studies to test the limits and understanding of sporting and athletic related sciences.  And believe me; some of these studies really, and quite truthfully, tested the very limits of my own mental and physical abilities.  Sure I was never the fittest looking, or likely the top performing of all the participants, but it was guaranteed that I would show up for more, again and again and again if necessary; regardless of how bad it sucked.

And, believe me when I tell you that there were times when it really sucked (click HERE for only an example), and many participants even threw in the towel before completing the entire process.

But I never quit.

Remember, I even sat in a freezer for two hours (click HERE).

I even took to referring to myself with pride as a “Suffer Bunny”, knowing my growing mental aptitude for enduring the worst that could be conjured up and that general belief has been a prime motivator in accomplishing my more recent training plans.  Over the years, I have allowed myself to be poked and prodded with needles and IV’s, heated up, frozen alive, and dehydrated.  I have had my body pushed to its absolute physical limits in pretty awful conditions and then allowed my mental skills and cognitive function to be challenged afterwards and, of course …


(Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

Whatever they threw at me, I was guaranteed to go back for more to complete the job and I prided myself on being able to do that.

I was one tough son of a bitch … I was “hard as nails”.

This hard-working “at all costs” ethic even serves me well in my personal-slash-professional life.  I routine have a very physical work day; both mentally and physically.  I routinely lift, hoist and “Jenga” heavy furniture, often in cramped conditions, as a product of my job.  Elevator not working?  I’ll just carry all my heavy equipment up the ten flights of stairs rather than waste valuable work hours waiting in the lobby with everyone else.

Breaks?  Breaks are for pussies.


My father certainly may not have left me much, but he definitely well-equipped me with his unique brand of ethics and stubbornness!

And so it was this same mindset that I walked into the Brock kinesiology lab once again this past Tuesday to participate in the next round of torture, a project called: “Redefining Fatigue: Considerations for the Modelling of Critical Power”.

And rumor had it that this particular series of testing was extremely difficult and, therefore, I was bound to LOVE it.

Just my kind of dance.


Having said all this, I was very aware going in that I was not going to be anything close to my past performances; quality or quantity.  But surely my mental and physical toughness would continue to serve me, and while the inevitable body mass and fat measurements were going to be embarrassing, that wasn’t going to necessarily inhibit my ability to suffer any as is typically required and so I made arrangements with Scott to meet up in the lab to begin the eight sessions that were going to transpire over the next 3-4 weeks; time to get to work.

Unfortunately, the only work I really did was changing into my bib shorts.



Let me back track a little first …

As part of the study (as it is in the beginning of any study), there is the gauntlet of consent forms and “Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaires” to complete.  I typically gloss over these forms as I’ve never had reason or cause for concern regarding my health.  Sure, I’m still a larger dude – I’m no skinny Minnie to be sure — but I’m eons from where I had allowed myself to slip in years previous.  However, I have also recently come to know that I have unusually high blood pressure, despite exhibiting zero others signs of anything indicating a cause for alarm.  Lord knows that I have never typified the idea, or image for that matter, of a standard “athlete”, and it pains me even to type that word in reference to myself.

Regardless, I felt that ‘full disclosure’ was the only policy as I have come to both trust and respect the student investigators (Scott and Phil, et al.)  Besides providing me with a safe environment and means in which to have my ass handed to me, they also 100% have my back by taking every safety precaution in order to protect my health and thereby minimizing the risk of anything ever going, well … not smoothly.  And, of course, they can’t do that without all the necessary information; the big picture – so I mentioned my blood pressure and it was (rightfully) decided to check it out before proceeding any further.




That’s what I figured, so we waited a little longer before trying again.

(thinkcalmingthoughts … thinkcalmingthoughts … thinkcalmingthoughts …)



We tried a third time, but I knew there wasn’t going to be any positive change and, ultimately, the reality began to sink in … my inherent “toughness” was gone.

Now, I was a liability simply to continue — from Ironman to Ironpussy.

It was like being punched in the stomach (made even worse seeing as how I had also brought along HRH for moral support) as I was instantly overcome with this overwhelming sense of shame and embarrassment.  The denial that, while not performing or exercising to my usual standards, I was still somehow miraculously self-managing my fitness reasonably, sank in with a lead weight.


In fact, I had back-peddled much farther than I had anticipated.

I was no longer “hard as nails”.  I felt mushy and gross.

Needless to say, I never  made it onto the velotron Tuesday evening.

It was a total wash.

I was shocked (I still am).

I would like to say then that this post was intended as a “calling to arms” in that I’ve seen the light and I’m ready to rally back and put the whole fitness train back in motion again but, truthfully, given this new information and current circumstances surrounding my life now ten years down the roads, I have no more idea on what to do now than I do how to calculate quantum physics.

What is “Heart Smart” exactly?

To me, it sounds like a Latin derivative meaning “to eat dust”, or maybe “void of flavor”.

Suddenly, I’m plunged into this challenge of, well, not being such a high risk of having my heart explode should I decide to go for a bike ride, or do some laps in the pool, or – heavens forbid – attempt my luck in future testing at the Brock lab, and I’m both scared and lost.

And, apparently, I cannot do this alone any longer and I do need help.

I think over time, I’ve lost the inevitable accountability that I used to have by belonging to different sporting groups, and was more enjoying simply being a part of a larger community of like-minded and physically active people.  When I moved from my longtime home base of St. Catharines, 45 minutes down the road to Ridgeway, I started opting out of club rides and activities to stay closer to home in order to explore new territory, as well as helping to raise a very engaged seven-year-old girl.  I have still been fortunate enough to hook up with many very capable and hugely inspiring people out this way, but more and more I ended up training alone and this model has served me well as long as I had a commitment, either to an actual event or to a specific coach.

I always had accountability … somewhere.

After my second Iron distance triathlon, the pressures to perform and focus on “doing the work” seemed less critical and sleeping in seemed more and more like a good idea, over my beloved morning laps.  I still rode my bike, and even managed some decent length Century-distance rides, but it was more when I wanted to and felt like it as opposed to any sense of obligation and, of course, they nearly all ended at the local brewery to celebrate.

It was a pleasant change to enjoy myself and do as I please, as opposed to continuously over-exerting myself, specifically seeing as how I didn’t have anything specific to train for.  I enjoyed not having to rush out of bed early in the morning to slip in a first work, only to rush to and from work in order to slip in a second workout before dinner and, hopefully, some family time before an early bedtime so I could repeat it all the next day.  My mind wasn’t really into “suffering” any longer; it was into patios and time spent with family and friends.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

But all these post-ride beer and pretzels, never mind the “Great Jellybean Festival of January 2019”, have apparently caught up with me in just short of two years since my Hudson Valley Full Triathlon and it’s time to finally step back and take a serious reassessment of myself, and the ultimate direction that this currently rudderless ship is traveling, and maybe attempt to make the necessary and immediate changes to get it back on course.

In essence, ten years later and adrift again and more or less starting all over once more.

The learning curve is going to be no less huge – life changing in fact, just as it was over ten years ago (click HERE for My Life: Part 1, click HERE for Part 2, click HERE for Part 3, click HERE for Part 4) and I don’t even know where to begin this time around precisely, but I do know that it has to start now and, hopefully, this public admittance to myself will prompt these tentative first few scary steps towards rekindling and rediscovering that old toughness I was so genuinely proud of.

I have so much to learn and relearn, so coming over the next few months, hopefully, there will be a series of posts here with a renewed focus aimed at keep me accountable to all the new “come to Jesus” moments that I’m inevitably going to encounter along this new path … and I see lots of forks in the road in the very near future.

rest assured, this is sure going to be one hell of a learning curve!

So in an effort to not completely freak out and end things here on a dour note, I have to remember that I have rebuilt myself on more than one occasion (click HERE and HERE), and I do have people with whom I can lean on if necessary, so here’s just hoping then that I can do it once again seeing as how this time … my life may literally depend on it.

What else can I say?

Pass the salad.

Mountain Biking Madness

Posted: December 24, 2019 in Bike, Motivation
Tags: , ,

“Slow” has become pretty much my normal jam these days.

With the exception of getting to the local brewery to pound back a few “couple beers” after work, there is very little that I ever do outside this “slow” parameter anymore.   You could even go so far to say that I have making judge strides with the whole “Mañana” approach to working out and as such, I’ve been stockpiling an approximate shit ton of calories around my gut.  In fact, my belly more or less continues to press outward against my waistband, ceaselessly, in an ever-expanding cosmos around my ballooning ass.

It sure ain’t been pretty.

Anyway, I received an email the  other day from the Brock University Kinesiology Lab looking for “volunteers” for their next upcoming series of scientific testing involving “Critical Power” which, while still managing to sound like a schmaltzy name for an early 70’s smooth country band, also kinda scares me a little too.

To that regard, I decided then that it was time to begin getting back out on the bike; and not just any bike, but my newish EVO Stone Ridge mountain bike.  You see, indoor trainer workouts aren’t really my thing.  Actually, technology is my biggest limiter as my inevitably trying to buy, install and sync my bike to the computer would cause me either a massive coronary or a divorce, but I digress … I don’t spin indoors on my own much; like, at all.  Similarly, I haven’t been able to loop into and join any “spin” classes at the local YMCA’s that I either enjoy*, or can make regularly.

So that leaves me no other option but to keep riding outside, or so has always been the initial plan anyway.

However, “my favourite workout” didn’t really materialize last winter as I didn’t really have any special competitions to prepare for nor the motivation to freeze my balls off unnecessarily, so my mountain bike has more or less been living in the shed for a year.

Lately though, especially since I will soon have to run the gauntlet of body fat measuring and VO2max testing, not to mention having to don my bib shorts in public once again, I have begun to bring “Eva” out of the shed to explore this whole mountain biking thing.

And by “mountain biking”, I mean actual mountain biking** and not just riding to and from the YMCA through the snow along the Friendship Trail but, again … I digress.

My first real ride was last weekend where I took Eva out and rode along the shores of Lake Erie between Bernard Beach and the end of Thunder Bay Rd., along the leftover cracked and crushed sea shells, small pebbles and rocks, washed up roots and vegetation, packed sand, and just about anything else that got in my way.  As far as difficulty is concerned, I’m sure this wouldn’t even register for most seasoned and gnarly mountain but, for me, it was thrilling.  Today, I rode the infamous “Hydro Hill” (and damn near died in the process!) in St. Catharines and then around the “easy” network of trails around Brock University and the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site.

Now, I have to say as a devout roadie: mountain biking is absolutely alien feeling.

It’s a total apples and oranges kind of difference actually.

First off, mountain bikes are bigger and heavier.  Now this might seem like a completely “duh” kind of thing to point out here but, really, when one has only ever had to heft their light ass road bike into the back of the car – rather effortlessly I might add – suddenly fitting the mountain bike takes a little more strategy, configuration and muscle.  My fear now is that if I continue to get used to loading and unloading this wheeled beast into my car, the next time I go to do the same in the spring with my beloved road bike, I’m likely to forget how light it is and accidentally launch it into orbit after I go to pick it up expecting it to be much heavier.

Secondly, mountain bikers dress differently.  I passed only two other riders out today and they looked, well, relaxed and comfortable while I’m out here trying to make do with my recycled roadie gear.

Seriously, I might as well have been riding a penny farthing.

penny farthing

Regardless, neither of those differences really matter much when it comes down to it performance-wise so, really, what benefit is this mountain bike going to provide me?

Specifically, what are the immediate and noticeable differences that might positively enhance my fitness and, ultimately, serve my endgame of not being a complete and utter pussy come time I walk back into the Brock lab.

Well, two minutes into my first taste of off-roading over “soft” trails and I already knew this was going to be a very different ride.  Out on the road, remaining alert to obstacles and potential threats in the road of course, I am mostly keyed into the traffic around me and absorbing the usual hustle and bustle of road riding, all the while trying to identify potential risks and threats around me (unless of course, you’re lucky to enjoy miles and miles of quiet, paved and seldom-used country roads).

On the trail, it was quiet.

Like … creepy quiet.

Likewise, there were no exhaust fumes to breathe or any of the unusual funky roads smells that waft through your nostrils as you cycle past.

It just all smelled crisp, fresh and awesome.

I have to say, there was nothing quite like the feeling of whooshing down the Niagara Escarpment through the woods with squirrels scattering and birds taking startled flight; the sound of my 2.8″ tires crunching through the frozen leaves and twigs; frozen booger stuck to the side of my cheek; the look of mad and unbridled exhilaration in my eye.

If ever there was “gnarly”, certainly this was it!

While I admit that I enjoy the meditative aspect to long distance road riding, the inevitability is that you’re also going to share the road with other nitwits making hasty, impatient decisions in navigation, except that they’re wrapped in a metal box and you’re not.

Sure there are things out on the trails to be wary of, but I am wagering that a tree is sure going to be a more forgiving when you run into it than, say, a moving Dodge Caravan.

Also on similar (yet different) note, your Strava maps tend to look a bit more, well … erratic.

In comparison to my long summer rides that tend to follow long roadways that form some sort of “loop” beginning and ending at your doorstep, the map for today’s ride on Strava looked more like the flight path of a drunken bumblebee.


Bike route

Keep in mind that all this seemingly random meandering all over God’s creation happened within a mere 12 kilometers.


Yup, that’s it.

Oh, and even just that took me a whole 46 minutes to boot!

For my complex roadie lizard brain, that’s some crazy time and space shit to comprehend.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bother getting suited up for a mere 12 kilometers out on the road as I would be done those 12 kilometers in a shorter time than it would take me to initially get ready in the first place.

However, here I was completely spent; huffing and puffing like an asthmatic orangutan.


Just look at my heart rate in the first few minutes as I made my first ever ascent of the dreaded 500m long “Hydro Hill” beginning at the base of the escarpment:

I haven’t spiked my heart into the 160’s in eons, much less in the first three minutes!

In truth, road riding is primarily spinning at high cadences for long periods which serve to enhance your cardiovascular fitness, but (as I am learning) mountain biking is much, much different.  Mountain biking requires much more dynamic fitness – from quick bursts to sustained cardio output – and incorporates many more muscle groups.

Let me tell you, my lungs were a-burnin’ even though I wasn’t anywhere near the speeds that I would normally associate for this kind of fatigue.

The gravel trails and single dirt tracks had more varied terrain than the paved roads I usually ride.  Short, steep rises and obstacles require explosive power bursts to ride without losing momentum. Single track with rocks, roots, switchbacks and other obstacles demand repeated power bursts and highly fluctuating pedaling forces.  I am equating this to the same type of power required to wind up my beloved morning sprints, accelerate out of a corner, close a gap in a road race, or even ride away from my completion altogether as I like to try and do from time to time.

(Honestly, I just don’t want to die or shit myself on the Velotron next month)

Truth of the matter is, I’m more or less starting over again at this point.  My fitness is lost, my drive has all but fizzled out and I’m in desperate need to get back into into with passion (aside from my bed that is).  So once our little family has finished our “Big Nash Family Christmas Cruise” next week, it’ll be back ‘at er for good in the New Year and, hopefully, this mountain biking thing will play a major role.

*Yes, I can be somewhat of an indoor cycling snob.

**Okay, there’s no real mountain per se, but there certainly wasn’t any paved pathway either.

I have been trying (largely failing, but trying) lately to re-establish some sort of disciplined regime, or training program of some sort into my every day work week.

Even the motivation to get out of bed in the morning would be nice.

It doesn’t have to be a lot at this point, of course, but I have started feeling like I should be doing something.  However, it feels sometimes that my body has ways of conspiring against me and forcing me to remain sedentary.

For example, once I started to get back into the regular habit of swimming twice a week in the mornings, for God knows what reason, my body also decided that I needed to develop an acute case of wax build up in both my ears, ultimately blocking them up entirely.



Now, I’ve had my ears plugged up before but it had become so that I could hear about as well my grandmother on a windy day.

Not good!

Lest we forget my traumatic perforated ear drum just three years ago (click HERE).

And, apparently, I still have a bit of PTSD regarding that incident because rather than risking another visit to the Urgent Care I decided to do nothing but simply cross my fingers that the situation would simply correct itself.

Of course, it didn’t and I’m a colossal idiot.

After a few weeks of near deafness and a voice now well hoarse from asking people to repeat themselves, I finally managed to make an appointment with my family doctor in St. Catharines.  I should clarify here by pointing out that my family doctor also runs a medical clinic, meaning that I will typically get handed over to whatever medical student happens to be on duty that day.

Unlike the buffoon at the Urgent Care, things went a smoother albeit unsuccessful.

Try as he might, using a metal Medieval-looking syringe contraption, the good doctor simply couldn’t dislodge the waxy obstruction from either of my ears.  By the time we were finished, he was huffing and puffing as if he’d just run a personal best half marathon and I was absolutely drenched from head to toe from being sloshed over with waxy ear water and sweat and, still … nothing.

Not a damn thing.

FML x 2.

As it turns out (and as history has hinted at), I have been blessed with both extremely small ear canals* as well as a propensity to generate some sort of “Super Wax” that isn’t so easily cleared from my ear canals.

‘GO ME!’ with the God-given talents, eh?

For a month or so, I subjected myself to having my ear canals flooded over and over again with special over-the-counter caustic solutions and olive oil 2-3 times a day in an attempt to break down my super wax before having them thoroughly rinsed out with syringful’s of warm water.

It was awful.

Seriously, with all the cotton balls I stuffed in my ears over the weeks, I was about one pair of white socks and sandals away from my seniors discount on the Denny’s “Breakfast Special”.

Never mind the horror this was likely inflicting on my wife for having to be the actual “applier” of said solutions and oils into my ears each night.


It was pretty nasty.

Needless to say, it got very frustrating when after multiple unsuccessful visits to the doctor I started to get rather miserable.

Then, in a moment of apparent clarity, my Kelly suggested that I visit the Hear Right Canada Ridgeway clinic that opened up shop only a few months ago down the road.

My first response: “You waited a fucking month to suggest this?”


My second response: “Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Let’s do this.”

Among the services provided by founders Jenny Fanning and Anne Boake, include: ear wax removal, hearing tests, custom noise plugs and swimming ear plugs, as well as adjustments, service and cleaning for hearing aids.

Essentially, the girls cater to old stubborn farts such as myself.

Upon arriving at the clinic, I was greeted at the front desk by Anne, a very jovial and affable woman who instantly puts you at ease because, well, after my last experience of squirting blood on the Urgent Care walls after having my ear drum perforated, let’s just say that I was in need of some “easing” shall we?

Needless to say, I was more than a tad nervous to be there and her demeanor was much appreciated as it was necessary.

Shortly afterwards, I was escorted into an examining room and introduced to Jenny, an equally nice lady with whom I also felt perfectly at ease.  Well, at much at ease as you can be with someone with whom you are about to trust not to send you skyrocketing through the roof in pain that is, but I digress.  I went through the whole sordid tale and past history with her.  I’m pretty sure that if had had a lute to play, I might even have tried to set it all to song for true dramatic effect but, again, I digress.

Finally, Jenny rolled up her sleeves, and armed with a plastic spray bottle with a weird heart shaped garlic clove sized thingee for a nozzle and a plastic rinse cup, proceeded to get to work and flooded my poor, clogged up ear canals.

Now, I would like to tell you here that I weathered this like a champ but, of course, that didn’t happen.

Not exactly.

Instead, especially, when Jenny began to really dig into my ear with some kind of lighted probe thing, I clung steadfastly to the office chair and whimpered like a frightened koala.  Truthfully, whatever that thing was she was using to scoop the indestructible goop out of my ears, in my peripheral vision – it resembled some sort of strange alien device and it did nothing to alleviate my mounting anxiety.

In fact, when Jenny called for Anne to “put on a pair of gloves and come to assist”, I thought it was going to be to hold my hand because I was being such a little Sally girl.  Instead, it was to tug at and pry open my ear even wider as Jenny really begun to dig into the obstruction.

It’s not painful exactly, but it definitely isn’t comfortable.

In my mind, it was as if they were trying to forcibly uncork a stubborn wine bottle that happened to be my head and it totally sucked balls.

All I could think of was that scene from the Wrath of Khan:

In reality, however, they were gentle as could be and eventually, together, they were able to dislodge the offending blockage from my left ear.


What she fished out and wiped off on the counter in front of me looked like some sort of nasty, waxy cocoon about the size of an affixed pencil eraser.  Sadly, the right ear – the worst of the two I might add – was proving to be much more stubborn so it was decided to call it quits for the day and just take the partial victory for what was and another appointment was made for the following week.

And, so, for another week, I dropped gunk in my ears at bedtime.

This time, however, on Jenny’s advice, I dropped hydrogen peroxide into my ears which, apparently, was to serve to soften, break down, and dissolve my super wax preceding another vigorous round with the spray bottle and probe.  Honestly, it was rather pleasant to fall asleep to the snap, crackle and pop of the hydrogen peroxide working on the accumulated cerumen in my inner ear.

It was like having a bowl of Rice Crispies poured into your ear each night and, strangely, I liked it.

Regardless, it was not with a great amount of stress that I re-entered the clinic a week later ready to do battle.  Thankfully, the office was empty because (similar to the first visit) inevitably, there was going to be lots of swearing and maybe more than a few tears.

Promptly the girls got to work in dealing with my stubborn blocked right ear.  For the next 10-15 minutes, Jenny meticulously rinsed and flushed my right ear canal with the genuine fervour of an overly obsessive-compulsive raccoon and dug at the deeply embedded blockage like a true 49er and Anne responded to each stage of the proceedings, be it positive or negative in result, with the right commentary; always delivered in the appropriate tone.

It was like having both my own play-by-play commentator and cheer leader all rolled up into one.

For my part, I mostly bitched and whined.

Jenny’s monumental labour was on par with mighty Hercules having to clean out the Augean Stables I assure you.

Fortunately, after much effort and a few near close calls, the super wax was finally extracted from my ear and sound flooded back into the right side of my head once again.  I maintain that the first thing I heard was the sound of angels singing.

(I swear!)

I almost broke out into a full on Footloose calibre dance party right there in the empty office.

So, what have I learned through this whole spectacle; what’s my ultimate take away here?

Well, aside from the obvious fact that I need to clean out my ears more, I am proactively assuming a “self-care” preventive plan for my tiny ear canals involving my dropping mineral oil into my ears 2-3 a week to hopefully assist in turning my hard, dry super wax into a more soft, pliable, liquid substance which (fingers crossed) will allow the wax to drain from the ear on its own.

How friggin’ awesome will that be?

Okay, it’s a bit gross too but, once more, I digress.

I guess then that if long distance swimming is going to be the name of my game, so to speak, then like poor Prometheus who was similarly forced to endure having his liver ripped out and eaten daily by an eagle, so too will I just endure my regular ear drops.

(Not to mention my wife, for whom, this will become a new part time job**.)

Likewise, it would appear now as if Jenny and Anne at Hear Right Canada Ridgeway will be having a new, regular client every three months or so for regular ear cleanings because Lord knows I am NOT going through this again.

Onward and forward …

*Thankfully, there is no urban myth associated with guys with “small ear canals”.

**Love you, dear!

On March 2nd, 1962 Wilt Chamberlain set the single-game scoring record in the NBA by scoring 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors in a 169–147 win over the New York Knicks at the Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

It is widely considered to be one of the greatest records in basketball, not to mention in all of sports.

It is also worthy I feel to mention for no reason whatsoever, that ól Wilt also claimed to have slept with over 23,000 women in his lifetime, which would certainly be worthy of some sort of record or renown accomplishment of some sort, but I digress …

Chamberlain also set five other league records that game including most free throws made, a notable achievement, as he was genuinely regarded as a poor free throw shooter.  ut on this particular night, Wilt was in the zone and drained 30 of the 32 times he was sent to the foul line.

Pretty impressive, huh?

But here’s the thing.  Given his notoriety of being a poor free throw shooter, Chamberlain decides to switch his foul line strategy to making his free throws underhand, or a “granny shot” as they are often referred to, which ended up giving him a bit of an advantage.

I know, bear with me here.

Believe it or not, there is a shit ton of science behind the logistics that will make the claim that free throwing underhand is a much more accurate and therefore statistically advantageous way to throw from the foul line, as opposed to the classic overhand approach which is almost always observed by players.

But, for whatever reason, despite all the successes that it brought him that night, Chamberlain decides shortly afterwards to revert back to free throwing overhand simply because he felt “like a sissy”.

Get that.

After arguably the greatest performance of his career, he instead reverts back to doing things differently because that’s what people expected him to do.  In other words, he potentially forgoes even further successes and laurels in the future simply because it went against the grain of what was commonly regarded as the norm by society (ie. everyone else), regardless of the science and logistics behind it.

Essentially, he sacrificed his success for what others believed.

This is also known as the “Threshold Model of Collective Behavior”, or some fancy shit like that.

That’s fucked up, amiright?

Now take Rick Barry, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in history by the NBA in 1996, the only player to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), ABA, and NBA in scoring for an individual season.  At the time of his retirement in 1980 his .900 free throw percentage ranked first in NBA history … all done utilizing the unorthodox but effective underhand free throw shooting technique.


But have you ever heard of Rick Barry before?

I didn’t think so.

And that’s okay, because Rick Barry doesn’t give two shits if you know who he is or not and he never did.

So what does any of this have to do with triathlon or, anything really?

Well, the truth of the matter is that I’ve had just had a similar breakthrough as far as it goes with my cycling as of late.

You might remember a little something called the “Barrie Project” right?  Well, four years later and this classic steel bike is no longer just for simply joyriding around town with Hailey (aka Fabia Von Hall unt Hauser), or on year end Daddy-Daughter rides (click HERE), no sir!  I mean, I still do these things, of course, but it has become more regular that I pull this specific bike out of the shed for organized group rides, plus my own solo evening efforts.  And where I would have typically put on ridiculous mileage on my other two bikes Daisy and Lucille (click HERE) by this time any other year, this year the total kilometers on those bikes pale in comparison to what I’ve already put on my steel bike.

Of the 1,440km I’ve managed to ride so far this year (pittance that it is), 85% have been on my classic steel.

So why is this so significant you ask and what the hell does this have to do with Wilt Chamberlain?

Well, hold onto your sprockets bucko – I’m getting there!

Like most people new to the sport I suspect, I used to be that guy who would show up and instantly be roundhouse kicked in the face with bike envy the moment I stepped into transition.  Everyone’s bike looked far more expensive and, therefore, far better than the used and entry level bikes that I rode because, really, that’s what was in my budget at the time.

Likewise, everyone else around me was upgrading their road-riding and racing rocketships on the regular believing (I presume) that newer, fancier equipment was their best route to further successes.  I even bought on myself and would lust after newer models in bike shops and I have romanticized on more than one occasion of replacing my beloved Daisy but, as fate would have it, I would only needed to look at my checking account to know that it was never going to be in the cards.

And I’m not complaining either, both Daisy and Lucille have served me extremely well and I have no such plans to ever part with or stop riding them.  However, my viewpoint now on what other riders seem to feel about newer, sleeker equipment being the better ride, well …

… let’s just say I’m calling “bullshit”.


Seeing as how I’m not training for anything in particular this year, instead, engaging in something I’m calling the “Great Fattening” of 2019, I’ve been doing a lot more “easy” rides where I haven’t been so concerned with either distance or speed and, as such, have chosen to ride my dad’s old classic steel more regularly than not simply because it’s fun.


It’s fun.

But here’s the thing, despite riding an older, heavy steel framed bike, my times or distances haven’t suffered any.

(Well, as a result of my riding choice that is)

In fact, I’m riding pretty damn well.

The real proof in the pudding came a few weeks back where I opted to ride my classic steel on one of my Thursday more “Drop Rides” in lieu of my regular choice – my road bike Daisy – when it ended up having a flat tire at the last second.  I thought for sure I was doomed.

I mean, c’mon! 

Downshifters and a heavy steel frame on a fast, hard group ride?

That’s KAR-azy!


Even some of the initial looks from the other riders suggested that I might be in trouble.  Surely, in comparison to the fancier, more expensive modern bikes the other riders were riding it might seem that I had arrived at the starting line of the Kentucky Derby riding an ostrich.

But here’s the thing, not only did I NOT get dropped by the group but I ended up at the front doing a good portion of the work, setting the pace, and even kicking off the lead out for the final sprint at the end.

In other words, everything I do on a ride normally!

Really, this should come as to no surprise as these bikes have completed the Tour De France, scaling mountains, and hammering out insanely fast individual time trials, why would this bike be any different now?

And, in fact, it’s not.

It’s just that I never realized it could or, rather, *I* could.

In that manner, it’s like learning to drive Standard automobiles, as opposed to Automatic.  Sure, it maybe new and a bit nerve-wracking at first, but with time and experience most drivers tend to be swayed over to the Standard format, usually because it more emulates the sense of “driving” and I am finding that older bikes are similar in that respect ; they just “ride” better.

I have no scientific studies to back up this claim, so you’ll just have to believe me in this regard*.

Perhaps it was just confidence in getting used to riding with downshifters, and different sizes rings and cogs and other mechanical hocus-pocus, or maybe it was just my own case of Threshold Model of Collective Behavior, believing that I was only ever going to be the better rider by riding expensive new bikes.

But no more!

Wilt Chamberlain, I am not!


As it is now, I’m looking backwards as opposed to forwards in regards to cycling and technology and with more time in the saddle; so too comes confidence and skill to use it.

So much so (I am hoping anyway), that it is now an intention of mine to do something epic on my steel bike.  Maybe just little more epic than my Daddy-Daughter rides that is.  Perhaps a Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon next season; take it “old school” as it were and really test my meddle against these seemingly fancier and definitely more expensive bikes.

I would love to be the fat old guy riding an authentic 35-year-old Bianchi Triathlon road bike.

So, yeah, bring on the carbon-fibre rocketships – let’s do this!


I also have it in mind to do a complete self-supported Century ride (160km) on it as well, perhaps in the Fall after I’ve completed “Fabia’s Big Ride 2019”.

Whatever it is going to be, I’m certainly not looking at it with any anxiety or trepidation.  As I currently see it, it seems to be the perfect way to challenge myself in a very unique way.  After all, how many people can say they ride hard on a steel bike these days … much less compete?

I want to be that guy.

And I don’t care anymore who knows it!

*You’ll only need to saddle up and hop on my back wheel if you ever really want to know for sure.

Goals for 2019

Posted: April 21, 2019 in Motivation, The Plan
Tags: ,

Recently, I have fending off lots questions from my friends and peers (least of all my wife) about what events or competitions I am thinking of participating in this summer, and while I was all gung-ho even just four months ago to get back at it training-wise towards something, anything, well, let’s just say that I am currently looking at things a bit differently these days.

Initially, I thought I’d go back to short course racing this year; sprints and Olympic distance. I’m confident now that I could “train” fairly easily for distances without having to make many sacrifices physically, personally, or of the vastly underappreciated commodity in triathlon (especially long distance) … TIME.

As it turns out though, my motivation this year has become something much different and therefore, taking my “training” in a very different direction.

In fact, I’m hesitant to use the word “training” at all.

The New Year started pretty well with me getting back into a regular swim, bike and run program.  I even started attending some cross-training classes, and lifting weights.  Hell, I even invited a newly certified personal trainer friend of mine to totally rip out my asshole and rearrange my innards on Tuesday nights over the course of 60 minutes of intense circuit-training.  I’m not even exaggerating.

I will admit that my third round of early morning core workouts (click HERE) pretty much fell off the radar but, hey … sue me.

I think 243 days of self-inflicted core workouts over three years so far, isn’t bad.

About a month ago, however, I noticed that my usual “go forth and get it done” hutzpah was somewhat lacking, preferring instead to roll over at 4:15am and opt for another 90 minutes of sleep before work.  I had lost that spring in my step, so to speak.  There was always a reason or an excuse; I wasn’t “feeling well”; I was “listening to my body”; it’s a “recovery week”.  The list went on and on but, truthfully, there was nothing wrong with me.

I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

First, however, it’s important to state for the record that I have NOT stopped working out.  I am still swimming, running, cycling, lifting weights, and doing lazy yoga in my underwear on the weekends in lieu of a disciplined daily core strengthening program.  I’m still doing it all; I’m just not doing it as intensely or for as long a time and, true, sometimes I just roll over and sleep in instead.

So what I am contemplating on doing, you ask?

What crazy adventure or insanely stupid challenge am I going to take on to punishment myself over?

Nothing …

Absolutely buckus!

Instead, I’m going to be a dad and a husband again … albeit, a very active one.

A few things have occurred to me over the past few weeks.  My past three years of Ironman training have taken me away from my family for hours and, quite often, days at a time; they don’t call it an “Iron Widow” for nothing.  It was a simple necessity of the process:  swim, bike, run … a lot!  I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s trained for a long distance triathlon that will tell you there is an expected amount of stress that goes along with it; and not just the workouts themselves, I’m talking about the normal daily stresses that go along with trying to accomplish everything around everything else – namely your family and friends.

Let’s not even mention the stress involved if a workout is cancelled or doesn’t go as planned.

Did I go far enough?  Did I go hard enough?  Do I need to do more?


I’m kind of done with that shit for a while.

Presently, I’m planning on being around a lot more this summer to ride bikes with my step-daughter, as well as other great people that I just never get a chance to ride with because I was always out “training”.   I also wanted to organize group rides from the local Brimstone Brewery (and my sponsor – click HERE) to show off the amazing area I which I am fortunate to live and (*ahem*) train, help a few participants from my Monday night Master’s spin class get out on the road on their own bikes, I wanted to be available to help new swimmers get in the open water confidently, I wanted to support fledgling triathletes learn the basic “in’s and  out’s” of the sport without immediately feeling obligated to drop big money with the first “Iron Guru” that convinces them they need their astute guidance and about six kabillon dollars of unnecessary equipment.  Most importantly, I want to spend time with my family.

Oh, one more thing … I also wanted to be able to do a full squat.

Without the pressures of “training”, especially that required for Ironman, I’m feeling liberated to do more of things that I couldn’t before … the fun things.

One could argue the important things.

(Right, Steve?)

Oh yes, I’d also like to be able to have the time to update this blog more as well.

Anyway, so what does this mean for my summer plans and goals then?

Well, regardless of not having to be defined by a specific training schedule per se, I still have this intrinsic need to somewhat structure my weekly activities to ensure I am still on the righteous path of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, keeping my triathlon-specific skills somewhat in check and, well, not turn into a total blimp for all the guilt-free craft beer I’ll inevitably drink this summer.

With all that in mind, priority no.1 is supporting HRH in her quests to be active this summer and among her chosen healthy lifestyle passions is swimming and cycling.  Beginning with swimming, my goal is continue developing my stroke instead of going right for the distance and long swim sets.  Instead, I’ll remain focus on developing my catch and adding some short speed sets to mix things up from the usual program.

This, however, will inevitably means that for a while in comparison to my peers who follow a disciplined training program, where once I entered the pool deck like this …


It’s, sadly, now going to be more like this:

Graceful isn’t it?

But I don’t care.

The idea is that I’m going to continue spending that quality active time with my step-daughter and once the water decides to rise to a reasonable temperature that isn’t like diving into a minus-zero Arctic temp ice bath, we’ll hopefully transition into cooling off together in the humid summer evenings by swimming in the open waters of Lake Erie a whopping two minutes away, or at the International Flatwater Center in Welland.

Ideally, I’d like to continue swimming 2-3 times a week, albeit not necessarily long or intensely.

One of Hailey’s goals this summer besides her third crack at the Big Move this year, is another big “Daddy-Daughter Bike Adventure” together in the fall.

Leading up to that, I’d like to be able to use some of this extra time and organize more destination rides around the area so can better appreciate some of the amazing countryside and communities we have here in the Niagara Region; horses and endless pastureland; sweet-smelling vineyards; “Pick Your Own” fruit farms and roadside stands; small town cafes and bakeries; fragrant orchards overladen with ripening (and rotting) apples, pears and peaches; long rolling descents along the Niagara escarpment; the gradual sloping climbs back up again; I would like her to experience all of it.

As much as we can anyways.

As far as running goes, well, I’m going to continue to allow myself to fail in some regards.

My current plan is to continue keeping the runs short and infrequent with one longer run on the weekends somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-50 minutes, perhaps getting up to approximately an hour.  This is going to be more in the hopes that I can maintain some of my run specific strength I developed the past three years while not having to endure endless fartlek runs in the extreme heat and humidity of summer … something I have always struggled with during the summer months.  After all, nobody likes a fat, sweaty runner wrapped in Lyrca (least of all me) so aside from the “long” weekend jaunts outside, a good portion of my runs this summer might be accomplished on the treadmill in the mornings as either a warm-up or supplement cardio workout after a strength workout at the gym in the early mornings.

As far as distances and run goals are concerned, ideally, I have none.  If I can manage to keep myself within being able to accomplish, say, a 10k run without killing myself I’d be very happy indeed.  Perhaps this then provides more opportunities to try this whole “trail running” thing and see what all the bearded hippie runners are blogging and podcasting about.  I have tried a few “off roads” runs recently and, surprisingly, they were pretty cool so, yeah, maybe I’d like to do more a bit more of those too.

One thing that is important for me to maintain is my strength and flexibility.

I’d love to join a yoga studio again but, really, that works against the whole plan of freeing up more time to spend with the family.  However, these two things are both fundamental in maintaining both my “triathlon specific skills” as well and being able to continue working long, hot, hard days and still being able to come home and ride my bike and swim in the canal so, essentially, I’m going to begin using my morning out of the pool to focus on the heavy iron and developing better core strength; of which, is typically much less than where it currently is and should be at this point in the training season.

To this regard, I’m succeeding as the slower, more methodical session with the weights have proven to be a rather good start to the morning for me in the way that swimming is and not, say, running* – I just plug in my Yurbuds, set the meter to “kick ass” and go all Schwarzenegger  with the heavy iron.

Well, in my mind anyway.

Yoga has been reserved for free mornings in my underwear in the basement, with Toby the Cat and a cup of coffee just it has been for the past few months; perhaps in the future, but for now, this desire to re-establish a regular “practice” will just have to remain on the back burner.

Having said that, I still do get to practice a very undisciplined variety of yoga each and every day when I get out of my work truck and enter the work site where my inability to either do a very low crawl, hold a plank, perform and hold a squat, and maneuver into tight and confined spaces more or less means that my body is getting a variety of workouts and “poses” over the ordinary workday.  Essentially, it’s a continuation of the “On-the-Job Training” mindset I was attempting to put myself into last year exactly one year ago.

There is one thing however that will inevitably pre-empt a few of these plans eventually as I am expecting the call to come from the good people at the Brock University Kinesiology Department headed by Dr. Stephen Cheung to return to the “torture chamber” for God knows what kind of testing.

Whatever it is, I’ll be ready … mentally and physically.

It likely will not be my finest moment fitness-wise, but it will also give me that same adrenaline rush through suffering and sense of accomplishment that I have gotten before, and would ordinarily get from competition otherwise.  What it says about me that I like to be experimented on and tortured by guys in lab coats as a way of developing and learning about myself, who the fuck knows — but I will do it happily once that call comes.

What it all comes down to in regards to “training” this year if you really need to put a fine point on it, is that I’m training to be a dad, a husband and all round swell guy this year.

Full stop.

This is going to be the relatively stress-free year of fun.

By the way … I can now successfully do a full squat despite my burgeoning beer gut.



I’m already killing it.

*Morning warm-ups and supplemental cardio workouts excluded.

In past years I have made the traditional ‘For the Triathlete Who Has Everything’ (1, 2, 3 and 4) post to offer up helpful and exciting gift ideas for your triathlete.  Other times I give more, shall we say, “thrifty” ideas on what to get your triathlete for Christmas (HERE and HERE) and on one occasion I went all miserly and posted about what NOT to get your triathlete for Christmas (click HERE).  This year, I’m going back to the miserly bit but not because I don’t want anything, per se, but because I don’t actually need anything.

Well, nothing that I would ever trusts anyone else to shop for but me – and even then, barely me.

I suppose then that that makes this post the sequel for ‘What NOT to Give Your Triathlete for Christmas’ … just in case, you know, you were still feeling any pressure.

  1. A dog/puppy

I get it:  everybody is at some point in their lives in love with the idea of getting a dog.  We pride our own family on being adopters and rescuers of needy cats but even still, HRH will stare lovingly at the puppies in the display pen windows should we pass a pet store.  They will even try to justify this desire of theirs as being a good idea for dear old dad (or mom) since, hey, you know, we like to run and all.  And what a better Christmas present than getting  me a loyal running companion for all those long lonely winter runs?

I call bullshit.

First of all, have you ever tried running with a dog on a leash?  How about having to stop in the middle of intervals to scoop up steaming dog shit?  Sounds like a real giggle, right?  How about when said dog spots a squirrel running in the opposite direction on the other side of the street and you suddenly find yourself being dragged ass over tea kettle across the road through traffic?  No?

Me neither and I aim to keep it that way thank you very much!

Secondly, just because I might be a glutton for punishment doesn’t the poor dog is going to have the same affiliation for minus zero temperatures and icy roadways so, unless you’re going to heartlessly shove poor Fido out the door despite his hesitation, let’s face it – I’ll end up running alone anyway while Fido instead occupies my warm spot in the bed.

  1. Tickets to any show after 8:00pm

Are you fucking kidding me?  These people do know we have to be in the pool for 4:30am, right?

Therefore we don’t function very well at night so, yeah, no thanks!

  1. Bike decals

Just don’t.

  1. Protein powder

I know, I know, its “good for me” and, yes, I do enjoy protein smoothies and stuff from time to time but, by now, I am pretty partial to my own blend and unique recipes so, yeah, cheers!  And if anyone buys me any of that Walmart brand cricket protein shit because it’s all trendy now, I swear, I will come over to your house and slash your car tires.  This does not only prove that you don’t give two shits about me, but that you’re also a tightwad and where I usually appreciate a good sense of fiscal frugality, it’s Christmas for fuck sakes!

How about not totally cheaping out on the cricket powder?

  1. A race registration

Definitely do not sign me up for anything specific.


By this I mean, do not register and otherwise financially commit me to something that is not a triathlon event.

I am not interested in doing a Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or – God forbid – a Zombie Run so, please, do not commit me to anything outside my own anticipated training and race schedule lest you want me to take a dump in the front seat of your car after I slash your tires.

Now, if you’re offering to pay for something I’m already going to sign up for. well, that’s entirely different and God bless you sir.

  1. Body Glide

‘Why not?’ you might ask yourself; after all, I do use and can always use more of the stuff.  But consider this, would you ever in a million years consider giving your wife a mop for Christmas?  Fuck no!  After you dodged the inevitable barrage of pots and pans, you’d be presented with a stern lecture that equates to what Moses must have received at the very top of Mount Sinai, on how a mop is an “inappropriate” gift to give for Christmas.  Now how about giving her, oh say, a douche?

Definitely a hard ‘No’, right?

So how then you do you think I’m going to fucking feel then when you give me a tube of lube for my balls?

  1. A Crossfit membership

Why don’t you just do the humane thing and take me out behind the shed and shoot.

  1. A CD of anything

Yes, it’s true, I spend inordinate amounts of time listening to music when I swim, spin, lift weights and what have you, but still, please do not get me that ‘Hot Party Tunes Vol. 18’ or ’The Greatest Kick Ass Songs of 2014’.  I will not use them for my next spin class and, besides, who the fuck plays CD’s anymore anyways?