Hudson Valley Full Triathlon

Posted: July 22, 2018 in Races
Tags: ,

Three years ago (2015) I started off on a half-baked quest to do something EPiC (click HERE), but it turned to be an EPiC disappointment instead (click HERE).  The next year that EPiC disappointment escalated into an EPiC disaster (click HERE).

This year, thank god… that original half-baked quest was finally realized.

Leading into 2018’s Hudson Valley full length triathlon (Ironman distance) through 2017 and 2018 I’ve had to confront some very different obstacles and challenges in seeing this goal through to the end.  Besides all the new hardware in my left hand, I’ve started a new and very physical job through the week, had the wind taken out of my sails (click HERE) and, truthfully, I just haven’t had the same amount of time to train as I have in the past.  That’s not to say I’ve slacked any, as anyone who knows me will also know that I work hard (as well as over-commit myself to other things hard as Kelly will be quick to point out), and I do not take training lightly – ever.

In fact, I think the quality of my training is actually very decent given I have largely strayed away from the “herd mentality” and therefore taken over my own training plan and race strategy.  However, even one and two years down the road, well, let’s just say that completing the same amount of distances and lead-up training time simply wasn’t possible this year.

I absolutely did the best I could with the time I had.

It is what it is.

While it may not have been my crowning achievement in triathlon, I am still very proud of my accomplishment and, ultimately, I learned a great deal about myself through this entire process.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t also attempt to regale you then with the official final closing chapter to this whole quest to be a two-time Ironman ordeal (yes, I genuinely think of the last three years’ worth getting to the starting line this year as an “ordeal” in every painful Viking sense of the word), so grab yourself a beverage of some sort and a handful of Gummies and let me try to recount for you how it all went down this past weekend.

(Friday, July 6th – 3:45am)

I had already begun feeling the nerves for about a week previous to this morning, but waking up bright and early on Friday morning and seeing this in my inbox:

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Well, let’s just say that the nervous anxiety turned more into desperate feeling of “oh shit!”

The plan was to get an early start in the morning and make some progress towards our destination.  We couldn’t check into our hotel 3:00pm (something about a cot) and the athlete orientation was at 2:00pm and then bike check begins at blah blah blah … we all arrived safely and early, had a quaint drive through the “rolling hills” around Rosendale, snacked at a downtown park and, dropped Lucille off at transition and by 6:41pm we were asleep, lights out, in the hotel room; our plan perfectly executed.

No fatalities.

Swim: 1:10:38

Pace: 1:46/100m

Rank: 2/16

I have to say, the girls were fantastic.

As planned, we were all up and ready to go within minutes and I was chowing down one of her special Keto-breakfast sandwiches and a banana.  Shortly afterwards, we were packed up in the car by 4:27am – three minutes ahead of schedule.

Again, no fatalities.

I gotta say, so far so good.

On route, we stopped at the local hick market by the roadside and picked up a coffee and, presto!, just as Kelly had anticipated we had we arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the race site promptly at 5:00am for first crack at a parking spot.  Because, hey, who doesn’t like an extra hour to sit around and stress pre-race, amiright?

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Once my coffee was done, I figured I should get moving and as the girls napped in the car, I started to get myself in pre-race mode and began to set up Lucille in transition and just basically whiled away some of the pre-race downtime listening to tunes on my iPod and trying not to shit my pants.

I do also want to note here for the record that usually when I roll into transition I tend to feel a bit like a triathlon hobo.  I lust over and sometimes get intimidated by other triathletes with fancy and more expensive equipment.  I realize this is a ridiculous thing to feel but, hey, that’s just how it goes anyway.

Anyway, this time around with Lucille all decked out with her new fancy carbon fibre Easton race wheels that I had purchased last summer and have been waiting to use.  These babies have a new Vittoria Corsa 25mm rear tire rear and a 22mm Continental Sprinter in front with only ONE ride in them and Ultegra cassette components.

TranslationTHEY LOOK BADASS.

Now, suddenly, walking into transition this morning was more like this:

At least it was in my mind anyway.

I should also perhaps mention here for the record, that on this particular morning I was listening specifically to Into the Frey’, the haunting theme music to the 2012 Liam Neeson film ‘The Grey’.

 

Don’t ask me why the theme music to a movie about a guy who gets hunted down in the Arctic by a vicious pack of hungry, starving wolves gets me all revved up in competition mode, but there you have it folks.

I am a unique and beautiful snowflake.

I remember when I used to listen to ZZ Top, Motley Crue and Aerosmith to get me all amped up in and now all my pre-race motivational playlists contain things like ‘Con te partirò’ by Andrea Bocelli and Two Thousand Places at Onceby the Polyphoic Spree and, yes, the theme to The Grey’.

I must be getting old or something.

Anyway, it was announced at the previous afternoon’s orientation that this was to be considered as a non-wetsuit legal race according to USAT regulations as the water was a balmy 83°.

It was like swimming in bath water.

This excited me.

I was already playing with the notion of ditching the wetsuit altogether so that announcement made my decision making process that much easier.

I mean, I love my wetsuit n’ all but, hey, if we’re going to be Ironman then let’s be real ass-kicking Ironmen, amifuckingright?

It’s July after all.

 

Anyway, the buoys hadn’t been set up in the water yesterday but the map made the route look pretty simple enough – four counter clockwise loops around four buoys through “the pristine spring-fed Williams Lake” and another 400500m jog to transition.

Simple, right?

The problem was, what we could envision was supposed to be there in our brains we just couldn’t see as the first of the buoys – a bright neon yellow buoy no less – was completely obstructed by the blinding glare from the early morning neon yellow sunrise coming over Joppenbergh Mountain.

No shit.

You couldn’t see shit without also burning out your retinas.

But I digress…

The swim was an open water start with the men for both the half and full distances starting together (the women three minutes afterwards) and it wasn’t long after wading into the water that I had lined myself up smack dab in front and center of the group, stared into the blinding sunrise where, apparently, one of two mysterious buoys awaited us, and waited for the official countdown to begin…

…and then I peed.

Yup.

I pissed myself right then and there amongst the small pod of other athletes lightly treading in the pristine spring-fed waters of Williams Lake.

It was glorious.

Who said triathlon wasn’t sexy?

Seconds after that, the horn sounded to start the official beginning of the race and I was furiously paddling in the general direction of where I had hoped I would eventually find a bright yellow swim buoy.  Thing is, everybody else seemed to have their own idea on where in dawn’s early light that buoy was so, a medium group of about six swimmers at the front took off in different directions which led to a lot of early confusion.

In short, it was a clusterfuck.

“Swim to where…??

…to what?”

WHERE?!!

Other swimmers (I heard) just froze right there altogether at the starting line.

Fuck it…

I made a general bearing the direction of a few other swimmers and starting heading towards what I thought what as good a spot as any to find a buoy, namely, directly into the sun.  It’s wasn’t long afterwards before I (and a few others I expect) I realized I was cutting too deeply into the loop and would have to veer out again 200-300m to arrive at what I very thankfully made out to be the first bright yellow buoy in the distance.

My apologies to any other athletes that may have been too trusting me let me site for them.

Oops.

I arrived at the first buoy with about three other swimmers and we snaked around it counter-clockwise, looked into the horizon where we knew the second buoy was supposed to be, and….

…mist.

Lots of early morning mist rising off the warm waters of the lake.  Great that we were now swimming away from the sun n’ all but, shit…

Here we go again.

And so once again I swam into the unknown and again I ended up too far outside the loop and had to veer myself back in again another 300-400m once I was able to pick out the buoy.  I tried not to get too frustrated as one thing was going very well, my arms and shoulders felt great, my stroke felt comfortable and everything seemed to be turning over rather well and I started to drop the other few swimmers around me.

I was pleased.

There were no issues siting the next two buoys and I used this opportunity to just keep my pace on point and “stay within myself” as I’ve practiced many times before on long swims.  Of course, there’s the other popular “no bubbles” mantra that I have perfected over countless hours of drilling over the past three years.

Train to race, and then race how you train.

Oh yeah, I peed again too so my hydration was definitely on point as well.

Yay.

As per usual, I found myself more or less swimming by myself, just behind the main scrum of faster swimmers and, well, everyone else.  As I rounded the fourth buoy, it was back trying to site into the sun again an I’d like to say that I made a better effort at arriving at it this time having been here once before, but I can’t…

I was off by another 200-300m but, this time, from the other direction.

Shitsticks!

And then I did it again at the second buoy which was still hidden by the morning mist.

I could only hope that everyone else was having as much difficulty.

Seriously, here’s the grizzly evidence I (hold your judgement):

swim route image

Ugly, right?

Seriously, a blind pelican could site better than that.

Mental Note to Self:  More practice siting in open water.

Anyway, by the time I started my third loop the sun had shifted enough behind the mountain (or tree, or whatever) enough that, low and behold, I could make out the buoy.  By now everything was feeling well into “go mode” and, of course, I had a near empty bladder now to boot, so I decided to increase my pace a bit.

Also by this time, I was now catching up to and passing other swimmers completing their own loops, albeit, behind me.  It wasn’t much of a problem to navigate around them, of course, just another day swimming at the Port Colborne YMCA with The Harpy if you ask me, but it was no longer simply a strait run to the buoys either.  Now that neither the sun nor mist played a factor any longer, I just kept turning things over smoothly and before you know it I had completed my four loops and was heading to shore.

Here’s am exciting video of me exiting the water:

Reeeeeal chill, man.

Now it must also be noted here for the record, that transition was still another 400-500m dash over a shredded wood chip and paved tarmac so that helps explain a little about my hefty swim time result and slower than expected pace.

(That’s my excuse anyway)

Bike: 06:04:08

Avg. Pace: 28.1 kph

Rank: 2/16

By the time I made it to transition, it was a complete hive of activity with other triathletes all milling about and setting up.  It was nice to have a few cheers of course but, seriously people, get the heck out of the way!

Having said that, it must also go on record here that my transition skills are more than a little slacking so any distraction that might have been caused by other traffic would be mute.  Even though I was doing nothing more than drying off my feet and getting into my cycling gear, I’m pretty sure I could have even made myself a little campfire breakfast as well given how slowly everything seemed at the time (Official T1 time: 2:46:95).  You see, unique to this race (as least to me anyway) was the inclusion of a little personal stool upon to sit while you do whatever you like while you’re there.

So, yeah, I’m taking advantage of that shit for sure.

Problem is though, you also get comfortable.

Regardless, once my tootsies were dry, socked and I was otherwise ready to go, I wished my family and friends goodbye and made my way to the bike mount line to begin 180 kilometers of ridiculousness.  I was the only one at the bike mount line at the time and it then became very clear it was going to be a very long and lonely bike ride; more or less, exactly what I had trained for having done 95% of my long weekend rides solo.

Let me try and put you in that particular head space as I saw it at that moment.

The majority of the athletes I started with are long gone having only needed to complete two laps of the swim, and the only completion in my own full triathlon category was ten minutes up the road already.

In other triathlons I have participated in, there is almost certainly a guarantee that there will be other athletes around with whom to share the race course and push each other against.  That’s racing and that’s what I wanted to experience today but at the moment, there was really nothing left to do but put my head down and give chase to whoever it was that next down the road and that’s exactly what I was preparing myself to do.

Push.

After all, I hadn’t purchased new race wheels for nothing.

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About 200m out into the bike course is where the first of a few “Race Day Debacles” (minus the invisible buoys that is) occurred:

My bike computer wasn’t working.

tenor

I stopped to make a quick adjustment but that didn’t seem to work either so I just made the decision, fuck it, we’re doing this thing blind.

I mean, I wasn’t totally blind as my Garmin was still tracking my distance and important race data but I just wouldn’t be able to constantly see my speed which is something I like to reference regularly while riding (my Garmin isn’t set up to view my speed on the main screen).  This wasn’t really any big deal, of course, as it was just one less thing to worry about while riding but, c’mon, one likes to know these things when they’re zipping along open spans of roads, especially given my new race wheels.

(Note:  I did manage to get myself up to 65.9kph at one point)

Essentially, the bike course was two loops up to and around “the majestic Ashokan Reservoir”.

What this really means is that there were a sweet shit ton of hills to contend with up to, around, and of course, back down again to transition and then, yup, out you go again for lap #2.  Now I could have sworn that when I first discovered this race two years ago (click HERE) that I also read somewhere that the bike course offered “gentle rolling hills”.

Ha!

“Gently rolling hills” my ass.

Or at least, the perspective of one who does not necessarily live in the vicinity of mountains is a little bit more askew than those who do.  Let’s just say that those who live in mountains have a very different take on hills than those ordinary mooks such as myself who consider the Ridgemont Rd. overpass as a genuine “hill”.

These weren’t “gentle rolling hills”, these were fucking climbs.

“Gently rolling hills” or not.

And there were a lot of ‘em, especially in the first 25-30 kilometers out to the State Hwy 28A.

2,157m worth in total over the entire 180 kilometer bike course.

For me, that’s one shitload of climbing.

It’s moments like this that I absolutely curse myself for not really wanting to know too much about the course pre-race (or weather predictions for that matter), preferring instead to be surprised on race day.

Let me give you a visual.

Here is the elevation map for one of my usual weekly training rides:

bikecourse1

Pancake flat.

How’s this by comparison:

bikecourse2

Insane, right?

All things considered, Thunder n’ Lightning have been strong in the pedals the past two years and I managed to get up and over each hill in turn and it wasn’t long before I was starting to catch the half triathlon participants one by one.

At some point I passed the Marbletown Park and there was an overwhelming smell of bacon wafting up from campers Coleman stoves and grills.

It was torture.

It was also around this period that I realized Race Day Debacle #2, my fancy race wheels had been more or less completely neutralized with all the climbing. Of course there were descents but they were sharp and winding and I was spending more time keeping myself under control and rubber side down than opening it up and risking life and limb.  One particular decent literally had me so scared at one point that my testicles retreated back into my abdomen to hide.  It certainly gives you a new perspective what professional cyclists are accomplishing when they race down the sides of mountains at insane speed up to and over 90kph, that’s for sure.

Having said all that, there were certainly some very scenic landscapes and picturesque vistas along the way.

The Hudson Valley was proving to be gorgeous what little I could focus on briefly taking in.

It wasn’t until I got to Highway 28 in Boiceville that I was really able to open up the legs and take advantage of my new race wheels.  It wasn’t a closed highway but there was a large bike lane on the side of the road and it was here I truly started to put in some decent legwork passing another dozen or so athletes in the process.  The wheels felt awesome and I loved the powerful “whopping” noise they made as I effortlessly sailed along the pavement as if I was gliding across glass and I was loving every last second of it and trying to savour it as I also knew that there were plenty more hills to come still.

(Mental Note to Self:  Next even with race wheels must be flat!)

I tried to be encouraging ever I passed the half iron stragglers but, secretly, I was revelling in the whole pursuit and chase; mark the next rider, reel them in, pass, mark the next rider, reel them in, pass, and so it goes…

It definitely passed the long periods where I was cycling alone.

Somewhere after West Hurley, we turned south again and along Dike Rd. which then skirts along the bank of the Ashokan Reservoir itself and, believe me, it was worth popping up out of the aero position temporarily to take a good appreciative look, then it was another handful of gummy bears, and then back into aero and tapping out a good rhythm with the pedals.

So far, hills and computer bullshit aside everything was feeling good.  There was no aching in my left foot which is apt to happen from time to time, the stitch I was experiencing earlier in my side had subsided and I was now working myself steadily through the mid-field of half triathlon athletes, I was being careful to eat and hydrate, and everything was otherwise going well.

But coming back along Hwy 213 to complete my first lap I ran into Race Day Debacle #3 as I began running into the other Sprint and Olympic athletes who were clearly into their own thing which, obviously, involved occupying as much of the road as possible.  Likewise, seeing as how the narrower roads weren’t closed to motorists, there was the odd impatient jackass driving a huge ass pickup to contend with as well and after 80-85 kilometers of solo riding, this was proving to be a bit stressful seeing as how I was cruising in most cases much faster than the other triathletes I now found myself among.

In essence, I had to begin working my way through a now busy race course to complete my first loop.

Now, I definitely try to be a polite and encouraging participant but, seriously, I could only give my head a shake in some cases.  For example, apparently, “Passing on your left” is an open invite to have the rider directly ahead of you veer to the left in front of you and thereby prevent you from getting by.

Who knew?

I only wish I was talking about an isolated situation too.

Anyway, shortly afterwards, I arrived back to the beginning (the entrance to transition) but I didn’t see any obvious sign of a turn around so I called out to the spectators who, for the most part, looked as confused as I was, for some assistance.  Thankfully, my wife was there and having taken control of the area quickly pointed out that, yes, this was indeed where I was turning around to head back out for the second lap…

…or, 25-30 more kilometers of “gently rolling hills”.

Again…

Yay.

She also let me know that I was still in 2nd position not having lost any (much) time to the lone rider ahead of me.  I also opted to not go with my Special Needs bag as I was still feeling pretty on point about my calorie intake (which, for the most part primarily consists of Nutella, gummy bears and dried mango slices – click HERE) and that I still had lots left over to last me another loop, not to mention I still had my coveted half time treat-slash-secret weapon: a frozen Mars bar taped to my crossbar.

I have to say though, I wasn’t quite so immediately eager for another 25-30 kilometers of gently rolling hill bullshit but suck it up I did.  It became evident at this point very quickly that this lap was going to be even lonelier than the first now that all the half triathlon cyclists were no longer be on the road not having been crazy enough to agree to do this course a second fucking time.

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But, hey, good for me!

The second loop went pretty much the same of the first with me munching, gulping and pedaling my way around Ashokan Reservoir for the second time.  By this time though, it was much more humid, the wind had picked up somewhat and the smell wafting out of the Marbletown Park was primarily of hamburgers and hotdogs instead and it was equally torturous.

I also had to pee …

… but I kept rolling while shoveling dried mango slices into my pie hole like an engineer shoveling coal into the boiler of a locomotive steam engine.

I think in the end my second loop was about 2 minutes slower than my first loop but considering all the stupid ass climbing I’d been doing I was happy nonetheless, especially seeing as how this ride also represented a 53 minute improvement over my Ironman Wales ride.  In fact, I’d say that this ride was on par with the extreme difficulty level of the Ironman Wales bike course and the only difference here being, that I’m a much stronger rider now than I was back then.

I distinctly remember being desperate to get off the bike in 2012 but today, I could have kept riding today and there been a need to be and, in truth, there may have been as my Garmin only registered a mere 172 kilometers (not that I was complaining at the time mind you).

All minor Race Day Debacles aside, it turned out to be a decent ride managing an average pace of 28.1kph for an official bike time of 6:04:08 (3rd fastest overall), which given all the climbing, (1,925m worth) wasn’t too bad considering my meagre “hill” preparation going in.  I had also burned a total of 9,197 calories throughout and, so far, my energy stores still felt pretty high.

So far …

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But, of course, that all went to hell in hand basket the moment I dismounted the bike to enter transition for the second time.

But, of course, that all went to hell in hand basket the moment I dismounted the bike to enter transition for the second time.

If you recall, I really had to pee at the beginning the second loop – just over three hours ago.

The challenging thing with the transition set up is that it only had athlete Porto-potties at the Bike entrance and not at the Run entrance over on the opposite side of the transition where the full distance triathletes such as myself, were set up.  So that meant either racking my bike then running back to drain the weasel or, lean my bike somewhere and do it before going to my transition set-up.

I chose for the later and, boy, what a mistake that was!

Enter Race Day Debacle #4:  do not attempt to piss seconds after coming off a hilly 180 kilometer bike ride.

(WARNING:  The following stanza or two may be too disturbing for sensitive readers, viewer discretion is strongly advised)

The first immediate challenge was just in finding my dick.  I mean, after six hours of being ground into a hard leather saddle all over God knows what mountain, let’s just say that’s not a simple task – especially if you have on such things as tri-suits and race belts.  The second I found what I though was Mr. Happy (who, clearly was not very happy), he just let loose with great vengeance and furry upon the inside of the doomed Port-potty.

It was pretty much this:

I know.

I’m ashamed of myself but it simply could not be avoided.

My sincerest apologies to whoever it was that unwittingly stumbled into that hot mess afterwards.

Feeling like a festering petri-dish of contagion, I exited the Porto-potty, reclaimed my bike and made my way – slowly but purposely – back to my transition area …

Run: 05:25:38

Avg. Pace: 7:37min/km

Rank: who cares

… and directly into Race Day Debacle #5

For the past few weeks, I have been snacking on pickles and taking a shot of pickle juice throughout the working day.  It helps to stave off and sooth over muscle cramps, it’s an excellent hydrator, it’s a fat free recovery aid, it’s chalked full of antioxidants and electrolytes and, yeah, you can definitely look forward to a future post about the benefits of pickles for sure!  But, anyway, I figured rather last minute that it might also be a wise thing to have a little shot of pickle juice once I got off the bike to begin the marathon.  I secured two healthy-sized pickles and a shot of juice inside a chilled mason jar and then wrapped it in tin foil and left it my transition with my running gear feeling all clever with myself.

Upon racking Lucille, I sat down on my stool, removed my cycle shoes and opened my much-anticipated and looked forward to jar of sweet, sweet briny goodness and, immediately geysered it back out again like the comedic foil who’s mistakenly ingested turpentine.

I think I might have even scaled my tongue a bit.

The thing that I hadn’t counted on is that that metal wrapped glass jar when left out in the hot sun for 6-7 hours begins to turn itself into a small pressure cooker.  Essentially, my pickles had been cooking in their own juice since I had ventured out on the bike course.

I guess the good thing is that I now know why Pickle Soup is not a thing. And, just in case there are any aspiring young hipster entrepreneurs out there thinking to themselves, “Hmm, pickle soup?!”, just fucking forget about it.

Not happening!

Nasty.

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You’ve been told.

In fact, everything I had left in my transition area was either now a hot, tepid liquid or a gooey sticky mess; nothing at all appealing.  Unsatisfied, I put on my running shoes and reluctantly strapped on the fuel belt that I had prepped and had also left sitting in the sun (“Mmmm!  More hot , mushy gummy bears!”) and I started to make my way towards the start of the Run course.

Both Kelly and Hailey were at the beginning of the course and cheered for me as I went past but, sadly, I think by that time I had already begun to put myself into “Crisis Mode” and mentally prepping myself for what I knew was going to be a very difficult marathon so I didn’t acknowledge them as warmly as I would have liked to.

Or maybe I did, but I doubt it.

 

The marathon was actually four loops along the historic Wallkill Valley Rail Trail which was both extremely cool, and extremely new for me seeing as how the only thing I know about trail running is that they have a penchant for gnarly-looking beards and 70’s era truckers hats, neither of which I currently had.

Fortunately, it was the soft and forgiving kind of trail.

One of the unique features of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is the Rosendale trestle, a 940-foot (290m) bridge across the Rondout Creek.

Now I am no lover of heights but, WOW!

The trestle spans its way not only across the Rondout Creek (and believe me, it’s a BIG fucking creek too!) but the main drag of local Rosendale as well where we had our picnic lunch only yesterday before the orientation.

Seriously …

What a breathtaking view and thankfully, a welcome breeze.

It truly was one of those cool, unique race opportunities that I will be inevitably be bragging about in the coming years which is pretty fortunately because, well, I was also going to have cross it again another seven times over the next few hours.

I couldn’t help but wonder how much I’d be enjoying the view then*.

Shortly around this time, I was passed and introduced to the leader of the full triathlon, a really nice guy named Logan.  I only learned his name afterwards, of course, and at the time he was simply known to me as the “really nice guy who’s currently beating me”.

And he was nice too.

He offered me lots of encouragement as he passed and then again later on when he lapped me once more into his second loop.

I wanted to hate him but he was just too nice (and crushing it too).

And the same could go for everyone else for that matter.

I wanted a small race to get a true sense of “competition” by knowing where you are within the field and not just the next sweaty guy in spandex and seeing as how %95 of all the other days’ participants were already done and split, this meant I would get to know my 16 competitors very, very well.  I hadn’t seen them at all out on the 180k bike course but, now, they would be front and center over four out and back laps along the Wallkill Rail Trail.

The real “race” I was looking for was on.

The trail was indeed very forgiving.  Not only was the packed trail soft underfoot but the tree coverage was pretty much constant which more or less protected us from the last scorching rays of the afternoon sun.  Labeled as one of America’s ten most iconic rail trails, it mostly consists of fields and forest of Joppenbergh Mountain, but it also takes you past old lime kilns of historic interest (not that I gave two shit’s at the time) and regularly welcomes hikers, joggers, bicycle and horseback riders, dog walkers, and, in the winter, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.  At one point about 6-7 kilometers into the trail there was a naturally occurring “chilly cavern” offering a soothing cool breeze emanating up from the creek below and other trail users were taking full advantage to have a break from the humidity.

I hated them all.

I guess I could also mention here that I was getting cranky …

… very cranky.

There was lots of variety available and on offer at the two aid stations so my fuel belt of mushy gummy bears was just a hindrance bouncing along on my ass and my sunglasses just kept fogging up with the heat radiating off my face every time I felt the need to use them which, along a primarily shaded run course, wasn’t very often.

I opted then to ditch them both at the first turnaround with Kelly and Hailey.

I was just 10 kilometers in and already knew that the next three laps were going to really suck.  The thing about my training this year is that I have not done quite the same volume as I have the previous two years.  I have had some disappointing long weekend runs and the odd double run that got missed and, I admit it, pushing myself through another 75-90 minutes of hard intervals after a hard eight hour work day already wasn’t always easy so I would settle for 45-60 minutes instead.  What I was largely hoping for was that in by keeping my legs strong and regularly challenged, as well as providing them with adequate periods of recovery, a certain degree of “muscle memory” would inevitably kick in on race day to carry me through to the end.

Well, I know now that this theory is largely bullshit.

It might be great if you’re like the next Lionel Sanders or something but middle-aged fat guys in beer suits need to put in the regular legwork and, unfortunately, I simply did not.  Yes, I did do my fartleks and tempo runs and whatnot, but I didn’t do them in the necessarily lengths of time required to train for a full distance triathlon.

At least I can’t anyway.

Lesson learned.

I consoled myself with something that had just begun to dawn on me over the previous two weeks.  I hadn’t approached my training with the same ferocity this year as I have in the past but, hey, three years of Ironman training simply proved to be too much in the end.  Last year, after having a good base build the previous year when the event was cancelled last minute (click HERE), I was hyped and ready to go.

I was confident and hungry; eager and motivated.

I was this:

And of course I somehow managed to fuck that up.

Anyway, I reminded myself the mantra:  “I was simply doing the best I could with the time I had”.

It’s been a very eventful year remember.  I completed a very intensive rehab program on my left hand (click HERE) and had to relearn my swim stroke all over again, I started a new physical job in January, and Hailey isn’t getting any less simple to manage the older she gets.  Now there are regular trips to and from friends’ houses and horseback riding lessons, camp and other miscellaneous school bullshit to worry about.

And this is all how it should be, I get that.

But it does make keeping a long and intense Iron-focused training schedule difficult – especially three years in.

And this was exactly the point where I found myself around 45 day ago.

“The mind was willing but the flesh was weak”, so to speak.

By the middle of the second loop I was walking as much as I was running and I had given up a few places by then to the purer (younger) runners that were filtering out onto the course by now.  And let me tell you, some of these athletes threw down some amazing paces – especially the three top finishing ladies.

Incredible efforts!

I almost didn’t mind getting passed.

Crowd support along the trail was minimal with the exception of a few hard core family spectators that had now become accustomed to seeing and cheering for all the other athletes as well.  At different points along the route I was known as “Canada”, “Beer Guy” (See, advertising works! Click HERE), “Ass Man” (don’t ask), and “Let’s go buddy!”

All of it was much appreciated.

Even though I had been watching both my time and podium goals ebb away, I was still happy though that both my legs didn’t feel too tortured.  Sure they weren’t happy with me, but there wasn’t the agony that I remember seeping in the last time I tried this crazy bullshit six years ago.  When I asked them to run they would, albeit for only a short time before needing to come back into a brisk walk again to recover.

And so it went.

On in to finish my second loop I was pleased to see Hailey who had ventured down the trail to both see if I coming (needless to say that each of my consecutive loops were becoming longer) and, more probably, to escape her mother’s company temporarily.  Or maybe Kelly had sent her up the trail herself, who knows.

But it was nice to see her.

I informed her of the trestle up ahead and sent her off to explore while I limped back to Kelly and around the turnaround point to begin my third loop.  Once I caught up with her, she was happy to run/walk with me for a while and it was fun to have some idle conversation after nearly hours of very minimal conversation beyond “keep it up!”, “you got this!”, etc..

By that point in my eternal grumpiness, I had just resorted to giving everyone a very unenthusiastic ‘thumbs up’ as we passed one another.

36924219_10102589785636347_26789974472916992_nHailey and chatted about God knows what for a second until she too had more or less given up on the whole running thing and opted to continue on at her own snail’s pace leaving me to forge ahead, albeit at my own snail’s pace.

The last 10 kilometers were just as weird.  My legs felt great at points and almost hinted that they were willing to get back to work again in a second (or thirteenth, seventy-seventh, or three-billionth) wind kind of way, but as soon as I tried to do so, they protested and complained after just a few moments.  I was having the classic endurance athlete’s internal conversation with his body which I know recognize is a classic sign of breaking down (and I told Kelly as much the last time I saw her at the turnaround).  I opted then to continue on with my shuffle/walk/shuffle pace determined to make it to the end healthily than try to suffer it out for the sake of time.

Remember, my overall goal when I began this whole two-time Ironman journey was not simply to complete another Ironman distance triathlon, but to complete it and walk away from it with marginal injury as well.

Meaning, I didn’t want to kill myself in pursuit of this goal like I did last time at this distance.

(Truthfully, this is a reoccurring pattern with me)

And to that regard, I felt in that moment that what I was currently doing pace-wise was the best idea moving forward – at least I was moving forward.

I guess I am learning.

In the final loop I just mentally ticked off each trail landmark I had created for myself over the past 30-some odd kilometers.

“Goodbye, chilly cavern!”

“So long, railway trestle!”

‘Goodbye, knotted tree!”

“See ya, strange old lady sleeping in a lawn chair!”

“Adios, little dog in a ridiculous looking sweater!”

(Remember, I was cranky)

I have to tell you though, the final 750m were absolutely heaven knowing that I didn’t have to make that stupid turnaround again to complete another agonizing loop of the course.  I zipped up my suit to appear somewhat respectable (well, as respectable as someone whose been basting in Lycra race suit soaked in sweat, piss, snot, and God knows what else, can be anyway) , faked my best non-pained running gait and made for the finish line.  My supporters were there with promises of cold beer, Hailey was there looking to run in with me and Kelly was at the line with her incredible sign:

36892557_10102589785561497_5784292693886631936_n

This was a close second:

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The second I crossed the line three years of pent up frustration, stress and fatigue bubbled over and erupted from somewhere deep within.  I don’t often have these kinds of outbursts often but when I do, they’re epic.

And this one sure felt epic.

I’m sure it made for a decent finisher’s photo as well, too bad the photo website water-marked it so bad I can’t tell and I’m not risking the $53.00 to find out.

Good one, Captivating Sports Photos!

It sure felt good though.

In summation, it might not have been the race I was hoping for, placing 8th overall, but I am proud that I stuck this quest through to the end.  I did the best I could with what I had and I didn’t end up breaking myself in the process and I am immensely proud of that.

Oh, and I did win my age category so, yeah …

tenor

AND, I was back at work two days later.

Go.

Me.

Anyway, now that’s it’s finally over, and having learned from my past experiences Post-Ironman, I have already returned to a somewhat moderate fitness routine.  In fact, my first workout the day after was to mow the lawn (no shit – click HERE).  Since then, I have started riding my bike with Hailey and have started open water swimming again.

Also, I am now already pursuing Round Three of my “Core Project”.

More than anything, I’m enjoying doing things because I want to do them and not because I have to do them and there’s a big difference between the two.  One way I still get to be a husband and dad again, the other, well, not so much.

Sure I am already thinking about next year’s goal as I would love to get back to more regular racing but, for the time being, I am just going to be content with being a husband and a dad once again.

*In fact, after the 4th pass over the trestle it completely failed to be novel anymore.  I simply did not give a shit about the view anymore.  By the last lap I would have happily accepted a bullet between the eyes than see that stupid Rondout Creek view once more.

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On-the-Job Training

Posted: April 2, 2018 in Lifestyle, Training
Tags:

Well, I’m now “officially” entering into my third season of full-on Ironman training.

Sure, there have been some obvious obstacles along the way that have prevented me from, well, racing…but I am confident that I have much of this training thing down pat by now.

How do I know?

Well, I guess I don’t seeing as how I’ve never really tested it in battle, per se, but, regardless, if my overall fitness one week out from last years’ event was anything to go by I was absolutely 100% ready… you know, before all this bullshit happened (click HERE).  I was strong, I was confident and I was raring to go.  I was swimming, cycling and running at a level I hadn’t managed since Ironman Wales and, in many ways – better.  I perfected my nutrition strategy (click HERE) and even had a few amazing local sponsors (click HERE) to help and encourage me along the way.  And most importantly, I had the best support system possible (click HERE).

All my ducks were in a perfect row so to speak.

Now, that’s not say that there weren’t some bumps along the way – in fact, there were many – but that’s just part of the process.  Sometimes you have to fall flat on your face (quite literally I’m afraid) in order to learn those oh, so valuable lessons.

And believe me; I learned a lot of lessons over the past two years.

They say everything happens for a reason (or so I keep telling myself) so maybe these past two years were just to be my overall “Iron-schooling” if you will, so that when I actually do – *knock on wood* – get to pull the trigger, it will be exactly the experience I am looking forward to and expect from myself because I will have done all the right hard work that I’ve learned as a result from all those mistakes, and I will perfected a successful training plan that works for ME.

Of course, as you might expect, this year has already presented me with another major obstacle to factor in – new employment.

For the past six years I have been fortunate enough to work in my jammies from my basement office, affording me the opportunity to train more or less at my own convenience.  I swam or cycled in the late morning or evening, ran in the afternoons between conference calls and kept up a dedicated strength conditioning program throughout.

Essentially, I could work my job around my training and everyone was happy.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the same case this year.

Now I have a regular eight hour work day, Monday through Friday, which requires me to be gone from home.  Also, it’s a physical job…very physical.  Especially considering that the most physical thing I did before was dial the phone, or get up and walk over to the printer across the room to pick up my daily report.

No, now I actually have to work and train. 

This has now forced me to once again re-evaluate my training program in order to successfully accomplish both without over doing it and thereby putting too much stress on my mind and body because, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger.

Just another problem to be tackled and lesson to be learned I suppose.

Anyway, instead of spending my days conducting virtual classrooms and pumping out those stupid endless (not to mention meaningless) reports in my pajama pants, I am now officially working in the Pest Control business.

I know, talk about your 180° turn right?

After all, who thinks of bugs and rats and goes, “OH BOY!”

No one!

That’s who.

Then again, the same thing could be said about the environment I was working in before so, yeah, I figured “why the fuck not?” when this opportunity produced itself and the truth of the matter is – I love it.

As it turns out, I really enjoy the “unknown factor” in my day each and every time I turn up at a new location/job and that excites me.  There is nothing “routine” about Pest Management.  Behind every door is the unknown; be it the issue, the environment, or the people and this genuinely appeals to my overall sense of curiosity and adventure (click HERE for a small taste of what I’m talking about).

The challenge now that I’ve been tasked with figuring out these past three months is how to turn this new situation to my advantage.  You see, the downside now is that I’m not able to go for my mid-dayn runs anymore on my lunchtime, nor can I structure morning conference call a bit late so I can hit up the pool.

In other words, “time management” has become my #1 priority; particularly if I ever want to see my family again.

So here is what I’ve learned while being (and training) on the job for the past few months.

1. Early mornings are a definite. Get used to it.

Yup, there’s just no getting around it.  Monday through Friday means a ridiculously early wake-up.  My alarm will typically go off anytime between 4:15 and 5:00am on a normal work day.  Afterwards, I will either a) go for swim before starting work, or b) complete a 20-25 minute core/yoga routine with Toby the Cat (affectionately called my “Core Project“).

Shit, sometimes I even attend a ladies “Booty Camp” on Friday’s.

Either way, I’m up and at ‘em.

The benefit to this (besides the obvious) is that once I’m up, I will have completed something that day and even if everything else that day gets totally FUBAR-ed, I still will have managed to complete at least one thing constructive and aimed at my overall goal of rebuilding my Iron-fitness.

On the weekends, however, I sleep in to 8:00am…and it’s glorious.

2. My work day IS a strength workout.

Between October and November while I was unemployed, I was completing at least 2-3 weights specific strength building workouts at the gym and these have definitely served me well.  However, now there’s just not enough time in the day to complete these on top of the necessary swim, bike and run workouts; something had to give.

Fortunately, my day is one long strength-building workout (double if you factor in my morning core workouts) in that I’m flipping mattresses and box springs, pulling out stoves and fridges and otherwise moving heavy obstacles and furniture out of the way in order to get at my enemy.  While doing this, I am conscientious to maintain the same good form and engage the right muscle groups that I would have had I been working with the free weights at the gym.

Also, I have to be able to get down and under things regularly.  In fact, on one particular work day I successfully accomplished exactly 367 lunges (yes, I counted) – that’s getting down on one knee (or squatting) and then getting back up again.

Umm, hello?

When was the last time you managed 367 lunges/squats in a single day?

I do this almost daily, and already I am noticing some significantly improved bike/run strength in these first early weeks of dedicated Ironman training; bearing in mind that I ceased with the free weights three months ago.

tenor

Winning!

3. No fast food.  Ever.

I am noticing that a lot of my peers in the industry eat complete shit throughout the day, or just not at all.  Myself?  The last thing I do before I go to bed at the ripe hour of 8:00-8:30pm each night is make up a healthy lunch and a bunch of small containers of healthy snacks that I can graze on in the truck throughout the day.  This is particularly important seeing as how the chances are high that I will have another challenging workout to complete after work once I get home.

As I figure it, this is also helping to determine proper fueling strategies that I can then utilize in the days leading up to all my events, and even during.

In the past three months, I have managed to get away with buying a medium coffee in the mornings after a swim, and one single breakfast sandwich (which I instantly regretted) only because I forgot my post-workout snack at home.

4. Afternoon/evening workouts are actually better!

Well, better in the sense that I don’t necessarily have to warm up a lot before I begin my main sets.  When I was running/cycling in the afternoons while working from home, because I was more or less 100% sedentary throughout the working hours, my body needed at least 15-20 minutes of steady warming up before I felt like I could tackle any difficult intervals and the like.

Now, essentially, my entire day is one big warm up so that when I head back out the door when I get home, I’m more or less ready to go – instantly.

The other immediate benefit is that I can also cut down on the overall length of the workout itself seeing as how I don’t have to spend that initial time warming up.  I can just get straight to the main core of the workout fairly quickly (which, really, is the important part), get ‘er done and then get home again.  And that also means less overall wear and tear and stress being placed on the body.

Sure my weekly mileage may be a bit short compared to where I was at this time in previous years, but I’m not performing any worse either; the quality is still all there.

5. Additional mental toughness conditioning.

I’ve already mentioned numerous times how important I think developing “mental toughness” is in triathlon, especially at the Ironman level.  Well, try working a very physical eight hour work day and then going out for a run or bike.  Sure I just mentioned that those post-work day workouts have been trending well recently, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I was looking forward to them.

No, that takes a bit of added discipline.

More so if the weather is shitty.

When I worked from home, I literally couldn’t wait to get outside and counted down the hours and minutes before I could.  Now, depending on how hard I’ve worked that day I will have to mentally prepare myself and sometimes practically force myself out.

And when I do, I feel almost invincible.

So, yeah, so far so good on both the work and training fronts!

And while these lessons are valuable and I feel like I’m getting a handle on this Ironman training business once again, I know that in two weeks when things take another turn towards the LONG, there will inevitably be more things to figure out and strategize around.

Thing is, where I didn’t exactly know how this whole new direction was going to play out when I first accepted this job, so far, it’s been manageable and I’m once again beginning to believe that this whole Ironman madness is once again possible…

Providing I can actually stay on my bike that is.

It’s now officially February, so where I have been doing a lot of strength training with the heavy iron, the time has come to switch into a more focused swim/run/bike routine.  Meaning, of course, especially given that I have also started a new job two weeks ago, I have to now figure out how to keep this acquired physical strength while strategically transitioning into this next phase of longer Ironman-specific training.

Losing a few pounds also wouldn’t be the end of the world either.

So this regard, I tried something new this past Friday:  a “Boot Camp”.

This all came about last week when I approached Tamara, the wife of my long time go-to bike guy, about getting some assistance to take my strength training to the next level.  That’s when she mentioned that she leads an early “boot camp” on Friday morning that would be perfect for me.

I will admit here I was a bit trepidatious as I have always thought of “Boot Camps” as those trendy fitness classes more aimed at single moms to help shape their derriere’s; hence the other popular name for these classes being “Booty Camps”.

But knowing Tamara as I do, I figured I’d give it a shot thinking that a workout more aimed at plyometric jumping and leaping would be the perfect accompaniment to my newly acquired He-man muscles – ideal even.

But then, the night before, Tamara posts this picture (and caption) to her Facebook page:

Tamara

“Come check out my fancy toe undies and get a great workout in flexibility, stretching and strength.”

That’s when the panic hit me:

OMG.

“Toe Undies”?

What the fuck have I gotten myself into?

After all, nobody needs to see my toenails, believe me.

She then mentioned having extra “tu-tu’s” for the class and I was almost:

27459961_10155895319295977_8633476163394408707_n

Still, having made the commitment I decided to show up anyway.

After all, how hard can a “Booty Camp” be?

Then again, you might also remember this shit show from three years ago (click HERE).

Only one way to tell, I guess.

So far, I have only attended two classes but they are exactly the kinds of workouts I still need to be doing providing I can drag my lazy ass out of bed at 4:30am to make the 40 minute drive into St. Catharines.

This is the nicest way possible to say that I did enjoy it.

I’m not sure I’ll look any different in my cycling tights come Springtime but having someone push you through those difficult sets of plyometric-based exercises sure is the kind of strength-building program that I like to endorse not because they don’t require a lot of tools that can’t be recreated at home with simple every day households items, but because it targets all those useful functional muscles you tend to use and abuse in long distance triathlon training.

And, hey, if at the end of the day this “booty” looks a little better in my daily work khakis’, well, I’m okay with that too.

Turning this Frankenstein into “Franken Fine” wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.

Just sayin’…

Be all that it may, for the next 50 minutes I handed my fat ass literally handed to me by a toe-undied She-Devil adorned in a tutu through sets of sled pushes, crunches, push-ups, lunges, and, oh sweet Jesus, every movement and exercise known to mankind to absolutely suck, particularly these vile things called “Man Maker’s”, which have made perfectly clear to me that I am apparently not  a man.

The shame of which, I doubt I will ever get over.

Throw one of those fucking ‘Burpees’ into the mix and you have the perfect mix of Punky Brewster-like cuteness and enthusiasm with a gruesome Rob Zombie-esque nightmare of a workout…creepy clowns n’ all.  It was the kind of hellish workout from which my testicles instantly retreated back into my abdomen to hide in fear once Tamara started to walk us through the class plan which included seven separate “stations”, each consisting of two each torturous exercises each.

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But then again, they say that whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, so Friday mornings 6:00am(providing my work schedule will allow it), my sorry self is starting off the weekend of long haul swim, bike and run workouts with one kick ass of a Booty Camp.

Judge me as you see fit.

But when this winter finally goes away, even if I haven’t managed some of the incalculable hours battled away in front of Zwift on the home trainer as some of my peers will no doubt have, or perhaps pursuing a “February Running Distance Challenge” bullshit thing on Strava, I’ll be counting on these types of simpler (but no less grueling) workouts to allow me the maximum brute strength necessary and when it needs to be called upon while on the bike, in the pool or out pounding pavement on the road later on.

This is going to be my total Rocky IV approach to training this year.

(Albeit  in a gym and not a barn)

While the wily opponent is relying on all the new fancy muscle juices and state-of-the-art training equipment, I’ll be out chopping logs, hauling around sacks of rocks, and dragging my ass through mountains of snow.

And I will leave you with this:

If this class leaves me with even half  of the physical functional strength as I think it will, then I will happily adorn myself with a pair of these “Toe Undie” whatchamacallit’s  and a full French Maid’s tu-tu because, well, laugh while you can because come the inevitable Race Day, that’s likely the last you will see of me when I take off leaving you dumbfounded, gasping for air and swimming upstream through a river of my piss (triathletes will understand that reference).

Or so it plays out in my visions anyway…

So continue on with your empty laps, your virtual races through the night-time streets of Paris, and whatever the newest piece of fancy “GUARANTEED TO PRODUCE RESULTS OR YOUR MONEY BACK!” equipment you found on Ebay during a “Box Day Blowout”, I’ll be taking the old-fashioned route; an honest effort, a desire to success and a well-fitted and stylish tu-tu.

I’m still not sold on the Toe Undies though.

Introducing: Romeo

Posted: January 13, 2018 in Bike, Equipment
Tags: , ,

It has become of a bit of joke with my wife these days regarding the amount of bikes I now own and, yes, I do ride them all.

Honestly.

What can I say?

Guilty.

And in case any one doubts that one only needs a single bike to ride, I will argue that there is a very simple mathematical formal that addresses this very question:

N+1

And you simply can’t argue with math.

It’s the universal language after all.

Anyway, back in October I lead a group ride out of Brimstone Brewing; the weather was extremely cold and wet and only two other riders (beside me that is) actually showed up.

However, before we actually got started a neighbour next door to the brewery came running over and asked:

“Hey, do you guys like bikes?”

Umm…

duh

He then proceeded to mention that he was moving and had a bunch of old bikes he wanted to get rid of because he was moving.

At the time I didn’t give it much thought as we eager to get going since our nutsacks were beginning to freeze to our bike seats, but I agreed to drop by when we got back to take a little looksee.

The ride went pretty much how you might guess p – we froze.

However, upon our return I kept my promise and walked over to see these “old bikes”; more to get out of the cold and thaw off than anything else.

Much to my surprise, this is what he showed me:

modena

I was a little dryer in this picture…

An Italian Fiori Modena, circa late 1980’s.

As far as classic steel bikes go, the Modena model wasn’t exactly a top of the line model and, clearly, it needed a little love, but the guy was motivated to get rid of it.

“How about twenty bucks?”

I didn’t even bat an eyelash.

SOLD!

When I came home and told the wife, I got that classic non-believer’s line:

“Don’t you have enough bikes already?”, to which I responded:

henrylaugh

Remember…

It’s math.

You can’t argue the numbers.

I took it to Brandon at Inception Cyclery, my trusted bike guy, for some simple restoration.

Now, already having a) a regular road bike (Daisy), b) a time trial racing bike (Lucille), c) my dad’s classic steel that I ride with HRH, and c) a mountain bike (Snowflake) for winter training, so he suggested that we do a little something different with it.

“How about a ‘grocery getter’? 

After all, it’s not often that I take any of my other bikes to do local errands as that’d be like taking a Rolls Royce to the Avondale for Lotto tickets.

Not a bad idea actually.

“Yeah, sure.  Let’s do it.”

Who couldn’t use another custom bike, amiright?

What this meant then is that what came back to me after four months of planning, tuning, and remodelling was something completely unexpected, awesome and beautiful:

Now I have something fun I can take to the weekend market for fresh produce, to the grocery store for all those forgotten items Kelly will periodically ask me to go fetch for dinner, or maybe even to the brewery to refill my growler.

Welcome to the fleet Romeo.

I’ve been getting back into a pretty regular off-season winter strength training routine these days.

Okay, the running isn’t going as well as I’d like it to (yet), but the core work, spinning, swimming and throwing around the heavy iron are right on target.

Yay me.

Really, my only complaint is the usual flood of New Years’ Resolutioner’s who are now beginning to flood the gym and invading my holy sacred ground with their stupidity and bullshit – as to be expected I suppose.

Seriously people, observe the Gym Commandments will ya?

Actually, observe ALL the Commandments (click HERE and HERE).

But I digress…

Anyway, as per usual, I try to keep myself to myself while I’m upstairs in the gym area.

I am not there to take selfies or chat up strangers.

I am there to build muscle that I will then use on my swim, bike and run workouts through the coming weeks and months.

And then I go home.

Period.

So there I am this afternoon, politely ignoring everyone else, doing my reps on the bench press and listening to my groovy Parliament funk when this middle age dipshit walks directly up to me and just stands here gawking at my awesomeness.

(Or so I figured at first because, obviously, I am quite amazing to behold in all my gym glory…NOT!)

I mentally crossed my fingers at this point that he was just waiting for the machine, albeit a bit too close, so I smiled politely and diverted myself back to the task at hand of kicking ass on my chest presses except that after another minute or so, he moves a fraction closer, clearly trying to get my attention now.

Fucksticks.

Maybe he just has a newbie question he wants to ask I tell myself, or I’ve maybe dropped my card and he’s nicely trying to return it, or perhaps my balls are hanging out of my shorts and he’s trying to save me from further embarrassment, whatever.

I hate this moment of uncertainty.

Anyway, I reluctantly flicked off the tunes in my iPod (interrupting a sweet jam in the middle of ‘The Goose’) and looked up at him to find out whatever it was he was obviously so dying to talk to me about.

He then proceeds to blurt out this worthy nugget:

“You know, if you really want to lose weight you should try spinning”.

 

And the whole time he’s pointing directly at my midsection.

picardwtf

Is this guy serious?

“Really”, was all I could respond with.

I was 100% taken aback.

Who does that?

Unfortunately, though, he didn’t note the tone of sarcasm in my voice so he continues:

“Oh yeah, you’d totally burn some serious calories doing that.”

 

Yup.

He was serious alright.

For those of you who grace these blogs pages fairly regularly, you will already know that I tend to bump into some pretty weird people quite a bit.  Despite all my very best efforts to avoid people – the morons and know-it-all’s particularly.   I have absolutely no idea what it is about me that drives people to do this as they all seem to immediately target me in order to offer me all sorts of unwelcome advice, tips, suggestions or whatever other bullshit it is that’s on their pea brains that also they’ve decided that I simply can’t go living without hearing.

Jackasses.

So numbnuts continues on:

“I hear there’s a great spin class here on Monday nights at 6:30pm.  I hear the instructor is really good so I’m going to check it out next week.  You should come”.

 

Now, the obvious implication that I am fat aside, what this shit-spackled Muppet fart also doesn’t realize is that *I*  am that  Monday night spin instructor.

tenor

Dude, my belly has about as much to do with my ability to churn out the cycle wattage, as pickled herring has to do with ice cream.

Although, I’m not about to tell him that…yet.

Instead, I just said “Okay, you’re on.  I’ll see you there.”

Personally, I cannot wait for Monday night as the poor bastard has no idea what he’s in for, as I am going to crush him like a late season Gewürztraminer.  This fat bastard is going to throw the hard intervals at him until his limbs fall apart like a chocolate orange and his spirit begins to crumble like downtown Haiti.

And judging from what little activity I actually did see him do for the remainder of my workout – which was little – he’s not going to walk for a week.

So, yeah, get ready to have your nips blown off, bud.

And, hey, maybe next time you’ll think twice about passing on advice.

How do you like my fat now?

The Shower Commandments

Posted: December 30, 2017 in Gym, Lifestyle
Tags: ,

(Disclaimer:  I realize that much of this post comes from a dark place.  Baring in mind that I am now 45 years old going on “TGIF Early Bird Special”, I find that I have a lot to bitch about these days and I recognize that.  This is definitely one of those posts.  If those types of rants tend to annoy you, click ‘back’ on your browser and tippy-toe out of here.)

The “off season” training program has officially kicked -in with the falling of the first snow a few weeks ago, so what this means then for the uninitiated is that it also marks an official return to indoor workouts.

Well, more indoor workouts than usual anyway.

Sure there are a few bad asses like myself who pride themselves in maintaining a structured outdoor winter training program regardless of how ridiculously cold out it is but even still, there’s the strength-training, core, yoga, swimming and, yes, sometimes it’s just too stupid to be outside when the shit really begins to fly so there will be the inevitable treadmill and spin sessions as well.  So what this all really translates to now is that we have to spend more time with one another vying for space and valuable resources.

I hate it, but I accept it.

On that pretense, I once wrote The Gym Commandments to educate myself – then a mere newbie on the inner goings on at the gym – on how to share the gym space with others so that nobody ends up with a barbell sticking out the side of their head, and then The Locker Room Commandments for not, well, ending up with someone’s penis waving uncomfortably in your vicinity.  And here I am six years later still abiding by these same necessary laws as they are what genuinely separate us from the other beasts walking this little blue planet of ours, and even expanding on them to more include the true “DMZ” at your local gym facility, the dreaded showers.

In other words, how not to be any of these guys:  click HERE.

Most of the men I see in my gym’s locker room every day are probably decent people.  They have, one assumes, respectable, well-paying jobs, families, certain codes of ethics and morals, and they are presumably upstanding members of society.  So why, once they pass that threshold that reads MEN, do they devolve into feral beasts? Why do they discard the entire social contract by which they abide outside the locker room once in the realm of towels and benches?  Balls out, butts jiggling, hogging coveted real estate, they become locker room anarchists. To put it quite abruptly, lots of weird shit goes on in the Men’s shower area, so much so that I feel that a rehashing of the basics is necessary for review.  After all, we are all mere riders on this same endless highway ribboning through the madness of it all, so we should at least be making things less stressful on each other by all agreeing to observe an officially recognized code of shower room ethics.

Yes, friends, the gym shower area absolutely needs to be a place of strictly observed rules of conduct and listed here are some of those proposed basic guidelines I suggest we all consider if we are ever going to coexist peacefully at the gym:

  1. Thou shalt not be a dick with the towels.

For those members who pay for and use the towel service, two towels is perfectly reasonable.  Don’t be an asshole and take a stack of five.  One for your body which then becomes one for your feet to stand on while the other (unused) towel can be used for spot drying and general modesty protection (refer to The Locker Room Commandments linked above).  They are not for playing “spooky ghost”, wiping ones ass, or running around flicking other dudes in the ass.

If you are doing double (or even triple) duty as far as workouts go, you can request an extra towel as long as it’s being used for either the purposes of drying off or standing on.  Period.

  1. Thou shalt not hog the handicap shower stall.

Using and occupying the reserved shower head and bench that will likely occupy a corner of the shower area for those who need a little extra assistance is simply not cool; no matter how quick you think you’re going to be.  This is the equivalent of occupying a handicapped parking space so you can just “run in to the bank”, or “pick up a few items from the grocery store”.

Nobody cares how quick you are, you’re still being an asshole for parking in a handicap spot.

And, yes, I know how much fun it can be to use the attached manual shower head as a pretend microphone and belt out rousing shower renditions of ‘Great Balls of Fire’ for all your naked able-bodied friends, but don’t do it.

  1. Thou shalt keep thyne eyes forward as all times.

While it is already a well-established rule that one should always keep their nakedness to a minimum, it is also the obligation and responsibility of the others present to keep their eyes to themselves.

Let’s face it, the locker room being men-only, is wall-to-wall butts, balls and penises and therefore you should definitely never look at any other man’s private parts in any other way but purely accidental (like HERE and HERE).  Should you need to actually engage someone in conversation (which is not recommended, for the record – see Rule #9 of The Locker Room Commandments), one should lock their gaze straight ahead to a neutral position such as another locker, the ground, bench, or the ceiling, anywhere but the other dudes junk…no matter how impressive or intimidating.

  1. Thou shalt not poke, pick, prod or otherwise fondle their junk.

I get it, its Man’s inherent nature to explore himself when naked.  But for the love of God, do it at home.  Light some candles; put a little ‘Smooth Operator on, whatever, but do it quietly and do it where others have no opportunity to bear witness.

  1. Thou shalt practice water conservation.

The most common violation in terms of the future of mankind is allowing the water to run while shaving. It is an insidious, entitled habit which will doom all of humanity to a future of drought and privation.

It also poisons the locker room dynamic.  On the one hand, there is the shaver, perhaps blithe but nonetheless sinning.  Then there is the observer (i.e. myself), for whom the endless stream of water is an insult, representing, as it does, a conception of nature that is at once exploitative and deeply harmful. There can be no verbal admonishments in the locker room so the observer is left to swallow bitterly his outrage and cast dirty looks in the mirror.  Do not let the water run while you shave.  Don’t be an asshole.  Think of the children.

  1. Thou shalt not touch another man’s faucet.

Nuff said (click HERE)…

  1. Thou shalt not readth the daily scripture in the shitter.

Seriously, guys who like to hang out in the toilets all day with the daily news need to be rounded up and systematically sterilized.  Most of us when we hit the gym are time crunched so when Mother Nature calls we don’t want to spend the better part of our workout time waiting for these dipshits to read the Sports pages while they squeeze out their daily strangle.  Get in, do your business, get the fuck out.  And clean up after yourselves for God sakes!

If you want to hang out and catch up on all the daily gossip and developing headlines over a lingering bowel movement, stay the fuck home and do it in the comforts of your own bathroom as the rest of us simply want to take a shit.

  1. Thou shalt conduct thyneself respectfully in all locker politics, both pre and post shower.

There are only two parties in the locker room: the Occupier of said space and the Desirer of it. The property of these two men is often in adjacent lockers. Once the Occupier becomes aware of the Desirer, he must make a good faith effort to step aside. Depending on what stage he is in, this might mean continuing with an increased clip or, and this is what often does not happen, grabbing what few remaining items he has left and relocating within the same aisle to allow the Desirer, in turn, to become the Occupier.

As for the Desirer, he must have patience and prudence. If there is no space to access one’s locker, or even if there is but none to perform the act of drying and dressing, he must wait. However, he may adopt the slightly bored but nonetheless recognizably covetous look as to indicate he is waiting.

(Note: There is a 90-second grace period for both sides.)

  1. Thou shalt towel himself off thoroughly and quickly in the shower area.

Toweling off from a shower is perhaps the most important element in locker room etiquette for, from it, follow a host of complications. If one does not dry off one’s feet before one return’s to one’s locker, the trail of water will trigger the impulse of other members to place their bags onto the benches and thereby making the politics between Occupier and Desirer more strained.  Likewise, if one does not properly dry off ones balls, penis and butt area, this might lead to butt-in-face problems later on so drying off must be done quickly and thoroughly in the close proximity of (or even inside) the shower itself prior to accessing the locker room.

  1. Thou shalt not pee in the shower.

This was recognized in my previous Locker Room Commandments (actually, it came up on lists of other commandments as well) but it’s worth reiterating again.  When I see a yellow rivulet heading toward the drain in a communal shower, there is not enough bleach in the world to make me stop screaming.

  1. Thou shalt not whistle, hum or sing in the shower.

I get it, you’re hap-hap-fucking-happy with how your workout went but, still, don’t.  It’s creepy.  You’re not loitering on a street corner somewhere trying to spot your next mark* are you?  No.  So, unless you’re about to break out into some dance with your buddies, cut with the whistling bullshit will ya?

  1. Thou shalt not make unnecessary noises whilst showering.

Unless they are auditioning for an Oil of Olay commercial, no one needs to make all those moaning and groaning noises.  Sure it feels good, we get it.  But they don’t also need to make with the “ooo’s” and “ahhh’s” …that shit is creepy.

  1. Thou shalt not wear a shower cap.

Seriously, grandma?

  1. Thou shalt not use a bar of soap.

In today’s day and age, there is no need to bring your soap to the shower in bar form; especially given that we’ve all likely seen the same prison films.  Use a shower gel instead, like Axe Body Wash, and never use gels and lotions with less-than-masculine sounding fragrances like ‘Evening Primrose’, ‘Glacial Mist’, or ‘Lilac Explosion’.  If it doesn’t smell like a mix of alcohol and ball sweat, it is likely off limits for your usage.

In the unfortunate circumstance where you have in fact, “dropped the soap”, do not bend over to retrieve it.  Instead perform a quick, protected squat in order to retrieve your item and spare everyone around you that awkward moment.

  1. Thou shalt not insert thyne phallus into any random hole or openings of any sort.

I don’t know what it is about some men, but whenever they see a hole in something they immediate begin to wonder what it’d be like to stick their dick in it.  This type of behavior has no place in the gym, the locker room, and the shower room especially – anywhere actually as this never ends up terribly well for anyone in real life scenarios so leave it for the amateur porn videos, fellas.’

*Unless it’s ‘The Colonel’s Bogie‘ in which case, it is absolutely mandatory that it be completed through to the very end and that everybody join in with you.

My Favorite Workout

Posted: November 26, 2017 in Bike, Swim, Training

I suspect that every triathlete has a favourite arrow in their quiver, a preferred “secret weapon” if you will, when it comes to their off-season training regimen.  Maybe it’s a specific fartlek workout you do once a week to enhance your overall run game, one day being dedicated to hill repeats, maybe a unique set of intervals to do on your trainer every Sunday morning, or maybe you just sign up for yoga classes.  Perhaps it’s a new piece of equipment to spice up ordinary daily workouts.  What it is, these “secret weapons” in our training programs that makes our training programs “unique” and therefore – well, we believe anyway – better…for whatever reason.

These are the workouts we brag about.

Mine just happens to fall on a Saturday.  After my morning breakfast, coffee, poop routine (I call it the “morning triumvirate”), I head off down the Friendship Trail on my bike to the Port Colborne YMCA to complete a long swim, and then I cycle home again afterwards.  Essentially for those of you who like numbers, I cycle 17.6 kilometers to the pool (20.3k if I am feeling energetic and take certain scenic back roads), swim another 3000m-5000m, and then cycle home another 17.6 kilometers.  All winter.

It’s not just any of those specific workouts I do on Saturday which I refer to as my “secret weapon” per se, it’s the entire day.

And it includes soup and beer so, yeah, recognize.

Let me try to explain why I love this day so much.

For starters, I’m guaranteed at least once a week to ride my bike outside instead of on a trainer.  Fuck, Zwift.  Sure, maybe it’s only just up and down the Friendship Trail on the weekends but you know what, that’s nearly two hours of being outside, breathing fresh air and enjoying a peaceful, leisurely spin instead of virtually competing with Lance Armstrong and three dozen other MAMIL’s on a simulated race program in front of your computer monitor.

No, fucking thanks.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these “easy” rides to and from the pool are not necessarily “fun” or “easy”, as often I’m forced to cycle through everything from cold mist and rain (as it was today), to gale force Arctic-like winds and driving, blinding snow.  But regardless of whatever it is that the weather happens to be come Saturday, rest assured I will ride those 17.6 kilometers both ways (and swim)…without fail.

So what is so special about this particular day?  Why is this my special go so “secret weapon”, per se.

  1. Mental hardness

There is nothing so daunting at waking up to see cold rain falling from the sky on a chilly November Saturday and thinking to yourself, “shit, I have to cycle and swim today”.  Instantly your brain begins to craft out clever schemes and elaborate ruses in order to trick you into believing that it’s actually smarter to skip the ride/swim altogether and instead stay home in your jammies nursing a hot cup of Cocoa and a plate of hot pockets.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  But no, you tune out that little bitch voice in your head, cinch up the ól applesack and after the usual morning triumvirate, grab your swim gear, gear up, and get your ass outside to the bike and you start to ride, sissypants.

Fuck, Zwift.

Being indoors is too easy.

I believe it’s that kind of mental discipline to get outdoors regardless of the weather that by proxy, also helps develop a certain mental hardness to endure when the going starts to get tough.  I pride myself on being a tough rider, someone the others can count on to immediately go to the front and work just as soon as the going starts to get difficult or challenging.   On certain days, I will emerge from the pool and have to then cycle home (17.6k) in fresh, foot deep snow which has since accumulated while I have been swimming.  Oh, and it’s probably also going to be in near white out conditions so, yeah, believe me, there’s a masters course being taught on ‘Mental Hardness 101’ right there at that moment.

2. Practice race day nutrition

One of the other perks of this day’s worth of workouts is that because, I’m essentially laying down three workouts on top of one another (the ride out, the swim, and then the ride back again) I need to make sure I stay adequately hydrated and fueled enough that I don’t end up bonking in the middle of fucking nowhere and becoming a frozen late night snack for the coyotes.  Not good.

This starts first thing on Saturday morning come breakfast, and I bring a both a pre- and post- swim snack to keep my energy levels up.  For example, on my rides this afternoon I spent exactly 1200 calories (I can expect to add another 300-400 calories to that once the temperatures drop below zero, the snow starts to seriously fly and I have to switch to my mountain bike), and my swims can burn anywhere from another 500 to 1000 calories on top of that depending on what I’m doing that day (ie. longer distance, or intervals).

That a lot of energy being spent that needs to be replaced.

These types of training days then help me to really begin dialing in on the perfect formula that keeps  me performing optimally and that’s a key thing to know about yourself come race day, believe me.  Good thing then that I’ve been practicing it, tweaking it, and perfecting it for the past five months of weekend riding and swimming.

3.  It’s just better outside

Seriously, fresh air, birds…leaves…squirrels…chipmunks…what have you, that’s still shit tons better than looking at other virtual riders asses in high def, isn’t it?

4.  Strength

I may not be the most “gnarly” of mountain biking dudes, but I do know that my legs are sure as shit more tired after I’ve been riding a mountain bike; more so if I’ve been cycling through snow.  That basically equates to two hours’ worth of cycle-specific strength conditioning, brah.  I essentially use this workout as my sole “long ride” workout in my off-season training program, something I would have typically done on a trainer at the gym or in my basement until my brains were dribbling out my nose from extreme boredom.

5.  Beer and soup

As per custom, my ride home stops at Brimstone Brewing for a bowl of hot soup and a pint or two of fine local craft beer.   Yes, some of you might think of this as being foolishly in instantly replacing all the calories I just finished burning off but, to this I say:  “Bite me”.  Live a little.  Personally, I subscribe to the popular belief among cyclists and long distance endurance athletes (the Germans primarily) that a little beer is good for you after a long or difficult workout.

In fact, it actually aids the entire recovery process (click HERE or HERE).

I know, right?

But not to be outdone, let me also say that that bowl of hot, steaming homemade soup courtesy of CRAVE LOCAL FRESH is the thing that I start fantasizing about each and every time I start to peddle on a brisk Saturday morning or afternoon…particularly on the way home.  Even more so if it’s been snowing.  And if good beer and good soup doesn’t motivate you, then I don’t know what does.

After all, every success needs a little reward.