Meowing up the Wrong Tree

Posted: August 16, 2017 in In Transition, Run
Tags:

As of yesterday, the bones in my left hand have officially healed and the process to restore mobility and strength continues in earnest.  There have been some definite improvements overall but, well, let’s just say that I am resigning myself to the notion that my baby finger might be permanently locked in a position where if I  ever find myself sipping tea with the Queen, I will be perfectly suited for the occasion.

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What this really means then is that I can now begin to return to my usual physical routine albeit, it’ll be some time yet before I can acquire any normal purpose and, therefore, results (ie. fitness).

But, hey, at least I can  do stuff.

In fact, I have  been doing stuff already, namely running.

I have forgone the normal weekend long distance marches and hard interval routines to simply getting out and getting my legs back accustomed to moving again.  Getting to burn off all the excess calories that I’ve started to amass over the last month and a half of sedentary lifestyle is certainly a plus as well as man tits are not an attractive feature in my humble opinion – “Dad bods” be damned.  So, really, I’ve retired myself to running short distances for the time being around the neighborhood and just trying to get accustomed to regular activity.

Baby steps, right?

Short as these runs may be, Crystal Beach is not without it’s perks.  It’s actually a quaint lakeside town crammed with cottage style houses and beach homes and where all the roads are tightly interlaced haphazardly in a way that it’s relatively easy to get lost and explore; something I don’t really do much of on my long distance hauls out into the surrounding countryside.  Here it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be something interesting to see given that it is now in it’s now full bore into it’s tourist season.  that means with every beleaguered step I am greeted with beach goers and the smells of sand, surf, BBQ, suntan lotion and copious amounts of wafting pot.

It is what it is and I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, on one of my regular routes through Crystal Beach I pass by (at exactly the 1.85k  or 4.35k  mark, depending on which direction I set out from home in) the residence of a local friend and one of my biggest fans lately:  Ally the Cat.

She’s always there.

Here she is on her usual window sill perch whenever I pass by:

Ally1

Cute, right?

Typically, I have been running lately in the afternoons when there’s more “people-watching” to be had but, unfortunately, this also means that it’s frickin’ hot and by the time I see Ally in her window I’m pretty desperate for a drink.

But does Ally care?

Of course not.

Any requests for a liquid refresher are always met with the same response:

Ally1

Nada.

Even when I beg (oh, I beg!).

Not.  A.  Damned.  Thing.

I think she may even enjoy seeing me suffering just a little bit.

And by this time, I am usually suffering with the midday heat and humidity and leaking fluids like an over-saturated sponge.

Not that Ally cares mind you.

I can even read it in her deadpan kitten face:

 

“Uh-uh fat boy.  You ain’t getting any of my water!”

 

And, believe me, the thought has occurred me in times of utter desperation to try and crawl through that window in order to get to her water bowl but that’s likely going to be a hard sell to the responding police officers who will inevitably be called to the scene by the neighbors…

…so I usually just keep running.

And so it goes day after day after day; me passing by a window, begging for water and being mocked by a kitten.  At least that’s what’s going on in my heat-frazzled brain anyway.

Maybe I really do need to consider running more in the evenings when it’s cooler.

It has been almost four weeks since my big Iron Disaster and three weeks post op after having seven pins and screws inserted into my left hand at the same time I should have been crossing the finish line; becoming a 7x Titanium man instead of a 2x Ironman.  So, yeah, once again this has not exactly been a stellar year competition-wise and I’m still struggling to make sense of it all.

As it with the whole Grief Cycle, first comes the Denial and Isolation Stage.  And, believe me, there was lots of that in the Emergency Room and in the days following the accident as I remained hopeful that I would somehow still be miraculously able to pull the race off.  I remember begging – pleading – the responding EMR’s to give me some sort of reassurance that it wasn’t so bad despite the blood fountaining from my elbow and my baby finger which was sticking out at an odd right angle away from the rest of my hand.

Of course, it wasn’t meant to be.

Shortly afterwards, I entered into the Anger Stage and here is where I really excelled; especially after realizing that had I been able to to compete there was a very good chance I would have won my age group and perhaps even podium-ed over all in potentially 3rd place.

And that’s some hard shit to swallow let me tell you!

If there was some sort of lesson to be learned here, I wasn’t seeing it yet.

Likewise, during this period most peoples’ attempt to have me see either the good or the positive in the situation pretty much fell on deaf ears – I simply was not to be consoled.

Among the worst of the standard adages offered to me was “Well, it could have been worse”.

Well, yes, I could have ended up with a more severe break or perhaps ended up sliding under an an oncoming truck and being dragged for another kilometer or so before being deposited by the roadside for vultures and crows to pick at so, sure, I suppose it’s true that it could have been worse but I didn’t want to hear it at that point.

The other common sentiment was “this is your bodies way of telling you something?”

Pardon?

Tell me what  exactly?

That it hates me?

Couldn’t it have chosen a different and less painful way of telling me the same thing or, better yet, waiting another eight days to tell me which – if you remember – was the plan all along?  Or was it trying to tell it me that it felt that I needed more hassles going through the metal detectors at airports?   Whatever it was, my response to my body at that point would inevitably have been the same:  “Gee, thanks body.  Fuck you too!” 

The problem with this sentiment was that this disaster was more of an environmental and mechanical issue than it ever was my body creating some sort of resistance.  My bike slipped on a slick metal surface so if anything, my body was the victim here but, again, thanks.

And then there’s the people who tried to console me with “hey, at least you can have a relaxing summer now”.

These people in particular I wanted to judo chop in the throat.  Clearly these people have never had metal pins inserted into a major appendage so that can’t shower unless they have a plastic Subway bag wrapped around it and can’t even do up their own pants in the morning without assistance.  Similarly, they have never had to squeeze out a stool as stiff and dry as a mason block thanks to the amount of Percocets they’ve had to ingest in order to keep the pain at a manageable level so that they didn’t try to chew off their own arm in the middle of the night.

Sure, real relaxing…but cheers for that.

Thanks.

The other thing I heard quite often at the time was “everything happens for a reason”.

The fuck?

What possible reason could there be for my having to blow two years of hard work and perseverance for Fate to totally screw me (pun intended) seven days before the big event unless it was just trying to fuck with me?

I wanted to donkey punch these people.

“That’s Fate’s way of telling you that you’re a dick.”

 

Remember this was all during the Anger Stage.

But I’ve had the benefit of time now while being firmly wedged in the Depression Stage to mull it over and attempt to look at the situation a little more objectively.

What is there to be learned?

What can I take away from this whole epic shit show to make me a better person and, hopefully, a triathlete?

Then I had a very humbling experience during my first rehab appointment at the Shaver Hospital.

At first, I was firmly focused on my own pathetic circumstance as I tried to wiggle my baby piggy and feeling very low considering that I was at my peak fitness just a few days previous.  Let’s just say I was feeling very, very low at this point.  But then I looked around at some of the other patients in the room in the middle of their own rehab.  Around me there were people learning to walk with a new prosthetic and unfortunate souls with their arms stuck inside cell regeneration machines after having acquired horrific burns.

And here I was worried about being able to bend my pinky finger and riding my bike by the end of summer.

Really.

What an asshole.

It kind of put a new perspective on things in that, yeah, maybe I did get off pretty lightly and things could definitely have been worse…a lot worse.  I guess that’s what those people were trying to tell me when I wasn’t willing to listen.  Sure I might still struggle to put my pants on, but at least I still have legs to put in them.  Maybe I can’t wiggle my little finger right now but I still have it and it will  heal.

I will  ride again.

Maybe what I was supposed to learn was how fragile my body is and that perhaps I should appreciate it a little more when it is able to do the things that I was able to do just one week ago.  Maybe this was supposed to teach me to enjoy the experience leading up to the event a bit more than I have, rather than stressing about what my body was not able to accomplish in the moment.

Let me explain.

While I am confident in my over all training plan and that it did ultimately help me acquire a fitness that I have not enjoyed in the past few years (in fact, I was both cycling and swimming better than I ever have before), I spent a stupid amount of time worrying about either what I wasn’t doing enough of, or fast enough, or hard enough, or whatever.

I was more often than not focused on the negative rather than the positive.

I mean, give yourself some credit dude.

You’re doing it!

Period.

Full stop.

Maybe this whole situation was intended to be a lesson in humility and will serve to help me grow into a better appreciation for the whole training process and ultimately become the Ironman I believe I can still be and want to be.  After all, the kind of athlete I admire is the one who takes setbacks in stride and rises above them only to return better than ever (not unlike Paula Findley who is finally getting back to a winning form after a disappointing turn of events at the 2012 Olympics – click HERE).

This is far from the end for me in this sport; it’s just a minor setback that happened to come at an inopportune time.

Hopefully, this is just the start of better, brighter and more successful things to come.

Finally…

Acceptance.

Today, I was to go forth “once more into the fray” except in light of recent events, that’s obviously not happening any more.  No, I’m going to be on a surgery table now gets pins and screws embedded into my hand while you wait patiently in the waiting room; not exactly the kind of hardware I was hoping to add to my collection today.

Hardly the Ironman adventure we planned for the summer.

Had I actually been racing today, I had this whole pre-written letter to you as my way of acknowledging your efforts and thanking you for your ultimate role in the whole execution of today’s intended event.  In that regard, nothing much has changed and I still owe you a huge debt of gratitude so with only a few minor edits, here is that planned letter.

Dear wife (ie. ‘The Maker of Black Bean Brownies’, and ‘The Procurer of Early Morning Coffee’):

Today, as I go forth “into the fray once more” I am confident because I am not going alone.  Sure, I might be doing all the swimming, cycling and running today it wasn’t through my sole efforts that inevitably brought me to the starting line tomorrow morning.

That was the result of a team effort.

In many regards, you actually had it more challenging than I have.  Sure I endured countless hours of pounding pavement, early dips in the canal, and a never ending assortment of aches and pains but you have endured far worse.

In most cases you see me off through the front door whenever I go for a long run or bike ride, give me a kiss and wish me luck.  You remind when I leave early in the morning for a swim to be careful and have fun and the coffee is always  ready for the drive.  And then when I come home afterwards I’m usually exhausted and cranky so you allow me my quiet time to decompress and, of course, I’m hungry so you make sure there is a warm healthy meal waiting for me at some point.

Throughout it all, more often than, you also take on the insurmountable Herculean task of doing my laundry and making sure that all my toxic-smelling workout clothes – each one a festering petri dish of bacteria and contagion – are all washed, dried and ready to go for the next day’s ass-kicking.  Seriously, this Sisyphean effort alone must be about as much fun as having holes bored into your ear drum with a rusty drill bit.  Oh, and of course there hasn’t been much sexy time lately seeing as how all my bits look and feel like chewed leather after endless rubbing on a bike saddle or being slow-cooked in my running tights.  In fact, it’s probably been so long now that I likely couldn’t find your first base anymore without the use of my Garmin.

Probably worst of all, I get down on myself – a lot – especially when things don’t go exactly according to plan and I’m starting to feel like the all-haloed training schedule is stomping me into the ground like a late season gewürztraminer.  When this happens, you are always there to comfort me, hand me an ibuprofen and gently remind me that I’m only human being and sometimes as a human being I’m going to fail and that’s…*gasp*…okay.  I may not always want to hear it, but I absolutely know you’re 100% right.  And on those occasions when I started to doubt myself and lose focus on why I chose to take on this ridiculous challenge, you never  lost faith in the magic that is me even though it’s obvious that the easy answer is that either a) I’m an idiot, b) I’m an idiot, or c) all the above.

And let’s not forget how cranky I’ve been over the last few weeks.  At the best of times, I’m exhausted, mentally taxed out and, often, my taint is on fire thanks so some god awful bout of chafing in my loins from whatever it was that I last subjected myself to.   Basically, I have the disposition of a rabid hyena these days and I’m surprised you haven’t driven a stake through my heart by now.  What I’m really saying then is that I’m a real hot mess of sweaty shorts, blister pads and steroid cream, yet you still go to bed with me anyway.

There are a lot of words commonly tossed around when one is training for and competing in an Ironman:  pain, commitment, sacrifice, fear, tears, determination, courage, et al.  I’m confident that I have the fear and tears all locked up and nailed down, but you certainly have assumed the full brunt of the pain, sacrifice and commitment aspects of that equation; hands downs.  I’m not sure which is more daunting but the role you have played in this whole Iron journey is certainly no less difficult or challenging.

Furthermore, while I would have been out swimming, bike, running and otherwise kicking ass today, your day was inevitably going to be a lot less exciting.  Essentially, for the entire 12 or 13 hours that I would have been in perpetual motion out on the road you could probably have expected to see me for about 15 to 20 nanoseconds.   Realizing that this isn’t exactly the most spectator friendly sport, you came anyway and wouldn’t have complained once about how boring it is once and I realize that no matter how long that challenge would have taken or what shape I’m was in when I accomplished it, I knew you’ll be there at the end of it all cheering like a 16-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  And let’s not forget that what I was going to wear today would likely have made my body look like a topographical map of Utah and yet, for whatever reason, that still wouldn’t have embarrassed or detered you from cheering for me like the rock star I think am anyway.  And don’t think that for once second I wouldn’t have appreciated your efforts at becoming my personal Tenzing Norgay for the day having to cart around all my excess gear and post-race necessities.

Honey, Juan Valdez’ donkey wouldn’t have had it that hard and I appreciate you.

And of course, there were the events of one week ago (click HERE).

Of course, there was only one person to call ahead of all others – you.

So for the remainder of the day you did your best to console and comfort me.

Not that I was having any of it, mind you.

Just look at me:

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But I did appreciate the intent.

You then relegated yourself to being my chauffeur to and from the plastic surgeon, administered the drugs and just generally kept looking after my general comfort as I deal with the injury and the overall disappointment of loosing my dream (albeit temporary) of being 2x Ironman.

Did my demeanor improve any?

Of course not.

So whatever happens today, for good or for bad (Disclaimer:  it was, or likely will be bad), please realize that I love you (more than I ever say) and appreciate all that you have done that has enabled me to be here today and – hopefully – accomplish this momentous goal further (Disclaimer:  I didn’t).  With me today, besides all the “Nutella bombs“, performance formula and gummy frogs (or in my current condition: Percocets, Tylenol, surgical bandage and gauze), I was to carry your strength and support and likewise use it as fuel to keep going and reach ultimately that finish line…for both of us (Disclaimer:  ah, never mind).  And once this whole Iron madness is done I’m looking forward to pulling back, slowing down and being more present (promise) the rest of the summer.

This I absolutely promise to follow through with.

Of course, above all else, I’m also anticipating and looking forward to rocking your world on a more regular basis (Disclaimer: once the pain meds wear off that is) so brace yourself woman, as I’m about to put all this endurance training to good use once again.

Fortunately, I have lots of leftover lubricating cream and anti-inflammatories we can use.

Iron Disaster

Posted: July 4, 2017 in Injuries and Owies
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In four days’ time I was scheduled to be competing in my second full Iron distance triathlon in Hudson Valley, New York but just three short days ago this happened:

Yeah.

I was on my last training ride, a “short and easy” 100k spin with a buddy when we attempted to cross the metal bridge across the Welland Canal in Port Colborne on our way back home.  I’ve crossed this bridge several times before and I know to slow and be careful except on that this particular pass, it was slippery having rained the night before.

I was already half way across when I felt my back wheel begin to slide out from underneath me and then, suddenly, it wasn’t there at all.

Boom…crash…

And there was blood…lots of blood.

I immediately felt my Ironman dreams slipping away from me as my bike continued to slide across the metal grating.

Except that my body did not slide.

No, it hit – hard – and stuck.

It was like landing on an iron, life size cheese grater.

Fortunately, thanks to the quick reactions from my riding partner and the kindness of a few passing motorists* an ambulance was called and I was quickly on my way to the Emergency Room at the Welland Hospital to get stitches and x-rays, which showed two bone fractures to my left hand that likely absorbed the brunt of the initial impact.

While the prognosis was not good but I have remained hopeful over the past few days that everything would work out and I would somehow still be able to pull this Ironman thing off and compete.  After all, despite all the bruising and required stitches, I still seemed to have all the mobility and flexibility in the necessary parts required for swimming, biking and running.

Maybe this wasn’t over yet.

I emailed the race director to see if racing with a fiberglass cast was allowable and it was.

Okay, good.

There was still hope.

That’s something  at least, right?

But today’s visit to the plastic surgeon confirmed my worst fears in that the trauma to my left hand was severe enough that to even attempt a triathlon, much less an Iron distance one would be complete folly.

My 2017 Ironman dream is officially over.

To say I’m disappointed at this point is the understatement of the century.  After last years’ cancellation and then again this year, it seemed like the Ironman gods were not necessarily smiling on me favorably.  Now it just seems that for whatever reason they have decided to specifically target me for their wrath and it totally sucks.

They say that “everything happens for a reason”  or that “when a door closes, another window opens”  but truthfully, I’m finding it very difficult at the moment to find the positive in this whole situation.

Part of me is still thinking that maybe I’m being a bit hasty in my decision and I should quit being such a sissy, suck it up and get it done.  I mean, I’ve already come this far, right?

I’ve sacrificed.

I’ve endured.

I actually left my job in part to accomplish this goal.  Might as well just get it done and deal with the rest afterwards.

Except that what I can’t justify risking are the other commitments that I’ve also made this summer, namely riding and swimming with Hailey.  If I were to go and do something significantly more detrimental to my already uncertain condition and jeopardize those opportunities, I’d never be able to live with myself so we made the decision together as a family to pull the plug on this years’ Ironman adventure.

I’m sure my perspective on this whole thing will change in the coming days, weeks and months (hopefully towards the positive) and, maybe, I’ll even attempt this whole Iron Madness once again in the future but, for the time being – my quest to be a 2 x Ironman is on permanent hold.

*And no thanks whatsoever to the lady who slowed down, leaned out the window to look at my arm before making a face as if she had just looked directly at the Ark of the Covenant in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and loudly proclaim “Oh my GAWD!  That’s bone!”, before simply driving off again.  Not cool, lady.

This morning I began my taper; sweet, sweet taper.

Well, technically, I suppose that my taper began with that second helping of pecan pie last night, but I digress…

However, prior to this morning this weekend was full of challenges including a full 180k Ironman simulation ride with a 60 minute brick afterwards (click HERE) and then another half marathon early yesterday morning (click HERE).  So that’s nearly 10 hours (220k) of either pedaling or running which, believe me, gives one lots of time to contemplate life and their place in it.  Well, that’s when I’m not either focused on the increasing numbness in my ass, the stiffness in my legs, the stupid crosswind, the heat and humidity (not to my well-defined cyclists burn), worrying about whether or not my Snickers bar is being reduced to a liquid puddle on my crossbar, or the developing chafing going on in places you don’t even want to hear about.

So.  Much.  Chafing.

Anyway, for a significant amount of time when I was otherwise distracted by the above, I contemplated what is going to occur in two short weeks: namely, my second full Ironman distance race which also happens to be my first triathlon in nearly two years.

Because, hey, when you make a comeback it may as well be BIG, right?

I thought about what a crazy situation this is, including the original setback last year (click HERE), and then again this year (click HERE), and then the injury to kick off 2017 (click HERE) and then, well, let’s just say the entire past two years has been one crazy rollercoaster of emotion.

And in less than two weeks the entire journey finally comes to fruition.

And even though I haven’t even toed the starting line yet (July 8th), just to get to this point I owe a metric shit ton of gratitude to a lot of people who have either supported me, guided me or just plain put up with my whiny bullshit.

First and foremost, I need to acknowledge the huge and vitally important roll my wife and partner Kelly, as well as my step-daughter Hailey has played in this entire process.  Essentially, they have allowed me to be non-present for the past 3 months in order to swim, bike and run a stupid amount of time through the week and then again on the weekends.  And there’s the feeding me, keeping my never-ending “stinkies” clean, and putting up with my (as of late) deep-rooted grouchiness.  None of what I have accomplished through this training process would have been possible without either of their support and dedication to the goal at hand.

Love you girls!

I also need to acknowledge the coach, Nicole van Beurden for not only laying out the master plan but also allowing me to grow and develop through this entire process through failing time and time again and not allowing me to become too discouraged with myself and reinforcing the positive (click HERE).  In other words, it’s not always about the “Suck it up buttercup and get ‘er done you sissy!” philosophy of long distance that many of us are no doubt conditioned to accept as part of “The Plan”.  Making the decision to go rogue and become a lone wolf in this whole “Ironman: Part 2” quest, without the immediate support and social comradery of other like-minded athletes as part of a local triathlon club, also meant that I had to endure lots and lots and lots of alone time.  So what this also inevitable meant is that Nicole also became a part-time on-call psychiatrist able to receive lots of last minute “cry baby” calls from yours truly when things either went wrong, or I was just feeling sorry for myself.

If anyone is looking for an awesome coach and mentor, look no further.

Thank you, Nicole.

And, of course, I need to acknowledge my three incredible sponsors who were both kind enough to support and believe in the little guy (figuratively only).  Jason Pizzicarola and Nadine Foerstenberg (and the whole staff) at Brimstone Brewing, Matt MacGregor at Crave Local Fresh, and Brandon George McGuire at in.cep.tion cyclery and head guru for the UnRoyal Ride Ambassadors -URRA, of which I am thrilled to be a part.  Between these three amazing local enterprises, not only have I an amazing new race suit to sport (seriously, it’s pretty bad ass:  click HERE) but a cause to race for.  They have kept me hydrated (beer is a hydrator, right?), fueled with delicious local fare, my bike tuned and ready to go and, often, just the inspiration to get out the door and train!

Basically, I am one lucky son of a bitch to have such amazing team to support me and there’s not a day that goes by when I am not grateful for these folks taking the ultimate risk on me.

Thank you.

I will not let you down.

Also,  when this whole Ironman craziness is done, I’m looking forward to continuing representing you during my planned fun group rides in and out The Sanctuary beginning in July.

Beer and pretzel bites for everybody!

(stay tuned friends)

I also want to acknowledge Dr. Kristen Burr at Legacy Health & Performance in St. Catharines, Ontario for dealing with all my ouchies and owies which are inevitably part of the Ironman process.  When cooler heads needed to prevail after I had gone and got myself all worked after consulting “Dr. Google” and come to the conclusion that immediate amputation was necessary, Dr. Burr was there to get me back on the healing path quickly and painlessly.  Sometimes, I also walk out with a good book suggestion to boot.

And then there’s Cori Dodds, and Ben McDermot and the entire amazing staff at the YMCA located at the Vale Health and Wellness Center in Port Colborne YMCA for not only being friendly and supportive, but also for allowing me some flexibility through the off-season to both train as well as keeping Hailey occupied and productive whilst I train.  I realize that I can be a right difficult SOB sometimes (Hailey too I am guessing), so I appreciate you all for not having suspended my membership by now.

There’s my friend Stephen Apps who also took on the daunting challenge this year of training and participating in this year’s Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids with me.  They say that “misery loves company”  and when it comes to doing ridiculous amounts of laps, Steve was all aboard.

Thank you, my friend.

There’s Lucio Gismondi and the whole gang that participates early every Tuesday and Thursday morning as part of the RONA ride for pushing me hard over 40k worth of headwind and relentless pace work up and down the Niagara Parkway.  Every day I don’t get dropped is a good day and as a result I haven’t cycled this strong in, well, ever really.

It’s an honor to share the road with you beasts.

Essentially, as the old say goes:  “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

Well, so too does an Ironman triathlete and, really, my villagers are pretty fucking incredible.  Without them it is doubtful that I would have even made it this far, much less be as prepared and ready as I am.

Likewise, I am going to be doing my absolute best come July 8th in order to make sure that all your support and dedication to my Ironman journey go fully realized and, rest assured, I will acknowledging you all at some point in spirit over those long 226.1 kilometers.

I appreciate you all and I am humbled just to be representing this incredible community of people.

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Now, pass the pretzel bites.

Wil. E. Ridiculous

Posted: June 22, 2017 in In Transition
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I’m pretty fortune to live and train where I do (click HERE).  While I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as “the country”, there is certainly enough of it around.  And while it may be true that there are certain risks that one has to assume when training in a, well, let’s call it “rural” area as I do.  I have learned to deal with coywolves, dogs and dog shit, chipmunks, asshole drivers, moron pedestrians, tourists and rutting goats.

That’s pretty much the full gamut of what this area has to offer hazard-wise.

However, there is one potential danger in particular that has surfaced recently and has me a bit flummoxed by the reaction it’s been getting.

Coyotes.

No, not the coywolves as I mentioned up above – them bitches are scary – just your ordinary, average, disinterested urban coyote.

I’ve never mentioned them before as a “threat” because I just don’t see them that way.

I mean, were you ever stressed or threatened by this guy in the past:

wile-e-coyote

Hell, no!

I figured that if I ever did run into a coyote I’d just wait for it to strap on a rocket pack and roller-skates and then just stop short on a cliff edge so that he overshoots me before stalling over open air and then falling to the ground with a puff of dust.

Easy.

However, on the rare occasion I do see them they are usually heading in the opposite direction in order to avoid me – and quickly, I might add.  I guess I can strike a rather menacing image when wrapped in a Lycra cycling kit and wheezing like an asthmatic gorilla.

So I keep telling myself anyways.

Anyhow, lately with all the construction in the area lately sighting a coyote isn’t the rare thing it used to be.  Sure, we hear them almost every night prowling the fields behind our house but we never actually saw them very often as they are typically nocturnal.  Now, well, we see them a bit more often as they are no doubt becoming a bit displaced with this ever-changing environment.

Just last week, upon completing an evening run a coyote popped out of the underbrush just ahead of me and, seeing this fat, spandex-clad train wreck heading right for it – beat it off back into the bush again.

I will say, however, I’d be lying if I said that my heart didn’t skip a beat.

Regardless, beat it it did in true Michael Jackson form, so I kept going and never thought another thing about it.  After all, the coyotes have always been here and aside from their middle of the night howling, they’ve never posed me any real serious threat.

Unfortunately, all the tourists coming back into town now that the summer cottage season is upon us don’t exactly feel the same way.

Suddenly coyotes are a HUGE threat.

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So much so that they have recently posted a memo, warning dog walkers about coyotes in the area as well as discussing what they should do if they encounter one.

And me being the sarcastic dick I am, find this a bit funny.

I understand that coyotes are more or less disinterested in humans but dogs on the other hand, well, add a dog to the mix and their interest could surely be piqued.  Especially given all the fluffy little frou-frou lap dogs that the tourists like to tout around on their fake-diamond studded leashes.

In that case, Fifi is essentially a harnessed appetizer prior to the evening’s regular meal.

Common sense might suggest to normal people that one probably should not walk their little mutt after dark, especially in poorly lit areas or along out-of-the-way places – but tourists are seldom normal nor do they occupy anything resembling common sense.

No, instead they issues memos about what to do when you do exactly  that and then  run into the proscribed issue.

Smart, right?

Told you I was a sarcastic dick, didn’t I?

Anyway, I’m making the correlation here that if a coyote were brazen enough to go after Fifi with its owner around in close proximity – stupid as they may be – perhaps I should heed more notice seeing as how in my running tights, I might also be mistaken for a moveable feast.  Maybe there would be some token takeaways – weak as they may be – for me to better educate and prepare myself for future encounters of the canid kind.

Among these brain nuggets are the following:

  1. Stand tall and be assertive.  Coyotes are wary of humans and your presence enough be enough to ward it off.  Maintain eye contact.  Do not turn your back on the coyote and do not run.  Running away can trigger a coyote’s prey drive and cause him or her (nice that they’re not perpetrating any gender stereotypes here) to chase you.

 

Yeah, as a runner – that helps me not.

Anyone who’s ever seen me at any significant distance into a run knows that “tall and assertive” is not my jam.  At best, I look like Frankenstein with a bad case of scoliosis lumbering through the street.  It’s all I can do to remain upright, much less assertive about it.

And running away?  Ha!

As long as I don’t fall over and freely give up my soft mushy underbelly I’d be doing well.

  1. Haze the coyote until it leaves the area.

 

Haze?

You mean like dress it in drag and make it chug a tallboy through a funnel?  I’m figuring that in doing this there is a significant risk that the coyote might enjoy this too much and never leave the area.

Just sayin’…

If what they mean to say is to make a ruckus as to deter the coyote coming any closer, believe you me, I will be emitting a full range of cries, grunts, wails, screams and screeches.   I will be a literal cacophony of despair.  I will make a racket that would have any Einstürzende Neubauten fan handing out ear plugs and it will come naturally, I assure you.

So, if anything, what did I learn?

Absolutely buckus.

However, I now definitely know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if a coyote should ever make his presence known and decide that I should represent some sort of tasty victual, I’m more or less screwed.

At best, I can scream my ass off and try to stand fully erect but, honestly…why bother?  At that point in the workout the chances are good I’ll be more content to just roll over and accept my fate as the main course at the coyote buffet.

Thankfully, the chances of any of this actually happening are slim to none so I’m not really worried about it.  Unless of course, for what forever reason, I decide to strap on a pink leash and harness and crawl around the Friendship Trail in a pair of furry underwear.

In that event though, the tourists might want to include on their next memo about what to do should they encounter me.

Tightwad Triathlete #11

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Financial, Nutrition
Tags: , ,

I have just survived my first four week block of my Ironman build and while there have definitely been some setbacks and failing points (as is part of the whole journey) I have come out the other side more or less unscathed and successful.  It was during this period that one of my biggest challenges from the past reared its ugly head once again… namely adequate fueling and nutrition.

This has always been a huge challenge for me.  Most notably (and recently), it cost me a decent outing at last years Around the Bay 30k event (click HERE) where I totally bonked and died a horrible painful death in the back 10k worth of hills.

Yup.  1 cup of cluster; 2 cups of fuck.

Never…

Again.

But, hey, sometimes you just have to chuck these experiences in the “fuck it bucket” and instead use them as a learning opportunity.

And as I am now in my big distance builds, nailing this fueling and nutrition thing down is 100% crucial.  Not just in order to accomplish the big workouts, but so that I have an absolutely sound strategy in place for my Ironman race itself that enables me to perform to my full potential.

It’s crazy how fast my morning caterpillars of “can do’s” turn into the beautiful and mysterious “fuck it fly” by the mid-point of my workout if I haven’t fueled properly.

Now, I understand all the available products on the market: gels, chews, power bars, and the like.  And while I’m not disputing the validity and effectiveness any of these products, who the hell can afford all this stuff?

Think about it.  For a 4-5 hour bike ride, I’m going to need approximately 2000-3000 calories so when you do the math by breaking down these calories into, say, GU gels which provide approximately 100 calories, that’s potentially 20-30 gels.   And at approximately $2.00 a pop, that’s potentially a $40-$60 training day.  And then there’s the long run, the time trials, the long swims, etc., over weeks and weeks of training.

Holy shit!

You practically need to be Daddy-fucking-Warbucks to afford that.  Hell, why not just fuel with Beluga caviar and crystal flutes full of Dom Perignon?

By the time I arrive at the starting line I’d inevitably be this guy:

homeless man

What I’m delicately trying to say is that I’m a cheap bastard (click HERE).

In past experimentation’s I have used dried dates (click HERE).  But even still, that’s a shitload of dried dates to be eating for the course of a long workout.  And one can only have so much fiber before one starts to run into, how do you say… really serious issues?

Note:  that fart isn’t really a fart and you might have to leave a Hoboken Squat Cobbler by the side of the road.

There has to be a better solution.

So I started looking at what exactly does my body need?  Essentially, once it starts going (assuming I’ve already had a healthy breakfast or feeding prior to heading out) it needs quick burning carbs to continually stoke the fire and keep the engines running.

If only there was somewhere you could go to find plentiful options of quick burning carbohydrate sources?

Enter Bulk Barn to the rescue.

Behold:

bulk-barn-inside-3

When it comes to choices of quick burning carbs, your local Bulk Barn is essentially the equivalent of Shangri-La, Valhalla, Nirvana, El Dorado and the Garden of Eden all packaged up in a flimsy clear plastic baggie.

It’s a literal plethora of Swedish berries, fish, jelly beans, jube jubes, wine gums, and an entire Noah’s Ark of gummy critters of all shapes and sizes.

DAH-ROOL.

Yes, yes, I hear you all crying out:  “But Terry, that’s not healthy!” 

So let me be 100% perfectly clear here:  I do not give a fig newton about “healthy” when I’m fueling for long workouts.  All I care about is that it’s convenient to access and eat, it keeps me going, and it’s tasty.

And candy just happens to check all those boxes. Unlike honey dates and chocolatey protein bars, chewy candy does not melt.  If you’ve ever had tried to pry open (and eat) a baggie of chocolaty goop that has melted over the course of a 2 hour run, you’ll understand.  At best, most chewy candy might get a bit soft but that just makes it easy to scarf down and it’s easily packaged and retrieved from little baggies which are also conveniently available at Bulk Barn.

Win.

It also has the four essential things that I basically need to keep cycling or running:  calories, sugar, carbs and sodium.  I mean, really, the idea is to rapidly bring up your blood sugar without causing GI issues (ie. digests quickly).

Candy does that!

Here’s the nutritional breakdown for a single Swedish berry:

Swedish Berry

So a small handful of, say, 7 Swedish berries would equate to 91 calories, 14 grams of sodium, and 21 grams each of carbs and sugar.  You know, that’s pretty close to what I would have spent on a single GU gel…except much cheaper, and much tastier (my opinion).  AND, I don’t have to stick to just Swedish berries either.  No, sir!  I can pre-prepare my little baggies with whatever type of candy I want meaning that every mouthful every 15-20 minutes is something to look forward to.  Variety is the spice of life after all, right?

And it works!

Well, for me anyway.

Oh, and Peter Sagan also swears by them as well.  And if it’s good enough for one of the best long distance cyclists in the world currently, then you bet your sweet bippy it’s damn good enough for me.

I feel like a rolling Willy Wonka factory on my long bike rides.

Of course, you don’t necessarily want to fully rely on candy as your fuel source, you still need “real fuel” as a nutritional base – especially during long workouts.  However, you can top off your glycogen stores with candy if you feel your energy levels dropping, or if you need a boost to keep up with powerful surges, particularly in the last hour of a three-plus hour effort.

For the purposes of getting in real fuel, I have resorted to using something else: Nutella, or as I like to call it, “Nectar of the Gods”.

As with candy, I realize that it’s not “healthy”.  A two-tablespoon (37 gram) serving of Nutella contains 200 calories including:  99 calories from 11 grams of fat (3.5g of which are saturated) 80 calories from 21 grams of sugar.   Oh, and there’s also 2 grams of protein (slow burning fuel) to boot.  Not necessarily significant, of course, but it’s worth mentioning.

However, all I really give a shit about is whether or not it keeps me going?

And to this I say:  Abso-fucking-lutely!

But how do I manage to consume Nutella while cycling/running you ask?  I mean, it’s not like I can simply bring a jar of Nutella and a soup spoon with me is it?

Well, my ingenious (if I do say so myself) solution is make these little “Nutella bombs”.

IMG_1748

Bonus marks for having a Minion.

Basically, I just heap two- tablespoons of the good shit into the corner of a plastic baggie (also conveniently found on the cheap at Bulk Barn), tie the baggie off and, BAM!, the perfect little portion of hazelnut goodness.  All I have to then do then is pull one of these “Nutella bombs” out of my bento bag or fuel belt, bite the corner out of the baggie and squeeze it like a lime wedge on dollar beer night into my piehole.

Done.

From an ordinary 750 gram jar of Nutella ($4.99 at Bulk Barn) essentially equates to approximately 20 Nutella bombs.

That’s only 24 cents a bomb.

Booyah!