Friday, July 07, 2006

July 7, 2006 - The day's done. Let the weekend begin!

Bike: 10km (23min).

Once again, lots and lots of red lights. The wind shifted to WSW, right where I don't want it on the way home. But it is Friday, and I did leave a few minutes earlier than normal, so I can take my time.

Given the state of my legs, and considering how hard that flight of stairs was when I went for a shower, I think tomorrow's a day off. A bit of rest, a bit of relaxation, and (hopefully) a lot of time with my wife and daughter (they'll be exercise enough!).

July 7, 2006

Bike: 10km, not timed.

Where the hell are my legs?!? I've got nothing left in them this morning - I actually had to use the small chainring this morning. Weatherwise, it was perfect, with only a light breeze headon. But it could have been a gale and I wouldn't have known the difference.

But this was kind of a good thing. I have a bad habit of going too hard on too many of my training sessions. Aerobic workouts are rare with me. With really weak legs I was forced to sit back and enjoy the ride. And honestly, it was a beautiful ride.

July 6, parts 2 and 3

Bike: 10km commute. Not timed (thanks to red lights and construction crews).
Swim: 1h15min. Focus on backstroke, with a wee bit of free.
300m warmup, 650m driils, 300m pseudo-IM set (free/back/breast)

I was dreading the bike home. I felt weak, with tired quads from Wednesday's interval set with Rob. Thankfully (?) I hit tonnes of red lights, and the construction crews were causing complete and utter chaos on the roads. I decided (wisely) to not ride between the frustrated drivers and the pylons, and scoot through an adjacent neighborhood which had bike lanes where I needed to go. For 3km, it was pure gridlock...and I zoomed passed all of them in no time...until I hit the next light. Doh!

I ended up being more rested than I thought for my swim. I regained energy somewhat quickly from supper (more likely it was from the medium Monster Cookie DQ Blizzard my wife bought for me), but I still felt really tired. And given my previously unsuccessful attempts at backcrawl in the fall, I wasn't very optimistic for my swim.

Have you ever had one of those days where the light comes on and >poof< you understand everything clearly? That's what it was like in the pool. I felt tired as hell in the warmup, but doing the drills suddenly made things click into place. I was actually swimming the backstroke and not swallowing the entire pool! My legs were tired, but not spent because my stroke had come together. Even the pseudo-IM set we did later was relatively simple for me (it was only 4 x 75m, but that was quite a challenge before).

Hmph! Hard work and determination does pay off! I guess I should have listened to my parents more when I was younger....

Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 6, 2006 -- It's a beautiful day... the suburbs for a ride in to work. Unfortunately, it's only 10km.

Biking: 10km. 24min.

Wonderful 18degC today, with a soft yet persistent NW wind to meet me head on the whole way. A bit slow today, but faster than all the cars on the road -- 3 lanes down to 2 thanks to resurfacing crews. Had to take if offroad a bit to dodge some pylons, tar and such, but my lovely Ridley Crossbow handled it all with ease.

A note on finding a bike.
I spent a fair bit of time trying to research bikes, and was only considering new bikes at the time. My budget was really modest ($100CDN tops, taxes included), and I wanted the best value for my dollar. Here's some key points that I can share with others:
  1. Go to a higher-end shop and get measured. You'll probably need some "snug" clothing for this. They'll measure all sorts of things like inseam length, torso length, arm length.... You may even get on an apparatus that does it all really quick. But you'll get a very precise set of numbers that you can take anywhere when you look for your bike.
  2. For mid- to high-level complete bikes, a significant portion of the cost goes to components. For some, the cost of the drivetrain (deraillers, shifters, etc) will be the same as the cost of the frame and fork. Wheelsets, too, can be very expensive. So don't be afraid of a "lower grade" frame and fork if you're getting higher-end components. Trust me, you'll feel the difference with every pedal stroke and shift.
  3. Regarding components, you'd probably want something in the middle range of the company's offering. For Shimano, you'll want something above Sora, but you don't need to spend $2000 on a full Dura-Ace set either. I've got Ultegra on my bike, and they feel great. The differences, so I've been told, is in how long things will last, and how smoothly the components work. (Sorry, I can't comment on Campagnolo, but I'd expect the same comments apply.)
  4. Don't be afraid to consider a gently used bike. I got mine on Ebay - a combination of luck and timing. I got a 2003 Ridley Crossbow in 2005 in wonderful shape for about $1000 -- less than half of what it would be new. You can find used bike on Ebay, or in various bike shops in your area. Some shops are exclusively used bikes. If you have the time and patience, and you're willing to do some hunting, you can come up with a great deal. And you'll learn a heap of stuff from these shop owners too. Just remember a few key points:
  • How was the bike previously used? Racing, commuting, trails - they all wear the bike down a bit differently.
  • How old is the bike? And how old are the components (shifters, deraillers)? I've seen places where the frame and fork are 2003, but the components are 2000. It does make a difference in price and in performance. Sometimes it's okay, but other times it's not.
  • Has the bike been crashed? Don't be afraid to ask this. If they don't know, look for bent frames, scratches, damaged components. If there's a deep nick in something, it's been hit hard. And remember -- components can be replaced, but frames can't.
  • Check the teeth on the chainrings and cogs. There will be some wear, but it shouldn't be excessive. If the teeth look uneven and misshapen, then you'll have to replace them sooner rather than later.
  • When was the bike last serviced? This may be a tough one, but some shops will overhaul a used bike before putting it up for sale.
  • Take a test ride. Hell, take two. The more bikes you try, the more you get a feel for what works for you.
Once you get your new ride, get ready to fix it. New or not, you'll have to fix it at some point. "Bicycle Repair Manual" by Chris Sidwells is a great quick-n-dirty guide for fixing pretty much everything. The Park Tool website has a wonderful list of guide for fixing and adjusting, and is much more complete than Sidwells' book. You can also buy the Park Tool "Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair" from them, which I've heard is probably the best manual out there. Whichever you use (even one not listed here), you'll find it a valuable resource and it will help you keep that bike running smooth for years to come.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 5, 2006

Running: 6 x 1km intervals (4:40m/km pace). Total distance 10km.

Actually felt really good today. I thought that thw swim and spin yesterday would have taken it out of me, but I did quite well. Rob was (as always) ahead of me in the intervals (he's training for a marathon late this year) but not by as much today.

Weather was much cooler today, and not nearly as humid - I'm sure that helped me out. Good run all around.

July 4, 2006

Spinning - 45min, 75-85% intensity
Swimming - 1h15, varying intensity
300m warmup, 650m drills, 900m set (1850m total)

Swim class was the first one of the summer, and the first one in three weeks. Felt more like a 65yo with emphysema at first, but calmed down and made it through the drills. By the end, my stroke was much smoother and body position much better. And yes, very tired.

Training continues....or is it beginning?

Although I've been running and cycling for a while now, it hasn't really had a purpose. It's been very informal, with no goal, really just to get out and have some fun (and justify the money spent on my bike). But now that the summer swim session has started, I think my training is actually beginning rather than continuing.

Now the blog becomes my training blog.

Step 1 -- Commitment

Well, I did it. After months of talking about it, buying a bike and all sorts of related (?) cycling gear, and swimming with a masters club for the last nine months, I signed up for my first triathlon -- The Canadian in Ottawa, Ontario.

And I'm completely freaked about it now.

It's not a long triathlon, but still, it's a triathlon. It's a Sprint distance -- 750m swim in open water, 30km bike, and a 5km run -- but it still scares me a bit. I know I can get through the bike and the run, but it's really the swim that concerns me the most. That, and doing all three all at once. And I've never swam 750m solid before. And I've never swam in open water...with other people...and with other people slapping and kicking and crawling over me.

One thing that takes pressure off is that I know there isn't a chance in hell that I'll even be close to placing near the top three. I won't win. I won't place. But I can finish and I say that I've done it.

Why the blog? Mainly because if I am successful, I've got a nice record of the journey to the finish line. But if there's others out there looking for some encouragement, wondering if they can do it to, maybe this will help them out too.

So, here I go. September 2, 2006, here I come.

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