Friday, June 26, 2009

Take that weather gypsies!

The weather gypsies didn't win today. I woke up to find a beautiful blue sky so I decided to bike in. When I got to work, I was informed by my colleagues that our planned patio lunch may be inconvenienced by a 70% risk of thunderstorms (there was actually a severe thunderstorm watch on, d'Oh!). Putting my rose colored glasses on, I still managed to drag them along and we had a good lunch even if we had to rush inside with our half finished plates when the rain started to pour. On the ride home, I won again, getting home as heavy gray clouds gathered. It still hasn't rained, about an hour after I got here, so maybe it's just all bark and no bite today.

I followed somewhat Lily's advice and took the parkway. I say somewhat because I'm too far south to hit Carling at March road, that would be a severe detour. But I did hit the parkway at Woodroofe and it wasn't as bad as I remembered. Maybe the buses are getting used to the bikes so they don't come so close anymore.
I did a pretty decent time with a 30.1 km/h (woot!!!) moving average speed. I think the unreal goal of a 45 minute commute is within reach if I keep working hard on it. I'm especially proud of my the 9 kilometeres under 2 minutes and the (drum roll please) 2 back to back kms at 1:20 and 1:26.

The way home was quite windy and there was a lot of traffic downtown (took me 6 minutes for my first kilometer) so I didn't do such a good showing with a time of 1:04, still, it's Friday, I didn't feel like killing myself before the weekend.

Which brings me to my next point. There will likely be no training this weekend. Alex's big 30 party tomorrow will take all my attention and tonight is an all you can eat sushi feast. Sunday's a late brunch with some friends of ours (I'm hoping I can wake up early for a short run if I'm not too hungover from Saturday, but I know it's not very realistic). The celebrations will spill into Monday with FoodiePrints' field trip at l'Atelier, a very avant-garde tasting menu for the curious and adventurous. Video and instructions on how to join us available here.

In the mix today, we had some heavy tunage from Shiva Space Japan's Force and Hypnotic's Sonic Electromation.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hot and Humid run

It was a hot day today with a humidex of 37 degrees at noon in Ottawa. Some of my colleagues were going out for a run as well so it made me feel extra guilty about skipping my swim yesterday so I decided to go running in the oven.

I settled on a route alongside the canal which is very scenic. My goal was somewhere between 5 and 10km since I wanted to be well in under an hour. My colleagues were going on an easier run so I went out on my own and decided to improvise and possibly turn around Bank street for what was in my head about 6km. Turns out it was quite further than expected with a total of 8.75km without counting the distance between the building and the path. The new work location is not directly on the running paths so it takes about 4-5 minutes to go through the ~500m required before getting to the start point of this run.
I don't have all my running gear yet in my new office so I thought little of going out without a water bottle, especially since there are water fountains across the route. However, by the time I reached the first water fountain, I was parched. I drank way more than should be required because I didn't know how close the next one would be. Turns out that's the only functional fountain I found. The other one I spotted was still all wrapped up for the winter!! Needless to say I was very thirsty when all was finally said and done.

I think I did pretty well considering the weather. Tomorrow I will try to brave the elements and ride to work if the rain doesn't look too crazy since I've been itching to try the parkway route and see how fast that can be.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two in a row - updated

Phew. Just a quick note to share with you that I rode my bike to work two days in a row Monday and Tuesday. Not bad, 100km in 36 hours (4 rides of 25km!). Even in the 30+ humidex temperature, my time was still under 1h. I even broke 50km/h yesterday (yes, on a downhill slope ;)

I have been wrestling with alternate routes since there is so much construction probably regular maintenance and also the economic stimulus package. Most of my best routes are either getting redone or too dangerous to ride so I tried Carling on Tuesday. While it felt faster since I had to compete with the cars that are going 80km/h, I stopped at more lights and that road has lots of hills, I didn't know Ottawa could be so hilly. I may retry my luck with the parkway on Friday (my next scheduled bike in) and see how it merges into downtown. Here are the routes I took this week:
And here are the stats for each leg:
As you can see, I just keep getting faster everyday, hopefully that trend continues. I'm still quite proud of my 50+ km/h. It felt really awesome to be going that fast even if it was just for a few seconds. The time for that km is 1m20s, probably my fastest ever. Yay. The Garmin told me to slow down twice, I'm not sure why. I don't think it's ever done that before and I don't remember programming it that way. Maybe the engineers thought there was a hard limit at which it would always complain?

Summer is here for sure in Ottawa with these crazy hot temperatures. I remember hitting all the red lights on Carling and thinking that it was so much wasted time. Once I got on Richmond and then Robertson, I was hoping for red lights for a bit of a break!! I may have to bring out my extra water bottle as the one I carried this week was empty by km 15.

I am certainly feeling it in my muscles today. Hopefully I can find time for a swim tonight. The knee is not bothering me very much, I anticipated much worse. I can feel that I pushed it hard, but I wouldn't call it sensitivity, just awareness of what the limitations are.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Got Wet!

I guess it serves me right for ridiculing the weather gypsies on Monday. Today the forecast was for 60% chances of showers so I decided to 'take my chances' and bike to work. The morning commute was pretty uneventful with just a small drizzle that didn't even make me damp. The evening commute, however, was a different story. I was dripping wet when I got in:
Don't worry, I didn't soak poor Chester just for the picture, this is a picture from the last time he went to the Vet and had an 'accident' on the way back. I've been meaning to find a way to use it :) So here are the details of the ride:
Did you notice the maximum speed of over 100km/h. This must be a software glitch, I may be fast but I wouldn't say I am that fast.

On the positive side, I had a bike clinic at work on Tuesday and the very helpful bike specialist told me that my knee pain may be caused by a maladjusted seat. He gave me tips about my legs being 98% extended (I'm not sure what that 2% really means!) and also how to bring it back a bit so that my knee is aligned with the middle of the pedal at the middle point of the rotation. I raised the seat a bit and today the soreness is nowhere near as much as it was before. When I found my allen key set, I will also push the seat backward a bit. Who would have thought half an inch would make that much of a difference (now, behave people, I know what you are thinking and it's not pretty!!). Hopefully that is a sign that I am fully healed and having the seat a bit higher may mean more riding time with less injuries.

Sonic Fusion's Confused and Growling Mad Scientists' classic Chaos Laboratory in the mix.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad's birthday. So his girlfriend planned a BBQ at his house to celebrate together this important day. I wanted to squeeze in some training today so I decided to run to his place. It's not a bad distance at 11km and I knew I could take it easy, especially given the heat at 24 celsius with a glaring sun.
I am always amazed at how runner friendly Ottawa is. You can go from the downtown core to a park-like setting in no time and run for hours without stopping at a red light. So this is what I started from:
And within 5 minutes, here is where I was:
It felt at least 10 degrees cooler without the cars, asphalt everywhere and noise around me. I got a pretty good clip except when I stopped to take pictures. I still got into quite a bit of a sweat:
I even took a small break at an old building in Hull that was converted into a community bike rental and repair shop to use their facility. This place really is runner friendly I tell you. I kept going until about km 7.25 when I crossed into Gatineau proper:
The heat came back and there were lots of red lights. It's always like that in Gatineau for some reason. The sidewalk even stopped abruptly for a corner or two (I calculated 800m with the Garmin) to reappear for some 35 meters (just long enough for a bus stop) and then disappear again. I even got some people supporting and cheering me on: Run Forest Run. Gatineau really is a place apart from the rest of the modern world.

I kept going and eventually reached my destination (my dad!) and here is what I had waiting for me:
I can't tell you how refreshing it was to jump in the pool. Phew. What a nice day. My knee is not complaining too much. It felt rusted while I was running but I don't have any of the post workout pain I was experiencing about a month ago so hopefully I'm recovered. Alex drove me back since he joined us after his work, so no double insanity riding or running back today.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Commute 2.0

Yes, I did it! I woke up this morning and looked outside to a gorgeous sunny day (if a bit sinister with some worrysome clouds far away). I looked at the forecast for a 40% chance of thunderstorms and decided to brave the commute despite the warnings from the weather gypsies. Turns out I did the right choice. I don't think there was even one drop of water that fell on Ottawa today.
The ride itself was nice. I took the usual route but kept going past Churchill and connected to Gladstone to reach downtown (Wellington and Scott are bumpy or undergoing renovations). I think I was pretty quick as well. Downtown was quite busy already.

I got pretty much the same ride going home at about 59 minutes. I feel pretty good and I think tonight calls for a big bowl of ice cream after dinner :) I am a bit sore, especially in my knee but it's definitively not pain so I will keep an eye out to make sure that it actually improves and I don't get myself into the situation I got into a month ago with my patellofemoral syndrome injury.

The nice thing about today is that we had a team meeting at work today and since there are quite a few new faces in the team, we got to introduce ourselves and tell something that we did recently that is not work related. Of course, I told everyone that I biked in to work today from 25km away and everyone started clapping. Yay for me, I rock. (I'm actually way more modest in real life than I sound on this blog btw).

Tomorrow is swimming and Wednesday I have stuff to do after work so I will try to squeeze in a run. If the knee is feeling fine for it, Thursday will be another bike commute. Thanks for your support, between Mel's statement that I had no excuses to not bike to work and Marlene's query about my commute, I feel really motivated!!!

Update: S-Range's Space and Sonic Fusion's Confused in the mix.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

BBQ Time

Our city councillor, Shad Qadri very generously took time to get everyone together and organize a BBQ in Stittsville today. The location of the BBQ, Stittsville Village Square is a short 5km away from our house and the weather was absolutely stunning today so we decided to go with the bikes. It's the first time this year that Alex and I took our bikes out together so it was pretty fun. It also provided for a systems check for a possible Monday bike commute for me (now that I said it, I have to follow through!).
The attendance at the BBQ was pretty good and Alex says the burgers were delicious (I was still full from our French Toast breakfast so I didn't indulge). They even had Snow Cones and Cotton Candy. The featured entertainment was a bunch of exotic animals that kids went crazy over. Imagine how exciting it is to have the opportunity to touch an alligator for a 7 year old.

The ride itself was nice. We took the Trans-Canada trail that goes right by the park. Alex challenged me to a friendly competition (he said he didn't want to wager money since it would be unfair to take my money so easily!) however I won with both bikes (we switched bikes on the way back to make it 100% fair). Our top speed was a bit above 38km/h but most of the trip was between 20km/h and 30km/h.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Catching up + THR turns 1

So in the last 4 days I swam twice and did two stationary bike workouts. I know I'm finding excuses not to bike even tho Mel says there are none to be had. I just don't feel ready (job-wise, not fitness-wise) to do it. I'm still acclimating to the new environment so my new bike-in goal is next week.

My two swims were pretty good. I'm averaging about 18 minutes for my 750m so I'm pretty happy. The biking is fun as well as it allows me to catch up on my TV viewing (I record shows/movies onto a portable DVD player that I watch while working out).

These news are pretty bland I know. The real reason I'm writing an entry today is to wish The Happy Runner a happy 1st blogging birthday and at the same time put myself up for some fabulous prizes that he is generously giving away. Time flies and blogging allows one to look back, literally, and realize the effects of time gone by. I wonder what my blog will look like when it turns a year old.

I hope to find time to be a bit more creative with the theme. Updating my PBs and picture from 3 weeks ago would be a good start indeed, I'll start with that right now ;)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Track run + weekly digest

I read this very interesting post on Marlene's Mission to a(nother) marathon blog. It inspired me to try the same track workout yesterday. I knew there was a track at Holy Trinity High School and it's a nice distance from the house so it made for a perfect warmup/cooldown before and after the speed session.
I think I did pretty well but I have to agree with Marlene that this sounds much more fun than it is and it is much tougher than it looks.

The session in question is 3 repeats of 4 laps (400m each) with breaks of 2 recover laps.

My warmup was 3.4km at 16m44s and then I started with the track:

First set 1:46, 1:42, 1:44, 1:45.
Recovery: 2:06, 1:58

The first set was fun, I didn't know I could be that fast!

The the second set: 1:47, 1:49, 1:49, 1:48
Recovery: 2:05, 2:04

The second set was pretty tough but I toughed it out knowing there were two recovery set coming. I never knew I'd look forward to running slower, hehehe.

Third set: 1:49, 1:50, 1:53, 1:55
Recovery: 2:18, 1:56

The last set, I just couldn't hold my speed even if I gave it all I got. I did as best as I could. Then, during my last recovery lap, something interesting thing happenned, some kids on their bikes wanted to race me, so I showed them runners are not to be messed with by passing them and holding up until they gave up. Maybe what I need to increase my speed is get my competitive edge and run against kids on bikes ;)

A final cooldown of 13:15 (2.57km) and I was done. I stretched, showered and went for a well deserved brunch after with some friends.

Other training I did last week was 2 sessions of swimming where I set a new time for my fastest 750m set at 17m30s and two indoor biking sessions just to not feel so guilty about slacking off my training and blogging while I adapt to the new schedule.

I'm hoping I can figure out my new schedule and have enough of my stuff moved to my new office to take my bike this week. They got a really sweet setup with a keycard-locked bike cage, assigned lockers (already got mine reserved!) and even an ironing board and iron in the shower room so I don't need to look all wrinkly...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Shoe Reward

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front. This is not necessarily because I haven't trained, even if I did slow down a bit with only 2 stationary bike and 1 swim session in the last week. Unless you count participating in the Marche de la Mémoire, a walk to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society.

The reason why I haven't trained and blogged is simple: I started a new job today and have been real busy with the transition. It should take a few weeks before I settle down in the new position and have a regular schedule. Hopefully I can find a new groove that will work well with the new job.

On the running front, since I beat my PB a week ago, I am entitled to a reward! This runner is easily rewarded with a new pair of shoes! The design for my usual show, the Asics Nimbus has changed and made it uncomfortable for my big toe, so I went for the next best thing and got this model:

They are Saucony Progrid Triumph 6. A pretty fitting name for a reward shoe if you ask me!! I look forward to training in them and who knows, maybe Saucony will be my new brand from now on. I still think Asics makes some killer gel cushions and neat apparel. Hopefully the friendly shoe expert at the store is right and Asics will review the design to go back to the way it was before.