Master Yoda

This week started off with a lovely flight from London to Edmonton, relatively uneventful but not a lot of fun either. Nothing like getting up at 5 am just to sit like a praying mantis for 5 or 6 hours. I was really looking forward to get to the hotel – watch some football – and get some sleep, but for some strange reason I decided to go the master swim at the YMCA around the corner from the office.

Master swim instructor Alvin, who I will just call Yoda, had us jump and do a quick 200m warm up, and then says “let’s see your back stroke”, that should be easy, and off I go. I arrive back to a happy “you have much to learn young one” look.

Start off with the flutter board and kick your way down the pool. I am not much of a swimmer if I can’t use my arms, so as I slow make my way down the lane half drowning, half faking, and doing whatever it takes to move on to the next step, I struggle through a couple hundred more meters of this, and then Yoda has us do it while twisting side to side kicking as we go. “Core you need to use”, “use the core young one”, after another round of attempted drowning and fighting my way through probably 300m or so of this torture, we get to do it streamlined, then with just one arm over our head, then with one arm pulling with our fingers in a circle, and then when we final looked like we were all cooked he had us redo the backstroke using what we had just learned.

Well, holy crap! I can rotate in the water, and I can actually use my legs effectively. This almost feels unnatural and holy crap I am making really good time back and forth. I am completely amazed. I am just completely wiped at this point but I decide to do 50m free using this rotating technic, and to my stunned surprised I cruise in at exactly a minute. Now that my not seem impressive, but typically I run 1:10 to 1:15 per 50m while working hard at it. I am beat tired and shaved a cool 15 seconds off that. H-crap!

I barely make it back to the hotel as I am so tired, but what a day!

Tuesday I hit the gym for a little Yoga, and yep, I bend myself like I have never bent before, and I think I am getting better, but trust me, Yoga is not for the faint of heart!

Wednesday I head back for another Yoda session, of course I am running late, so I did a sprint to the YMCA from the hotel and make it before the warm up is over. Yoda decides that we are going to continue working on back stroke. Through the paces we go again. “Use the core young one”, he is starting to sound like John Luc – engage, 1/4 warp, 1/2 impulse, engage, engage, engage.

This time I feel like I actually did something kinda right, and finish the night cruising along with the rest if not a little faster then the rest. Trust me that never happens when I swim. So I finish up with a quick 50m free, and cruise in at 53 seconds.

Yoda is on his game! The young Jedi is learning!

Lakeside Tri 2012

Well after a quick sleep, I awake to a cold morning. I decide to do a quick google search on secrets to doing triathlon in cold weather.

I decide it is a go, I grab warm clothes, extra towels, hot tea, gloves, hot shot glove warmers, and even my cleveland browns toque. I am seriously concerned about the swim, because at this point I still don’t know what the temperature will be, but I am guessing cold cold cold.

The drive up to lakeside goes really good, and the morning is just plain gorgeous. The sun is screaming bright and the dew is lifting as I drive, and I convince myself there is nothing about this triathlon that is going to stop me. I get to the site and park and grab all my gear and follow the crowd over to the transition area. The mood is quiet but hopeful.

I get all my gear setup but I am not changing my clothes until it is much closer to race time. Seriously it is still very cool out at about 11 degrees, but it is clear it is warming up. I run into a few friends and get to catch up with them taking my mind off the cold water that is to come. The have a racer meeting and tell us all the things we need to know, including the water temperature of 22, which given how much warmer it is over the air temperature it is going to be just fine to swim!

So it is nearing ten o’clock and I get ready and head over to the water and run into my friends again and they wish me well, and I head out into the water. Unbelievable how warm the water is. I make my way out to the first turn and it goes pretty good. But like last time the second wave is starting to swim over me, but I hit a good stroke and seem to be moving well, and I round the second turn and head to home, only to get run over by wave three, but it feels like it is going well. I exit the water and damn the air is cool, but not too bad, as it has warmed up considerably since 6 am. I don’t actually see my time, but it turns out I was out at 19:06 which is almost two minutes faster then my best s’n’d swim time, and almost 10 minutes after then muskoka.

Out on the bike I go, and I decide I am going to try to be impressive but actually show everybody I am clumsy at best as I try to jump on my bike and manage to loose my water bottle in all the commotion. That’s going to make the ride fun! I head north down the road and really enjoy the ride except for all fast moving cyclists that seem to be flying by my every other second. It is pretty clear I am not a fast biker, but I am in great spirits and cheer everybody on passing me and the others already heading back on the out and back. I am feeling pretty good the last hill is a little nasty, but I head back into transition and I see the clock at 1:16, which in my head means I am flying by my standards. Turns out I did the bike in 52:23 which is almost 10 minutes better then muskoka as well.

Okay so here we go into the run, and my butt is complaining bitterly. I am extremely tight from the biking and I can’t get the forward gear going. By far the worst bike to run transition feeling I have had yet. But I push through it, I am really close to hitting my goal of being in under 2 hours. The first km is tough, a lot of walk/run but I run all of km 2, and I run most of km 3, km 4 is tough but I fight through it, and then I run almost all of the last km, and managed to cross the finish line running. I am moving faster at the finish because I have a bad feeling I am close to being over 2 hours, and I can’t see the clock because it is behind the finishing line box. But then it starts to come into view: I see 1, and I am pleased but then I get worried that it might be at 59 minutes, and then I see :5 and I try to go faster then I see 4! I am so pleased I have finished the race almost 6 minutes faster then I had set the goal for! Final time: 1:54:15

Not bad consider the week of debating weather I would even run it. You just can’t let that stupid voice in your head dictate what you can and can’t do. Because the truth is you can do anything you set your mind to, you just need to be willing to do it!

The Lakeside Tri – the lead up

It’s been one of those weeks.

Early morning travel on Monday, with flight delays and arriving onsite hours late, and then one of those crazy work days.

Tuesday wasn’t too much better but after a crazy work day I spent an hour with Lyle the Yoga instructor and I have to say I am impressed at how calming yoga is. Oh and it’s a pretty intense workout on top of it all.

Wednesday turned out to be a good day because I finally made some great progress at work, but after a marathon work session I arose from my desk almost unable to move. This is how I know that yoga is tough, because literally I was sore everywhere! However, I do believe no pain no gain, so I headed out to a masters swim session at the YMCA, and I met the main swim coach Alvin. Alvin loves his coaching calling and his passion for swim almost is scary. So after a 2.3 km swimming session we did a fantastic stretch session and I was able to walk back to the hotel!

Thursday was a long work day topped off with the flight home, which arrived into London at 6 am Friday morning. I have to say red-eye flights are the worst, but the sun had not come up yet, so I decided to take a drive. After a quick fillup at the gas station I had north east out of London and arrived at Lakeside about 30 minutes later. The sun was just coming up revealing the site of the Lakeside triathlon happening on Saturday.

I felt the water and it feels very cool, but to my surprise it was actually 22 degrees and is actually pretty nice to swim in all things considered. The best thing about the site is the transition area! It is all on the grass connected right to the clean reckless beach with an easy transition for the bike and the run. I know I haven’t done many triathlons yet, but the lakeside site was awesome compared to the muskoka transition site.

All week I have arguing with myself weather I can do the triathlon, I haven’t been training enough, and with all the travel I am not feeling it at all. I decide to sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning.