Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dialed back in?

Last night was get home, reassure the cats we actually lived here and were the same humans that left them a week ago. They were kind of choked at us. Unpack, putter around a bit, fall into bed. Crappy night's sleep.

Up for a Sunday swim. The pool was empty! Love it. The first 500 m sucked, as I thoroughly expected it to after a week of not swimming. 9:45 or so. Bleah. Then I gradually found the groove and got faster over the next 500 for just over 19 minutes. I'll take it. Played around in the water a bit, and soaked up the hot tub big time! I'm still sore after a big week of walking, and last week's 18 K, and running on a rocky gravelly beach. Here's the map of that. Look at all the blue! It's lovely running along the water.

Later in the afternoon we sprayed up the sunscreen and headed out to run in the heat of the day. So nice! I filled in the missing bit on the map in North Glenmore park. 11 K, 1:21, running just a little bit faster than usual. Along the way just outside the park I stopped for this.

Boring, yes? I have to admit it looks much better when it's full of bikes in T2 for Calgary 70.3. It was about 18 C, but I didn't really feel the heat. It just felt good to run in the warmth.

What else do you do in the heat? BBQ of course! Bison. Yum! Wine and relaxing on the patio after. Linda is still scoping out the garden, seeing how the various plants are doing. We are still well behind the BC gardens of course, but there are a few splotches of colour, like this.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I'm back. Did you miss me?

I think we all know the answer to that.

The theory was that in late April Calgary would still be cold and snowy, and we would go off to sunny warm BC to say hello to the flowers in Butchart Gardens. Give Linda a flower fix to hold her over the last dregs of winter.

As it turns out, it's been summer in Calgary for the last several months. Here in Sidney BC, it's been sunny and light jacket cool for most of the time here. The flowers have been glorious. I have something like 900 photos to look through. There are a couple real winners in there, I know that already. There's one that I'm amazed at the colour and detail. I think I got everything right for that one. Other's are ok, and some are throw aways. A few I might try to process in Snapseed to improve.  I'm not going to bury you in photos.

We did Butchart Gardens and Abkhazi Gardens, of the two of them, I liked Abkhazi gardens better. Much better. Yes, I know that's heresy for some people, but I have an objective measure. I took way more photos there. I'd happily go back again. Both places serve a very nice high tea.

I got to visit a cousin living in Victoria, as far as I know he's my only relative on the Island. We also got a chance to visit friends that moved here a while ago. On the map it looks like a long way to go, but it was only an hour drive from here, probably a bit less if you know the twisty turny roads. Even into Victoria was only about a half hour. I tried to think of it as driving from one end of Calgary to the other.

The food was amazing! Normally we like to get a place with a basic kitchen, and this was more like a hotel room with a kitchen sink, baby fridge, and microwave.  We had to suffer with this view.

No stove or oven. We ate out a lot and didn't regret it. The choices for coffee and treats were endless. We found a place with a great all day breakfast, and did that several days. The Sea Glass Waterfront grill was a short walk from the room, and was quite a bit upscale with wonderful food. We wandered into one place almost by accident since where we wanted to go at the end of the pier was closed, and were astonished at how crispy the fish and chips were.

I guess key fobs have been getting bigger. We were speculating what could possibly be in it. The chip is tiny, and the battery is the size of a dime. And yet it's this big.

Even though there is a nice looking pool only 10 minutes away, I didn't swim. Trying to get from bed to the pool seemed like a lot of work when I was snuggled in. I did get two nice 5 K runs, one fast, one not so fast but 2 K of it was on a gravelly beach. Plus a 10 K walk along the waterfront in Victoria, plus lots of other walking.

All in all a lovely vacation. Stay tuned for flower and other vacation photos.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Normally I draft while running, but

Not the draft as in following closely behind. That doesn't work when you're a big tall guy following your usual run buddy who is usually described as petite.  Her following me now, should she decide to run that slowly, would drive her mad from boredom and the lack of energy being burned.

No, I'm thinking of drafting as in writing a first draft. Often on my runs or bike rides I'll have a blog composed and titled and everything for when I sit down at the laptop. Sometimes during a swim, but not so often. Too much to think about there.

Today was an 18 K run, and I didn't compose much of the blog, given there were two run buddies today. Two! My buddy Patricia texted and asked if I was good for 18 K. I wasn't so sure, but promised 12 and maybe 15, and would draft a route that could make that work. I checked, and Michelle was happy to come along as well.

Well. At a conversational chatchatchat pace of 7:30 or a hair less, there was lots of chatting. No drafting. There was even more chatting, if you can believe it, when we met Sophia  out with a Running Room group. In fact, all four of of us know each other. How rare is that, to be running with a group, and meet someone who is known by all in your group? Maybe it happens to you all the time, but it's a first for me.

The weather wasn't the best, being just above zero C and kind of dank for Calgary. This is a tough temperature to dress for. I ended up wearing a light jacket over a long sleeved top, which was ok while running, but I got cold whenever I was standing still. Not rain, just sweat that had nowhere to go. So I guess it's a fail on the clothing front today. It's so much easier to dress for running in -10 C and colder, or +10 C and warmer.

The run started under 8th St bridge over Deerfoot. I've started lots of runs there, but I haven't been there in a while. Down to the canoe club again, across Deerfoot and the Bow, up the path through Inglewood (very pretty this time of year!) and across the new bridge by Fort Calgary. There was a short detour into the old Simmon's building while I listened to the goodies at Sidewalk Citizen tempt me, then we were off again across the skipping stone bridge, past the zoo, back up the Nose Creek path, past the car all the way up to 32nd St, and back. 18 K, 2:14.  This fills in another block of bike path on my map. I'll have to get you guys a photo of that.

Patricia is happy as that keeps her on her training plan.  I think it's her longest run ever and that's great! She's going to have a great race! I'm happy, it's my longest run in several years. Well, mostly happy, my hams and calves are sending some protest notes upstairs.  Michelle is happy any run she doesn't have to carry me home, which is all of them so far.

The swim Friday afternoon was excellent! I've mostly had good luck with Friday afternoon swims. I was back in my usual groove. 1k in 18:35, 3x100 all sub 1:45, 1x100 92 seconds, and a cool down 100, plus some water yoga and running. Some of the synchro girls were at it in the other part of the pool. What amazing athletes they are! I consider myself a fairly strong swimmer by triathlete standards (no snickering in the peanut gallery!), but I couldn't even begin to do what they do.

The garden is greening up nicely. The Alberta rose is getting a good start in it's plans of world domination.

I keep expecting Jack to show up. If he hangs around for a while, he won't need a beanstalk, the lilies will do quite as well.

Curtis of course keeps an eye on us when ever we're out and he's in, and is in the middle of giving me a piece of his mind.

One of the tulips. But you knew that. We're just glad they escaped the bunny.

The other plum tree is in bloom too. The bees are happy.

The remainder of the garden is just getting started.

The front is doing really well. I think the yellow things are daffodils.

The plant photos have reminded me of the limitations of an iPhone. I've been thinking about photography as a retirement hobby, and spent part of yesterday exploring camera choices. Holy doodle! And when you get through THAT there's lens choices. Holy even more doodle.

I'm trying to think it through, what I want to take photos of, and how much I'll actually use it. As was mentioned during our run, it isn't something that I'm going to take to the pool, on a bike ride, or on the run. I'm not going to carry it back and forth to work on the off chance the light will be perfect and I'll get the shot of the year of the downtown buildings. Besides, that shot has been done already, by my buddy Neil Zeller.

I'm thinking about two paths, one being starting with a very basic DSLR camera and lenses, and seeing how much I actually use it. If I like it and use it a lot I can move up, and maybe sell the old one. I tend to use my stuff fairly gently. Or I could just go straight to the good stuff, with a tougher learning curve, and trust I'll use it enough to be worthwhile, or that I can resell it. Decisions, decisions.

Do you own a DSLR? How much do you actually use it, compared to the camera in your phone?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Steak and blossoms

It's been quite a week. Lots to do at work, and it's tax time. That moment when your accountant says you owe $nn,nnn.xx, when you expected a small $n,nnn payment owing. Then realize you forgot to tell her you made those installment payments throughout 2015. Oops. It really is just $n,nnn.

I've been feeling like I've been running short of sleep this week, even though I'm getting to bed early, and sleeping reasonably well. Except for the shooting pains in my neck, of course, though those are better after the massage on Wednesday.

The swim didn't happen today. I knew there was lots of stuff at work, and just as well I got there early. Maximo is a swear word, did you know that? Especially where pipelines and dodgy data are concerned.

The run this evening was one of the nicest I've ever done, outside of the ones with my run buddy. I was still feeling a little stiff and sore from the massage, but did a nice warm up walk, listening to my quads complain. I told them we were going to run anyways.

A few steps into the run, and I settled into a 6:30 per K groove, and stayed there. So much for complainypants quads. The first 3 K were  so nice and easy I was thinking I should be running faster. I was barely breathing, my legs were happy, and then I figured why mess with a good thing?  The 2 K coming back are mostly up a gradual hill so I had to work a little harder to maintain pace, but I was never breathing hard. My legs felt light and springy. I could have run further, but figured 5 K  32:30 was good enough, and I'd be running more on the weekend. Better to have a perfect 5K than have it fall apart trying for 6 or 7. Remember, one of the rules for building slowly is to stop before you need to. It was that perfect temperature for running, warm enough to relax and work up a bit of a sweat, but not be dripping and wishing you'd brought water. If every run was like this, everyone would be a runner.

I think it's steak night in the neighbourhood, and between steak, there are lots of trees blossoming.   The mix of scents was wonderful! Here's our own tree.

I started on of those walk paths that connect bits of neighbourhood, and decided to keep turning right. Here's what it looked like. It's kind of interesting going in and out of all the cul de sacs. Some are essentially a used car sales lot, others are oddly shaped basketball courts. There was a huge hop scotch pattern in one of them.

I really liked this one little front garden with a water feature in it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

It comes and goes

The pool this morning was a study in contrasts. Well, I was, anyway. Everybody else was about the same. The overall pace was a little slow 1K, 19:20, but the actual pace was all over the place.

I've got some interesting neck and shoulder pain, but mostly it doesn't bother me when I'm swimming. For part of the swim there was lots of clunk and bodily thrash. Splashing, bubbles, and other inefficiencies. Some of the laps felt really good, like I was sliding along on ball bearings. It didn't feel like I was doing anything different, but the slowest lap was 1:03 or so (the shame, hides face) and the fastest was 52 seconds or so. That's a lot of variation in pace over a short distance when you're trying to swim steady.

The hot tub felt really good after.

The run was a bit later than usual what with a few errands after work. Plus it was pedestrian and bike stupidity on the way home! I think the sun had baked their brains or something. One guy just turned hard left in the middle of the block and walked out onto the street without looking. I could see him coming and got stopped, but the driver in the oncoming car didn't see the idiot till the last second. I think there was a pedestrian in nearly every crosswalk on the way home, plus the unauthorized one just mentioned. Bikes all over the place. I mean, all over the roads, the sidewalks, in between, in the cycle path.

It was still nice and warm when I started out, and for all that my legs were feeling a little unsteady, and there was a brief bit where I thought I was going to trip over my own feet, it turned into one of the fastest 6 K ever. Certainly since I started using iSmoothRun. 6K, 37:30, for an average of 6:12 per K. Once I settled in, the run felt really good.

It was really hard to go into work today, and even harder to go back after a quick walk at lunch. Nobody seemed much in the mood to work, but I had a huge data import struggle. Picky picky picky. That batch is done, and tomorrow is a worse import issue. Sigh.

And taxes. I dropped the paperwork off at my accountant, and I dread the followup. No, not paying her bill, she's cheap at twice the price for the stress she saves me. Nor is it paying if I end up owing tax. That's a desirable situation to be in because it means I've held onto my money longer, rather than begging the government to give it back.

No, the problem is questions. Maybe I've missed a form. Maybe I forgot something. Or I get give a choice and I don't understand either option. Dealing with tax stuff or expense account stuff totally stresses me out. My corporate year end is coming up soon, and that's more stress. I actually have to do up a little spreadsheet, and look up all sorts of numbers. Last year I promised myself I'd build the xl as I went along, but did I? NO! Sigh. At least I got my parking statements along the way.

Yeah, I know. First world problems. What first world problems do you have? And don't tell me about pumpkin spice latte withdrawl.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Summer weekend

Started with a lovely run. Add in a bit of gardening, and patio clean up. Add in a visit from a costal buddy in town to work for a few weeks. Awesome BBQ.

First day this year we had coffee on the patio in the morning. We've eaten on the patio a couple times this year, but this is the first time we've had a guest.

Back to work tomorrow. Sigh. I want to take the week off work and run and bike in the warmth.

A Friday sunset. I'd have shown it to you earlier, but Apple Photos and iPhotostream or whatever it's called was being pissy. I'm researching alternatives.

My writing buddy this morning. Me trying to keep my head in the shade.

The patio and garden looking pretty darned spiffy for mid-April!

Snoozing kitties, just because.

Celina expressing her distain for not being let out.

Another view of the patio in the evening.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Then to now

I realized as I was about to push the publish button you'd probably see the full horror of the first tummy shot in your Twitter or Facebook feed, and I didn't want to put you off a meal or anything. So I put in this pair of quiescent kitties. So calming, soothing.

Now to the subject matter at hand.
March 15
An ongoing post starting just after the Talisman 10 mile tri. There was a photo of me being passed by Terry on the run. My gut is way out in front, like below only more so. Sheesh. Time to do something.

I decided to cut down on sweets and taper back on the wine a bit. In discussion Michelle generously offered to support me by giving up gummy bears. Not that her petite geometry needs to lose weight.

The big trauma right from the start was freezing 13 of Linda's wonderful cookies so they don't tempt me day to day. These are not empty calorie cookies. Lots of good stuff in them, but there are choices that are more nutritionally dense.

So, for the next month, what does this look like? Wine, no more than one 5 ounce glass a day, and if I miss a day it doesn't carry over. No cookies, cake, bars or other treat sweets. Dial back on how thick the peanut butter and honey is spread on sandwiches.

Not that the scale number is the ultimate or anything, I weighed myself today, and will do so at the end. It isn't the measure of success, it's just an indicator number. (238.8, if you were wondering) Maybe I'll get a cloth tape and do some strategic measurements. (I didn't.) Or maybe I'll get a duplicate of that shot above, same shorts and jersey, see if it makes a difference. (I sort of did.)

March 17
So far so good. I haven't broken down and defrosted a cookie, or bought one from anywhere. I'm still feeling a bit tired from daylight savings time, at least I hope it's that and not my metabolism shutting down on low fuel.

April 16. So much for a near-daily recounting of the month. You weren't interested in the trivia anyways. You want results. RESULTS!

 I'm feeling great! The running has been going really well, running faster, and generally feeling lighter on my feet. Except for the last couple that happened shortly after tough bike rides, so that sort of understandable. The bike fitness is about where I expected it to be. Swimming sort of comes and goes.

Overall I got through the whole month without any sugar cravings. No cheating on cookies, and not even getting carried away with little balls of energy and recovery goodness. No cakes or treat bars. The closest I came to busting on the wine was one Saturday when I had two (measured) glasses, one 3 oz with lunch to finish a bottle, and a 4 oz with dinner. Lots of days I didn't have any wine at all.

There was one bad day where I'd eaten all the dates I'd brought for snacks, and all my lunch, and right after lunch I realized it was a long stretch to dinner. That wasn't much of a fun afternoon. Fortunately there was no work stupidity, or a bout of hangry might have happened.

I even had coffee at Purple Perk with buddies, and didn't have one of their treats in spite of being seduced by the 3 part butter tart chorus. I was pretty proud of myself after that. (Have you seen their treats? They are awesome!)

What is the future? I will go back to eating cookies and treats of course, but the trick will be cut down on the quantities. There's still lots of tummy that can be trimmed back, and I've got several months before the contemplated marathon. The lighter the better for that. The MEC marathon I've got my eye on is in October. So I've got 7 months to gradually build volume, and trim weight. At the 5 pounds a month rate, I could be down to what I weighed in high school, though I was pretty skinny then. I don't think that's a realistic target, or even a particularly desirable goal. During the IMC expo I got weighed, and they said I was 218 pounds. I'd like to be down around there again, and I think that is reasonable.

Here's the current tummy. It wasn't the best place for a side shot, because there's a really steep hill about 2 steps in every direction sideways and forward, but it was the best we could do post run.

That post run just happened to be 15 K, 1:52, for a 7:27 pace. The idea was to start at the canoe club, run down the canal to 50 Ave, cross over, get on the Bow River path, cross on Ogden Rd, go through the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, cross the Bow again at Blackfoot, then run up to the pedestrian bridge over Deerfoot and back to the canoe club.

I'd consulted the detour map, which told me about some detours near 50 Ave. The map was wrong. We ended up going lots further south, and then cut off the loop north of Blackfoot. I was feeling really good till the last K or so. I thought we were at 12 K or so, and was surprised to hear the phone say 14 k. Getting back to the car was almost exactly 15 K and we strolled around the parking lot to cool down. It all makes a very nice addition to the pathway map I'm colouring in.

The swim yesterday was ok, and the one on Wed was very clunky. There was a 6 K, 43 min run on Tuesday that felt very heavy and slow. No surprise after a really hard bike ride.

So the month of no cookies, et al was good. The number on the scale was 233.3, so down 5.5 pounds in a month. I think most of it was off my tummy, since the fit of my pants hasn't changed. I'm pretty pleased about that.

The other piece we were talking about on the run. Typically running at a 7:30 per K pace my heart rate was up in the 130's. Today the average was 120 it says, but it took me a minute to remember to turn the Garmin off at the end. But most of the time it was low 120's today. So I'm running further with my legs feeling fine, at a lower heart rate, while maintaining the same pace. I'm pretty pleased about that too.

Spring is full go here. The grass is greening up, the lilies are going gangbusters. Linda has the garden pretty well all cleaned up from winter, and is thinking about annuals, and filling the planters she found. I still need to pressure wash stuff. Later today, if I get at it.


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