Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Shoes and shorts

Feb 9.
High of 16 C (61 F)
When I ran it was maybe 11, and cooling rapidly.

I ran in shorts. I loved it. It turned out to be my fastest 5 K since last September, 32:24. My legs wanted to run faster yet, but my lungs wanted to see the bear first. This was mostly a little faster than chatchat pace, but not race pace. It felt really good.

So the shoes thing. I'm really thinking my old day to day shoes were causing my leg tightness. Every day since I stopped wearing them my legs have been feeling better. This last week is one of my bigger run and bike volumes, and they're still feeling good. Should have done this a long time ago. Here they are. Classy, yes?

Biked on Sunday 1.5 hrs. Lots of endurance pace at different gears and cadences, with a little tempo, and a tiny bit of really hard. The bike is feeling pretty good these days too. Can't wait to get outside. Stretched and some core after.

Monday was a swim sharing a lane with a drafting jerk, till I got sick of playing. It took me almost a K to get warmed up and feeling like swimming. About the 900 m mark this guy gets in and pushes off in my draft. I pulled away a bit, but it was just a little faster than I felt like swimming. I settled into cruise hoping to maintain the distance between us. I'm still swimming the same pace by the clock, but he sped up and banged my toes a few times.

I let him pass, then settled into his draft. It was kind of funny. He kept trying to swim faster to lose me, but in the draft it was easy to keep up. He couldn't pull away from me. Nor would he stop and offer to let me lead again. He did sloppy inconsiderate flip turns trying to slow me down. So I cruised along, contemplating passing him because I'm pretty sure I could, but deciding I didn't need to. The people in the other lane left, so I gave him the space.

Ended up swimming 1.75 K or so, but I'm not sure of the time. It was a clunky start, and got better.

Biked in the evening, 20 min warmup, 15 min of really hard intervals, +300 watts for 30 seconds at a time, 10 min cool down.

The next book arrived. Sorry no picture. Linda has it. She isn't coming to bed till she's done. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Change of pace here. Two quick rants, one fun, one serious. You'll know which is which.

One of my buddies has given up Facebook for a month. Today, looking at my feed, I understand. It was almost entirely reposts or shares, and almost all of them were stupid. One of them about toast, for crying out loud, kept adding comments almost faster than I could scroll past it. Even my reliable buddy who is normally in tune with what I like batted a couple of clunkers.

Maybe I'm just feeling more curmudgeonly than usual, but it seems that the quality of both Facebook and Twitter has gone badly downhill recently. Anyone else having the same experience? Anyone give up social media and regret it? Or was it the best thing ever?

The big news up here is about some teenagers that trespassed onto Canada Olympic Park property. Somehow they thought it was a good idea to go down the bobsled track.
At 1 in the morning.
On a toboggan.

2 of them died, several of them were seriously injured.

My opinion on this is cold and harsh. The world is a tough old place that doesn't have much tolerance for stupidity. Not so long ago you could do everything possible right, and still die from bad luck just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like being next to someone in 1918 that sneezed, and you got Spanish Flu and died a few hours later, probably infecting other people along the way.

Our current society is one of the safest places ever in all of human history, idiot drivers aside. Yet Fail Army documents no end of people doing very stupid things, with many of them probably suffering a concussion or dental injuries. It's clear they didn't have the first thought of what could go wrong. We might end up knowing what the survivors of the midnight toboggan ride say they thought about at the time. Trust me, it will be teenaged boy stupid.

And yes, there's a few stupid things I did, and I got lucky on them. There were a bunch of others where I paused that vital second, and thought "maybe that isn't such a good idea."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The opposite of stillness

So I had my ass run off today. I'm chugging back from a run in new territory, when my run buddy says we can't leave it there, we have to round up to an even number." So we do. I'm so obedient!

It was all good! My run buddy is the best ever. Over the last couple days I switched shoes. Not running shoes, my every day shoes. I got to wondering why my calves and hams and quads have been so tight. Then I realized all that started about the last time I bought shoes, and these don't really have a heel on them. Zero drop. They've been pulling my calves with every step.

I went back to the previous shoes and the first morning I could feel the difference. Two days and it's like I have new legs again. So this morning I was into MEC for new shoes, and my run buddy came along to marvel at the male shoe selection process. The guy brought out 4 pairs based on size and what I said I wanted. The first were ok, but not quite right. The second were good. I walked around a bit, then said they were good to go, didn't need to try the others on.

Let's just say my running buddy was dumbfounded with astonishment. She admitted she'd have tried on the others, and sent the staff person scurrying back for more, just in case. That's a quote, just in case. Not me. Pants shopping, if the first pair don't fit, I abandon shop and go back another week. Shopping is usually an ordeal to be completed as quick as humanly possible.

The wind was howling when we got out of the store. We'd originally thought to run along the Bow near downtown, but that's wide open to the wind. Plus I've run on that before. I will again, but we decided not today. We parked out at Edworthy Park, and ran west. The path got a bit confused and didn't do what I thought it did, but that's ok. I've never run out there before. There's some very classy houses in that little street  in Bowness. I remember that as sort of a run down neighbourhood.

10 K, 1:16 or so. I haven't run 10 K since last September. It felt pretty good overall. My feet felt a bit heavy, but quads and calves were good. No niggles.

We interrupted this irregularly scheduled blog for



Stupid blogger rearranging them, and me too lazy to fix them. Besides, I know my readers love it when the story goes to cats.

The next diversion is humidity. The bane of runners, and houses in winter. Our house had become so humid. Turning the humidity control thingy down didn't do anything. Then we realized water was still flowing through the humidifier. Sigh. The shut off valve didn't work so I had to disassemble it and jury rig a solution.

Last week the plumber was here, fixed all that, and we determined that the solenoid valve, pictured below, was stuck open. That's ok. We left it a while with the water supply off, to let the house humidity sort itself out.

Then Thursday night we came home to find the furnace going through the startup cycle again and again. Big sigh. We've have this before. Furnace company. They were out on Friday and fixed it, easy and quick. Warm house again. (There's another detour in there that I'll get to.) Mentioned the solenoid valve.

He said the solenoid failed because of high water pressure, and that the solution is to install a pressure reducer and a new solenoid, for $1200. Yikes! Meanwhile the plumber had suggested if the shutoff valve had scaled up, which it had, it was entirely reasonable to assume that the solenoid valve had too. That seems reasonable to me too, especially when that much money is involved.

So this story is still playing out. The valve is soaking in some vinegar right now, and maybe later some CLR. If it's still gucked up, I haven't lost anything and I'll buy a new one and install it myself, saving more than a thousand ever loving dollars! Then do the same thing in a few years if the water pressure or scale gets to it again.

So the other detour was a swim on Friday morning. Water ran briefly with Katie, then settled into a very nice 1K 18:30 relaxed and smooth. Then another 500 m of other stuff, including 100 m in 88 seconds without really trying too hard. Gotta love that.

Back to the run. This morning I was up early and managed to catch another great sunrise. Then off to MEC and Edworthy. Still with me?

My favourite run buddy looking chic in sunglasses and classy jacket.

On the way back I paused and grabbed a quick shot of the sunlight playing off the water of the Bow. Later on the clouds went away and it turned into a beautiful winter day.

We ran past Angela's, then back to round it out to an even 10 K. I'm sure Katie and many of my other even number buddies will approve. Even though we nearly froze our tails off walking that last half K back into the wind.

What's interesting about the graph is my run cadence slowly dropping off (purple line). My pace is all over the place (orange line), which isn't a surprise given being careful with ice on the paths, and paying attention to the route so I could get back. But the elevation! That's the gray line. We ran back to the starting point. This path is pretty darned flat.

The coffee and treats at Angela's were really good. My first time there. Overall a winner of a day, and that's before cleaning some wine bottles. More paths to highlight in on my 2016 map.

We might have run past another run buddies house, and we'd have waved if we knew for sure where. She knows who she is.

Oh, and the reason for the title is the most recent blog. This was active, that wasn't.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Deep Stillness

One of the things I think is important is to periodically spend some time sitting quietly. No music. No TV. No conversation. No sound other than what filters in from the street. Cat purring is acceptable.

It isn't a nap, sitting or lying down. You aren't trying to read, or write, or do anything. Just sit, and breathe.  The idea is to let your mind drift where it wants to go. Let it explore deep stillness. Not forcing it to think about something, just letting it be. Daydream. Meditate. Relax. I picture my brain on a nice warm beach, between tall fruity drinks but not drunk or thirsty, watching the waves, listening to the breeze, feeling the warmth of the sun, smelling the sea.

I find it very refreshing. Usually I have a renewed sense of purpose afterward, knowing what I need to be up and at. My personal belief is that everybody needs to do this from time to time.

Last night we went to a performance of the Yamato Drummers from Japan. It's an amazing show, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I can't keep time worth beans, so watching the troupe do so while dancing, doing sit ups, and moving around the stage was magical.

The bigger drums produce a deep rich boom you can feel in your chest, and we were sitting near the back of the balcony. Keep in mind they've got 9 or 10 people on stage, pounding away on a variety of drums.

But a few times I dropped into deep stillness between the beats of the big drum. It seemed like there was all the time in the world between the booms. I had a chance to think about my book, and stuff that's going on. Watching the energetic and captivating show was mentally peaceful in a way I find hard to describe. Even though I've never seen Japanese drumming before, I knew what some of the next bits of performance were going to be, where the music was going to go.

People talk of being mindful, being present in the world. This was sort of an odd mix, simultaneously present in partaking of the performance, and yet present within myself, or alternating back and forth so quickly I wasn't aware of it. I'd like to be able to do this more often, but I suspect it's the sort of thing  that just trying to do it is sufficient to prevent it from happening.

Has this ever happened to you?

Do you like to make time for stillness in your life?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I haven't done one of these prompted blogs for a while. My buddies Leana and Janice had done them.

All things come to those that wait. Except I like chasing the things I want. I'm keen to see how I do in the March mini-triathlon at Talisman. Sooner or later I'll make a decision about doing a marathon in 2016.

Life as a semi-retired person is lovely! Every weekend is a 3 day weekend. So far there's been plans for every Friday, including next Friday. It's nice to have the option of going out for breakfast on Friday when the crowds aren't so bad.

Working on
Stuff! Yes, so much stuff! I should insert a bullet list here so you can keep it all straight. Fitness. Another novel in the Dwen's Worlds series. Still trying to push my aging body into further fitness gains. 80% time at paying work.  Catching up on some of the house tasks that had got away from me. Getting paperwork in line for personal income tax, then a bit later for corporate tax time. I keep saying I want to set up a system, and I'm getting there.

House of Cards, the American version. Loving it! The scheming, twisting, lying, and downright smarminess is lovely to watch. We're in the middle of season 3 right now.

Next is season 3 of Elementary. Related to that we watched the one movie episode of Sherlock that was partially set back in Victorian times.

Linda is in the middle of Game of Thrones, but I don't know where, or who's doing what to who. I can't watch it; It seems like every few minutes someone is screaming in agony. Even the gratuitous display of boobs doesn't make up for that.

Some of the items on my to do list. There are wine bottles to be cleaned, and I haven't been in the mood. One of these days.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Captivating so far. Set in WWII France. The tale of two very different sisters.

3 day weekends every weekend! Being able to run and bike and swim, though not so far or fast as I would like. Considering other people my age, I'll take it.

I'm not a big hater. That's too much emotion to waste. I'm more of an ignorer. I look over it.

I like to think of myself as a thinker. Deep thoughts. Plans for world domination. Connections between apparently unrelated things. At work this leads to me creating complicated multi-tab spreadsheets that I end up having to explain to people. People have such difficulty comparing two complicated sets of data through views like Jurnum=Jurnum but SN<>SN or location<>location or status<>status, which is 3 tabs right there and I'm barely getting started. 

Most times my novel characters are doing stuff in my head, and I try to keep track of what they're up to. Sometimes it's just stuff they're doing that has no bearing on the novel, such as the day the buddies had a chili-cook off (Les had the hottest, Belinda had the tastiest/best balanced, Ronnie had the one needing most tequila after, Zoe had the best vegetarian, and Llywelyn had the best cole slaw side.) All of them complained about the lack of impartiality by the judge, and the judge made it clear they'd all tried to bribe her. When I ask who won the farting contest that was sure to follow, they just smirk at me. Other times I suddenly realize what they are up to is the next bit of the book and I hustle to the laptop. Last time I was in the shower, and couldn't wait to dry off. That was where I'd realized the guy who had been shot was, oops, I've said too much.

In fitness news, the indoor run Monday was a bit of a slog. A lot of a slog, actually. My feet did not feel like running. 4K, 30 minutes. The one lap I tried to push a bit faster (224 m in 1:20, which is a fraction under a 6 min /K pace) it was actually beginning to hurt a bit.

The swim today was sort of better, I think. 500 m in 9:30 (long course) and it seemed like I was working really hard for that. 3x100 all about 1:43. Two separate 100's nearly all out was 95 seconds. It took till about then to start feeling the water, and by then my arms were tired. A few more 100's fairly easy and cool down and I called it a morning. I had the whole 50 m lane to myself the entire swim, and for much of it I was the only person in the pool. That doesn't happen often.

I'm a bit puzzled by the swim. I counted heartbeats after one of the fast 100's, and it was 124, dropping to 95 or so in a minute. Yet I'm breathing all out by the end. The swim kids in the next lane were zooming past. I need stronger arms and less drag and more lung power.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekend watching

Part of owning a home is doing maintenance on it. Or rather, to be more precise in this case, paying others to do maintenance on it. There are some basic tools in the basement. Some of them are even electrical power tools. Previous of my jobs have required the use of various tools in tasks not unrelated to home maintenance. I've done lots of various home maintenance tasks before.


That was then. I'm much more aware of what can go wrong with plumbing or electrical stuff. There's always a part or tool you need that you don't have, and you have to put things on hold to go get it, knowing, KNOWING, that this won't be your only trip.

Now I'm much more willing to pay others to get their hands dirty, and deal with the inevitable issues that come up. So for example. This tap dribbles. We've done the take it apart and soak it in vinegar and scrub with a toothbrush thing. It just dribbles worse now. Turns out you can't get parts for it anymore, at least not through the plumbing distributers.

Some people take this as a challenge and go hunting. Not me. The kitchen tap is much more than a decade old. The replacement tap isn't expensive. I have a limited (but hopefully large)  number of hours left on earth, and I don't want to spend them chasing tap parts. It's easier to earn the money to buy it, and have the moral satisfaction of keeping the economy going.

This tap is even older, and the handle has got all floppy and takes a bit of doing to turn off the water. It needs a new cartridge, whatever that means, plus a plumber with special tools to replace it. Kind of a pity, because we really like these taps.

In preparation. You don't want to know what we took out of there.

One of the things we took out of there was a video tape (you younger readers can google that, it's a real, if old, thing) giving instructions for the care and feeding of the counter surface. That counter was installed mid-90's or so. It's been sitting there for 20 years. You don't want to know what it's been buried under.

Replacing the taps was straightforward, for him. Once the old ones came out, I was glad I hadn't tried to tackle it. There is a tool that makes some of it much easier as you're working up behind the sinks. Plus there's a bit of fiddly stuff, and the instructions look really complicated. I'm happy to pay an expert.

There was also a bit of hot water tank maintenance, plus piping related to a furnace humidifier. All went well. I'm glad I didn't try that either.

In fact, the only problem turned out to be the kitchen drain line. We'd known the drain was slowing down, so I'd asked him to look at the P trap while he was under there. I just assumed that was full of guck. That was fine, though there was just a bit of "mung," as he called it, in the little almost horizontal section of pipe under the sink. We tested the drain after, and the first few seconds were awesome! Then it slowed down, and drained even more slowly than I had remembered. Then the other sink started filling up.

"Oh oh" he said. We went down to look at drain piping. There's a long run of pipe to the main drain stack. It was clear there was a low spot on the piping. Tapping it sounded full. Shaking the pipe didn't produce any sloshing or draining noises. "Oh oh," he said again. "I don't have the drain clean out tools, and I don't have the amount of pipe to cut that out and replace it. Plus you'd have to move all those books. Drain clean out time."

That guy and his specialized tools arrived the next day, and produced cat frightening noises. He did the kitchen sink drain, and the ensuite shower drain just because the second drain was half price. The kitchen sink drain works awesome now, sucking down with a whirlpool forming. The shower drain works better. Trying to do this myself, even with rented tools would be a frustrating use of time at best. At worst it would be trivially easy to create a horrendous mess from what used to be caked inside the drains. Need I elaborate? I thought not.

The only unfortunate thing is that I didn't get my run done while it was nice Friday afternoon. Thursday was a much needed rest day, and Friday an extra rest day, which isn't a bad thing in my books after 6 days in a row doing something every day. One of the things about the nice weather is that this becomes the running surface.

Saturday morning was a swim. We got in a half hour swim in the dive tank till we got kicked out, but by then the main pool had cleared out a bit. I joined a lane with 3 other people swimming my speed and had a fast K or so, plus some various intervals going harder.

There I am at the end of the pool, looking around wondering where Michelle and Amy have got to, when I hear my name. I can't see squat without my glasses, but it's the two women that had been water running in the next lane. Once she called again I recognized Rose's voice, and joined them to run for a bit as she and Madi had a long run and were looking for diversion. We chatted a bit, then Michelle and Amy dragged me off to the hot tub. Then breakfast. Yummy!

Today was a 100 minute spin. Longish warmup. 40 minutes at 150 to 160 watts in various gears at various cadences. Then some hard short intervals, and a cool down. It's feeling really good.

I'm pretty pleased with my month of workouts. Some people write up a calendar with planned workouts. I write down what I actually do. If you look carefully, you can see the novel writing progress as well. (At this very moment, the project is at 45203 words, and I'll be back at it as soon as I'm done writing the blog. The things I do for you guys!)

In the shower after I had some brainwaves about the book. I know what the next bits are. One of my characters is lying to a cop, and here I thought she was a good girl. Things are getting complicated.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Round and round, where we stop?

Tuesday was round and round day, running at Talisman. My phone says 4.36 K in 30 minutes. That might be true. Or maybe not. I suppose I could figure out almost exactly by figuring out laps and stuff, but I don't feel up to it. 25 or 26 times around I guess. I changed direction half way through.

This was at an easy pace, aiming for chatchatchat pace, but there was nobody to chat to. I wasn't sweating hardly at all during the run, but noticed more while doing a cool down walk, and I was sweating a bucket while doing some stretches after. That seems sort of odd. Running inside is still a bit odd to me. Better than a treadmill.

What impressed me was an older woman tottering along in the outside lane, cane in one hand, handrail in the other. When she got to a break in the rail, she paused a moment, then pushed across in a big effort till she got to the other side. I think she was part of the cardiology group. I don't know how she got to this, but for her, walking 3 laps is clearly a huge effort. She was only supposed to do two laps. Good for her.

Swam Wednesday, 1.5 K, 28:10, pretty steady pace, trying to go nice and easy and relaxed. I was so looking forward to the hot tub and it was being cleaned. Sigh.

Curtis still hasn't figured out the front door.

Some random photos, just because.
Dawn from Talisman. Shortly after this it got spectacular, but I was driving.

The same dawn once I was parked.

Sunset from home, facing south.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Curtis vs the front door

Curtis knows perfectly well the front door leads to out.

He tells us he just wants to go hunt his mouse, to contribute to the household. We tell him it's cold out, that the mice are hibernating. We tell him we suspect him of trying to hunt for better human servants. We tell him there are no better humans, and every other cat we might wants to lead the life of Curtis and Celina. We tell him it's a tough old world out there, and that he's been homeless before. He gives us a look and tries the door again. If he figures out the two locks, and the handle, next will be world domination. Look out.

Swam 500 m 9:20 feeling kind of slow and sluggish. 5 x 100 all right on 1:43. What's odd is that some of them I was trying to swim faster, and one of them I was dogging it. Then another 500 m 9:10. Felt pretty good. No hot tub though. Sigh.

Easy 45 min spin and some stretching. Then another 3 episodes of House of Cards. Still loving it.


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