Vacation 2010, The Great Orlando Excursion  

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Yesterday was the last time my Newtons will pound Canadian Soil, as I slogged through a tough endurance run in the drizzle and fog and 2 degrees C.

Don’t worry, I am not moving to Timbuktu. (Is there really a place called that?) No, it’s vacation time in the land of giant rodents, and ducks with bad attitudes.

Now I know some of the thousands of my dedicated followers are residents of the Sunshine State, and I know a lot of them consider tourists a nesseccary nuisance. But I make no apologies. As a kid, I never had the opportunity to visit “The Happiest Place On Earth.” As an adult I have been there twice, and truth be known, I am probably more excited than my kids. And they are bouncing off the walls.

Of course, we have other plans while there. Seaworld, Universal, and I just found out that the Magic will begin round 2. Not to mention lounging by the pool and enjoying the 25 to 30 degree sun. I also plan to take my workout gear, and get in a few training sessions, and take my computer and keep posting, but I always plan that, and plans usually change.

So if you don’t hear from me for a few days, you know where I am.

Power to the Pedals Review (Part 1)  

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Coach Fred

I have to do this in 2 parts because to really comment on if the program was a success or not, I need to give it a good test like a 20K ITT. However, our season doesn’t start for a couple of weeks, and I will miss the first 2 events, so my first real test won’t come until almost the end of May.

The Program

I found the program on I subscribe to their Thursday newsletter, which is packed with articles on training, bike care and maintenance, and cycling news. They also have an Ebook store, and that’s where I found this program. It’s actually found in the eArticle section, but you can get there with this link.

Created by Coach Fred Matheny. It is a 12 week program, consisting of two structured interval sessions during the week. Coach Fred also advises a weekend longer ride. Each session is structured similarly with a warmup, cooldown and two interval sets separated by a recovery session. The workouts are anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes depending on the workout and the length of the warmup and cooldown.

The entire program is a 12 week build separated into 3 blocks of 4 weeks with a recovery week at the end of each block. At the beginning, a relatively fit cyclist may think it is easy, but for me, it got tough late in week 2. Some of the interval sets include single leg spins, 30/30’s, Ladders, and Time Trials. The final session is 2 x 20 minute time trials and for mine I hit the road.

The Bad

Done on the trainer. There is nothing good about the trainer except you get a decent workout.

The Good

If nothing else, it provides a structured program that you can follow. Rather than just popping in a spinnerval tape 2 times a week, this program is structured. I trained Monday and Wednesday with a long ride on Saturday. Each training day I knew what I had to do. There was no guess work.

Although I don’t know If I gained power or not, I do know I am more fit at the beginning of this year. I have already done a couple of 2 hour plus rides, despite the early season. And for my final session, 2 x 20 minute time trials, I managed just under 20k with an average speed of 28kmh on a hilly course on a cold windy day, the day after my first long run of the year. (Also my computer went to sleep part way through so the numbers might be IFFY)

The Final Word

As I said, the final word won’t come until my first ITT. But for now I am happy with my fitness level exiting the program. I am able to get out and do some tough early season workouts, and feel pretty good doing them.

I’d love to hear some other comments on this program, or maybe even other winter cycling programs. Don’t be a lurker, tell me what you think?

Race Report Mundy Pond 5k.  

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This was the first race of the season, and an opportunity to see where my fitness was, and set my training pace times for the upcoming season. And I seriously had no idea where I was fitness wise.

Pre Race

First of all, the weather. Cold and damp. In fact when I woke up, there were a few flurries of snow, and at the race, there were a few cars with some snow build up on the roofs. Still, a few brave souls went out in shorts.

Breakfast was oatmeal cooked from steel cut oats the night before, mixed with raisins and walnuts and a scoop of protein powder, as well as 1/2 a grapefruit, and of course coffee.

I drove to the start venue, got my number, then did a good 10 or 15 minute warm-up. It was cold, and the race was short, so this was important. Then I lined up with some tri buddies and waited for the start. I was a little nervous because I knew this would hurt.


2 loops for 5k. I started way too fast, in fact, 4:08 at the 1 k marker. I was either going to finish with a PB, or blow up badly. By now I had settled in, I didn’t pass anyone, but I wasn’t passed either.

At the end of loop 1 I was just under 11 minutes. If I could negative split, I could break 22. But my legs were getting tight and my flexors were screaming. I tride to maintain my pace, there were a couple of guys within range for me to pick off. At the final turn with 1 k to go, I shortened my stride, and made some ground. I was losing time, but I was running strong. I finally crossed the line in about 22:35.

There was no second guessing my effort. I ran as hard as my fitness would allow which was important for pace setting. I wouldn’t want to base my upcoming training on an effort I knew was poor.

Post Race

No medals for that time. I need to get a lot faster, or a lot older. But with a solid race time, I can use one of the V-Dot calculators and set my pace times for the upcoming year.

A couple of my swim club came away with some hardware, and I gave them some flack for taking off their medals. In my view, if you win one, you should wear it proudly.

After some Tim Horton’s coffee, a few orange slices, some cookies, and yogurt, it was back home to reality. Cleaning the yard, getting gas for the BBQ. Taking the kids to the park. Yes by the time the race was over, the sun came out, and it warmed up to a balmy 5 degrees celcius.

Friday Funny Swimsuits  

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What you will likely NOT see at your next Triathlon.

5 Favorite Triathlon Workouts  

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It’s getting to be that time of year again. Anyone is racing over the summer, are probably planning their training schedule. For anyone who hasn’t yet, now is a good time to start.

That’s what I have been doing, and while in the process, I decided to list out 5 of my favorite workouts. I think It’s important to train with a purpose. Logging mindless miles and metres will improve your fitness, but it’s not the most efficient use of time. So during my midweek bridging sessions, I train with a purpose, and do specific workouts.

Below are 5 workouts. 1 for each discipline, 1 multi discipline workout (Brick) and one of my favorite off season strength and conditioning sessions.

Swim, Main Set of 3 or 4 x 400 done as 4 x 100 with 20 seconds rest: That’s a mouthful I know. This swim workout forces you to concentrate on pace times. The idea is to do each set on the same time. Consistency is the key. Each 400 is done as 4 x 100 with 20 seconds rest in between. When the set is done, you subtract 1 minute to get your 400 pace time. The 1 minute comes from 3 x 20 seconds of rest. With 20 seconds rest, you can open up a little, and your 400 time should be a little less than a straight 400m

Bike, 20k ITT: Not much description needed here. The 20K Individual Time Trial done as training is an excellent high tempo High Intensity mid week training session. Our local club put off events every 2 weeks last season, and this season are shooting for every week. This is a good way to gauge progress as well as build speed. A couple of our guys ride to the venue and back turning the 30 to 40 minute hard effort into a 1 to 2 hour total workout. I sometimes do a transition run after. 20k seems to be a good distance for mid week recovery.

Run, Mile Repeats, 2 or 3 sets: This is another Tempo workout. High intensity, but more specific to distance work than say 200m or 400m on the track. We have a 1 mile trail at Kent’s Pond, close to my house which makes it a no brainer. My time for 1 lap is my mile pace. Early season I do 2 sets, mid season I’ll do 3, and always with a warm-up, and cool down. The recovery time in between is at least half the interval time, done as a slow jog, and goes up as intensity goes up. In other words, if I do the mile in 8 minutes (10k pace) I’ll recover 4 minutes. 7:30 (5k pace) I may recover for 5 minutes.

Brick, Half and Half: I call it this because I spend close to equal time on the bike, and the run, usually about 40 to 45 minutes each, 90 minute total. This is another tempo session (Notice a trend here?) and is run specific. I’ll do a 45 minute ride to temper my legs, and will include 2 moderately hard efforts of 10 minutes each at just under race pace, in the aerobars. Then I head home, and do a quick transition and head out on the run loop. I am not sure of the distance, but it’s shorter than 10k, and my goal on a tempo run is always to break 40 minutes. If I do it in a brick, that’s a GOOD session.

Strength, P90X Core Synergistics: I started doing P90X this fall, and I found the Core workout to be a very good all over workout that focuses on strength, and core stabilization. There is no thinking involved here, just follow Tony.

There you have it. These sessions can be modified to suit your individual training goals, for example, half and half can be done as a bike specific session, hard ride with easy run; the mile repeats can be changed to kilometer; or the 4 x 100 swim sets can be done as 5 x 100 with 15 minute rest. The key is to plan your season, set overall goals in your training program, and modify the training sessions to hit those goals.

Let's hear your favorite workouts. Especially if you are a professional triathlete!

Post Number 300, and Counting  

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Out of the blue, while writing yesterdays post, I checked and realized that it was post number 299. That makes this post number 300!

Imagine, 300 stories, all posted on the great big world wide web. I have written about triathlon, training, racing, eating, travelling. I have posted favorite, and least favorite workouts, recipes, as well as critiques of other articles and blogs. After 2 years, 7 months, and 9 days, I am still motivated to write, and be read by millions and millions. Someday, that 30 to 50 daily readers will balloon into those millions.

For kicks, I went back and read my very first post.. Interestingly enough, what I wrote in that first post hasn’t really changed much, and except for a couple of deviations, I have stayed on course.

So if you are a regular, thanks for the loyalty, and if you are new, come back soon and often. I am sure I will have something interesting for you to read about.

Staphylococcus Aureus. There's a mouthful.  

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What a pretty picture eh? I looked much like this last week. I should have taken a picture, but just didn't have the nerve.

I could say my condition was the result of my last heavy weight championship bout; a crash during an 80kmh descent during my weekly training ride; stepping in to aid a damsel in distress while she was being harassed by a 300 pound bouncer; or as I slid to block a shot in double overtime to save the game that we eventually went on to win and captured the Stanley cup.

But instead, the truth is much less exciting. I awoke Thursday morning with a swollen nose, tender glands, and no energy. I left work at lunch, and headed to my family doctor who diagnosed me with, not the flu, but with a skin infection. Most likely a Staphylococcus aureus (Staph Infection).

I found this pic on the net. It's a little closer to what I looked like, although my left eye wasn't completely shut.

Not to be fooled around with, my family doc prescribed 500mg of apo-cephalex 4 times a day, however, 4 doses didn’t help much so by Friday afternoon I was in the ER taking antibiotics intravenously. And that’s how I spent my weekend. Lying on a gernie in the ER with an IV in my hand, or lying in my La-Z boy watching afternoon games of the Stanley Cup. It was actually not that bad. I could get up and about, but training was OUT.

What a drag as training was going very well the last two weeks. I was hoping to do the first 5k of the season this Sunday. It would have been an ideal race to set my training paces for the summer, as well as provide a goal for me before I head off for vacation. Now it will be a hang on and be thankful I can still walk, kind of event.

Today, I am feeling better, and hopefully I’ll be 100% on the mend by the weekend.

Musical Monday Flag Wavin by K'naan  

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The Juno Awards were held last night in my home town. That's the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy's.

The show, as well as the week was a huge success. Ending the evening was K'Naan, and the song that has been picked as the anthem for the 2010 World Cup, Flag Wavin.

This video was taped during the CBC show Q with Jian Ghomeshi. Listen and Enjoy. Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities  

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It could be the dreaded F word again. That throbbing pain in my temples and sore glands. I meant to post a review of the 12 week power builder program from, but that would just be plain torture right now.

Instead, I direct you to Bicycling .com, and an interesting article I found that is in line with yesterdays post on bike lanes in Toronto. It’s sort of a a list of lists, and includes the Top 50 bike friendly cities in North America. Other lists include 5 bike friendly foreign cities, 5 bike friendly American cities with a population under 100,000, as well as a community wish list.

The top in each category are

Foreign cities, Amsterdam, Holland
American cities with a population under 100,000, Davis CA 64,300
And Top idea to push for in your community,
Gear giveaway. Such as a night light in lieu of a ticket if the police stop you riding after dark without proper illumination.

To get the full lists and a description of each, hit the links, and I promise to review the Power Builder Program soon.

Bicycle Lanes in Toronto. Score one for Cyclists  

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You heard it right. The largest and busiest (And if you ask a Torontonian, most important) city in our nation will complete a pilot project over the summer where they will create a bicycle commuter lane on one of the city’s busiest roads.

The project will take place on University Avenue where one lane currently dedicated to all traffic, will be sectioned off with concrete barricades, and designated for cyclists only.

Hospitals line University Ave. and there are already a number of commuter cyclists who share the already busy roads with vehicular traffic. For those, it’s a godsend.

This is not a new concept. Already commonplace in many cities in Europe, work is underway to implement similar initiatives in New York and Washington. This is a sign of the times as energy costs become more and more a consideration. People living in areas close enough to commute will

But not everyone is happy. Faye Lyons of the Canadian Automobile Association states that it will make the road more dangerous by forcing the same volume of traffic into less lanes.

My take is that this is a sign of things to come. The popularity of cycling commuters will increase with the rising cost of fuel, and expenses to operate automobiles. In theory, vehicular traffic will decrease as bicycle commuting increases, but hey I’m no fool, and I really don’t expect that to be a one to one correlation. However, as small steps are taken, peoples attitudes will eventually change.

And to Faye Lyons, let’s talk when gasoline is $ 4.00 per litre. I suspect the argument will then be against three cycling lanes reducing the number available to motorists. Well, maybe not. But let’s dream anyway.

And check out our own city cycling plan for my home town of St. John’s Newfoundland.

The Incredible Shrinking Cheezie Bag  

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This was a very interesting read from one of the non Triathlon blogs I regularly visit.

George Murphy is a gas and oil commentator, who keeps the people in our area informed about the movements of the prices of oil products. If gas is going up 5 cents a litre on Thursday, George will be the first to sound the alarm. What’s also neat is that this is a hobby for George. He pays the bills by driving a cab.

George recently spied something that’s equally interesting. He took notice of a bag of chips he recently bought, and how the size of the bag had dropped by 10g, while the price had stayed the same. He reported that “Hostess chips and Humpty Dumpty cheezies dropped the last couple of weeks from 85 gram bag sizes to 65 grams. The price of the product stayed the same.$1.29 a bag.”

He also reported the same of other products such as kit kat bars 5g less; Weston’s Bread, down by 3 or 4 slices per loaf; and yes, Say it ain’t so, a 2.0 litre of brookfield ice cream is now 1.65 litres; all being sold at the same price.

For the ice cream, that’s a 17.5% reduction in product, or another way to look at it is a 17.5% increase in price. Yet the official word from Statistics Canada is that inflation is under control.

Now I don’t nesseccarily see the shrinking sizes of junk food as a bad, but I pisses me off that the companies are trying to sneak it by us. It also makes me wonder how many other products are in the same boat? How much more are you paying for your weekly groceries? Might be a sign of things to come.

Terry Fox 30 Years  

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Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the beginning of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. 30 years ago, Terry Fox walked down to the waters edge in St. John’s Harbour, dipped his prosthetic leg in the atlantic, and then made his way to St. John’s City Hall. After a brief reception with some media, and the Mayor, he started out onto the Trans Canada with the plan to run across Canada on one leg, and collect 1 dollar from every Canadian for cancer research.

How he managed to persevere through gale force winds, driving rain, and a spring snow storm, I will never know. He started his journey with not much more than a dream. There were no media consultants or marketing professionals. His kickoff press conference was just a clip on the evening news. In the beginning his plan was not well known, and his reception was very light.

But by the time he reached Port Aux Basques, at the end of the Newfoundland leg, news had spread, and the 10,000 residents of the town donated $10,000.

Terry only made it about half way across Canada before the cancer that originally took his leg, returned to his lungs, he was forced to abandon his dream, and a year later, he succumb to the disease.

But his legend and dream lives on. So on this day, Let’s remember Terry.

Friday Funny Cartoons  

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Absolutely nothing to do with Triathlons. But funny just the same.

Tabata for Triathletes (Tabata Part 2)  

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So last Wednesday, I posted about Tabata workouts, and how they were reported to be the best thing since sliced bread, especially for the time crunched athlete and/or couch potato. I also mentioned how they would be effective for triathletes in training.

I wanted to give them a shot this week, preferably at the pool. But it’s just too difficult at my local pool to do 25m sprints in the only lap lane. But yesterday, the combination of opportunity and necessity allowed me to try it during a run workout.

I had about 20 minutes to get in a quick run between work, and spouses yoga. The route I usually take for my short loops takes me through a small park area with grass and a dirt trail. It takes me about 10 minutes to get there from my house.

The 10 minute easy to moderate jog from my house to the park, gave me a good warm up. Then, I set into the 4 minutes of Tabata Intervals. That’s 8 sets of 20 second all out sprints with 10 seconds between intervals, followed by a very slow painful jog home. Here are some thoughts.

1. The first was definitely the fastest, but was also the hardest. Probably because on fresh legs, my mind was set on pushing hard.

2. The 10 seconds between intervals was barely enough time to slow from the sprint, and turn around for the next one. There was definitely no time to rest.

3. My body seemed to instinctively know when 17 to 19 seconds had passed. Every time I thought, “CRAP this must be 20 seconds now” I glanced at my watch, and almost always was at 18 or 19 seconds.

4. The first 4 were ok. The second 3 were very tough! The last one was pure guts.

5. On the way home, I had little pains that I rarely get in training.

6. When I got home, it was difficult to climb the stairs to go to the shower.

One final thought. To be effective, these have to hurt. I keep remembering the articles that I originally read. The training protocol was developed for “FIT” athletes, in fact reported to have been developed for Japanese Olympic speed skaters. Anyone coming off the couch, thinking they can squirt out a couple of 4 minute workout a week, and get maximum benefits, and lose 20 pounds of fat are kidding themselves. I would suggest that anyone not in decent shape, don’t have the base, and shouldn’t even attempt these.

I am pretty certain this type of training is effective, and I have a dull heavy ache in my quads to prove it. I can also see how they could invite injury, as I have little aches and pains in places I normally don’t. Done to often would certainly be a recipe for disaster.

My final suggestion, try this if you are looking to stir things up with your current program, else keep em in the box.

Easter Weekend, Glad it's over  

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Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the first long weekend since New Year. The weather was good. I managed to get some work done in the yard. Cleaned up flower beds. Unwrapped my shrubs. Prunned my apple trees. And got in a couple of solid bike and run workouts. (First 5k of the season in 2 weeks)

But 5 pounds of ham, and 3 pounds of chocolate bunny takes its tole on the body, and now I am paying the price. After 2 weeks of clean eating, and solid workouts, I indulged this weekend, and now I sit here half asleep fighting a case of writers block.

I am sure it's sugar withdrawl. I slept about 10 hours yesterday, and I still feel like I need a nap. I have to drag my ass to the pool lunch time, and then force myself onto the trainer this evening, and I am not looking foward to it.

Hopefully soon I'll come around, but until then, please keep the noise down!