Elation and Disappointment  


Imagine the elation to shatter that race goal, only to then experience disappointment over just missing your dream, or stretch goal.

That must be how my friend Heather feels after running our local Provincial Marathon last weekend. Hoping to break the 4 hour mark, she shattered it by about 8 and a half minutes, only to realize that she missed Boston by less than 1 and a half minutes.

What really makes this is cool story is that
1. She also topped the podium in her AG, after never even so much as winning a ribbon at sports day in school.
2. The course is not an ideal qualifying course. There is a long hilly out and back stretch that zaps the bounce right out of your legs.
3. Conditions were less than idea. It was cool and wet, and there was a bit of a breeze blowing. A good portion of the course is open.
4. The race was held less than a week after IGOR blew into town. Everyone’s schedules were disrupted, and running a marathon was not number one on most peoples minds.
5. She work in the media industry meaning that her taper week was spent working extra hours at the news desk covering the hurricane.

So Congratulations to Heather, and readers beware, in your next race, you just might exceed or even blow away your expectations.

That's an Open Water Swim. Diana Nyad  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in

If you are training for an upcoming Ironman or half Ironman race, and whining about all the 2000, 3000, or 4000, metre swims you are doing in training, think about this lady.

She’s Diana Nyad, record holding distance swimmer, including the record for around Manhattan Island, in less than 8 hours. Now at the age of 61, she is preparing to swim from Florida to Cuba, a distance of 160km. That’s about 41 Ironman swims, non stop. Check out her site here.

That’s an incredible feat, she predicts that it will take about two and a half days, in good conditions, but as we all know, this is hurricane season, and there is greater than a decent chance that the gulf will be alive with storm generated swells, and currents.

So If I had the opportunity to ask her, I’d like to know.
1. Why this time of year? Its hurricane season and we are up to Nicole.
2. Why Florida to Cuba? You do realize that most people will be swimming in the other direction?
3. What will you eat? I am sure that 2 or 3 days of power gels and Gatorade will be enough to make you want to quit.
4. What’s your time for 100m? Just wondering.
5. What will you eat once you reach shore on the other side? Notice, I am already assuming she will make it.

That's Diana's swimsuit, specially designed to prevent chafing on the long open water swim. She certainly don't look 61 to me.

I can’t find exactly when she is planning to start, but I did read that she is waiting for the weather to clear and is hoping for a couple of day window sometime before the end of October.

Best of luck to Di. Send Pictures from Havana!

Meat(less) Balls  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in , ,

You have to check out Enlightened Cooking by Camilla. She doesn’t post often, but when she does, it’s woth a look.

Her latest creation is Meatless Meatballs. Homemade, from Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). Perfect for vegetarians, and Camilla has a version using “Flax Eggs” which means they can be used in a full Vegan Diet. I haven’t tried these yet, but I have used TVP in other recipes, and they can fool even the heartiest of carnivors.

Camilla’s recipe makes 3 dozen meatballs. I left her a comment yesterday asking for the nutritional breakdown, and today she added it. Per meatball: 30 calories, 3.3 g protein, .28 g fat

Last thing is rather than copy her recoipe and post it here, you should check out her blog for yourself. Once again the link is here

AND Enjoy.

Frozen Waffles  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

They don’t sound very appetizing, but they can be a life saver in a pinch. If you are short on time, but big on not skipping breakfast, you can pop a couple in your lunch bag, and once at work, into a toaster, and viola.

But if you look at the ingredient list, and get the BeJeebus scared out of you, here’s an alternative.

During Saturday morning pancake day, make a little extra batter, then break out the waffle iron. You can come up with your own recipe, and add fruit if you want. Once made and cooled, you can put a couple in a baggie, and freeze them.

I have a couple of recipes. One is for multi grain, and you can find the recipe here. I also make a gluten free, higher protein version with egg whites (Approx 1/2 cup), and almond flour, soy flour, and protein powder (About 1/4 cup each)

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, these aren’t IHOP. They are a little grainy, but if it suits your nutrition plan, you can live with it. I also use sugar free syrop.

Give it a try, and enjoy.

Swim Goodies for the Long Cold Winter  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

Our first masters swim was scheduled for last night, but the pool was still closed after Tuesdays storm, so instead of going for a swim, I did a short run, and then spent the evening thinking about what goodies I might need for the upcoming season.

We have a good shop near where I live, but they are pretty small, and don’t always carry everything I need. So I buy a lot of my stuff from Swim2000. They have an awesome selection and decent prices.

Here are some goodies I just ordered for the winter.

TYR Drag Shorts. I plan to use this year to introduce some resistance and help build up some strength. Hopefully they will make me faster.

Tyr Poly Mesh Trainer

Jammers. Gotta have a good pair of jammers. These are polyester. Not as stretchy, but they hold up better to indoor pools.

Tyr Solid Polyester Jammer Male

Swedish Goggles. Been my favourites for years.

Original Swedish Goggles

This is our team bag from TYR. Plenty of big with huge mesh pockets for the wet stuff.

Tyr Alliance Team Backpack II

This one is for the kids for lessons and fun swims. It’s plenty big, and since it’s mesh, it doesn’t matter as much if they forget to take the wet stuff out.

Tyr Big Mesh Mummy Bag

If you are adventurous, you can order up a grab bag. Grab bags are like swim suit loot bags. You do have some options like type and brand name, but you don’t really know what print you are going to get. I saw some pretty funky trunks at our masters swims a couple of years ago. HOWEVER, with a 6 pack jammer grab bag, you can get a $44.00 pair of trunks for just under $25.00.

1 Line Sports ITRI Sweatshirt

If you are interested in checking out a grab bag. Check it out here.

And I always check out Clearance Corner

IGOR the Aftermath  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

I'd be willing to bet the guy who built that shed thought it was in a nice safe dry place.

At the risk of sounding like a whiner to the hearty sods of the southern US and gulf regions of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Carolina, etc. who are routinely pummeled by tropical weather systems, we got absolutely hammered by Igor.

But the worst thing about sitting through a storm like this is not the high winds and possibility of a tree landing on your car or house, or heavy rain and the possibility of severe flooding. No it’s listening to the kids complain about how bored they are not being able to watch TV or use the computer because of the power outage.

Igor rolled across the south eastern coast as a Cat 1, but intercepted an already intense low pressure system resulting in extreme conditions and more rain than most people can ever remember.

One of the 4 washed out bridges that resulted in a large portion of the island being cut off.

Even as it transitioned from a Hurricane to a post tropical storm, it actually intensified, instead of dying out.

Rainfall was reported as high as 239mm (almost 9.5 inches) and peak wind gusts were recorded at 172 km/f (107 mph)

That's not a bike rack on the roof of the hyundai.

Power outages were reported across the region, and as of noon today, it still wasn’t restored, and schools remained closed for the day.

Thankfully for me, we had no major damage, so as of this morning it was back to work, and life as usual.

You can check out a summary on the blog of one of our local weather personalities here.

And you can check out more pictures here.

First Storm Day 2010 - 2011  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

This has to be a record. School opened last Wednesday, and today, Tuesday, less than a week later, the schools are closed. However, since the post secondary schools are still open, my wife had to work, so I pulled daddy duty.

This time, not for a blizzard, or snow storm, but for IGOR the hurricane. Actually Igor is now a tropical storm, but the forcast is for 100 to 150 mm of rain (about 4 to 6 inches) and winds up to 100km/h, (just under 65 mph).

Satelite Image of IGOR. Just skirting the edge of the Avalon Peninsula.

I am going out on a limb, but my gut tells me that the short track mountain bike race for this evening will be cancelled. It's also highly unlikely that I will get out for my run this evening.

Damn you IGOR.

So what do you do during a tropical storm? Make chocolate chip cookies.

Weekend Workouts  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in , ,

Just a sample of our new short track. The picture really doesn't do it justice.

I am sitting here just a little sore today after the first double workout weekend in about 4 weeks.

It’s probably nothing for normal people to write home about, but for me it was so good to get back out on the trails and on the bike.

Saturday was a 30 minute run, broken into 3 x 5 min running, then 5 min running.

Then Sunday, I left my house to check out our new short track mountain bike course.

The trails are still pretty grassy. We need some rain and a couple of more events to get it in good mountain bike race shape.

The course is only about a 10minute ride from my house. It’s part of a new cross country ski trail cut last winter. It’s still pretty grassy, and will take a couple of events to break through to the dirt, but it should be a blast.

We have an event planned for tomorrow, but given that IGOR is bearing down on us, I’d predict it will be cancelled.

On the way home, I passed the Confederation Building, our equivalent to the state capitol. That’s just 6 minutes from my house.

The Confederation Building. I cut across the back car park to get to our trail. Somewhere up there is the Premiers Office.

This is what the view is probably like from The Premiers Office, looking out over the city, and through the narrows.

Giovanni Caboto also known as John Cabot. He sailed here in 1497, and claimed the territory for England. That was just 5 years after Columbus.

Once I got home, I realized that I had a battle scar. No idea how I got it. But don't worry, it really isn't as gory as it looks!

Two great days, and hopefully more to come.

Open Water Swim Series, Last Stand  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

Well, the evening was sunny but somewhat cool, and the winds were whipping up to 30 Km/h with gusts of 50 to 60. There were even whitecaps, as there are a lot of times on Octagon Pond. On top of that, the safety kayakers had a very tough time setting out the buoys, and would have had a very tough time assisting anyone needing help. So based on that, the decision was made to cancel.

Also, since the evenings are shortening, and the temps are dropping, the option of postponing was dismissed, and the series standings and awards were given out based on the standings as of last week.

Wednesday night would have been awesome. Warm and with no wind, but the forecasted thunder and lightning made the decision to postpone to Thursday, easy for organizers.

My thoughts are pretty mixed. There were a lot of no shows, including some of the higher ranked swimmers, so there was a good chance for me to leapfrog over them, and finish the series with a higher placing. But at the same time, I have swum in conditions like that before in Carbonear in 2002, and in Ironman Florida in 2006, and it ain’t fun. The waves toss you and wash over you so you swallow gallons of water; you can’t see the markers; sometimes you even get a little seasick.

So I told everyone how pissed off I was for not being able to swim, then secretly breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t have to go out. Actually, that’s not true. There was a group that went out anyway, and invited me to join, but I was adamant that there was no way I was pulling on my wetsuit, and venturing into a 15 degree washing machine unless there were awards on the line.

So our open water series is over leaving a handful of running road races, and our fall short track mountain bike race series, to keep me motivated. Stay tuned.

Check out the final results here.

First Run in Weeks  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in , ,

Yesterday evening presented an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. After 5 weeks of zero miles of running, yesterday I finally laced up the newtons, and headed out on the road. Actually, the trail.

First of all, my lower back and upper glute is finally feeling comfortable. Not 100% but to the point I am able to move better than 4 weeks ago.

Then I lucked into an opportunistic evening schedule leaving me about 1 hour between dropping off and picking up my 9 year old at a birthday party.

But most of all was the weather. After the dismal conditions yesterday morning, and the pessimistic forecast for the remainder of the day, the sky’s miraculously cleared after lunch, the wind died down to nothing, and the temp climbed to almost 20 degrees. It was just too good a night not to take advantage of.

So I headed off to Kenny’s pond trail, about 800m around, and made of packed dirt. more forgiving than pavement, but solid enough not to risk turning an ankle. I got there right at dusk when a layer of fog hovered over the pond and the grassy field next to it. It was almost mystical.

My plan was to walk run, try out the legs and back, and see if I was at a point to start back into something regular. And I am happy to report that it felt pretty ok. Again not 100%, but good enough to try again in a couple of days.

I did it more like a fartlek run, than something structured. I ran when I felt good, and kept the run portions to no more than 1 or 2 minutes. What I found was that when I ran sloppy, my back hurt, but when I focused on good form, engaged my core, stood straight up, and lifted by foot off the ground rather than pushing off with my toe, the tension in my back immediately went away.

So with the last open water race tonight, I’ll try another run Friday, and if all feels good, a real run Sunday morning.

Autumn is Here  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

Wouldn't it be nice if this is what autumn really looked like?

The weather has really taken a turn for the worst. I am sitting here staring out my office window, looking at dark sky and pouring rain, and that seems to be the trend for the coming week or so.

This is more what our autumn looks like.

Thankfully, the season is winding down. With the exception of our last open water race, (which has already been pushed to tomorrow), the final ITT and Pizza Party, on Saturday, (Which I will likely miss because I haven’t been on a bike in 4 weeks)and the upcoming Turkey Tee Thanksgiving Day 10k, which I am still keen to do, there are very few events left.

I do have several friends still training for late season Ironman races in Florida and Arizona, and a good friend would certainly volunteer services as a training partner, keeping company on those final few long rides and runs, but thankfully, I conveniently have this injury that is preventing me from doing that. (Actually, I am feeling really good and might be back to running this weekend, but don’t tell my friends)

So it’s time to start thinking about trainer sessions, masters swimming, and yoga, as well as turkey and Halloween treats.

For anyone training for upcoming Ironman races, best of luck. You’re almost there.

Swim Workout Swim Tip  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

The swim start from this years Ironman Wisconsin. This picture is from Charisa Wernicks Ironman Wisconsin Race Report. Charisa swam a 1:03:50 swim split on her way to a female 5th place finish.

If I had a dollar every time I heard “I’d love to do a triathlon, but I’m worried about the swim. I can run and bike, and I can swim a little, but I just don’t know if I can swim long enough to do a triathlon.”

From here on in is my opinion, but it’s based on experience. I was that guy just 10 years ago.

Provided you know how to swim, if you can bike 20k and run 5k, you are certainly fit enough to swim 750m. So it’s all perception, and mental barriers. Here’s a little trick I still use today.

Incorporate the distance of your goal race into your workouts. For a pure beginner just starting a sprint program, that might mean just doing 750m total for a workout. For a more experienced athlete, it will mean main sets consisting of the goal distance. The key is to drill it into your melon that the goal race distance is within your capability.

So for example, if you are a pure beginner, your workout may look something like this.

Warm Up (250m)
100m Easy swim
6 x 25m done as 25 swim then 25 drill

Pre Set (150m)
6 x 25 Counting Strokes, keep stroke count same

Main Set (250m)
5 x 50m moderate pace with 15 sec rest

Cool Down (100 easy)
100m easy, long and smooth

And there you go. You just did a 750m workout. The same distance as your goal sprint triathlon. If you are on a 16 week program swimming 3 times a week, you go the start line of the tri knowing that you have done this distance at least 48 times.

Eventually as you build stamina and confidence in the water, you can start to increase the sets and total distances. Last week, in preparation for my 1500m open water challenge,
one of my workouts looked like this.

Warm up (500m)
200 free
200 drill with fins
100 easy with a build

Main set (1500m)
6 x 250 at race pace, for time on 30 sec rest

Drill Set (300m)
6 x 50 as swimming golf pyramid (See Below)

Cool Down (200m)
200 easy long smooth strokes.

When I showed up at pond side, I knew I had just completed my open water distance already in the pool at race pace.

Of course there are limitations. You’d be hard pressed to do a 4000m main set with a warm up and cool down in the pool during a normal lane swim period, but Ironman prep is different beast anyway.

So start thinking about this strategy when you are planning your workouts, and get it in your head that you can do the distance.


This is a drill I learned from the total immersion program. For a 50m lap, you count your strokes, and add the total to your time. The result is your golf score.

For example, for 50m, my stroke count might be 36; my time might be 42 seconds for a score of 78. I’d love to have a golf score like that.

6 x 50 as a pyramid means you decrease you time for each set, the increase for the remaining 2, while keeping your score the same. So if you do the second 50 in 40 seconds and your stroke count is 38, that are still 78, and that’s good.

Charisa takes 5th at Wisconsin  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

Every once in a while you have a race where everything comes together, you hit or exceed all your targets, and cross the finish line and blow away your expectations.

That was likely the case for Charisa Wernick Sunday in Wisconsin. I’d hate to think that she had the phenomenal result that she did, but had a crappy effort.

Because she is probably still asleep, or too tired and sore to type, here are the details. 5th female pro, in a time of 10:07:19, just 3 minutes out of 4th, missing the bottom step of the podium by just over 15, and just under 34 minutes from the overall female title.

When I started my blog, Charisa was one of the first people to start commenting, and she still drops by from time to time, despite the huge demands of her training. She earned her pro card in KONA last year, (2009) but still hold down a full time job outside the sport. From time to time, I’ll comment on one of her posts, and she will email me back with a response.

I can’t wait to read her Wisconsin report, I am heading over there right now. BTW, that infectious smile on her face is a common trait in all her pictures. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, go do it now.

Congratulations Charisa. Well done.

Changing Things Up  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in

I just read an interesting article on Active.com about staying motivated during those long boring training sessions during preparations for a long distance event like a marathon.

Have you ever done a new workout, ran a new route, or incorporated some new training protocol or strategy that felt really great. You probably swore that you would do that exact same workout next weekend, but when you did, it just didn’t seem the same.

According to Active.com, change is the key, and they give some alternatives to keep things fresh.

The Ladder (Long Run Alternative)
This one is simple. Instead of your typical long run at a moderate pace, shorten it up, and incorporate some intensity by running equal segments of race pace, and then recovery pace.

The Social Butterfly (Tempo Run Alternative)
I don’t quite get this one, but it sounds like you run with a group at an easy pace, and when you get the urge, you run to the front of the pack at 10k pace. Next time you run to the next runner at 5k pace.

The Explorer (Fun Run)
This is kind of like a scavenger hunt during a run. You pick a chain business like Starbucks, and see how many you can run past during the run.

Of course the variations on these are endless, the key is to be creative, and use your imagination to change things up.

Open Water Swim Series Week 3  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in

Yesterday was far from an ideal day. Overcast and 13 degrees C, and a little windy, about 20 kmh with the occasional strong gust. However, the water temp was still 17.5, and the cool air and wind wasn’t enough to keep away the 1500m leaders who I was chasing, so I would have to swim my way up the standings.

My start was great. I lined up between the faster and fastest swimmers, and once we got going I kept up with the local swim team for about 3 to 4 minutes. In fact, as we closed in on the first buoy, I could still see the lead pack, only about a hundred metres in front of me. But then the arse dropped out of her, and I would pay for my fast start on the second lap.

Rounding all the buoys on the first lap, I was wide. Every couple of strokes when I sighted, I was pointed outside, and the buoy never seemed to get any closer.

Finally I finished the last leg of the first lap, and started out again. I could see another swimmer about 100m ahead of me. I decided to focus on catching him or her. My arms were like lead, but I decided to take long hard strokes, focus on the finish, and stay streamlined. By the second buoy, I caught them when they stopped to sight the third buoy, and I put on a hard spurt to pull away in case they decided to hang on and draft off me.

The second last leg was now going great. My line was good, I was making a bee line for the buoy, and every time I sighted, it was getting bigger. I could see another swimmer ahead. Catching them was going to be tough, but I felt like I was making ground.

At the last buoy, with about 250m left to go, I went for broke. Hard as I could, with a full kick, I was making up water, but also running out of room. By the finish, I had closed to within 5 seconds, but that was all could muster.

Once on the beach, I fell on my knees and breathed deep as the urge to barf started to go away. Once I could stand up again, I quickly changed into some clothes so I didn’t freeze in the 13.5 degree wind.

So today’s results, 22:49, 9th in the 1500, and now 8th overall with 119 points. So if everyone from number 1 to 7 gets the flu next week, I have a shot.

Check out the full results here.

Labour Day  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in

It was a beautiful weekend, perfect for a full slate of workouts, if you are not resting an injury that is.

So for the injured athlete, limited from riding and running, what are you to do? Take the kids on 2 full days of excursions in an attempt to keep them busy from driving us insane, while at the same time give my wife some much needed peace and quiet, and build up some SAU’s for me for next season.

So Sunday, day 1, was at Salmonier Nature Park. Monday was the archeological dig at the Colony of Avalon.

Salmomier is a wildlife reserve about an hours drive from St. John’s. It features a nature hike through the forest where there are a couple of dozen wild animals kept in natural settings on display for the public. Some of the animals were injured in the wild and are under rehabilitation, others are kept for a period of time to study before they are released back into the wild. It’s the closest thing we have to a zoo.

It was interesting that several of the more shy animals, namely the lynx and the minks were out in full display. I have visited the park several times, and this was the first that I had seen either.

After the hike, it was off the picnic area for food. Funny how food keeps kids and animals quiet.

On Monday, the last day of summer vacation, we visited the Colony of Avalon, also about an hours drive from St. John’s.

This is a full archeological dig. Our 9 old has been telling us ever since he watched his first Indiana Jones movie, that he wants to be an archeologist. There was nobody digging the day we visited. I guess archeologists take holidays too, but the sights were in full view with buckets and sifters.

Cobblestone Roadways made from Beach Rocks

The Colony was first visited and later settled by Sir George Calvert, the Lord of Baltimore. The same Lord who later settled in Merryland, near what is now the city of Baltimore. The city was actually named after Georges son Celcius, the second Lord of Baltimore. All very cool stuff for the wanna be archeologist.

Lord Baltimore's Mansion. It looks pretty modest, but it's the largest dwelling excavated so far.

If you ever have the chance to visit, it’s a must see.

Open Water Swim Series Week 2  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,

Sunny, 19 degrees C, and no wind. It was an awesome night for an open water swim. Everyone’s times improved, including mine. By over a minute.

I was hoping the nice evening would entice some of my competitors to skip this evening and have a BBQ or go on the beer, but nut much such luck.

So at 6:00pm, into Octagon pond we all waded to wait for the start. The organizers were trying to seed the start, fastest, fast, and slow. I don’t consider myself “FAST” but that’s right where I went, and a good choice.

Unlike my disorganized mess from last week, I managed to swim a clean straight course, and pick up a draft for nearly the entire first loop. It was tough rounding the first buoy because the sun was directly in our eyes, but I managed to sight the pack of leaders, and then picked a distinctive square rooftop on a house on the horizon right above the second buoy, and made a beeline for that.

The second loop went even better. I put on a little spurt, at the beginning, and again at each buoy, just to make up ground er water on anyone making a bad turn, as well as dropping anyone lurking in my wake.

On the final leg I swam as hard as I could, and caught one last swimmer before the exit, then scurried up over the rocks (My feet still hurt) and across the finish line.

Final damage, 22:24 for 1500m, 1:08 faster than last week, 11th place in the 1500, good for 39 more points, and tied for 10th in the standings with 77.

Daddy, I want chocolate milk! No sweetie, that's only for adults who swim 1500m!

Plan for next week, faster still, get in the pool a couple of more times for some GOOD hard workouts, and convince the organizers to move the start time to 9:00pm so the swim team highschool kids can’t come out because it’s a school night.

Check out the full results here.