Another Weekend, Another 2500m.  

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I can’t get my head around how good my swimming has been going. I don’t want to sound boastful, but lately, whenever we are setting up the intervals in our lane, I always underestimate my ability.

Last night was no exception. The main set, focused on drill/swims and 100’s broken down like this.

200 Drill/Swim (Shark Fin)
6 x 100

200 Drill/Swim (3 stroke, 8 kick)
5 x 100

200 Drill/Swim (Fist)
4 x 100

The key was to pick an interval for the first set of 100’s that would give you 10 to 15 seconds rest on a moderate pace. And that’s where I have trouble believing in my ability.

We set out on 2:00 for the first set, but despite my effort to swim excrutiatingly slow, I was still 1:39, 1:42, and 1:41 on the first 3. so I dropped back to 1:55, and still had no problem making it with 10 seconds rest.

The water felt great. I was feeling loose and relaxed, and again had no issue making the 1:50. When we started the 1:45, I was still able to make it. Just barely; stop, look at the pace clock, then go; but I made it.

I finished with a short cooldown, then home for supper, and log another 2500m. And that was my Sunday night.

So I guess the moral of the story is, trust your abilities.

Double Down. How Bad Is It  

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You know it’s a slow news day when the talk of the town is the introduction of a new chicken sandwich. This week in Canada marked the introduction of the KFC double down.

For those who don’t know, it’s a bacon and cheese sandwich featuring a delectable but controversial twist. The bun is replaced by a pair of chicken breasts, deep fried in the colonel’s secret recipe of 11 different herbs and spices.

Once announced, TV and radio became a sounding board for cardiologists, and nutritionists preaching about the evils of the new concoction. But really folks, how bad is it? Well for kicks and giggles I did a little google research, and did some comparisons, and this is what I found.

The KFC Double Down breaks down as, 540 cal, 30g of fat, 1740mg sodium

In comparison, McDonalds Big Mac, 540 cal, 29g fat, 1020mg sodium

If you pick up a Pizza hut 12” meat lovers, 1 slice will net you 300 cal, 14g fat, 660mg sodium, but when is the last time you ate 1 slice of pizza. Most girls I know can kill 3 slices without blinking. Now you are talking 900 cal, 42g of fat, and 1980mg of sodium.

Sodium seems to be the major concern with take out food. A large number of products are creeping up on 50% to well over 100% of the daily recommended amount, which from Health Canada is 1500mg

Even that Tim Horton’s Raisin Bran Muffin you had with coffee this morning, had a whopping 790mg of sodium along with its 360 cal, and 10g fat.

And a half cup serving of Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup has a whopping 890mg of sodium.

As for the Double Down, I had one Wednesday. My frugal wife used freshly delivered coupons to buy 2, with the intent of stripping the chicken off, adding them to buns, and making meals for 4. Luckily for me, our 5 year old opted for the soup instead, complete with the 890mg of sodium. That meant I got to sample the full monty.

I am happy to report, I didn’t die, or throw up. My impression was indifferent. I wasn’t repulsed, but I wouldn’t line up for another one.

Bottom line is that the Double Down is not the cause of epidemic obesity and Heart Disease in North America. But if your normal daily menu looks like my blog comparison with a muffin for breakfast, double down for lunch, and a pizza for supper, pay up your life insurance. You’re kids will love you.

Moderation is the key. A little indulgence now and then didn’t kill anyone, so save it for an occasion, and savour it. Maybe after another killer pool session.

Sunday Evening Swim Test  

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Since the end of the tri season, I have been unbelievably focused on swimming. Last year I made huge gains on two wheels with an aggressive indoor training program, but found motivation to get to the pool seriously lacking.

This year, I have no trouble dragging my ass out of bed to get to the pool for my 6:30am masters workout; or my twice a week regular masters workouts; and the benefits seem to be paying off.

This Sunday was or initial test set. We do this a couple of times a year, and I knew it was coming up soon. So when coach instructed us to choose a partner in our lane, I knew what was coming.

This years test protocol changed from 10 to 15 minutes for maximum number of lengths (Not laps). I won’t give out my result, but I will say I was pretty pleased.

Now, the challenge from coach is to come up with a plan to improve the score for the next test in 6 weeks. The results of the test will not be announced, but the improvements will be.

So for 6 weeks, I need to squeeze out a couple of more laps out of 15 minutes. My plan is to improve my efficiency, and focus on reducing my stroke count; improve my kick; and start doing flip turns. The second 2 will be the toughest.

I can easily work on those items during my weekly lunchtime swims, and in 6 weeks, we’ll see if my plan is worth it.

By the way, any free advice on kick, or turns would be appreciated.

Turkey Tea 10k  

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Not a pretty picture, but sometimes running is an ugly sport.

The morning was sunny and cool, the course was and flat and fast, the start was brisk and quick, and with the sound of the gun my last race of the season was underway.

This one was on my radar for a while. My original season plan included this race along with a hard block of specific training after the St. John’s Triathlon, and a goal of setting a PR which would have been a low 44 minute race.

As it turned out, my previously mentioned injury hampered my training, as did hurricane Igor, so when thanksgiving week rolled around, I flip flopped back and forth from running or not a half dozen times.

In the end, I decided to go ahead. Leave aspirations of 44 minutes behind, and consider it a good morning workout race before I munched out on turkey dinner at my nephews later that day.

A very well run event with one exception. The markers were all over the place. The 1k was short by about 50m, and my 4 minute split had me panicking that I went out too fast. Then at the 9k mark, I was at 40 minutes, and thinking that 40 was still within reach. But it was a cruel hoax as this marker was a couple hundred metres short.

I finally crossed the line in 45:43. Check out the results here. A solid mid pack finish, and a decent effort given my fall training, or lack there of. I was ok with it, knowing that with some good quality intervals and speed work, my goal was certainly within reach.

So now, the newtons, are put up for the winter, and it’s time to focus on getting fast in the pool. More on that later.

Canadian Intercollegiate Sports (CIS) Dual Meet  

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If you ever find yourself lacking motivation in the pool, and if you have the opportunity, go watch a swim meet.

This weekend I went to the Memorial Seahawks vs Waterloo Warriors dual meet. Two teams, facing off, head to head, racing for points. The main reason I went was to cheer on our masters coach, Dana. Once there, I got wrapped up in the excitement.

There were only a couple of dozen spectators, mostly friends and family of the swim team members. But boy did they make a lot of noise.

The highlight for me was Event 2, the men’s 200m Medley Relay. In the final leg, lanes 4 and 5 were neck and neck going into the turn, but when they flipped, and broke the surface, our guy was about 10 inches ahead, and he held on for the win.

The men’s points race was very close with the Warriors edging out the Seahawks 53 to 51. The girls weren’t so lucky as the warriors bettered the Seahawks 63 to 41. They’ll get a chance to even it up Halloween weekend.

This was the first time I watched a meet, and I was excited and so motivated to hit the pool Sunday evening. The strokes were super smooth, and the turns crisp. Getting there early enough to watch the warm up was a bonus. Observing drills the way they are supposed to be done, was an education to say the least.

I can only imagine what it is like to watch an event like the world championships, or the Olympics.

So if you live near a University, check out the varsity schedules, and go down and take in a meet.

Mount Pearl Marlins Masters Swim Club  


That's more gear than I used when I played hockey, and I am sure coach Duffy uses every piece

3500m before 8:00am is a rarity for me. I don’t do early morning workouts well. I am definitely not a roll out of bed, into the pool kind of person. I’ve learned enough about my body to know that to get benefit from a training session, I need to wake up at least an hour before, eat a little, sip some coffee, make sure all bodily functions are in order, then make my way to the session.

So when I was asked if I’d be interested in swimming 6:30am masters at Mount Pearl pool, I brushed it off at first, but after thinking about it, I determined the Tuesday session would work well. I could get up at 5:30am my regular time, skip my shower, have a light breakfast, drink some coffee, then be at the pool by 6:25 and on deck by 6:30.

The Mount Pearl club is small but growing, and very well coached. The Tuesday group small, only a half dozen swimmers in 2 lanes as the local swim team took up the rest, but it was a kick ass workout, and I was on cloud 9 the rest of the day.

The main set was coach John's Y= workout. 4 sets done as:

Y fast, 25 smooth
Y fast, 50 smooth
Y fast, 75 smooth
Y fast, 100 smooth

Where Y=25 for the first, 50 for the second, 75 for the third, and 100 for time on the last. I was very surprised to make 1:37, 1:39, 1:39 and 1:36 for the 100’s.

So I am already looking forward to next Tuesday. I am committed to making this part of my weekly routine.

And for anyone trying to make gains in the pool, you gotta check out a masters program.

MUN Run 5k Race  

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The start of the MUN Run. That's me on the right, in the back with the wine colour singlet.

What’s the single most important factor in excellence in sports? Is it training? Mental Toughness? Dealing with Pressure? Is it ensuring you do adequate speed work or hills? Is it endurance?


The single most important factor is showing up. Even the great Michael Phelps wouldn’t have won his pocketful of medals in 2008 if he missed the plane to Beijing, or slept in the morning of the first heat.

So showing up as a 43 year old at the MUN run 5k race around Memorial University Campus was a shoe in to get one of them shiny medals.

This was a race not on the local calendar. It was a combination training run for the MUN Varsity cross country team (That’s them all in red in the picture above) and a fun raiser for the varsity scholarship fund. The email notice only came out the Week of, and I never registered until the night before. Race morning was warm and humid, just the way I like it. Only drawback was the wind.

The first lap of the 2 loop course was fast. In fact at the 2k mark, I was on pace to break 21 minutes, but then “The Arse Fell Out Of Her” When I made the final turn onto Elizabeth Ave, into the wind, I knew 21 was a dream, and I was just struggling to hold pace.

Then with about 500m left, another “old guy” caught me. We ran side by side for a couple hundred metres, but then he pulled away, I couldn’t keep up with him, and I crossed the finish line alone. The other guy ended up in first in our AG, and I took the silver. And the fact that there was only 4 of us in our 40’s makes no difference to me.

So for the year, I now have a silver and bronze. I need to win my age group on Sunday to make a set. Chances of that? We’ll see.

Masters Swim Season Is Here  

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That's Coach Paul on the left in the blue and yellow shirt, watching over our 2008 RIMS Fall Mini Meet.

Our masters indoor season started last night. Not so much with a bang, but more a moderate breeze.

Our first session was a bit of a meet and greet, the coaches set out the direction for the year, talked a little about goals, and then into the pool for a 45 minute session. Nothing intense, just some drill sessions, and a moderate set of 100’s.

I am happy to say that with the late season open water series, and some focused workouts the last week or so, I felt really good in the pool.

Our club is mix of triathletes, and formeerr competitive swimmers, and it was quite obvious who spent the summer doing open water swims, and training for mid to late season triathlons, and who concentrated on other things.

The best news is our coaching staff. I will miss coach Aerial, but I was thrilled that head coach Paul is returning. We are very lucky to have a coach with his experience. He has a way of teaching that seems to strike the right chord. Joining the coaches crew is Christianne who runs Splash n Dash Triathlon Training Triathlon Training and was the organizer of the open water swim series. Embarrasingly, I cant remember the name of our third coach, only that she is a MUN varsity swimmer, a coach with the St. John’s legendsand that I am sure I will get to know her very well over the course of the season.

I am looking forward to a great year, and I am sure lots of blog fodder.