Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm Not Your Friend, I'm Your Swim Coach

The old model wasn't working. I was trying to be everybody's buddy and make sure they showed up for class by being nice. The good thing about this model is that I didn't scare many people away and the dropout rate was not bad - I still have about 10 people per class at the end of the session. The weaker swimmers now have good endurance. But the bad thing about this model is I have not enforced proper technique enough and they have developed bad habits.

I've had nice guy swim coaches and tough guy swim coaches and I have to admit the tough guy coach works for me. Craig McCord is a good example of the tough guy. He used to yell at the kids. I wonder if he yells at the paralympic athletes? Probably.
Anyway the problem with being tough guy is that some people will drop out, however those that continue will really benefit. I think a tough guy coach screaming "raise your elbows!" will prompt me better than the hippy touchy feely nice guy coach suggestion that "you might find that raising your elbows would make your entry more efficient". My touchy feely crap just isn't working with my weak swimmers.

This week I started being tough guy coach (complete with yelling) to shake things up and get them to drop the bad habits.
Improper kicking is the worst problem. I haven't given them enough kicking drills and most of them really need it! Monday I got them to do Titanic Kick.

This is an advanced exercise and takes a high level of effort to maintain the proper position. Without strong effort, swimmers sink, like the Titanic. There's no slow or easy way to do this drill. The purpose of this drill is to gain an understanding of the amount of effort it takes to lift any part of the body out of the water while trying to maintain blance and propulsion. Also, it's a strenuous workout.

Flutter-kick on the back with your arms together a streamlined position and pointing directly toward the sky or ceiling. Arms should be perfectly straight (no bent elbows).

I thought I would have to jump in to rescue R. He had closed his eyes and was slowly sinking to the bottom of the pool while kicking. He was probably thinking "everything is fine, I'm probably supposed to be under water".
But once the swimmers got the idea that they had to kick really hard to be able to breathe they did it. So much of it is just mental.

Today we worked on more kicking drills and I gave them 800metres of kicking homework.

As a tough guy coach I hear a lot of "my legs are burning" comments but at the end of practice I hear "thanks for a great workout".

By the way, I know a few of you swimmers have found my blog. If you have time to read my blog you have time to make it to swim practice. We still have a few sessions left. Did I mention I'm also giving out Candy if you show up? And get this - no more butterfly - we're mostly working on proper freestyle technique.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


There are some supplements I can recommend. One that works for sure is a protein drink after a workout. The role of protein in recovery is well documented.
Of course you shouldn't waste your money on any supplement until your diet is in order. Fortunately I have kicked my Krispy Kreme habit.

Not a supplement - and no I didn't eat the whole box

I know there is no magic bullet. Lets face it, most supplement ads are for suckers and uninformed idiots. There are a lot of uninformed idiots in Ironman - me being one of them. I have wasted a lot of money on fad supplements.

And I think I'm doing it again. Why do I keep getting suckered in? I'm not doing Ironman anymore, but I am weight lifting. I know that weightlifting buddies John and Kiven are taking Creatine and Arginine and they are getting stronger than me in the gym. I guess I am somewhat competitive and it drives me crazy when John can lift something I can not.

I think Creatine works and there is a lot of scientific data to show that it isn't harmful. Well that's a plus anyway. A couple of Canadian scientists have really interesting nutrition and supplement websites:
Dr. Dave Barr is a pretty cool guy and his website is very informative. And Dr. John Berardi.

Go Canada - we know our supplements. No Ben Johnson jokes please.

I am now taking Creatine and Arginine. Why am I taking them and do these supplements work?

Creatine is actually being used to treat a variety of medical conditions such as Muscular Dystrophy and Lou Gerhig's disease.
It helps restore ATP which is used up when the muscles fire. Unfortunately studies indicate that it will not increase my running or cycling ability.
But I believe it does allow my weight training exercises to be pushed further than without it. And thus allows me to lift heavier weights. There is no real harm in taking it other than the fact it is expensive and it irritates my stomach.

Arginine is more contentious.
Here is a quicky Biochemistry/Physiology lesson on Arginine:
Arginine -> Nitric Oxide -> Vasodilator -> Nutrient Delivery -> Muscle Growth and Strength.

Nitric Oxide eh? Why don't I just inhale deeply from a car exhaust pipe? Not quite the same. Anyway, the point is that it is a vasodilator and is supposed to increase blood flow to the muscles.
The bad side is it inhibits platelet aggregation and could potentially interfere with blood clotting mechanisms.

Does it work? I think it does. I get such a pump when I take it - a pump is when your muscles are enlarged and your veins are popping out. I'm sure women are really attracted to this look. ha ha
Anyway, it could very well be the placebo effect. I just paid $60 for the bottle of Arginine and I really want to believe in its effectiveness.
It's probably not going to hurt me but it isn't as proven as Creatine.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Get Rid of It

I'm buying new furniture for my place and this has prompted me to do a major purge. It is obvious that I have far too many books. The Wodehouse collection is sacred, but I can safely recycle my 1984 undergrad textbooks.
For some reason I really like calculus and did pretty well in it. I even took some advanced Math courses and I'm not really sure why, but they probably had some practical applications back then. Differential Equations and Boundary Variables was a little difficult. There is a "Hello Kitty" sticker on the side of this book - a reminder to me that this book isn't for kids and I better take it seriously or I would fail. No comment on whether I actually passed this one or not however.

Why learn this stuff? Any practical application? Of course!
These particular equations examine ecological situations involving two species, one of which preys upon the other. In the absense of a predator, the prey grows without bounds, in the absence of prey the predator dies out.
These equations are very simple and there are ways of making them more realistic.

I also used this type of equation to study excitable neurons in the Physiology lab.
Maybe I should keep this book. Could come in handy someday.
Just kidding - it's gone; I'll dump it off at some used bookstore. I don't think anybody would buy it on Ebay.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Intro to Masters Fall Group

I teach an Intro to Masters swim class at the YWCA downtown in Vancouver. No really weak swimmers this term and a lot of really fast swimmers. The "fast" lane swimmers are too talented for my class and should be swimming with Paul Cross in the morning, but they like to swim after work so I let them remain in my class. I give the fast swimmers a different workout to keep them busy while I am attempting to do stroke correction with the intro swimmers. The fast lane swims about 1800 metres in an hour (they aren't super fast). Terry keeps the pace up and I just let them go to it.
My lane 1 and 2 Intro swimmers are wonderful and always thank me at the end of the class. I do get in the pool and swim with them and demonstrate what the stroke and drills should look like. My biggest challenge is the woman who goes backwards when she kicks with a kickboard. She has convinced herself that she can't kick. I'm letting her use fins for now (and that's not making a big improvement).
I think it might be useful to write blog articles about common swim problems and how to fix them. If I can't write anything funny then that's the direction the blog will take for a while.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Engineers Picnic

Whew! A very fun Family Day Picnic. I'm exhausted.

What I learned:

Kids like Goodie Bags. And you can get them premade.

How many Engineers does it take to put up a Volleyball net?

6! and it takes them 45 minutes. Hey these aren't billable hours boys!

Bouncy Castles are a blast!

Kids love them. Look at that kid doing a flip! He had no fear.

Engineers love Bouncy Castles too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I don't seem to have endurance for shopping. I recall helping an ex gf shop and being the good boyfriend carrying all of the bags and parcels until I couldn't carry anything else. At that point I assumed the expedition was over, but I hadn't counted on the "outside the box" thinking of putting the items in the car and continuing on. It wore me out; at least some stores put those little chairs out for boyfriends.

When I shop for myself I find I have about 20 "good" minutes where I can make decisions. The next 20 minutes after that are marginal and anything after 40 minutes is impossible. If I have been shopping for an hour and a salesperson asks me if I prefer this shirt or that shirt, my honest answer is "I don't know". And I wouldn't be able to tell if a pair of shoes were comfortable or not either. You can see I struggle with shopping.

My friend Rauli suggested to me that if I am going to "date" then I should get some new jeans because apparently my Levi 501's were not flattering. She wouldn't help me though so I was on my own. Off I went to Harry Rosen, a high end mens clothing store. The salesperson suggested a few brands of jeans that I had never heard of and gave me some to try on. Size 34? I'll never fit into these. Give me a size 36.
Mr. Lavery you are definitely a size 34 advised the salesperson.
I laughed as I squeezed into the Seven for all Mankind size 34 jeans and I was a little embarrassed to exit the change room because they were tight.
A female salesperson made a flattering remark which really threw me off. Are jeans supposed to fit like this? My 501's fit completely differently.
Apparently jeans are supposed to be like that. $240 later I had a new pair of jeans.

They are more expensive than most of my dress pants. Anyway, I did it all by myself and wore them to work on casual Friday. This purchase turned out to be a big topic at the Engineering company. Spending over $70 on jeans is unheard of in the Engineering world.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ironman Tips for Newbies

Here are some helpful tips for the 2007 Newbie Ironman entrants

1. Upon arriving in Penticton change into your smallest Speedo and strut around on Main Street. This act will signal to the locals that you are a newbie Ironman and you will be treated accordingly.

2. Go to the Bike Barn and ask that your tires be filled with Race Air. You want every advantage you can get.

3. Check out the Exposition and if there are any interesting nutrition products there buy them and try them on race day. They wouldn't be at the Exposition if they weren't for Ironmen.

4. Ride the course the day before but only do the 160 km version. You don't want to overdo it.

5. You need at least 2000 calories per hour. Buy the Extra Calorie Ensure and drink as many as you can. Fill your water bottles with it and put it in your special needs bag. It tastes pretty good warm.

6. The lake is so warm this year that wetsuits are not allowed.

7. It's easiest to make up time on the downhill bike ride to Osoyoos so hammer as hard as you can right from the start all the way to Richter.

8. On the return part of the run remember that as soon as you run past Skaha lane and enter Penticton on Main Street you are almost there! Time to sprint to the finish.

9. Never tried salt tablets? Buy some at the Exposition and take as many as you like. It's just salt.

10. The most important and real tip is Remember to thank your Spouse for putting up with you for the last year - especially during your overtrained period. Maybe you'll get to do it again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kids Party?!

I admit I am a bit of a suck up at work. I help out with United Way functions and I belong to the Rec club. Earlier in the year there was a request for an organizer of the "Big Engineering Company" Summer Picnic - I figured it would be a pretty easy gig, barbeque a few hamburgers, get a couple of beer kegs, set up a croquet course.. After all I was UBC Social Coordinator and I've thrown a few beer gardens... this should be a breeze - so I volunteered to lead the task.
I was looking at last years budget and I noticed items such as Bouncy Castle, and Clown.. This is odd...
I talked to my coworker friend Neil about it and he informed me that it is a Family picnic which is centred around the Children's enjoyment! Then he went on to explain about Pinatas, Bouncy Castles, Balloon Animals, Clowns and uncontrollable children. That's not what I signed on for!
It's also on Ironman weekend so I won't be going up again!
I've never had kids and this will be a learning experience.

There will be NO clown this year I assure you. My brother Sean used to have a pretty good mime act but I don't think kids would appreciate it. I think a magician would be cool. (By the way Gordon Mullen and I had a hugely successful Vaudeville Magician act from Grades 4 through 7. - we had our peers rolling in the aisles)
Anyway I have the Bouncy Castle organized. Apparently there needs to be some sort of supervision.
My planned beach park location was hit by an oil spill, so I can either organize some new games such as Name that Oil Slick or Pin the Tail on the Barrel. Or we can go to Ambleside Park again - it's within 5 minutes of the Powers that Be, so I may earn points with the VP's. Perhaps a good stragetic move.
This is way different than those University functions and I suppose getting drunk at this party would be exceptionally career limiting for me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Avchen (Harivel) Pinkard

With great sorrow I report that our friend Avchen passed away on July 26, 2007 due to complications from a medical condition at St. Paul's Hospital. She was deeply in love with her husband Jeff and will be missed by her family, her friends and her dog, Denver.
Avchen was a physiotherapist at G.F. Strong Hospital and made a big impact with those that met her.
She travelled the world and even worked at an orphanage in Africa.
I was lucky enough to coach her at the tri club and see how passionately she lived her life. She had the drive and tenacity to learn to swim in her 30's and went on to compete in the Victoria Half Ironman. I remember her big smile in the pool as she attempted to learn fly, and her heroic effort at changing a tire at the bike clinic.

Avchen and her best buddy.

We will miss you Avchen.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Honesty at the Bike Store

There are three "serious" bike stores in Vancouver. La Bicicletta, Campione, and Speed Theory. Four if you count BSP but I'm not sure about them.
Jeremy is great at Speed Theory, but he's pretty new and I have a history with the other two stores. Rob Herron and Mike Wry are part timers there. Hilarious.
Anyway, I am tired of being overcharged by Guiseppe at Campione - It's cheaper for replacement parts for my Mercedes. But his mechanic is really good.
I really like La Bicicletta - They are a serious roadie store, and Paul Haim did a fantatic job at keeping this community alive during the 90's and actually accomodating triathletes. Paul has since retired, but the staff hasn't changed much.
La Bicicletta, thank you for being honest. I appreciate it - you saved me $4000 dollars.
I have some disposable income and wanted a lighter bike.
Brian "That Titanium Lightspeed Ghisallo looks great. Do you have it in a 55?"
Paul " Why do you want that bike - you just bought a bike three years ago"
Brian "Yeah, but it's about 1.5 pounds lighter than mine"
Paul" Uh, 1.5 pounds? You're not exactly as light as you could be. Why not save the money and lose maybe 10 pounds of fat."
Brian - speechless. "uh. you make a good point"
I do not own a Lightspeed and recognize that I could still lose 10 lbs (but I'm not going to)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bay Challenge 2007

The Bay Challenge is a nine kilometer open water swim from West Vancouver to Kitsilano Beach sponsored by the Vancouver Open Water Swim Association.

Picking up the boat at 6:30 am Sunday Morning. That's right 6:30 am Sunday morning.
The boat rental woman told us our boat was at the end of the dock. At the end of the dock to the left were these little powerboats. To the right is a 86 foot yacht named Amnesia IV. We presumed that he forgot where he moored the first 3. We were hoping to get the Amnesia IV for the $45/hour, but settled for a power boat. Robin was swimming solo and his wife Tara and I were his support crew.

It was raining lightly with 19 kph winds when we set out. Conditions could have gone either way. We took the boat from Granville Island across the channel to Sandy Cove in West Vancouver.
While the support boats were beached at Sandy Cove some large waves came in and caused two boats to crash into each other. Gary Logan's boat propeller smashed into the boat next to him, cracking a blade. He was lucky it didn't cause a hole in the other boat. Tara and I rushed into the water to steady our boat and we wondered if a Small Craft Warning would be called the race cancelled. I guess the waves were caused by a freighter, but we couldn't see because visibility was fairly poor. Yes, the swimmers traverse the shipping lane! Incentive to be fast.

The sky cleared and Robin was able to sight and swim towards Vancouver General Hospital, a landmark aligned with the finish line. Robin was a very consistent swimmer and I was amazed considering he only trained 11 weeks for this event. Who likes to go to swim practice though? Not me!
Robin swam Thursday nights at VOWSA and then did his long swim 3000 to 4000 m on Sunday morning. During the race he drank Cytomax and took Hammergel every half hour for the 3 hours it took him to finish.

Team Johnstone.
Robin had a very respectable swim and beat his 3 hour goal.

Tara and I were exhausted, wet and cold- being support crew is hard work!

Alan Bell won again for the 7th time, but there was some 20 something year old Nicole Kolstad from the praries that came in just three minutes behind him. And it was her first open water swim race! Will Alan win next year?
Alan plans on swimming the English Channel.

Many people pulled out at the last minute this year. Congratulations to my friends that competed under potentially treacherous conditions:

Annelle Harmer
Lee Buckley (why didn't Sage race?)
Don Hutchison
Kerry Chow
Gary Logan
Robin Johnstone

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Why can't I have..

When I was a kid I always wanted a dolphin like Flipper. And I know we have them in B.C. They are called Pacific White-sided Dolphins.
"Why can't I have a dolphin? I really want one." Dad didn't have a good answer for that one but I never got my dolphin.

He did have a good answer for bears. Apparently our backyard just wasn't big enough.

Well what other kind of cool animal can I have? After that summer at Webb's Holiday Acres I decided that I definitely didn't want anything to do with horses.
Ride Leader Randy: Brian you can ride Violent Storm.
11 year old Brian: Violent Storm keeps running under low branches and knocking me off; can't I ride Slinky Dog instead?
Ride Leader Randy: No.
11 year old Brian: (under his breath) dammit.

I'm still not so keen on horses but I met the cutest little pony. We were out for a bike ride Saturday and we came across this little guy just down the street from Gerard Charlton's house near U.B.C.
Sunny the pony's stable is in the Southlands but his owner brings him up to the house and he lives in the yard for the weekend.

Why can't I have a pony? I really want one.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Canada Day Challenge

YES I do name drop, but please do not compare me to Brian Tsuji.

There was a big turnout for the Sasamat Lake Canada Day Challenge. 117 people in my 2 km swim race and 114 in the 4 km race. I did OK - 38 minutes, but I certainly am not fast right now. It did get me motivated to actually train for a race, but we'll see. Not bad for a guy that never practices though. My race strategy was to complain loudly at the start about how I pulled my hamstring then sprint to be the first to reach the 500m buoy then pull out because of my "injury". But then I realized I didn't even have a 500 sprint in me so I just took it easy.

Two of my Ironman projects competed in the 4 km swim:
Pam Kalas took over Project Nelson and has made amazing improvements with him.
Charles managed a 1:16! Good work Pam - you too Charles.

Project Vaughan is progressing nicely. He pulled off a 1:18.
Neil had a relaxed swim, no issues and now has the confidence he needs for Ironman. By the way Neil, Ironman has fewer buoys to swim around and you actually can see the finish line.

Brian MacDonald and I took the NCCP triathlon coaching course together many years ago. He's one of the old triathlon Gods and friends with Roch Frey and Paul Huddle. He's been very successful in business and now is able to spend more time having fun and coaching the new breed of professional triathletes. Two of the more promising athletes are Mike Simpson and Kyle Kennedy. It didn't take long for Michael to become recognized as a true pro and he now trains with the big dogs down in the U.S.
Michael won the 2 km swim in a very fast time. Kyle came in just after Leo and Jessica Depew so it wasn't the fastest swim - but his background is Mountain Biking - the swimming will come just like it did for Simpson. Brian says Kyle is the one to watch and that he probably will be faster than Simpson. Hopefully Kyle will start swimming with Janice Hanan and Pam at the Dolphins Tri group.
Brian, Kyle, Brian and Michael.

I loaned an old wetsuit to my friend and co-worker Leo Gomez-Garcia. It's hard not to laugh when newbies put on a wetsuit backwards. Zipper goes on the back Leo. Nice swim in 30:39

And of course Pam did extremely well.

First in her age group and 8th overall.
MacDonald may have Kennedy and Simpson, but I am claiming Pam. Her running is great too. All I have to do is teach her to ride at an average pace of 32 km/hour and she'll be as fast as Christine Fletcher. Just think Pam you can be a professional triathlete! Project Kalas eh? hmmm.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wearing Sweatpants out to a Restaurant?

99 percent of those polled were against wearing sweatpants to dinner in a Vancouver Restaurant. I am the 1%. I have absolutely no problem wearing sweatpants to out in public at dinner. Those of you from Montreal or Toronto will just not understand. I am a true Vancouverite and this is the way it is 'round here. It's about being laid back and casual and being comfortable outside. That is why Mountain Equipment Coop (same as REI) is so successful here.
I actually own three pair of fleece pants - grey, blue, and red. Of course I'm not going to wear the red sweatpants outside of my apartment. When we were dating, Michelle and I bought matching pairs of red sweats to wear at Christmas time - that's the only reason I own them. I will, and have, worn the grey and blue sweats to dinner in my neighbourhood.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Almost Got Me

M and I went to a party at the Vancouver Club on Saturday night and after we left we decided to have a glass of wine at the elegant Sutton Place Hotel. As we were sitting there chatting a large Irish fellow passed our table and made some comment to us. I responded and we started talking about my Irish Heritage and the IRA and women etc. He was quite entertaining so we invited him to sit with us.

He told us that he had been mugged in Vancouver on Friday night by three men. Now this fellow, Bobby, is a very large guy and it seems to me that three men would be tempting their luck by taking him on. But he showed us the bruise on his head. And he said he lost his wallet, but by phoning one of his friends he got a room at the Sutton Place hotel. And he put his room card on the table to show us.

So I bought him a beer and he continued talking to us. He told us he owned six pubs in Dublin and that he had an MBA from Harvard, and that he was worth about 19 Million Euros. I believed the pubs and 19 Million, but I called B.S. on the Harvard MBA. (However he is Irish and I just assumed he was embellishing the story). He and M talked about companies and I could tell he had some knowledge of finance, so he seemed legitimate. He gave my business card to some hot woman at the bar and told her to call me. She hasn't yet. But I digress, the Sutton Place closed down and we all agreed to go to Granville Street for one more beer.

The Granville Room was open so we stopped there. Bobby gave me a Starbucks card and told me it had $100 US on it and he didn't need it because he was leaving tomorrow anyways. We had another beer, and then he asked if he could borrow my phone - and he dialed some 1-800 number. He then told me that he had just arranged a plane ticket for me to visit him in Dublin. Just to be clear there are no gay overtones here and we were talking about women the entire night (only in the nicest possible way, of course). Anyway, I told him I couldn't accept and was too busy to travel.

M went to the washroom and then Bobby told me he wanted to spend the night with a hooker and wondered if I could loan him $200. I squirmed and told him I wasn't comfortable giving him money and then he accused me of being ungrateful and that I had insulted him. Luckily Murray returned and I recounted Bobby's request for money. Murray calmly stated that the request was inappropriate and that neither of us would give him the money. At that point Bobby lost his temper and shoved Murray about 5 feet into a table, knocking over several glasses. He then started yelling obscenities at Murray and looked like he was going to take another run at him but by then the bouncers had grabbed him. They led Bobby outside and he made a hasty retreat. Murray is relatively resilient and was unharmed by the incident.

In our debriefing we decided that he was a desperate con artist who probably doesn't have any money. I can't imagine that he actually has a room at the Sutton Place, but if he does he's probably using someone elses credit card to pay for it.
It was quite the evening. Oh yes, the Starbucks card didn't have any money on it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I am saddened to hear that Marion Mitchell's dalmatian Emma is no longer with us.
Emma's Memorial:

Dearest Emma you were the sweetest dalmatian in the world, so gentle and loving, you helped so many people all over the world deal with canine epilepsy and became known as "The face of Canine Epilepsy" You were and still are the light that shines in the darkest places of the pain that an owner of seizing dog feels. You will never be forgotten.

I remember Whistlers first epileptic seizure and holding him to comfort him. His seizures usually lasted about a minute but it seems like forever. In my research of canine epilepsy I came across Emma who was the same age as Whistler. I am so thankful that Marion Mitchell shared Emmas story and I'm deeply sorry for her loss.


Cece has a way too cute post about her daughter Cherry and her beloved rocks. I have my own set of beloved rocks, which live in the kitchen and I smile whenever I see them. Cheryl Elsworth (also known as C1) found them on the beach when we were walking my dalmatians Whistler and Plum. The black spotted rock is affectionately known as the Whistler Rock, and the brown spotted rock is, of course, known as the Plum Rock.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The New Group

I'm coaching cycling again and I have quite a fun group this year. I took the beginner short course group. I started them off with the basics: clipping in and out, braking, cornering, road etiquette, riding in a pace line. I think they are somewhat comfortable on the road. Now we're ready for some endurance work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Hearse

Mercedes styling has been getting a little sloppy lately.
My Kompressor is not to everyones taste, but I don't consider it ugly.
The new R class is definitely a terrible design. It reminds me of a Hearse!

Monday, April 16, 2007

New Glasses

I'm very excited about my glasses! And I can't believe how easy it is to read!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Brian and A.J. 1992

A.J. was my first Dalmatian. She was about five years old when we found her at the Delta SPCA. She was a wanderer and probably had strayed quite far from her home when the SPCA picked her up. I had to build a high fence to keep this one in. She was the best swimmer of all my dals and after a ten kilometer run would hop into the Ocean and swim a kilometer down to Centennial Beach.
Yes, I let dogs lick my face.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Random Mini Posts

Off to the Canadian Passport office today to stand in line for 4 hours. I thought it expired next year. If I want to go to the Baja in March I must brave the long lines. I originally sent in my application by mail to Passport Canada, but apparently there is a serious delay in processing those applications - and I will not get my passport in time if I wait for them. So I applied for another Birth Certificate and am applying in for my Passport in person today.

The New Look.
I have been experimenting with growing a beard (unsuccessfully) but may keep a short stubble. Friends have asked if I am trying for the George Michael look. My response is No, but I am trying for the "bad boy" look. The next question is invariably How is that working for you?

I'll keep experimenting with it until I get it right.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Hard Way or Easy Way

If you want to be in the top 3 of certain sporting events you can do it the hard way or the easy way. Sorry, there is no easy way to win a medal in cycling or running. But there is an easy way in Swimming.

To illustrate the hard way for swimming lets make up a hypothetical athlete we will call Joe L.We will make Joe get up at 4:45 am to make it to 5:30 practice with the Dolphins at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. Joe must swim in lanes 6 or 7 and swim the entire practice – preferably over 4000 metres. Joe doesn’t necessarily have to have proper technique, or listen to what the coach tells him, (and believe me – he doesn’t) but he must be willing to work very hard and not goof off too much. No Chatting! 10 seconds rest - Push off that wall!

Joe signs up for some National Swim meet in Ontario or Quebec(a 5 hour air flight away) and enter events such as the 400 Free. Everybody signs up for Freestyle – there is so much competition. To win an event like that you have to swim it in 5:01 – that’s 1:15 per 100. I can’t even do that for one 100. Shorter distances are really competitive too. Joe has to swim a 50 Backstroke in under 35 seconds to get first place. That’s pretty fast for an old guy. But it takes a lot of practice to get that fast.

The easy way is to be selective in your swim meet and pick your races. Another hypothetical athlete named Brian is a mediocre Masters swimmer who would prefer to stand at the edge of the pool and chat instead of doing the workout (and that’s what he does). Too bad there’s no medal for most congenial swimmer. Anyway if Brian wants a medal he will have to attend some Masters swim practices – at least once a week. If he goes to Provincials (and anybody can go to Provincials – there are no qualifying races) he will sign up for the events that no one likes doing (and have fewer than 3 people in the event thus guaranteeing a medal) such as 1500 free. Who wants to spend their Friday night at some swim meet doing a 1500 free? Not many people – Brian would probably swim at 1:30 per hundred and it would take him about 23 minutes. Even swimming at 1:40 per hundred would only take him 25 minutes and he would still win a third place medal!

Other good events (good in this case meaning unpopular) are 200 Backstroke and 200 Butterfly. Usually not too many people enter these ones because they are a bit longer. Of course you will be completely out of breath and in pain doing a 200 but it’s only for a few minutes. The last 25 metres is a real battle and I admit I haven’t finished every 200 Buttefly event I’ve entered. If I’m standing up in the pool before finishing the race that means I give up. Very discouraging to go 175 metres of butterfly and not finish – so the lazy swimmer must somehow balance being lazy with going to at least a few swim practices.

DO NOT enter races that are 50 Metres or 100 Metres; too popular an event=too much competition and no chance at a medal!! Remember the point of this article is to help lazy and/or mediocre athletes win medals.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Not This Year

I just don't have it in me to train for Ultraman Canada this year. Gerard sent me an email telling me that they need two more participants to make Ultraman happen this year and encouraging me to sign up. It's a great event and I find it amazing that more Ironmen don't participate. Last year they only had 12 people and 16 the year before when Gerard won.
I don't really know why an Ironman would be apprehensive about signing up. It's just a little bit more training and since many Ironmen are obsessive type A's I don't see that being a problem and it only costs a little bit more. Maybe the 10 km swim scares them off.
I will sign up one day, but not this year. I haven't even signed up for the Vancouver Marathon yet! I think I need a kick in the butt.

Monday, January 29, 2007

English Mastiff

I really like Mastiffs. There are two in Vancouver that I see quite often in Coal Harbour: Rupert and Winston. They seem like really nice dogs although Rupert is skittish and Winston has put on quite a bit of weight over the last year (his owner says it's a thyroid problem)
The wonderful Amy used to own a wonderful Mastiff named Gabe, but he had leash aggression and she was unable to walk him and had to give him away.
I met a really sweet Mastiff at a store on W 4th. Her owner brings her to work every day.
Her name is Cinammon and her Grandfather Zorba is one of the largest Mastiffs in the world weighing in at 343 lbs.

Cinammon is about 200 lbs.

Very sweet dog.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Swimsuit 2007

I'm going to the Baja with the fabulous liz in March and need to get a new swimsuit. So it was off to Just Cruisin with my buddy Neil to check out the spring line up of swim suits.

Perhaps a patriotic Canadian model? I couldn't tell the back from the front on this one and had to ask the sales clerk for help. That could be embarassing on the beach so I'll pass on this one.

Little Blue Stripes? Too cute! It looked hilarious on the rack but once I put it on I actually thought it looked pretty good. But it's just not that masculine.

I couldn't find leopard stripes, but I did find a cheetah design.

Oh no. definitely too skimpy. And uncomfortable. Maybe if I were hanging out at Second Beach Pool. But I'm really not that kind of guy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Swimmers

I coach an Intro to Masters swim class at the Y. I respect my swimmers and they seem to like me. That doesn't mean that I can't have nicknames for them does it?
I know that two of the swimmers (Rauli and Always Late) know about my blog and read it occasionally. Hopefully they will tell me if I cross the line because I don't want to hurt anyones feelings.

Note: For the purposes of this article Lane 1 is the Fast lane, Lane 3 is the least fast lane.
I'm getting a better feel for their abilities and fitness levels and have been moving people to different lanes. Some people move up to faster lanes, some have been moved to slower lanes. Being moved down is tough on the ego. I remember Carole Gair moving me to a slower lane and being really upset with her. Still bugs me 10 years later. ha ha
Anyway,I moved Rauli to lane 2 last class and them moved her back to lane 3 today to even out the numbers. She was clearly unhappy and since I don't want unhappy lawyers in my class I let her go back to lane 2 later on. Crampy has been having troubles in lane 1 because his fitness level is weak and his cramps have been pretty bad. I moved him down to lane 2 and he disliked the idea so much he went over the the public swim lane. I think Band Aid might be a little lazy because she pouted when I told her to move up to lane 1. There's no pouting in swimming.
Currently in lane 3 there is Sixtwo, Drowner, Karate Chop, Yappy II, Geyser, and Conveyor.
In lane 2 there is Baggy, Crampy, Always Late, Governor, Rauli and the others yet to be nicknamed (ytbn).
In lane 1 there is Band Aid, Band Aids friend, Dainty, Director, FastLane, Professor and some others ytbn.

I have nicknames for the lifeguards too but one of them is a pain in the neck sometimes (like today) and I better chill out before writing down her current nickname.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Triathlete vs. Swimmer

(Editors note: For those that are visual learners - pictures will be added as soon as I can get to the pool with my camera.)
I suppose it should be called Triathlete OR Swimmer. I don't really want to say that one is better than the other. Anyway, the point of this article is to explain how to tell if an athlete is a triathlete or a swimmer.

Start at the top. If the athlete is wearing a swim cap and it has a number written on it in felt pen then he/she is a triathlete. Easy eh? Also, if the swim cap has the name of a company on it like Powerbar - you guessed it: Triathlete.
If the swim cap has a College name on it like Kenyon, or Stanford, then you can bet the person is a swimmer. In fact, a REALLY good Swimmer. Don't make the mistake of challenging a real swimmer in the pool because you will be humiliated - not that I would know about that.

Next check the goggles. If they are those wacky seal masks -triathlete. Ironman triathletes use them because they are much harder to be knocked off at the start of the swim. Yeah, I used to own one, but I couldn't imagine a dive start off the blocks with a seal mask. More difficult to differentiate if the goggles are Speedo because those goggles are very popular and cheap and both Triathletes and Swimmers use them. If the goggles are a brand like Tyr or Barracuda odds are the person is a swimmer.

Total giveaways are a Heart Rate Monitor. - the black strap around the chest says: Triathlete.
The funny thing is that this athlete isn't even using the HRM properly. Triathletes don't sprint and they are not likely getting over 150 bpm. So why wear a HRM in the pool? Who knows?
Real swimmers can take their pulse to the clock - count the pulse for ten seconds and multiply by six, or have the coach take their pulse with a monitor. And real swimmers get their heart rates up to 90 percent of maximum ie. 180 bpm.

Another giveaway is the watch. Typically triathletes use a Timex Ironman and stand at the edge of the pool fiddling with it for a couple of minutes before jumping in. Why? again, who knows - probably because that's what they do at the running track. It's not like they are timing their 100 metre times. Anyway, there are all sorts of clocks including the three foot high ones at any pool.
Real swimmers use the big clocks and time their 50's and 100's. Triathletes won't look at their watch until they finish their 1500.

How about the suit? So easy it it's a wetsuit. A wetsuit in a pool screams "I am a newbie triathlete and I just bought this wetsuit and am afraid to swim in open water". Feel free to point and snicker and openly mock anyone in a wetsuit especially at Kits pool.
Another giveaway is the trishort or long shorts. Triathletes favour these types because they have a small pad in them and you can hop right on your bike without changing. Don't use them for Ironman - not enough padding for a six hour ride.
Triathletes are just as uninhibited as swimmers, but you are more likely to see a swimmer in a skimpy Speedo. Unbelieveable - I used to wear the Speedo brief. Real swimmers also use really weird fastskin suits, but $200? I would rather just shave my legs.

What else? well there's the sports bag. Swimmers would have a Speedo waterproof bag, Triathletes will probably have a tri bag with their helmet attached because they just rode to the pool.

Those are the big visual clues.

Other clues come from what the person is swimming. Someone who hops in and swims free style continuously for half an hour poorly is a triathlete. Triathletes think that if they just slog through it they will get better. They perform poor flip turns or no flip turns. How boring would that be? So sad. If only the triathlete would join a masters club and learn how to swim properly.
Swimmers swim all four strokes. Triathletes ask "what are the four strokes" For any triathlete reading the strokes are Butterfly, Back Stroke, Breast Stroke and Freestyle.
Freestyle is the one that you know.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Project Hash Brown Conclusion

Well, I ate it at 8:30 am and I'm still alive and kicking.
Neil was very worried. He didn't want me to go through with it. He said it was funny in concept, but nobody in their right mind would eat a 9 month old Hash Brown.
I checked with a Medical Doctor and she said I wouldn't die and that was good enough for me.
This is where the Hash Brown lived for 9 months:

It's not sterile, but it's not likely to be in contact with anything else.
I checked the internet to see what kind of bacteria I could possibly be ingesting.
Bacillus Cereus was a possibility - it produces two different types of toxins.
These symptoms will be presented within 8 - 16 hours and will appear in my lower intestine. Hopefully I will get the emetic version of the toxin which causes vomiting. Never mind what the other type of toxin causes.
The other possibility is there because I have touched it and therefore I could get E Coli poisoning. (Yes, I wash my hands after going to the rest room. But I could still contaminate it with E Coli)The incubation period is 1 - 3 days and it would take me three days to recover. E Coli would cause more severe symptoms that Bacillus Cereus.

This is what it looks like after nine months. A little dry, but nothing evident growing on it.

Taking every precaution I decided to microwave it (just in case). Note to Brian - microwaving is not the same as irradiation.

Look how oily the paper got! ewww. That's why nobody should ever eat a hash brown.

Doesn't taste too bad. Still has the flavour of a hash brown but is a little dry.

I had a little scare at 9:30 - slight sharp pain in my intestines similar to that time I got food poisoning from eating a bad hot dog at Costco. But it went away.
I wonder if this will get me in good standing with the Tri Buddha Multisport Benevolent Society? (Much of the Tri Buddha society revolves around food.)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Massage Therapists are Useful

It's not like my new massage therapist has cured me, but she diagnosed the problem and managed to reduce the pain. It's my hip flexors which are specifically comprised of the Psoas Major, Psoas Minor and Iliacus Muscles
The Psoas Major muscle I pulled while lifting Aiden out of the car is deep in my torso and surrounded by other muscles. It is impossible to massage this muscle from the back so she massaged the surrounding muscles and this seems to have helped a bit. This muscle also passes through the pelvis and connects to the quads in the front so you can get to it through the femoral triangle (groin area). My massage therapist is female and a little shy so she didn't dig right into the femoral triangle but she did manage to press on some trigger points. My other massage therapist Csaba (at Mainland Massage) worked on my hip flexors last year and he is much more aggressive in this sensitive area.
Lunges are the preferred stretch to loosen this muscle. (that's not a picture of me. I have no tattoos and my calf muslces are way bigger than that)

ExRx is an excellent website that illustrates muscles and proper weight lifting and stretching techniques.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Old Truck

Before I was a snobby Mercedes owner I was a regular guy and drove a truck. My first truck was a present from my ex father-in law Duncan in 1994. It was one of his companies trucks - a 1981 Ford F150 Custom. Custom means that it came with absolutely no options: no carpet, no air conditioning, nothing power, AM radio. But I loved that truck and I have many great memories of driving it up and back from Whistler (with one of the Dalmatians sitting next to me) while building Duncan's House.
I gave the truck to little brudder Patrick in the late 1990's.He took it up to Prince George and I assumed that it was still there abandoned on some logging road. Wasn't I surprised to see it when I visited him in Edmonton! He gave it to his Father-in-Law, Ted, who has kept it in pretty reasonable running shape. I asked to borrow the keys for memories sake and it's just the same as it always was - better actually since the cracked windshield was replaced. Maybe a little rustier because of those Alberta winters. Full credit to Ford for building a truck that lasts.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Too Old to be a Dad?

Nobody is pregnant...
This is just a discussion.
I got to practice my parenting skills in Edmonton with my niece Katy, and nephew Aiden. I have to say that looking after kids is challenging. I made the mistake of thinking that I was smarter than a three year old. I’m not. Aiden usually got his way during any kind of negotiation. His continuous use of the word “why” was frustrating, but effective on his part.
Those kids wore me out. Thank goodness Patrick was there to take over for diaper changing duties and to restore order and allow Uncle Brian to have a nap.
I struggled with day to day operations like taking the kids out of their car seats. Patrick and Diana have no problem with this action. I threw my back out lifting Aiden out of Pats car on Tuesday. Then I did it again on Saturday.

Me proving to myself that I can lift a child out of a car. Not too smart.

My back is seized up and this has caused a hip flexor problem as well. I can bench press over 200 pounds, but I can’t lift a 40 pound kid out of a car seat. Thank goodness I have a massage appointment tonight.
I still would like to have children of my own and I don’t really think I’m too old; I just have to learn some of the skills from my brothers and start going to yoga again.