Friday, July 8, 2011

3 X (2+)

Well it's been a few days since I last blogged and I'm positive that the burning question on your mind is "Did Matt and Dupree break the 2 hour barrier?" The answer is yes, yes we did friends!
Since my last post I have been on 3 rides all of which have not only been in excess of 2 hours but also in excess of 60km! (What a little champion!) Two of those rides I cycled east and used the wind to aid my return home, but most recently I headed north of Kingston to sample the hilly winding passage that heads into the Land'o'Lakes. Must say, the hills do make for a pretty grueling trip, though I believe that I am getting steadily stronger.

In other exciting news, I have found employment for the time being! Courtesy of my friend Emily, who recommended me to her boss, I am now a camp counsellor at a kids camp that is run out of a women's fitness studio. I'm only getting about 20 hours a week and the camp only runs for another 4 weeks (I have one week under my belt already) but it's giving me something to do, a little coin on the side and showing me that life does indeed start before 7am! And, not only am I working with kids in the camp, but for an hour a day on Mon, Wed and Fri I babysit infants 6 months to 3 years old as their mothers work-out in the studio. This is probably the most taxing element of my job...I have rather limited experience in this department and the little tykes really put me through my paces each day! However, as I am the only Y-chromosome in the building, there are usually plenty of women on hand to rescue me when necessary!

Anyway, that's all for for a ride with Dupree soon!
Be Easy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bike, Bath and Beyond

Learning from my trials and tribulations from my prior ride I decided to head into the wind on the outward leg of my next journey and catch the tailwind on the way home (smart huh?). So I took Dupree out to Bath, a small hamlet that lies to the west of Kingston along the aptly named Bath Rd. Bath Rd is a busier road than Hwy 2, but as it tightly (like a toiger) hugs the shoreline as it winds around Lake Ontario, it is much flatter and therefore: fast. I cycled out for just over 50mins and turned around at a road named Sir John Johnson Rd. I'm not sure why, but I couldn't help but feel that this was a rather silly name (for a person or a road)- although clearly this man had done something worthy of having a road named after him, perhaps, merely overcoming the ridicule of his peers due to the lack of imagination of his parents was enough to earn him this honour. But I digress. On the way home, wind at my back, I found myself absolutely flying and decided that since I would probably make it home before 1:40 elapsed on the clock, I should tack on some extra miles to stretch the clock. I mean, apparently the best form of motivation is progress, and what sort of progression is two 1:40 rides in a row? If you don't believe me (and want a little motivation yourself), check out:
I believe that two of the guys mentioned in the video, Will Cruthers and Robby Gibson, are home-grown K-town boys. And the Canadian rowing team is pretty legit on the world stage....respect.

Anyway, to sum up: good ride - and 61km in under 2 hours is not too shabby. I hit up the pool today for 50mins and I'll be back laying tire to tarmac with Dupree tomorrow. Might try to break the 2 hour barrier. Time will tell.
Be Easy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ride the Wild Wind.

You will all be delighted to know that Dupree and I are really getting on quite magnificently, we have really bonded over some nice little rides over the past week. On Tuesday, I cycled from downtown Kingston out to my parent's place, a distance of 42km in about 1:20. I returned the next day in the rain in a similar time. (Question: Is cycling in the rain dangerous with such skinny tires?) I canvassed some more cycling-savvy friends about the quality of my ride and the feedback was encouraging yet unsatisfied: cycling at close to 30km/hr is semi-respectable, although I should be reaching speeds just over that mark and it would be nice if I could raise the duration of my rides to at least 2 hours. Can't please some people these days!

Today, I was considering a 2 hour ride, but I got out just over 45 minutes East along Hwy 2 towards Gananoque, and got thinking about how far I had come...and turned around. Turns out, it was probably for the best as there was a mega headwind on the way back (it's funny how you don't notice the wind when it is helping you!) and at some points on the return leg I was absolutely crawling. Give me hills over a headwind any day, I say! That said, cycling uphill into a headwind isn't much fun either, as I also found out today. I think I'll try head West along Hwy 2 next time, and capitalize on that wind on the way back when I'm tired. I would like to get out to Gananoque at some point....I might have to find a fat friend to cycle with and draft off! Speaking of which, a middle aged, rather heavy-set man blew by me today on his road bike just as I was leaving town. Not a fat man...he was obviously in shape, but I mean, while I'm not exactly a seasoned cyclist, I don't think I'm a slouch, and we're not going to blame it on the vintage of my steed (we all know it's not about the bike)...but flip bru, I wasn't impressed! Anyway, I covered just over 50km today in about 1:40 (it took me almost an extra 10 minutes to get home in that wind!). It's not two hours yet but I'm getting there....Devon Novakowski: beware!

Anyway, that's all for meow.
Be Easy.

Ps. just like to throw out a shout out to Miss D. Bentley - congratulating her for graduating from her masters program!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Plan 2.0

There may be a reason that I'm so indecisive about making major decisions: when I do make plans and set firm dates, events conspire against me and my plans inevitably fall apart, leaving me to undo all of the preparations made by myself and others around my original schedule. Perhaps it is best to remain secretive and fluid; although then one gets appears to be unorganized and last-minute.

Such is the case with the 2011 summer track season. I had a very nice season of racing planned out in the USA, Canada and Europe, as you will have read in my previous post. Yet the legacy of my injuries throughout the fall and winter season, a fresh achilles injury, and a dose of anemia, all combined to frustrate my efforts to return to (and better) my 2010 form. My knee injury in the fall, and hamstring issues in the winter, although now resolved, prevented me from putting in consecutive weeks of solid miles and as a result, I lack the base fitness to be able to chase fast times. Possibly, (and I'm speculating here because causation is often difficult to ascertain) in straining to get back to fitness in time for the summer season, I may have hurt the achilles. Throw in an iron deficiency (and who knows when that developed!) and all of a sudden we have a recipe for slow times!

Indeed, I went down to London two weekends past, and ran 4:00.00 in the 1500m. It's remarkable that I hit such a nice round number, but precision carries little comfort. I went through 800m in 2:04 feeling fairly comfortable (although shocked because 2:09 in practice a few days either had been a struggle), and then 3:09 through 1200m again feeling comfortable. Yet that was the problem: I couldn't make myself work, hurt, or shift out of 3rd gear into a final kick. That's not the Matt Hulse we know and love!

So, Kev and I have revised our previous plans and decided upon another. This one has few dates and only a rudimentary timeline. Yet, if we do it properly, it could well be the start of something that helps me to run long, and run strong, as well as avoid the chances of straining to push the body into a race schedule it's not ready for. The following points are the major elements of the plan:

1) Get healthy. That involves consulting a doctor about my iron levels (done) and resting the achilles (in progress). To that end, Kev brought his old road bike out of hibernation and we got it fitted to my lanky frame today. This blue and chrome steed is a stallion among ponies and I have named it Dupree.....see the movie You, Me and Dupree for reference. I still need to master the art of pedal clips, although I'm sure that my slow motion, sideways tumble at the stoplight today provided a laugh for many a motorist.

2) Run big miles. We're talking over 60 miles per week here. Maybe even into triple digits. Now, it will take a while for me to get there and it won't be easy; I will have to learn patience and slow down on my runs but this is what is necessary to make the transition from a boy to a man. Thus, I will have the base required to run fast, and the strength to handle a greater workload without injury.

Anyway, that's about it really. Sounds simple, and it is, but it is also quite difficult and will demand constant attention to the small details. However, many have done such mileage before me and will do it after me, so I have faith that I'll get it done.

And on the topic of faith...I'll do my best to be more faithful with my blogging. Thanks for sticking with me! Catch you on the flip side!
Be Easy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The plan.

The end of May is nigh and I am yet to race, and as many of my competitors have been in the thick of it already, some of you may be wondering when I will throw myself into the spike-shod mondo battle that we call middle distance racing. Verily I tell you, that day is near. Saturday, May 28th to be precise in which day I plan to race at the Speed River Inferno in Geulph. There is a 2km on offer, in which a Canadian record of 5:02 is looking to be broken, as well as a 1500m which is sure to be quite competitive also. Given the fact that this will be my first race in over 2 months, I'll probably jump into the 1500, with the hopes of running a solid, yet relaxed, rust-buster and try to blow out the cobwebs.

Following Guelph, I'm planning to head down to Indianapolis for a couple 1500m's at the American Miler's Club Series. I know some guys who have done it before and the races are supposed to be set up to qualify people for US Nationals (3:41ish) which should be a perfect pace for me to hang on to.

Then on to our own Nationals, in Calgary on June 22-25th. It's over a month earlier than last year in order to to get people accustomed to the schedule for next year, when Nationals will be the Olympic Trials. These will be held at the same time as this year and have to be that early so as to give qualifying athletes time to re-cycle before the Olympics in August.

After Nationals, I will stay out West and travel to Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria for races on June 29, July 1, and July 3, respectively. These are the first 3 stops in the inaugural Canadian National Track League, which also includes meets in Halifax (July 10) and Toronto (July 13). Exact travel details to be announced later, but friends and family in these cities, be forewarned - there might be a homeless, starving athlete looking for a place to stay for a night or two!

When I return from the West, I'll probably skip Halifax, but will hit up the meet in Toronto as it sounds like it might be shaping up to go super fast.

And then, just when it sounds like I might have done enough for season, we're planning the most audacious part of the summer....a racing tour of Europe. Plans are still in the works, but we may hit up the UK for the British Milers Club meets, as well as Belgium and Spain. This will be a big jump from last year, and fingers crossed that the Diamond League meets have a spot on the line reserved for me!
So, that's the plan for now....more details to follow as I figure them out!
Here's to a good one!

Be Easy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike....

When Queen sang about riding his bicycle, all that seemed to be necessary for a good time was a bell and some fat bottom girls. Well, Mr Freddie Murcury, my recent Tour de Farce will beg to differ.

Stage 1: My achilles has been pretty tight over the past few days so on Friday I decided to cross-train and cycle out to Lemoine's Point and back. It's about half and hour each way, so you will appreciate that at approximately 27 minutes into the ride, when I'm about as far from my house as I'll get, lo and behold, I blow out my back tire. I'm also at the furthest point away from my cell phone and a tire repair kit. However, I am fairly close to my Mum's high school, where she teaches, at at the time was about 2:10pm, I decided to run there and get her to drive me and my bike home when school ends at 2:35. Simple. With that plan in mind I lock my bike to a fence and run the 5ish k to the school. I reach the edge of the school grounds at 2:32 and realize that I'm about to hit rush hour when the the school hallways will be packed with kids as they leave class. Me, dressed in black spandex shorts and a rather sweaty t-shirt (it was a blazing hot day), would look decidedly out of place. I enter the school, and yes, it's packed. Brilliant. Acting like I own the place and have important business there, I make a beeline to my Mum's office. She's away at a meeting and has a soccer practice to coach after class anyway. Fortunately, another teacher who I know is about to leave and she offers me a lift home. I'm out of there.

Stage 2: The next morning I did 3 miles easy on the track and then hit the gym with Kev. In the afternoon I did a steady half hour again on the track with James. The achilles was alright...still a little tight though.

Stage 3: I did about 4 miles on the track with some strides and the achilles felt better, but still a little tight. I decided to hit the bike again that afternoon for a solid workout and give my achilles a proper rest at the same time. Unfortunately, mid-afternoon, I was overcome my fatigue and took a nap. A wonderful nap, but I slept past 4pm- the time at which the Queen's Athletic and Rec Centre (ARC) closes. I guess I'll have to fix my bike tire. But I haven't the right tools (I broke the wrench in the bike kit the last time I tried to fix a tire). And neither do my housemates or friends. Dad's toolbox in the basement? Nothing there of use. Random drawer in the house after a long search? Bingo! Found an adjustable wrench.
I remove the tire and patch it....but then realize that by the time the patch sets properly and I get the inner tube back on and the wheel mounted, it will be dark. So I ask to borrow my housemates bicycle.

Stage 4: My housemate, Theresa, kindly lent me her bicycle, however our 6 inch height differential meant I had to raise the seat. Not usually an issue except that the seat was locked to the bike frame to prevent people from stealing it. The lock consists of a metal fibre joined in a loop by a vice-type mechanism that is secured with couple of nuts and bolts. I reach for the wrench set (that my friend Clay brought around to my house - belatedly for removing my tire, but in time for this job) and opened it upside down....spilling the contents on the floor. I find the right sized wrench head and remove the lock....and then spend 10mins putting all the pieces back into the correct holes.

Stage 5: Finally out the door and into the wind and rain, at which point I realize that this bicycle it what I would refer to as a "picnic bicycle". That is to say: I'm sure that a young girl in a summer dress and a flower in her hair would love to ride this bicycle to a park to meet friends for an afternoon picnic. There is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't quite fit the bill for an elite miler in progress looking for some good cardio by hammering out an hour on the road. I'm not too sure how to describe it but the handle bars were funky, the wheels and frame bulky and heavy, the seat in a strange position, and, in an ironic twist of fate, the tires were half flat. I made it about 1 mile before I decided to turn my ride into a 2 mile loop and get home as quick as I could.

Stage 6: Wanting to at least warm up my legs enough to be able to give them a good stretch, I headed back outside and ran to the track for a mile and a half of easy running. Then home, shower, stretch, dinner and onto the blogosphere to release my frustrations in the most creative way I could think of. The achilles was alright but I couldn't be bothered to do much more. Tomorrow I shall reassess the achilles and will be sure to get two good workouts of something in...thought I somehow doubt that I will be cycling any time soon.

Be Easy.

Friday, May 13, 2011 I posted a new blog yesterday but somehow it got deleted. Fear not my avid readership, go and seek a new past-time in the interim, but stray not far, for I shall redo it soon!

Adios for now!