Monday, June 30, 2008

Beer-thiry...

Well, I really do not have too much time to recap my day (because we all know that Monday's are usually "action packed" and full of adrenaline after the weekend) because I actually got a load of French homework that I have to do. I have been a bad student and have yet to open my book from my last class. So here I am, like the guy that finally flosses his teeth the night before his dental check-up in an feeble attempt to fool the dentist that he has been a "regular" flosser. I do not know about you, but the amount that my dentist costs, he better be able to figure something like that out! If not, he is waaay overpaid. (Ok, he is anyhow, but you get my point...and, for the record, I do floss everynight!).


Today starts a 0.7x(peak mileage) week = 42 miles. Today I ran 7.5 easy miles while "enjoying" the company of the 7.5 trannys out there (I really was not sure on one...it was either a really handsome girl or a very pretty boy, so we will count that as 1/2!). The run went as follows:

7:25/7:21/7:23/7:20/7:24/7:21/7:19/7:19 (last 0.5) min/mile

Average Pace = 7:22 min/mile

My quads were quite sore out there today. Nothing to be alarmed about - they basically feel like they would on the 3rd day of a ski-trip with the boys. I am also starting to run on some flat-tires here as well. I am trying to stretch out my last 2 pairs of shoes until I get back to Houston so I can stock-up. Sure, I could buy a pair of equivalent shoes here for 140 euros but after paying for my hair cut it will be nothing but Ramen Noodles for me for the next little while!

Tomorrow is my off day AND Canada Day. What luck! This means that directly after work Jennie and I are going out on the town for some Labatt's (if we can find it), but I will SETTLE for Molson's. Most people tend to think that Molson's Canadian is our beer of choice. That is the same as thinking that Foster's is the Australian's beer of choice. But for whatever reason, somewhere along the way our countries have been branded with a crap beer as our "namesake" beer. Well, it could be worse...it could be Budweiser - that would really suck!

On the topic of beer, I have to give props to the Koza because he has always been in-tune with Labatt's since I met him...well done! And wouldn't you know that Pam Anderson was discovered as a Labatt's girl?!


Now stop reading this, go chop some wood, grap a cold one and start growing your mullet, eh?!

ps - With the amount of puttering around I have done since I started writing this blog, French is just not going to happen...merde!

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

No Pommel Horse

This afternoon Jennie and I took a casual stroll through the 6th arrondisment of Paris. It was absolutely gorgeous out so we took the opportunity to pop in and out of every little jardin and park that we saw. To cool off we popped into two separate Chapels - Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul and the Chapel of Notre-Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse. As far as chapels go, I do not recommend either of these 2. The Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul was creepy because the main centerpiece at the head of the Chapel was a statue of St. Vincent de Paul in his casket. He had an ash-grey face which was turned sideways on his pillow so he could watch the church...I had a hard time finding the "beauty" with this chapel.

Here I am navigating our way through a narrow Paris street.


I was quite disapointed when we popped into the Square Recamier because I had the urge to pop out some pommel-horse action on top of one of the fences, but the authorities must have known I was coming...durn!


We ended our walk infront of the Hotel des Invalides (Napolean is buried just under the golded dome in the picture below...we will go inside on another day...too nice today!). Infront of the Hotel des Invalides there is plenty of greenspace that were loaded with people playing football, american football, roller hockey, and picnicing. This reminded me that it was time to go home and do my run.


Today's run was scheduled to be:

2 mile warmup
2x(10 minutes threshold + 2min recovery)
60 minutes easy

Threshold Pace = 6:04/5:59/5:54 min/mile for VDOT's = 58, 59, and 60.

I decided to run to the track to do my threshold there because I "enjoy" counting laps more than I "enjoy" counting time ("enjoy" is used as a relative term). The track is 3 miles away, which increased my warmup...no worries, I was looking for a reason to procrastinate the threshold anyway! The track was quite busy with walkers and recreational runners who all looked at me like I was crazy for actually wanting to use the track to, oh I don't know, actually run on! Overall it was a great workout...I think my super expensive haircut increased my aerodynamics today (hey...I am still grasping at straws to justify the expense!).


The actuals of the run are as follows:
3 mile warmup:
7:08/7:22/7:18 min/mile

Threshold - Instead of doing "10 minutes" I did 7 laps on the track (easier math!)
1. (1:33, 1:30, 1:29, 1:29, 1:28, 1:28, 1:29) = 5:57 min/mile
Recovery: 7:17 min/mile
2. (1:28, 1:28, 1:28, 1:28, 1:29, 1:27, 1:29) = 5:52 min/mile

"60 min"
7:03/7:06/7:11/7:09/7:09/7:02/6:49/7:02 (last .7 miles) min/mile

The hour after threshold was very difficult to slow my legs down because they burned so good (I cannot explain it!). The entire time I was running I could just feel the lactic acid flushing through my system and I loved it! I knew that I would have no problem finishing the workout so I just accepted the leg soreness and ran onwards. It also helps when you know you have an easy week coming up!

Here is my HR (red) and pace (blue) graph. You can see how Garmin is all over the place when you are running amongst Paris buildings, which I was for the first 3 miles. The Threshold should be obvious on the graph!


TOTAL WEEKLY MILEAGE: 57.73 miles (goal: 54 miles - goal achieved!)

All and all, a great day in Paris! I am quite looking forward to this next week because it is only a 42 mile week, which means I will probably be able to take 2 days off! Plus, this is the last week of Phase II, which means I only have 1 more Interval session left at the track...sweet!

Oh yeah - Tuesday is Canada Day...remember to call your favorite Canadians and have them take you out for a Labatt's!

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

$90 Hair Cut

To finish up from my last post, here is what a $90 hair cut for dudes looks like. Since it looks like any other haircut that you could get for for $15 (yes, I am still bitter), I thought that I would add my best "Blue Steel" look to, perhaps, enhance the value of the picture! For comparison, I have added Zoolander's "Blue Steel" look with which he dominated the male modeling world for 4 consecutive years before being beat out my Hansel (Hansel - he's so hot right now!). If you do not understand what I am talking about, then just understand that I spend much more time watching brain-dead movies than you!


And here is a "normal" pic. That is my favorite dish in all of Paris (from my favorite restaurant "San Remo"). It does not look like much but I eat it at least once a week. It is Lasagna which I request to be cooked "tres bien cuit" (burn the cheese and then leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes). It is absolute heaven.



ps - Jennie and I just had a rematch boxing on the Wii. I just knocked her down 4 times in the first round and have won by knockout. Now I am trying to find out if the Wii has a Mike Tyson ear-biting move programmed into it...that would be sweet!

Grizzly Adams

Ok, I will get to the title of this post later. First, I need to catch-up on Friday as I decided not too blog yesterday. Why? (you ask) Well, other than the obvious answer that it was, indeed, a Friday night in Paris I, infact, had last night all to myself. Jennie joined up with a meet-up group here in Paris for an all-girls night on the town in the red light district. It was a similar idea to those "toy parties" that you ladies throw from time to time but instead of going to someone's house for the fun and activities, the girls meet-up then they go from shop to shop, browsing and trying to figure out what some of the things are actually used for ("That thing goes where?!!!"). Jennie insists that it was more an opportunity for her to meetup with other ladies in town and, perhaps, meet some new friends. At any rate, I made sure she left the house with plenty of cash while I proceeded to spend my night resting, stretching, and hydrating - just in case she made some good purchases! Seeing that I am here blogging today, you have probably figured out that no purchases were made!!

After Jennie left I went a did 8 miles in the Bois de Boulogne. What Jennie was seeing in the shops I was seeing in person with my 4 trannies! What is funny, is that the French government is the true pimp of the system because, apparently, the trannies pay taxes so the government turns a blind eye - what is good business for the trannies, is good business for the government. (Maybe I should thank them as I run by for supporting the funding which keeps the trails in such great condition here?!). Yesterday this was proven to me as I was running along the road I saw a huge police brigade out (2 vans, 2 cars, and motorcycles) pulling people over for speeding. No more than 100' down the road, the trannies were there - business as usual. Infact, you could see them from your car seat as you were waiting for the cop to finish writing you your ticket...now that would piss me off!

My 8 miles went as follows:
7:15/7:22/7:23/7:21/7:26/7:19/7:29/7:05 min/mile

This morning I got up and went to my last pilates session until September (France takes all of July and August off, which includes my instructor). I am really bummed because since I started taking pilates 2x a week, my usual sore-bits from running have been drastically reduced (and most times now, non-existent). After my pilates class I was walking back to the metro and I noticed a hair salon that did not look busy yet. I looked at the price board to see that a haircut will cost 15 euros...perfect! My ears were still ringing a little from being called a chia-pet from my sister and brother-in-law so I finally decided to be brave and get my first haircut in France.

I went in, they whisked my upstairs where I was greeted by a young, stylish lad who proceeded to wash my hair. So far, so good. From there he took me into the hair salon where he introduced me to my hair stylist for the day (well, then - who the heck was the guy that just washed my hair?!). From there we had my usual broken-french conversation about my likes/dislikes/and my concerns regarding how he would carefully dishevel my hair. None of this mattered because he decided that my look was too "classic" (which was his broken-english way of saying "old"). He decided that I should by more "jeune" (young). Whatever, just get this beard off my neck - the back of my neck looks like Grizzly Adams.

After that, the guy that washed my hair returned and made sure I had coffee, chocolate and that the hair stylist had what he needed. I started to think to myself -wow, this is a really great deal for only 15 euros! Yes David, that would have been a great deal - but for 55 euros (~90 bucks) you definitely got ripped off. It makes sense - each stylist had their own assistant, middle of Paris, the treats, etc. But I tell you what - my usual haircuts in Houston, from the best place ever to get a hair cut (and cowboy shave) are that same but for 5 times less the price! (I miss you Matt - I was going to make an appt. for when I came through Houston. Unfortunately I think I had a bird nesting in my neck beard...I could not possible wait any longer!).

Feeling like I got ripped off again in another one of these "lost in translation" moments I decided to head out to the Bois de Boulogne for 6.5 miles easy. It went as follows:
7:20/7:19/7:16/7:21/7:19/7:16/7:00 (last 0.5) min/mile

Tomorrow I have 14 with a dash of threshold thrown in for good measure. Good times!

I am of to enjoy the evening and I am hoping that people notice my 90 dollar haircut!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nailed it

If you have been aware that I have been stressing all week about my Jack Daniel's quality workout tonight then the title should tell you how it went. Whether or not you are a Jack Daniels's disciple or not you have probably figured out by now that I follow him fairly religiously. Infact, when I met him at the Strider's meeting last year I even got him to not only sign my book, but to sign my VDOT on the VDOT chart (p.49) (Yes, that does, indeed, mean I have TWO Jack Daniel's signature in the same book! But we already know that runners are a cumpulsive bunch so this should not seem wierd to anyone...right?!)

I have my dear running partner back in Houston to thank for inviting me to the Jack Daniel's cult party and encouraging me to drink the Kool-Aid. (Actually, the Kool-Aid went down smoothly as I was continualy impressed with his results from following Jack Daniels). Since then it has just been one ball-busting workout after another. The other beautiful thing about Jack Daniels is that I map out the entire schedule 24 weeks in advance of my marathon of choice so I can sit and stew about the killer workout that I may have in 2 or 3 weeks. Tonight was the toughest workout of Phase II of the marathon training program:

2 mile warmup
5x(1400m at Interval Pace+ 1000m recovery)
2 mile cooldown

Interval Pace = 4:52/4:48/4:44 min/1400m for VDOT's 58,59, and 60

Why 1400m repeats? (vs. something "normal" like 1200m or mile?). Well, Jack suggests that the optimal duration of individual Interval training sessions is between 3-5 minutes each. He suggests that anything longer usually results in too great of an accumulation in blood lactate, which may cause one to cut their workout short or to run the last few intervals to slowly (which defeats the purpose of the workout). So, until I hit a VDOT of 66, there will be no mile repeats for me!

I decided to approach this workout with the utmost of caution. This does not match my style at all but I REALLY wanted to make it through all 5 sets. I have been really aggressive the last couple weeks, where I only needed to do 4x1200m repeats and I was totally done after 4...this would be undesirable tonight! My plan was to dial back to a VDOT=58 and then try to work my way to a 59 or MAYBE a 60 VDOT in the later intervals.

Here are the actuals:

2mile warmup: 7:20,7:21 min/mile

5x1400m (400m, 400m, 400m, 200m)
1. (83, 83, 81, 41): 4:48 min (VDOT =59)
2. (84, 82, 84, 41): 4:51 min (VDOT =58)
3. (82, 82, 82, 41): 4:47 min (VDOT =59)
4. (83, 82, 82, 41): 4:48 min (VDOT =59)
5. (82, 81, 82, 39): 4:44 min (VDOT =60)

2mile cooldown: 7:17, 7:14 min/mile

Here is my HR (red) and pace (blue) chart. You can see the impact of chasing the VDOT=60 on the final interval. Yes, I know that it is the final interval and I was more fatigued, but you can clearly see a spike when I decided it was a time to get that 60. Although it is just a few seconds, this additional effort at the beginning of the workout would have resulted in a crash 'n burn. Again, these plots always remind me the importance of pace, ESPECIALLY early in the workout.

Here are some videos from the night:

This is me, training all by myself. We will call this "Building Mental Toughness"!
video

This is what the final few strides look like. Please note my ever present awareness to hit my lap button...no sense struggling for precious seconds just to lose them on a technicality!
video

Trust me, I feel as tired as I look here! (just hit play, the video WILL show!)

video

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Proud to be.....

Today was supposed to be a quality workout (5x1400m repeats at the track). Now, whether or not I "made" myself get sick because I wanted to avoid this workout or if Mother Nature has really "bad" timing I decided to postpone the workout until tomorrow night. I am definitely on the way up from whatever bug I have had the last few days but it is certainly making breathing a little more difficult. Everything just sort of collects and pools in my nose until I have one MONSTER nose-blow that rips through the tissue. My fear of going to the track tonight is that I would do a "farmer's blow" and it would nail someone in the eye and make them loose their vision or something (ok, maybe a little dramatic - but whatever it takes to postpone the workout!) . I WILL be there tomorrow (hopefully with both nostrils working at full capacity).

But I did do 8 miles through the Bois de Boulogne as follows:
7:09/7:12/7:10/7:10/7:17/7:13/7:06/7:07 min/mile
Average Pace: 7:10 min/mile
Tranny Count: 6

Just after completing the 1st mile of my run I came across a young guy who was CLEARLY a tourist with the Canadian Flag proudly sewed onto the back of his backpack. So, I shouted out to him, "Way to represent Canada!" as I cruised by. He shouted back, "Yo man, are from Canada too?!! Awesome!" I did not stick around to exchange pleasantries but it made me laugh BECAUSE of the Canadian Flag.

I remember that while growing up in Canada we were indoctrinated that "We MUST distiguinsh ourselves from Americans when travelling abroad. You do NOT want to be confused as an American! Bad things WILL happen to you if people confuse you as an American!"

Now, no one particular person taught you this, it is just sort of "known" within the Canadian culture! Now, I want to explore this a little bit. I think that I am entitled because I have learned that one canNOT truely understand the stereotypes of another culture until they have lived in and experienced that culture. I was born and raised on Alberta Beef for 21 years. Then I moved to Missouri for a year, which was followed by Oklahoma for 2, and then Texas for 5. This makes for a total of 8 years of living in the states.

Along the way I learned some taboos that I was never exposed to as a Canadian but learned through one awkward social situation after another. Not to bore you I will provide just one example. In Canada (and I am quite certain in many other parts of the world) we lovingly refer to Americans in general as "Yankees" (just as we refer to ourselves as "Canucks"). This term is used with absolutely NO consideration of the civil war...besides we were too busy learning about our own Canadian history (did you know that the beaver's pelt was once used as a form of currency in Canada? We have celebrated this fact by proudly making the beaver our national animal and have made it the "tail" on our nickle (pun intended). And since I have totally digressed from my main point and BEFORE I hear all the cracks about our proud and noble national animal, let me remind you that it is, infact, Oregon's state animal as well.) Back to my main point, I learned that you do not make the mistake of calling your new buddy in Missouri (who is originally from Arkansas) a "Yankee" twice.

Besides this, and many other tidbits I picked up along my journey in America, do you know what the main thing is that I learned during those 8 years? The only real difference between Canadians and Americans is their GPS coordinate in which we are born. Ok, there are a lot of other obvious differences (i.e. enthusiasm about college sports (or, emphasis on sports in general for that matter), the way in which the countries were born, political systems, definition of "exit strategy", etc, etc...), but just in terms of general attitude and overall belief system (ok, Canada does NOT have a bible belt with big billboards that say "JESUS" in big block letters) I struggle to find massive differences. Now, do not get me wrong, if you tell me that Canada SHOULD be the 51st state (which many of you have, and will again I am sure) I WILL kick you in the nuts! I am very proud to be Canadian, but I am also very proud to have lived in the states.

Back to the Canadian flag on the young Canuck's backpack...I hope that he is wearing the flag ONLY because he is proud to be Canadian and NOT because he is proud NOT to be an American.

First and foremost I am proud to be Canadian, but I am sure grateful to have lived in the States and meet many wonderful friends there. I look forward to my return.

Maybe I should have saved this post for Canada Day (July 1), but maybe it is just better to capture the moment when it happens.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

10 Reasons

I took today off from running (which is normal) but I also cancelled pilates just to give myself a chance to be well rested for this, the most intense week of Phase II training in Jack Daniel's schedule. With this additional time I would like to address Pony's "Top Ten" list that she is compiling for Stridelines. (Pony, if you are reading this, consider this blog entry my submission!)

The Top 10 Reasons I Run:

10. Where else can I wear short-shorts and NOT have my masculinity questioned?
9. If I stumble upon a bear in the wild, I WILL not be the slowest person in the group! Maybe this means I am not really a team player, but running really is not a team sport now is it?! This takes me to item #8...
8. If it's to be, it's up to me.
7. A running high is best chased by a sweet, sweet beer buzz.
6. I never feel like I get a good workout unless my nipples are really tender in the shower afterwards - running is the only thing that does that for me!
5. The Wii was not invented before I started running and now I am sort of commited.
4. What else would I blog about? (Other than bathroom humour and wierd French people?!)
3. I love seeing the look on my buddy's face just after he has beaten me in a race but since I am in an less-competitive age group I get hardware and he does not!! (sorry Andrew!!)
2. I prefer the taste of Gu on my toast over peanut-butter anyday.

And, the #1 reason I run is:

1. For the running club drama!!

There you have it! These are the 10 things that get me out of the door every morning!

On another note, I just finished watching my very first DVD purchase here in France, which was "Je suis une legend" (I am Legend). I can recall hearing and even reading in certain people blogs that this movie was "5 out of 5 stars" and it is a "must see". Hmmmm...if, infact, I was ever in a similar situation as Will Smith was in this movie and this movie was the only form of entertainment I had to occupy my time, I am still not sure that I would watch it again. This movie was just like Cast Away, but instead of "Wilson", there was a dog and instead of being on a deserted island, you were in New York, and instead of coming back to find out that his wife was remarried he decides that a butterfly tattoo is reason enough to kill himself. I would advise that you delete this movie from your NetFlix cue and stare at the wall for 2 hours instead.

I also want to thank Steeeeeve for educating me on a phrase I have never heard before:

Here's mud in your eye! (old-fashioned) - something that you say in order to wish success or happiness to someone who is drinking with you.

I will have to save that one for an opportune time!

ps- JD - NOT going to do track tomorrow - still feeling sick. Postponing (NOT cancelling) until Thursday night. Hopefully things will turn around in time for a good workout then.

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Multiple Choice

Ok gentlemen, I have a multiple choice question for you.

If you are chillaxin' on a Sunday night at your crib and your wife comes up to you and asks, "Hey honey, do you want to have some fun with me tonight?" what is the correct answer?

1. Hell's ya babe! (because this question can only mean one thing...right?!)
2. Naw, I am pretty comfortable here. Besides, I was thinking of clipping my toe nails later (now this will gaurantee that choice #1 will NOT be available in the future for a very long time)
3. Sure honey, what do you have in mind? (This is a fairly safe bet, which does not really match my personality)

Yesterday I was faced with the above scenario and, of course, chose option #1. And here I am 15 minutes later, "happy" as a pig in mud!



To prevent this happening to you gentlemen I think I have come up with an answer key. Choose answer #1 if you are a newly wed, dating, or married and the kids are out of the house. Choose option #2 if you have been married for 10+ years and it is NOT an anniversary, birthday, or Christmas. Choose option #3 if you ever get your face covered in mud on a Sunday night and you have now learned a valuable lesson!

Today, feeling fresh and revived from all of the toxins lifted out of my pores by this "miracle, wonder, deep-sea mud" I ran 9 miles in the Bois de Boulogne at an average pace of ~ 7:05 min/mile. Garmin was being fussy again today but I believe that the overall pace is ~ correct. I also believe that the 8 trannys I saw today noticed my new toxin-free face...or maybe it was just my short, shorts?!

With ~ 2 miles left to go, I was running along the pathway and I noticed a bike tire come up on my left. Instead of passing me, the tire just stayed there. So, I looked over and there was a middle-aged French man yelling to me, "Quatorze kilometre par hour, quatorze kilometre par hour!!", (14km/hr= 6:51 min/mile pace) with a big smile on his face. Then he said enthusiastically, "Tres bien!" and then rode away. It made me laugh! But it also made me reconsider the value of my Garmin. It often has great difficulty getting calibrated in Paris and now it seems that I can just have people along the path shout out my pace as I am running...perfect! Anybody need a "slightly used" Garmin?!

ps - JD, I may push my quality workout to Thursday of this week. All day today I have been feeling sick...I will play it by ear.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

"5 cent" candies

Yesterday was the fete de la musique. Every June 21st the Parisians celebrate the summer solstice through song and dance. There is free musical entertainment of all types played throughout the city streets during the day and well into the night. Jennie and I decided that we wanted to "start our day" (I say this from a very European point of view - we did not actually "start" anything until about 3:30-4:00 pm) by having a picnic lunch on the grass of the Champs de Mars, which is directly infront of the Eiffel Tower, and then just "stumble" (again, loosely used term depending on how much French wine you have been drinking) around to see what we could see.

This meant I had to bang out my run quickly after breakfast. I did 8 very argumentative miles between Garmin and I. We had a lover's quarrel the entire time over who, infact, was correctly monitoring the pace. At the end of the day I believe that she (Garmin) was, infact, close to being correct, but why did she have to be so moody throughout the run?! She kept sending me mixed signals! It was a shame that I opted not to wear my HR monitor for this run because I usually just run by HR when Garmin is cranky with me. But we have had a good relationship lately so I thought that it would be ok to leave the HR strap at home - I was mistaken. Crafty Garmin, I thinking she was plotting for this day for a long time! Overall I averaged a 7:03 min/mile pace (but I think that this is still slightly faster than the actual). My legs (mainly hip flexors) and upper body were in need of some WD-40 due to soreness from Pilates in the morning.

After the run, Jennie and I went down to the Champs de Mars, ate baguettes, fresh cherries, and acted like we were important as we dined beneath the shadows of the Eiffel Tower. I had a snooze on the grass and with my eyes shut listening to the breeze I felt like I was on a beach somewhere in Maui but "unfortunately" I had to return to reality when I opened my eyes just to see the Eiffel Tower!

Now, I would have some cool photos to insert here, but the camera decided to conspire against me as well. Like a vampire, the camera has been feasting on its battery juice secretly at night, so when I left the house with what I thought would be a full battery, I was sadly mistaken.

There was a beachball volleyball tournament going on so we checked that out. The highlight here was that there were carnival type booths set up around the beachball volleyball festivites and one of the booths had a plethora of 5cent candies. They had all the classic ones too - sour soothers, coke bottles, fuzzy peaches, etc. Sour and gummy 5cent candies are my all time favorite treat! I call them 5cent candies because that is what they used to cost as a kid. 1 dollar would buy me 20 candies plus usually a spanking later in the day when I was so wired on sugar and was hell-bent on driving someone nuts! Today I think I should rename them to 1dollar candies! When you figure the typical Parisian prices, the exchange rate from dollars to euros, and inflation since I bought them as a kid, let me assure you, these are definitely not 5cent candies anymore!

Like this blog post so far, yesterday just slipped through our fingers and before we knew it we were finishing the day with chinese food, wine, and some sweet hypnotic dance beats by some trance musicians on our block.

This morning I woke up with good intentions to get my 14miler done early so Jennie and I could go to the Chateau de Versailles. However, the dance party until 4:30 last night, the sugar high from my 5cent candies that kept me up, getting too much sun yesterday, not drinking enough water, but instead drinking a little too much wine, and a morning rain shower prevented me from going! So, we aborted our plans, got some more zzzz's and have been doing things around here today.

I have managed my 14 mile run today though! The splits are as follows:
7:37/7:26/7:26/7:23/7:23/7:24/7:15/7:09/7:24/7:23/7:17/7:16/7:18/7:15 min/mile
Average Pace: 7:20 min/mile

Total weekly mileage: 56.19 miles (Goal: 54miles - goal accomplished!)

The highlight from today's run is a new hill that I have been eyeing for quite some time. I keep seeing a bluff from the edge of the Bois de Boulogne and I have been eager to run up and check it out. I have been waiting for some LSD (long slow distance) before I go. The hill is indicated on the map below by the out-n-back section that is clearly seperate from where the park is.


Here is an elevation profile of the hill. It is generally a 1.6 mile steady climb. The first 0.4 miles is rolling - the last 1.2 miles is a steady incline to the top. It was a great hill - it never got too steep but it was relentless in the fact that you never got a break (the "peak" during the middle of the highlighted area is just due to Garmin elevation errors...you will notice that it is mostly absent on the way down). I will take a 235 foot hill! I had some traffic stops that resulted in the pace spikes on the way back down. I think I can make it more scenic and, perhaps, a little longer by choosing some different route options...we shall see!


I have just been told by wifey that this entry is becoming a school project and she wants to go rollerblading. Seeing that I have already had arguments with the Garmin and the camera this weekend, I certainly do not want to start another argument that I will not be able to win!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Bricka Bricka

I only got 4 minutes,
Bricka, Bricka,
4 minutes,
Bricka, Bricka,
to write this post.

If you do not understand this post so far, you need to go to iTunes and check out JT and Madonna's latest hit. I honestly think that the Bricka, Bricka is one of the finest additions to any of the modern pop songs today. Don't ask me why, but I find myself running and instead of my usual running mantra all that is going through my head is bricka, bricka. And it even has transferred into my everyday dialogue...instead of the saying the usual words to bridge your sentences or thoughts such as ummmm, so, you know, etc...I am saying bricka, bricka. It is ok though - the French don't understand me anyhow, so it is not like I am hurting the conversation at all! A conversation these days may go something like this:

Coworker: Dave, how was your night last night?
Me: Really good...bricka, bricka...I did a track workout at the Isle de Neuilly...bricka, bricka...then I went to an Italian restaurant....bricka, bricka...see you later!

Basically what I am saying is this: I need a new song to download onto my iPod before my long run this weekend because I am...bricka, bricka...going insane here!

Ok, that has been more than four minutes and I got plans tonight. What you ask? Well Jennie bought a second controller for our Wii today - that means we are going to box each other for the heavyweight title of the world tonight. I have some pre-fight interviews and I got to get Micky to tape up my nuckles. Given the time difference, those of you in Houston will probably be able to catch me on ESPN's top 10 most outrageous plays tonight...I am predicting a KO in round one.

Oh yeah - I did 8 miles tonight. They were slow, uneventful, and along my usual route with two tranny's getting an early start to their weekend.

ps - Yes...we did get a Wii last weekend - I just have not had time to write about it. Stay tuned, I am hoping to get some videos uploaded to show you what a fool I look like on that thing. It is wicked fun though - I highly recommend it!

Bricka, bricka

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Etiquette continued...

You know, I am really not the most qualified person to be on the World Wide Web writing blogs about etiquette of any kind. Yet, here I find myself at the beginning of my second blog in a row that will address another etiquette faux-pas. And again, I apologize for heading back into the bathroom for this discussion (I swear, I have ALMOST outgrown the phase in my life where a loud fart in a public place (i.e. a crowded elevator) is really funny!)

Now, every guy knows that when you walk into a public restroom you are obliged to scan the wall of urinals and select your position of relief by the following criteria, in order of importance:
1. Proximity to another man, who is already stationed at his urinal
2. Cleanliness - this one is most difficult to determine in public pool bathrooms because the entire floor is wet and it is NOT safe to assume that it is all pool water.
3. Strategic position in case another patron should enter the bathroom during mid-stream. You want to make sure that he has options for when he is mentally scanning this same checklist for his urinal of choice.
4. Catchy advertising or photos strategically placed above the urinal. Sometimes your urinal of choice is based purely on entertainment value.

Violation of any of the first 3 considerations WILL result in an uncomfortable and awkward social situation.

There are a lot of things to consider within a moment's notice, but after ~30 years of practise, I am starting to become fairly skilled with these techniques. Today, after several hours of staying well hydrated I strolled into the men's room. Lucky me, all 4 urinals were free. Perfect - I stroll to the farthest urinal to set up camp. This is a wise decision - most men are too lazy to walk to the farthest urinal, which makes it (generally) cleaner and I have left several choices for the next guy that will walk in.

Sure enough in walks the next guy and what urinal does he choose? He chose the one right next to me!! I know these europeans have a totally different level of personal space (i.e. none) than we North Americans, but I was certain that urinal etiquette was universal code!

Ok fine. I start applying a little extra pressure so I can make a quick exit when suddenly this guy starts talking to me! Everybody knows that you do not talk during this time. You keep your eyes on the road and wait to commence the coversation as your soaping up afterwards. He meant well, he just wanted to know how my day was. Well, it was going quite good until this awkward situation. To top it all of, he violated another rule of urinal etiquette by looking over and trying to make eye contact like you would in a normal conversation! I know that he just wanted to be friendly, but next time he can just buy me a drink!

So after feeling violated from multiple urinal etiquette violations from my co-worker I tried to run it off in the Bois de Boulogne. This really did not work since I saw a record 8 tranny's out tonight - that is 1 tranny for every mile run tonight!

Tonight's run felt so good. The day after a lung-busting workout at the track I always feel like my lungs are wide open and running is not even a challenge (especially when the weather is awesome!). I honestly thought that my first mile would be around 8 min/mile pace. After that I honestly tried to slow down every mile...
7:08/7:04/7:05/6:57/6:59/7:08/7:08/6:58 min/mile

JD - I know, I know, I know. I am a stupid runner. I promise I will follow Jack Daniel's Easy pace tomorrow!! Now stop worrying about me and enjoy your vacation!

Scotty - About your biker situation - I know that in Calgary that if you do NOT give a clear audible signal (preferably in the form of a bell) that you WILL be ticketed ($50 last time I was home). Also, Terry Hershey is the only park in Houston where I actually have seen "police" patrolling for bike violations. So, you are running in an area where the "law" is ever-present...also, for the cyclist who notifies the runner, it is always nice if the runner waves their hand in acknowledgement that they, indeed, heard the cyclist and will continue behaving in a predictable fashion until after the cyclist has passed!

I am on excellent pace to acheive my mileage goal for the week! I just got to keep my eyes on the road ahead!

A+

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Theory of Relativity...

...as applied to running on a public 400m track. Now, there are many different aspects of Einstein's theory of relativity, many of which I crammed into my short-term memory just so I could pass some exam in my introductory to quantum physics class in university. Just as quickly as I crammed the information into my cranium it was immediately replaced with some excellent memories of a Friday night kegger! So, in an effort not to burst a blood vessel by thinking too hard on the subject I do want to talk about relativity, but maybe not in the exact sense that Einstein theorized.

Now running is a very relative sport. We are always running relative to something. Mostly we run relative to ourselves. We run relative to our own individual PR's, relative to our own expectations, and relative to how we are feeling and perhaps our mood of the day. Then there are times when we run relative to someone else. This could be during a race where suddenly you may find that your pre-race goals, the ones that you set relative to yourself will change and you adjust them to fit relative to the people you are running against. Despite these two forms of relativity we are ALWAYS running relative to the clock. (but some might argue that this infact an ABSOLUTE measure, and not a relative one).

Now let's go running at the track. Most people go to the track not because they find it mentally stimulating, not because it is the best running route in town, and definitely not for the pure enjoyment of it. They run at the track because they want to improve themselves; they are looking for a quality workout. So, relative to their normal speed or normal workout, a track workout will be relatively fast. Therefore, since you are going so fast today, you should be entitled to the inside lane right?

Well, the answer to that question is, who else is on the track and how fast are you going relative to everyone else? Just because YOU think you are going really fast, you may be going relatively slow compared to another runner out there. Also, just because you and your 2 running buddies are all running relatively the same speed (shoulder to shoulder) in the first 2 lanes around the track does not mean that you are entitled to be running in those lanes if there are faster runners out there. Basically, it is sometimes frustrating when general curtosies are not adhered to. However, it is a good reminder for me to - when I am out running I am trying to make sure that I am relatively more patient and curtious, but sometimes it is really hard when you are trying to jam out an intense workout. Today I was really good though - perhaps I am getting more docile with my old age!

Today's workout called for the following:
2mile warmup
4x (1200m at Interval Pace + 800m recovery)
2mile cooldown

Interval Pace: 4:07/4:03/4:00 min/1200m for VDOT=59/60/61

Here are the actuals:

2mile warmup (7:28, 7:29 min/mile)
4x1200m
1. (78, 80, 80) 3:58 min
2. (79, 81, 81) 4:01 min
3. (78, 81, 81) 4:00 min
4. (79, 81, 82) 4:02 min
Cooldown (7:26, 7:17 min/mile)
Total Miles: 9

My favorite way to look at Interval workouts is with my HR (red) and Pace (blue) chart:

The cool thing that I want to point out about the plot today is that AFTER my first interval I was able to recover to my base HR that I had during warmup. AFTER my 2nd and 3rd intervals, I had a new recovery HR level, which was maintained throughout my entire cooldown (also pace was slightly faster too). Why is this important? I notice that if I go too hard too early for hard runs (i.e. races) I can never recover back to a relatively comfortable feeling - I have put my body to an elevated state where I am working harder just to maintain the same pace. I now remember this especially during the first 4 miles of a marathon - I have become very cautious to keep my system from working harder than necessary just to crap out with 3 miles left to go due to pushing my body too hard too early. I have yet to find the perfect balance - the last couple marathons I came very close to ideal race execution but made other miscalculations along the way....

Rambling aside, I hope you have a relatively great day!
A+

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Habit Forming?

When I first started this blog my sister was highly supportive (and still is) and was super excited for me to "get into the habit" of writing my blog everyday. She reminded me that anything done for 21 consecutive days is habit forming. She proceeded to tell me it will get so I "just have to" write my blog and that I won't feel like my day is complete, or full, until I have fed my newly-formed habit of blog writing. At the time of this conversation I thought to myself, "Durn, that sucks - I do not want to be held prisoner by my computer everyday....well other than my usual "google-research", email, and other projects I have on here!"

So, this being my 21st day, I have decided NOT to blog. I would hate to become trapped in a world of which, after the 21st day, there will be no escape.

Oh, oh...wait a second...I guess this does count as a blog. I've just had one of those moments where in a crowded room you are have to ask yourself, "Did I just say that or think that?" but after realizing that everyone is looking at you with a look of contempt and disgust you, infact, "said it!"

At any rate, for better or for worse, it looks like I am committed! So, on that note I should mention that Pilates did not happen today as my instructor was late and there will be no running today as it is my off-day. Although I wish I was running tonight as it is absolutely beautiful out! Instead, I am going to my favorite restaurant (so far) San Remo in Paris for some Lasagna! They have some tables outside so I can still enjoy the weather with some nice wine.

Scotty - did you hit the track tonight?
A+

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Butterfly Effect

Today I had what was supposed to be a 2 hour meeting turn into a 5 ½ hour marathon. So, unfortunately, this has basically pushed my entire evening plans back by 2 hours. That means that in a feeble attempt to still do everything I will end up doing everything pretty much half-assed…including this blog! So, just like the movie The Butterfly Effect some small decisions, made by just a few people here in Paris will, in turn, affect my reader’s enjoyment all the way over in North America.

This week is a 0.9 x peak mileage week. I have defined my peak mileage to be 60 miles, which makes this a 54 mile week. Not wanting my extended meeting to put me in a mileage hole on the first day of the week I took off with a little more “purpose” than what was required for an Easy-paced run. I settled into a nice tempo and it just felt good so I decided to entertain the little Jack Daniel’s devil in my mind and sequester my “common sense” Jack Daniels for another day. I cruised the paths of the Bois de Boulogne as follows:

6:54*/7:14/7:14/7:18/7:12/7:11/7:08/6:44** min/mile

* This was, infact, a 7:25 min/mile. Mr. Garmin was acting a little crazy.
** This accelerated pace was caused by the usual sprint across the Champs d’Alysee and my constant desire to get ahead of the pedestrian on the sidewalk who is smoking just ahead of me…unfortunately, just as soon as I pass one pedestrian, I find that I have a new smoker just ahead of me who is violating my right to clean air!

The Bois was alive tonight as I saw an unusually high count of trannys – 5! I guess they are there for all the people who are having a “case of the Mondays” (if you can, recall Office Space for the proper way that line should be said!)

Now going back to my extra long meeting today, I want to capture a key lesson that I learned so I can remember it in the future. Now that I have been in Paris for awhile I am starting to figure out how these business meetings go. If the schedule says 2 hours, it WILL be 4+ hours. If you are presenting first, you better have TONS of slides to show because everyone is still fresh and there WILL be lots of heated debate and discussion. If you are presenting last, prepare a presentation no more than 5 slides and everyone will thank you for letting them go home (FINALLY) for dinner. Today, my presentation was scheduled as one of the last ones. So instead of my usual 0.5-3 hour talk (duration depending on whether or not I present first or last), I prepared 4 slides. Yep, just 4 slides and nobody questioned anything and it was well received! What is the moral of the story here? Why do 100% of the work when you can still look awesome by just doing 10%?!! Ok, that statement is not entirely true...it is just true for work! For running, you will only get out what you put in! (Mom, I know you are reading and I know that you know I am kidding!)

I guess this blog turned out to be OK afterall! Tomorrow is my off day so that means I will be on the Pilates mat being painfully reminded of muscles I never knew that I had.
A+

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I conveniently forgot...

...just how tough the Jack Daniel's Track-Long (no track) workout is. This morning I woke up with some painful memories as to the first time I did this EXACT workout of:

2 mile warmup
5x(5minutes at Threshold Pace + 1 minute recovery)
60 minutes Easy

Threshold Pace = 6:04/5:59/5:54 min/mile for VDOT's 58/59/60 respectively
The goal of today's run (i.e. threshold training) is to hold down blood-lactate accumulation and minimize its effects for longer at faster and faster running speeds.

Granted, I have done similar, equally brutal workouts with the Striders (basically it is the same lactic-acid burning torture, just packaged a little differently) but I definitely have vivid memories of the last time I did this same workout about ~ 1 year ago on the Rice University track and Brayes Bayou. It was hot, it was gross, but it was amazing the wonders it did for my confidence! So, before embarking on today's run, I was full of hope for how wonderful this run would make me feel about my running!
Perhaps I am blogging to soon after I have finished the workout because I feel totally wiped out! Also, in preparation for higher mileage next week, I opted for 50 minutes of easy afterwards (as opposed to 1 hour). To stop the suspense, here is what happened:

2.18 mile warmup (7:23/7:27/7:21)
5x5min Threshold (results expressed as average pace)
1. 5:58 min/mile
2. 6:00 min/mile
3. 5:54 min/mile (slight decline for 1/2)
4. 5:59 min/mile
5. 6:02 min/mile (uphill and head wind)
50 minutes Easy (6.5 miles): (7:24/7:14/7:15/7:22/7:28/7:21/7:21 min/mile)

Total WEEKLY Distance: 42.92 miles (weekly goal = 42miles)
Here is a plot of my run. I labelled the BEGINNING of EACH threshold section.

Here is my HR (red) vs pace graph.

There are a couple things of interest to point out. First, note the difficulty I had in the final Threshold section (40-45minutes) - this one felt more like an Interval session on the track vs. a proper Threshold run. Second, you will see in the final 5o minutes of easy pace moments where the HR drops significantly. This is because I was waiting for traffic or I was getting water. Note that after the first dip in HR, I could not achieve the same elevated HR response as I was getting when I finished the Threshold (although my pace remained consistent). A second step-down in HR occured after the second stop. This is always good for me to remember - sometimes just a minute to regroup can make a significant impact on the work required for my body to complete the rest of the workout. In the case of today's workout however, that was not really a desired effect.

Other than burning the miles I saw a guy riding a bike with a parrot on his shoulder and I saw I woman fall off her bike after hitting an unleashed dog. So, despite the pain I had out there today, I am pretty sure that my time at the park was still better than some other's out there today!
All in all, this was a nice finish to a nice recovery week!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Important People

So today, after a sweet, sweet mid-morning Power Nap I took off to do six easy miles. Immediately after my first mile I was greeted with mutiple police baracades - everything was completely shut-off. "No problem," I thought, I will just go around a few blocks and rejoin my usual running path there. No luck, that was barracaded off too. What the heck? What is going on ? No more than 2 minutes after I realized that my options of continuuing this run were severely limited as I saw the Presidential motorcade cruise by. I was pretty impressed - there were very official looking cars all flying the French flag, too many motorcycles patroling the area to be counted, a helicopter flying overhead, and police vans with all of the doors swung open with SWAT teams (or the French equivalent) ready to jump out at a moment's notice. So after the Motorcade delay I was finally able to continue my run as follows:

7:26/7:22/7:24/7:24/7:17/7:55* min/mile
* There is absolutely NO way that this mile was this slow. I was finishing my run to the soothing melodies of Ricky Martin - I do NOT run this slow when I got Ricky backin' me up!

But after my delay with the motorcade it got me thinking about how the "rules change" for the "important people" in our society. The entire Champs d'Alysee was closed for the President's motorcade and traffic was completely backed up in all directions. (The traffic circle in the picture above was completely closed...and this is a VERY busy intersection!) Everyone patiently waited for the President to get to whereever it was that he was going. You have to be pretty important for people to happily accept this inconvenience for you (Imagine if you could get the same treatment on I-10 during rush-hour on your way to work?!!)

Just this past week a co-worker of mine got the "priviledge" of having lunch with a VERY senior person in our company. He told me that before he (and others) were to join the VIP for lunch, that they all had to show up early to be briefed by his secretary as to how to talk to him. They were told topics of things that he enjoys talking about, topics of things to avoid, and were informed of other generalaties that they were to keep in mind over lunch. You really have to be important for people to be briefed before they get to hang-out with you.

In my previous company, the CEO lived in another city but came to visit our office about once a year. Before he came the carpets were replaced, the walls were re-painted and we all had to clean our offices "in case" he might decide to pass through our hallway. In fact, some corridors were made nicer than others (i.e. the "best" paintings were rehung there) because they would plan exactly where he would walk through the building.

So at what point in time does an average Joe become this important (because everyone was an average joe at some point)? The day you realize that everyone is always 20minutes late meeting you is when you have to ask yourself - do I just have tardy friends or is my secretary debriefing them?

This leads me to my next point - I am returning to Houston in July for 2 weekends. I have two awesome buddies that immediately offered for me to stay at their place for both weekends while I was home. It is great to have such quality friends and people in my life but how do I decide whose place to stay at? Well, I need to find out who thinks our friendship is most important! So JD and Scotty, I need to know if either one of you is planning on doing any of the following for my arrival:
1. Repainting
2. Barracading your block to traffic so I will not be bothered with traffic noise while sleeping
3. Arranging a police escort so I do not have to deal with Houston traffic
4. Debrief your neighbours so that I will be entertained with idle chit-chat when walking about

My decision is based on your answers! So, I suggest you make some trip to Lowe's and start getting your places ready for my arrival!! Ok, just kidding - all I ask is that we hit Panera Bread after our weekend runs!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cong(RATS)

First, I need to begin by giving a huge congratulations to Steeeeve. He is on the cusp of his 30,000th mile - that is just an awesome accomplishment! By my calculations, it will take me a another 13-14 years before I could ever claim the same...it is definitely a milestone of longevity and dedication! What's more is that over those 30,000 miles, Steeeeve has motivated many others (including introducing me to the Houston running scene) to accumulate even more miles and acheive many of their own personal milestones! If Steeeeve were a pyramid scheme, and if "miles ran" was the currency, then he would be a VERY wealthy person! So, Felicitations Steeeve!

Today I had to stay at work a little longer than I would have liked, but it was necessary to avoid going in on the weekend. By the time I got home and got started running, it was getting quite dark. I took off quickly because I still wanted to cruise the paths in the park but I needed to get there before the Tranny's started their daily grind (No pun intended; I spotted 4 tonight). But being quite dusky, there were a lot of animals on the path tonight - mostly rabbits, but I also ran across (or over, I suppose) 4 rats! Gross!

Why can't more places be like Alberta and be rat free? The province that I grew up in actually has a rat patrol. If you spot a rat, you call a 1-800 number and a crew of (presumbably 'hire-a-students') or rather, rat control specialists will come out and deal with the situation. Nobody ever believes me when I tell them this, but you can check here for yourself. So, you might say we Albertans live a charmed life without rats and as result I tend to respond a little more "girly" to the sight of a rat than perhaps a normal guy might...let's just say I am glad none of the tranny's were there to see my reaction to the rats because I am sure that they would have thought that I was going to be their next customer!

Other than that, it was just an awesome run. I just let my legs flow while keeping the effort very easy. I ran 6 miles as follows:

7:17/7:06/7:08/7:14/7:18/7:14 min/mile

So, to sum up both themes of this post - congRATS Steeeeve!

ps - JD, I know you are on vacation, but you better not forget about our threshold run for this weekend! And to echo Scotty's comments on email - good job on beating a 4 year old on the track!!! lol

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tom Boonen

The great thing about low mileage recovery weeks is that I can run all the scheduled miles in 5 days, instead of 6, which gives me 2 days off during these "recovery weeks" of marathon training. So, today I opted to take my second day off from running and take the Mrs. out for a little dinner. Now, I could stop there and make this the shortest post ever, or I could take this opportunity to reflect on another love of mine.

Before I "became a runner" I was a cyclist, through and through. In fact, before the wife and I even started dating I scared her off from me with my cycling intencity. I recall telling her that, "if you are outside and you are not on a bike, then you are wasting your time." I think I said this just before she was going to get the courage to ask me to join her roller-blading one day. Needless to say, she never asked, and it probably set our first date back by several months!

I rode my bike everywhere. I trained at the Canadian Olympic training center, not because I ever felt I was at that level, but because it was just a great workout. I kept my mountain bike in the trunk of my car in case it was ever a nice day so I could just jump in my car and be at the head of my favorite trail in the Rockies in 40 minutes, and I kept the panniers on my road bike fully stocked with supplies in case I ever wanted to do a quick tour through the mountains or up to my Grandpa's.

I stopped riding after moving to Houston because the cycling scene in Houston was everything opposite from the aspects of cycling that I loved the most. Plus, every somewhat serious rider that I met thought they were Lance Armstrong. I prefer the solidarity and the long multi-day rides through rolling country side without Suburbans, Hummers, and Hillbillies trying to scare me off of "their road". Do not get me wrong - I had some great rides in and around Houston (my favorite is Chapel Hill), but I missed some of the key essentials that made me fall in love with the sport in the first place. But, I am quite thankful, because I found a runner hiding underneath those cycling shorts!

Anyhow, from all of cycling, I naturally became a huge fan of the sport and awaited each July with great anticipation for the Tour de France. "Oddly", since Lance Armstrong has retired from the sport there has been nothing but drug scandal after drug scandal in the Tour de France. It really makes it hard for a fan to believe in a rider, team, or outstanding performance when you see it. I hate that feeling - when you see just an amazing accomplishment, or outstanding ride through the Alps (recall Floyd Landis) and every fibre in your body wants to believe that it was possible, and that the athlete overcame, and that all of his training has led to this amazing day. Then 2 days/weeks/months later you learn that it was tainted. It sucks - I just want a hero that gives me that sensational feeling when I see them accomplish something amazing infront of me because I know it is a result of hard work and dedication - not just because they could afford a good chemist.

One such rider that I have grown to love over the past several Tour de France's is Tom Boonen. He is just a big piece of Belgium meat who is just awesome to watch at the finish. He puts his entire body into each pedal stroke. You gotta love this footage! (Tom Boonen is the cyclist in the green jersey who wins the sprint).

So, when I received this link from my brother yesterday, I was totally bummed. Well, I was happy that it was NOT steroids (because it keeps all my old memories of some his fantastic sprints intact) but cocaine?! Durn Tom!

He needs to be more like us Canadians. Take our hero Ross Rebagliati from the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He had his gold medal in snowboarding taken from him after he failed his drug test - he was found positive for Marijuana! Apparently, the olympic committee argued that the marijuan reduced his fear, so he was more daring on the snowboard course than his competitors! He got his gold medal back because he claimed it was from 2nd hand smoke from a going away party before he left for the olympics...smooth Ross, smooth! After that, he was so popular that he is the only olympian that we Canadians remember from those Olympics (except for Schmirler the Curler, of course - gold medal too I might add!).

I only hope that Tom Boonen is as smooth so I can enjoy his exciting sprint finishes again when the Tour de France starts here in a couple weeks.

Alright - time for another episode of Weeds! See you back on the trails tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Une autre jour a Paris

Today's workout was another session of sweet, sweet speed on the Isle de Neilly 400m track. The planned workout was as follows:

2mile warmup
4x (1200m Interval Pace + 800m recovery)
2mile cooldown

Interval pace = 4:10/4:07/4:03/4:00 min/1200m for VDOT's=58/59/60/61 respectively

I have to say, I definitely went into this workout a little cocky. Now, there definitely needs to be a degree of confidence, or swager, in your body (and, more importantly, your head) as you tackle a night of repeats on the track. If you do not have just a little momentum before you even hit the track then I find that the workouts are just a bloody grind. So, I tend to talk things up a little before I even change and get on the track to build a little confidence. Well, I think I did too good of a job (think back to Saturday Night Life skit - "I'm good enough, I'm strong enough, and dog-gon-it, people like me!") because I was certainly surprised by how hard it felt out there tonight! This is me prior to the intervals - although I am quite frightened about the pain I'm about to put myself through, I always got time for the paporazzi!



And, this is me ~ 5m from the end of my last 1200m repeat...so close, yet so far away!


And, at last, this is the final stride. I am hoping that this is what a sub 3-hour marathon looks like! (JD - does this look familiar? (you would know!))



So, here are the actuals:

2mile warmup: 7:24, 7:29 min/mile
4x1200's
1. (79, 80, 80) 3:59min
2. (77, 81, 81) 3:59min
3. (79, 81, 82) 4:02min
4. (80, 81, 81) 4:02min
2mile cooldown: 7:31, 7:28 min/mile

For those of you who are more visual, here is my HR (red) and pace (blue). I certainly work harder each interval just to keep the pace the same as before!


I went out slightly hard and was very happy that I only had to do 4 repeats tonight. I am pretty sure I would have crapped out (like last week) if I had to do a 5th!

After the workout, I was rewarded with this view of La Defense. The square building is the Grande Arche. I take my french classes inside it! My work is just next to the crane.

When I turn around and take a picture in the opposite direction, I have this ugly view of the L'arc de Triomphe!



All in all, another beautiful day in Paris!
Keep it real peeps!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Cleaner

First, let me state that, 'no, this is NOT a continuation of my last post' (recall the "losing pressure" scenario of the little boy trying to get his processed juice-box into the urinal). Instead, it is the title of the movie (starring Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, and Ed Norton) that the Mrs. and I went to see today after work. For me, going to the movies is always a matter of economics - save me the analysis and just answer this one question - was it worth 8 euros?

My answer - No. Thankfully though I only paid 3 euros! I can buy movie coupons through my work for a discounted price. Therefore, I was still able to enjoy the popcorn with the justification that it was essentially 'free' tonight (Normal Cost (8) - Actual cost (3) = A savings of 5 euros. The popcorn was 4.75 euros, so one might argue that I made 0.25 euros by going to this movie tonight? No, wait a second, that is girl-math. That is the type of math where you figure that by spending $500.oo worth of clothes that were on sale for 1/3 off, that you actually saved $250.00 by going shopping)!

The jist of the story is that Samuel L. Jackson is a janitor that specializes in bio-harzards (a.k.a. body tissue and fluids) who soon finds himself trying to clean up more than just a bloody sofa but an, almost forgotten, yet infectious past. For me, these types of movies need awesome action scenes (because, less face it - this modern age has totally desensitized us all), crazy plot twists (because we will never accept anything less after watching 'The 6th Sense'), and a solid storyline. (just good ol' basics on this point). Although I was moderately entertained through 2/3 of the movie, I would not really recommend it.

What was entertaining were all the people making out in the theatre. I heard a lot of giggling and slurping sounds...you know, the sound made when you are using a straw just to get at the last few drops of soda in the bottom of your Big Gulp cup. I think the couple sitting infront of us must have only paid for one ticket because they insisted on sitting in the same seat. I certainly hope that they got their 8 euros worth...but from what I could tell, they certainly did!

This morning I had Pilates. The difficult thing for me is that it is a total effort just to sit upright, with my legs straight out infront of me. My hips are so tight that it makes doing some of the positions extremely difficult. I guess Shakira and I have something in common...my hips don't lie.

Tomorrow is a 4x1200m track workout. As I write this I think Scotty and JD are getting primed for their similar workout. I expect a full report when I wake up tomorrow boys so I will know if I can slack off or not when I do it!!

Bonne nuit!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Urinal

Yesterday when I was talking to Scotty on the phone he mentioned to me that I always seemed to find myself involved in bizarre stories, wierd circumstances, and situations that 'normal' people just do not experience. I told him that I do not go out looking for these things, they just sort of happen. In fact, sometimes I get the feeling that when people see me coming their way they just know that they are about to have fun at my expense! And now that I am in a country where I hardly know what is being said around me, I am sure I am even more of a target! And I guess it does not help that most of the time I feed into it because I would rather get a laugh from the situation than let it ruin my day.

But I got off the phone and was thinking, "surely I am no different than anybody else? I am sure everybody has a lot of bizarre stories." Well, I went to bed thinking this, but after what I saw this afternoon, I will have to agree with you Scotty - I just seem to fall into these things. Before I get to the details, let me first jump into the DeLorian and go back about 25 years (this will vary depending on your age). First let me apologize, but only dudes will be able to relate to this little journey with Dr. Emmit Brown.

It is that awkward time for boys (and fathers alike) where the boy is potty-trained to go #1 in the toilet at home but now he is trying to master the public urinal. This is a tough challenge because all the training HAS to take place in the public eye (unless, of course, you have a urinal in your house, but I never knew anyone with this luxury where I grew up). Generally, the public urinal is quite high (especially from a little boy's point of view), so it involves a completely different stance than what you have been learning at home - instead of pointing everything down and IN to the bowl, the first couple years of urinal mastery involve a bit of an arched back and a basic knowledge of physics to figure out the perfect trajectory to land everything in the bowl (and, thus, saving the evening cleaning crew a nasty surprise). Then you always have those few moments of panic as you are about to finish and you realize that the fluid pressure is not what it was when you started and that your shoes WILL be getting a little wet!

All of this is bad enough for a little boy who still has not figured out how to do accomplish this task without pulling his pants and underwear all the way down to his ankles to pee. So, occasionally when we men go into the men's room we are confronted with a little bare bum of a boy trying to master another essential skill of life. It always is worth a chuckle as you "remember when". So, this is all very innocent when you come across a little boy in this situation, but a grown man, at your work?!

Yep, that is what happened to me today. I am thankful that it was only a half-moon but it certainly caught me by surprise. If I wanted to get hooked up with crack today, I am sure that the tranny's (saw 3 today) in Bois de Boulogne could hook me up (without the painful image of the visual burned into my retinas). Speaking of my run, I ran 8 recovery miles with the following splits:

7:23/7:19/7:22/7:21/7:20/7:18/7:15/7:31 min/mile

Here is my usual HR (red) and pace (blue) plot. Please note the slight bursts centered on mile 5 and right before mile 7. Mile 5 was during Britany Spear's "Break the Ice" and mile 7 was a mad dash to get across the Champs d'Alysee before I became road kill.

Here is my route. I include this picture to show 2 things. The Eiffel Tower is at the bottom right. The l'arc de Triomphe is at the top right where ALL the roads lead to (looks like a *).
No running tomorrow. Just some sweet, sweet Pilates.
Later!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Threshold Run

Early this morning I found myself standing in a crowd of strangers who were all decked out in running apparel and who were all eagerly awaiting the sound of the gun for the beginning of the Chateau de Vincennes 10km. I had decided to sign up to run this race when I saw that my marathon training schedule called for 40 minutes of threshold pace (Gross!). All around me I was surrounded by the standard crowd that I came to love at the beginning of such an event in Houston. You had your nervous people who rocked back and forth, side-to-side, front-to-back, shifting weight from one foot to another; you had the peaceful and calm people who just stood intently no different than if they were waiting in line at McDonald's and, of course, you had the "dude, save some energy for the course" people who were in a constant state of motion with their stretching, knee-high jumps, and deep breathing exercises. Ah yes - to be racing again!

What wasn't standard about this crowd, at least as I have grown accustomed, was the little 80 year old lady standing to my right (don't get me wrong, she looked in great shape...for her age. You can call me cocky if you want, but I immediately discarded her as competition - besides, she wasn't even in my age group!), the guy in a one-peice spandex outfit to my left with a retro discman strapped around his biceps that resembled a gladiator's shield because it was so big, and the tres-chic chap standing infront of me with a trendy cashmere sweater flung over his shoulders with the sweater arms cooly tied over his chest. You see, normally I line up no less than 5 rows deep from the starting line where I am surrounded by some pretty serious people with some pretty serious speed who have some pretty serious intentions. Today, however, I sat waiting for the start of the race so far back from the start line that I was not completely sure if the start was infront of me or behind me because I could not see it either way. There were 3 gates (Green, Yellow, and Red) and you guessed it, I was in the back - the Red gate. How symbolic is the Red gate?! Were they expecting us to stop along the course, just like we would at a red light?

Normally, this situation would really bother me. But today I was not there to "race" I was just there to take advantage of a closed 10km course in which I could do my Jack Daniel's threshold run. I did not care about PR'ing, I did not care about overall time, and surprisingly, I did not care that the dude's unitard right next to me was a little too tight. I just cared about running a quality workout at threshold pace from beginning to end.

It took me ~ 30 seconds to cross the start line, which is the longest it has taken me to cross any start line for any distance, including marathons! I proceeded to run the first mile in the knee-high weeds; there were few brave souls who wanted to leave the confines of the very narrow path that the race was being held on, so I found that running here was the best place to pass people. Just when I thought that it was safe to join the rest of the weekend warriors on the path, we crossed the 1km marker. Personally, I did not care - I learned to run with miles, and I continue to run using miles, but at that very moment EVERYONE looked down at their watch and realized, "Whoa, I am going to fast! I better not just slow down gradually over the next kilometer, but I better come to a screetching halt, right now!" Wow, this was comparable to a hurricane evacuation traffic jam on I-45 in Houston. With some nimble toes I quickly got back into my weed patch and continued running!

It was really fun doing this race as a training run because I actually felt really good the whole time. I was working hard, which was the point, but I was not in my usual race state. You know the state I am talking about - Brightroom usually does a really good job at capturing that exact feeling (and then they wonder why nobody buys their race photos afterwards!). But it was fun running beside people who were in that state, because I kept thinking, "man, it sucks to be you...that looks really hard what you are doing over there!". So, for me mentally - using a race to train in was awesome! I found that the time flew by, I did not have to worry about getting run over by a crazed Parisian driving their Smart Car (because that would suck if you died by collision with a Smart Car...just mull than one over for a second), and food and beverage were provided!

Jack Daniel's threshold pace for VDOT's 58, 59, and 60 are 6:04, 5:59, and 5:54 min/mile. He also recommends adding 12 seconds to the pace if you plan on running the entire Threshold workout in one segment. My splits were as follows:

5:55/6:01/6:03/5:57/5:57/5:49/5:40 (last 0.2) min/mile
Total TIME: 37:13 minutes
Avg. PACE: 5:58 min/mile

Total Weekly Miles: 47.97 miles (This kills me - the goal for this week was 48.00)...urghhh!

I ran a little faster than intended, but I was motivated because I did not want that guy in the one-piece spandex outfit to catch me and I would be dammed if the old lady was going to give me a run for my money!
Here is the course. It ends inside the walls of the Chateau de Vincennes on a cobblestone pathway. At the end I saw a guy catch a toe on one of the cobblestones and wipe out.
My heart rate in red; my pace in blue. The averages are posted on the sides of the plot.
Here I am after the race (the guy on the left looks really cold, but it wasn't that bad! In fact, one might argue it was almost perfect racing conditions today!)



These are the post-race snacks. Please note how closely packed the food is on the plate, how none of it is individually packaged, and how those runner's hands are "fresh" of a 10km, and were presumably used for "support" earlier in the port-a-johns... I thought the plates of sugar-cubes were pretty interesting though!



This is the finisher's award. Jennie dropped hers and chipped it...that sucks!



After the race, Jennie and I got some lunch at a restaurant on the edge of the park. I ordered the Empire State Burger. I did not know that it would be served sunny-side up! Perhaps next time I will inform the waiter that I prefer my eggs scrambeled!



Later dudes!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Weeds

I cannot tell you how excited I am right now - no more than 2 hours ago we went to Virgin superstore on the Champs and purchased an imported copy of Weeds: Season 3! This post will be short because we are just about to pop it in!

Since moving to Paris, I have found that one of the best ways to relax is by watching DVD's of some of my favorite TV shows. Sometimes I find it hard to relax by coming home and watching French TV and the only english TV we get is CNN and SkyNEWS (another European news station). For awhile I was hooked on the French MTV station because they would show the same really stupid reality shows that we are used to in the States but it would be dubbed over in French. The english in the background was still loud enough so that I could follow the show. But this meant watching such quality things as My Super Sweet 16, Run's House, JackAss, Eliminated, Date my Mom, among other various brain-rotting shows. But even this soon grew old - the best way to relax is definitely with TV series DVD's. You do not have to commit to a 1.5 - 2.5 hour session as you would have to with a movie and one show can typically be watched over dinner, which allows me to accomplish other things during the evening.

So, back to Weeds - Michelle has got me hooked on this series. For those of you who watch this series regurlarily for the past 3 seasons, please do not spoil it for me. I was so hooked on season 2 that I watched it all in one week! And the way the season ended...are you kidding me?!! There are so many story lines left dangling. I am glad that I just discovered this series or it would have killed me to have had to wait in the off-season for some closure!

For those of you who have not watched it, get on Netflix, get the first season, and thank me later!

I ran 6.25 miles in the Bois de Boulogne this afternoon. It was a really easy pace and I felt comfortable the entire time. The bottom of my right foot is a little sore, which is weird. I have never had foot issues. I hope that this is not something that will stay around for awhile. I really made an effort to keep to Jack Daniel's Easy pace because I am very scared about tomorrow's threshold run. I am hoping to have some moderately fresh legs for the effort tomorrow. Todays run was as follows:
7:24/7:27/7:25/7:24/7:22/7:22 min/mile

Ok - time to stop the suspense and watch Weeds! Later!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sandpaper

To you ever remember the time, when shortly after you just started your first 'real' job (you know, your first job in an office, or perhaps a lovely cubicle) that, while sitting in the company bathroom you realize, "Wow, I am getting paid for this!" I remember the exact moment, place (obviously), and time when I first had that realization. It was amazing, just 2 months earlier, while still in college, I often had to request permission to exit for some "alone time" yet, here I was, a working man, getting paid with each glorious moment that passed as I sat there. This realization set off an irreversible chain of events that have, at one point or another, impacted many aspects of my life.

The first thing I had to do was to reset my schedule. No more of this pre-breakfast or before-bed routine for me. I needed to make sure my body was ready for action somewhere between 9am-5pm. This only took a few squirmy days to reset my system but it was well worth it! The money saved on toilet paper alone will probably help me retire a year earlier!

Yep, it did not take me long to realize that this was a key benefit to being a working man! In fact, I placed this priviledge right up there with the other benefits such as the 4o1k, pension plans, and health insurance! Heck, I did not even mind the big ol' reservoir engineers that went in there every day and did historical reinactments of the bombing of Hiroshima. It did not matter because I was getting paid to be there (roughly speaking, assuming a 5min "job", take your yearly salary and drop the last 3 digits. Take the number left over and divide by 25 - that is what you got paid to go to the bathroom on company time!)

After working for a while, I got my first raise. You can only imagine my exitement while shortly after while I was reflecting upon this news in my favorite stall that I realized that today, my crap was more valuable to the company than the day before! My diet had not changed, so why had my boss suddenly placed a higher value on it? (And I know it was not because I was stomping my foot with a wide stance in a public bathroom in Minnesota...these were simpler times back then!)

As I became more familiar with the lay of the land I became more savvy. I knew where I could find any section of the newspaper sandwiched between the stalls at anytime of day. If I wanted to get caught up on sports, no problem, the sports section could usually be found tucked between the middle and left stall on the 23rd floor sometime after 11:20 - 11:45 am. If I wanted to catch the movie times, that section could be found on floor 18 usually in the afternoon. And if you were lucky, the pages of the newpapers were only slightly wrinkled from the very damp and humid environment that they were so closely exposed to throughout the day.

I also became intune with the cleaner's schedule. The cleaners started at the top floor at around 10am and worked their way down. So, if I I needed a nice clean bathroom, then I could usually calculate exactly which stall would be the cleanest in the building, depending on the time of day. However, this was always the trickiest thing to master. If you got it wrong, you would often find yourself in that awkward situation where the cleaner is waiting outside your stall for you to finish. That can really ruin any exit strategy you might have had before the cleaner arrived. And sometimes the stalls can have very large gaps between the door and the post...so large infact that you sometimes find yourself making eye contact with the cleaner as he is staring intently into the bathroom with his mop in hand, just waiting for you to leave. This often leads to a hasty wipe and uncomfortable grit that can be felt with each step you take for the rest of the day.

So, this was my early professional life. I was regular, I was getting paid, and I no longer had to go through the ritual of spraying deodorizer or lighting a match after I finished my biz-ness in hopes to mask the smell at home before my date arrived.

But as I got older, I found that this daily event no longer gave me the same gratification as before. Instead of revelling in the fact that I was getting paid to be there, I was thinking about all the work that I would have to make up for by taking this little break. And wouldn't I rather take a break at Starbucks, where I could enjoy the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans vs. the aroma of the day-old digested kolaches and donuts? And where is the courtesy flush? In my whole professional career, I have never heard the sweet sound of a courtesy flush.

And then the newspaper began to disappear. Instead it was replaced by printouts from the newspaper's website of just 1 or 2 key articles that the person wanted to read. I noticed that these printouts were neatly folded to fit into his pocket to (presumably) avoid the embarrasment of carrying in the whole newspaper, tucked neatly under his arm into the John. And these printouts were hunting stories!! Well, I sure the heck was not going to read hunting stories and I certainly was NOT going to be the guy bringing the newspaper in with me!

So, my little breaks eventually just turned into a 6 minute ab sessions that took place in a musty, damp, odor that you could not only smell, but taste as well. Sadly, this was still tolerable. However, I have finally reached my last straw...the cheap single ply, hold it up to a light and you can see through it, toilet paper. If you have ever gotten a toilet paper cut on your ass, then you know what I am talking about. It is time to rechange my schedule so I can use my nice double-ply, aloe-injected pillowy soft tissues here at home. The stuff they have at work is made from recycled newspaper-if you look closely I think you can still read the headlines. As I sit here typing I still feel mildly uncomfortable from my earlier wipe using the sandpaper they provide us with at work.

As for running, I ran 6 miles today through the Bois de Boulogne. I was so tired while I was running that there were a few times that I felt like I was going to fall asleep mid-stride! Lucky for me I did not and managed to have the following splits:

7:33/7:19/7:16/7:20/7:21/7:27 min/mile
AVERAGE pace: 7:23 min/mile

Total Weekly miles (so far): ~ 31.3 miles

Tranny count: 1

You boys have yourself a good Friday night!
Je suis fatigue...A+.