Tuesday, August 30, 2011

End of off-season

A few weeks back I did my last (only) race of this season; I competed it in the Suburu Sooke International Triathlon (Half-Ironman; www.triseries.ca).

First of all, I love Sooke. It’s got a special place in my heart. I was a camp counsellor there in 1994. Second, it was my first “real” long-distance Triathlon. Third, it’s always been AMAZING weather when I’ve raced there. Fourth, it’s always been the most humbling course.

…so this year, when they changed the bike course to basically be the same amount of climbing as on a full Ironman course, I was intrigued.

So let’s get this straight: this year I DID NOT TRAIN. …unless you call riding to work, a couple of swims, and a couple of runs as training. I was certainly relying on my base-fitness. So obviously I should try and do a Half-Ironman on the hardest course in BC against the best field (since it was the provincial championships).

Part of the reason I did this race is because my parents would be out for a visit and I wanted them to stay at my most favourite hotel, Sooke Harbour House. That place did not disappoint, let me tell you. As well, I LOVE having my family around when I’ve raced. They are my biggest fans, always amazed and proud of me being an actual athlete, and its such a self-indulgent way for me to connect with them. :-P

So I’m not going to over analyze the race (for a change). Suffice it to say, I was not at my best on the swim, nor on the bike, nor on the run. I’m used to being a competitor at these things. This year, I had to accept the fact that this would not be the case, and that I was out there for “the fun of it”. (mostly out there to prove to myself that I can still do this great sport at my favourite distance without having to sacrifice a bunch of time to do so). Moreover, I have this crazy idea that I want to do at least one race per year as long as I can do them, so that my children can see that I’m committed and having a ton of fun doing something that I’m passionate about. I think that there are so many important messages that something like this sends to your children. ….so basically I met that goal, plus I met the goal of finishing the race, without having walked or stopped at any point. I finished around 5:57:00 on the hardest course I’ve ever done, and in the top 50%. The leaders in the race obviously did far better.

I get a bit teary at this part, so bear with my emotional self… what I really wanted at this race, even more than any athletic goal or opportunity to make my family proud, was to find Jen and Eli at the finish chute, and take my little Ironbaby with me over the finish line. I’m going to be at this sport for a while. I’m going to have big personal achievements when doing it. …but I will never again have the chance to do it with my first son for the first time. It was an amazing experience. At the darkest points in the “pain cave” on the ride and run, I would think of what it would mean if I could take Eli, then (maybe) race with Eli over the finish line. I am proud of my Ironbaby and he would be proud of his Irondad.

Eli and I crossed the finish line together. It’s my favourite finishing photo ever.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Transport as training

Eli is now 2 months old. And Eli can be a lot of work. I’ve been doing my best to give Jen the breaks she deserves and look after him where possible. In kind, Jen is letting me train a little bit on the weekends. But if a little training on the weekend does not a Triathlete make.

So I’m doing my best to make my commutes the majority of my training (although I can’t swim the sewer system to the office). I’m on the bike 3+ days a week for 1:15+ a day, and started running to/from work once a week. I’ll eventually introduce a lunch-time tempo run and swims at Arbutus Club on the way to work.

So can transport be the majority of your training? I’m sure I’ll see come August.

All indicators say “yes”. I can tell merely by the fact that I can’t fit a lot of my pants (through the legs/glutes; the waist is just fine). Further evidence was during a training ride a few Sundays ago. I took the Cervelo out for the first time this year, with the Powertap wheel on to give me feedback on my wattage. And guess what? I was pumping out a great wattage (near race effort) without issue.

Now the problem is that all I have is these indirect references to my fitness. My normal ways of measuring (time trial efforts, speed vs. heartrate, etc) have not been attempted yet this year. And I’m wondering if maybe I won’t bother. Maybe I’ll stay away from the science and give “feel” a try. There’s nothing at stake except being right, so what the heck.

More to come as my August race approaches.

Monday, May 9, 2011


My sister-in-law and fellow new parent, Sabine, scoffed that “bee tee dubs, you haven’t posted in a bit, Irondad”. Fair.

So here’s what I’ve learned in the first few weeks of having Elijah home:
My spare room has a comfortable bed
Women are better with sleep deprivation than men
People love buying babies things
People love “helping” with your baby provided they aren’t crying, squirming, pooping, feeding, or barfing
The baby’s accessories are for you, and not the baby
If you want to do things you did before baby (B.B.), you need to adapt them to your life after baby (A.B.)

Point 6 is the subject of this post. And I think I’m doing well at it. For one, I’m riding to work and running when baby and mom are sleeping. Now I’d have a hard time qualifying for any World Championship with the volume I’m currently doing, but I do believe that this schedule is workable. Eli now also fits in his Baby Bjorn (see Point 5) which actually lets me do more of Point 6… for example, Eli and I are now tag-teaming Techno sets: I strap him to me, turn the volume down quite a bit, the bass and my head-bobbing soothe him to sleep. Win/Win.

So I’ve decided that thanks to Point 1, 5, and 6, I’m actually going to try a race this summer in August. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


So, that change I thought was scary, disruptive, and bad? It’s none of those things. Actually, it is the opposite of those things.

Eli (Elijah) was born last Monday, April 4th. That day began with a quip from Jen at 2:30am “My water broke” and me saying back to her “that’s great honey, do you think I can sleep for another hour?”. For real.

Eli was born 8 hours later. All seemed fine after a quick C-section, but it was not to be. Eli had swallowed some gunk and his oxygen levels presented low about 30 minutes after birth. Drama has since ensued: 2 days of O2 support but no healing, a pneumo-thorax, an intabation, an extabation, IVs, and breathing tubes. Eli is now on the mend, with no near-term, mid-term, or long-term challenges expected, but this week has taken it’s toll. But Eli is expected home this week.

But I would do it again, if it meant I could have him. (let the barfing commence!)

Truth be told, I learned a lot about Eli with him being in the hospital: He is strong. He is determined. He doesn’t complain. He “just does the work”. He “hardens the fuck up”. He makes funny faces when people need cheering up. He pulls our family together, despite a few trying years. He looks snappy in a jumper. He likes hearing me read to him about swimming/biking/running. He’s everything that I would like in another person. And he’s my son.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that he’s not going to be disruptive to my life. But I really feel like he’ll be a great addition. I don’t feel like I can’t do the things I did before, contrary to my fears. I now want to do them for different reasons. I don’t want the personal glory of a personal-best race result, a World Championship top-100, or whatever else, for the same reasons. What I want is to be a good example for Eli to apply his great personality/abilities to great things. Honestly, I think that will actually make me faster/fitter/stronger than before he came.

In just a few days, I have discovered I love my son, love being a dad, am excited for my life with him, and know I can achieve more because of him. I was so silly before being scared and thinking that fatherhood would rob me of my life.

I can’t wait for him to come home with me this week.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Staying close to home

So no baby yet. Only 4 days until due date, so Ironbaby could come at any time now. I’m now never more than 20 minutes from home.

So 20 minutes from home definitely affects workout options. No more 1hr out-and-back runs; it’s only loops now. No riding the bike to work; putting on my ‘kit’ takes 15 minutes on it’s own.

So my options for staying moving are:
  • Short runs
  • Short rides
  • Rides on the trainer (but only if Jen’s amenable to the ‘white noise’)
  • Yard work, including heavy lifting
  • Walking the dogs
I’m kind of at the point where I NEED to stay moving, though. I know I’m on the the one who’s really “waiting”, but I’m still waiting. If I sit around, watching TV or surfing the Internet or reading or playing music, I’ll go crazy and just irritate Jen. But staying moving also means not being as nearby when Jen needs me. And the dogs are crazy right now (they’re obviously detecting something that I’m not).

I sure hope this baby comes soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

On alert

Jen has now started her maternity leave, save for a few things she’s going to wrap up from home next week.

I’m now also “on alert”, waiting for the call that could come at any time. This phone will be tethered to me at all times. This includes any run, ride, or anything else.

It’s funny, I feel like I’m already adapting to life with a child… can’t go anywhere too far, can’t go anywhere too long. But what I am learning, is that Jen isn’t imposing anything; she’s leaving things entirely up to me and is fine with whatever I want to do. Me: ”Honey, can I go for a ride tomorrow?”, her: ”Doesn’t matter to me, you just need to be reachable and be able to get home in a reasonable amount of time”.

I’m feeling reassured that she’s going force me to keep being me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

On the sidelines

Tomorrow will be the first time I've missed participating in the UBC Tri/Du Olympic-Distance Triathlon. It's needling at me.

Now, to be fair, I'm not missing it because of baby. I'm missing it because I got really busy with work in November and it's only got worse since then. So I haven't had time to train at all. At all.

The situation is needling at me because I'm sad that this is a sign of things to come. I'm missing the rush and endorphins already, and I'm genuinely afraid it could get worse.

I'm very melancholy at the moment, already missing my 'old life'. And after the birthing classes last weekend and this past week, I'm not exactly feeling excited about the first 3 months of fatherhood. I hope it's just stress. It's helpful that I have friends with young kids who have all kept their previous lives alive.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is an Ironman like giving birth?

So this weekend was two back-to-back days of 9am-2pm of "birthing class". For the most part, it was a combo of moments of awe, terror, and gross-out. Imagine videos of circa 1980 footage of women giving birth (in hospital, or "family births" in Mexico), fellow 'students' going off about their home birth plans, and fathers-to-be saying "I don't believe in pain" and looking like that pregnancy and birth plan was their idea and not the mothers'. Yup. That much fun.

The only moment I could relate was when the instructor was describing birth: the endorphins, pain that was more like work and not acute, hydration, fuel, zen inward-focussed moments, and the sheer relief/awe at the completion. She said it was like doing 10k run x 2. I heard it as "an Ironman is just like giving birth". In fact, they told me that some sports drink for Jen during birth is a great idea.

So is birth going to be Jen's Ironman? For whatever reason I feel like birth might be tougher, but at the very least different. ;-) Still, my experience at 140.6 miles might be the closest I ever get to what she's going through: the preparation, the sacrifice, the process, the discomfort, the event itself, the joy of the accomplishment, the pride and love for what was achieved.

I know it's not the same, but at least I feel I can relate a little bit.

One thing's for sure (here comes the cheesy moment), my Ironman physique isn't nearly as gorgeous as Jen pregnant. She looks primed and ready for go-time and more than capable of the task.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dad wheels

I have been on a bit of a spree getting “toys” that are for Ironbaby as much as they are for me: Video Camera, DSLR Camera (Mirror-less, though. ”travel-sized” is important), etc. I’ve now bought something a bit bigger: new car. It’s fun to drive, stylish interior, great stereo, cool features, and… it’s a wagon (for the record, I’ve wanted a wagon before I was thinking about children, so there).

My buddy Gerry pointed out that I could buy several of the most top-end bikes on the market today for what this car cost. Up to a couple of months ago, bikes would have actually been the priority. Now I wanted to have enough space in the car to carry baby gear, my bike, and maybe even a 2nd bike that my kid could ride.

Moral of the story: Today I felt like my way of thinking isn’t changing as a result of being an expectant father… …being an expectant father is integrating into the way I think today. Maybe fatherhood will be evolution or progression to the way I am today, not replacement.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Before the starting gun

Well, I think being a good Dad is going to be being a good father, but also being a good example. So I thought a Blog would be a great way to do this.

I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m at least hopeful that I will be excited to be a Dad. I’m also hopeful that I can learn a few things about balancing fatherhood with the other cool things I want from life, without having to lose out on either. As with everything else I’ve wanted to try, I’m up for a challenge.

My idea for this blog is to chronicle the adventure of adding fatherhood to my list of passions. I love my life today. ”23 Year-Old Jared” wanted to become what is now “33 Year-Old Jared”: I have a beautiful and kind wife, wonderful family, great friends, a career I am proud of, success in sports and music, life & travel experiences I would not trade, and a very comfortable lifestyle.

Still, there is something about fatherhood that needles at my curious over-achiever nature. Or is it terror? Whichever it is, it certainly stems from naivete.

Today is 45 days, give or take, from the day that Ironbaby will lay eyes on the world. T-minus 45. So I’ve got 45 more days to figure out how I’m ever going to survive. It’s not unlike racing Triathlon: the same way that the reality of the race crushes all my intent for the day, I will be sobered by the reality that all plans and preparation now mean nothing.

I’m not sure how often I’ll post, but I hope to do so meaningfully. If for nothing else, it might be fun for me to read my own tragic or victorious tale.