Thursday, December 30, 2010

Status update

Five months ago, after finishing my first Ironman, I was in a great shape and I thought that it will only get better from there on.

I was dead wrong. Too much partying, almost zero training and it seems now like I finished the Ironman 5 years ago and not 5 months. I have never partied and drunk so much in my life as I did in the last 5 months.  I had a very, very good time and good memories, and even though I lost most of my fitness, overall I am not sorry for what happened.

 Had I done some minimal training, I would have actually been very proud of myself now.

But I did not do any training and I know that if I continue like this, sooner or later, I'll be sorry. It would be really nice if, like Bryan, I could party and train in the same time, but to my disappointment, I can't. When I get drunk I lose most of my self control and training is the last thing I'm thinking of. Then, the next couple of days, I usually have a hangover and again, training is the last thing I'm thinking of.

Another thing I've noticed is that, with so much partying, I haven't lost only my fitness, I've also lost my motivation and energy in general. I became a slacker at home and at work.

My plan  for 2011 is to get back on track and start training again. My first goal is to qualify to Boston Marathon. For this, I need to finish a marathon in under 3:15 hours and the plan is to accomplish it at Mississauga Marathon, on May 15th. My next goal is to do 2 half-Ironmans in 2011 and finish them with a respectable time. One of them is going to be Muskoka in September 11. I haven't decided on the other one yet.

Another thing I need to do is to get myself together and pass some programming and financial certifications. In IT you are required to stay up to date by learning, learning and learning. I am an IT consultant and I am supposed to stay on top of what is new in my field. I have hardly spent any time on my career lately and I need to reverse this trend before it's too late.

I am going to have one more party on New Year's Eve and then training starts on January 2nd.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tag, I am it!

I got tagged by John Proc, the Lord of Chainrings himself. That was long time ago, but I am very lazy when it comes to updating my blog. In my defense, I was down with flu for quite a while and I did not have much energy left.

So, here are a few things about myself that you probably did not know about:

1. I grew up in a small village (500 houses) in Romania, during Ceausescu's communist regime. Contrary to what people think in North America, life in Romania during Ceausescu's communist regime was not that bad. We were poor, but we were not starving and the police would not make you any troubles unless you were directly confronting them. And as a kid, life was actually very good. I had probably over 20 good friends with whom I'd play soccer daily for many hours. I had free time in abundance, there were no schedules and not many rules to follow. In a way, my kids today do not have the freedom that I had when I was their age.

2. I met my future wife, Mihaela (Miha for short) in 1996, in university, when I was living in the campus. I have the fondest memories of that time. I was really skinny at that time and I was really frustrated by it. Miha, on the other hand, was, and still is, really good looking. For some unknown reason she took interest in me. She says that she appreciated my kindest at that time. It seems that I lost that kindest in the meanwhile, according to Miha. I am working on getting it back.

3. I've never had a problem gaining weight. On the contrary, when I was 23 years old and Miha met me, I had 57 Kg (125 pounds) and not because I was watching my diet, or because I was starving. I was skinny because of my metabolism.  By the way, I was at that time (and still am) 5'10" (1,78 cm) tall. Now I weigh 73 Kg (160 pounds), which is the most I have ever weighed in my life. I used to hate being not able to gain weight. Now I am grateful for it.

4. I am a software developer and I love it. First time I saw a computer it was in high school and after 5 minutes looking at it I knew what I want to become when I grow up. Luckily, my profession was, and still is, in very high demand and it is quite well paid, especially if you are a consultant.

5. I am geek and I fit the profile. I really love Star Trek, Matrix and I wear glasses. I am 37 years old now (my birthday is in 2 weeks from now - Dec. 14) and to my disappointment I'm starting to lose interest in geek related things. I used to know all the hidden codes for the Nokia phones. Now all I I know about my cell phone is how to access its address book.

6. I love drinking. Actually, I love the effects of drinking more than drinking itself. And I hate the hangovers. That's probably because I usually pay dearly for my nights of debauchery with a really bad hangover the next day. I always say though that it was well worth the price.

7. I love people who are not "politically correct". I guess that's why Training Payne is my favorite blog of all times. I usually try not to offend people (contrary to what Miha thinks) but I find it very hard to talk to people who are easily offended. And somehow I end up offending them anyway. Maybe Miha is right. Hey, you can take the boy from the village but you cannot take the village from the boy.

Here are a couple of pictures from when I was young and restless.

That's me, on the right. 125 pounds. And that's Miha. And the other two guys are my room mates in the campus.

And here's our wedding, 11 years ago:

That's pretty much it. Have a good one folks and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ajax Waterfront Half Marathon - PR

Miha and I raced the Ajax Half Marathon on Sunday. Ajax is a little town, located east of Toronto, where we live right now. We are doing this race every year, since we moved to Ajax 3 years ago. Coincidentally this race started 3 years ago so we can say that we are doing it since its day one. And we plan to do it for many years to come.

The route starts and ends at Rotary Park and it winds along the shores of Lake Ontario. The scenery is beautiful and the race has sold out for every year so far. It has that feeling of a little town race, which I like very much. Everybody is very friendly and nice. Plus it costs only $30, if you register in advance. Most of the big races charge double the price.

My first half marathon was Ajax Half Marathon, in 2008, and I did it with almost zero training. I finished then in 1:43:54h and I remember even now how hard that race was. My left knee was hurting for the last 5K but I sucked it up and kept running. At some point I was limping, but I kept running. I was really happy that in the end I managed to run for the entire race. The next year I managed to finish the same race in 1:34:55h, which was a PR at that time. And because in 2009 I trained properly, that race was much easier.

As you realized from the title, I got a PR on Sunday. Here are our results:

I finished in 1:30:48 h and beat my previous Half Marathon PR time by more than 4 minutes. And considering that my stomach bug is still bothering me, I am really happy with this result. For the first time I managed to get a negative split. My average pace in the second half was 2 seconds faster than in the first half. My primary goal was to get a negative split, regardless if I get a PR or not. That's because until now, at all my previous races, I always started too hard and then faded at the end. This time I raced by Heart Rate instead of racing by feeling. After failing a few times in the past, I realized that I do not have the experience to pace myself properly by feeling. So I decided to use my HR monitor as a pacing device. Regardless of how well I felt or how many other participants passed me, each time my HR spiked over 170 I slowed down and kept telling myself that my goal is to finish strong, with a negative split, even if I do not get a PR. In the end this strategy paid off. I felt strong all the way to the end and finished with a long sprint for the last 2K. My average HR was 170 and my max HR was 182.

Miha was aiming for 1:45h, but she did not feel too well and finished in 1:50:59, with one minute more than her PR. I am sure that in a good day she can get her PR down to 1:45h.

Also my friend Dan finished his first half marathon on Sunday. He finished in 1:46:21h and he was extremely happy with his result. He has every reason to be happy. It is a huge achievement for him considering that a few months ago he was afraid of running 5K.
Dan and I work downtown Toronto, in the same building, and get together during the lunch break almost every day. I guess that for a while I exasperated him with my triathlon talk and in the end he decided to give it a try. Now he exasperates me each time when he manages to improve his 5/10K time by 1 second :0). And lately he managed to get a PR every week. After finishing the half marathon with a 5:03 min/km pace he told me that a few months ago he could not run 1K at that pace. It is amazing how much you can achieve if you put your mind into it.
Dan bought a Garmin 305 GPS watch, after I lent him mine for a few days, and he's fascinated by it. I've never seen anyone so in love with a GPS watch. He keeps telling me that  it was one of the best purchases he ever made.
He also decided to do the Muskoka Half Ironman next year. Actually, we'll do it together. I am not so sure about my performance in year from now, but I know that Dan will perform very well.  It makes me happy knowing that he caught the triathlon bug from me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chasing that elusive BQ time

Today Miha and I did the Toronto Marathon. As you probably deducted from the title, none of us qualified to Boston. It just wasn't our day. I was sick and I had to slow down after 21Km and then I bonked at Km 36. Miha was sick too, but at least she managed to get a PR, so she's happy with her result.

Here's how the day went. For more than a week, Miha and I got a cold or some sort of mild flu and we did not feel well. I also got some stomach bug that gave me heartburn feelings and bloating. Last night I was coughing for a couple hours until I managed to fell asleep. In the morning my stomach was making the rumblies and I had to throw up and use the washrooms three times. Not a good way to start your day, especially when you have a marathon later on.

We got to the start line, in the Mel Lastman square, just a few minutes before the race was about to start. Then I followed Bryan's advice: go to the front of the start line, so that you'll appear in the race start photo, the one they might use to promote the next year's race. As you can see from our Time vs. Chip Time, we managed to achieve this very well, we actually were in front of the elite runners, just next to the official mascot, a white and blue big bear.

Once the gun went off, I sprinted and then moved to the side so that I won't get in the way of the faster runners. I've decided to follow the 3:15h pacing bunny and in the beginning all went very well. My heart rate was between 160-165, which is OK for me and I felt in good shape. After 5K, my HR went above 170 and I started to feel a little bit tired. At that point I already knew that I won't BQ today. From there on my HR slowly went up to 172-175 and it kind of stayed there. 175 is quite high for me and I started feeling more tired. I managed to keep up with the 3:15 pacing bunny for the first half-marathon and once I passed the 21.1 Km sign I realized that my HR was above 180. At that point I knew that it was time to slow down if I still wanted to finish the race. Also my left knee started to bother me more and more. My half-marathon time was 1:35h - 4:30 min/km, which was very good but I knew that from there on it will only go up. So, I slowed down to 5:10 min/km and my HR dropped under 165 bpm. I managed to keep that pace up to Km 36 when my left knee started to bother me really, really bad. And then the walk of shame began. I walked for the next 4K. Once I got back to downtown Toronto, I saw my friends who came to cheer me up. They saw me walking and kept telling me to start running and that the finish line was close. Thank you Ildi and Levi! I started to slowly run and once I got on the University Avenue, there were hundreds of people cheering you up. Some of them were yelling my name (it was printed on my bib) and were telling me "Go Ironman, you can do it. This should be easy for you" (I had my Ironman t-shirt). For some reason my knee pain seemed to vanish and I was running faster. My pace for the last 2.2K was under 4:40 min/km and I finished strong with a long sprint, passing everyone in front of me.

I finished in 3:42 hours, 27 minutes above my goal and 24 minutes more than my PR. It was not a good race but it taught me a few lessons, number one being: "Qualifying to Boston is not as easy as you think".

Miha finished in 4:08h. Her A goal was to BQ and her B goal was to break 4 hours. She did not accomplish any of them, but she was sick and in the end she was happy that she got a PR. Her previous marathon time was 4:14h at Mississauga Marathon in May.

We both plan to do Boston Marathon in 2012 and we have a year to qualify for it. I learnt my lesson today and I won't say anymore that it's easy to BQ, but I still think that is an achievable goal if you train properly. I know that there are many of our blog friends who want to BQ for 2012 and it will be really nice to run with them the most famous marathon in the world. And then get together and celebrate!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bucket List

Today I was reading a post on SlowTwitch about What's Your Endurance Bucket List?. Skimming through the entries I found quite a few that were interesting and so I've decided to make my own Bucket List. This is work in progress and it will probably change quite a bit in time:

So, here it is, in a random order:

 - Qualify and finish the 5 World Marathon Majors: Boston, New York, Chicago, London and Berlin

 - Qualify to Ironman World Championship 70.3

 - Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

 - American Zofingen Long Course

 - Pikes Peak Marathon

 - Antarctic Ice Marathon

 - Athens Classic Marathon

 - Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race a.k.a. Race Across The Sky

 - Finish Savageman and get my brick in the wall

 - Alpe d'Huez Long Course Triathlon

 - Comrades Marathon

- Though Mudder

- Warrior Dash

- American Triple-T

 - Qualify for and finish the Ironman World Championship in Kona

- Skydiving

 - Take a ride on the highest roller coaster in the country

- Bungee Jumping

- Dog Sled ride in Alaska

 - Marathon every year till I am still able to walk 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kids of Steel

Enough about me (for the moment being). Today's post is about Maria and Stefan, our KOS (kids of steel) children. Maria is 6 1/2 years old and Stefan is going to be 5 next month. They could not be more different. If I were to describe them in 3 words, here's what I'd say:
Maria: competitive, smart, annoying
Stefan: charming, confident, laid-back

I guess that Maria is more like me and Stefan is more like the mail man, or one of our neighbors. Ha-ha. He's just different, in a good way. He'll probably not be very good at school, but he'll not have self-esteem problems like Miha and I had. Maria, on the other hand, might have self-esteem problems, but she will be the first in her class and probably be a podium triathlete.

As much as I'd like to take credit for our awesome kids (and if you know me, you know that I like to take all the credit all the time), there's not much that I did. If you ask Miha, she'd say that there's nothing that I did beside being there (our bedroom) 9 months before our kids were born. Hey, being there, is not as easy as you might think. It is actually easier. Ha-ha. Miha, one of the best mom there is,  on the other hand, did a very good job raising our kids. But, mainly, we were just plain lucky.

Maria and Stefan participated in a few races in in the last 3 years. Below are a few pictures about these races. They say that a picture is worth 10,000 words, so I am adding a lots of pictures because I am not good with words.

The year of 2008
Maria - Orillia Kids of Steels- August 2008

The Iron Family - Orillia Kids of Steels- August 2008

The Iron Family - Orillia Kids of Steels- August 2008

The year of 2009
Peterborough YMCA Kids 1K Fun Run - February 2009

Maria - TriKids Mississauga - June 2009

The Iron Family  - Tri Kids Oakville - July 2009

The Iron Family  - Tri Kids Oakville - July 2009

The Iron Family  - Tri Kids Oakville - July 2009

Stefan - KOS Beaches - September 2009

 Stefan - KOS Beaches - September 2009

Tudor, Stefan, Andrea, Maria - KOS Beaches - September 2009

The year of 2010
East End Kids Of Steel Triathlon - June 2010 

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

Beaches KOS Duathlon - September 2010

Beaches KOS Duathlon - September 2010 - with friends

Sunday, August 29, 2010

House of Payne 5Km Beer Run

On August 28th, 2010 I attended the House of Payne 5Km Beer Run. It was a blast and I had a really, really good time, especially at the Payne-a-Poolza party that Bryan held at his house after the race.

The rules for the HOP 5K Beer Run are pretty simple: "At the start you drink one beer, then one beer every kilometre. If you "puke", you run an extra lap and have an extra beer."
More about the rules you can find on the

The HOP Beer Run is a prediction run, everyone writes down the time they think it will take to finish, then they run with no watches or timing devises. The winner is the one whose actual time comes closest to their predicted time. Before the race I thought that drinking 6 beers fast is not a big deal.  Then, during the race I realized that drinking beer fast can be really hard. It took me 20 seconds to drink the first one and probably more than 5 minutes to drink the 6th one, most of the time feeling on the verge of puking. I finished dead last, 12th out of 12 persons. My initial estimate was 24:59 and it took me 43:24 minutes to finish. Running was easy, but the drinking part was HARD.

What I found really interesting was to find out who were the people who participated in the Beer Run and the debauchery that followed after it. As Bryan said, the results will probably surprise. Of the twelve participants, all are married, none are divorced, eight have kids, eight are triathletes, three have 15 Ironman finishes between each of them, one is a Kona Qualifier and the most remarkable, is most are LEADERS in their chosen career path:
  Sr. Sales Representative
  Police Officer
  Health Inspector
  Accountant - Mergers and Acquisitions
  Canadian Tire Dealer
  Copy Writer
  Business Development and Marketing Director
  Lawyer - International Mergers and Acquisitions
  NASA Research Scientist
  Structural Engineer / Landscape Company Owner
  Computer Programmer
  Monitoring Centre Officer (Department of Corrections)

For more details about the race and the party that followed after, please read Bryan's blog. I am inserting here a few pictures and a video made by Bryan, where you can see how fun and crazy things got.