best water bottle ever?

i'll be perfectly honest: i've really struggled to find the right hydration system over the past couple of years. i've come across water bottle fail after water bottle fail, from loose-fitting lids popping off to having all of my water spill out moments into a race. i've had my share of face-fulls of hydration fluid when trying to take a quick swig during transition. in numerous races in 2009, my profile design aero bottle's secret self destruct button went off after hitting a bump, blowing off the top of the bottle, spewing my drink all over me, my bike and the road. at the toronto islands race last august, this happened as i was exiting t1, leaving me with no rehydration fluids for the rest of the race on one of the hottest days of the year. i've crossed the finish line with milky sunglasses, covered in homemade concoctions meant to be consumed, not used as ammunition in a water bottle fight. i've spent many hours post-race cleaning sticky messes off my bike and had to replenish my supply of missing parts from water bottles that have blown up while riding. and it seems that whenever i do come across something that works, the water bottle isn't big enough and even without any spilling mishaps i'm out of fluids halfway through a race or training ride. brutal.

another difficulty has been eating food. i don't buy any commercially made products like powergels or powerbars, instead choosing to make my own from a small list of high quality, raw, natural ingredients. eating my homemade bars fuels me up properly, but chewing makes my heart rate scream as my breathing changes to allow me to chew and swallow. gels are the solution to this problem, but finding the right receptacle for carrying them has been an equally challenging dilemma.

but it looks likes other, smarter people share the same long list of refueling problems. some genius out there created the Gel-bot, a 24 ounce water bottle with a built in gel flask. when i first saw it at the running room i was confused about how it worked, but after a bit of online research i added it to my holiday wish list. i now have three of them, and after using them for only three workouts, i'm absolutely blown away by how great they are. the bottle has a valve that looks like any other water bottle valve: pull the valve up to drink water, push the valve down to stop the water flow. however, when you push the valve down, you're able to get the gel that you've already put into the built in "energy core", which is a little cylinder that holds 2 gel packs worth of gels. it uses a little piston system (similar to a syringe), and all you have to do is suck out the gel between gulps of water. this bottle is also bpa-free and fits in a regular water bottle cage on any bike. brilliant. no more messy gel packs, no more racing heart rates while chewing, no more time fiddling to get food out of your jersey pockets. now why didn't i think of that?

happy holidays!

the holidays are upon us and i would like to wish my family, friends and fellow multisport athletes a very happy holiday season. this can be a hectic time for many of us and i hope you all have a chance to sit back, put your feet up and take a moment to enjoy yourself during the chaos of the season.

all my best to you and yours.

toroto criterium pics

i completely forgot that i had these pics. i was organizing and printing some photos this afternoon and came across about 200 pictures i took at the toronto crit that took place last may at the st. lawrence market in toronto. this event was on a friday evening and i stopped by after work, camera in tow, to check out my first crit. the energy at this event made the hair stand up on the back of my neck; the athletes were zipping by at more than 40km/h and the crowd was jumping. even if you're not a cycling geek this event is worth checking out. let's hope we see it again in 2010.

the importance of balance

so in my last post i mentioned that i had only missed one or two workouts since getting started on my program at the beginning of november. i was thinking about it and realized that both workouts i missed i was able to make up for a day or two later. however, as the holidays are approaching and work is crazy, i missed two workouts last week that i haven't been able to make up, as well as last night's weekly yoga class. the workout i missed last thursday was a pretty important one. important because it would have been an easy way to see if my training is actually paying off. i was supposed to take part in an indoor 40k time trial at absolute endurance but couldn't because i had to work late. the last indoor 40k TT i did was in mid-october so i was anxious to see how my wattage and time has improved with about 8 weeks of training. but no go. i thought i could make up for that missed TT on sunday but just couldn't fit it in.

i had to email my coach yesterday to let him know that there's a very good chance i'll be missing a number of workouts over the next couple of weeks, mostly because of work. i had to work on saturday and sunday of this past weekend and will probably have to do the same this upcoming weekend, and right now my focus has to be getting my work done. deadlines are deadlines, after all.

and it's just that time of year. things are crazy for pretty much everybody this time of year so i've decided i'm not going to feel bad if i miss some workouts. once the holidays pass and the new year gets rolling, i won't be as busy as i am right now and i'll get right back on track. no sweat. the holidays mean traveling, seeing family and friends, eating excessively and not stressing about the little things. like missing a workout. i am pretty bummed that i missed that workout last week and won't be able to make up for it, but i think i'd rather worry about which wine i should bring to which holiday party.

however, my body is fairly sensitive to my work/workout balance. if i do too much of either without balancing it out with the other, my sleep quality is affected. and that's where i am right now. i've had about a week's worth of nights with little or no good, deep sleep. all i've been doing over the past couple of weeks is working working working and it's taking its toll. so today i've decided that no matter what, i'm going to go to the gym for a bit of a break in my work day. i haven't been to the gym in weeks because i've been so busy, but i decided last night while i was lying in bed staring at the ceiling at 3 in the morning that if i'm going to be working a 10- or 12-hour day, i'm going to reward myself with a trip to the gym, even if that means that i get an hour's less worth of work done. if i'm busy i still need balance, because too much of anything can take a toll on your body, mind and spirit. not a great place to be when the holidays are approaching.

feeling it today

it's been a long, loooonnng time since my last entry, and only because not too much has been going on. training is going well and ever since starting up again just over a month ago, i think i've only missed one workout. maybe two? life has been busy, especially work. the holidays are approaching fast but that doesn't change the fact that project deadlines are looming, so i've been putting in a lot of extra hours at work these days. i haven't been to the gym in a few weeks because i haven't been able to afford the time during working hours, but morning and evening run/ride workouts are going well.

my coach has been giving my leg lots of time to heal before pushing ahead fully with running workouts, and i think i've only done one hard, run-specific workout. all other run workouts have been slow and short, 45 minutes being the longest. needless to say, my running legs are sluggish and i definitely, definitely, definitely am not the runner i used to be. my legs feel heavy, and even a modest pace feels like an effort. i'm struggling to get my splits down to levels i want to be at. however, it's good that i haven't been pushing my running legs too much. for the first three weeks or so, the day after any run done outside (any run not done on a treadmill) my right leg would be bothering me with aches similar to those i had just before my stress fracture. i was concerned and thought i may have to cut out running again for a few more weeks, but now that my legs are stronger and i've been back at it for awhile, all seems well. i've been pain free after all of my outdoor runs for the past couple of weeks, but efforts still remain short and slow.

since running training has been light, that's left lots of time for riding and my bike training has been going great. when my coach and i sat down to talk about what sort of program i'm looking for, i told him i want him to push me, and he definitely hasn't let me down. i've been working harder on my riding then i ever have, and feel like most of my training rides in the past were nothing but unfocussed spinning sessions. every workout feels like it matters and it's making a difference. it's pretty awesome. i don't expect to roll out on my bike in the spring and suddenly be able to push an average of 60km/h or anything, but i do expect to improve my times from 2009. and i'm going to need those improved bike times to make up for the fact that i'm mr. slowy mcslowy out there on the run.

anyways, on to the reason i wanted to do a blog entry today: i've just finished a couple of tough interval workouts on the bike and am feeling completely exhausted today. thursday was intervals at low cadence, high resistance (12 x 2 mins, 30 secs recovery, followed later by 8 x 2 mins, 15 secs recovery). these low cadence, high resistance were extreeeeeeeemmly tough and i was telling tara, that day's group leader, that i don't think i like her any more. i wasn't nearly pushing my full wattage and it still felt like i was pushing about 10 times that because it was so hard.

this morning was another tough intervals workout, which included 6 sets at maximum heart rate. i was practically ready to faint by the time i got through those first 6 intervals, and when they were over i still had nearly an hour of riding left before my cool down. now here i am at home, getting ready to head out for the night with some friends and i'm feeling completely exhausted. and tired. even with a full day off in between those workouts i'm feeling burnt. it doesn't help that i just finished reading an article about how your muscles basically get torn to pieces when doing high resistance, heavy workload intervals and you should give yourself a couple of days recovery time before doing any more similar workouts. tomorrow is another day off and i'm looking forward to it, and i also can't wait for my next recovery ride.