Good Times!

I went to Cher last night with my wife and some great friends. I wasn’t overly pumped to go but, I thought I would tag along. Am I ever glad I did.
It was pretty amazing!
First off, Cindy Lauper was the opening act. I went through my youth in the 80s so I spent a good portion of that time listening to her hits. She nailed it. She is 61 years old and has been at this a long time. She knew exactly what an opening act should do. She got the crowd ready for a great show using humour and banter between hit after hit. Running the gamut from the up beat, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, to the melancholy, True Colors. Which was made even sadder because it was played on a dulcimer.
I would say that, for me, she was well worth the $70 I paid for the ticket.
It wasn’t to end there though.
Cher came out and knocked it out of the park. She opened with 2 songs before taking a moment to address the crowd. Before she could speak, she had to wait for a very long and boisterous applause. It was quite refreshing to hear her lay down some truth. She was blunt and unapologetic for her being so awesome.
She basically said (and I’m paraphrasing), I’m 68 and too old for this. I’m busting my ass for you and I’m an icon so you are going to love this show.
She wasn’t wrong.
She made about 9 costume changes, never going more than 2 songs in the same one. While she was changing, the set went through massive, elaborate design changes as well.
All-in-all, it was a spectacle worth of Cher.
As I said before, I paid $70 for this ticket. I have been to a lot of concerts. I have to say that an artist of her ilk could have charged much more and probably gotten it with ease. I have paid much more to see shows that were no where near the quality of this one.
If I could sum it up it would be to say that Cher realizes what it is her fans want to see and, I genuinely felt that, she worked hard to make sure that they got it.

The First Race

So yesterday marked my first ever Triathlon.  I spent the last few months trying to prepare for this event.  I have been working with an awesome training group and have asked numerous questions of them (and everyone else I know that had some experience). The great folks at Element Cycling and Multisport had some excellent advice for me.  The most important of which was not to worry about it and just have fun.

There are a bunch of people there all getting ready and, quite truly, nobody gives a shit what you are doing.  Each competitor is concerned with their own preparations and is getting ready for their own struggles.  That did not stop me from surveying the land though.  There were participants of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Some looked like they really knew what they were doing.  Some looked like they were completely out of their element.  I probably fell somewhere in between as I had no clue what I was doing but, I was definitely outfitted to look the part.

I was reminded of being told, by more than one person, that “you are going to have plenty of things go wrong on your first race.” So, with that in mind and nerves mounting, I get ready for my race to begin.  Cam gave me solid advice that, if the water is cold, I should try to get in before the start so I could get over the shock of the temperature.  When your body hits the water the cold forces you to try to hyperventilate but, the constrictive nature of the wetsuit overrides your body from letting you.IMG_4768

This picture is me standing in the water after doing a swim out to the 125m buoy trying to “warm up” as per Cam’s advice.  Let’s be clear here, I use quotes around the words warm up because this is in no way what you are actually doing.  The phrase “freezing my balls to the point of turning them into tiny little whiskey rocks” would be much more accurate.  At 16 degrees, it is hardly what a sane person would call “swimming temperature.”

Time to get out of the water and head to the start line.  I stand there waiting for the horn to go off and thoughts are running through my head.  A list of rules for myself:

IMG_47721) Don’t die.

2) If you do manage to follow rule 1, finish the race.

Amendment to rule 2) In one piece.

3) Don’t pee in the wetsuit – I want my deposit back.

4) Do everyone that has supported me, and myself, proud.

5) Because I am competitive, compete!

6) Have fun!

7) DON’T DIE!!!

If you are going to go on an adventure like this for yourself, please feel free to use this list of rules.

HORN SOUNDS!!!

We are off.  I make my way into the water swiftly all excited to get going.  I am doing awesome.  (The course is 2 triangular laps of 375m with each side of the triangle being about 125m.) I am in about 4th place at the first buoy.  IMG_4774That is me in the black cap at the top right. That’s when it happened exactly as Cam said it would.  My breath was gone.  The cold had caught up to me and I really started struggling.  I just could not get enough air in my lungs.  I kept trying to freestyle but, I just couldn’t breathe.  Cam said that people get the feeling that they want the wetsuit off and I knew exactly what he was talking about.  It was like he was in my mind.  I just wanted out of it.  At the 150m point of a race that was 25.75km, I honestly thought I was going to have to quit.

I didn’t!

Because I had been told what was going to happen, I was prepared.  I calmed down and did what I could to keep moving.  I switched to the breast stroke for a while.  At least I was moving forward.  My pace slowed right down and I started to drop positions but, I was still going.  I managed to get through it, alternating between freestyle and breast stroke until I made the last turn for the shore.  That’s when I started to figure some things out.  I usually breathe out under water and inhale as I come up but, I was so cold I was forgetting everything I knew.  I was trying to breathe out and in every time I came out of the water which was making it impossible to get enough air into my lungs.  I got my shit together and started doing what I was supposed to.  My last 125m was somewhat better and I was back in the game.

I came out of the water in 16th place (out of 45) at a decent time for me, especially with all the challenges I had.

IMG_4778Off to the transition.  I definitely need to work on this as I lost a ton of time here.  I wouldn’t doubt if my first transition was the slowest of all the athletes.  Partly because I was new to this but, also because I didn’t really care that I was slow.  I really took my time with everything.  It was a little ridiculous.  I think exhaustion from the swim overtook me and I became worried about the most minuscule things.  I spent a lot of time trying to clean my feet of the dirt from the run between the water and transition area (who cares how clean your feet are idiot, get your ass moving).

On to the bike.  My whole thought during the end of the painful swim was to get some air back on the bike.  I hopped on and started pumping those legs. I started to really get into a groove.  The course was 2 laps of a 10km loop.  It was pretty straight forward.  No turns other than at the turn arounds. IMG_4781 A slight hill when heading west, which also happened to be into the wind. Going east was awesome though because it was slightly down hill with the wind at your back for the most part.  My ride was feeling great.  My Felt AR5 smoothly handling the road.  Through the first 7.5km I had passed about 6 people.  I was feeling fantastic.  Legs were good, lungs were good, LIFE was good.  That’s when the problem happened.  I took a turn and my bike computer started catching the magnet on the spoke.  It was making a thump every time it caught the computer module.  Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump…

(In hindsight, I have realized that my brain was either slightly frozen from the cold water or my fatigue had reached some kind of molecular level that it caused the synapses in my brain to slow enough that I thought this would be a good idea.)

I needed to fix the problem so, I reached down to adjust the computer sensor catching my fingers in the spokes in the process.

SON OF A BITCH!!!

It hurt like hell but, there was no time for pain.  I was on a mission.  Back on to the aero bars and back to moving those tires.  “Wait a minute. Why do my fingers feel wet? Oh, no big deal, they are just bleeding.”  I inspect them a little closer to see that I had ripped a good chunk of my index finger open.  And, due to the obviously extreme speed I am capable of riding at, the wind is blowing plasma all over my right hand and every other place on the right side of my body, bike, water bottle, shoes… you get the picture.  It was actually probably good that I was racing at the time because I think the adrenalin helped to curb some of the pain I was feeling. IMG_0944

“Come on Holcek, use the pain to fuel you! You’re a beast!”

I continue to make up some ground, passing a few more along the way, and roll into the transition feeling like a champ.  At this point, I knew I had tape under my seat that Cam had put there for tricky situations like this one.  I was thinking it would be a great idea to use it as a band aid.  Problem is, in the heat of the moment, I couldn’t actually get it out and I killed more time in the second transition (I really need to work on these).  My brother captured a great video of me acting like a babbling idiot instead of actually racing.  I was focused on getting my socks on without getting blood on them.  I swear, my brain must have shut down at some point during the swim due to lack of oxygen because I just can’t explain things any other way.

I’m off and, quite literally, running.

I head out of the transition area and make my way to the run course.  Two laps consisting of 2 loops each.  As I run up the first straight away, it becomes apparent that I have overestimated my need for fluids.  I can feel liquid sloshing around in my belly and am slightly on the bloated side.  This, coupled with the fact that my calves are very tight and I feel like they are on the verge of cramping, is not doing anything to install confidence in the next 5km of the race.IMG_0943

I keep my legs moving.  This is a mantra that I have managed to keep throughout my training.  “Just keep your legs moving.” After the first kilometre or so, I look down at my watch and see that I am actually making decent time. Even with all of the discomfort, I am doing it.  As the run gets further along, I start to actually feel better.  I make the final turn and over the last kilometre and, I just remember thinking about how awesome it is that I am finishing it.

One of the best things about the whole day was the fact that I had my family there cheering me on.  It felt amazing to hear their support and encouragement throughout the event.

As well, I managed to finish all the of the goals I set for myself.  I lived through it.  I finished it in, mostly, one piece.  I didn’t pee in the wetsuit.  I feel like I did my supporters proud and, I know I was proud of myself.  I felt like I competed (although I will do better in the future).  I had an amazing time!  Again, I didn’t die!  I finished in 17th place and raised $6000 (highest total raised) for an amazing cause.

Now it’s back to training and using all of what I learned to get better.  I am really looking forward to my next race.

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Beer Phingers does some good: but not on his own!

You are all aware of my goal to finish the olympic length triathlon in September.  As a training tool, and just to get some experience, I have also signed up for some sprint triathlons.  The first of which is, the Cross Cancer Institute Triathlon at Half Moon Lake on June 7th.  This will be a chance for me to see what the event is all about and to get my bearings so that I feel a little more comfortable going in to the bigger event in September.

When I started this whole thing I did it to get myself back in to shape.  I set the goal to do the Vancouver Triathlon because I have friends that live there and, I wanted to share what I saw as a real achievement in my life with them.  For the CCI event, when you sign up they ask for a minimum $250 in donations.  I set my fundraising goal at $500 and thought that would be great.  Because I have such amazing, supportive friends and family, I was able to eclipse that goal in no time flat.  I then increased my goal to $1000 figuring that it would be awesome if I could get there.  Once again, I underestimated the generosity of the people in my life.  I blew through that number almost immediately and then raised my goal to $2500, thinking that I might as well stretch it and go for something outstanding.
At that point I received a call from Lindsay, the Events Development Officer for the Cross Cancer Institute, and she told me about the fundraising efforts last year.  The highest fundraiser was about $2500.  Based on that number, I decided to raise my goal to $5000.  If I am being %100 honest, I did not think I would make it.  But, if somebody else wants to be top fundraiser then every dollar I raise forces them to raise another dollar for this amazing cause.  Once again, shame on me for not realizing just how giving my friends and family are.  I have since surpassed my goal and could not be more proud of what I have been able to accomplish.
I don’t care if I finish first in fundraising.  I just want to get as much as I can because I believe in where it is going.  If somebody finishes with more donations than I do, all the power to them and let’s all thank them for doing their part.
On top of all of the people that have supported me through their kind words and donations and such, I owe a lot to Element Cycling and Multisport.  Since I have bought my bike, they have brought me in and treated me like a part of the family.  I have mentioned before that I joined their training group and, even though I am a rank amateur of the lowest order, I am a part of their race team.  (A fact I am sure they will regret if I happen to drop dead from exhaustion or just curl up in the fetal position sucking my thumb on the side of the course somewhere).
It means a lot to be a part of the team.  I feel that I am representing something other than myself.  I am very happy that I can help represent them and, I hope to do so with honour.  First off, they deserve the publicity.  Not that I have a huge blog following or that a ton of people are going to notice little ole me but, I want as many people as I can tell to know how great a business they run.  Second, it gives an increased motivation to drive you.  I am not only motivated by not letting myself down but, I am also driven to not let them down.  Especially because of the training and advice they have provided me.  I have worked hard.  Element has put me through my paces.  At times, I have been fully convinced that I have discarded various body parts.  That they have just fallen off or out of my body due to abuse.  Specifically, my legs and lungs.  Only to find out that a couple days later I seem to be fully intact.
I know that I still have a long way to go and I will continue to update those of you that are interested through my blog and other social media posts.  But, I just wanted to say what a positive experience I have had so far.  I don’t just mean the getting back in to shape part either.  I am talking everything.  The being involved mostly.  Being involved in the team.  Being involved in the fundraising.  Being involved in the fitness.  And, being a part of such a great support network.
I strongly encourage anyone who has thought about something like this, and is putting it off, to take the first step.  I put it off for years.
“I am going to get back out there.”
“I am going to start running again.”
“I am going to try and get in shape again.”
Etc, etc, etc…
I made these proclamations for years.  I am happy my wife helped me get started last year.  I am grateful that she knew how to give me the push to get off my ass.  I should have done it for myself.  I should have started without her needing to give me that motivation but, I didn’t. She knew me well enough to know what to say.  Of course she did.  It wasn’t, “Hey Fatty, get off your ass!”  It was kind.  It was “I know you want to do it.  Do it.”
I usually don’t get so sappy and preachy.  I generally like to keep it light but again I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish, however small it may be.  I did not do it on my own though.  I am very proud of what all of you have done to help me get to where I am. It’s not a huge feat but, it’s something and it’s good for me.  I’m not special.  Everyone can do something.  Take the first step.  You will not regret it. (I am starting to feel a little like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged here. Obviously not the same context but you get it.)
There are some links to check out if you are interested in this type of thing.  I strongly encourage you to do so.

Beer Phingers: Full On Training

I have made my goals for the year and I have signed up for a few triathlons. I am doing 2 sprint triathlons in the Edmonton area before tackling my ultimate goal which is an olympic distance triathlon in Vancouver 5 days before my 40th birthday.  The first one I am doing is the Cross Cancer Institute Triathlon at Half Moon Lake on June 7th.

I am very excited and decidedly less nervous about my actual fitness for the event then I am about the logistics of running a race like this (transitions, gear, protocol…). Part of the reason I am not as worried about my fitness is that, in preparation for these events, I have joined the Team Element Race Team as a Social Media Champion.  In doing this I have signed up for all the professionally coached training you could ask for.

Over the past year, and up to this point, I have been working by myself.  Swimming a lot at the YMCA and running whenever I could.  Biking a little on a stationary bike at the gym and then riding my newly purchased, sexy, two wheeled beast on the trainer indoors.  This was until the weather turned a little better and I was able to hit the road with the training group a few times.  It felt so good to get out on an actual bike ride.  Besides 1 day when I helped some friends move, I literally had not really been on a bicycle in about 20 years, maybe more. I was so excited.  You can tell by the crazy non-photogenic smile on my face. image 2 It was awesome! There are numerous reasons for this awesomeness. First off, as a guy that has always been a little on the hefty side, I have dreamed about wearing the tightest close a man can humanly squeeze in to.  Second, aside from a slight issue at one light, I was able to get my feet out of my clips with fairly little issue.  I was concerned that I would look something like this at every red light.

Third, and probably most importantly, it really wasn’t that bad.  I picked it up quite quickly. Turns out that riding a bike is like riding a bike.

The best thing about being involved with this group is the environment that Cam, Elise and Jason foster in all of the training that I have been a part of with them.  It doesn’t matter what level you are.  You can be a beginner, which I feel a lot like, or a seasoned triathlete and you are still going to benefit from what they do.  For me, the biggest challenge that I have had getting started in all this has really been my own mind and the insecurities that I have about looking like an amateur.  As Cam so bluntly put it, “nobody gives a shit what your doing.” It’s totally true.  Everyone that is out there is far more focused on what they are doing than they are about how out of place you look.

Working with this training group, even in these early days, has been such a great experience for me.  I went swimming with them and I had some issues with breathing.  Within half a length Jason was able to tell me exactly what I was doing wrong.  He pointed out a few other things to work on and after 1 session I really felt like I had gotten something out of my investment. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t just say you want to do something like this and not work at it.  If you want to get involved and you want to improve, then you need to put in just as much work as these fine people and coaches are putting in.  My work schedule often interferes with the times that they have but I continue to take the advice that I have been given and, if I can’t make it out, then I find time to work on my own, practicing what they preach. My point here, in probably a more verbose way that needed, is that I have invested to train with Element and I can’t overstate how worth it this investment has been.  It is so much easier to do things when you feel like you are a part of a team.  It is even that much easier when that team is nurturing and positive.  I highly recommend that you hit them up if you are thinking about trying something like this.

If you are interested in supporting me and donating to the Alberta Cancer and the Cross Cancer Institute, please click the lick below. #fightcancer

First things first, please click the link if you are interested in donating. http://albertacancer.ca/CCITRI2014/Participant?tab=0&frsid=12667

Is Runner’s Nipple a Thing?

Yes it is and if the term hasn’t been coined before, I am doing it now.

I went to the gym and decided I was going to try a long run (long for me, not for any of you marathoners out there).  I was set on 15km.  I figured, with a good pace, I could get there and not feel too bad.

I got on the treadmill and started going.  I felt great, and did for a good portion of the run.  Sure there were ups and downs but, I was doing really good.  So much so that, when I made it to 15km I thought “let’s go for 16km” as that would be 10 miles.  I made it there and thought about pushing it for 1hr and 30 min.  Got there, and decided to end it on 17km.

I was feeling so accomplished.  I did the cool down and drank some water.  While wiping the sweat off of me, I happened to look down and see 2 very distinctive red streaks running down my chest.  I took a very quick trip through the possibilities.  I knew I didn’t have some kind of freak Kool Aid incident where I spilled on myself.  I was also pretty sure that, since I was facing a glass wall, it was not snipers.  It was doubtful that it was lactate as my nursing days are either long over or not yet here depending on how you look at it.  Then it finally hit me.

Chafing!

Now, I have heard rumours of this and I am not immune to chafing.  I have had many discussions of the discomfort of trying to walk, or finish a soccer game, while in the throes of a good chafing episode.  It has always been extremely painful and usually in the groinal (yes I know that’s not a word but I’m using it) region.  This was a more frequent struggle when my body shape was a little on the fluffier side.  I just didn’t think that this would be something I would fall victim to.  Not that I think my nipples are particularly strong, steely or chafe resistant.  I just never considered it.

So now here I stand on a treadmill, facing a wall and trying to figure out how I get to the change room without being pointed at and mocked by the evening YMCA crowd.  (The first picture isn’t me but, this is how I felt I looked.  The second one is my shirt after I tried getting the blood out at the gym)  130437233_450baccb91_zAfter a few trials and many creative ideas, I managed to come up with an inventive way to hold my towel and water bottle that afforded me the highest level of discretion I could have hoped for.

Now I’m at the change room and taking off my clothes and thinking, “well that was ridiculous.  Let’s get cleaned up so we can go home, Trevor.”  (I don’t think I often talk to myself as a separate person in my thoughts but, for the purpose of this post it works)

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I head in to the shower glad that my ordeal is over and that I can get on with my day.  However, my ordeal is not over, not by a long shot.  I never felt the nipple chafing while I was running.  Whether that was down to adrenalin or numbness matters not.  The point is, I didn’t feel it.  I did, however, feel it when the water from the shower hit me.  The instant the water ran down my body, and to my nipples, it felt has if there was someone in there with me using a blow torch to gently sear the tips of my tender teats.

Anyway, this may have been a complete over share moment but, since it is a part of my training I felt that the public deserved to know.  I can only hope that this can be served as a PSA and, if I can save 1 person from this tragic fate then I will have done my part.  So, I have found this website if you need prevention.

NipGuards

Beer Phingers Buys a Bike – 2014, the first bit

Moving forward from the last post, it is now January of 2014 and I need to get in gear for the triathlon this year.  Now the first thing to be aware of when you are taking on such a task and you are married, or in any other kind of serious relationship,  is that your significant other NEEDS to be on board.  Actually, not just on board but very supportive.  I say this, not because it is expensive getting started but, because it can be SUPER EXPENSIVE getting started.  My wife was behind me on this so she made me a little savings jar to get me started.  image 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First off, the bike is pricey.  It’s also not just the bike. There are a lot of things a first timer needs.  The equipment was far beyond my scope so that meant seeking the advice of someone in the know.
I was looking around for a place to start and a friend of mine recommended Element Cycling and Multisport.  I popped in one afternoon and met with the owners, Cam and Elise.  I told Cam my plan and asked him to get me pointed in the right direction.  Cam was super helpful and we spent an hour just going over the basics of the bike and what I should be looking for.  We looked at some really nice rides but, he got me hooked on a beauty.  When IAR5_1 saw the Felt AR5, I was sold.

It was probably more than I needed for my first bike but, it was so nice I had to have it.

Then it was time for the add ons.  Cam helped me decide on a set of Louis Garneau shoes,  Time pedals and, T4 Plus aero bars.

My bike was pretty geared up and I achieved the first goal: looking the part! This first step is important because as Cam told me, “if you can’t be fast, at least look fast.”

If you ever want to jump into this crazy world of triathlons and you want to talk to some people that:

A) know what they are talking about,

B) care about what they do,

C) won’t make you feel stupid for not knowing and, most importantly,

D) know customer service like no others

then you need to go to Element!  Cam and Elise have guided me very well since the moment I walked in their shop and, I would now consider them friends as much as I do gurus in the triathlon business.  They have been the Tenzing Norgay in my climb up this Everest I call triathlon. (incidentally, if you don’t get that reference then please look it up)

Now I have to set my sights on acting the part.

Beer Phingers Ditches Some Pounds – 2013

I have decided to add some posts to this blog to chronicle my journey in weight loss and fitness towards my goal of doing an olympic length triathlon this September for my 40th birthday.
So, last year I decided it was time to start losing some weight. Actually, I had decided that it was time for that multiple hundreds of times before last year but, last March was when I actually took action (with the help of a gentle push/encouragement from my wife).
I started by getting a gym membership. It was fantastic timing as the YMCA was having a sale. I got set up, put all my gym clothes on and headed upstairs to the treadmill. I have to do some back tracking here so that you have a bit of an idea of my history. I have always been fairly athletic or at least athletically inclined. I played a lot of sports when I was younger. I was never amazing in any of them but, I was pretty good in most. Better in some than others but, I was always able to compete. I used to be quite a good long distance runner in school as well. My problem is that, as I have become older, I haven’t really reconciled my brain to match up with my actual age. So although I am in my late 30’s, in my head, I feel like I can do all of the things I did when I was much, much, MUCH younger. This has lead to some unpleasant situations, broken parts and probably a few near death experiences.
So, back to the treadmill. I hopped on and started the machine on a random elevation setting with a 2 being the max and started running. I continued to increase the speed to something I felt was a good pace for me and landed on 6 mph. I was set on completing 5 km and, although the 6 mph was fine in the first 30 seconds, it got tough in a hurry.  My legs and lungs were burning and I was pretty sure that I was going to go flying off of the back end as a youtube sensation.  Periodically I would measure my heart rate on the treadmill (even though I could almost clearly feel it pounding out of my chest). Being 225ish lbs and 38 years old, 185-190bpm was probably higher than I should have been at but, I didn’t know any better so I kept on trucking. I finished my 5 km. And, this is how I tend to do things. Probably not the best and definitely not for everyone but, such is life.
Fast forward three months. I managed to lose 30lbs and get down to the weight I wanted to be at. Among other things, I did a lot of running, a lot of swimming and a lot of stationary bike riding. I then decided to revive a thought I had as a teenager and make doing a triathlon my next goal.
As it was now June and I didn’t think it was likely that I was going to do one before the end of the summer (mostly due to lack of funding because I needed a bike) I decided to turn my attention to 2014.

(to be continued…)