Archive for the ‘zen’ Tag

The Zen of Running the Track   Leave a comment

Mid-January – the extraordinarily warm weather in Edmonton has given way to cooler, more seasonal temperatures. That, and especially the extremely icy conditions, have curtailed outdoor running for me (and cycling the roads is likely two months away). What’s a guy to do?

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in years and that is run indoors on a track. I have had a negative mind set against running indoors – BORING! (and that includes treadmills). I find that time slips away so much quicker when I am running (or riding for that matter) out of doors. I headed over to the University of Alberta “Butterdome” with its 200 meter track. It was such a joy to run on.

Once I got going, I had to keep an eye on my heart rate so that I didn’t go too fast and tire out too quickly. I was aiming for a 40 minute run and that’s what I did. I’m not sure how far I went but it must have been a little over 6K – but that doesn’t matter. What I really enjoyed, especially after the icy conditions of my recent outdoor runs, was the absolutely sure footing. When I don’t have to use 90% of my brain just to pick out safe places to put my foot with each step, I can go into a meditative/contemplative state – I love that! Going around the track, I was aware of my breathing and running form and other than that, not much. I was at peace.

After 30 minutes of “warm up” I did allow myself to do a 50 meter acceleration each lap. That felt really good and again it was not something I would try outside except in the driest of conditions. Having been on the track this once, I will keep going on a regular basis (maybe 2 or 3 times a week). I do hope to introduce a bit more interval/speed work as I get back in better shape.

As I write, the snow is starting to fall. I hope we get enough to cover up the ice and even better if there is enough to cross-country ski and snowshoe upon. Whether that happens or not, it ‘s good to know that the track is a good option for keeping active until spring cycling.

Posted January 14, 2012 by Randy Talbot in cross training, Running

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Zen and Cycling in the Rain   2 comments

{EAV_BLOG_VER:ffcd3c903166c67d} – just an Empire Avenue verification tag

With summer-like temperatures comes other summer weather patterns like a build up of clouds in the afternoon and the rain – either a stormy downpour or a steady light rain.

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday May 22), after doing some gardening in the morning sun I prepared to head out for a ride.  By the time I got into my cycling gear, and got the tires pumped up, the sky in the west was getting quite dark. I knew there was a very significant chance of rain but the clouds didn’t look like the big thunderstorm type so I wasn’t going to chicken out and not do my ride.

Faced with riding west towards the dark clouds or east towards the remaining blue sky I chose to go west. I figured if it did get rainy and windy and I had to dash home, better to do it with a tail wind than to have a driving rain in my face. I took one of my favorite routes from downtown Edmonton to the Terwilligar area. The sun was still shining for the most part as I headed west. One of the highlight of this ride was seeing the flowering trees in full bloom there were stunning deep pink trees in Louise McKinney Park (on the switchbacking trail through the rose gardens [map]) and on the trail through Rossdale. I should have stopped for a photo of these trees but thought I would do so on the way back.

As I rode down River Road and south up Groat Road gradually the sky became overcast. It was still nice and warm with temperatures in the low 20’s so I felt very comfortable in shorts and a light short sleeve cycling jersey. I started to encounter a few rain drops as I made my way up behind Fort Edmonton Park. What a lovely stretch of trail that is, through a lovely grove of trees. It was fun to hear the old steam engine from the park chugging away just a short distance away through the trees.

As I made my way up Whitemud Drive to the top of the riverbank [map], the rain became steadier and I became quite wet. I was glad I was on my touring bike, complete with fenders to save me from getting a wet and dirty stripe up my back, but by this time I was resigned to the fact that I was going to be wet.

I find that once I accept this fact I really can enjoy riding in the rain. There is no use worrying about it – just relax

Keillor Road Bike Path in the Rain

There is something about the rain that seems to accentuate the senses and make life seem richer. First there are less people out in the rain so you are more alone with your self and able to concentrate on your senses. I find that my senses seem so much more acute too. Even though there is no bright sunshine to give high contrast, the colors of anything wet seems more intense. The greens of the trees seem so saturated and the wetness on the roads turn them into highly reflective surfaces. I particularly noticed this cycling back along the wet Keillor Road path. The relatively new pavement was so shiny and black and to add to the atmosphere there was a wonderful mist coming off it, as the heat the asphalt had absorbed when the sun was shining was now vaporizing the water.

The sense of smell also seems enhanced by the rain. The rain itself can have a very invigorating aroma but the humidity in the air also seems to carry the fragrance of the trees (which are already pretty strong and nice at this time of year).

Of course it is important not to get carried away by the wonderful sights and smells. The rain does bring hazards to the road (particularly slippery spots) and so caution is required. It is important to have a heightened focus on the road conditions and to slow down appropriately. Somehow though that focus, that being in the here and now, also turns out to be a pleasure and benefit of riding in the rain.

It can be a great experience – cycling in the rain. I don’t necessarily go seeking a wet ride but if rain happens just make the best of it!

[What are your thought on riding in the rain? Please leave a comment]

Posted May 23, 2011 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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Zen – One with the Bike   Leave a comment

I recently had a great ride, one of those peak experiences on two wheels.

I was out on my road bike, my stripped down, “fast” bike. It’s nothing too special mind you – a 30-year old steel tube frame with its original wheels but with the addition of clipless pedals and high pressure clinchers it is a fair bit more responsive than my touring or mountain bikes. When I’m on this bike, I am one with it, we are one entity – my legs, the pedals, the chain, the wheels, the road. It is as if I was 100,000 years in the future when man has evolved to his ultimate form. Okay perhaps that’s getting a little too “out there” but it was a good ride and if you cycle you probably know the feeling.

So I am cruising along one of my usual training routes through the trails and residential streets from central Edmonton to the Terwilligar area in the southwest. It is a 40K out and back route that I typically do. Also typically I will pause at my turnaround point to eat a few bites of an energy bar (a mint chocolate one I think it was this day).

I arrive at the turnaround, the entry into a quiet cul-de-sac, I slow down, take a deep breath, anticipate my snack and a drink and think how darn good I am feeling. I coast around to the corner and brake to a stop … only to fall over onto the ground (fortunately onto a nice thick , soft area of grass).

You see, so at one with my bike I was feeling, that I completely forgot about unclipping my shoe from the pedal and putting a foot on the ground. Oops!

Fortunately, this happened at a quiet time in a quiet neighborhood, so I don’t think anyone saw me – but I almost wish some one had. I’m sure my fall would have looked like a well rehearsed move and I like a dancer.  I slowly fell onto my butt, then nonchalantly unclipped my shoe as I reached for my water bottle, had a drink and laid back into the grass – ahhh (“I meant to do that – yah, really”).

I had to chuckle then, and I smile every time I recall that ride – and the little non-riding portion when I realized that I wasn’t quite one with the bike.

Posted July 14, 2010 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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