Rideau Lakes Prep – Kanata Lakes to Stewartville

As is starting to become a tradition, I took the final Monday before the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour off and went out for a long ride with my friend Earl. And is also sadly becoming a tradition, we had a long day fighting some stiff winds.

We picked a Saturday OBC route that takes a long ride out through the countryside through Carp, Pakenham, Waba and Stewartville before returning via Arnprior, Galetta, Dirleton, Dunrobin, and South March.

Definite highlights of the trip:

Unfortunately, the battery on my Garmin ran out so I didn’t capture the track from Dunrobin to home via 6th Line and March Valley Road. A quick route plot on a map indicated this added another 23.6km, plus a nice training climb on Thomas Dolan (Earl may disagree, especially in the 30 degree weather).

I think I am tentatively ready for the weekend. Bring on the good weather.

Rideau Lakes Prep – To the Canal and Back

I was hoping to get home from work a bit earlier and get out for a longer ride in the afternoon but things didn’t quite work out. Instead, I decided to take an easier ride downtown to the canal and back through the experimental farm. At least I could avoid much of the wind that I would have been exposed to on a longer countryside ride.

It was a fairly uneventful ride but the paths sure were busy along the river. That made for a very uneven pace as I slowed when approaching someone and accelerated past when there was a clear opening. I wasn’t in a hurry so it was all right.

I’m looking forward to doing this ride again sometime, especially as the kids get a bit older and can do some of it with me.

Ottawa Race Weekend – Half-Marathon

The big test of the physiotherapy was here. I partially tore a muscle in my left calf on April 2 (and April 7 and April 20…) so my early season goal of 1:35 turned into an early season goal of just running. With some solid work and coaching from Aaron at PSI, the muscle has changed from painful to sore to stiff to not bad over the last 5 weeks. Now the big question remained – how much of the base that I built over the winter remained?

The conditions at the start were really nice – a touch of coolness and some lingering fog were almost ideal for running. My new target was to see how long I could stay with the 1:40 pace group and drop back if it proved too difficult. This was my first time I’d run in such a large event, with thousands of runners instead of hundreds. Once I got to the start, I realized why they are called corrals. I could see the 1:40 sign but there were probably a thousand between between me and it. On the plus side, it was a chance to run free at my own pace instead.

The run itself turned out to be fairly straightforward if you just put yourself in the moment. It was difficult to establish a good pace over the first three or four kilometers as the sheer volume of traffic dictated where and how fast you could go. My brief experiment with running to the side on the grass almost came to an inglorious conclusion when I didn’t see the first water station approaching – 10 feet from a self-imposed Gatorade shower…

The first highlight of the run for me was the stretch from Dow’s Lake to Tunney’s Pasture as we ran through the neighbourhoods. I’ve never been a big fan of Kiss, but you have to hand it to the garage bands who set up their equipment along the route to hammer out a few tunes for the passing runners. Note to race organizers: do everything you can to encourage this; the energy from Soca groups is extremely catchy.

The heat started to build by the midway point of the race, which normally wouldn’t be too big of a deal. With the late spring this year, there was the open question of how well the body has adjusted to the recent increase in temperature. It turned out to not be too bad with liberal dumpings of water on my head to keep cool, but I sure wouldn’t want to have started an hour or two later.

The stretch from the War Museum through Hull to Rideau was definitely the toughest portion as the course became decidely rolling. It wasn’t horrible but it definitely required concentration and a bit of goal planning – shorten the stride a little, keep the cadence high, ease off and rest a little on the downhills. The view from the Alexandra Bridge was worth the price of admission alone with beautiful vistas both up- and down-river.

The next big highlight for me was the finishing stretch from Rideau. The crowds were consistently three and four deep and very enthusiastic. I reminded me of the crowds you see on the climbs in the major cycling tours, complete with road narrowings to further amplify the affect. Amazing, I managed to make eye contact with Annika as I passed the Laurier bridge and exchanged a little wave and smile.

The last two kilometers became an exercise in mathematics and muscle memory from the training as I counted down the final minutes. The mind is always trying to trick you into slowing down or stopping, but the training runs are your proof that the mind can’t always be trusted. A final kick over the last 200 meters and I was home in 1:42:13. Not what I was hoping for at the start of the year, but very acceptable given the injury in April.

Big takeaways looking back over the race:

  • get to the corral earlier next year to avoid congestion on the road – the Garmin tells me I spent 150m+ weaving and going wide
  • my pacing is pretty good; the worst kilometer was 5:00 and it included a big uphill
  • your legs feel way better after the race when you wear compression socks – Zoot for the win!
  • my next shoes need to be a half size bigger

Rideau Lakes Prep – Kanata Lakes to Fitzroy Harbour

It was an almost perfect day for riding – light winds and cool but comfortable temperatures. This was the first group ride of the year, with a total of six of us to take advantage of the nice weather.

This is a route I’ve not ridden before. My previous trip to Fitzroy took the roads through Carp and Kinburn. The roads were decent and very quiet – perfect for an easy ride. It also gave me some insight into March Valley Road as I’ve been eyeing it as a possible extension for my ride into work.

All-in-all, it was another good session to get ready for the long ride to Kingston and back. Again, I need to remember to eat a bit more and earlier and to stretch out my shoulders and back before they get too sore. I’ll be ready for Rideau Lakes, but only just.

Rideau Lakes Prep – Kanata Lakes to Champlain Lookout

It was definitely a much better ride today as the calf is holding up well and the weather has turned decidely nice. The ride started again with a nice tailwind and an easy cruise into the hills. The fitness is still not quite there yet as I found I was using the small chainwheel in places where I haven’t had to before, notably on the Pink Lake hill.

The wind became apparent as I reached the Champlain Lookout so I knew the ride back into Kanata was going to be a bit of work. After a quick nutrition break at the lookout, I was descending and calculating how much liquid I had remaining – it was only 26 degrees, but the body was still adjusting after the long, cold spring.

The last 20km into Kanata were into a steady 20km/hr wind and proved to be tiring on drained legs. The total distance was going to be just short of 100km, so a few neighbourhood streets took care of the remainder. Next time, maybe the wind won’t be blowing straight down Walden just as I’m running out of energy…

It was great to see so many cyclists out yesterday on the paths and in the park. As a rough guess, I probably saw more than 300 people riding.

Things to concentrate on for the next ride: eating more; drinking more and earlier (-3 lbs on the day!); and finding ways to make it easier to eat while riding. Apricots are good, but there are so many you can eat before you get tired of them.

Rideau Lakes Prep – Kanata to Gatineaus Foothills

The weather and my schedule has finally co-operated so I got out for a leisurely 60km ride to just inside Gatineau Park. I was thinking about going up to Champlain Lookout but I can still feel some weakness in my left calf from my April running injury. It was probably for the best that I turned around at 30km as there was a steady 20km/hr headwind on the way back. That would explain why the ride into town felt so easy.

All-in-all, not too bad for the first real spin of the season. Now I just need to figure out how to get the rest of the riding in during the next four weeks while still leaving something for the half-marathon on Ottawa Race Weekend…

Building a Scrum Wall in 8 Story Cards


(click image to enlarge)

A recent meetup for Agile Ottawa focused on short presentations in the form of lightning talks. We had a number of excellent talks including: five reasons to do agile projects, lining up your units to help you be successful, applying code refactoring to improve your life, the importance of craftsmanship, and how different testing looks in the hardware and software worlds. I am a big proponent of big visible walls, so my lightning talk was a demonstration of how to build your wallboard using a roll of painter’s tape, a few stickies, and eight story cards.

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Mea Culpa: Why I Moved On

Image via glowingembers.org

My time at Embotics has sadly come to an end. It was a decision that I wrestled with for a number of months before I could finally arrive at a decision that I was comfortable with. It was a classic example of a wicked problem: no experiments that can be run to help make the decision, no way to know afterwards that the decision is correct, no way to go back for a do-over.

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