People don't know how to walk on ice here. Having been raised on the prairies, I know how to walk on ice. It's just a matter of having appropriate snow-shoes (ie. boots) with extra tread on the bottom, and turning your feet into the skid when you start to slide. If necessary, you might consider crampons, but those would only be required in long term, extremely icy conditions. If you don't have those extras, then consider trotting over the ice - trotting is more efficient than walking, and you actually tend to slip less, at least so I have learned from my years on the prairies and the many miles spent travelling over icy walks and roads.
Mind you, like all the other native Victorians, as I have heard, I don't know how to drive in the snow, having never had a driver's licence until I moved to Victoria, and never having had any significant experience driving in snow. I lost count of the number of times I heard people say "people don't know how to drive in snow here" to me, not one of them confessing that they themselves might belong to that category.
Of course I did confess that I was one of them. Mea culpa, mea culpa. So sue me - I can't drive in the snow. Whoopee! Big deal. When I skidded toward that car last Saturday, I didn't turn my wheels in the direction of the skid. Well, I didn't hit the car, did I? No, emphatically I did not, and had I turned my wheels in the direction of the skid, I have no doubt I would have nailed that parked car head on. So I must have done something right.
Even so, I think people could use some lessons on how to move a little faster on icy sidewalks. Don't tip-toe, or you'll slip, trust me. Take it from a prairie boy. Try trotting - you get from A to B much faster and you slip less. If you do slip it will hurt less, because your momentum will carry you forward and the force of your fall will be absorbed and distributed over a distance. Like I say, I might not be able to drive in the white stuff, but durn it all, I can walk in it.
I zipped down to the rec center for a half hour on the treadmill with a 15 minute effort at 5:30 pace, which felt quite good - not all out, but a good solid hard effort. I then hopped onto the erg machine for
10,000 m in 39.26.
First 5000 done in avg pace of about 2:10, and the second 5000 in avg pace of about 1:49, with a burst at the end when I hit 1:41. I forgot to tally my miles on the competition sheet, having made that omission now 2 days in a row.
It's beginning to feel like I could hold on to a sub-1:50 pace for a whole 10,000m. But I will still need to do substantially more base mileage before I attempt a 10,000 time trial.
I almost thought this evening's rehearsal might not happen, given the weather conditions. A part of me was hoping that it wouldn't, as I was more nervous than usual.
Aside from two short bits, I basically had to sing every one of my parts this evening, including the duets, which the director, Tom, went through for the first time with Stephanie and I. In the duet "None Shall Part Us", I cracked on the high G, as I feared I might. The note is there, but it was tight, and it cracked the first time, and the second time it just sort of squeaked. Tom suggested a technique for getting more comfortable with it, which Scott can take me through next time I practice with him. Barring that, Tom said we can change the note, especially if I'm nervous about it.
The second duet "If We're Weak Enough to Tarry", although it has more notes and is faster than None Shall Part, it doesn't have any really high notes. At first I thought I would have trouble with it, but I seem to have it down better than None Shall Part Us. But, in the performance we'll have to be dancing for that one, which will add an extra dimension of difficulty. Yikes! Breathing was brutal for both though, and it likely sounded pretty rough (from my end, not Stephanie's). But it was the first run through for us, and Tom wanted to get a sense of how we sounded and, with some ironing, he thinks we will sound quite nice, which is encouraging.
I managed to go for an easy 35 minute run before - sidewalks are a bit rough with ice and snow, but the rain was starting this evening, and the temperature increasing. Bye bye snow, soon enough.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
With the roads somewhat more passable today, though still requiring considerable care, I drove down to the Oak Bay rec centre. As was expected, the place was like a Paris thoroughfare, given our wintry conditions, and there were a few whom I have never seen there before including Charles Nelson (though I've seen him swimming before) and Trevor O'Brien, each venturing indoors to escape the ankle-twisting and elbow-bruising, icy sidewalks. Trevor had run once this morning, but wanted to be indoors for his second run. Ryan, a cyclist I knew from my cycling days in Vancouver, and his wife (name escaping me now) were there, and Hicham and Jaymie arrived as I was leaving.
My workout was: 1/2 hour on treadmill with 1X2miles in 10:48; 2 X 2min30 at 5:21 pace. It all felt comfortable, although I could tell I had worked hard when I jumped on the erg machine shortly afterward and it took me ten minutes at 2:10 pace and slower to recover and feel like I could do anything harder.
Total erg: slightly over 10,000 metres in just sub 41 mins, with one 3min interval at 1:35-1:47 pace (started out at 1:47 and gradually accelerated as I went); one minute near the end at 1:38-1:41 pace. Average pace 2:04.
Incidentally in re-checking the Worlds qualifying standards, I noticed that 6:31 for 2000m was the high elevation adjusted standard, and the sea level standard is 6:17 for the lightweight age 30-39, compared to 6:12 for the 20-29yr category. 6:17 is a bit faster than what is attainable for me I think, especially on mediocre training. It is a very fast time, considering the outright world record is 6:02 for lightweight men. I'm better off aiming for some sort of reasonably high Canadian and world ranking for the 10km or the 1hr time trial. I'd still like to do the Monster Erg in Feb and maybe shoot for a time in the 6:30s, but qualifying for the worlds is not realistic.
I then hopped on the exercise bike for 10 minutes.
My workout Monday consisted only of shovelling the snow from Leann's sidewalks, an exercise I have always enjoyed. For so many things I tend to take short-cuts, but when it comes to shovelling walks, my edges must be very clean and straight, and the walks must be as close to being scraped as clean as possible...
At first it was the rain. It was not insubstantial, but it was not what I expected to see first thing this morning, as there had been snow in the forecast. Thinking I would awake to whiteness, upon peering through my bedroom curtains, only another November day was revealed to me by thickets of droplets which cast themselves simultaneously headlong out the clouds that hovered just above my complex, so it seemed. But it was also cool, near zero, and Jeff decided to cancel any meeting at Starbucks for an 8:30am run from there, which seemed prudent to me.
So instead I drove down to the Oak Bay rec centre for a workout there. Shortly after stepping up to the treadmill, through the glass windows the snow began to swirl and criss-cross my field of view. Mesmerized and feeling very good on the run, I found myself acutely aware of the many directions the flakes would take: some twisted downward in the winds, whipping to the right or the left; others descended slowly relative to others that seemed to plummet rapidly: they fell at every possible angle, crossing paths, guided only by whatever laws of physics determined their course.
On the treadmill, I began with ten minutes at some pace slightly sub-8min/mile, but finding my form very good, I did two sets of 8mins at 5:30/mile with 1 min during the second one at 5:00 mile pace. I felt so good that the pace seemed comfortable and could have sustained a pace closer to 5:00 flat, but it seemed there was no reason to push quite that hard this time. So, as the snow fell outside, I ended the run at just over 40mins.
The snow continued, and I gravitated to the rowing erg, whereon I did 15km in 1hr:03; pace being about 2:06/500m. The idea was to get a steady long row in for base mileage, although somewhere in the midst of it all, I did 1500m at 1:45-1:47 pace, and another short effort, near the end, of about 1min at 1:43-1:45 pace.
During the effort, Bob Macdonald, one of the rec centre staff and who coached me a bit for one of the erg races I did a few years ago, mentioned a competition between Oak Bay and Henderson for top rowing miles, which I signed up to.
Still the snow continued to fall, and Chris Lamb, recently returning from Ontario after completing a Masters in physiology and now working at Cedar Hill physio, asked me for a ride home after walking down earlier. As the snow accumulated we decided we should not linger in case I was unable even to exit the parking lot. We made it out, but by then the flakes seemed nearly the circumference of golf balls and, by the time I dropped Chris off, the roads were becoming treacherous.
I barely made it up one of the hills on the way home and at one point nearly fishtailed straight into a parked car. After a left hand turn at a very slow speed onto Fernwood Rd, my car lost traction and slid with swanlike grace into the curb. After a couple of efforts in vain to move I realized it was futile, even after a kind samaritan gave it his best in pushing me free. But as the car was neatly parked at the curbside, I simply abandoned it and walked home from there, returning the samaritan favours by helping to push another car to freedom. On every street there were cars unable to move; the roads appeared as disaster areas, as cars slid in every direction while people were pushing vehicles or abandoning them altogether, as I had done.
Fortunately, the snow slowed up this afternoon and was melting just a bit. I borrowed a snowshovel from the building manager, walked back to my car and dug a clear path to the tire tracks on the road, dislodged the car from its icy perch and made my way home, where yet more digging was required after trying to park the car in my stall at a very slow speed and again losing traction.
When I last looked, the snow had stopped, but the forecast is for colder temperatures tonight, so the roads will remain treacherous.
Yesterday, I did a similar workout but ran down to the rec centre, did a mile on the track, with 600m hard, and then to ergometer rowing, about 7000m at about 2:10pace, keeping the stroke rate at about 16-17, and running home afterward. Keeping the stroke rate low builds power, I've been told. Once you've trained the power component, it translates into much faster times when you increase the stroke rate, so the theory goes.
Later I did a pilates workout out with Scott followed by some review of some of my Iolanthe parts. Later was the G&S Christmas party, where the gossip is all about the local music theater world, mostly a world foreign to me, but one for which I am now suddenly a part. Later still, Scott persuaded me to visit another gathering.
And all the rain falls down, amen
On the works of last years man
-- Leonard Cohen
The snow is falling, is falling fast on all the living and the dead.
Yesterday was the day that slug tendencies ended and I returned to work - not entirely as well rested as I may have thought, but feeling much better. Two days of laying low definitely works wonders, and I felt much renewed, my sore throat having dissipated. Granted, there was some continued nose-blowing yesterday and today, but, with the assistance of sufficient doses of caffeine, these days felt much like regular work days.
While I did my regular walk-to-work and home-for-lunch routine yesterday, I did no additional training. In the evening I checked the rehearsal schedule and realized I wasn't required for Iolanthe practice until 8:30, as Tom Mitchell was working with the "Peers" chorus until then, and my parts were to be practiced later. That gave me additional time to work on some material myself before I went in and, although my voice seemed a bit hoarse from the effects of the cold, once warmed up it had that rested quality and felt quite strong. My ears were popping a bit, though, and at times one ear was almost deaf (until it "re-popped") and I felt just generally a bit spacey for the practice yesterday.
Today I felt much better all around, and I popped into the gym for a half hour on the treadmill at an easy 8:50mile pace, speeding to a 7:45 pace for the last 10minutes. I then hopped on the erg machine for 20 minutes as well, maintaining a 2:10 avg pace, trying to hold 15-16 strokes/m (slow and steady). I couldn't resist 30seconds at 1:38 pace as well. I then also spun for a few minutes on the exercise bike.
All in all, maybe a bit long for my first day back, but it was all fairly easy, and I doubt will set me back in any way.
"Shouts rang out in several languages as customers jostled for bottles of water..."
-- recent newspaper description of some of the fights in Vancouver for bottled water, which I found oddly amusing
Ode to a Slug
Sluggishness tends to slugs in no appearance show
Their worlds, nearly motionless, nearly timeless
Extend damp and limitless, but mostly unperceived.
Were I a slug from bed to couch in movement make
Unaware that day has lengthened and time has slowed
Then a happy slug I'd be.
But illness tends in weakness every appearance show
Time does slow, and every counted minute
Becomes a minute guaged by simple things:
Couch to bed, bed to kitchen, kitchen to bed
But by such minutes and by my restlessness
To a slug I owe my jealousy.
And this describes my day, aptly. But I am fairly sure if nothing else, I will feel very well rested tomorrow!
Now that webmaster Pano has restored our blogs, temporarily disabled, I can return to writing profusely and obtusely, as I am want to do. Had it been a few hours earlier, I might have done just that, given that I booked off sick from work today with a dayful of hours spent languishing amid the liquid medium of the common rhinovirus (self-diagnosed - the common cold). But now the writing effort is sure to be a little truncated, given the night begins to close.
Generally, I don't feel all that bad, and probably could have made it through the work day, but I am not swamped at work at the moment, and I might as well spare my colleagues their exposure to my peculiar brand of microscopic lovelies.
So, today was a simple formula: sleep until a scheduled fire inspection of my building began; go for lunch and drink decaf coffee until the fire inspection was over and return home for more sleep. The last of this part of the equation did not come to fruition, however, as upon returning, I decided I should use the time somewhat productively, and finally gathered some journal articles from the Macpherson Library at Uvic I have wanted to see regarding the concept of hysteresis in vehicle traffic.
As I have learned, hysteresis in traffic is a self-organized condition where a traffic jam occurs at a certain threshold speed, but where a resumption of free flowing traffic must occur at a different (lower) speed threshold. These different thresholds represent a loop in speed/density fluctuations, and so it is known as a hysteresis loop.
I think I can show that a similar (but inverted) hysteresis loop occurs in bicycle pelotons too. Gottfried M-K, physicist/kinesiology prof from Penn State U, initially suggested to me that I watch for evidence of it.
A while back an editor from the Journal of Sports Sciences indicated that they wanted some re-formatting to our submission as a precurser to a fuller review. As they wanted the "methods and results" in a different place in the paper, I took it as a hint that they also wanted more data. So, a few weeks ago I went back over the video recording I had of the 2004 National Points Race, and timed groups of cyclists on each lap, and calculated their speeds over the duration of the race. Previously I had only identified a lap-by-lap breakdown of group sizes, while the new data allowed me to see evidence of a hysteresis loop: one threshold for peloton "disintegration" and another lower one for peloton "reintegration".
Peloton hysteresis is an inversion of a traffic jam, I am suggesting. Vehicle traffic starts in an uncongested free flow state before jamming at some threshold speed, resulting in a rapid loss of speed where some faster speed and lower density must be achieved before the traffic is free flowing again (this is the opposite of what I said above, but there I was referring to the critical threshold speed just prior to the rapid drop in speed during a jam). In a peloton, the inverse occurs: the group starts in a congested state at low speeds, and at some higher speed it disintegrates - some lower speed is required for the peloton to reintegrate. This is obvious to any cyclist, but it is interesting that the phenomenon is consistent with other similar phenomena (so we believe, anyway).
Although I have some evidence of the phenomenon, it remains to be seen whether the data will be satisfactory to the editors - more precise data showing continuous changes in speeds might be preferable. I only have lap-to-lap speed changes, and it only approximates the hysteresis loop. In any event, we will see what they say, although it still isn't ready yet for re-submission.
Be that as it may, yesterday, being the first day I noticed symptoms of illness, I did only a light workout on the treadmill (35 mins) and a spin on the exercise bike (25 mins). I cancelled my vocal practice with Scott as I didn't want to pass on any germs.
On Saturday, before noticing symptoms of illness, I did 16km around the lakes, with 10k at tempo - 36.45, starting out comfortably and gradually accelerating as I went. Not having done anything of that intensity for a while, it felt good. Scott Vannan is also a pilates instructor, and prior to some vocal assistance, he took me through a pilates workout - that sort of core strength workout will be invaluable to me, I'm sure, and I intend to do more of it. It was however, only a few hours later that I began to feel the niggling effects of a sore throat (the real kind, not just a tender larynx).
In re-reading yesterday's post, I noticed I invented the word "pior", which in Hugh parlance is a synonym for "prior".
Typos are of course common place in emails and informal communications (like this) but in my experience most typos I see in others' writing consist of transposed letters, rather than omitted ones. In addition to letters, I will sometimes even omit important words when I over-write a line or cut and paste something - a recipe for some omission or misplaced modifier or some such.
These omissions, whether they are letters or words, comprise a condition I am calling spongiform typolitis, rather a cousin of spongiform encephalopathy, a nasty condition whereby the brain becomes porous like a sponge, I understand. When one has spongiform typolitis, his words are rather porous, also something like a sponge. Presumably ST is not a symptom of SE (we hope), but who knows?
In any event, I got out for a 1:05 run, observing at one point a blazing meteor, silently but brilliantly entering the high skies of our planet, leaving its shortlived image imprinted indelibly upon a single snapshot in my mind, framed only by the darkness of evening. About 4km of my run was at tempo, near the end, while the rest at a comfortable but quick pace.
I considered an erg workout in addition, but I felt quite tired after my run, and there didn't seem to be a compelling reason for me to force myself to do a double workout on November 16. I am happy to do them if I find myself gung-ho on the day, but if I have to force myself, then it feels a bit too much like training - a state I'm really not currently in. I am building mileage, but in a sense I'm doing so rather imperceptibly as I don't consider myself to be actually training at the moment; all my running and erg workouts etc are currently rather just a sideline of entertainment to keep me active. Training comes later (when I'm not quite sure).
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Well, I think the promised storm only partly materialized in this little micro-climate located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. While windy and lightly raining, the storm did its worst several kilometers north of this nook of relative isolation, razing the Island one third of the way up and extending its ragged fingers, scraping, across the water to Vancouver and the mainland. More flooding there, while here it could have been just another November day.
Another rehearsal this evening. I was a bit worried about my voice as the larynx has been a bit sore the last couple of days. Pior to going in, I lay on the couch with an ice pack on my throat for a while, and then gargled warm water to warm it up. When I arrived, Dale gave me some ginger tea, and Scott gave me some lozenges.
Tom Mitchell took us through the finale of Act I a few times, and a couple of parts toward the end of Act II. I have significant parts in the finale of Act I, so it was a lot of fun for me, as it was for everyone, I am sure. My voice seemed to get stronger as we went, and the chords actually don't feel as sore now as before we started.
There are definitely some rhythm issues I need to work on, especially where I lead in the singing. I'm getting more used to watching the conductor for that, but I won't really have that luxury when moving about on the stage. Still, we have only just begun, and everyone is telling me they are not worried at all that I'll have it; I am told all the lead casts are very strong for this production, and they seem to insist that I'm included in that observation, although I still really don't believe them. I'll continue to work with Scott Vannan this weekend after two sessions with him last weekend and, just to give Scott a break, I may see Kathleen West as well.
Not a whiff of any other sort of training this evening. It actually works out quite well to take Wednesdays off completely from training in order to focus on rehearsals. This gives me a nice rest if I make sure to do a harder workout Tuesday, and something light on Monday after two longer/hardish days on the weekends.
Apparently there is a storm looming ominously off shore. This afternoon it was overcast but rainless, and it seemed even fairly mild. The air was eerily breezeless too, and today I heard more than one person remark that it seemed like the calm before the storm. The turbulence that approaches is predicted to bring winds upward of 85km/hr - a roiling of the atmosphere of storm proportions, to be sure.
But the troubled air will come in the night when my eyes are shut, and even winds of their predicted intensity are unlikely to shake me from my slumber. These last few days it seems I cannot get enough sleep, coming home to have a nap after work today; two naps yesterday and significantly over 8 hours of sleep a night all through the weekend. It has been wonderful to sleep so much, although I've been wondering what's up - is the erg rowing causing the extra fatigue? Perhaps, given that the whole-body exercise is somewhat new for my body, I am requiring additional recovery that isn't as necessary (or at least as sleep-inducing) during my usual routine of running and riding to which my body has become so accustomed. Nonetheless, I am not complaining - at this point I'll take as much sleep as my body cries out for and I can practically fit in.
Rather than run outside, I elected simply to zip down to the gym, where I ran on the treadmill for 35mins, including 2 X 1mile, the first at 5:27 pace, and the second at 5:18 pace. I then did 2 X 2mins at 5:15 pace. The whole workout felt good and the legs felt limber. I then hopped onto the erg:
1 X 1.5 at 1:41-1:43 pace
2 X 1 min at 1:37-1:39 pace
2 x 30 s at 1:36-1:37 pace
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head...
- Shakespeare, Sonnet 27
Monday, November 13, 2006
Much pining for the sun this weekend, as I imagine most on the West Coast did, and, while wandering in search of a relatively inexpensive keyboard by which to tune my voice for practicing my Iolanthe pieces, I marvelled momentarily at the high lights in Mayfair Mall that are so bright as to resemble streaming sunlight. And though they are very bright, it was upon a second look skyward that I realized there was in fact blue sky peering through the skylights; this was practically cause for a minor celebration.
Having priced keyboards that were cheaper elsewhere, I decided to linger no longer and very nearly to expunge myself beyond the confines of a crowded mall and to fling myself under the golden rays of the sun. Through doors hastily, lest the clouds had closed over before I exited, there were shards of sunlight leaping and dancing off of every puddle and every glass and every bubble of rain still running off the paint on every vehicle in the parking lot. I have memories of the brilliancy of sunlight, but few of such intensity, as today it was in such contrast to what we have experienced for a few days now.
My weekend's "training":
45 min easy run Friday evening
17km on Saturday, 15 of them at the lakes in about 1:03, two of them from Lifestyles with Spelt Cookies in hand to home to retrieve a spare car key after discovering I'd locked my key therein (walked back later to retrieve it).
23km Saturday with Starbucks coffee group, plus erg workout
2:11 avg pace
tried to keep stroke rate low, between 14-18
with a minute or so at 1:45 pace SR 28-30
Today the run clinic group did 7mins on/1min walk X 5. Great recovery for me, and a good workout for the group.
Through hollow lands and hilly lands
I will find out where she has gone
And kiss her lips and take her hand
And walk through long green dappled grass
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
-WB Yeats, The Song of Wandering Aengus
Our first rehearsal for the full production of Iolanthe was yesterday. I saw/met the other leads and there were several new people in the chorus as well. I've learned that Stephanie Landucci will be playing Phyllis, whom I'll be on stage with a fair bit and singing duets with. I understand that she's a graduate of the UVic voice program, so I'm quite honored to have the opportunity to sing with her. At this point I still feel it's all a bit out of my league, but with the progress I've made so far, I am certain now that I can do it and do it well, but it will require a very focussed commitment.
We also have a new music director, Tom Mitchell, a big Scottsman with a voice to match his size. He made it abundantly clear that we start at 7:00 promptly and leave at 10:00 promptly, and he's going to be driving us hard. I was quaking right from the start, but for this practice it was mostly chorus work. I did have to sing a couple of my parts, but I had actually practiced those parts a bit and didn't make a fool of myself, fortunately. As Tom is new for us and was not at the audition, he had not heard me sing before, so I was worried about what would emerge from my throat when I opened it for a solo. I was reassured by others afterward that I did well.
I've practiced all of my parts to some degree except the very last one, although the actual duet and quartet parts will require substantially more work to feel at all comfortable with them, as well as plenty of ironing on the parts I've practiced, and then working on inserting them into the context of the entire performance. This weekend I'll be working with Scott Vannan a bit, playing Tolloler in the upcoming production, and hope to be in touch with Kathleen West, formerly a singer with the D'Oyly Carte opera company in England, for some help as well.
Today I ran down to Oak Bay for one mile there, the last 400 hard, before popping into the gym for an erg workout.
2 x 5mins starting at 1:50 pace, gradually accelerating, with last minute at 1:40-142 pace
2 x 1 min at 1:36-1:39 pace
Stretch a bit, and run home.
All the day, the sun that lends me shine,
By frowns do cause me pine, and feeds me with delay.
Her smiles, my springs, that makes, my joys, to grow,
Her frowns the winters of my woe.
--from "Come Again, Sweet Love", 1597, by John Dowland
one of my favourite composers, recently recorded and sung by Sting
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Mercifully the rain ceased about half way through my run this evening, after first beginning in light speckles shortly after commencing my run and accelerating to a deluge a few minutes later. But somewhere along the waterfront, after the part where the roads were deserted and every auburn streetlight became a beacon in the darkness and where the waves drew back and, pressed by the winds, flung themselves onto the shores nearby, the rain stopped. And then above, as though two giant hands had reached down and pulled apart the clouds, a necklace of sparkling stars appeared between tufts of white that continued gently to spread ever farther apart as the winds diminished and a post storm calmness ensued.
But then the lights of cars blinded me, and soon I turned onto a road that led me away from the solitude of the dark waterfront and the gleaming stars, among the cacaphony of a busy street when I forgot about the stars overhead.
This was the course of a 1 hr 18 min run.
And, bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
- WB Yeats
How does it come to be that it is November 6 already? I nearly typed in "September", as it seems that month is rather a more appropriate representative of the quantity of perceived time that has passed since last year. Then again all the water these last few days, plummetting from ashen clouds ominously pressing so low as to obscure the tops of twelve story buildings, has cried out with every insistent drop "No-vember! No-vember!" Absolutely, there is no mistaking November on the West Coast and, if for a moment, you drift off dreamily and think perhaps it could be otherwise, the stormy reminders come swiftly and with punishing magnitude.
Rachelle, the main run clinic leader, wisely cancelled todays clinic due to flooding on the roads, leaving me time to pick up my copy of the full score of Iolanthe at Long and McQuaid, ordered a few days ago, and to hit the gym and meet Roger for a workout there. Incidentally, the sales clerk at Long & McQuaid saw our performance on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it, she said - not hearing any of the mistakes, she said. So, some feedback is trickling in.
Despite feeling somewhat tired from the combination of activities over the weekend, I was surprised to discover a considerable amount of energy on the rowing machine this evening:
35mins total -
1 x 1.5mins at 1:36-1-39 pace
1 x 1 min at 1:39 pace
1 X 2 mins at 1:42-1:45 pace
4 x 15 second starting accelerations (1:31-1:34 pace)
13mins on treadmill at easy 7:40 pace.
Given that I did hard efforts today (albeit not very many), I think I will do just an easy run tomorrow, perhaps an hour at a comfortable pace.
Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd,
In process of the seasons have I seen
from Shakespeare, Sonnet 59
So, this round of Gilbert & Sullivan performances is now done. The Friday and Saturday performances went well, both nearly sold out, as was the Thursday matinee. I haven't heard much audience feedback at this point, although apparently the conductor, Brian Jackson, noted through the grapevine and in the nicest way possible, that there were a few inconsistencies between the orchestra and the chorus - we weren't always quite in sync. This is the sort of thing a general audience likely wouldn't notice much, although the overall sound might be not quite as esthetically satisfying as a fully synchronized chorus and orchestra, even to an untrained in ear. Still, the audience seemed lively and thoroughly entertained. I had heard that the wigs we wore in the second half, playing Venetian Gondoliers (by definition, one who propels boats with poles) were a big hit! Plenty of long, flowing curls, while mine bore a resemblance to the Tina Turner wild woman look.
For me the whole process was exciting, rewarding and fun, and I'm looking foward now to practicing for the full production of Iolanthe in the spring. Rehearsals begin this coming Wednesday, already.
What I found most interesting was how, in the two mornings that followed performances, I longed for the silence of a solo long run. A stage performance is a highly extroverted activity - an intense outpouring of expression and sound, all before a captive audience expecting to be entertained. With the sound of the chorus at the culmination of many hours of rehearsals and the orchestra behind us, the audience in front of us, not to mention the social gatherings after the performances - when I awoke Saturday and this morning I wanted to speak to no one and longed to run alone in silence. This longing reminded me that I am primarily an introvert and, although I am quite capable of donning the extrovert's persona for short periods and quite enjoy doing so, there is a very palpable need to rejuvenate by spending time alone.
For workouts I did a 10 mile near-tempo effort at the lakes on Saturday, in just under 62minutes; a half hour on the rowing maching later, and 9 minutes on the exercise bike. Rowing was just at a comfortable 2:10 pace with no intervals.
This morning I ran twice around the lakes (20km) at a comfortable pace and deliberately did not look at my watch until finished. Time was 1:24 (subtracting a couple of minutes spent talking to Ian).
After a relatively intense few days, and not quite as much sleep as I would have liked, I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight.
So, after a full dress rehearsal in the morning, it was opening night (or afternoon, I should say) for the "Best of Gilbert & Sullivan". The VSO played a few orchestral numbers before we came on to the Royal Theatre stage at 2:00 this afternoon to a packed audience to sing the second half of Act I of Iolanthe and, after the intermission, a part of Gondoliers. We figured there were about 1000 of the 1200 seats in the theatre filled.
In introducing the Iolanthe segment, conductor Brian Jackson remarked something to the effect that this part of Iolanthe was one of the most musical and lyrical of all the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.
Since most of the patrons have seasons tickets to the VSO performances, our troupe has been fortunate to be a part of the VSO pops series, meaning we can perform in front of nearly sold out audiences. I understand the VSO paid a fee to the G&S Society for our involvement.
All in all it was quite exciting, and I only screwed up my steps a little when we were entering - we had to do these odd shuffle steps with one hand cupped to our ears, as if to be listening in on a private conversation. Also, fortunately, I didn't sing any notes during the rests! Still, during the performance there were the odd shaky part for the group as a whole, and bits of my own contribution that were less than perfect, but I expect the audience didn't notice much and seemed generally entertained.
Although I did not know this, it is common for all performers to wear some foundation and powder on their faces, since without it the bright lights reveal every little vein in a person's face. So, I had a little makeup applied, and thought it took out my crow's feet quite nicely! That, and the wigs we had to wear for the Gondoliers part, made us all look quite smashing, I thought.
Tomorrow and Saturday are the next performances. Then next Wednesday we launch straight away into practices for Iolanthe performances next March.
After the performance was over, which was a great success, I thought, I couldn't bear the thought of running in dark and on the wet roads. So instead I zipped down to the gym for 25mins on the treadmill, with one mile at 5:42 pace, not overlly fast, though it seemed like it would have been faster at that effort had it been on the road. I thought to go a bit longer, but I really wanted to get onto the rowing machine, and seeing as they were booked up, I took the first opportunity to jump on one when it opened. On the rowing machine, it was
52 minutes total
First 10k done in 40.06, when Roger arrived to join me, after which I finished up at a cool down pace
Average pace for first 10k: a shade over 2:00 even
2 x 1min at 1:45 or faster pace, with untimed rest between
No max or near maximal efforts
To put my 10k time into perspective, the lightweight world record for 10k on the machine is 32.15 (31.36 for heavyweight - interesting that for the longer distances, the heavyweight times are proportionately slower compared to lightweight times than for the shorter distances). I didn't set out to do a 10k time trial, but that was the time after a few fartlek-type efforts mixed with other tempo-ish efforts.
For the sake of interest, here is a comparison between my running and projected rowing times:
With some work I think I could realistically hold 1:50/500m pace for 36.40 for 10k, taking me within 4mins and 25 seconds of the WR. Who knows, possibly a bit faster, but that would take a huge amount of work. My PR 10k run time is 32.40, which is 6.23 off the WR (26.17 last I checked). Comparatively I'm a better rower (or erg rower, specifically). Of course I haven't done a 36.40 yet on the erg, so this is purely speculation, but interesting nonetheless.
Our first rehearsal in the Royal Theatre was this evening, with the full Victoria Symphony Orchestra to accompany us and conductor Brian Jackson at the helm. From the stage, in looking up at the bank of seats beneath the lights, there is a reduced sense of depth as the rows rise up in front of you, and so the hall appears much smaller than when sitting in the seats.
Again, the three performances coming up tomorrow through Saturday are not to be confused with the full production of Iolanthe next spring - I'm in the chorus for these ones and have the role of Strephon in next spring's production.
Brian Jackson's tempo was a bit slower than what we've been practicing, so a number of times he had to slow the group down and/or the soloists. A couple of the soloists were having some difficulty with the fact they couldn't see the conductor, who was behind us. The stage technicians (if that's what they are called) noted they would set up a TV monitor in front of the soloists so the singers can see the directions of the conductor.
Tomorrow is a full dress rehearsal in the morning and the first performance at 2:00 (I've taken the day off work). The show tomorrow is apparently quite full as is one of the evening performances. I understand there are many retirees who come to the mid-week matinee performances.
I would like to take advantage of the fact I have the day off for a workout during the day, but I'll see when is best to fit it in - I may have to wait until the performance is over, which will mean I'll still be running in the dark, probably. I didn't do any training today, although I found myself trotting to work a bit after lunch just to be back in the office in reasonable time.
"I have people skills!
I am good with people, goddamit!
What the hell is wrong with you people?!"
-- from the movie Office Spaces