Friday, December 28, 2007

Hornby Island - New Year's 2007

Quickly, on the training front: Have been on the snow every day since Christmas... still moving in the right direction! I think the next big steps will come in the New Year once the holiday hoopla is over.... nose back to grindstone in prep for the first race on the 19th.

New Year's 2007 Plans

We have been trying to find a little cabin somewhere to ring in the New Year with our good friends the Browns.... It was proving to be a bit tough until we got lucky with a house on the beach on Hornby Island.

We are leaving tomorrow! Should be awesome. I will have pictures to post upon my return.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007

Christmas is sure a lot more fun once you've got kids.... It's still not as fun as it was to be a kid at Christmas, but it's pretty close. We had a great few days:

Christmas Eve - Sacha's parent's house (great food, good company, kids opening some gifts.... mellow.)

Christmas Morning - Our house with Dad, Rian, Sabine - Sacha made a spectacular brunch and we did the usual present explosion for the kids and e few nice things for each of us.

Christmas Dinner - Dad's place - he and Sabine combined to put together a great traditional dinner for all of us and Sacha's family too. Nice work!

Aia - Christmas 2008

Mattias - Christmas 2008

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

First Races Approach

Got the race Schedule dialed-in....

My Nordic Racing debut will take place in the Callaghan Valley at the BC Cup, 2 races - one a sprint (1200m - Classic) and one a 5k Skate:

January 19-20

I will then take off to Mt. Washington for a Para-Nordic Training Camp (Jan 22-25) and race again at the Coast Cup on the weekend:

January 26-27

In total this stretch will involve skiing 8 out of 9 days and racing 4 times. How sweet is that? Monthly race goal (mentioned a few posts ago) is looking a bit too easy all of a sudden!

Legacy of a Warrior update: Yesterday marked Duster's last day.... he will be missed around IF. The workout was killer (I should have written it down to post here...) We rocked it and finished our Warrior Training (strength phase) on a powerful note. Now we will get SERIOUS about aerobic conditioning and sport specific strength and stability etc. Maybe not as fun but a good challenge all the same.

Duster and I on the way to Machu Picchu

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Ticking Along....

It's been a while since I last posted.... here's the news that's fit to print.

1) been skiing a ton. Having a blast with it and improving fast (as you do when you start at 0.) We have a regular coaching session arranged for Thursday nights at Cypress and I have slotted three other ski workouts into my training week. It remains to be seen how well my schedule will work - this was a pretty big tweak and I like to give it a week or two to settle before I lock in a new "protocol".

I am finding that I am needing to increase my efficiency, planning and organization in order to keep my training levels where I want them, my work and volunteer commitments where I want them and to still be the dad and husband I want to be which is the most important thing of all. This is by far the biggest challenge I face in sport.... it sometimes makes having only one leg seem pretty minor as far as challenges go!

2) Christmas is coming.... gotta get a plan together for a couple of gifts but took care of most of this in NOVEMBER.... yeah! It seemed wrong to be buying gifts so early but it sure feels sweet now!

3) Legacy of a Warrior. It is the end of an era down at IF. (Not sure I've mentioned IF yet.... Innovative Fitness is a personal training facility in West Van, (there's also one in Kits, White Rock and Calgary) where I have been training for over three years. If you want to take your strength and conditioning to new heights (or get it off the ground) this is the place. The link is on the right column. Anyway, Legacy of a Warrior..... Dustin Ellsworth, my long-time trainer and an all-round awesome guy is moving on to a new challenge. We are going to mark the occasion with an EPIC workout - Kris, Rob, Duster and myself will leave nothing in the tanks in order to send Duster off on a high. The final chapter in a few months of "Warrior" workouts - should be pretty gnarly.

That's it for now....

Oh, wait! No, one more thing..... I got all my ski equipment (the classic gear - bought the skate gear a while back) - early Christmas present... It is all super sweet - Fischer Skis and Yoko Carbon Fibre Poles, Salomon SLab boots....

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Callaghan Valley

What a great weekend!

I spent the weekend up at Whistler - skied on Friday.... I had planned to visit the new Whistler Olympic Park which will host the Olympic and Paralympic Nordic skiing events. This plan was sidetracked as the Park did not open till Saturday.

So I skied at Callaghan Country. The nice lady in the unheated trailer cabin told me it was ten km up to a lake - "it's uphill, but you like like you're up for it!"

Somehow, between the cabin (where I bought my trail pass) and my vehicle (where I put on my skis) the idea of climbing up to this lake set in..... after-all "I look up for it!"

It is 10km, and it is straight up.... extremely hard work. I was overheating within 5 minutes. But, up I went.... practicing the offset technique Tony showed me and I have been practicing at Cypress. Up to the lake - it's frozen and not particularly impressive (but maybe I was too bagged to appreciate it?) Rest. Get incredibly cold and commence the 10km downhill where I almost froze - literally. All the sweat I produced on the way up turned ice cold and made me very uncomfortable.... I have some learning to do about clothing or layers or something!

Back to the car - heater on full blast all the way back to Whistler. I wish I took the camera.... maybe that lake was worth the pain.

Friday night - met Kaspar Wirz - head coach of the Canadian Para-Nordic Team at a Callaghan Valley Grand Opening function. He instructed me to ski 800km and call him.... I was surprised the number was so small!! haha.... After all, I did 20k yesterday alone!

Saturday - Watched the Callaghan Valley's first race.... BC Cup #2. Had a great time soaking up the vibe.... kids racing, para-nordic athletes, masters, men, women.... very family oriented. I wish I had gone to watch a triathlon before I entered my first one.... it helps to see the way things work while you've got a latte in your hand and no stress or pressure to perform. The race was great and sort of made me wish I had signed up... maybe.

Back home to the family on Sunday night after getting the cabin ready for the Herbert Family from Australia.

Great weekend.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007


Maybe this is what I need....

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

First Day on Skinny Skis

Nothing like just jumping in....

The build up to this first day was nice and short. I like it that way - might as well just jump in and see what I'm up against. I just didn't expect to run into problems in front of the ticket booth.

The Scene: Sunny - Saturday, 9:45 am. Me in running tights and a long-sleeved cycling jersey carrying brand-new top-of-the-line skis to the ticket booth. The potential for embarrassment at this point is extremely HIGH and I am on full alert. This is not my element YET. (The "yet" part is what I keep telling myself....) At this point I feel a bit like a kid on the first day of High School.

Purchase ticket. Check watch - Tony not due for 15 minutes... perfect. Still have to get these skis on and I haven't done it before...

Begin ski attachment.... snow is jammed in my boots. No problem. Calmly try to get it out by whacking boot with pole. Works with downhill boots - does not work with xc boots. Proceed to try to pick it out with tip of pole (find out later this is normal). Embarrassment level - threatening but so far all good.

Get skis on. Nice. Look at watch. Time to chill and wait for Tony. Proceed to rest against front of boot as one would do on downhill skis when waiting in line.... pitch forward and lay out in a sprawl with poles and skis all over. Embarrassment level - Top 10 All-time for me.

GET-UP! Use poles, push yourself up right? These poles are like 12 feet long! (skate poles are really long - not really 12 feet, but WAY too long to plant from a sitting position and affixed to the hand by way of a tight velcro strap.) Flail. Embarrassment Level - Top 5 All-time (and I'm not up yet and not sure how I will get up....)

Commence deepest squat to standing position exercise ever and hope muscles will make it. They do (barely).

Shake it off. Shake it off. Heart rate: 185. Quick check for Tony... no sign. Maybe there is a god?

A few minutes later Tony arrives, he is a calm, friendly, comforting sort and I am pleased because I fear I may really suck. He says, "Can you make it to the top of that hill?"

Seeing no other option, I reply "I'll try."

And I did..... actually, things went very acceptably for my first outing. Later Tony showed me how to get up after falling - this is a key first lesson. (You roll forward into a crouch and just stand up... simple.)

All in all, after the initial crises I was quite pleased by my efforts, but mostly pleased with Tony's coaching. I believe I will be able to work well with him, and as long as that is true it doesn't really matter how good I am today.

I have learnt that coaching is a huge key to athletic success. It applied with my swimming, it applied with my strength and conditioning, and I'm sure it will apply with skiing. You can waste a whole lot of time ingraining terrible habits in an effort to improve through self-coaching.

Tony and I have a project now and I am as excited as ever.... we will be putting together a plan over the coming days. Stay tuned!

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pieces of a Puzzle

I have results back from a fact-finding flurry of e-mails I sent out a few days ago...

COACH: Tony Chin
CLUB: Nordic Racers

I am all set-up. Tony sounds like just the man to take me through the "bambi on ice" stage... (which I hope will be brief!) He even has experience and qualifications as a coach for disabled athletes. Whether he has worked with an amputee before I don't know but his coaching resume is impressive.

I will be on the snow for the first time this Saturday. Should be interesting and possibly entertaining for anyone at Cypress around noon.

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re·spect (rĭ-spěkt') Pronunciation Key

1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.

This potential new goal has been rattling around in my head for a few days now... I am about to set the wheels in motion to give myself a chance of succeeding. (For another day's post.)

After the initial idea hit me I was pretty pumped. It wasn't long before I was visualizing myself atop a podium surrounded by interconnected rings.

NEWSFLASH - You've never even done this! Have some respect!

It hit me last night... I was reading and researching the sport (getting a little obsessive - YouTube videos, websites, blogs....) This might actually be VERY hard and/or impossible. That's when the respect kicked in. (And I imagine it might kick in with a bit more vehemence when I actually hit the trails...)

BUT, 2 things occurred to me:

What if I fail?: I don't know the exact phrase but it goes something like "To have tried and failed is better than to have not tried at all." AND... there are bound to be some successes and a worthwhile journey along the way.

What if I succeed?: Goal/Dream = Achieved. Stories to tell my kids ad nauseum for the next 60 years.

Those are the only two outcomes.... not bad. I'll go there.

Like the old Japanese proverb says, "Fall down 7 times, get up 8." I suppose it will probably be more like "Fall down 700 times, get up 701." (On that proverb for a moment... shouldn't it be get up 7.... I never got that.)

Anyway, I will press-on with this goal.... I'm too excited not to....

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A New Goal

OK, so following up on post #1.... the first thing that made me think about starting a blog - the initial catalyst, if you will...

My BIG new goal.

The highest level of amateur athletics (for me) is the Paralympics. Therefore I want to get there....

Problem = triathlon not currently offered as a Paralympic sport. So.... Swimming? nope. Running? Love it, but the Paralympic events are so short (and I am not built for that...) Riding? Nah.

Head-scratch.... skiing? I started skiing at 3 but kind of burnt out on it in my early 20s.... not enough interest to put in the hours. Plus - I like the endurance sports more these days.

Lightbulb! Nordic Skiing!


A few PROS:

- It's a cool sport (at least I think so...)
- Cypress is 15 minutes from my house. Callaghan Valley is 90 minutes.
- Fitness is a key in this sport - so at least I bring something to the table...
- If the ultimate goal isn't reached this is great off-season triathlon training
- Cool gear.... yeah, I like tights.

A big CON:

- Never done it and it looks VERY technical. But I have no bad habits!

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Saturday, December 1, 2007


Double-Header today...

I have a goal I have been working on.... to do an event every month for a year. I went through my records and have been close to doing it before but never quite. Anyway, this time I am making sure...

After a busy summer with races in each month I concluded my triathlon season with World's in Hamburg in early September. I didn't do an event in October. So, with that being the last event-free month I launched into this fun goal...

NOV 26 - Seattle Half Marathon (1:45)

I had a good time in Seattle and finished feeling fresh, so, for December I hit up and searched for another running event.

DEC 1 - Santa Shuffle 5km and Gunner Shaw 10km XCountry

The start times made it possible to do both....


Santa Shuffle - Had to run this one fast to make it to the other event. Truth be told the Santa Shuffle isn't about high performance athletics (as the costumes attested to....)

Anyway, I had my job set out and it got tougher as the race started late and the Stanley Park Seawall was covered with snow.

My leg doesn't perform very predictably in the snow and so I run a semi-constant risk of wiping-out.... makes for a tentative stride. I got the hang of it after ten minutes or so and was able to stride out a bit more.

Right around the aid station (? on a 5k.... and they gave the kid beside me a full water bottle with the cap on... ha ha...) I was in the lead with one other kid (he was about 17). He eventually, petered out but one other guy came past me.... I crossed the line in about 20 minutes for my first running podium. Hey, I know it's just the Santa Shuffle but I'll take it....

I had to rush to race #2 so I collected my prize pack from friends later.... fun.

Gunner Shaw 10k - Cross Country - Debbie, my designated driver for the day rushed me from Stanley Park to Jericho Beach with 10 minutes to spare before the XC race. WAY different vibe over here.... no santa costumes and people are serious. Team jerseys, spikes, singlets (it was below zero and snowing...)

The gun went and we were off like a shot. I haven't done a cross country race since high school... they are a blast! The course wound through Jericho Park and the beach - over sand, dirt, grass, ice, puddles, snow, over stumps - awesome!

Favourite parts: solid footing - grass, gravel. Least Favoured parts: the beach - my left leg buries on every stride....

So, this race was a lot of fun but a bit of a "mental strength" assignment... I was struggling with the footing and the ice and snow... not to mention the extra distance. This left me with the bottom half of the field - still a pretty energetic group though. I crossed the line in around 50 minutes and headed straight for the warmth of the car.

What a great day.... take it from me do a double-header one day. Try to rope in your friends - if that doesn't work go it alone (or with a driver if you are lucky enough to have someone willing! Thanks Debbie!)

And if you do, follow it with a BIG heart-stopping breakfast at the Bakehouse in West Van like I did. Kids and wife there to celebrate with me.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To blog, or not to blog...

Yes. Let's blog.

I have to now because it took me about three weeks to figure out how to load the photos, attach the links, and make this thing look half way decent....

Life. The concept of having a record, a way to look back, not just on some pictures but on the thoughts and feelings that went along with them.... a way to record and remember the great adventures of life is very appealing. So here it is....

Sharing. Why not...? Have a look at the stuff I put here... maybe it's interesting to you, maybe not. I hope it might become a way to keep in touch with some folks I don't get to see or talk to very often.

Topics. I don't want to pigeon-hole myself (or limit the areas I can go when I am desperate for something to write!) But, I think most posts will touch on family, athletics, training, or travel. These are the things I love and will likely be motivated to write about.

Enough talk, let's get started.

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