Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lava Java - Kona


It took two attempts but we eventually managed to escape the snow in Vancouver.  This trip to Hawaii was supposed to begin on the 21st but was thwarted by the snowstorm that hit Vancouver that day.  It was a total nightmare of a travel day (especially because we didn't travel anywhere despite 7 hours in the airport/airplane.)  After several days on the phone with Westjet they finally got us out on Christmas Day.

All 8 of us.  My Dad, my sister, my dad's girlfriend Sabine, Sacha, Mattias, Aia, Viggo and myself.  This trip was a Christmas present from my Dad - pretty awesome gift!  Thanks Dad!

I have had a difficult time with the internet here as the house we are staying in must be owned by Amish folk.  Thus my evening expedition to Lava Java...  Had to write a dozen e-mails, register my Sunday NFL picks and drop a note to all of you.

Lava Java - much loved hangout of famous triathletes on Alii Drive in Kona.  Alii Drive being the epicenter of the Ford Ironman World Championship.  It is cool to be here:  running on Alii, riding on the Queen K (sometime in the next few days), passing the Natural Energy Lab, swimming in the ocean.  I drove up Palani the other day and was imagining running up it on tired legs during the race....  one day.

All of this is in my mind because none of my travelling companions really care at all about Ironman.

I should have all sorts of great pictures of myself nerding it out majorly pretending to be in Ironman by the end of the trip.  To show them to you I will have to buy ANOTHER card reader as I forgot the cord AGAIN!  This will be my 5th (and hopefully last) card reader purchase of 2008.

Instead, I offer you these shots taken from the camera on my notebook as I sit at Lava Java.





I have to hit the road as I am racing tomorrow....  you read correctly.  Apparently there is a parents and kids race that starts at the pier tomorrow at 7.  If what I have heard is correct, I will be swimming and Mattias will be running - should be awesome.

Don't know when I'll get back online but I will have photos!  Have a great New Year's if I don't get back to you all before then.

Cheers!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

This is BY FAR the whitest Christmas I have experienced here in Vancouver. The snow has been coming down hard since sometime in the night.... The roads are a disaster but we don't need to be on them.  I hope you are all enjoying the weather and the holidays with your family.  

Sacha has done a great job of making the house Christmas-y - the snow has helped a lot too....  I love seeing the different view out the windows.

Mattias and Aia are pretty psyched up for tomorrow - they are hoping Santa's taper was good and that he will be throwing down a Christmas Day PR for presents delivered.

Merry Christmas again!


Click to enlarge if you are so inclined...












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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!


I'd like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas!

Best wishes from my family to yours.

Cheers!

Sacha, Meyrick, Mattias, Aia and Viggo

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Training while Injured

Occasionally I am forced to leave my prosthesis at home.  Blisters, bad fit, broken parts - they are rare but they happen, and when they do I find myself on crutches.  


This post is to share with you how I "keep on keepin' on" with my training and active living when this happens.  This isn't just for amputees - you able-bodied folk may find it useful if you ever twist an ankle, break a foot, step on a nail, get stung by a scorpion etc....

It would be easy to set up shop on the couch and watch Maury, Geraldo, Dr. Phil and Oprah all day but I don't recommend it.  Not only will you become slovenly and fat(ter) but you will also suffer from the craziness that accompanies lazy behaviour.  I have no technical term for this craziness but I can tell you it is debilitating and damaging to relationships (i.e. your wife/husband will be unimpressed before Oprah gets to her second commercial break.)

Instead I like to continue training and live life as normally as possible.  Think of it as another challenge to be overcome...  

Here are the things I like to do:

GETTING AROUND

Crutches.  I like the full-size ones - to me they say "athlete" rather than "disabled" like the fore-arm crutches.  I have also customized mine with stickers - you may find this unnecessary but then again you probably don't require crutches as often as I do.

CARDIO

Swimming - The pool is awesome when you are injured.  Swimming is a great full-body workout and very effective cardio training.


One-legged rowing - This is tough.  Tough = good.  Don't start too hard as you will bonk in about 40 seconds the first few times.



Water-Running - This is more for you two-legged folk (as it doesn't work worth a damn for me)....  get in the pool with a flotation belt and run back and forth in the slowest swimming lane.  It trains the muscles and the brain for the right running mechanics without the impact to the joints and bones.

These are good because there is no impact on my right hip - too much hopping around and I will need a hip replacement to go along with my leg replacement.

CORE

Grab a mat or a swiss ball (or both) and put yourself through a few thousand reps of core exercises.  Seriously.  Rob and I once did 2000 core reps in an hour with time to spare.  Lay out the exercises on a whiteboard or piece of paper and work through a cycle.  Add a medicine ball for even more fun.

Examples:
- Sit-ups
- Bicycle abs
- Leg raises
- Hip dips
- Pikes
- Bridges
- and dozens more.... (Google: core exercises)




WEIGHTS

There are very few gym exercises using machines, free weights or bands that cannot be modified to be peformed in a sitting position.  My favourite are actually body weight exercises.  Just get in there and do them.








The pictures are from my one-legged workout at Innovative Fitness yesterday with Josip.  If you are lucky/smart enough to have a dedicated trainer they can help devise creative ways to keep you working even when you are injured.  That way once you are back up and running you don't have to play catch-up on your fitness.

Disclaimer:  Of course there are certain times when rest is the only answer and it is important to know the difference between an isolated injury to a body part and an over-all exhaustion, overuse, overtraining scenario.

I hope this may be of use to you and I wish you a lifetime devoid of Maury, Dr. Phil et al.....


Some more pics:



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Life has been pretty hectic this week.  Christmas prep, snow on the ground and lots to do around the house....


Despite the challenges of this time of year I have managed to keep training....

- I was at Masters on Monday and Friday (felt great at both sessions)
- I skied at the Callaghan Valley for two hours on Tuesday (They have snow now...)
- I did a treadmill run/full body workout/stretch on Thursday (was a nightmare - see later in the post...)

When I was up at the Callaghan Valley I managed to catch part of a Ski Jumping Continental Cup.  I had finished my ski next door at Whistler Olympic Park and was leaving in my truck when a flying jumper caught my eye as I drove by.  I pulled into the parking lot and watched 10 or 15 jumpers launching off of the smaller jump.  It was pretty cool - they make it look really easy.  

The jumpers looked really small - I think they may have been juniors or maybe women (or maybe ski jumpers are just small...)

More importantly we have had two Christmas concerts and two Christmas parties this week and lots of time hanging out with the kids.  Just what I needed after the time away at Silver Star.

On a less positive note I am having some leg problems.... two big blisters on my shin.  Although "blisters" doesn't sound too serious, it is a serious issue for an amputee.  My prosthesis is killing me with every step I take. Once I have a real blister on my leg it WILL NOT heal inside my prosthesis. This creates an irritating scenario where I am forced to take a few days off of my leg - impossible at this time of year....

I would have busted out the crutches already except with the snow on the ground I figure they are a recipe for disaster.  I have been throwing every trick I know at the problem with little in the way of results.  Too little too late I guess....

I am going to cover my one-legged training protocol in an upcoming post.  That way you will all know what to do if you sprain an ankle or twist a knee.....  Hint: don't let it stop you.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lumix FX35 - Call Santa stat!


I haven't done a lot of product reviews on my blog.  Nor do I intend to start.  I don't find them particularly fun to write and I usually end up thinking "Who cares anyway?"

This isn't a real review either.  This is just me telling you that if you need (or want) a camera you should consider a Lumix FX35.  It is my camera of choice and I dare say you would love it too.

The Lumix goes with me everywhere.  I'm not joking.... everywhere.  I had it with me while skiing in Sovereign almost every day - it was frequently damp or wet from sweat, it froze at -17°c, it was dropped in the snow once and it never failed to fire up.  Also, I charged the battery ONE time in two weeks.

You don't have to give up features or style for this durability either.  The FX35 is well-equipped and stylish in a minimal way with a sleek black rubberized exterior.

I have owned a lot of cameras - Digital and film SLRs, Sony, Canon, Pentax, Nikon point-and-shoot models.....  this is BY FAR the best compact, point and shoot camera I have ever owned.

Call Santa stat.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Nor-Am Trip - Conclusion

You may have wondered if the Nor-Am trip would ever end...  I know I began to.  It was only two weeks (and I even had that short intermission) but it sure felt longer.


Saturday night's race was a totally unique experience for me.  

It was probably about -18°c (-1°F) - so "warm" enough to race.  In a nod to the difficult conditions the race organizers dropped the distance from 10km to 6.6km.  This was welcomed by all athletes.

During the warm-up I didn't find the temperature too bad....  I was beginning to think it wouldn't be an issue at all.  The race was an interval start and I was the first one out of the gate.  Almost immediately upon starting I was breathing a lot more heavily (obviously) - the cold air really did a number on my nose.  It began to freeze and burn at the same time.... can't really explain it but ouch!

I don't think it really slowed me down, it was just painful.  In fact the whole race was painful... again!

It is difficult to describe in words exactly how it feels to have a heart rate of 195, sore muscles everywhere, breathing altitude-thinned frozen oxygen at -19°c while coordinating movements with skis and poles. It is extremely challenging and there is no better word for it than "pain".

Anyway, I skied through the darkness as rapidly as I could and fared pretty well.  I had a few frozen snots but they fell off which I was a bit sad about (was hoping for a picture).

In the end I placed fourth - again.  This time I was 9 seconds out of third place.  Third place was "sanctioned" (warned) for skating (which is faster) at one point during the race though so I am upgrading myself to bronze....  whatever helps me sleep at night right?  ha ha ha....

If they had seen me towards the end they might have sanctioned me for performing a technique completely unrecognizable to man.  "Racer number 222 - you've been sanctioned for.... well...  well you can't do that thing you're doing.... whatever it is."  

I need to get to the point where I can red-line AND maintain some technique.

So, with that, our races were over.  The two weeks and all the races were a real test of endurance, stamina and focus to keep arriving at the start line fueled, ready and primed to produce results. With such a wide range of conditions, distances and disciplines I felt very lucky to have a good fitness base from my off-season training plan. The plan was a real team effort and collaboration between myself, Sean Clark of CMS Multisport, Tony Chin of Team DHL, and my Innovative Fitness trainers Rob and Daryl. 

I felt a real sense of satisfaction - quite apart from results and selection, this was difficult and I was proud of the work I had done. It occurred to me that I had my one year anniversary of taking up the sport during this trip and here I was vying for a slot in 2009 World Cup races! As far as results go I would say mine were about what I would have expected. My best result was a silver medal in the sprint and my worst was a 4th place in the 15km Skate and 6.6km Classic.

What does it all mean?  Excellent question - I'm glad I asked it.

I don't know.  None of the athletes trying to qualify for World Cup races met the criteria at Nor-Ams.  Including me.  I think this surprised the National Team coach and has sent him back to the drawing board to reconsider the criteria they used.  Selections will be made but they will be "by coach's discretion".  

I think this bodes well for me - partly because I am positive - and partly because I am on a steep part of the learning curve.  There is no doubt I will improve fast from this point as I am only entering my second season.

We'll see.

After the race we went out for beers for the only time in two weeks and it was a lot of fun.  We needed to let our hair down (all 0.5mm of it).

Sunday morning we packed up and said our goodbyes.

I'd like to thank Jeff Whiting for doing such a great job as our squad's leader, chief organizer, coach, cooking guru, and for generally being the "knower of all things".  Also Bill and Dave our other coaches and wax techs - they worked long and hard on all of our skis and (after an early hiccup) we got to a point where my skis were performing perfectly.  Courtney, Andrea, Sarah, Margarita, Kristy, Jerry, Mike, Jamie, Tony and Tanya - great job everyone!  It was a blast sharing the trail with you guys.

Back on the home front..............  It has been great to be back with Sacha and the kids.  I went to Masters this morning despite having a little cough - it was nice to see Mischa and everyone else and I felt great in the pool - must be the return from altitude!

I have to wrap this up so here are a few pictures:  (By the way, it is pretty hard to get racing pictures - there aren't many photogs on the course like there are in running or triathlon....)

-16°c at about 3:30pm - about to leave for the race.

Me and V.  At Aia's Christmas Concert which was awesome - no good photos though... arghhh.

Sacha and V.  Morning coffee at Crema after dropping kids off at school and gymnastics.

Snow on the ground even here in Vancouver.  This is at 5:30am on my way to Masters.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Deep Freeze

Crazy weather here...


A winter storm has moved in and there were 30cms of snow last night...  you could see it coming down in the pictures I posted last night.

Now the temperature is dropping like a rock.  It is currently -16°c (3°F) and it is predicted that by tomorrow it could be closer to -30°c (-22°F.)

This presents some issues for tonight's race.  If the temperature is -20°c (-4°F) or lower, the race will be cancelled.  I have heard that if it is close the race jury all stand beside the thermometer and breathe on it to get the -19°c (-2°F) they need to put on the race.  Just kidding.... sort of.....

So, at this point it is up in the air.  I am pretty sure we'll be racing though.  Which means there will be more frozen snot than you can shake a stick at...

Since I had no pictures of my own frozen snot, I googled the term and came up with these:









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Friday, December 12, 2008

Nor-Ams Trip Day 11

Continuing with the never-ending Nor-Am trip...  

Here is a video of a Mass Start from Thursday.  This is the Open Men division which started about 20 minutes before we did.  These guys don't waste any time getting off the line...  check it out.  (22 sec.)

video

The 15km skate was always going to be trouble for me....  As a relatively new racer (1 year now), I still have a lot to learn in the technique department.  Little (or large) imperfections repeated on every stride for 15km cost a lot in the energy department.  It is also impossible to "muscle out" 15km in a fast time - like you can in a sprint.

Early season races don't help either as a new racer - I was trying to remind myself of everything I learnt in my first season.

Soooo..... it was a b*tch.  I'm talking REALLY hard work.  I didn't feel much rhythm or flow which is a sure sign things aren't going well.  The biggest problem showed up in my lower back - where I was experiencing a lot of muscle soreness.  I expect that as my technique improves this will not happen as much.  Fingers crossed.

Final analysis:  This is the hardest hour (approx.) of work I have put into any sport any time anywhere.

Tomorrow is a 10km Classic NIGHT RACE.  It should be quite a bit of fun (in that "hurts like hell" kind of way.)

We trained on the course in the dark tonight and it was BEAUTIFUL.  It was completely peaceful and the snow was coming down hard - light and silky snow, the kind we never see on the coast.  I felt pretty great out there and really found my love for the sport again - that love was temporarily on life support after Thursday's outing!

Here are a few pictures from the past day or two and tonight's training (click to enlarge):

Moments before the men's mass start.  It was silent in the stadium waiting for the gun.

The stadium on a blue sky day.  No problems with snow now as you can see....

Check out the snow coming down....  it was pretty cool to be out in the dark with only a few lights and snow falling hard.

Mike and I - Mike is sporting the Ontario Team jacket (I heard someone say the logo looks like a diagram of the female reproductive organs - but I totally disagree....)

Jerry and I - this part of the trail is right after a completely dark downhill with a sweeping 90 degree corner.  Pretty exciting!

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