Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Innovative Fitness Sponsorship

I've been looking forward to this post for a little while now. In fact, if you've been checking my blog over the last months you've probably noticed the Innovative Fitness logo under "sponsors" on the right hand column. Well, the deal has finally been made official, and I am proud to say that Innovative Fitness and I have agreed on a sponsorship that will expand our already long and successful partnership through 2008 (and beyond I hope!)

My feeling is that the best sponsors, and therefore the ones athletes should try to sign up with first, are the companies they would shell out their own money for anyway. It's a test that proves whether the product or service is ACTUALLY VALUABLE to the athlete. I could be wrong, but I doubt Tiger Woods drove a Buick before they sponsored him.... in contrast, (and, admittedly, on a slightly smaller scale), I have been a loyal and happy, paying customer of Innovative Fitness for more than 4 years now. So it is very easy for me to promote this great business - I know first hand how much I.F. can do for anyone signing up.

My history with Innovative Fitness began 4 years ago when I decided to make a commitment to my health. This decision came about as a reaction to pain and discomfort I was having around my hips (this is common for amputees several years after losing a leg). I wanted to ensure that I wouldn't need a hip replacement - one high-tech, robotic body part is enough for me thank-you very much! The only answer was to strengthen the key muscle groups in the area to reverse the effects of a decade of overcompensation. I couldn't leave this matter to the winds of willpower and the ebb and flow (mostly ebb) of previous efforts to "get fit". I needed results and I needed to be held accountable - my health and future depended on it.

The processes and systems that are at the core of Innovative Fitness are unique, time tested, and effective. My initial goal ended up being a pretty easy one - after a few months working with my trainer my hips didn't ache at all. In addition to the superior training (and the great results) the amazing value of Innovative lies in the atmosphere and culture that exists - between coaches and customers and between the customers themselves. I quickly found myself part of an extremely energetic and exciting community of active, live life to the fullest, people. I was exposed to so many amazing opportunities - different sports, travel adventures, great people etc. Not only that, but the physical improvements I continued to experience made me more and more excited to act on the opportunities - to accept challenges, and eventually to challenge myself.

Four years later I can look back and credit Innovative Fitness for being a real catalyst in a huge life change for me. I was introduced to triathlon - I will compete for Canada in my second World Championships this year. I gained the fitness and courage to tackle a goal like making it to the 2010 Paralympics in Nordic Skiing - and I have a support crew behind me from Innovative working to make that dream come true. Most importantly of all, my lifestyle is much improved - I am healthier, happier and more energetic than ever before.

During my 4 years at Innovative my family has grown - Mattias, now five years old, was one when I joined, he now has a sister, Aia (3), and a brother on the way. I am proud and thankful that these kids think going for a run or a bike ride, or doing a race on the weekend is the most natural and normal thing in the world. (Mattias did his first running event last year - he was 4.)

To summarize, I would say that there is no single influence that has been more important to my start and ongoing development as an athlete than the people at IF. Their incredibly good slogan is: Challenge, Adversity, Victory - and I feel that an organization that walks, runs, swims and cycles people through these stages couldn't be a better match for me.

Our sponsorship agreement is very exciting for me as Innovative Fitness will be providing me with the same great value in training and support that I have enjoyed and benefitted so massively from over the past 4 years. In return for their services and support, I will act as an I.F. ambassador in the community; I will proudly wear their colours; and hope that, through my endeavours, I am able to inspire customers and staff to challenge themselves and maximize their relationship with "the gym" to reach their goals.

If you are ready to lay the foundation for your next "Victory", whatever it may be, don't leave it to chance! I would be happy to fill you in and put you in touch with the right people to support your efforts. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.... Or you can look into it for yourself at:


(Just don't forget to tell them you heard it here first. Thanks!)

As the title says, this blog will record my successes and failures, victories and defeats, journeys and adventures in sport and life... I try to keep it interesting and action packed! Please register for updates (at the top of the right-hand column) so that you won't miss any exciting posts from Yours Truly!

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Skin Care for Amputees

I have been asked many times what I do about the blisters and skin problems that effect most amputees. Just like everyone else, I experience these problems from time to time. I have heard that those of us with suction suspension end up dealing with these issues more often. The techniques I use are a mixture of things I've heard, things I've experimented with and things I have stumbled upon in moments of desperation. I hope you will find this useful.


OK, one of the best ways to fix your skin problem is to avoid getting it in the first place... makes sense right? There are a few things I do regularly to try to limit possible damage to my skin:

1. I don't baby it. I get a bit of sun on it when I can, I towel it roughly, I wear my leg all the time (unless there is an extreme problem).

2. I keep the hair on the leg trimmed extremely short. I use an electric clipper (set on ZERO with no guard) to do this. I DO NOT EVER SHAVE WITH A BLADE - this will lead to ingrown hairs for sure. The point of keeping the hair short is that it improves my fit, improves my suction, and therefore less problems arise. It also helps Tegaderm to adhere A LOT better. Read about Tegaderm below.

3. As soon as I feel any problem arising I use a dab of vaseline on the area until it goes away. Even if the pain/feeling is barely noticeable, I do it anyway - I don't wait for it to get worse before acting.

4. If I am heading out to do something challenging (a run, ride, a flight or whatever) I will put several Tegaderm dressings on key spots to protect the skin. Tegaderm is microscopically thin, sterile, breathes, is waterproof and adheres VERY well and is generally awesome!


Sometimes, there is nothing you can do... you take off your liner and there it is - a blister, or an ingrown hair or whatever. They're irritating and can be extremely painful... for sure. Here's what I do:

  1. I bathe, dry off, turn on a bright light and get a really good look at the offender. If there is any popping, or plucking or picking that seems prudent I do it... but I don't do it if it will make a situation worse - use your judgement. Also, NEVER pick, pluck, pop anything that you can't see (i.e. it is on the back of your leg...) this is a recipe for disaster, as I have grabbed skin and pulled only to find that it attaches strongly to swaths of healthy skin - ouch!

  2. I use Cicatrin. This is a prescription powder that speeds healing. It is extremely fine and a tiny amount will do the trick. I put it on every chance I get to heal the problem. Especially good at night.

  3. During the day I use Tegaderm. You wake up, your leg is sore and you've got to put on your prosthesis - I know, it sucks. Tegaderm will help you get through those first steps with WAY less pain and it will help keep the pain at bay and speed your healing all day long. Here's the recipe: Put a tiny amount of Cicatrin in the wound (wipe away ALL excess from the skin around the 'problem'), put a Tegaderm dressing over the area, put a small amount of vaseline on top of the tegaderm. What this does: 1. Cicatrin dries and helps heal, 2. Tegaderm protects and reduces/eliminates skin tension and pulling, 3. Vaseline prevents the liner from sticking to the Tegaderm and allows it to slide over it - also reduces pulling/tension on the skin surface. 

  4. I re-do this dressing daily or more often if necessary.

  5. I take it easy... I try to walk gingerly and protect the area as much as I can during the day so it can heal.

  6. I watch my moods - I can get a bit short and snappy when my leg hurts with every step I take - I try the best I can to limit this.

  7. I try to be extra nice to my wife - if I end up going a few days legless - I'll need her on my side! (Can you grab me a ____ dear? Thanks!)

  8. At home I try to leave the leg/liner off as much as possible to speed healing - whenever it is off I have Cicatrin on the opening.

  9. If the 'problem' is not healing I sometimes try the following: Cut holes in prosthetic socks around the area, wear no pros. socks and use crutches, wear no leg at all and use crutches. I also tend to get in touch with my prosthetist - if something isn't healing properly it could be due to the fit.


SWEAT: Yes, sweat is a definite issue with these silicone liners. I read somewhere that as amputees we sweat more per square inch of skin because we are missing some square inches of skin.... interesting.  Anyway, I find that I can exercise at a high intensity under most conditions for nearly an hour before I start to experience 'real' discomfort from sweat in the liner.  Before races I wipe Drysol over my skin... this helps a bit. I don't use it often as I worry that it is pretty toxic stuff.

During training I tend to stop running every 45 minutes to do a quick dry-off on my leg and liner.   This is ultra-cautious but I really don't want blisters from training.   During a race I will only stop if I think it will be worth it to speed me up or if I think I am about to injure my skin.

In long races I stuff a chamois in my race belt and use that for drying my leg... they are light small and very absorbent.

In short, it seems that every major issue I've had with my leg showed up in the skin first - think of it as an early warning indicator.  When you take your leg off at the end of the day (or better yet after a long walk) look at the red marks - they tell the story of the pressure spots on your leg.  Learn how it looks when all is good and how it looks when your leg hurts...

Hope this was helpful.  Now get out there and GO FOR IT!

Update:  If this helped you leave a comment.  It feels nice to help...  MJ  (01/15/09)

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Report

It ended up being a pretty good family weekend - still feeling a little under the weather, I just decided to give up on any training aspirations I had for this weekend.

Saturday was beautiful and sunny and perfect for the T-Ball Opening Day Parade and party....  T-Ball, Baseball, Little League - call it what you will - is awesome!  I have to say they really have it figured out compared to a lot of the other kids leagues.  It's all about sportsmanship, you hear it again and again and again...  the kids learn about being on a team and cheering on your teammates and all kinds of other great things...  it's just a great vibe.

Saturday afternoon was spent in a friend's backyard enjoying the sun - Maya's 4th birthday was the event but the sun was the star for all of us sun-starved folk...

Sunday was pretty mellow - raining...  Sacha gave me a free morning to read the paper and enjoy a coffee at Starbucks - very relaxing.  I then took over with the kids while she took a nice long walk in the rain.  All in all very relaxing day.  Left me feeling mostly ready for the week which is good because I need to ditch this fever, cough etc. ASAP!

Monday Masters:  We knocked off 3km in the pool this morning.  It was a lot of fast 50s - some on :50, some on :55.  Also a fair amount of kick which for me turns into "pull".  It was alright though I did spend a lot of time coughing into the water and also at the edge...  it was tough.  The coughs were heaving, hacking coughs - not pleasant...

I am back at it, though far from perfect....  hopefully better tomorrow.  I am also nursing a bad blister on my leg - came out of nowhere and very disappointing.  Might have to go leg-less for a few days.... 

Today was LASERDOME day for Mattias' birthday - pretty fun times for all the kids (and yours truly).  If you ever find yourself in a Laser Tag centre 1. sign up and play with the kids it's awesome and 2. bring earplugs.

Gotta run - b-day dinner.  Peace.

                                                            Laser Dome here we come!

                                        Birthday Boy blowing out the candles - 6 years old!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Momentum Foundation

Well, yesterday was a BIG day for me.

About two years ago I had the idea to start a foundation to help disabled people do the sorts of things I am fortunate enough to be doing - running, riding, skiing, cycling, swimming etc. etc. These types of endeavours are often particularly expensive for disabled participants - for example a running prosthesis like mine costs about $12,000.

After discussing the idea with a bunch of people I was actually a bit discouraged.... I found a lot of people's eyes glazed over when I started talking about this idea. Looking back I think there were two reasons - 1) I was talking about selling one of my businesses to concentrate on this; and 2) charity stuff just plain isn't interesting to most 30-something guys. (About #1: I think most people were very doubtful that selling a business and replacing it with the "idea of a charity" could be financially smart. Understandable...)

A little time went by and I talked to a few other people... finally to my training partner and good friend Kevin. He was the first person to get a spark in his eye and start tossing out ideas. I think we had the first of many 90 minute bagel and coffee chats post-Masters and I left feeling energized, and I had at least one BELIEVER. Thanks Kevin!

I did a bit more work on it in the next few months. Bit by bit I had a few plans coming together... a real boost came when I did sell my business last summer. I took some of the funds and had an identity created, I also hired a lawyer and got a society incorporated and an application for charitable status submitted to the government. The process to achieve all of that was long arduous and a little expensive. It's not all smooth sailing in the world of lawyers and the CRA.

The Government of Canada (god bless them) guarantees that it will take "at least 9 months" to review the application... a little longer than one would hope given the rapidity with which they check 20-odd million tax submissions this time of year EVERY YEAR but I digress....

Anyway, after months of waiting I got a call yesterday that we have a charitable number! If you write me a cheque I can give you a tax receipt! (Actually, I am not sure how to do that yet but I will be soon!)

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive from the start or who joined in along the way to help me get to this point. It is only the beginning but boy did it take a long time to get here!

There will be more info and news showing up here on a regular basis.

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Shark Attack!

Well my "training" consisted of an hour-long stretch session today.... I am still feeling pretty "off".... I might have started to feel sorry for myself until I heard that a triathlete training in the ocean off of Solana Beach died after a Great White Shark bit him across both thighs this morning.

Solana Beach is 14 miles north of San Diego and one of my favourite areas ANYWHERE. I have spent lots of time in San Diego getting work done on my leg and the north coastal areas are so awesome... I have always fantasized about getting a group together for a training holiday there - riding on the Pacific Coast Highway, running some of the cool trails, and swimming in the ocean off Solan... uhhh... well? It would still be fun... we could swim at the UCSD pool.

You can read all about what happened here.  It would be quite a coincidence if anyone there reads my blog (indeed if anyone, anywhere reads my blog) but my condolences go out to his family.

On the home front, the weekend should be pretty good:

1. I think my health is improving (fingers crossed.)
2. Mattias has opening day ceremony for T-Ball tomorrow, including "Parade of Teams" - ha ha... awesome!
3. Sunday should mark my return to training if I have my way - I haven't decided what it will be but it doesn't matter it will be good to do something...
4. I am calling for good weather - not sure if I heard it, or it just feels like it will be nice all weekend, but I'm betting it will be and I am stoked...

Next post is the one I'm excited about...  coming up in a jiffy....

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Thursday, April 24, 2008


I've been sick since Monday morning...

I went to Masters on Monday morning and the first sign of a problem was when I dove in and it felt like the pool was unheated...

Second sign - couldn't eat my bagel or drink my coffee at Delany's after... these are fixtures that I look forward to WAY too much so I knew it was serious.

Anyway, I've had a fever on and off since about 9am on Monday.... very irritating. At night it has been bad enough that I have been hallucinating and sweating like crazy....

I had a dream last night that was the mental/visual equivalent of a skipping CD... the same 5 second clip again and again, even after waking up and going back to sleep. Strangely, it centered around red and white banners (??), with absolutely no context, which I also couldn't read (#%@!) Not so cool....

In other news, I had some spectacular and unexpected work news today and it cheered me up A LOT. I will elaborate in a dedicated post tomorrow (or maybe on the weekend) depending on my ability to "compose"....

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sun Run Race Report - 2008

What a great day for a road race!  Many would say it was a bit chilly (around 2 degrees), but I was just happy it didn't snow...  Bright sunshine and crisp conditions - sweet!

I woke up at my Dad's place (where we continue to live since my Dad is in Montreal and our house is not yet finished... Thanks Dad!).  This may need to be a yearly occurrence as he lives about 4 blocks from the start area - no driving, no parking, no hassle.

So, the Sun Run is one of those events that makes you proud to be from this city - 59,120 registered!  Are you kidding me?!!  So awesome...  And everyone orderly, polite, happy and ready to rock.

There's a bit of standing around that comes with a race of this magnitude...  My early warm-up efforts jogging alone downtown and with friends near the starting areas were distant memories by the time the gun went.  Oh well...  the downhill start is handy in that you can maintain a great pace even cold out of the blocks... 

It also worked well with my Race Plan.  The first mile was completed in a scorching (for me) time of 6:10...  I was a little scared/excited by that info as I passed the 1 mile mark - would I be bonking from the early exertion?  Anyway, mile 2 (as reported by my Garmin 305) went by in about 12:40 which was still good and fast.

After that I settled into a more maintainable pace of between 7 - 7:45min/miles.  I remember thinking that I was suffering at times but being happy about it as it was PART OF THE PLAN.  Everything was coming together.

I really like the Sun Run course as it segments nicely and there is no part of it that is long enough to lull you to sleep...  As I came across Cambie toward the end I was a bit concerned about my time - but I had forgotten the downhill there which boosted my speed to get me to the line in time for what I am deeming a Silver Medal.  43:35 (unofficial).

A note on outcome goals...  It is generally not advised (by most book-writin' types) to set outcome oriented goals - like "Sub-43 minute Sun Run".  Rightly or wrongly I sort of ignore this...  It has never been an issue that has caused me to need psychiatric assistance so I continue to allow the clock to be a part of my goals from time to time.  But this is how I do it:

Sun Run - 2008 - Goals

Gold Medal:  Sub 43
Silver Medal:  43-44
Bronze Medal: 44-45:24
Ouch: 45:24+

I was very happy with the plan - to take a risk by going out fast.  I was very happy with my discipline to follow the plan and bingo! the results were there.  Sweet!  A new Personal Best!

In the massive crowds after I met up with many of the Innovative Fitness runners (of which there were 157!!) - they all seemed very happy with their races.  It's awesome to be a part of a group like that.  I am hoping my time will be fast enough to be counted towards Innovative's corporate race time (top ten IF runners).  Congrats to everyone!

If you do only one run/walk/stroll event every year this should be it....  proud to be from this city.  Thanks for reading. 

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Willing to suffer...

Check out this awesome clip....  with the best running song of recent years (and my personal favourite)...

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Bevan Docherty of New Zealand...

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Overcoming Adversity

On Tuesday I was proud to be able to speak to a great group of about 30 people from GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver.

I have been volunteering at GF Strong for a while now and have enjoyed helping other amputees with various aspects of their recoveries.  Sometimes we just chat, sometimes we ride bikes, sometimes we run....  all in all, I guess I try to demonstrate that an active life is still a reality and that the rewards are even more poignant when it requires extra work to overcome adversity.

That was what I talked about on Tuesday - Overcoming Adversity, Goal Setting, Using a Process to Achieve your Goals.  I also showed a few pictures and told a bunch of stories about my own exploits to illustrate the rewards when these things are done properly (and the failures when they aren't!)

I really enjoyed the opportunity and found the stories shared by the people in the room to be very inspirational.  I even got a pineapple for my efforts - which was most fortunate given the pineapple addiction I have after 2 weeks in Hawaii! 

                                                           A few folks from the group

                                                                    Chris and myself

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Sun Run Strategy

Since I know you have all been on the edge of your seats since I left you with the cliffhanger two posts ago, I will now unveil my Sun Run Race Plan.

As mentioned previously, I am going to try a different strategy than I normally use in a run like this.  Normally, I would try to run a steady race throughout, not varying my pace much (except for trying to kick at the end with whatever reserves remain after 9.5 kms or so.)

After reading some interesting posts recently (especially this one from Lucho) I have decided to try taking a risk in the early part of the race.  The "risk" is to start the run significantly faster than I would with the old technique....  not so fast that I guarantee a bonk - just fast enough that I guarantee it will hurt over the last kms.  To lay down my best time I will have to SUFFER - this is unavoidable.  My old technique, and the technique used by most recreational runners, is designed to avoid suffering at all costs - i.e. the "don't go to hard now, you still have 7,6,5 km to go and you don't want to blow up..." mindset.  

So then, the strategy this Sunday is to go out running 3:45 - 4 minute kms and to continue doing that for as long as possible.  I am certain my time won't be sub-40 minutes so of course I am expecting to slow down as the kilometres tick by - but I hope the risk will pay off and I will be able to lay down a new PR (personal record) and achieve the goal I set for the race.

Whatever happens, it's great to have a plan and I will learn from the results on race day.  If I can give any advice to people (and remember it's only worth what you paid for it ;) it would be to have a plan going in to any race.  Give yourself a "job" to do and approach it that way.  Try different plans and strategies until you find one that works for you but always have a plan - don't compete aimlessly.

Of course the Sun Run is a "fun run" and if you are just heading out for a great day then disregard the previous paragraph - but if you "care" about your result - having a plan is kind of key.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Human Powered Day

Last night Sacha and I realized we had 1 car at my Dad's place - which doesn't work too well when I need to go to swimming at 6am and to work from there, and she needs to get the kids to school for 9...

We hummed and hawed (spelling of 'hawed' anyone?) and eventually I came upon the idea to run to swimming.  I woke early - 4:45am.  My plan was to go slowly, so I gave myself a full hour to run the 10km (planning on it taking 48-50 mins and having the other 10 minutes to change into my swim gear and take down a gel).

5 am is a GREAT time to run.  The world is pretty much dead...  you can cross streets anywhere (using appropriate caution) - for instance I ran right across the lanes from the east to the west side of the Lion's Gate Bridge at the West Van end - something that would normally result in death...

Apart from the grind up the Stanley Park Causeway (which is an almost imperceptible grade to the eye - but definitely perceptible to a runner) the run was really enjoyable.  The swim was challenging after 10k's, but once I lolly-gagged through the first couple 100 metres I felt pretty good.  Also, the swim was a great recovery for me - legs didn't even feel tired after... nice.

Check out the cool picture I found of my run - I went from just left of BC Place (the white dome) - to the last cluster of buildings on the far shore.... looks farther than 10km...

It got me thinking about another HUMAN POWERED DAY.  I had one last year (because my van was in the shop) - I ran from West Van to have breakfast with my Dad downtown, then to my dentist in Kits, and back to West Van later in the day.  I think I went 24 hours without burning any fossil fuel - just my pack on my back - running.

Look for me to throw down an HPD just for fun some time soon....  maybe I'll start an HPD Challenge... and see if I can get more people on board.  It feels pretty cool to get around the city this way.

Enough blogging - I have a presentation at GF Strong Rehab Centre tomorrow night... better get a little prep in...

P.S.  The Chinese wedding was awesome - 300 people, weird food (Shark Fin soup, chicken feet, strange balls floating in milky liquid....).  Congrats and thanks Tony and Alex - we had a great time and wish you guys the best.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Run

I was planning to go on a long ride today with the I.F. group but in the end the logistics made it too challenging.  We are living at my Dad's at the moment (he is in Montreal) and all of my cycling equipment is in West Vancouver.  The 7am start-time combined with my equipment being on the other side of town made me change my plans.  

Instead I strapped on the running leg and went out for a Sun Run tune-up.  I read about a run workout that Bree Wee (a first year female triathlon pro) uses in the week or so prior to a race so I decided to give it a shot. 

Briefly it goes like this:  

- 15 minute warm-up
- 5 minutes steady (2 minute recovery)
- 4 minutes steady (2 minute recovery)
- 3 & 2
- 2 & 2
- 1 & 2
- 10 minute warm-down
- (then I went about 20 minutes more)

The idea is that you go a bit harder (and hopefully faster) with each interval.  This is called a Fartlek session (i.e. different intensities).

It went really well, I enjoyed it a lot and I covered more ground than I expected.  This type of workout is what I need because it forces me to use different paces and become comfortable with how much I can do at each speed....  it is sometimes easy to run at one speed all the time (which is a sure way to never improve.)

I will unveil my Sun Run race plan here in the coming week...  I will be trying a new strategy.  Exciting - I know....  a cliffhanger.....  you'll have to check back to hear all about the new plan.

Now we are off to a huge Chinese wedding....  I think there will be 400 people.  11 courses of chinese food too...  wow!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Training Update

First week back update...

I missed my first swim back due to lost luggage - no goggles, no suit.  (and the three hour time change made 5:30 seem like 2:30 - Ouch!

So on Wednesday I hit the pool at 6 am for Masters.  Mischa usually lets us have it on Wednesdays so it is never advisable to make Wednesday your first day back after a lay-off.  I went against this rule of thumb though and threw myself in at the deep end (literally and figuratively.)

It hurt.  The main set was 5 x 400 metres (progressive - which means they are supposed to get faster...)  The first was completed in 6:15, the second in 6:10 or so and then I began to "progress" the wrong way....  Snorkeling with Mattias may not be adequate to keep my swim stroke at peak performance.  

In the pool again this morning for a shorter sets workout... more to my liking and I held my own and led the group for fast 50s and a few other fun sets.  It doesn't take long to get it back...

Down at IF I have had a couple of great sessions:  Monday with Rob (highlight: we did a Tabata session on the treadmill - 20seconds on a tready at 12.5, incline 3 followed by 20 seconds on a different tready at level 8, incline 1 - back and forth, back and forth, no rest, repeat 8 times....  it only takes a few minutes but it is tough.)

Wednesday with Richard was tough - started the day with Mischa's deadly Masters workout so I was already a bit exhausted upon arrival when Richard hammered me with a 3 x 12 reps strength day.  Was painful...

I did a 7km trot (easy run) on Thursday... just to get the legs moving.

Today Rob and I did a cardio blast workout that involved three rowing/running mini bricks that were challenging but not too bad.  Row 500 metres in sub 1:40 then run 1 minute at level 10 on the tready followed by 1 minute at level 8.5... then various strength exercises.  Repeat three times changing the exercises each time.  Good fun.

This weekend has a big bike ride on Saturday and a run (on Saturday or Sunday).  Should be fun...  more details to follow.

Good to be back.

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Kauai - Vacation Wrap and Slideshow

Hey folks... wow it takes a long time to go through digital photos.... sheeesh.

Anyway, here are most of the good shots from our trip. Notably absent are awesome shots from the Na Pali Coast hike I did with Ian Daffern (a Cross Country Canada National team Wax technician who was on Kauai by chance at the same time...). They are absent because I forgot the memory card for my camera - doh! Anyway, Ian will send me a few shortly.

The final summation of this trip.... boring, lame, don't bother going there, the place sucks! Just kidding.... it was awesome! We loved the island and would recommend it to anyone - and there are great deals on accommodation there (good places from $125/night!) Just ask and I will fill you in...

Without further ado.... the slideshow:

Foreshadowing: great news coming up in a few days.... stay tuned for an exciting announcement!

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well we made it back safe and sound...  got back on Sunday night actually.  The journey was smooth right up till the last hurdle - our luggage got lost.  All four pieces to be precise.  We still don't have it and I won't lie that it's becoming a bit irritating.  Really it wouldn't be a big deal except for a few key items - the cord for my laptop being the #1 item I am missing.  (Mental note: don't separate the cord from the laptop to save a bit of carry-on weight.)  So, why did our luggage get lost?  Let me tell you (because this is a new thing and you may be effected)...

When you have a connecting flight and the second leg is international, say, Kauai - Honolulu then Honolulu - Vancouver you MUST pick up your bags in Honolulu and take them through customs and security yourself.  Not like the old days when they could "check your bags through".  The problem is that the airline check-in staff will often still say "we'll check your bags through to the final destination" for some reason (like any of the following: they don't know Vancouver is in Canada, they are half asleep, they don't look at the final destination at all, they forget the new rule, whatever...)  The result is you arrive in Honolulu, head to the gate for your next flight while your luggage runs into a problem in the bowels of the airport.  Said luggage then gets re-routed to the 'Baggage Department' where it collects dust until someone sees fit to process the paperwork and put it through customs without you.  Meanwhile a WORLDWIDE BAGGAGE TRACKING system headquartered in Bangalore, India is trying in vain to figure out this (quite simple) problem.  So beware....  just say, "No Thanks, I'll pick up my bag and re-check it."  Obviously, this isn't a problem if you are flying domestically or if the first leg of your journey is the international leg...  

Anyway, I am borrowing a cord and finally seeing my e-mail (over 200 new e-mails... arghh) and providing a quick blog update.

Our holiday was GREAT!  Kauai is a pretty special place and one that I know we will be visiting again soon.  I will load up a slideshow and a better trip report in an upcoming post (once my luggage returns from its extended holiday in Honolulu - that's positive thinking for you...)

Onto Training....  it's great to be back into a regular routine.  I got my program from James at Innovative Fitness and it looks like a great plan to put me into fighting form for triathlon season.

My first benchmark will be the Sun Run on the 20th - I am excited to do this race as it should provide a pretty good reading on my overall fitness.  Also, it is a lot of fun...

I am fighting off a creeping antsy feeling that I am late in preparations for triathlon season....  the logical side of my brain knows it is because I have had a busy ski season and things are different with a two sport focus.  The other side of my brain just feels like I am "behind".  The cure for this problem?  I need to ramp up the workouts and get down to business fast!  (without overdoing it and getting injured.)

My biggest weakness at the moment has to be my cycling as I have ignored it to a massive degree over the course of the winter.  I will be seeking to remedy that situation in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned for some training posts and pics in the coming weeks, and cross your fingers for better weather!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sun, Sand, Surf...

It may seem strange to you that I am proud of myself for hanging out at the beach so successfully for the last week....  But I really have to hand it to myself - I've got the beach dialed in.

Let me explain...  Beaches:  sand, salt water, waves, etc. all create scenarios that can be quite challenging to an amputee.  Sand wants to get into places in my liner* and leg that cause big fit and comfort problems, not to mention blisters... and stopping sand is tough.  Water wants to #@%! up my fit, corrode various parts and generally make stuff uncomfortable and heavy.

There was a time when I would head to the beach, lay out the most massive towel possible and try not to move from it (all while pretending to enjoy myself.)  Talk about lame and not fun at all...

Eventually I had a beach epiphany - a beapiphany:  quit trying to avoid these things - go for it and fix the problems later.

So how does this work? (if you don't care I understand... and now would be a good time to surf to MSN Money or YouTube or something more interesting...)

1.  I started by just going for it... doing what I used to do when I was a bi-ped.  Analyse the results.  Corrosion of metal parts, sand everywhere, ruined prosthetic sock, pretty uncomfortable while in use... though not as bad as I would have expected.  Also, the experience of "forgetting about it" - FANTASTIC!

What you need:  A willingness to get in there and tinker - don't be afraid of your own leg!  Some tools.  Dessert optional.

2.  Problem solving.  Problem #1 - Corrosion.  Hardware store - metal nuts, bolts and washers - now chrome...  I was going to get stainless steel (and that would have been smarter) but the chrome was sexy...  somewhat of a makeover for my leg.  The locking mechanism inside the prosthetic is the only other metal part on my leg...  When I get out of the water I try to rinse ASAP with fresh water (as opposed to salt water) and I dry it every night by leaving the leg upside down and I also spray Liquid Wrench inside to keep everything moving and limit the rust a bit.  And if this doesn't work 100% I don't sweat it... because I can replace bolts and that locking mech. is gonna break one day anyway.  

Problem #2 - Sand:  Well, it's going to get everywhere.  What to do?  Let it.  And every once in a while pop the leg, liner, and pros. sock off and rinse it out...  No big deal.  Very liberating.   

Problem #3 - Fit:  Yeah it kind of sucks compared to perfect, dry-land conditions.  Then again everyone is a little less steady on the beach or in the waves etc. Buy a thicker sock and devote it to the ocean... once it is wet it will come down in size a little and the fit will be 'close'... I used to baby these prosthetic socks because they cost so much**... to hell with that. Pop it in the dryer at night (or don't bother if it is getting wet again tomorrow.)  I can chase my kids, surf, swim, and enjoy myself.  

Benefits:  You can do what you want at the beach...  not getting sunburnt can go back to being your number one concern (alas, it was never relegated to #2 for me...).  Also, and here's a nice one...  when you get home, just hop in the shower like you used to - on two legs! - to rinse everything out thoroughly.

Hey, this may not seem like a big deal to most people but I know that it can be for those of us with robotic parts.  Take it from me - go for it!  What's the worst that can happen?  (Well you could lose it in the ocean... but I am developing a leash system...  ha ha!) 

If you made it this far, take a moment to consider something that you have a mental block with...  think of that thing you just hate dealing with...  find your beach.  Now figure out your approach to defeating it.  If you are lucky it will require a week of working on it in Hawaii.... 

Trip to Hawaii:  $ a lot

Wrenches: $5.00

New chrome nuts, bolts, washers: $6.50

Leg Bling: Priceless.

(Rocking the beach with my kids - also Priceless - though less ironic and a bit too syrupy sweet to be written outside of brackets...)

* Liner is the silicone sleeve that I roll onto my leg.  The pin attached to the end of the liner locks into the prosthetic.  This system creates a suction suspension to keep the leg on.  Works 99% of the time...

** Ridiculously, wool prosthetic socks can cost as much as $60.  And it seems there isn't one company that has ever thought to make them in any colour other than white.

*** Sacha wants me to remind people that the photos are from the condo in Hawaii...  lest you should think we hired the Golden Girls to decorate our home. 

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