Friday, May 30, 2008

Good Luck - Oliver Half Iron Racers!

Just a quick Friday night shout out to all of my friends racing in the Oliver Half Iron this Sunday.  Hopefully you'll see these good luck wishes before you hit the road!


Hope I didn't forget anyone....  Good Luck!

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Outsource it.

Riding in the hills is not my favourite thing to do.  Nevertheless, I got out and did some hill repeats with James yesterday.  This post will not be about those hill repeats as there is nothing fun or interesting to say about hill repeats.

The more interesting (I hope you agree) aspect is how to get yourself to do these things you don't like doing.  That's tough.  It is infinitely easier to do nothing, or to do what you like to do, than it is to force yourself to do something unpleasant.

How do you summon the will power, not just once, but day after day?  Outsource it.  That's how I like to do it.  Just as the phone company customer service agent is actually an employee of some tele-services company in Bangalore, India, I can say that often my willpower comes from the company of others.

- Would I have ridden hills yesterday if James wasn't there saddling up beside me?  Maybe not.

- Would I get up at 5:15am three days a week if Mischa didn't call me a 'cheater' and if Kevin and Debbie and the rest of our Master's Squad wasn't there noting my absence?  Maybe not.

- Would I do dryland training for skiing two nights a week if the rest of Team DHL and Tony our coach wasn't there?  Maybe not.

- Would I do 32 intervals on the treadmill at I.F. or just settle for 15 if Rob wasn't there beside me.  I might cut it short.

- Would I swim in the ocean when it is 12 degrees without the Caulfeild Bombers Open Water Team?  Maybe, but it's too dangerous.

You might be strong enough internally to do all of these things without the company, camaraderie, and sense of duty that training partners and coaches provide but it would be a LOT harder and a lot less fun.  Besides, these people push you to work harder and get the most out of each session in a way you can't replicate by yourself.

So, it seems like a good time to thank all those folks I just mentioned....  Thanks! and keep up the good work!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Take a page out of Olga's Book...

Yesterday I met an athlete quite unlike any other I have met before. Her sport is track and field and she has a collection of approximately 432 medals of which 401 are gold. Impressive right? She is also the holder of numerous World, Canadian and BC records in multiple track and field events. Her name is Olga Kotelko and she is 89! That's not a typo...

                     Olga's wind-up

Most of that info was gleaned from a quick internet search because when I met Olga she was far too humble to mention any of her significant accomplishments. She was training on the field behind my son's elementary school. A little elderly woman tossing 5 discus (disci?) and a javelin - retrieve, throw again; retrieve, throw again.... No coach, no teammates, no "Senior's Learn to Throw the Javelin" group. Just Olga and her training. I was blown away! At first glance I thought the javelin was some sort of Tai Chi stick or a blind person's cane - then she hurled it about 15 metres!

Well, that was the clincher - I couldn't resist chatting with her... She took up these sports 11 years ago at the age of 77! That's about 65 years after most people first encounter the javelin in Junior High and about 63 years after most people last set eyes on a javelin or a discus. And that's if they actually did P.E. in school and didn't "forget" their gym strip. Wow! Can you imagine taking up the Javelin, Discus, Shot Put, and Hammer Throw (yes, Hammer Throw...) as a 77 year old! Me neither. Olga regularly competes in all of them.

               Javelin Lesson for Mattias and I

As I rushed around the building to pick up Mattias from his class I decided that I would introduce him to Olga. I was hoping he'd soak up a bit of the lifespirit that Olga had even though she is 83 years older than him...(wow).

She kindly indulged me by getting the javelin out of the car to demonstrate a couple of textbook throws for Mattias. He was very impressed and so was I. I explained to Mattias that Olga was training, so that when she competes (at the BC Master's Track and Field Championships) she would be able to throw the javelin further than anyone else. She corrected me with, "No, just to try to throw it further than last year." Very 'zen-warrior' I thought. So I asked her how far that was, and instantly she told me, "18.56 in the Javelin" - a number that she was clearly intimately familiar with.

                       This is not lawn bowling

Meeting Olga today left a big impression on me. Sports have the power to keep us young. Challenging ourselves should be a lifelong thing - not just a "right now" thing, or a "maybe later" thing. Hopefully Mattias will have subconsciously taken this info to heart. Hopefully I did too...

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Aia's Project

Day one of the plan I sketched out on Sunday night went perfectly:

Masters - 6am:  great swim, nothing too crazy - happy that my shoulders felt good after the open water on Saturday.

I.F. - 2pm - 4pm:  Brick attack with Rob:

Bike on trainer  Run on Treadmill
- 15 minutes  then - 15 minutes (lvl. 8)
- 10 minutes  then - 10 minutes (lvl. 8.5)
- 5 minutes  then - 5 minutes (lvl. 9, 9.5)
- 15 minutes  then - 15 minutes (8)
- 5 minutes  then - 5 minutes (9, 9.5, 10)

     Total: 1:40

This workout was pretty tough.  There was supposed to be another 10 minute set on the back half of the pyramid but we ran out of time.  We treated the bike intervals as 'steady' with a couple of out-of-the-saddle bursts.  The tready intervals were pretty tough.  The speed, though not too crazy, was challenging especially on the backside of the pyramid (over 70 or 80 minutes deep in the workout.)  It was also insanely hot in the gym today, I was sweating like crazy and could feel the fit of my leg changing through the workout.  (That's a sure sign that some work is gettin' done!)  Rob took it a little slower as he is tapering for the Oliver Half Iron this weekend...  Nevertheless, he was on board for the workout step for step.

On the homefront all is well with Viggo and Sacha.  The little guy is feeding like crazy and sleeping most of the day (and a bit less at night.)  The kids really do love him and seem to be doing well with sharing attention.  Mattias has his T-Ball which is going very well, and as of tonight I have begun a "project" with Aia.

Using nothing but popsicle sticks, glue and other crafty stuff we will be building this:

Feel free to express your skepticism...  I have the two believers I need (Aia and Mattias.)  The version we will build may lack some of the detail you see in the image above, though I expect it to be quite impressive.  Like true Canadians we have eschewed the 'flash' of 12 turrets (as pictured above) and have opted for a more sensible and less gaudy 4.  They will, however, be staggered in height and circumference as I don't want this creation to resemble the "Alamo" (which will be difficult to avoid with the popsicle stick aesthetic.)

As with all renovations or new construction, I feel that it is wise not to declare a timeline for this project.  We will pour our heart and soul into the project 30 minutes at a time... until the job is done.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

13 Days

A fortnight minus a day. That's all the time I have till World Championships (June 7th).

The nature of endurance sports is that 'cramming' is completely and utterly ineffectual. It's a shame as I was quite adept at it in my academic career about 1000 years ago...

Alas, most of the "hay is in the barn" by now... at least from a physical perspective. Now, I don't mean to get all "Dr. Phil" here but I will say that I believe the last two weeks is the time when the mental 'hay' goes into the mental 'barn'.

Thus, please enjoy my plan for the final two weeks (it may read a bit like a Code of Conduct or some such formal literature - that is intentional - as I plan to hold myself accountable to this.)

Without further ado, the plan:

- I will do bricks. Bricks are workouts that involve more than one discipline in succession i.e. SWIM - BIKE or BIKE - RUN. I will focus on bike - run. I find these workouts challenging to fit in during the year and I tend to focus on them late. The bricks will train my body and mind for the transition... I will not feel 'worried' or negative in any way when my legs feel crappy for a few minutes after the bike - I will push through knowing it is temporary.

- I will ride big hills (in week 1). The Stanley Park course for World's includes the Prospect Point Hill x4. This hill isn't large or particularly challenging, but I will ride larger ones, more times this week so that on race day I will call that hill my B#*@H!

- I will swim in the open water. I believe my competition will be shocked and chilled to the bone by our cold water - not me. I will be used to it and used to my wetsuit. I will visualize swimming fast (maybe with a knife between my teeth like a stone cold killer.)


- I will feed the machine. These two weeks I will concentrate on being exceptionally hydrated and fueled so that on race day I will have supreme confidence in my engine.

- I will rest. I will sleep as much as life will allow. Rest is key - I screwed this up last year and I will not repeat. This may be the biggest challenge. I will arrive well tapered and fresh - ready to empty the tank.

- I will assess my equipment. Any issues will be dealt with, repaired or replaced leaving no excuses on race day. I don't want to think about my equipment even once on June 7th.

- I will maintain balance in life. My family is no. 1 right now (and always). The easiest way to screw everything up (for us all) is to ignore them and create a stressful home.

So, it's that simple.  If I go 7 for 7 it will be a VERY good sign for the race on June 7th. 

This is my new goal:   7 for 7, let the rest take care of itself.

Thanks for reading.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Great Days


                                                     Coming Home from the Hospital

The first few days after your child is born are pretty cool if you ask me...  (I know you didn't ask me, but anyway...)

It's kind of like the first few days after Christmas, or the first couple of days after you get married.  But better...  You don't work (at least I don't...)  You just do the things you want to do with your family and you get used to a new little dude.

I'm a bit tired because Viggo is somewhat nocturnal...  his Mom feeds him and so she gets even less sleep than me - she's amazing!

Mattias had his first Sports Day today which was awesome...  It was conducted largely in french which left me a little in the dark and also confirmed that his french language skills have surpassed mine (it took 9 months).  
                     Mattias rocking the "Blind Goggles Challenge"

I showed up at I.F. for my workouts on Wednesday and Friday this week but that has been it for training.  Today Rob and I did the McMahon again but at level 9.5 in order to crank up the difficulty.  Mattias took in our workout as an interested observer.  Towards the end, Mattias was 'bonking' from boredom and so Rob and I cut the workout down to 20 intervals.  It was pretty gnarly even so...

Tomorrow I am back at it in earnest:

1:00pm - 1:45pm - 1st Open Water of the season - Batchelor Bay, West Vancouver
1:45pm - 2:00pm - Transition in van (I love my van)
2:00pm - 3:30pm - Bike from B.Bay along Marine Drive to approx. Auto Mall and back...

Should be awesome!  Kevin has put a group together and this is his birthday party.  I like it that people I hang with celebrate their birthday by swimming in 12 degree water and riding right after...  Stoked!

More photos:

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Viggo Max Jones

Well, it has been an eventful couple of days since the last post.  The race numbers have not worn off my calf or shoulders from Monday and yet my life has changed.

After a great dinner on Monday night with Mel, Bert, Finlay and Daisy we adjourned to our chamber to get some sleep.  It had been a pretty great Victoria Day long weekend.

At about 2:30am Sacha started roaming around the bedroom and ensuite complaining of not being able to sleep, and suggesting that "things were happening."  In my experience, pregnant women (well, Sacha, to be precise) seems to do this for about two weeks prior to giving birth so I didn't pay too much attention other than to commiserate a bit.

At 3 she declared that this time was "different".  This, I find, is a surreal moment (my third time in life) where you realize that the concept of a new child is about to be replaced by the reality of the little critter.  I tend to go into "business mode" - who do we call, what bag was I supposed to grab, where are the keys etc.  This, I can attest, is likely to land you in a bit of heat for not being "caring" about the pain and suffering element taking place with the partner.  This is a tip I pass onto others now, as I suspect I have squandered my last chance to do it right.  

We called Anne Marie (Sacha's mom) and she came over to sleep at our place so Mattias and Aia would wake up with someone in the house.  Thanks Anne Marie!  We were out of the house at 3:30 am on our way to Lion's Gate Hospital.

On the way to the hospital, of course, the contractions subsided, much the way a malfunctioning part on your car miraculously repairs itself on the way to the mechanic.  This creates a situation which a pregnant woman (Sacha) fears greatly:  Getting sent home from the Hospital.

So, rather than rush we meandered....  I tried to go to McDonald's for a McMuffin (they don't serve breakfast till 5am...)  I went to 7-11 for a Caramilk Coffee and a cheese bun concoction with a pepperoni stick inserted into it.  Note:  I don't normally eat this way.  Having said that, both of these selections were excellent.

Eventually, with nothing else to do, we decided to go to the Hospital and pop the top on the van so Sacha could lay down.  We'd wait it out and see which way this thing was going.  I was pumped - I don't get enough chances to use the Westfalia capability of my van and this was an important role in a life-changing moment.  The van has never been prouder!

At about 5:30am Sacha knew that it was not a false alarm.  We packed up the van and headed in to the hospital.  She was ushered into the delivery room and we got settled.  At this point the contractions were about 6 or 7 minutes apart.  I will spare you all the rest of the details, other than to say that Sacha was extremely tough...  only declaring once or twice:  "I can't do this!" (but she did...) and, "Get it out!" (she did that too...)  Not a single expletive was uttered (which I find quite impressive.)  She was amazing!

At 7:15am Viggo Max was introduced to the world with one good push and a gentle tug from the doctor.  He had a nice little mop of dark hair and a cute little cone head from his previous accommodations which were, by all indications, "cozy".  

His name is Scandinavian (and Italian too), it's an old name, and one we liked for a bunch of reasons.  Its Scandinavian background fits with Mattias and Aia and represents Sacha's heritage.  It's rare.  It's cool (we think.)  The name is most commonly associated with Viggo Mortensen (a Danish actor) who starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, A History of Violence and lots of other movies.  He's cool so we weren't put off by that.  So far reaction has been mixed, "Excuse me?" is the reaction I get most.  I am used to it though, with the name Meyrick I have been hearing it all my life...  We are strong believers in rare-ish names... 

(Note:  It has not escaped my notice that if we were to give him the middle names Oskar and Olaf his nickname could reasonably be:  "V O2 Max Jones".  Sacha was not nearly as taken with this as I was....)

As the dust settled in the delivery room, it became clear that everyone had come through relatively unscathed.  These moments are a bit nerve-wracking, Mattias had a little problem when he was born and that made me a bit nervous with Aia (in 2004) and yesterday with Viggo.  But Sacha and Viggo were both in good shape.  I too had made it without feinting or otherwise suffering from the experience.

The highlight of the day for me came at about 9:30 am when Mattias and Aia met their new little brother.  Wow!  They were SO excited and in awe of him...  it was really cute to watch.

Later in the day, after Mattias' T-Ball practice, we brought Sacha dinner and champagne in the hospital.  The kids had a bit more time with Viggo and held him for the first time.  It was a fun evening.

Sacha and Viggo will be coming home this afternoon.  We want to thank everyone who has sent "Congratulations" messages, or who has come by the hospital.  We hope to see everyone again soon!

I'll end the post with a few more pictures from the hospital.

That's 7lbs, 15 oz to those of you unfamiliar with grams....  

The heartbeat of a Viking Warrior.... 

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Monday, May 19, 2008

North Shore Triathlon - Race Report

Note:  There will be a post with pictures as soon as I get a chance to download them and get a few from friends...

We have just enjoyed a very nice long weekend here in Vancouver, 30 degrees C on Saturday and Sunday...  stoked for summer!  Well, not so fast...

Monday, Victoria Day, was wet and dreary.  This extends a streak I started last year....  my last 4 triathlons in Vancouver have been rainy.  Not the type of record that makes you proud to be a Vancouverite.

Anyway, enough chit chat about the weather....  The big event today (at least for me) was that Justin was doing his first triathlon.  Check out some previous posts to learn a bit more about Justin.  As we set up in transition before the race I was answering a few questions for him and casting my mind back to my first triathlon.  They are pretty complex at first!  Justin was as cool as a cucumber and showing no signs of nerves.

The pool swim took place at Ron Andrews Pool in North Vancouver.  The swim involved 20 lengths of a 37 metre pool for a total of 740 metres.  Classic format if ever there was one ;)  The lanes were double wide, and for good reason as there were loads of swimmers in each one.  It was difficult to pass and troublesome to turn without launching into swimmers behind you.  All in all though the swim was pretty uneventful.  I have no idea if the length counter got me out at the right time because he seemed VERY unsure.  Oh well...  No offense to Ron Andrews, but his pool is pretty dark and WAY too hot.  Makes me realize how lucky we are to swim at the West Van Aquatic Centre three times a week.

I put my leg on right beside the pool - Mick (the RD) had a spot all squared away for Justin and I...  Thanks Mick!

T1 went pretty smoothly, I didn't have any issues.  I would really love to be able to leave my shoes clipped in but I haven't found a way to slip my prosthetic foot into the shoe while riding.  I am going to give this some thought because it is one of the few things standing between me and a "pro" transition...  well, that and having to put a prosthetic leg on, but who's counting.

The bike course featured a quick climb out of transition up to the Mount Seymour Parkway followed by 4 lightly rolling loops on an out and back course.  Pretty basic, just had to be careful with the 8 hairpins on wet asphalt.  Laps 2-4 were way better than lap 1...  I needed some time to warm up the legs I guess.  Back down the hill and into transition.

T2 - quick.  I have been very happy with my transitions lately and this was another pretty good one.

The run course was quite a bit different than I expected.  I guess I took the 5km a bit lightly as I didn't even consider coming to look at it before the race.  It was mostly on trails.  The trails were actually a blast to run through, curving left and right, rolling up and down.  There were several hills which never seem to feel too great....  I felt kind of dead-legged for the first km or so then was able to pick it up.  By the end I was feeling great and was really moving...  bodes well for longer races.

I have no concept for my time because I neglected to start my watch before the swim and decided not to worry about it.  It was actually really nice to be racing without thinking about how slow or fast I was going.  The results will all come out in a day or so and I can analyze them all I want, in the meantime all I can say is that I felt pretty good.  

Justin had a great race too.  He seeded himself in a later group for the swim so I didn't see him much except that his T1 was my T2....  He was getting a talking to for unracking his bike before putting his helmet on.  Nevertheless, he was off and I was too...

I tried to see him get off the bike but I missed it somehow, so camera in hand I went to the finish line to get "the shot".  Well, put it this way, his run was WAY better than my photography.  I'll post it with some other shots in a photo post (maybe tomorrow) but you'll just laugh at how bad the photo is....

We didn't get a time for him either (he didn't start his watch, and the race clock started with the first swimmer) so we'll have to see.  Not that it matters.  I was just hoping he'd love it and I think he did.

He crossed the line all smiles and felt great about his race.  I was pumped for him as I remember how great it felt after I did my first race.  We thought about staying to watch the Elite Race but it was raining again and we elected to go to White Spot for a celebratory breakfast instead.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

"What do you think about that South African guy?"

This is a question I get a lot.  The "South African guy" is Oscar Pistorius.  He is pictured in full flight below.

Most are at least somewhat familiar with the fact that Oscar has been embroiled in a legal battle with the IAAF (track and field governing body) to be allowed to compete at the able-bodied Olympics (perhaps in Beijing this summer).

Yesterday his appeal of an earlier decision was successful.  This means that (if he can qualify) his personal Olympic torch was just re-lit.  His PB is within a second of the qualifying time necessary.  You can read more about the ruling here.  

So, with this huge, landmark decision, and Oscar in the news again I am fielding more questions than ever about the "South African guy".  Here is my take:

Firstly, let's be clear about one thing:  If I were Oscar I'd be doing the same thing.  Of course I'd want to go to the Olympics - duh!

So, with that out of the way, we can move to the academic discussion about whether it's right for the sport and whether he has an "advantage" which are the main points of contention (and the ones I tend to get asked about).

Does Oscar have an "advantage"?

There is no way to know for sure... even for me, using almost the same equipment (though only on my left side.)  I would bet that Oscar doesn't truly know for sure either.  It's not like he has his own able-bodied times to compare.  (Oscar was born with his disability.)

Running prostheses like Oscar's and mine are incredible pieces of equipment.  I have often marveled at the fact that it returns my 185 lbs running (which must mean over 370 lbs of force) twice per second for as long as I ask it to.  It requires no fuel (my other leg does), it depletes no resources (my other leg does), it doesn't get tired (my other leg does), it doesn't get blisters (my other leg does), it doesn't get injured (my other leg could) there are probably a few more but you get the gist.

On the other hand, it is a separate piece of machinery, a tool.  It is not natural and cannot be controlled with as much precision and power; suspension (our word for keeping it attached) can be very tricky and difficult especially under the stress of sprinting.  There are also a plethora of other issues for an amputee to deal with starting with the skin and moving up through the muscles and joints.  At the end of a long run you want to take it off - like a skier after a day in rental boots.

                                      Oscar uses two "Cheetahs" - Flex-Foot sprint legs 

                                             I use one Flex-Run - made for distance running

I know that there is no prosthesis that can compare to a natural leg in all-round day-to-day living.  There are too many different things we ask of our bodies for one "tool" to do all the jobs well.  Imagine trying to play footsie with your girlfriend using the same leg you would use to climb Mount Everest...  legs built for these two activities would look and function a lot differently.  One would be soft and sensual and one would have sharp crampons...

But let's think about that Everest leg for a second...  you could build the crampons in and save the weight of the heavy boot, the foot would never get cold, the foot would also never get tired.  The leg and the rest of the body would also be asked to carry a much lighter weight to the top.  When a tool is built especially for one task it can be pretty hard to beat.  Oscar's legs are made for one thing:  Sprinting.  

This issue has already come up in the lesser publicized sport of rock climbing... we amputees have been deemed to have an "advantage" in rock climbing.  Think about it... if you had to eek your toenail onto a tiny ledge and hold your body weight how long could you do it? A few seconds?  I, on the other hand (or foot), could hold it for long enough to let all of my other muscles completely recover, eat a granola bar, apply sun screen, put more white stuff on my hands etc....

So...  do I think he has an advantage?  No.  I know what it is like to learn to walk, learn to run, deal with all the issues.  I also know what running was like as a young guy in my early 20s (my accident happened at 21).  I know that I don't have an advantage, and I am sure glad I only lost one....  That Oscar can do what he does on two prostheses is absolutely incredible (whether or not there is an advantage) but I don't think there is.  The issue is that I can easily see that there could be.  

Is this ruling right for the sport?

I really want to say "yes".  Something tells me it isn't though.  I believe in fair play and apples vs. apples.  I don't like sports with judges, I don't like sports with engines (unless they are all the same, and even then...).

Given that I can see that an advantage could "one day" be possible in theory, can I be sure that today (or last year) wasn't "the day"?

That is why I think the decision is a bit dicey.  I like the purity of track sports; everyone competes with the same equipment on the same surface etc.  Ahh...  "purity" and "track" not words you'll see used in the same sentence very often.  Maybe they should be studying if Oscar's blades have an advantage over a sprinter using hgh or steroids....

And My Verdict

If I were the judge I'd let Oscar compete.  

This probably sounds a bit contrary to what I've written so far.  I think that we should all start with the right to compete.  To lose that right I think it is fair that someone be forced to prove that you have an advantage.  It isn't enough to say "He's different."  After all, way back when, someone might have said, "These Kenyans, they sure seem to win a lot of marathons...  they must have an advantage.  I'll be damned if we can't figure out what the advantage is, but we sure can't have them competing here."  I'm not pulling the race card...  just the "kenyans are fast and nobody really knows exactly why" card.  If someone could prove that Kenyans have a definite unfair advantage they'd probably have to have their own Kenyan Olympics....  there'd be some great times laid down at the K.O.

Therefore, I think the ruling was absolutely spot on...  it included the possibility to be overturned in the future if more info came to light, and it simply said that an "advantage" had not been proved.  Essentially, you can't kill the guy's dreams based on a flawed study and nervous suspicion.  The burden of proof correctly remains with the IAAF.

That is my opinion.  Remember, it's only worth what you paid for it....

Feel free to leave an opinion in the comments....  I'd like to hear your perspective.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

"Whooaah Dude! How'd you do that?"

...that's what he said. 

That and, "In 15 years I've NEVER seen that!"

He was referring to my bike - the cranks to be precise.  

Today, as Justin and I started our N.S. Tri course preview ride, I headed up a small hill...  nothing too crazy.  CRUNCH!  I looked down, something was definitely wrong but I couldn't tell what it was.  Two minutes later, CRUNCH!  This time when I looked down I saw the problem.

My left crank was WAY out of whack...  it had come around trying to level itself with my right crank and now I was bobbing and lunging in a strange way trying to maintain forward momentum.

As it turns out I had crushed the grooves on the inside of the Dura-Ace crank to the point where it rotated around.  And that was on my left side!

Later, at the bike shop, I felt quite enormous pride once the guys began to call me "an animal". So much so that I decided to memorialize the moment with a photo or two (see below).  My elation subsided when I learnt that a DA left crank arm lists for $225...  I am hoping for a deal ;)

Anyway, Jay and Stephen have hooked me up with a sweet FSA Crankset for the race and to tide me over until the DA crank comes in...  thanks guys!

Check out the photo - note the wonky crank alignment:

Anyway, Justin and I drove the course instead and then went for a swim.  My second of the day...

After some work, 3 o'clock rolled around and I was at I.F. for my Friday afternoon training session with Rob.  We had concocted an epic workout...

- 32 x 1 minute treadmill intervals (level 9, incline 1)
- 30 seconds of exercises between each interval
- See the board for the exercises (also note the credit to Brent McMahon as this was modified from a workout he shared with

The workout is obviously designed to push you to a faster run time (or get to the battlefield faster, as mentioned above.)  You are supposed to pick a speed that would result in a 10k PB.  It was tough but fair - I was never nervous about making it but it was mentally and physically quite draining - and very rewarding.  So draining that Rob and I couldn't figure out how far we ran...  (32 minutes at 9 miles/hour) seems easy now, I know, I know...  I think we killed a few million brain cells...

Have a great long weekend!  I'll leave you with a picture of how a fun vehicle looks...  make yours look like this this weekend!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

North Shore Spring Triathlon

This Monday (Victoria Day), I will be racing in the North Shore Spring Triathlon.  It's a sprint distance tri which should be kind of fun since I haven't done a sprint since my first-ever triathlon 4 years ago.

I am looking forward to the pool swim...  I almost registered for the Cultus Lake Triathlon last weekend where the H2O was so cold they cut the swim in half, then later made it optional.  Thank god it was Mother's Day and I decided I'd better hang with the family!!

I am treating this weekend's race as a workout.  My goal is simply to be able to run hard off the bike.  Also, I will be happy to get some transition practice in before Worlds.

Preparations for World Championships this year have been different for me.  Starting with a winter full of x-c ski racing.  The race falling at the beginning of June has meant that there is less time to prepare (with good weather).  

At this point I feel very good about my running and very good about my swimming.  I have made concerted efforts over the years in both of these disciplines.  I have never attacked my riding with the same intensity.  

I intend to remedy that situation this summer - I have registered for the Seattle to Portland road ride.  The training will force me to spend hours in the saddle, the way Olympic Distance triathlon never has....  It is also a super fun event and should be good to take my cycling to the next level.  For World's this year it will remain my weakness (shhh... don't tell anyone...).

The other awesome part about the race on Monday is that Justin will be doing his first triathlon.  Justin is a below-knee amputee like myself.  Unlike me, he is a young buck in his early 20s.  I met Justin at a talk I gave at GF Strong Rehab Centre about a year ago - he got interested in Triathlon and I have been giving him bits and pieces of advice ever since....  

Justin was the first recipient of a Momentum Foundation grant (before we were even a registered charity).  Myself, along with several friends and associates, all chipped in and the Bike Gallery and Specialized helped with a smokin' deal on a bike.  On Monday Justin will put it all to the test....  I can't wait.  Thanks to everyone who had a part in helping Justin get to the start line of his first triathlon.  You guys are awesome!

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Righting a Wrong...

I seldom suffer from post-race depression.  In fact I may have never suffered from it.  The City Chase has come perilously close to plunging me into a sad state as I contemplate going 360 days until the next one.

Maybe it was partially the cameras...  I sort of understand why people cry when they get booted off of reality shows now.  It's pretty fun to be the star.  It makes your whole life seem just a bit more interesting.  Don't ask me why that camera crew isn't still following me...  you should see how exciting it is to watch me type!

On the other hand, I think it was the City Chase itself.  Cameras don't explain why Mark and I are seriously discussing competing in Montreal in July...

Anyway, in our agonizing effort to put the experience behind us (or drag it out just a bit longer... you decide), we concluded that we needed to right a wrong that we committed on race day.  

Stealing bottles from the homeless man/woman (?) definitely scored low on the ethical scale.  Mark at least suggested that we leave money, which to my dismay I responded with "Can we return that Ketchup bottle?!")

Here we were yesterday making amends.  Hopefully all bad karmic energy has been balanced by this...

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mitsubishi City Chase - Race Report

City Chase Explained (from the website)

The City Chase is a unique urban adventure that requires participants to exhibit teamwork, resourcefulness, determination and the ability to make decisions on the fly as they search for ChasePoints scattered in unknown locations throughout the city. ChasePoints are designed to test teams with a variety of physical, mental, and otherwise adventurous challenges.

To conquer this 4-6 hour urban event, 2-person teams will run, walk and use public transit to navigate their way throughout the city, while calling family and friends for help, accessing the Internet, and even employing assistance of total strangers. The first team to complete the required ChasePoints and cross the finish line WINS!

Team Last Minute - Race Report

Team Members:  Mark Vaughan, Meyrick Jones
Chase Points Reached: 10
Total Time: Approx. 3:29:00
Place: 17 out of 289 teams

                                                    Mark and I hanging out at the finish line

To tell you all about our race would take A LOT of writing...  the nature of the race (10 checkpoints and the journeys between them) and the fact that we had a camera crew with us made for so many stories that it would take way too long.  I find it incredibly interesting - though I fear you may not...

I have tried to summarize to give you an idea of how the day went:

Ten Chase Points

1. Get blood type test at Canadian Blood Services. (Mine AB, Mark O-) - then had to have a Tarantula crawl across my stomach and eat a mealworm.  No problems.

2. Direct Mark through the Maze at Van Dusen Gardens.  Was Easy.

3. Toss a quarter into one of three beer mugs from about 5'.  Partner walks on stilts around a course (short if you hit the right mug, long if you hit the wrong mug.)  I hit the short course mug and Mark walks well on stilts.

4 +5.  Go to G.A.P. Adventures on 4th Ave.  Get one Chase Point for having raised $50 for Right to Play.  The other chase point is a search for three cars with clues in a six block zone, unscramble the clues.  We made friends and got the answer from some nice folks in about 10 seconds.  (This is allowed by the way.)

6.  Return 20 bottles to the West Side Recycling Station - we had been collecting for a while, got about 10 at a Subway, rooted through some garbage cans...  returned them.  Easy.

7.  Go to Jericho Sailing Centre and paddle a Paddleboard out around a buoy (maybe 30 metres out and 30 back).  Mark rocked it.

8. Go to the Ropes Course at UBC.  I did the "Leap of Faith" - climbed about 80 feet up a tree, leapt off a platform, grabbed a rope and rang a bell.  All roped in - easy and pretty fun.  Then we both had to do a low ropes course - basically walking a tightrope and passing each other in the middle - WAY harder than the high rope...  but we nailed it first time.

9. Thunderbird Stadium.  Mark put on football gear did an obstacle course, tagged me and I nailed a fieldgoal (1st try!)  

10.  Back to the UBC Aquatic Centre.  Roll a pair of dice (7), double it (14) and jump that many metres as a team.  So I jumped off the 10 metre, and Mark jumped off the 5 metre platform.

Chase Point Summary:  They were pretty easy but offered a nice variety of things and a few 'thrills'.  My favourite parts:  The 10 metre platform, the leap of faith and my majestic field goal.  Mark rocking the paddleboard was awesome too because it looked pretty tough.

Strategy Summary:  This is where the game is won and lost in my opinion.  The points aren't too tough so it all comes down to how fast your route is...  We got off to a great start and made one terrible mistake that I am sure cost us at least 30-45 minutes - we missed the free car ride from the blood challenge to Granville Island (for another checkpoint)...  instead Mark and I ran about 6 or 7 minutes uphill to Van Dusen Gardens and then back to Oak (oops, should have gone to Granville) and waited for a bus for about 8 minutes on Oak and then ran a further distance to the Molson challenge...  ouch!  And even though the car was random and you couldn't guarantee catching it - we know we could have caught it because we were the second team to the blood challenge (the car took two teams.)  That was our BIG MISTAKE because instead of being dropped at the doorstep of the Granville Island Challenge we did all that running and still had to go to another "Mandatory" stop (the mega run into Jericho and out again.) That cost us the race.  But, that is the race... so no use crying about it.

Physical Challenge Summary:  We probably ran about 10-12 km.  Way further than I expected (and way further than we should have...)  We had a few 'all out' two block sprints to catch buses.  Longest run was into Jericho Sailing Centre from Broadway... and back out.  Fitness definitely makes a difference in this race though it is no substitute for a great route strategy.

Questionable Ethics:  We 'stole' 2 bottles from a shopping cart 'home.'  At the time I was rabidly searching for bottles anywhere they could be found... now, after it is all said and done, I do feel a bit bad about stealing from the homeless.  (I know that part will end up on TV.)

Embarrassing TV Moment:  Apart from stealing from the homeless.... it had to be getting my shorts caught on a fence and wiping out.  Oh well...  I can always hope that bit of footage hits the cutting room floor...  yeah right!

Proudest Moment:  Nailing the Field Goal.  It was beautiful...  Unfortunately we had temporarily lost the camera crew.  When we went back later with the crew to "get the shot" I hit it again a few times but never with the same authority.

                                   Couldn't recreate that moment for the cameras.... Damn!

Scariest Moment:  I didn't expect to ever be scared during the race - and I wasn't.  But after the race, during the 'pick-ups' with the camera crew, they asked me to do a crazy horizontal cable ladder rope challenge that was 1000% harder than the Leap of Faith.  It definitely gave me pause...  balancing on a cable-strung, ladder rung with my running leg is not a solid feeling at 80 feet.  Even roped in it was nerve-wracking (the camera didn't help a whole lot.)

Team Summary: Mark was awesome. He gave it everything he had and ran his ass off. I think he was pushed beyond his comfort zone a few times and never complained. He also had us so dialed in with computer experts, maps and everything else. Great partner!

Race Summary:  This race is really a blast!  I can't convey it enough in writing.  If you get the chance call a friend (maybe not a spouse) and register.  It is awesome.  I am making this one an annual event and I am going to be SERIOUSLY motivated next year.  I felt we were really close even with the stupid mistake.  There is something about getting the brain involved with the body in a race that makes winning and losing a bit more personal....

Thank You's:  Mark for the idea and all the hard work.  Jeff, Tanya and Seela for backing us up on the computers.  The CBC for picking us for the cameras - what a blast that was!  Innovative Fitness for allowing us to film in the gym and getting us fighting fit.  Sacha for letting me do this stuff when she is due in 12 days.  The Homeless man whose bottles I stole - Mark was right we should have left money.  

Our camera and sound guy...  nice guys.  This was hours after the race going back to Queen E. Park for 'pick-ups'.

                                   Our Crew's director Jill, Camera guy, me, and sound guy

                         Seela was one of our team on the computers.  Also our UBC expert.

Coming home on the bus from UBC.  Do you watch The Office?  Spot Dwight Shrute...  Pretty intense.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Tomorrow we race...

Well, I burnt through the week with no posts....  but for good reason.  It has been extremely busy the last few days.

We have been unpacking and settling into our house (though we haven't slept there yet.)  The job is pretty big because we have tonnes of junk to sort through.  I hate moving a lot.  I have dropped a ball or two dealing with this move (if I haven't returned an email or two please forgive me!)

And the other thing that has kept me busy has been the approach of the City Chase.  I think I mentioned that Mark and I were chosen to be one of the teams that does the race with a camera crew in tow...  This week we have done on-camera interviews, shot footage to be spliced in with the race and fielded several long phone calls from producers and directors.  Along with that we have been prepping for the race....  We have special maps printed, we have scouted likely locations and brainstormed routes, challenges, gear lists etc.  We are VERY well prepared (I think).  It is a very different feeling to be going into a race where you have no idea what you will be doing.  Quite a change from skiing and triathlon.  The preparations have us feeling quite ready to rock and do well.... this is good because it would suck to make fools of ourselves on National TV.

Next week it is back to triathlon and 'real' racing....  The North Shore Spring Triathlon with my buddy Justin Levine.

Look for a City Chase race report and some cool photos tomorrow or Sunday.  

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Three Topic Post

Topic Number #1

My workout at the Callaghan Valley today.  I really didn't want to do it.  I also had every excuse one could dream about with which to bail (wife due in 18 days, house move yesterday, big triathlon in one month etc.)  I was really hating the idea of going up to the Callaghan - to me the ski season is over and this was not a good fit for me mentally.  My mind was SCREAMING Bail, Bail!

I knew that if I was serious about my goal of making it to the National Team and on to the Paralympics in 2010 I HAD TO GO.  I had a National Team Coach invite me personally... and my goal is to get on the National Team.

Anyway, I went.  I dragged myself up there (kind of hating the idea) with the plan to "do my time" and get the hell out.  No offense to anyone there - I just wasn't into it.  

I got out there on the skis.  A little rusty after 5 weeks off...  But, you know, I was kind of enjoying the sensation - the altitude, the heart pounding work, the sunshine and warm weather.

Then I met up with Robin, he coached me on and off for a couple of hours and shot some video of me skiing.  Robin competed at the Olympics in Nagano and also guides his visually impaired brother Brian.  Brian is following in his brother's Olympic footsteps and looks to be set to compete as an able-bodied skier at the Olympics in 2010 - even though he is mostly BLIND!  That, my friends , is pretty incredible... 

Anyway, Robin supplied me with two absolutely stellar tips (and a bunch of other great ones that I will be working on for a while) which have already made me a FAR better skier.  I also felt pretty excited about it again.  He is a great coach and a really good guy.

The ski session ended and I packed up and hit the road - I was PUMPED!  These are the sessions where you make the biggest gains.  The ones that challenge you - mentally.  When you stare down the barrel of weakness (wanting to bail, and wanting to make excuses) and you somehow find a way to overcome the urge and get out there, you have exercised the most important muscle of all - your will!  

I am still glowing from the session... literally (see Topic #3)

Topic Number 2

Mitsubishi City Chase Update - Mark and I "passed" the screen test...  We are going to be the "stars" of a reality TV show production focused on the race.  Exciting and slightly nerve-wracking!  Should be a lot of fun....

Topic Number 3

Why didn't I put sunscreen on today?  I have a shaved head, it was sunny and hot, I was skiing, AND I am going to be on TV in a few days....  Hilarious, one day after the "screen test" I change my skin tone by about forty shades, from 'white' to 'tomato'...  I hope they have a good make-up person....

P.S.  I've been bad with the photos lately....  I have some good ones but my computer stuff is all in a box somewhere...  no card reader.  Will load some up soon...

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Training Update

I am back at the training after two bouts of illness...  the bronchitis is mostly gone - just a little coughing now...

Tomorrow I am skiing.  Yes, it's true - in May - there is still lots of snow in the Callaghan Valley.  Robin McKeever (a National Team coach) has invited me up for some coaching and training.  I am quite excited to be invited (said the Cat in the Hat)...  it is, however, an extremely hectic time with the move today and a baby due in 18 days.  I will be skiing with a phone in my pocket and the car idling...

Training Week

Monday:  Ski AM - R. McKeever @ Callaghan  
Tuesday:  Ski AM - R. McKeever @ Callaghan
Wednesday:  Swim AM, Strength PM - Innovative Fitness, Ride PM
Thursday: Brick - Bike/Run
Friday: Swim AM, IF PM
Saturday:  City Chase (I expect some running but who knows how much...)
Sunday:  Mother's Day - Pamper the wife....

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Home Front: Report

Today we hired Smoother Movers to move us back into our house after approx. 18 months of renovations.  

Not that the renos are finished... no siree... just finished enough to move back.  And not a moment too soon with Baby #3 due to arrive in LESS THAN 3 WEEKS!!!!  We will not be residing there for another day or two but should be settled by mid-week.

In other stress-relieving news we have come up with a name for the new child (a boy)....  Here is your hint:  _ _ _ _ _ .  If you get it right I'll be quite surprised...

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Mitsubishi City Chase

The next event on my schedule is the Mitsubishi City Chase.  It will take place on May 10 (next Saturday).

This is a team event and I will be competing with Mark Vaughan - together we are TEAM LAST MINUTE - referring to when we registered.  Mark is a good friend that I introduced to the joys of swim, bike, run last year.

This race is quite unlike the stuff I usually do....  this one is a lot like the Amazing Race.  I am completely surprised by how excited I am to do it.  Mark and I have been talking strategy  and I think the 'team' aspect is a nice change to my usual races.  We will have a team of three computer-whizzes on speed dial to help us break down clues, figure out routes and generally provide Bat-Cave style backup...  We have mobile internet on our blackberries, GPS... you name it - we are ready to rock.

To provide an even higher level of intrigue, we have also been shortlisted, interviewed and screen-tested to be on the CBC Sports production of the race as one of the profiled teams that does the race with a camera crew in tow.  

If chosen, the producer encouraged us to provide 'drama' by essentially freaking out at each other (or other teams) when possible...  here's hoping we won't be fulfilling that request.  It has occurred to both of us that by televising our race we enhance our chances of embarrassing ourselves by a bajillion %...  So why do it?  Why not?  We are in this to have a blast and a new experience - we might as well do it on film and laugh hard at ourselves later.  Of course, we may not get picked...

Regardless, I believe Team Last Minute will be a potent mixture of brains and brawn, speed and skill, morals and ruthlessness.  All in all it should be pretty fun. 

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