Friday, August 29, 2008

Army Run - Ottawa

My trip to Ottawa is coming together and I couldn't be more excited.

I will be delivering a motivational and informational talk to a group of injured Canadian Forces soldiers as well as the officers that are behind the Soldier On initiative.  

On Sunday I will be running the event with the soldiers, many of whom will be running for the first time.  It should be an amazing experience as I am sure these men and women will go through quite a range of emotions along the way.

The Soldier On program (which is charged with the duty of rehabilitating the injured soldiers) signifies an amazing opportunity for me to help others.  There is never any shortage of ways to help others in this world, but when one comes along that 'fits' as well as this one it is very exciting.  I lost my leg at 21, around the same time in life as most of these soldiers.  I didn't lose my leg to a rocket-propelled grenade or suicide bomber but I was a young guy eager to get active, frustrated at times, scared at times, and staring up a pretty steep hill.  We have that much in common.

I am sure I will learn a lot and I feel certain that I can do my duty to inspire these soldiers - just by showing them what can be achieved with a positive attitude and a determined approach.  At the least I can download 13 years of experience with disability - the tricks - mental, physical and practical.  

Check out the ARMY RUN website HERE

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Stanley Park "Dryland" Intervals

It's been three days since we got home from L.A. and it only takes me two to start feeling a little aimless when it comes to my training.

Thus it was fortunate that Thursday presented a two-pronged challenge.  One that I underestimated quite spectacularly....

It started with a rare Thursday I.F. 3pm session.  It turns out that Rob will be gallivanting around the beaches of Tofino so our usual Friday afternoon session got moved up...

We opted for a mish-mash of weights, boxing, core, running intervals etc.  The workout gradually escalated in intensity to the point that we were dropping intervals at 12.5 mph on the treadmill towards the end.  Good clean fun but perhaps not ideal because...

I still had Thursday's dryland training ahead.  Rob and I put back some pasta with veal accompanied by a full-bodied Gatorade immediately after the workout - fuel for the evening session...

The questionable sense of the term 'dryland' was dealt another blow due to the fact that the land was anything but dry.  The rain was heavy and unrelenting.  Fortunately, I enjoy working out in the rain as long as I am not on a bicycle.  The schedule called for intervals (again)...  quite a departure from the usual 'technique' sessions Tony delivers.  In fact, Tony would not be administering the session at all.  Jamie Stirling was at the helm - he runs the Nordic Racers dryland summer program which I have joined a few times this summer.

Surprisingly (not), lots of other people were unable to make it to tRAINing, therefore, it was Jamie, his wife Jules and myself.  We convened at the Running Room adjacent to Stanley Park and ventured towards Third Beach where Jules knew of the perfect hill for Jamie's interval workout.

An aside:  Jules is the proprietor of a cool little website dedicated to Stanley Park's trail system.  Here is a screenshot with our hill highlighted...  I recommend the site - it is super simple and provides a great runner's guide to the extensive and ridiculously beautiful system of trails in the park.  P.S.  If you go there - click on all of the Google Ads... 

As mentioned it was beautiful...  try running through an old growth forest in the rain - it is kind of spiritual.  I am going back soon.

The intervals were damn tough.  We started with one at 50%, then did 6 at 100%.  The uphill trail was only 600 metres long but it felt like 1.5km.  My times remained consistent throughout despite the intervals feeling progressively more difficult.  This confirms that the mental element is incredibly key in an "all-out" effort.  Obviously, the first 100% interval wasn't truly 100% if the last one was WAY harder and the time was the same....  (food for thought.)

Also, there is no way I could get as much out of myself on my own as I did chasing Jamie...  These workouts absolutely require a partner (at least to get the most out of yourself.)  And all the better if they are faster than you....  Thanks Jamie!

Anyway, I was toast afterward....  just as one should be after a workout like that.  The rain running down my brow and soaking my socks, shirt and everything else, the majestic trees in the dying light and bloody hard work on the hill made for an awesome workout that left me tired but pumped for more of the same (albeit not just then!)  

It's hard to capture rain in a photo....  it was pouring...

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Get Out There Magazine

Click on the image to enlarge...

This is from Get Out There Magazine.  It's flattering that they liked my answer but I wanted to win the shoes!  Maybe I misunderstood.  Oh well....  I got a bunch of new readers the day they released it...

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

L.A. - Late Summer Holiday

We are back from L.A. and Labour Day is approaching...  fall is definitely in the air.  

For some reason when I think of Labour Day I always think no more white pant wearing.  Even though the saying is old, and I have no idea if it is heeded by the fashionistas out there, if you say "Labour Day", I think "No more white pants."  Period.  

Actually, I don't wear white pants - ever - because I find that my black leg shows through.  This is an odd reason since I wear shorts 99% of the time (and my carbon fibre leg certainly shows up well through thin air.)

If not being able to wear white pants is a downside of having only one leg it is easily offset by my ability to skip all line-ups at Disneyland!!!  That's right - all those hour+ lines.  Mattias and I waited about 75 minutes in the blazing sun for Big Thunder Mountain and the lady running the ride saw my leg and said, "You can skip all line-ups with that."  I had a momentary moral dilemma...  momentary, like 10 seconds or so.  I made peace with my struggling conscience by donating our now unnecessary (and inferior) FastPass tickets to others.

It was an excellent trip, though it felt a little short.  Without further ado - the photos (and my hopefully not too boring commentary):

We shelled out the extra $15 for a limo to the airport - not just to surprise the kids, but because our family has outgrown regular taxis.... sheeeesh!

We spent hours every day in the backyard pool.  We traded houses and cars with the Tysch Family on which is the best travel website ever!  Seriously, check it out....  it has made travel so much more affordable and awesome for us.

Kids in goggles look hilarious...  My kids swim mostly underwater.  They're good at underwater swimming and I can't seem to make them want to swim much on top....  puzzling.

Sacha's mom, Anne Marie, came with us.  It was certainly nice to have an extra set of hands on this trip so THANK YOU Anne Marie!

Viggo loves the water though he is usually mobbed by his fans (Mattias and Aia.)

Aia at Disneyland...  She saw most of the princesses she wanted to see as well as Mickey and Minny.

Mattias and Aia with Minny.  Mattias acts pretty cool but he gets into it...  He said to me, "Dada there are people inside those costumes right?"  He thought it was cool that he knew, I thought it was cool that he needed to ask.

Playing Mickey's piano.

Big Thunder Mountain - look at that face.  Awesome!  

Sacha and I ran together a few times.  6km with pick-ups one day and 9km another day.  It is so nice to jump in that pool right after a run...

Sacha and Viggo at The Grove just before we went out to dinner at Pizzeria Mozza - Mario Batali's restaurant - the pizza was awesome.  We also went out with another friend to Beso in Hollywood which is Eva Longoria's restaurant - an amazing room, great food and company.

Eating on the deck...  every meal, every day outside..

We ate well.

We visited friends in Laguna Beach - Viggo digs the beach.

Beach chillin'.

Aia getting important work done.

Mattias and I playing with the camera.

The view from Marilyn and Myron's deck... wow.  Steps right down onto the beach, open air shower in the garden, unbelievable.

This guy is growing up fast...

Urth Caffe on Melrose...  I highly recommend it.

He always seems to nap at the right time...  way to go Viggo!

2 minutes post Snoop Dogg sighting...  LAX lounge waiting for the plane.  Snoop has the largest bodyguards I have ever seen - no joke these guys are around 400lbs.

Viggo flew the friendly skies with style and grace... (i.e. he didn't cry and piss off everyone around us.)  Kudos also to Sacha for making traveling work with all of these kids - snacks, toys, books, you name it - in the bag.

In case you were wondering who reads these things...  Mattias does.  He asks questions like, "So if we crash we get to go on the slide?"  Kind of like, "Hey that would be fun..."

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Do you miss me?

I have been in LA with the whole family enjoying a bit of R & R.  In this case "R & R" refers to Disneyland and about 4 hours a day in the pool with the kids.  It has been great.  

The internet availability (not to mention time to connect and write a post) has been severely lacking.  I can't get any photos off of my camera either....  so that has left me unable to post anything of substance.


- You can look forward to a little photo-post upon my return.  

- It is also the changing of the season (sport-wise) so I will be doing a bit of planning for the next few months.

Adios from L.A., and I will resume regular posting Wednesday.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trip recap... and photo post.

OK, I told you all about my race on the weekend.  I like to try to keep the race reports as focused as I can to avoid hitting the 32,000 word mark.  Here, on the other hand, I have written a lot... but I give you lots of photos as well... 

So, here is a little breakdown of the trip vibe...

This was a road trip/race trip - one of my favourite things to do.  There is nothing quite like loading up the van with all manner of sports gear and heading out for a sunny small town somewhere...

Deb was coming for the 5km Open Water Swim race on Saturday and to be my assistant on Sunday (though she didn't know that until Saturday.)

The drive to Kelowna was actually grueling...  my van's air-conditioning has finally succumbed after a long fight (it had been a little screwed for 2 years.)  So we were forced to travel at 100 - 120 km/h with the windows open or sweat with them closed.  I have to admit that it sucked a lot.  

About an hour outside of Kelowna, I had to let Deb take over behind the wheel - I was bagged....  fortunately, she is a good driver so I was able to fall asleep in about 12 seconds flat.

We got into to town and headed straight for the race venue (hers and mine).  She attended a pre-race meeting and we watched the Aquathlon and the 1500m Open Water Race...  I love watching people compete.  I was once driving along and saw a soccer field with what looked like a shoot-out about to go down.  I pulled my van over and watched the 12 year-olds in this pressure packed situation - by the end of it I was friends with one whole team's parents.  They won too....  it was cool.

After getting Deb figured out for Saturday's race we checked into the Hiawatha RV park.  It was completely acceptable - in a nice part of town, lots of trees, decent facilities and quiet after 10pm.  We were camping but we didn't have any of the nerdy camp stuff like chairs, lanterns, carpets, tablecloths etc.  Some people are seriously pro about their camping...

Pre-Race Meeting - 5km Open Water Swim

Anyway, we wrapped up our Friday night at the Pheasant and Quail watching the Olympics....  (Note: This paragraph will be repeated for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.)  

Terrible shot....  but I had to capture the P&Q since we went there three times.

Saturday morning we dined at the Marmalade Cat which I have been to every time I go to Kelowna...  good spot for breakfast.

Later, after a little delay, and under the burning hot sun (37C), Deb entered the water for her race.  It was a field of about 15-20 swimmers and the course was 5 x 1km laps.  Non-wetsuit.  The non-wetsuit ruling resulted in a sweet sunburn for Deb.  My take: Sunburns are awesome - means you we're out doing something!  Deb's take:  Sunburns really suck - ouch don't touch my shoulder!  Interesting how burn ownership effects your perspective on these things...

Darren Smith (an AWAD athlete I competed with in Vancouver) and I watched Deb's whole race while trying to hydrate and avoid the sun.  It was as hot as when you open the oven to see if your pizza is done...  

Deb ended up gutting out the swim - it wasn't a perfect day for her and she was fighting it a bit so it was a good effort to get to the line.  If she starts her own blog you'll be able to read all of her excellent race reports....  hint, hint!

Darren is a chiropractor so he stretched Deb out before the race...

Last minute briefing...

Deb about to start...

Deb making the turn....

Darren spectating...

Darren's Orbea...

After her race Darren and I met up with Scott Patterson (Canada's top wheelchair triathlete) and I took them for a tour of the bike course - we got a tad lost but they got the gist...  

Deb flashing her "coaching" credentials...  

Another day down... Phaesant and Quail....  Olympics....  Phelps 8 for 8, Usain Bolt and the Canadian Men's 8's - what a night in Beijing!  Awesome!

To bed early in the Eurovan.  Deb ditched her tent and went for the air-conditioning in Darren's RV - said something about her back being a little hot....

Sunday was race day and I covered that in my previous post.  What I left out was that at the awards I won a Blue Seventy wetsuit!  It was so awesome!  I don't win prizes like this...  I have a knack for winning the crap prize (like a race hat from the 2001 Apple or something like that...)

This is the Blue Seventy Helix.  I figure I will top up the dollar amount so I can upgrade to the top-of-the-line model...

After the awards it was time to watch the Elite race.  Brent McMahon was in town and I was looking forward to watching him rip it up.

I got some awesome photos:

Brent coming out of T2... 

And winning the National Championship.  

I was pleased to see Brent rock it - it has been a trying year for him.

He destroyed the field on the run and cruised home accompanied by lightning strikes and thunder claps.  It was awesome!

We made tracks right after the race and headed for the Pheasant and Quail, then the highway.  The drive home was powered by caffeine and thank goodness it was a bit cooler than the drive on Friday.

Other notes from the weekend:  

- Chelsea Raymond, an IF trainer, qualified for Sprint Distance World Championships in Australia next year with a solid result in the 18-24 age group.  Lets get the same flight!

- Darren, Scott and myself all qualified for Olympic distance World Championships in Australia.

- Kim Wedgerfield, another friend at the race also registered a great time and will be eligible for Australia.

- Carol Slater, an IF customer and friend placed 2nd in her age group (also World's eligible) AND she would have won the Trek bike if she stayed for the awards!

Scott in his race chair - with one of his race assistants (left) and with Kim's son (right).

"It was like this".... telling stories while waiting for a massage.

Darren - bike model...

From left to right:  Steve Archdekin, Kim Wedgerfield, Darren Smith, Scott Patterson, me.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Simon Whitfield

Wow!  What a race!

I kept thinking he was dropped for good... then I really thought it was going to be gold!

Silver must feel a little better when you have a gold medal hidden behind your favourite book at home.

I thought Simon's interview (about an hour after the race) was awesome...  his sincerity, respectful and thankful words seemed so 'Canadian' to me - at least, what we would like to think Canadians should be like.

Anyway, another great chapter in an amazing Olympics....  I can't believe the amazing performances this year:

- Phelps
- Bolt
- Huynh (our female wrestler)
- the 8's crew
- Simon

Not to slight any of the other great stories, but these ones have really stuck out for me...

More to come I hope!

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Kelowna Apple - Race Report

There is a trip recap to follow, with more pictures and other stuff....  but for now, while it is fresh in my mind, here is my race report from this year's National Triathlon Championships.....

The Apple is my favourite race...  Not only is the venue spectacular, but the organizers go out of their way to look after every detail.

This year the Apple hosted the Canadian National Championships - a chance to qualify for World's in Australia in 2009, and to become "National Champion".  It was especially nice for me not to have to fly to Nationals and spend a lot of money, and to be able to race on a course I know well.

As usual everything was organized perfectly and within minutes of arriving at the venue on Saturday I had met up with Tabitha.  Tabitha looks after the AWAD (Athletes with a Disabilty) and always has things dialed in perfectly. 

I checked in, picked up the race package, rode the course once with Darren and Scott (more on them later).  The bike course was changed from 4 to 3 laps this year, with an out and back section added to make up the distance.  

Most folks were happy about that change (because they only had to climb "the mountain" 3 times), but I had hoped to shave 5 minutes off my bike split mostly by improved climbing of Knox Mtn. 4 times.  I didn't think I'd be able to make up as much time on that out and back as I had planned to on Knox.  Whatever...

After spending much of the day in 36 C heat at the race venue we headed out to the Pheasant and Quail to watch the Olympics and eat dinner.  It was tough trying to be as slow as possible to drag out our viewing....  1. because we had nothing to do at the campsite and 2. because great event after great event kept coming on.

Eventually we had to leave....  we settled in at the campsite.  I slept in the "upstairs" of the Westfalia, while Deb enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort of Darren's RV....  I considered going for the RV as well (because it was pretty hot in the van) but I always sleep well in my van, and I decided to go with what I know.

My luxury suite at the Hiawatha RV park

I did end up sleeping well, the Hiawatha RV Park was great as everyone shut-up on the stroke of 10pm.

In the morning I took down a bowl of oatmeal, a banana, three Endurolyte tablets (electrolytes), and a bottle of water.  Would have enjoyed a coffee but it wasn't in the cards.

Darren and I setting up in transition

Off to the race - set up in transition - hang out.  Chat with people. Stretch.  Warm-up a little.  The day was a bit overcast - very lucky for all of us as it was smoking hot the day before.

SWIM -  RANK: 1    TIME:  26:06   PACE/100m:  1:45   (LAST YEAR: 27:09)

Darren and I just before the swim...

At the National Championship we AWADs get our very own wave start - all 4 of us!  It makes for a pretty relaxed swim without the usual fisticuffs.  The officials explained the course to us, put us in the hands of the starter, and off we went.  I went out the hardest but Scott Patterson was right on my feet...  he tickled my toes a few times then came around and opened up a bit of a gap.  I wanted to get onto his feet (he pointed out later that he doesn't have any), but he went too wide for it to be worth it to go over.  As we approached the beach to end the first lap I saw Scott go the wrong way....  he was not going around the buoy.  I momentarily wondered if I had misunderstood the course, but decided to do it the same way I have done it the last two years.

Darren Smith was a few body lengths behind me as we went around the buoy just off the beach, meanwhile a kayak was instructing Scott to turn around and go back.  As we started lap two they sent off about a hundred 40+ Men right behind us.  The fastest ones were coming by and I was trying to find some suitable feet to draft off....  the first few were way too fast but I eventually found a few pairs that worked for a while.

All in all this was a decent swim - I have gone faster in practice and would like to one day perform that well in a race...

T1 - RANK: 1   TIME: 2:37  (LAST YEAR:  4:02)

I was the first out of the water with Darren and Scott not far behind.  Transition was super smooth - Deb was right where I needed her with my leg and everything went perfectly.  Shaving more than a minute off of last year's transition is great.  2:37 is not "fast" for able-bodied triathletes, but for those of us that have to attach body parts it is pretty much lightning, and I am very proud of it.

BIKE - RANK: 1   TIME: 1:14:20  PACE: 32.3 km/h (LAST YEAR:  1:15:35,  31.8 km/h)

Coming past transition for another lap

I was out onto the bike course with nobody else in sight....  just me and some birds chirping.  I love this....  being the hunted.  Last year nobody caught me from the other waves until 5km into the bike course.  This year I got more than 1 lap finished, 14km or so, before the first guy from the 40+ wave caught me.

I had a great ride - I had planned to really empty the tank on the ride - leave nothing in reserve.  Why?  Just to see if I could still pull out a decent run after and reap some benefits of the faster ride.  I definitely didn't shave off 5 minutes (in retrospect that was probably a bit of a fantasy), I think if the course was the same as last year I would have shaved off more though.

T2 - RANK: 1   TIME: 58 seconds  (LAST YEAR: 2:33) 

T2 was super-awesome.  Less than a minute!  WOW.  Again Deb was in the perfect spot with everything I needed.  That is my best transition ever (by a mile.)  I have a few new techniques with my leg prosthesis, and I am making better use of my assistant - it is working SO well.  Not mentioning details here as they are my secret weapon right now.

RUN - RANK: 2 (Scott is much faster in racing chair.)  TIME:  53:00  PACE: 5:18/km  (LAST YEAR:  51:05)

5km into the run...  not looking too happy.

The run was tough.  Possibly because of the increased effort on the bike.  Though, for some reason I always find the Apple run hard.  It is completely flat so I am not sure why....  I have run faster on many tougher courses.  Maybe it's the heat in Kelowna?  I don't know.  I was not impressed with my pace and I think this is where I will focus my concentration.  I will keep working hard on the cycling (to be fresher for the run) and work on the bricks more and more.  I need to be a lot closer to my 10km best.  I think I can 'easily' drop 5 minutes or more here....  ('easily' being a relative term.)

FINISH - RANK: 1  TIME:  2:36:59  (LAST YEAR:  2:40:22)

Looking happier here!

About 3km from the finish line an official on a bike met me and escorted me to the line....  it was sweet!  Just like the pros get!  The announcer was calling out my name and saying 'National Champion' as I sprinted down the finishing chute - it was a great feeling.  

This may be the National Championship - and I did win... but, in effect, I was the only athlete in my category.  I wish it were different and I am working in about 6 different ways to try to increase participation.  You won't catch me bragging about being National Champion until there is at least a full podium!

I am pleased with the time...  It suggests to me that experience and attention to detail is where I have made most of my gains this year.  Look at it this way:

Time saved swimming, biking and running:  23 seconds.

Time saved in transition:  3 minutes

On the other hand....  I think this suggests that I will plateau next season without some changes to my training.  I am going to analyze what I have done well and what needs work, to develop a new plan to drop the performance numbers (S, B, R) over the coming year.

A big thanks goes out to Debbie for being my assistant at this race, Innovative Fitness for sponsoring me and preparing me for the race, as well as the Bike Gallery for setting me up with great equipment and knowledge.  As always though, I have to save the biggest "thanks" for Sacha and my kids - it means the world to me that I am able to chase these goals with your support!

Hanging out after the race...  waiting for the awards ceremony

Bracing myself....

Innovative Fitness - If you haven't tried it yet let me know...  I can hook you up!

Post-Race nutrition....

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