Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sliver Star here I come...

Maybe I need to b*tch more often in my blog...  It has been snowing in the Callaghan Valley pretty much since the moment I posted late last week about the bad conditions there.  I am told it is pretty good up there now.  

Too late for me though, as I leave for Silver Star tomorrow.  I have heard that the conditions there have improved as well....  There are now 15 groomed trails according to the report below.

I will have Monday to Friday on snow before the Nor-Am Races on Saturday and Sunday to try to dial in some technique and some comfort.  

The altitude will require another adjustment - they say you should either arrive 2 weeks prior, or the day prior... I will be doing exactly what they say you shouldn't do - arrive 1 week prior.  Whatever... It will have to do...

I am kind of eager to get a race under my belt this season - whether I am rusty or not, whether I perform well or not - the build-up has been LONG.  

I spent some time stressing, but it is behind me now.  I feel comfortable with the training and preparation I have been able to do.  It's time to get out there and have some fun, ski as fast as I can and let the chips fall where they may.  

Hopefully this is what I'll be seeing soon (photo by Debi123):

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thank You! Mrs. Finden's Class!

When I got home from Whistler last night Aia met me at the door and said, 

"Kids made cards for you!"

I wasn't entirely sure what she was talking about until she showed me a HUGE stack of thank-you cards from the kids in Mrs. Finden's class that I visited a couple of weeks ago.

I was really impressed with the drawing and the writing...  Many of the kids shared their goals with me on their cards:

- Be a better soccer player
- Get to the playoffs (hockey)
- Run faster
- Try something I've never done before
- Get better at school subjects
- Get better at playing stuff because I sometimes get hurt
- Be a better swimmer
- Be better at Chinese school
- To work my hardest
- To beat you in a sprint!
- To get an A+ in math
- To believe in myself

Pretty great goals you guys!

A few of the kids included their picture, many drew pictures of me (which are awesome!) and they all touched my heart.

Thank you very much for these cards!  Mattias, Aia and I love reading them!

Here are the cards...  If you want to feel GREAT about today's kids, click and ENLARGE a few of these.  Have a read - these are awesome:

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Training Update - C.R.A.Pf

I must apologize for the lack of posts...  I have been up at Whistler since Tuesday morning and have not touched a computer in that time.

Brian and I drove up to Whistler on Tuesday with grand plans of a 3 or 4 day mini-camp at Whistler Olympic Park (aka the Callaghan Valley.)  We were concerned about the snow conditions, and that concern turned out to be quite appropriate.  

The nordic area had about 7cms of snow on the groomed trails.  The amount wasn't as much of a  problem as the consistency and quality of the snow.  It was completely rutted and practically frozen.  A condition which can be described with the acronym C.R.A.P.f.  

The CRAPf snow created very tough conditions for practicing technique (which was our objective.)

Brian is visually impaired - so seeing the ruts wasn't possible....  this made skiing a pretty much impossible thing to do.  I could be his guide on the trail but I couldn't point out every single rut.  Even if I could, there was nothing but frozen ruts so they couldn't be avoided.

My difficulties were not in seeing the ruts but in being able to control my prosthesis as it got caught in them...  not easy.

So, the result was Brian and I wiping out all over the trail on 7cms of rock hard frozen snow.  The downhills were death-defying....  

We packed it in.  Part of being 30-something, (and in Brian's case 50-something), is that when you are hitting the deck repeatedly it does a lot more damage than good.

It seems that we weren't the only ones who found it treacherous, as I just checked the site and found this (click to enlarge):

Somewhat dejected, we hit the gym at Meadow Park and worked up a sweat on the exercise bike and lifted some weights.  We decided to try again the next day but it was no different.

So, the plan now is to leave for Silver Star on Sunday.  The conditions sound a bit better there.  The amount of time on snow in preparation for the Nor-Am race next weekend is going to be minimal...  It could be somewhat embarrassing - c'est la vie.  

Some pictures:

The new lodge at the Callaghan Valley - seemed very nice.  I am sure it will be overloaded with people during races and relatively empty at other times...

Brian posing in front of the ski jumps....  

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Monday, November 24, 2008

New Otter on Deck

That, my friends, is Mattias.  Saturday was his first workout as one of the West Vancouver Otters.  He was pretty excited and so was I.

We got up pretty early on Saturday morning before the workout at 8.  Even though it was a standard practice (not a meet or anything) I was a little nervous.

It felt a little bit like a race morning to me.  I guess I was just worried something would go wrong on the first day and he would have a bad experience.

In the end I had nothing to worry about.   The coaches were great and he had a BLAST!  He is one of the youngest kids but he kept up without any trouble and had tons of fun with his new friends.  It helped that Kevin's oldest son Ethan was in the same group so he knew somebody.

We are back there today at 4pm and I can't wait to watch him motor back and forth again.  With the Otters he will be swimming three times a week (an hour each time) - i.e. as much as his Dad!

There is nothing quite like watching my kids do well at something and love it - especially when it happens to be something I love too.

We did a photo shoot to mark the occasion (and to have some pictures for this post.)

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Hungry? Michael Phelps obviously is...

I found an interesting article today about Michael Phelps' diet while in training. 

Not exactly the Olympic diet you might expect.  All I can say is WOW!  Nevermind the type of food (though it is surprising to say the least), look at the shear quantity!

This diet is analyzed by the experts at Precision Nutrition in the article...  worth the read.

Here is a daily break-down from the article:


-three fried egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayonnaise
-a five-egg omelette
-a bowl of grits
-three slices of French toast with powdered sugar
-three chocolate chip pancakes
-two cups of coffee


-a pound of pasta with tomato sauce
-two large ham, cheese and mayo sandwiches on white bread
-four energy drinks


-a pound of pasta with tomato sauce
-six to eight pizza slices
-four energy drinks

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tough Conditions - Silver Star

I am scheduled to leave for Silver Star on Monday.  The plan is to get onto the snow for two weeks in preparation for the important selection races in early December.

I have been following the conditions at Silver Star for the last couple of weeks and they haven't been great.  Tony (my ski coach) had to cancel one early season camp already.  As of this morning this is the report (click to enlarge):

So that makes a total of 4 trails open.  It would almost be better if 0 trails were open.  At least I'd know not to bother going.  As it is I'm not sure what to do... I seriously doubt that the 4 that are open are in good shape...

Damn you global warming!  In order to find a "bright side" to this weather issue I was forced to search for and watch this classic video...  I now present it for your enjoyment...  
Though it is mostly good that Barack Obama is taking the reins from W it must be noted that the quality of political comedy will likely experience a recession of dramatic proportions.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

That's why they're the best - Innovative Fitness

If you read this blog regularly you will often hear me mention Innovative Fitness - they're my biggest sponsor and they can take a lot of credit any time I achieve anything.

You will also recall Sacha's Rogue Khahtsahlano back on November 9th.  Her IF trainer, Ruth, read my blog about Sacha's race and decided that there was one thing missing - the race garment!

She went out and bought Sacha a cool lululemon t-shirt, downloaded the Khahts logo, added the word "Rogue" and the date, got it printed on the shirt and presented it to my wife late last week.

That's why IF is the best.  The coaches encourage, care about and support your goals; and they appreciate every milestone along the way - whether the destination is the New York Marathon or the Rogue Khahtsahlano. 

Thanks Ruth!  You rock!

The photo below is of Ruth cranking out mad watts on the bike....

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Trip Highlights

Apart from being re-elected to the board there weren't too many highlights from this trip.  It was mostly meetings.

This was the view from my hotel room:

And this is the CN Tower on a cold, wet night:

On Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Simon Whitfield - Triathlon Canada had flown him out to give a presentation and slideshow to the board.  He is such an engaging guy - lots of great stories and lots of passion for the sport and for life.  

We chatted for a minute or two... I wasn't too proud to ask for a photo, "Sure!  Let me grab my medals..."  He reached into a little bag and out popped a pretty beaten up gold from Sydney and a significantly fresher silver from Beijing.  I looked at them for quite a while....  kind of speechless.  It's not that the medals themselves are that amazing - it's what they represent.  For me it's those moments in time that I, and millions of Canadians, remember: exactly where they were when Simon won gold, and when he won silver.  Jumping up and down, heart pounding,  then replaying it again and again for Mattias (and for myself.)

I didn't really know what to say so I probably said something like "Wow, cool!" or some other nerdy thing...  

Simon's the man in my books.

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Home is where the shoes are...

The Toronto trip is over and I am home now....  good thing too because I forgot to bring my runners on the trip.  Therefore I got no exercise other than walking to and from the elevator.  (The nature of the weekend meant running for an hour here or there was the only exercise option.)

Some readers have not met me in person....  me without runners is kind of like George Burns without his cigar (may he rest in peace.)

Not exaggerating - I would say I wear running shoes 360 days a year.  Which is lame, I know....  

After hastily packing my bag (full of running gear for the Toronto cold, and grabbing my running leg which I did not need) I headed for the airport with these on:

...which, granted, may look like running shoes to some of you, but which would mercilessly tear the skin off of my heel and probably give me instant plantar fasciitis.  Not to mention I was at a Triathlon Canada board meeting and could not be seen running in Stan Smith's (no matter how cool they are for non-running endeavours.)

So I am super eager to get out tomorrow for a good run.  After being cooped up all weekend in meetings (and in a hotel room with no real window) there is going to be some pent up energy to burn.

Tomorrow morning starts like this:  

Swim 6am
Run 7:10-9:00am
EAT 9:00am

can't wait...

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Postcard from the Centre of the Universe

That's what they call Toronto - though I have no idea why....

I am here for the Triathlon Canada AGM.

Our meetings (and accommodations) are at the SkyDome Hotel.  Truth be told, the SkyDome Hotel does not exist - these days it goes by the catchy moniker "Renaissance Toronto Hotel Downtown".  For that matter the descriptive, and widely known name "SkyDome" does not exist either - it's the "Rogers Centre" now.      

Whatever....  My room has a glorious view of the stadium's playing surface - upon which absolutely nothing has occurred since I arrived at midnight last night.  I was hoping for a room that overlooked the field - why not?'s a bit different.  I'm over it now though...  some fresh air and natural light would be kind of nice.

Anyway,  I have a cool picture or two in my camera but no cable with which to liberate them...  Until tomorrow you'll have to make due with the postcard above and this picture of an open-roofed Skydome:

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grade 5 Kids - Sir Wilfred Grenfell Elementary

Today I had the pleasure of meeting a grade 5 class from Sir Wilfred Grenfell school in East Vancouver.

I had assembled all of the stuff I thought these 10/11 year olds might be interested in:

- All 3 of my legs (the fourth does not require assembly)
- A handful of race numbers
- A handful of race medals
- A Team Canada triathlon jersey
- Some gels
- Innovative Fitness temporary tattoos 

These kids have been working on "Medicine Wheels" - learning about, and understanding the 4 elements of the wheel - Mind, Body, Spirit and Emotion.  I was impressed by the subject matter, and their grasp of it.

Mrs. Finden (their teacher and my friend) had the kids well prepared with dozens of questions - good ones too...  I was very impressed by the class's interest, intelligent questions, and spirit.  They loved telling me what their goals were and what they did to try to achieve them - there was some real drive in the room! 

Toughest question?  

Ding Hao: "Where did they put your leg after they cut it off?"

MJ: "You mean?  Yeah... Ummm.... well...... hmmm...... the garbage?... I guess.?..?"

Kids: "eeeeewwwwww!!!!"

Ha ha ha....  in 13 years I haven't been asked that one.  I thought about saying "the hospital incinerator" but, since I wasn't too familiar with the 5th grade mind at that stage, I didn't want to give the kids (or myself) nightmares...

Speaking of the 5th grade mind, they chastised me for inappropriate visuals in my Haney 2 Harrison Race Report - seems they were quite "shocked" by the prosthetic bum in one of the pictures.  Just kidding....  I think I found the target demographic for fake butts....   

After a question and answer session and more useful chats about goals, and overcoming adversity and never quitting etc. we headed out to the field for a "race".

After putting the kids through a one-lap warm-up and a little stretch we toed-the-line and had a sprint race.  They pushed me hard but I was victorious (phewww!) - I guess they'll have to have me back next year to see if they are fast enough to beat me!

It was a great afternoon.  Thanks for inviting me Mrs. Finden and thanks to all of the kids!

Some pics (click to enlarge):

Warm-up lap....

Stretching - we don't need any blown hammies in this race...

More stretching...

The race...  check out the spirited cheering!

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