Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Power of the Internet

I know you probably don't need me to tell you that the internet is a powerful force in just about every aspect of life these days... If you are reading this you are probably already pretty savvy (and an arbiter of taste I might add...)

Here are a few facts that you bloggers may find interesting:

- 46%. The percentage increase in readership of my blog when I started using Twitter to tell folks about my posts.

- Another 40%. When I finally spent the 3 minutes it took to learn how to connect Twitter to Facebook status updates.

- $27.00. The amount I saved just yesterday by asking if anyone could loan me a book, Lore of Running. Thanks Keith! That's real community people, and it is great! By the way, Keith runs North Shore Athletics which is THE place to go for all your running/triathlon needs (except the bike... for that go HERE.)

- Priceless. The people I have "met", some I've helped, and some who have helped me...

Readership stats may or may not be motivating for you, but given the choice I'd rather engage a larger audience. I don't want to be the crazy guy on the cyber-corner talking to himself!

On that note, (SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION WARNING!) please subscribe for email posts (right column), or "follow" (left column), or plug me into your reader... That way we'll be able to keep in touch hassle-free.

Thanks everyone for reading and in advance to new subscribers!

If you had any doubt about the power of the internet check this out:

Tweet this!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Time to "Get Serious"

On the horizon:

- Hallows Eve Trail Run
- Another 1/2 where I will be better trained and hope to go a bit faster... maybe Seattle?

So far so good on the increased running... No sign of the issues that plagued me most of the summer.

Nevertheless, I am being pretty cautious - doing a fair amount of trail and treadmill to limit the hard pounding on my legs - I think it's over cautious but what the heck...

Anyway, I was reading Chuckie V's blog (as I have for years it seems)... a post on training manuals... He writes:

3) The Lore of Running by Dr. Tim Noakes. Not much to say here. If you don't own this, you're not really serious about your training.

OK then. Definitive. No wiggle room on that....

Does anyone have a copy? I'd trade for a copy of one of the books in my library - (see right column). And we can always trade back after...

Tweet this!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Photos - Some Favourites

Batchelor Bay - my favourite photo of one of my favourite places.

If you stop by here from time to time you know I like photography. Well, I just finished organizing about 6 months of photos on my computer (6,000+).... it was an epic project that I hope will convince me to organize them better each time I upload.

Anyway, I decided to reward myself by putting together a quick photo post with a few of my favourites.

Many of these have graced these pages already... but a few have not.

Click to ENLARGE...


Will Routley and Nic Hamilton at the Yaletown Grand Prix. I took a bazillion shots there - this one was the best. This got published - once online (can't remember the site) and once in the 24Hours Newspaper.

Viggo and our big wooden pear.

One of my favourite photos I have ever taken... I love these bikes and the gritty wall, the shadow and the green crates... all behind Habit Coffee in Victoria. Missy even asked if she could have this for her wall which was quite an honour!

The smiles say it all - priceless!

Ha! Soon they won't let me do this sort of thing to with them... because it will be "uncool". Until then, they are my favourite 'models'.

Lighthouse Park on an amazing weather day - sunny AND black clouds = camera time!

First day of school. She was SO excited.

Sacha pushing the kids on the swings - summer evening in the city, out late.

Steph @ the Bay Challenge... I drove the boat and took photos, Steph and Susie put on a masterful display of swimming.

The Look... he's intense for a little guy.

Tweet this!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Swedish Goggles Review

I was down at Team Aquatic the other day trying to find my son a swimsuit that wouldn't cost $50. (I shouldn't be cheap but damn... the suit is the size of a handkerchief!)

Never one to pass up a chance to shop for myself instead, I wandered over to the goggle section...

At $7.70 the Swedish Goggles were calling my name. I have wanted to "go swedish" for some time now... and this time I did.

For those of you that don't know, Swedish goggles are the equipment of discerning, competitive swimmers everywhere. They are primarily distinguished by the complete and utter lack of rubber or foam seals. Plastic meets skin in the same no-nonsense way that meatballs meet gravy in the Ikea restaurant.

First Impression: Just like Ikea - I will have to assemble these myself. No allen key required however. No instructions required either evidently. (Do Swede's assemble everything themselves? "Jesper put together the flatscreen Entourage is on in 15 minutes!") Find instructions here if you need them.

Assembly: Unless you are unfamiliar with how human eyes are aligned on the face (i.e. one beside the other) you should have no issues assembling these goggles. The single complexity is to get the distance between the eyepieces correct. This is not hard. Having said that, there are several choices that one may not be aware of in the assembly.


1. Colour. The first choice comes at the shop.... there are LOTS of lens colours: clear, amber, red, pink, green, blue, mirrored, black and so on. Since these are self-assembly you could even mix and match eyepieces... which might cause some sort of swim vertigo for all I know.

2. Nosepiece. Whether to use the string+blue nosepiece combo, or to use a piece of the rubber strap as the nosepiece. I tried both and far preferred the rubber strap. It also looked WAY cooler (if I do say so myself.)

Click below to enlarge and compare for yourself...

2. Double strap or single strap. Seems obvious to go double... but there's a photo down below that could convince you otherwise...

3. Tightness. Since these goggles are so cheap I think it would be prudent to have two pairs (at least) - one that is snug (for training) and one that is tight (for racing.) Arrange yours accordingly.

Result: Ouch! WTF? The initial result was terrible. The plastic was sharp and my skin was suffering. I fired up google to find out what part of this swedish jigsaw I was missing... Turns out everyone files or sandpapers the edge of the eyepieces. Thanks for mentioning that in the non-instructions Bjorn!

Result (take 2): OK. That feels better. Nerdlinger mirror check - yeah! these are cool looking! Wait! Is that a draft I feel on my eyeball? Yes, it is... $%!#. I bet they're going to leak.

Swim test: Push off the wall, streamline position... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and... yep they're full of water. Stand, look around... ok, good nobody looking... walk back.... What the hell is wrong with these things?

Adjust, readjust, re-readjust. Push off again.... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... come up, stroke, stroke . . . . . . No water! I swam a full workout - readjusted the goggles a few times and found the sweet spot every time.

If the Swedes aren't on properly they are about as leak resistant as a "waterproof compartment" on the Titanic. BUT, put them on properly and they are sealed as well as any other goggle.

Final Verdict: Name another instance of arguably the BEST product (well, at least the one worn by tons of Olympians) costing the LEAST. It's awesome!

This is the goggle for you if:

- you like the retro chic of an all-time classic
- you are a two-practice-a-day competitive swimmer that blows through goggles like a Swede blows through tealights
- you want to look like a two-a-day competitive swimmer
- you like total customization
- all things being equal you'd rather go fast!
- you like insider tricks like the sandpaper... makes you feel like you're in the know (glad to help;)
- you like to save money

This is NOT the goggle for you if:

- You don't know how to put together a puzzle suitable for a 6 year-old.
- You like to look slow and uncool.
- You are happiest when others can immediately identify you as a beginner swimmer.
- You'd rather pay MORE for goggles that Olympians DON'T wear.

The Thorpedo in Swedish Goggles

Don't let Speedo see this one Michael... (note: MP goes single strap...)

I'm not sure that eyelash will fit inside the Swedes...

Yes. You in the Speedo...

This guy looks crazy so he's the perfect guy to follow...

Yours truly...

Tweet this!

Trail Running for Amputees

Trail Running: I get asked OFTEN how it is to run on the trails with my prosthesis... So I'll tell you. This might help some (leg) amputees a little... I hope so.

- You have to concentrate! When I am placing the left 'foot' I really have to watch out for: big, loose rocks, wet roots, oddly angled anything. The concentration is actually exhausting but if my mind wanders even for a second I usually land awkwardly or duff the foot on something. There was a girl running beside me for a few kms at my last trail race who must have added about 10 beats to her heart rate because I kept scaring her by nearly wiping out! (I was getting tired and that's when the concentration fades...)

- Steep, loose downhills are a real challenge. With such a small surface area in contact with the ground you either need to lean forward and let 'er rip or REALLY SLOW DOWN. It is always better to lean in (for speed and less jarring on the legs) but sometimes the trail is too steep or winding.... There is a distinct lack of a middle gear because it is so difficult to control speed with such a miniature contact point on loose ground.

- The extra jarring and abnormal movements that come with a rough trail cause sweat to collect differently and in a less convenient way. For instance one odd step could move the leg in such a way that the whole liner (and thus prosthesis) slips a bit. This is uncomfortable and thus you really want to concentrate to avoid it happening.

- I find that I sweat more during a trail race... I think it is because my heart rate is generally higher and my speed (wind cooling) is lower + they are generally much harder than an equivalent distance road race. This increased sweating does bad things for the fit of my leg. I sometimes use Drysol to minimize sweating inside the liner. It's pretty harsh stuff, but good for race type situations when I don't want to have to stop.

It is interesting to note that the first two are pretty much the same for a runner with both legs - perhaps just comes a bit more naturally with less focus required.

Anyway, the extra concentration does have ONE HUGE PAYOFF.... the race seems to go a lot faster when your mind is consumed by remaining upright!

Have fun on the trails!

Tweet this!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

5 Peaks Wrap-Up...

Took me a while to get to this... I've been run off my feet foot with Sacha out of town. She only left me one of the kids but man I have a new appreciation for moms. What's with the crazy schedule of pick-ups and drop-offs?!!!

Anyway, casting the mind back to the weekend:

(Mattias' 5 Peaks) : Mattias and his buddies came 1, 2, 3 in the kids 1km run. It was total domination! 1km is definitely a bit short for his age... "Daddy the run from the parking lot was longer than the race!"

(MJ's 5 Peaks): Maybe I was taking the race a bit too lightly... it was 11km (not too long), and the elevation looked "rolling" i.e. not too bad... As it turned out it was really tough.

The uphills were often too steep to run (more training on these kind of hills would help) and some of the downhills were super steep (the kind that forced me to have to be cautious). The flats were fine but there weren't many!

Myself and Guy Demong... I probably would have brought a backpack if I had known I'd be out there for so long!

I ran the first 4 or 5 km with Jayeson, part of the substantial Innovative Fitness crew in attendance, before he slowly pulled away... then it was a long, lonely, (painful) slog back to the finish line.

CHT (cold, hard truth): I couldn't really expect much given the lack of run training - I was mostly happy to come away without any leg issues - I am now ready to declare myself 100% after a summer that never really got into triple digits. Everything feels good now.

Overall: Buntzen Lake is awesome! Totally beautiful and the trail system is unbelievable. The weather started out wet but got sunny while we ran - no complaints. 5 Peaks does a great job and I even won a HUGE bag of coffee beans.

A few more shots:

Mattias and I watching the awards...

Mattias rounding the first corner in the kids' race...

Da boys: Sam, Nick and Mattias

Tweet this!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Berlin Marathon Showdown

Just when you thought that the biggest race this weekend was Mattias and I competing in the 5 Peaks trail race @ Buntzen Lake along comes the Berlin Marathon....

This Sunday's showdown in Berlin looks like it will be unbelievable...

Haile Gebrselassie vs. Duncan Kibet.


I realize those names may not mean much to some... but they are a bit like:

Gretzky vs. Crosby
Manning vs. Brady
Tyson vs. Holyfield
Federer vs. Nadal

... none of those is quite right but you get my drift...

However, if those tantalizing comparisons aren't enough to interest you, read this entertaining breakdown of the duel from the Science of Sport. After reading it I was super-pumped to watch 2:03:?? of marathon running.

Questions that WILL be answered: Will the wily veteran, and world record holder, Gebrselassie, have the legs to hold off the hard charging, and younger Kibet? Will the World Record fall on the fastest course in the world?

So, if you are interested (and you must be by now) watch it on your computer (HERE).
Sunday - 12 AM PST, 3AM Eastern (ouch - sucks to be in the east!).

Universal Sports has not announced if it will be televising Mattias and I out at Buntzen, though at this stage it looks unlikely...

Tweet this!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

5 Peaks @ Buntzen Lake

Quick post: Mattias and I are lacing up the trail runners this weekend to take on the 5 Peaks Race out at Buntzen Lake near Port Moody.

5 Peaks races are super fun - I did a few of them last year and always had a blast. The courses out at Buntzen Lake are BEAUTIFUL so we are pumped!

If you feel like joining us we'd love to see you out there!!!

The race on Saturday includes:

Children's Race - Bring your kids!
Sport Course (11km)
Enduro Course (15km)
1/2 Marathon Course

Notably it also includes a Children's Adventure Zone for Mattias to enjoy after his race i.e. babysitting.

This is HUGE because it allows Mattias and I to head out without dragging someone else along to watch him while I run. It sounds like the Adventure Zone will be pretty awesome for him too.

BRAVO 5 Peaks!

Race MAP (Click to Enlarge):

Tweet this!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Terry Fox Run 2009

Mattias, Aia, Viggo, Sacha, her parents, and I all did the Terry Fox Run in Port Moody this morning under beautiful sunny skies.

Terry's story is very well known amongst Canadians young and old... so well known that I get kids coming up to me all the time saying, "Hey you're just like Terry Fox!" (Casual readers note: I am an amputee, as was Terry. He above knee and myself below knee.)

If you have a moment to update yourself on one of our greatest heroes you can watch a bit of the video below... it's a bit of a tear-jerker (at least for some... like me...) If you can't fit the whole 5:36 into your day, start at 3:00.

We (Canadians) all know that Terry's Marathon of Hope started the fundraising machine that has turned into the Terry Fox Foundation. We may not all know that it has raised over $400 million for cancer research.

Here's my question: Did Terry's run also mark the start of charity events (especially running) raising money for all sorts of things?

If not how did that get started? Any sports historians out there?

Until I have an answer I'm crediting Terry.



Tweet this!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Innovative Fitness Canuck Place Adventure Race

I spent the morning down in Deep Cove with Mattias, Aia and Viggo watching the Innovative Fitness Canuck Place Adventure Challenge.

As usual, it was an astounding success - some numbers:

- Over $280,000 raised for Canuck Place (which is a care home for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families.)
- 4th Annual Event
- Over $800,000 raised in 4 years.
- $1,000 - The amount each racer has to raise. MANY raise far more.
- 80% - My guess at the percentage of racers affiliated with Innovative Fitness

In previous years I have raced (once) or volunteered (twice)... this year I was simply supporting and watching my own kids which was a handful :)

There are now several race options for kids, so next year we will definitely have the whole family involved (except for Viggo who might still be a tad young...)

Congratulations to everyone - the race and all of the $ for Canuck Place is something to be VERY proud of!

The photos can be found by clicking the picture below:

Tweet this!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Open Water Swim Video

This morning's swim was pretty exciting - choppy water, some decent waves, a stiff wind.... the water looked angry!

6 of us headed out:

Mick, Elspeth, Marty, Rod, Deb and myself.

At my insistence, Deb brought her Olympus "Tough" which is waterproof. I used it to capture this video which gives you an idea of the conditions...

If any of you are shopping for my Christmas present already, the Olympus Tough would look good under the tree ;)

Tomorrow is the Vancouver Triathlon - I will be down at the Tri BC VIP tent taking in the festivities. If you are in the neighbourhood stop by and say 'hello!'

Best of luck to all Innovative Fitness (and otherwise) racers.


Tweet this!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Seal Attack / Grouse Grind

Since I splashed red letters across the blog page earlier this week I have been taking it relatively easy:

Swimming @ Batchelor Bay. Don't worry I won't write more about it... I've pretty much written it into oblivion this summer. I will, however, mention that a 5 year old girl was attacked by a seal about 2km away... actually pulled into the water off of a dock.

We see seals every time we swim at BB - often very close to us. It's funny because that very morning we were debating whether a seal would attack a human, and then whether the human could "beat it down".

I don't claim to be Rocky Balboa, but I have no doubt I could "own" a seal if I were attacked... they seem to be getting aggressive so I may need to prove it one day!

Apart from the swimming I have been attending my regular sessions at Innovative Fitness. Both Natalie and Josh were kind enough to devise all upper body and core workouts for me...

Onto more exciting news:

Mattias climbed his way up the Grouse Grind for the first time today. Please observe the description:

His time was 1:11:00.

Sacha escorted him on his first Grind attempt and reported that he was in good spirits the whole way and spoke of nothing other than Pokémon (which must have been thrilling for her.) Anyway, I am super proud of him and eager to get out there with him to do it together. Some photos:

Bottom of the Grind...

Aia riding up on the gondola...

Viggo - chilling...

Baby deer...

Mama deer...

Mattias' finishing kick...

Sacha and Mattias... at the top!

This was a big week for Aia too.... her first day of Kindergarden!

Tweet this!