Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hallow's Eve Recap

The Hallow's Eve 10km on Sunday was a lot of fun.


It's been quite a while since I ran a race with over a dozen people I know so that made it different for sure. Here are some of the IF crew... many not pictured.


I went into the race with no plan whatsoever other than to enjoy myself. I knew I wanted to check in on the group from lululemon and that I wanted to run with some of the IF folks for a bit but that I also wanted to run a few sections "for myself".

So that's exactly what I did. At the start I ran with some friends from IF including my old coach (from a year or so ago) James. Then I slowed down and waited to run with the lulu girls for a while. Then I sped back up and ran with Virginia and Antony (who was in Moab with me)...

The course was pretty challenging (do I ever NOT say that?) There were LOTS of stairs, and lots of wooden walkways that were wet (this is pretty sketchy with my running leg). There were lots of uphills and some really fun downhills too.


I was having a blast running with a group of about 6 runners for several km until I caught my leg on a root and actually dislodged it! That has never happened to me in any race... it was actually off for a second... somehow I didn't go down - just hopped and reattached.

That broke my momentum, I lost my group, and though I got the leg back on, it was very sloppy - the liner had been pulled down a bit...

Fortunately I was only a km or 2 from home and didn't need to do a full reset.

My next post may have to be a prosthetic leg make-over... my running leg is in ROUGH shape after the last two or three trail runs and also the 3 Peaks... It is definitely in need of some TLC.

Congrats to everyone from IF and lululemon!!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cross Country Canada

Found this video the other day... These fellas are getting ready to host (and hopefully beat down) the rest of the world in February.


Although this video might be slightly over-the-top, there is some awesome footage of the training these guys put in... which is massive.

You'll come away pumped for some Winter Olympic action...

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hallow's Eve Half Marathon & 10km


Just a quick note to invite anyone reading to come down and take part in the Hallow's Eve Half Marathon and 10km.  These are trail races so dig out your trail shoes.


I will be opting for the 10km and running it with some of the folks from lululemon and/or some other folks from Innovative Fitness...  (I have cool sponsors!)  

The misleading part about the "Hallow's Eve" race is that it takes part in the morning...

Sunday October 26th @ 9am to be precise.  

Check HERE for other details.

Call:  604-990-6888 to register!

See you there!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

POM Wonderful - Review


While it's true that "owning" a blog isn't all VIP parties, limos and Cristal, there are a few benefits... Like the other day when Janny emailed me regarding POM Wonderful.

"Not another 6 figure sponsorship offer..." I thought to myself.

And, no, it wasn't... she just wanted to give it to me to try... feedback was all she asked for. The relief was immediate, those six-figure deals are more trouble than they're worth...

So, after giving her the green light, we hammered out an intricate deal whereby I would consume three or four bottles of POM Wonderful and issue an opinion. I drive a hard bargain, nobody takes MJ to the cleaners...

The Review

With the word "Wonderful" in the name this beverage has a lot to live up to... not just that but it has a price tag of $4.99 per bottle (473 ml)!

At first I was a bit outraged by the price (though it was free for me as a result of my wheeling and dealing). I found myself almost hoping that it would be gross so that I couldn't develop a $4.99/day habit. Just as that thought crossed my mind I stopped to think about my morning latte - $4.30 from Starbucks. I'm not sure how Starbucks has programmed me to be OK with $4.30 for a latte, but POM should employ the same techniques...

NOTE: 473ml (16ozs) is meant to be a TWO DAY supply. So, really, the price of POM Wonderful isn't much more than a lot of other high quality juices. I just didn't realize this until much later.

Benefits



Unlike my morning latte, guzzling POM Wonderful pomegranate juice offers several health benefits:

- and more

I know the one you're looking at... here are the study results:
Compared to patients taking a placebo, those men drinking 8 oz. of 100% pomegranate juice daily for four weeks were 50% more likely to experience erectile improvement in this study of 53 subjects.
I would imagine those results compare favourably to the products mentioned in the emails I get from time to time...

In case you are doubting the legitimacy of all of these health claims... POM Wonderful has spent an incredible $32 million since 1998 to fund scientific research on pomegranate juice.




Taste

Testers: Meyrick, Sacha, Mattias (7), Aia (5), Viggo (18 months)

Pomegranate flavour - The juice is pretty potent. It tastes exactly like pomegranate seeds which Sacha and I like a lot. There is a tartness very similar to grape juice.

Bluberry Pomegranate flavour - The blend makes the juice quite a bit sweeter and much less tart. The kids liked this flavour a lot more than the pure Pomegranate.

Mango Pomegranate flavour - Still good but we liked the blueberry blend more.

Sacha and I liked the Blueberry Pomegranate the best.

The kids found all three a bit too powerful at first... after we diluted the POM with sparkling water they LOVED it a lot. In fact they ask for it every time now and have begun calling the resulting cocktail a POM Spring... which I think is catchy!

Conclusion

Once you realize that the bottle is not a single serving, and/or you water it down for some sparkling POM Springs it actually goes a long way... and the price becomes a lot more palatable. It tastes far better the next day than the second half of your Starbucks latte would...

I am sure we'll be buying more - Sacha and I both enjoyed the juice, but more importantly it's not everyday you hear 5/7 year olds begging for a "treat" that is as healthy as this.


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Moab Mountain Biking


I just returned from Moab, Utah where I spent three days mountain biking with an awesome group of riders from Innovative Fitness.





Cool little town in the midst of seemingly endless amounts of awe inspiring red rock, desert-like terrain. TONS of world renowned mountain biking. If you like to ride, you should DEFINITELY put Moab on your "list" (you do have a list right?)


We spent three 4-6 hour days riding mostly intermediate to expert level terrain - some awesome downhills, some technical, rocky trail, plenty of "ledgy drops", lots of slickrock.


The final day was the highlight for me. We drove to 8,400 ft, rode to about 9,000, then descended to about 4,000. That, my friends, is about 10 minutes up and a couple of hours down, in other words, a ratio that = FUN. We were blasting down Hazard County, Upper and Lower Porcupine Rim, and Kokopelli until my rear tire couldn't handle the fun anymore and punctured about 3/4 mile from the end.


I know many Innovative Fitness customers and trainers read this... if you are looking for a fun destination that is manageable for almost every skill level GO TO MOAB!! Our local guides (Rim Tours - Brooks and Sylvie in particular) did a great job of splitting groups up when appropriate, so everyone got to ride to their ability and enjoy every minute.


It was totally awesome. I may be able to procure some video from a friend who sported a helmet cam. We'll see...

In the meantime some more pictures:

This was Day 2 at Bartlett Wash - an awesome area for enjoying the Slickrock. Home to SuperBowl (site of the weekend's worst crash by poor Simon - check my facebook profile to see the video...).

These next three I call Unnatural Van Fixation... I just love vans (esp. vw) and bikes and the two together meant I had to take a lot of photos...


On Day 3 I had a minor tumble and smacked my shin on a rock.... have a look (go ahead, click to enlarge.) It was visually disturbing to say the least... but not that painful (thank goodness).


Day 1 at "Baby Steps".


Day 2 at Bartlett Wash. (I need a new pose...)


Brooks (our lead guide) - 62 and a damn good rider. He made everything look easy. Powering up slickrock sections that I swear are 45°+. Unbelievable... hat's off.

These trees are beautiful... don't know what kind they are...

It was an awesome group, a spectacular location, unbelievable weather, and tremendous riding by everyone.

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Part III - The Lions

Three Iconic Hikes - One Day.... Part III - The Lions

  • The Lions - 5,408 ft
  • Distance: ~16km
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft
  • Time: 5:39:00


Another 25 minute drive, two sandwiches, half a can of coke later and we were parked in Lions Bay at the trailhead for The Lions. I think we both knew this was where the work was going to truly start.

I had been envisioning this moment for a few weeks... I knew it might be REALLY hard to want to start The Lions after Black Tusk and The Chief. It wasn't as bad as I expected.

At this point we could feel things were going our way - the weather was great, we were ahead of schedule and there had been no issues thus far. We wanted to bag all three peaks and I, for one, will admit that anything less would have felt like a failure. I wouldn't have wanted to even talk about it... so silly, ridiculous in fact, but true.



We set out on the trail a lot quieter than on the day's previous missions. The first 40 minutes was sheer hell. It was a simple logging road... nothing technical, but it was steep, boring, and the rocks were a bit too large to get really good uphill traction. Hard work on the calves (or the calf in my case...)

Keith and I were pretty silent until we both admitted we were HATING this section. It was pure "work" - not satisfying, not interesting, just head down grinding. We didn't talk until we decided we had to take a picture of it just so we'd remember how bad it was..... we knew that it would look easy in the picture!



Finally, we got out of that section and our spirits lifted A LOT. The trail flattened for a km or so and we jogged it. It was amazing how a new surface (pine needles!) and a flatter pitch made all the difference to our emotions. I remember thinking that we were moving into a new phase of the day... the phase where you start to mentally pay for the effort expended. After 10 or 11 hours moods change for better or worse in an instant. This is a stage you don't get to training for olympic distance triathlon.

video

Soon enough, it got brutally difficult again. Massive rock fields to pick our way up, intensely steep trails... I felt like I stopped every 10 steps... probably did.



Mentally, I was in a work zone. I was actively trying not to think about anything but moving up the mountain. It was a struggle... I kept thinking about how far we had to go then getting mad at myself for having those very thoughts. As the exhaustion kept increasing I wondered what would happen if I cramped up or fell or, or, or...

It didn't help that on our way up we passed approximately 50 people coming down, and EVERY SINGLE ONE said:

"Late start today hey guys?"
or
"You guys aren't trying for the top are you?"

Apart from getting a tad annoying, it began to plant a seed of fear in my mind... were we crazy?

video

Eventually we got a glimpse of the peak and it looked 1,000 km away. I'm not kidding... it REALLY hurt to see how far we had to go. I wanted to poke my eyes out so I wouldn't look to the top again.

I kept telling myself not to look again. But all I could think about was the snapshot indelibly printed on my mind of that distant peak.



As I clambered over huge rocks, grabbing the odd tree to keep upright and carefully placing EVERY footstep, one after the other I started to assess my systems:

- Brain: Still functional. Not a lot of variety in my thoughts. More like chants. Short ones - the kind that take three or four steps. Repeat 3,000 times. Avoid thinking about how much is left... think about each step being one step closer. Annoyingly started singing that song "One step closer to you..."

- Balance: Deteriorating. With the muscle fatigue and mental exhaustion I was beginning to have little trips, little stumbles, momentary losses of balance. Not enough to fall, just enough to remind me to that I had to ratchet the focus up even more.

- Muscular: Not bad but my right quad was handling every large step - up and down. I tried to share the work when I could but it was too late to start asking for more from my weaker left leg and prosthesis - also many of the 1,000s of individual steps of this last climb were too technical (or just plain large) to use my left leg as the "go to" leg. Hence, my right quad was WORKED. To it's credit it kept going... thank goodness.



Unbelievably, after a lot more hard work we started to get close enough that I could look for the top again. It still looked a long way off though...

We arrived with about 50 minutes of daylight remaining and enjoyed the peak by ourselves. I have to say the peak came quicker than I expected. For LONG stretches I was sure we wouldn't make it. There was a point I said to Keith "We must have an hour left?" (Looking up at the peak...). It was about 15 minutes.

Keith on top of The Lions with Vancouver in the distant background.

I had said hours earlier that we just needed to get to the top of The Lions because we would, of course, be able to make it down. (Note: Later I realized this very thought has probably killed people on bigger tougher climbs. I think they call it "Summit Fever". Descending may be easier but you can still get lost, fall, meet a bear, bonk, get separated etc.)

On this day Keith, our planner, had judged things quite perfectly though. We enjoyed the peak for about 5 minutes and headed right back down, covering a long section of difficult terrain before it got dark.

Video of the descent (Note: There is a swear word in this one, and for that Keith apologizes...)

video

Sunset on the descent:

Just prior to darkness falling we had a little 20 minute scare when we lost the trail. It was more annoying than anything, but with the sun going down we were searching pretty urgently.

Even with awesome headlamps, climbing down in the dark was quite a bit slower, and there were many more stumbles/trips and even a fall or two... nothing serious though as we were being uber-careful. It was on both of our minds that a broken ankle now would be really unfortunate.

Food was also on our minds and I can't recall ever being so focused on fast food.... It was extremely disturbing to me that not a single purveyor of cheeseburgers was located between The Lions and my home.

We finished with another BRUTALLY PAINFUL 40 mins on that stupid logging road. It was just as bad going down and it seemed to go on forever - like a movie that keeps having one more painful scene after another, when it should have ended an hour ago.

Conclusion:

Total Time: 14:23:00
Total Climbing Time: 12:57:00 (5:13, 2:06, 5:38)
Total Distance: ~53km (~30, 7, 16) (33 miles)
Total Elevation Gained: ~12,000 ft

Prior to the painful logging road Keith and I had plenty of time to analyze our day. From the decision a few days earlier to move the start time up by an hour, to the run down Black Tusk, we had ended up needing every advantage we got. There were so many things that could have gone wrong but didn't... It was the perfect day.

I was incredibly pumped. Overall it was definitely harder than I expected - my ability with my leg was put to the most extreme test it has seen yet. With fatigue, difficult terrain, darkness, snow, ice and plenty of loose rock I had come out in one piece and with a smile on my face.

For now I rank this as the most difficult thing I have done BY FAR. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against other long events - like an Ironman. I have to believe this will match an Ironman for difficulty - it was longer in time (I hope!), and the terrain and ease of movement was WAY more difficult for my leg than riding a bike or running on pavement. Only one way to find out...

Over a week later I am still very proud of our achievement. The blisters have healed (mostly), the cuts are pretty much gone, and the muscles are back to normal (barely!) It took an entire week!

The reality of the accomplishment is just as good, if not better, than I hoped it would be when I dreamt up this thing! We are the only two people I know that have attempted this. Maybe one day someone else will... I hope so!

I'd like to thank Keith for everything he did - which was a lot. Planning, gear lists, photography, video, navigation, trail breaking... He was awesome! We never snapped at each other - not even on that b!tchy fire road!

Video after sundown... (a bit blair witch...)

video

Challenge complete!! 8:55 pm.

video

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Part II - The Chief

Three Iconic Hikes - One Day.... Part II - The Chief
  • The Chief - 2,303 ft
  • Distance Covered: ~7km
  • Elevation Gain: approx. 2,000 ft
  • Our Time: 2:06:00
After descending the 15km from Black Tusk we spent a few minutes in the parking lot assessing ourselves and the time. We felt good but knew there was a LONG way to go. We both stretched a bit and I looked over my leg... It was designed for running - not mountain climbing/hiking - it had performed well but had taken a beating.




Nevertheless, spirits were soaring at this point... we were 45 mins ahead of our schedule and feeling good. After a short drive (37km) during which we ate, drank, called our wives and reloaded our packs. We got out of the van at the base of The Chief.





The Chief is a popular climb for the people of Squamish and the whole Sea-to-Sky corridor - therefore it is pretty packed on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The crowds slowed us down a bit, but the Chief is no cake walk. I think I had already begun to look past it because of it's length (only 7km total) - that was a mistake - it is pretty much a vertical climb over odd angled rocks. Adding to the technical nature of the ascent was the fact I could definitely feel the Tusk in my legs. It was steep enough that I was using my hands with regularity, it took a lot of concentration to place my "foot" properly on each rock all the way to the top.





I felt BRUTALLY SLOW but... miraculously, we arrived at the top right on schedule. I thought I'd blown it with my turtle-like pace.

There are three peaks that make up The Chief - they are creatively named: First, Second and Third. Third is the highest, at 710m, and as such was our destination. I believe the view would be better at First or Second since they are at the top of the steep face overlooking Squamish - from the Third peak you are set back a bit.... it is still quite impressive though. The enormous rock slab makes a cool spot to stand and survey the surrounds. We did that for a few minutes then made tracks... we were on a schedule!

I think to enjoy the hike, up and down, and have a lunch on top, you'd want to allow 4-5 hours. We rushed (as much as we could) and it took just over 2 hours.




The way down was much easier... still very technical but a lot less stopping required - comparatively relaxing on the heart rate.



The Chief was by far the shortest, and in retrospect the easiest, but in no way was it easy. At the bottom we found that we had preserved our 45 minute cushion. We still felt pretty fresh and knew we were going for all three peaks.

Highlights: Getting to the top and realizing that it wasn't as slow as I thought. Getting back to the bottom and feeling good enough to go for the triple.

Some Video:

Part way up The Chief:
video

At the top of The Chief: (If you have very good eyes you can see Black Tusk in the distance off my right shoulder (:05 - :11)
video

Finished The Chief:
video

Tomorrow: Part III - The Lions

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