Monday, June 30, 2008

I Hate Critical Mass

For those of you that don't know Critical Mass takes place on the last friday of every month. I'm not sure if there is a specific time it takes place, however, it is in the evening around rush hour.

What does Critical Mass entail? Well a large group of cyclist ride through the streets of downtown blocking off all traffic as they casually cruise thru the city to protest automotive transportation and cycling awareness.

In theory, fantastic idea. I'm all for avoiding driving when not required, and only drive when totally essential (etc out of town bike races) and rely on public transit of my bike to get me around the rest of the time. The issue I have with critical mass is that they are obnoxious about the way they go about the city. 

Take this past friday for example. The route is decided to interfere with traffic, well this past friday was for many a long weekend taking today (Monday June 30th) off instead of Canada day tomorrow. Result being there were thousands of people leaving the city to get a good long weekend in. Now, one of Vancouver's biggest flaws is its road access to leave the city. There are only a few routes, and if heading North then your only choice is the Lion's Gate Bridge. This past friday, Critical Mass, started on the North shore at the foot of the Lion's Gate, and blocked off all 5 lanes of the bridge as people casually cruised over the bridge, following this up with a slow ride around Stanley Park finishing at the Corner of Davie and Denman taking up the entire triangle, for map click here. There may have been more to the route, but this is what I saw. Looking at the "official website" it would appear that they disrupted downtown a little more than what I described, seeing as how it started at the art gallery. This meaning that anyone having to catch a ferry for their weekend at Horseshoe bay, most definitely missed the first sailing. Now if this happened to you on your few days of vacation, would you be pleased, or would you want to run down the next cyclist you see?

Stupid Hippies (Photo not from Critical Mass, but looked like this)

This past friday being the long weekend and a nice summer night, there was a large group, we are not talking 200-300 people, estimates from a Cop were around 5000 cyclist. So this blocked off traffic for nearly an hour. 

My question is, will this really help out driver awareness of cyclist? I ride my bike far too much (350 km since Thursday), and VERY RARELY have incidences with motorist, and if I do have one, its not because I'm a cyclist, its because the driver is an idiot, the same incident would most likely have occurred had I been in a car.

Now to where I come in to this story. Friday night I was doing a long ride and got stuck in the critical mass on my way home trying to get over the bridge and thru stanley park. A typical 15-20 minute route for me to get thru the city took nearly 45 minutes to an hour, and I was on my bike. Thru discussion Cameron mentioned getting blocked off by critical mass on a ride once last year, and thought it was ironic that this bike protest was preventing him from biking his workout. 

That being said, I biked through the floods of cyclist as aggressively as I could. Its true, I was on a bike and I had road rage. Not only did this ruin my workout, but also made me late for my plans later that night (Helpful commuting by bike!).

All this aside, I don't care, being late was annoying but nothing else, where critical mass bothers me is the impact it has on my life the rest of the month. When I came up to the mass of cyclist, at first I didn't know what was going on, and asked two cops who were keeping the road safe, I asked them what was going on, one of them said, "Group ride that takes place on the last Friday of every month." and the other cop said, 

"Making it so that the other 29 days of the month we hate people like you (cyclist)."

I think this aptly summarizes my feelings on critical mass. They ruin cycling for those who actually use it. Ask any cyclist who isn't a hippy, and they will agree with you that critical mass is a terrible idea. I have read on many websites that studies done in San Francisco (where Critical mass started) have shown that cyclist/driver incidents have actually increased since 1997 when the first critical mass started. The annoying thing about this being that there were no sources for any of these claims (could just be more cyclist now than 10 years ago). 

And finally, what they are doing is Illegal, thru my chat with the cop, he said that, the only reason they can do it is because of the numbers. In San Francisco they tried to stop it, arresting some 200 people (according to Wikipedia), but that didn't stop them. Confiscating bikes didn't do the trick either. 

Laws being broken that I saw.

1) Blocking the road or "Corking"
2) Riding through red lights
3) Not wearing helmets (I'll get back to this)
4) Drinking in public

The thing that bothered me most of these laws being broken was the helmets. Old, young, drunk, inexperience people all riding their bikes without helmets. Since I had to ride through the hoard of cyclist, I decided to count how many I saw before seeing a helmet, the number was 97 people, and that was only two old woman with helmets, then it was another 50-60 people before I saw another. A few people were drinking out of bottles, BOTTLES, GLASS BOTTLES! a cyclist enemy while riding.

Needless to say I was in a bad mood, which, today being 4 days later I think is still evident in this post that Critical Mass was boiling my blood.

To finish up, I'll just mention the aftermath of fridays critical mass, I have in my experience very rarely been put in danger by motorist (or at least when its not my fault). And friday night after passing thru critical mass, I got buzzed by 3 cars over the span of 15 minutes closer than any other time since I moved to Vancouver. Clearly consequence of someone that had to sit waiting for an hour. So blocking off traffic is annoying, but when you put my life in danger, I start to hate you.

If you read up on critical mass, you will learn that true cyclist all disapprove of it. Critical Mass shows ignorance.

What I would prefer see, a small group has started Critical Manners. Its the same idea of a large group ride, however, they follow all the rules of the road to show motorist that riding a bike can be safe and that you can share the road.

There was something else I wanted to mention but I forget now, so there may be an update. I'll highlight it if I put it in.

I want to protest, however, this is painfully frustrating because I don't know how to protest a protest...

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Balance Half Iron Race Report!

I've dragged my feet long enough (figuratively and literally) since the race and feel its finally time I write up my report. Once again, this has potential to be VERY long, however, I have given my race report enough times now that I hope I can summarize it a little better this time.

So time for some day stats

Wake up 4:30
Race start 6:45
Water - Temp ~18*C (PERFECT)
Water - Quite choppy water on way out, but calm come turn around.
Air Temp - Morning Cold ~13-14*C but warmed up to just over 22 for end of run so again perfect.
Wind - Apparently quite windy but didn't really notice.

So now that we have had that out of the way, onto the specifics. Changed breakfast a little bit, added some more in, had two Cliff bars, full whole wheat bagel and glass of juice, food went down quite well, nerves were surprisingly absent (I'll get back to this later)

There wasn't much parking so the first winning move of the day was to aim to get to the course before 5:30 (Yuck!), we arrived at 5:31 but managed to get one of the last parking spots so we didn't have to walk the km to the transition.

Getting to transition an 1.25 hours ahead I realized I had little to do. Pump tires and put on gels. Then I kinda just puttered around talking it up with some other competitors. Being there so early also relieved a lot of pre race stress. 

With 40 minutes to go decided I had puttered around enough and got in line for the bathroom. Good race move #2. Line up took over 20 minutes. Again, nerves hadn't set in (I'll leave out details), and as ironic as this is, that was making me nervous. But figured Oh well, I don't even know how my leg will hold (leg was hurting yesterday, read previous post for details) so worst case scenario is having to stop for a minute during the race.

Got my wetsuit on and was ready 10 minutes before the race. COME ON! Those who know me, this has got to be a record. I got to the water and had the pleasure of dipping my feet in and complaining about not wanting to go in, which, from memory has not happened over the past 8-9 races. Then got a 200-300m warmup (I know, I'm surprising myself here). Then lined up where I figured the pros would be.

Gun went off and the sprint began. Picked up an awesome set of feet, water was clear and easy to follow. Unfortunately the pros decided on taking the inside corner, which coincidentally somehow was the long route due to funky buoy placement. Result of this being I couldn't catch there feet. Swim out to the first turn (800m) was really choppy, it was near the shore and we were going perpendicular to the wave direction, breathing was the focus here. Reaching the turn I realized I was only about 10m back from the pack of 4-5 leading the swim (Daniel doesn't count, that freak swam a 23 minute solo).  Had I chosen the correct start position I can almost guarantee that I would have stayed with the leading 5 men. I was swimming fast and really easy, I would say 85-90% intensity. I tried getting around the feet I was following but turns out following is much easier than leading, I knew this but didn't realize how fast we were really going. Fortunately a parallel group joined us at the turn and I was just sitting back, decided that pushing it to get passed wasn't going to help me much so I just sucked feet. I've never felt stronger in the water. Around 400m left the feet I was following must have been kicked in the face because they abruptly stopped and so I had to bridge a gap which was ok and the increased intensity this resulted in helped me, I just carried it on and dropped the pack I was with and tried to bridge up to a few stragglers of the leaders.

Ended the swim with a time of 28:27 according to my watch and 28:50 to the mat up the beach. Significant PB there. And to think I felt like I was cruising. 

Look of confusion when I see my swim time, did I miss a lap?
Hit transition, stupidly ran right past my bike by about 15 feet, got confused when I didn't see my colorful towel and then realized my error. I was bike slot 8 and I ran up to 25 Oops!

An otherwise uneventful transition got my on my bike passing 2 people in the process. Man imagine if I hadn't passed my bike. Thats the 5th fastest T1 by the way, not bad for 500 people.

On the bike I found it really hard to get my average speed up. After 15k I was only at 31kph. Digging deep by 50k I had it up to 36kph (may have overdone it). It wasn't particularly flat either, so was really burning. I mentioned earlier that it was windy, and people said it was cold, I didn't notice, however, my water consumption would reflect this. I didn't drink nearly enough. After the race I combined my two gatoraide bottles expecting there to be only about 1/4 of a bottle left and was shocked to find over a full bottle left. Meaning over 87km I only drank about 780ml of Gatoraide and 3 gels. This could be bad news.

The bike was fairly uneventful compared to the run that was to follow. I had wanted to go 34.6kph because that would complete the 87km in 2:30:00, my speedometer read 35.03kph so I was satisfied with this. But then looking at my watch saw that I was over 2:32. What happened, well, my speedometer average speed wasn't working earlier this week, so I took out the battery and put it back in, avg speed function recovered I moved on. I didn't check that it had changed my wheel size from 2111mm to 2150. So it was reading fast. When I hit 70km and started feeling the wear, I saw that my speed was on my target so I let myself slow down a bit. Not knowing that my reference speed was slow. Stupid mistake, but probably benefited me in the long run (HAHA PUN!).

Pounding away on the biking thinking how I really have to pee!

Final note on the bike. My stomach felt terrible for about 3/4 of the ride, but other than discomfort, I don't think this affected my performance at all, may have been why I didn't drink much. Positive note, my leg felt fantastic, none of yesterday's concerns turned out to be anything, hurrah!

T2 again, very fast, but I made the same mistake. I must have been puttering and chatting too much before the race around bike spot 25 because this time I actually racked my bike in the wrong spot, looked for my shoes and didn't see them, realized I was 15 feet early moved my bike down to my spot. Even with that, had the 3rd fastest T2 of the day. I'm quite proud of my transitions if you haven't noticed. Another exciting moment was when the announcer said as I left T2, "There goes Vincent Lavallee, leading the 20-24 division since the gun!"

Why is this exciting other than the fact that I was winning. Well the winner wins a new pair of New Balance Shoes! So you bet I was running my heart out. Papa needs a new pair of shoes!

Before getting to the run, I'll explain the stakes of the race. I had two friends/competitors in the race; Doug Giles, and Cameron Mackay. Thru speaking to them and knowing previous results this is what I knew.

I was a faster swimmer by a few minutes on both of them. I figured I would fare about the same as Doug on the bike, and Cam was somewhere around us as well, potentially a little faster. Turns out that I beat Doug by 30 seconds on the bike and Cam beat me by a minute. Pretty even field I would say! And then we hit the run. My previous run pace at Shawnigan was 4:45 min/km. This was not going to cut it. At that pace Doug would catch up 15 minutes on me and Cam would surely catch up as well. But I didn't know how much.

Getting back to the race, I knew they would be somewhere between 1-10 minutes behind me off the bike. I ran my own race with a little pee break at 1km and then just focused on steady running. I knew I could run faster than 4:45 so I pushed for 4:30's or lower, and I was holding steady pace doing my first 10km in 43:40. Fantastic. But at this point, I know Doug and Cam are closing it. I was actually already expecting Cam by this point, Doug I had gauged to catch me by 14k. I'm running scared.

12.5k comes around, I look back, see a Speed Theory outfit behind me (Cam and Doug both work for Speed Theory and race in their tri suit), and realize Cam is closing in. I decided to surge and make it hard for him to catch up, by 13.5k he is gone. Hmmm... Must have taken a bathroom break. We were 4 hours into the race after all. At km 16.5 I look back and see VERY fast closing in Doug behind me. As he approaches I remember smiling a bit. Thinking back to Bryce who raced Doug in Oliver, Bryce mentioned there was a very distinct difference between his pre-chasing Doug pace, and his chasing Doug pace. I was excited to see how I would fare. As he passed me the critical move was asking him how far back Cam was and his only response was "NOT FAR!" This instilled fear and desperation. I wanted new shoes! So I dug deep and stuck to Doug's feet as best as I could.

Running in the last 3km was amazing, reminded me of running great cross country races back in high school. A feeling I haven't had in so long. At 1.5 km to go I was still on his feet, however, the course was thru tree's and shaded so I wasn't wearing my sunglasses on my eyes, they were on the top of my head and bounced of. Had to stop fast, swear a little bit, Doug yelled back if I was alright, I said yeah and again had to dig deep to try and bridge the 15-20 foot gap he had made, finally did thanks in some part to some confusion caused by slow old men at the aid station (Was a two lap course, so with this speedy finish we were passing all the first lappers). At 800m to go I told Doug I wasn't contesting the sprint, not that he really had to worry because he has a significantly better kick than I do, and I was dead.

We pulled into the finish line, Doug charged to try and break 4:30, unfortunately crossing in 4:30:00 and I followed 8 seconds behind good enough to win my age group. And Cam came in a few minutes behind to take 2nd. 

Now just to show the intensity. We ran the last 3km in 4:00/3:58/3:43!

I think its pretty clear why Doug beat me to the line. Look at that intensity
Running into the finish line (Notice terrible form with hip dropping... Eww)

This hurt. I felt good for about 10 seconds and then nearly passed out. On my way to the refreshment tent I had 4 separate people ask me if I was alright and if I had a friend or family member at the race.
Moments before Nearly Collapsing.

After a much needed collapse under a tent I recovered in time to barely miss Jody's spectacular race finish. I was expecting her to go thru with another lap and she surprised me with finishing well below her target time. She also took 3rd in her age group.

Unfortunately what happened to Cam wasn't a pee break, he had a powergel that just didn't sit right and caused him to be sick. Too bad because it would have been really exciting otherwise. I have no doubt that if he hadn't been sick it would have come down to the three of us running into the line. Maybe the next race.

End of the day. Amazing race. 

So I lead the race from the gun. First time for me. Results of the race can be seen here. And for previous races, I have a side panel to the blog with all the links. It says that I finished 2nd in my age group, which I guess technically I did, but first place was registered as an elite which makes him not eligible for the age group prizes. Same goes for Jody's race.

With the win I think I will be getting these new balance shoes. What do you think? Scream Vince? I think so. Now I just need to find them to try them on, which is going to be very difficult in Vancouver.

Sorry for rambling so much, but I warned you all. I guess this wasn't the summarized version I may have predicted, but I'm sure you all expected this anyways.

Two days later, muscles feel great, just a little tightness in my hamstrings because I'm not used to pushing that hard on the run with such kick back. 

Big thanks to Doug though for carrying me in to the finish line with his amazing running, in the end he caught up almost 8 minutes over 20k. WOW. And Cam for applying the pressure to put the fear in me for 20k of the run.

Jody, great race and thanks again for the drive.

Thanks for reading.

And people, leave comments, don't be shy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

T - Minus 9 Hours 17 minutes

So, I'm just about to go to bed before the race tomorrow morning. I feel 4:30 is going to come far too quickly. Funny thing happened today. I got on the ferry feeling fine, and then got up near the end to go to the bathroom and noticed my right leg was getting stiff, annoying. But then as I got up to leave and descend back to the car my leg was much stiffer. By the time I got to the race site it was bothering me quite a bit. I got out of my sandals and into a good runner. On my bike for a quick 20k spin to loosen up was no help, and by the end of the day my leg hurt even when I walked. I have iced it now and will pop some pills prior to the race but I just hope I wake up and this is all gone.

That being said, if anyone is watching the race feed live. This will explain a slow run. With the two races in the following weeks if I am feeling any pain, I am just going to completely ease up.


Anyways, off to bed! The course looks beautiful though!

Victoria Half Iron Predictions

So this will be really quick seeing as how Jody is coming to pick me up in 20 minutes. But I've set some really hight expectations for myself this race.

Its a 1.9k swim so I want to go the same if not faster than last time. Anything in the range of 29:30 will make me happy though.

The bike course depending on where you look is 86.5 or 87k. For this I want to go 2:30. I don't know if this is possible because I hear its rolling hills the whole way. How long that means. I'm not too sure. But I'll be out there still giving it my all. I felt good on the run last time, so I think I could burn thru a little more energy on the bike.

Finally, for the run, being a more popular race, I'm hoping for there to be more action on the run than last time where I ran 75% of the half marathon without seeing anyone. If there are more people there. Hopefully someone will come blazing behind me who I can tag onto. Sounds strange hoping someone passes you, but thinking about it, if I am catching up to someone, it is unlikely they will pace me any faster. My run split is also ambitious, but I think highly attainable, I want to go 1:35. This would finish me in 4:35. Now I haven't included transitions here, and being a much larger field, there is a chance that I will need to take 2-3 minute transitions instead of 45 seconds like in Shawnigan. Thats always a wildcard, and not much I can do about that.

So wish me luck. You can follow the progress live here on Sunday morning.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

58,176 Beats

Sometimes you wake up in the morning for a ride and the night before the stars must have aligned just right, setting you up for a spectacular day to come. Sunday morning I woke up feeling fairly refreshed (surprisingly considering the Gin and Soda's the night before), the sun was out in all its glory and you could just tell that the day was going to be a good one.

This past week wasn't filled with too much intensity. I previously mentioned that my legs were really stiff after running in the Newtons on Monday night, so I have avoided running and focused mainly on doing short rides and swims. I was pleased because despite my legs being stiff from the run, my biking was going exceptionally well. All of my short little 20-30k rides were just flying by.

By the weekend my legs were recovered and on the agenda for Saturday I had a 15k run easy, which I opted to run in my old shoes just until I get used to the new ones.

All that being said, back to the main event. Sunday I woke up to a clear sky and promise of  a painful day. I met Kevin at 8AM at the coffee shop on Cypress and we headed off to meet Winston at the foot of the Lionsgate. The itinerary for the day had us hit the four points of the North Shore in the following order. Horseshoe Bay, Cypress, Deep Cove and finally Seymore

We started off very light, uncertain of how the day would wear on us. My longest ride to date this summer has been in the 120km range. This day was going to be roughly 160km and contain two mountain climbs so I figured caution was the wise move.

The ride to Horseshoe bay was uneventful, few cars honked at us but nothing out of the ordinary. On the way to the foot of Cypress we were riding up the hill and I decided this was a good time to have my granola bar. BIG MISTAKE. Turns out eating while climbing while trying to keep up with Kevin who has decided to pick up the pace, is NOT easy. After suffocating myself on the ascent and half a bottle of water later, I was refueled and back with the two. 

Cloud cover visited us for the ascent of Cypress which was a mixed blessing. Kept us cool climbing, however, meant for a cold descent. Keeping a relaxed descent and doing nice tucks I managed to hit 77.86 kph with a small surge. I wish I had planned it better, I feel I could have gone faster especially with Kevin there as a lead out. By the time we made it down to hill and to the second narrows, we had ridden 90k and this is when Winston had decided to call it a day. Congrats to him for his first Cypress climb.

Photo from the first lookout on Cypress

Losing Winston, Kevin and I may have made the foolish decision to pick up the pace. From the second narrows to Deep Cove we upped the intensity and were riding a pretty steady 35kph. We regrouped at Deep Cove had a snack and a bathroom break and then started the climb to the base of Seymore and without stopping headed up. 

Deep Cove is a small area with a marina, found pretty much at sea level. From there you head up over a few km to the base of Seymore at 175 m above sea level to kick start the climb. If memory served me correctly, Seymore was more or less the same length (12.5km) with the same net elevation (600m) as Cypress.  Turn out I was right about the length, however, I was quite off with the elevation. Turns out Seymore tips the scales at roughly 900m elevation. These 300m make for a significantly harder climb. Kevin and I half expected to ride up at 14-15 kph easy, instead we worked hard the whole way up barely averaging 11-12kph. Needles to say I was pleased to hit the top.

By this point, reaching the top we had ridden 115km and ascended 2400m. The descent was a lot of fun, however, my back and legs and neck were really feeling the day. Being a much steeper hill, I feel had we ridden this hill first I could have gotten a new personal max speed, however, with the wear of the day taking its toll I just wasn't able to muster any power for the descent. Getting into a good aero tuck I hit 76 and was only able to max out at 79.01kph, just shy of my highest ever of 80.38kph. Next time I guess.

After riding Seymore we headed over to a family friends of mine, The Godards where they welcomed us in to refuel a bit and use the bathroom. After a much appreciated pit stop (Thanks!), we started the 30k trip home. Kevin and I definitely didn't have the pep in our step we started out the day with. But we made it home without any great difficulty, rounding off the day at 162km and 2750 meters of ascent. 

I had wanted to go for a short little frivolous loop of a few km just so I could top this ride off above 165km making it my longest ever ride, however, decided considering the hills, that this was fine enough by me.

The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing and eating. I went to see the new Hulk movie with a friend. Really good!

Just a quick recap of the rest of my week. Monday I expected to be exhausted from the ride, but my legs felt amazing. A little stiff but no worse for wear. I went to the open water swim monday night and at 16*C the water was fantastic. I did 2km fairly easy and worked on sighting. After the swim I went home, had some food and did a great tempo run. Keeping it smooth and comfortable I did my regular 5.75k hilly loop holding 4:05. Good stuff. And on top of that, this was in my new shoes. My legs felt really stiff afterwards, I did a short stretch session and iced and Tuesday when I woke up my legs felt none the worse for wear. So YAY!

I'll leave out the other details of my week, uneventful swims and jogs. Tonight I think I will do the open water swim again in preparation of Victoria this weekend. 

Hopefully I'll have a race preview for you tomorrow.

Thanks for reading 

58,176... Thats the number of heartbeats I took over the ride. Average heart rate of 144 over 6 hours 44 minutes.

Also more numbers, thats 31,916 pedal strokes!

This ride hit the four points of the North Shore. Starting off from my plcae

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Worlds, Newtons and Bears!

Since my last post a lot has happened. I'll just give a brief detail of all thats gone on. First I mentioned my roommate from my undergrad at McGill was in town for the weekend. This was James first time to Vancouver, and I think he enjoyed it a lot. Also in town were a few MTC'ers Miranda, Jacques and Catherine who were racing in the Age group world champs on Saturday.

Saturday morning came VERY early. Seeing as how James was in town for such a short while, we decided to make the most of it. I gathered up all the friends from the LSI that I could and looked for a place to go. Rob (my vancouver roommate) mentioned they he and some of his friends were going to be a Chivana's so we decided to bring the party there.

At this point I lost track of time and before I knew it I was getting to bed at about 2:20AM and we were getting up at around 5:40 in order to go cheer Miranda on at her start for 7AM at English Bay.

Needless the say the morning came quickly but I was shockingly awake. Race conditions were not ideal, everyones fears were revealed, it was cold, windy and the water was choppy as ever. They shortened the swim for the first few heats and then conditions got to bad that they even turned it into a duathlon.

I won't go into race details, but Miranda's race all considered went fairly well in my opinion despite having trouble with her pedal the entire bike.

It was nice being in the race atmosphere. There was a exhibition tent were I met the founder of Newton Running shoes. These are a pair of shoes that I've wanted for a while but never bought because you need to buy them online and I didn't want to buy shoes I had never worn before.

Saturday afternoon James and I wanted to go for a run, however, immediately upon returning to the house we passed out hard for 2.5 hours. This was a much needed sleep. Once rejuvenated and refueled James and I went on a good long run down to the Spanish Banks.  I'm really impressed with his fitness. Its great to see him getting back into running, he seems to be enjoying it a lot as well. I didn't wear my new shoes because I wasn't sure how my feet would feel in them, and I wanted something easier as my first run in them.

Sunday was again a relaxed day, we headed down to English Bay to watch the elites races. I won't explain them because that can be found on the internet, but WOW, very impressive, it was really motivational to see how fast they go and how they race. The weather cooperated a little more Sunday, and the swim was still cold but calm. A result was that a lot of the athletes were having trouble with their zippers on the wetsuits, and I am adding this photo simply because I really like it and think its great sportmanship. 

OK blogspot doesn't want to upload my photo, so if you can't see it just click HERE.

Javier Gomez is incredible. Aside from Simon, he is for sure my favorite triathlete. An unfortunate day for Kirsten Sweetland who I was really gunning for, turns out early last week she developed a stress fracture in her food and as a result had an upsetting race and now isn't going to the olympics. Somewhat hearbreaking considering how well all of her training was going. Coverage of the races can be found at the ITU triathlon website.

Now back to the running shoes (I obviously added in the elite recap after writing my post and that explains this awkward transition)

The idea behind Newtons is that they encourage forefoot running which is more efficient and results in less joint impact, instead you are taking the impact on your muscles which are supposed to spring back. I tried them out for the first time on Monday night. Now I made one minor mistake. I didn't read on the website prior to my run, Monday I had scheduled a long run, decided I would do an out and back double loop so if I wasn't feeling good with the new shoes at any point I could always turn back. Well the shoes felt fantastic, I really could feel the encouragement of forefoot running and it made me fell much more effortless. The only thing was I could really feel it in my calfs which doesn't surprise me seeing as how that is where I get tired first during races. Well, I went out and did a 13k run and awoke on Tuesday barely able to walk. It felt like I had done 5000 calf raises. Now this was all muscular and not joint related, and upon investigation I realized that the website for the shoes warn you of this and that you should ease into them with short 2-5k runs at first OOOPS! But now being the second day I felt stiff in the morning and much better come this afternoon. Hopefully I'll be able to go for a run tomorrow as well. 

Originally I had planned a bike run combo tonight, however, with the tight calfs I decided a run was out of the question. Instead I went on a long ride with the expectations of going up Seymore (first time of the year). I got all the way out to Deep Cove and was about to do the climb, but realizing how late it was (8:30PM) decided this wasn't the best idea, not due to visibility, it was still quite clear, but I figured dusk wasn't the best time to be out on a mountain with Bears etc being regular sightings. I had already seen a raccoon and for those of you who don't know, raccoons and I don't get along too well (I had an accident with one on my bike a few month back). So instead I just headed home and rode somewhat higher intensity to make up for the lack of a climb. Its alright though, I'm going to be doing an EPIC ride on the weekend. Kevin Facundo and I are going on a 156k ride with over 4000m elevation. I'll have the exact number after the weekend from Kevin with his altimeter. 

Anyways thats all for now. Not all too much training this week, mainly run focused. I put in nearly 50k and am feeling quite strong for Victoria next week, hopefully I can pull my time down to a 1:35 or below. 

Friday, June 6, 2008

14*C Water is COLD (Week Update)

After a fairly lazy training weekend in Osoyoos/Oliver, Rob suggested we go to the first open water swim at Kits beach held by the Vancouver Open Water Swim Association. Its a pretty sweet set up. For 4$ drop in, or 35$ for the season you get guarded open water swims on Monday and Thursday nights in the ocean at Kits beach. Also involved are a few open water races which I am considering doing. I'll expand on these further in the future.

Well, we bravely set out in our wetsuits and went for the first ocean swim of the year. 

WOW the water was cold. 14*C or 57*F. After a pretty relaxed 1km swim, I called it a day, a few people went out for a second lap, but I decided this wasn't for me. I exited the water barely able to walk because my achilles were so tight. This gave me huge respect for Barry who raced last weekend in a sleeveless wetsuit in 12.2*C or 54*F water. 

With triathlon world champs just around the corner, there were a few foreign athletes testing out the water. I met a bunch of New Zealanders who were NOT impressed with the water temperature. I think this will be a huge benefit for the Canadians at World Champs this weekend.

Other than that, I went for a few good runs and Wednesday did a hard horseshoe bay ride with Elliot, a co-worker of Robs.

My old roommate from Montreal, James Kozak is in town for the weekend, and we are going to go out and cheer on all the racers along with enjoy hopefully the good weather.

Last night he and I, along with Miranda, who is also in town (She is competing in her first World Champs) went out for Sushi at my favorite place Samurai Sushi on Davie St. It was fantastic. So I'll finish this post off wishing her good luck tomorrow morning. I'll be there cheering her on.

Oliver Half Update

Time for a weekly update. My last update was outlining my weekend in Osoyoos/Oliver for Kevin and Winston's Half Ironman. 

We arrived in Osoyoos Friday evening and pretty much called it a night. Saturday, we had a lazy morning and headed out to Oliver around noon to check out the race course and do the mandatory meeting and bike check. Weather was fantastic (For a spectator). Just under 30*C. I spent the whole afternoon in my bathing suit and flip flops. I even got out into the lake without my wetsuit for a 1k swim. Water was amazing. Hopefully they would get the same weather the next day. The pre race meeting was painful, nearly an hour of describing where cones are going to be on the course.

We got back to the house and had dinner. I followed this with a nice run (12k) where I had a few lovely encounters with locals who yelled to me, RUN FORREST RUN! I wasn't too impressed. 

Sunday morning for the race, weather turned ugly. I'll remind you this area is referred to as Canada's desert. Well, IT RAINED! A lot. Sunday morning we woke up at 5AM to the start of the rain and it continued well into the morning. Arriving at transition, I gave up hiding under a tree and just instead accepted I was going to get wet.

I knew a few people racing, Kevin, Winston, Derek and I even ran into a former MTC'er Jeanette. This race had a little more added excitement with the appearance of Michellie Jones (Former Ironman World Champ) along with Lori Bowden (Two Time Ironman World Champ). I got signatures. Lori Bowden wasn't racing though, just making a guest appearance. 

The race started and second out of the water was Derek, fantastic swim, unfortunately his day went down from there. He had the misfortune of two flats by km 14 which was the end of his race.

Kevin and Winston and Jeannette all had solid races though. Kevin with a new PB of 4:52, Winston being very pleased with his first Half finish in 5:46, and Jeanette just missing the podium for her age by 20 seconds with a 5:26.

The sun finally came out in the afternoon and we went back to Osoyoos and rested up before returning on Monday morning.

A few photo's from the race
Derek dealing with his first flat.
About to leave unknowing that another flat was a few hundred meters down the road
Kevin Finishing up his bike
Jeanette heading out for her second 10k of the run
Winston finishing up his first Half Ironman

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shawnigan Lake Half Photos

Here are some photo's from the race courtesy of the race photographer.

Exiting the water in 11th (Really 9th though because two of the athletes were part of Canada's elite team who were only doing swim/bike)

Ugly finishing photo, not favorable being on a downhill.

Monday, June 2, 2008

On the Road to Oliver (A little late, didn't have internet access when I wrote this)

Departing from Vancouver at 3PM, the detour thru Burnaby to pick up Winston put us conveniently into traffic, but I guess that’s what happens when you leave town on a sunny Friday afternoon. After a few hours of driving, we just stopped in at a subway for some much needed refueling.

            My recovery this week from Shawnigan has been pretty good. I unfortunately haven’t had the greatest opportunity to get any easy training in this week though. Only  short 30ish k ride on Tuesday and a 3k interval swim on Wednesday. That being said, I am feeling a little heavy, I don’t know if this is from the training slow down, or resulting from the race. The time off was good though because it allowed me to take a few days advantage and stretch out my IT bands.

            I opted against bringing my bike to Oliver for the weekend. Although Kevin and Winston will be doing a training ride before the race, and I would also have time to ride Sunday, I decided that I would focus the weekend instead on doing a few long swims open water swims, and at least one 20+ km run.


            I’m excited for the race, I really enjoy competing, however, there is something about being in the race environment without the pressure or stress of competing that is a lot of fun. The bike course will be two laps, so I will have a large amount of time to sit and wait around. But that may be one of the times I opt to go for a swim.


            Weather is supposed to be good for the weekend, 28 both Saturday and Sunday, so I will be able to get some good warm weather training in before Osoyoos just over a month away.