Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Hey, really quick update. I'm finally on vacation. I'm currently sitting in my kitchen in Beaconsfield Quebec!

I took the red eye last night and just arrived a few hours ago, its hot and sticky in Montreal but pretty nice at the same time.

I have a lot of plans for my visit. First, simply seeing everyone is going to be a task. Lots to do between now and Friday.

One item of excitement for the triathlon world, I have challenged my old tri club to a mountain TT tonight on Mount Royal going up Camillien Houde. My personal record is 5:20, however, the club record set a few years ago by Richard MacKenzie is 5:03. Riding on my old bike I'm going to try and break that tonight.

Anyways, I'll update with how things are going when I have more time. But for now, some breakfast and a nap!

If you want to reach me while I'm in Montreal send me an e-mail at

vlavallee @ gmail . com

I'll be checking fairly regularly.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vancouver International Half Iron Race Report

This week has just flown by.

Change of pace for this race, instead of having to travel all day Saturday I got to relax quite a bit since I was sleeping in my own bed for once. I didn't want a repeat of last year where despite being a race in Vancouver, it was my latest sleep because I kept putting things off. Fortunately Nick and his girlfriend Hannah were staying with me and they kept me in line and to bed early.

After a pretty good pasta dinner with chicken, I just had some stretching to do, pack up my bag and head to bed.

Surprisingly, despite sleeping in my own bed, this was the worst sleep I've had before a race all year. I think it was because it was really hot in Vancouver. Oh well, at least I got to sleep early so although interrupted, I still managed 6 hours of sleep before the 4AM wake up.

Out the door by 4:45 and at the race site by 4:50. AWESOME! Nice being so close.

Set up T1, uneventful, bathroom line, then hop in the water for a brief 150m warmup and adjustment in my wetsuit.

This race had a beach start which is the only one I do each year. Clearly I need to practice it. Running into the water and diving in. I quickly filled both my goggles, and fortunately didn't end up with them around my neck. Problem being, I'm 10 meters into the water with 400 people behind me. No time to fix them now without getting thoroughly drowned. Instead I swim the first 300-400 meters completely blind, eyes closed simply bumping into people to my left and right to sense the direction I am supposed to be going. Thinking that this is among my worst starts ever, I finally get some free space, turn over onto my back and fix my goggles. And sure enough, who is right behind me, Rachel Kiers. Seeing her right behind me reassures me a little, she typically comes out of the water right behind me, so things aren't going so badly after all. That being said, I feel like I could have done much better. (Photos taken from SI photography or Rachel Kiers site).

Exiting the water in 15:15 after my first lap. Yikes, slow, I wanted to be around 13:45. Must be a slow course. The water was calm but everyone was fighting for the same water. Instead of fighting I just pushed hard and managed to bridge my group up to a group about 30-40 meters ahead of us. Thanks to some poor navigating with the current, I tack on to the back of the group and let them pull me in to shore.

Click this picture to enlarge, its pretty sweet
In this photo above, coming in to the finish of the swim you can see Rachel (middle blue arm) Nick (far right) and Me (middle left with arm in air). I think this is a pretty cool photo.

Exiting the water Nick is right in front of me. So despite how I felt in the water, I guess this swim is pretty much on par with the rest of the season coming out with Nick (albeit really slow)

Swim time 31:07 (slow course).

T1, uneventful. I make up some excuses to Nick that he beat me because I didn't shave my beard.

Onto the bike. I knew my competition would be A) Nick B) Rachel C) Sheldon. Rachel and Nick were both right with me leaving transition, and Sheldon with a much better swim would be 3-5 minutes up the road. I didn't concern myself with him too much though because in the past two races I've crushed him on the bike so bringing him back in wasn't going to be an issue.

Nick and Rachel have beat me on the bike in every race we have done so far this year. My goal therefore was simply to keep the two of them in sight. I've had a habit of going out too hard in the past, so I used them to pace myself and decided if I was keeping up, I was doing well. The pace seemed nice and relaxed, but I figured that was just what even splits was supposed to feel like.

After 2 laps (of 4), I still haven't caught up to Sheldon, I decide to time him on the out and back and realize he is still 4 minutes up on me. I haven't caught up ANYTHING! Whats going on. For someone who averaged 32.5 at the last race he is FLYING! I decide this is the point where I need to throw caution to the wind and just go after him.

Surprisingly my third lap, although my fastest (gaining a minute on Nick and Rachel) equaled Sheldons 3rd lap to the second. It was only on my 4th lap that I brought him back in, but was still 95 seconds down after T2.

Can you believe Scott averaged 33.2 on that bike!

Rachel Kiers
Some good looking guy
A hometown star, Magali Tisseyre who won the womans division
Patrick Waters
Sheldon Clarke

I dug a little too deep at the end of the bike. Within 2k Nick has caught up the minute lead I had on him and Sheldon is out of sight. Seeing Nick catching up I decide to try and relax and gear up for when he catches me and to just stick to his heels. This works successfully for the first 10-12k. My knee is kinda hurting, similar to the last race, but its not actually slowing me down. At 14k I decide its now or never to catch Sheldon and I surge. Although the effort increased, my speed didn't at all. I'm going to blame the wind again and the increased drag caused by my beard. In the end Sheldon ended up pulling it back to 3 minutes by the end of the run with an impressive time of 4:29:21. I followed behind at 4:32:52.

On a comical note, there was a finishing shoot which I missed while talking to a friend on his first lap. In doing so I either had to backtrack 100 meters, or climb over a small fence to get to the finish line. I decided the jump would be much quicker and spectacular so after 4.5 hours of racing I scale a quick 5 foot fence and storm the finish line.

Now for far too many numbers for anyone to care about. I broke down the race splits provided from the website to show where I lost time to Sheldon.

My mistake, I hugely underestimated Sheldon on the bike. He went from 32.2kph at his first half 7 weeks ago. To 32.5kph at Victoria a month ago, and rode a blistering 35.6kph in Vancouver. I was shocked. Once again, I'm going to blame the beard. Too much drag.

Again, for those interested.


And I'm not sure what happened here, they must have had the km markers wrong or something because I didn't catch my time at the end, however, if I backtrack it means I ran a 2:57 last km which I definitely didn't do. Maybe a 3:30 but not sub 3. Especially not with my fence jump.

All in all I'm really pleased with the way the race went. Few tactical errors. I feel I could have bridged closer to Sheldon on the bike had I raced hard from the get go. Had I been able to see him on the run I think it would have been a different race. And that was only 30 seconds away from being in sight. Remember this Sheldon. I won't make that mistake again.

Was pleased with my run, however, when I tried to surge, I realized that I can't push myself at all. When running with Nick, when he was setting the pace I had no problem keeping up, but then as soon as I was on my own I needed some incentive. That will definitely be a major focus over the next two month until our next faceoff in Sooke.

Anyways, results can be found here

Amy running one of the fastest run splits of the day

Rob showing off some guns on the course

Jeremy flying into the finish
Rob with his finisher Salute

And big congrats to all my friends who raced. A few PB's in there. And Facundo, Choppy and Kamal who raced in the sprint. Nick sorry I couldn't find more photos of you.

Facundo Winning yet again

Was a really nice day and great to see everyone out. And what did I learn? Should I have shaved. HELL NO! I've now got a built in excuse for all my mini failures.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Vancouver Half Iron Pre Race

Not too much to say here today. I'm going in with the same goals as always. Hopefully the bike will work out better this time and I won't fall apart in the last 20k. I've got about 400km on my new bike since the last race, should be plenty to be used to it by now.

Energy has been low all week, but hoping that once the race kicks up I'll forget about that.


Swim sub 28. Depends a lot on the water conditions, wavy vs current vs wind.

Its a long transition, so I want T1 to be under 1:30. T2 to be under 45.

Bike is long, 93k last year I was burnt out by this point after 3 races. Hopefully I can go 2:35 which would be 36kph. Probably a little fast but sub 2:40 for sure.

Want to be on the run by 3:05 Ideally, but will be happy with anything under 3:10. Leaving me 1:26 (4:10/km) for the run.

Total time 4:36.

Who knows, we will see. A lot depends on the weather. It is a very windy course on the bike which could help a lot or be killer. And the heat on the run could be a deciding factor as well.

Wish me luck!

New Jerseys

I need a vote, the UBCTC is making jerseys for next year. Leave in the comments section what you think of these templates. What you like, what you don't like, and why if you can.


Click the photo to enlarge because you can't see some of the details otherwise.
I've eliminated 5 and 7 from the vote.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Erich's Odyssey Part 5/5

Now for the Final Installement of Erich's Odyssey. The races has come and gone, and this is what he had to say.

Victoria International Half Iron Race Report.

"When I run by/lap you I am going to smack you as hard as I can on the ass" -Vincent Lavallee, raceday

[For clarification, the run is 2 laps of a 10km loop.]

Well, I will spare you the suspense and tell you that yes, I did indeed finish (Elspeth!). It was actually really fun, despite some, let's just say discomfort on the run. Pat and Vince made the trip over too, and Derek competed despite being sick, so it was a good time all-round. Without further ado:

5am, race day: The alarm comes awfully soon. On the run course there will be a "special needs" table where we can place any drink we want to before hand. My plan: pour a beer into a water bottle and start drinking it around 15km into the run to help take the edge off. This is my special need. Unfortunately in our haste I completely forget the beer.

6am: I get some last minute tips from my friends. Triathlon is all about looking good I learn (Note to self: keep doing what you're doing then:). I tape 6 power gels to my bike. There will be no bonking today. You don't wanna end up looking like that drunken n00bstick Julie Moss.

6:40 We gather in the water. This is it, the moment I've been waiting for my whole life all week. Steph Dixon is here too, sweet! "Hey!" I call "Doing a relay?" What a stupid question, of course she's doing a relay you tool...

6:45 The gun goes off. 200m in I see Derek start to pull away. I decide not to go with. It's going to be a looong day, no need to be the hero now. I sing some Jack Johnson to calm down and settle into cruise mode. My ears pop out of my cap. I must look like a n00bstick. I'm breaking the cardinal rule of triathlon: you gotta look good. I stop to adjust my cap. A little while later my ears pop out again. I stop/adjust again. This happens 3 times.

I just follow the guy in front of me. His pace is a bit slow, but that's probably a good thing as I figure I'm likely to underestimate the race and go out too fast. I see Pat n Steph beside me. It's comforting being surrounded by ppl you know. All 3 of us emerge from the water about the same time. This is fun!


Pat & I leave the transition at the same time: "Spring Break!" I yell.

2km into the bike and Vince passes me: "heeeeey". Wait - what, already?!! I was hoping to get to 20k before he caught up. Either I swam slow or he had a good one. Turns out he had an awesome swim, good job Vince! I don't even try to keep up-those guys are fast! I settle into what will be my routine for the next 5 hours: watching other ppl's backsides as they pass by.

I seek a sustainable rythym. There's no point in going out of your comfort zone, or as I like to call it 'the zone of unsustainability' in a race this long, it'll come back to haunt you. My bike comp's busted, so I have no idea how fast I'm going. Pat zooms past on a downhill... but what goes down must come up! I catch up on the uphill. A little while later on a downhill straight he passes me again. A little while later on a hill I catch him again. Do I see a pattern emerging here?

Biker's keep whizzing past on their pimped out carbon-fibre machines. Damn it, I knew I shoulda invested that extra 4 grand. I'm like the guy who shows up for the 100 free final in a polyester speedo and everyone else has full body LZR's. They pass in packs, some clearly in the drafting zone of others. What a buncha jeerks. Superfastbikerjerks.

Two superfastbikerjerkgirls pass me. Since they're chicks I clearly have to try and keep up. Shifting on a steep hill one of their chains pops off. ha! On the next steep hill the other chick's chain pops off. double ha! Stereotypes are based on fact and clearly, chicks just don't know how to shift manually:P

I hold my own for a bit but start to die about 3/4 of the way in. 80 km now and this is about as far as my mind and body want to ride. Because of the improper fit of my bike, my lower back is killing and hamstring is tight. Good thing it's over soon. It's been raining. On one of the last corners I almost bail on the wet road... almost.

90km and I've just biked the furthest in my life! I whip out the mental checklist and tick off 3 goals (broke 3 hrs/avg'd over 30 kmph/started the run before Vince had a chance to lap me). The bike was actually really fun and went well. I only lost 15min to Vince and 7min to Derek which is a lot less than expected. Of course I don't know this at the time. The run? Ahem, well let's get to that...

Kym ran a marathon on a cup of coffee, so it stands to reason that I should do a half marathon on half a cup of coffee (observation courtesy of Callum). I don't see a Starbucks in the transition zone so I hit up the next best thing: a 25mg caffeine powergel. This one's for you Kym!


Going through the transition everyone cheers for you. You're the hero. You're feeling good, you're lovin' life. The cheers soon fade and then reality sets in...

500m in: HO-LY F-BOMB!! That didn't take long. My lower back/calves/shins are already on fire/tight as hell/basically fukt. I have to walk already.

"Is this about a 50min (per 10k) pace?" [the pace I am hoping to hold] I ask a guy running beside me. He laughs. Clearly I need to readjust my concept of 50min pace. "Have you done this before?" I ask the second guy who passes me. "Yup, it's a long ways, pace yourself." Point taken. I pace the fuck out of it.

1km: Oh my god! That's only 1k?! At this point my focus shifts from "What pace can I hold?" to "Let's just finish". The first few kms are the worst. I loosen up a bit, but the pain never goes away.

3km: The leader laps me. Man is he movin'. I'm expecting Vince to come up at any moment. I pucker up.

5km: My left foot goes numb. One km later my right foot, feeling left out, decides to go numb too. It's like the dentist stuck their freezing needle into my feet. I wonder if it's a nerve somewhere getting messed up, but hope I just tied my laces too tight. At least I can't feel the pain in my ankles anymore.

6km: My strides must be only about 1ft long. It's all I can do. Baby steps I repeat. My Borg scale Relative Perceived Effort (RPE) is only about 8, less than warm-up effort. HR maybe 110. But I can't go any faster, everything from my waist down is just hooped.

8km: Vince hasn't lapped me yet. Maybe I can make it without him lapping me at all! Encouraged, I increase the tempo of my hobbling and swing my arms harder.

9km: My achilles feels like it's going to blow up/rip apart. I reeeeally want to walk, but can't. Vince could be coming up at any moment.

10km: VICTORY IS MINE! No lap-age for Vince. I've now "run" (if you can call it that) further than I have in my life. I hear the announcer calling in the 5th finisher.

Ppl continue to pass me at an alarming rate. No longer superfastbikerjerks, everyone is uber friendly/encouraging. I must look as bad as I feel tho. Besides the usual "keep it up, you're doing great", this is a sample of some of their actual concerned comments:

"You look about as cramped as me"

"Busted a calf?"

"You need my powergel? Salts?"

17km: Let's try this running thing. I try relaxing and lengthening my strides.

18km: A chick passes me going really fast, #740. Fuck it, I decide to pace off her. My legs are already screwed anyways. RPE slowly climbs into the double digits: 10...11...12. Man she's movin' (I find out later she's on a relay). RPE 13. If my legs actually worked I guesstimate this is a little over the max pace I should've been able to hold. For the first time I'm passing ppl. My first 18k were at 5:41/km pace, these last 2k are at 4:32/km pace.

5 hours 7 minutes and 11 powergels later I cross the line. High fives all round. Where the ice bath be at?


At the finish I'm introduced to the best part: the post-race snack table. Later, a 5hr nap is in order. I wake up sore as hell & with a sprained ankle. I have a new found respect for the full Ironman that Pat did.

Would I do it again? Ya, but not any time soon. And I think next time I'll train for a little more than a week and a half. Like, maybe 2 weeks.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Erich's Odyssey Part 4/5

To learn more about Erich check here

Day 5

1.5hr bike, 2km run immed after, 1.5k open water swim, 90s night at the bar.
Days till: 6

I think, if I concentrate hard enough, I can vaguely feel one or two running muscles. The beginning stages of adaptation. Just in time? Nope, way too late!

Day 6
I need this.

Training day 7:
1hr bike, 3km swim
4 days to go!

My strategy for this race has gone through several revisions lately. First, it was draft off the other guys like there is no tomorrow on the bike. Well, apparently drafting is illegal. Fuck. Next up was the strategy of going hard for as long as possible to keep up with them aka the "balls to the wall" method. I learnt my lesson last friday. The lesson is: that can and will only end badly.
After my day off I think I've come across the perfect strategy. Flawless and nearly foolproof in it's simplicity. Lower my expectations. Or as I like to say, set the bar low so that one can step over it!

Day 8:
40 min bike, 6km run
3 days to go... just like a boat, this shit's fo real!!!

Taper time. ooooooo yeeeah. After all the hard training, then endless miles, the gruelling workouts I've endured alone for the past, oh lord how long has it been?... Oh that's right, for the past week, there's still nothing like taper time. Puts that extra lil' spring in your step.

Also being introduced today: the carb load. And let me tell you, I can carbo load with the best of em. At the moment I'm so full of pasta, ice cream and strawberry shortcake I'm reduced to waddling like a duck around the house. Now this is some training I can get used to!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Erich's Odyssey Part 3/5

Part 3

Training day 3.

1 hr bike, 8k run immediately after.
Days till half iron: 8

My hamstring is so tight you could string a bow with it... a mythical bow that shoots lethal arrows, piercing the hopes and dreams of any try-athlete who thinks they're gonna beat me a week from now.

Training Day 4.
3 hr recovery hike. 3km swim. 1 hr broken bike ride. 6k run immediately after.
One week till doomsday.

It's a scientifically proven fact that there's an inverse correlation between the amount of training you've done and the amount of trash you talk (American Journal of Science, Vol. 276, November 1976, P.1096-1119). So it's no surprise that I've been spewing competitive filth a mile a minute whilst my buddies/competitors, aka those I will soon CRUSH, have been relatively quiet. So at the moment, according to "science", it appears Derek is going to be the man to beat. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some garbage to type on other peoples' Fb walls...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Feeling GREAT! YEAH!

Today I went to the gym and did a solid hour of stretches. Its tough to say how my legs are feeling now because they are a little sore from rolling out my IT band (Note, if you don't have a foam roller, the small hard medicine balls will make you cry, good substitution), but I defintely feel loose and the pinching pain is gone.

I'm taking the rest of the day off from training and I'm hoping that by tomorrow I'll be feeling GREAT! YEAH!

Erich's Odyssey Part 2/5

For details on who Erich is, check here.

Part 2

Day 2.
4 hour bike, 15 min run immediately after.

Days till race: 9

"In 12 days you won't be able to improve your existing fitness so no point in doing anything super hard..." -P Dub, 3 days ago

These words haunt me. I decide to reconnoitre the bike course today. From a triathletes perspective, swimming is a power based sprinting sport. My 4 minute race is considered a "distance" event in swimming. It will be 5-6 hours before I cross the finish line in this race.

30 km into my ride. I'm haulin' around corners at high speed, tucked into my aerobars. Laying the hammer down, feelin good. Although swim races are short, we train long hours (~5 hrs/day, the same time-wise as this race will take). But rarely is it in longer than 2 hour blocks and it's stop and go, sprint and rest. Not once in my tri training have I been close to V02 max, even on hill climbs. But this event uses a different energy system. So, just over 2 hours into my ride, I crash. Hit the wall. All systems down Capitaine! (Note to self: when going on a 4 hour bike ride, bring more than a water bottle and 1 granola bar). In swimming you don't really "crash". It can happen in workout, but usually it's almost done by then anyways. You can "die" due to lactate, but that's different. I text my colleagues the good news. "Get some sugar in you ASAP" says one. "Find a store and get something to eat" says the other. (Note to self: when going on a 4hr ride, bring some form of $). FML. I think I might be in over my head with this tri. Let me rephrase that: I know I'm in over my head. If 90km seemed as far on paper as it feels in RL I might've given my decisoin second thoughtsbeforehand.

I'm a long way from home. I feel like Armstrong in the 2000 Tour after Pantani broke him on the Col de Joux Plane. It's gonna be a long hour and a half getting back. I fantasize about anything edible/drinkable as I ride past the smell of backyard BBQ's. Although light for a swimmer, it's clear my upper body is too heavy/muscular for this sport, I need to shed 20 pounds to be legit. I stop for a break in the grass. My head pounds. Vision not 100%. Arms and legs tingle. Hands are cold in the afternoon heat. Guess my stingy body is saving the blood for places that need it more. Who rocks the hypoglycemia at the party? Apparently me.

I feel embarrassed, in my race gear, creeping along at a snails pace. I see a commuter up ahead. It seems like I'm barely making inroads. There is NO way I am stooping to the level of bike-commuter. Plus it's a chick, are you kidding me?! Man up. I blow past her at the bottom of 6-mile hill and don't look back till I get to the top. She isn't even in sight. At least I still have my pride.

Get home, quickly throw on shoes, grab some cash money and run down to the corner store. About the only thing keeping me going at this point is the knowledge that corner stores are full of sugary goodness. I scarf down Reeses, wagon wheels, a couple butter tarts, 5 cent candies and 1L of Gatorade faster than you can say "The ladies go crazy for my sugarlumps".

I read the label: glucose-fructose. Might as well say nectar of the gods.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Erich's Odyssey Part 1/5

In the spirit of the upcoming Vancouver Half Iron, I've decided to post the lead up training log of a friend of mine, Erich Schmitt. Exactly 10 days prior to the Victoria New Balance Half, he decided to sign up and compete on ZERO training. A little background on Erich. He is a Varsity Swimmer from UBC who now simply likes to talk smack. Here is how it went.

Day 1.
8k run, 4k swim, 1.5hr bike (might as well start with a bang).

Days till half ironman: 10

I am a serial hobbyist. It's not my fault, there's just too many awesome things to do. Surfing, guitar, stock trading are just a few, although with, ahem, varying degrees of proficiency. Even my swimming would fall under this category when you consider that I've only trained 20 out of the past 58 months (a 4:22 400im doesn't seem so bad when you look at it that way). Which brings me to my latest "hobby": long distance triathlons. Or perhaps I should change that to singular as it appears one is going to be enough.

"Why not do a triathlon this summer to stay in shape?" I thought. By the time thought became action, I found myself entered in the second longest race in the sport with exactly 10 days to do some sort of "training". Of course, my original intention was the much more reasonable Olympic distance, but since my buddies were all doing the half iron, I wasn't gonna be the one to miss out on all the fun. (Note to self: there is something to be said for being reasonable.)

60 seconds into my first training run and two things are obvious:
1) Despite sitting on my ass for the past 3 months, aerobically this will be no problem. 14 years of swimming will do that to you.
2) The real problem: I have no strength whatsoever in the muscle groups required for running. Did I mention the run is a half marathon? (21k)