Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Storm the Wall - Day 2

Note: I apologize for the terrible grammar, this post was long and has not been edited.

With the weather being the focus of most peoples attention, it was hard to get psyched up for a good race when hypothermia threatened the athletes. A few teams were fortunately enough to race early in the morning before the downpour really came.

After a disappointing Sunday of no racing, Melanie van Soeren, on her female team raced early in the first heat of the day to avoid the terrible weather. Although there was more wind in the morning, the sideways slanting rain was not yet a factor. With this, Melanie put together a strong bike portion of the relay, helping her team reach the wall in first. Demonstrating that she had learned a few tricks from her cheerleading Ironwoman partner, Mel's team Victorious Secret put together a nice pyramid and managed to get over the wall in first place advancing to the semi final on Wednesday at 1:45pm.

Another UBCTC member, Jesse Chao raced on a mens team, Bio Gangsters. Having not witnessed this races, I don't have too much to report, however, they successfully advanced to the semi finals on Tuesday.

Once these morning races were out of the way, we moved onto everyones favourite part of Storm the Wall; Vincent in an ill fitting speedo... the Ironperson races. The UBCTC had a very large contention of athletes in the preliminary rounds of the Ironperson races with 18 athletes taking part.

I will begin by explaining the woman's heats. And why might you ask? Because they KICKED ASS! I will give away the punchline. EVERY GIRL moved on to semi finals!

Showing some UBCTC teamwork, Celeste was privileged enough to have a Majestic wall guy in Scott Chris! In doing so, Celeste along with Karin and Rachel showed the first heat of woman what it means to be a triathlete! Rachel finishing with an impressive 2nd place finish.

The Majestic and Celeste

Rachel running down the finish

Lauren Sagadore was without UBCTC members in her heat, yet this didn't prevent our domination of the field as she finished comfortably in first place despite spraining her ankle little over a week ago. How did she sprain her ankle? You'll have to ask her yourself.

In the third woman's heat there was a most exciting duel among the woman as Melanie Thompson and Claire Haddock traded off first place. Melanie winning easily on the swim, was caught up on the run up to the bike, however, manage to overtake Claire once again on the 9 laps of the bike. Finally with 400 meters left in the run Mel was still out in the lead, being caught only as she cornered out towards the wall. As a result of an unfortunate tumble on her head, Mel lost some precious time at the wall, ensuring Claire with the victory.

Mel with the girls team
I have no details of this race...

The final female race of the day had two more UBCTC members. With Melanie van Soeren and Brittany Buchanan racing. These two along with a surprising unknown made for an exciting race. Brittany put together a strong swim/bike combo in order to hold off the chasers, as Mel managed to pull back the gap arriving at the wall shortly after. With a shaky attack at the wall, precious seconds were lost, however, a UBCTC sweep was possible here as well.

Conclusion of the girls race, They rocked it! And are all competing Wednesday at 11 and 11:05. Come see if the 8 girls can take over qualifying for the final in awesome UBCTC fashion.

On to the men's race:

Unfortunately due to the poor weather, nearly no photos of these heroic attempts were documented. First time ironmen Winston Guo and Andrew Wight were in the first heat along with Vincent Lavallee. Along with these three, Ironman finisher #6 from 2009 and one time UBCTC beer mile participant Drew Senay was also in that first heat. Rain was falling strong and this made for some precarious corners on the bike. As these four left the bike, they were placed 1-4 in the field. Winston managing to hold his own, despite being on crutches on Friday, only 3 days earlier.

Vincent and Drew heading into one of the last laps

Andrew Wight Dismount

Unfortunately, due to the poor weather, only Drew and Vincent (who many claimed cheated by using Kory as his wall guy) managed to get over the wall. A sign of things to come.

Andrew Wight JUMP!

Kory's reach

In the second heat, the UBCTC Men had hopes in a single athlete, Nathaniel Janzen. Nathaniel planned on "killing the swim" and then cruising from there. He was pleased when he exited the water. This amphibious triathlete has no problem with being wet, as such was excited to get into the rain. Just look at the speed in which he ran out!

Lightning Fast!

Nathaniel managed to lap every athlete in the pool, and carried that lead to victory, being the second UBCTC member to lap the field by the end of the bike!

Next up was Matt Reeve. Matt was attempting a new race strategy. After losing to Vincent last year, he claimed it was simply because Vincent "bought his speed", something we have clearly never seem him do before. As such Matt did a full triathlon transition, changing into his newl y acquired triathlon biking shoes. Did this make a difference? Well, he became the third UBCTC man to lap the field in his heat. I would say it didn't hurt. Matt managed to reach the wall in the fastest time of the day in 15:34 beating out all other men and most relay teams.

There was a short intermission when the women and more teams went and allowed everyone to get rained on a little more. Finally the last of the UBCTC men raced. This included Scott Chris who demolished the field (lapping most if not all?) and reaching the wall well ahead of second. Standing in the crowd, this spectator overheard two girls talking about his massive lead, to which they said: "These triathletes have been killing it all day!" Well done UBCTC.

Unfortunately, with the relentless rain, our beloved Majestic Eagle was unable to connect and get over the wall. A disappointment for all. Andrew Wight was Scott's wall guy giving his best efforts, but with the rain, it was just too much to overcome.

The Majestic gazing at the wall

In an impressive show of fitness, Derrick Lee, once again reached the wall first in his heat. Using a different technique than many, he showed up with a chalk bag and dusted up the wall along with his hand. After a few very close connections, he managed to connect with his wall guy and knowing Derrick's rock climbing background you knew he wasn't letting go, becoming the 4th UBCTC member to advance to the semi final.

Unfortunately, Dan Clouston raced later in the day when this blogger had to return to work, and as such knows very little about his race. I can say however though that among the field, he continued the streak held by UBCTC and reached the wall first, however, due to the worsening weather was unable to make it over the wall. This is no discredit to him however, for in the last two heats of the day only a single guy made it over the wall and his time was NOT impressive.

All in all, the wall claimed 69 victims allowing only 21/90 men to get over. A historically the worst advancement in Storm the Wall preliminary round (Statistic unverified and most likely fabricated by Vince).

In the final event of the day, a UBCTC mens team, the Trisexuals composed of Nathaniel, Matt, Barry, Sherwood and finally Vincent took on the men's relay.

With a strong showing in each event, the Trisexuals managed to finish in first in their heat, posting the 2nd fastest time on this new course. We will see how they fend off the rest in the men on Wednesday!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Storm is Brewing!

Today marked the first day of Storm the Wall 2010! And with that, the first of the UBCTC domination.

First to compete today was Lauren Sagadore (Spazzy) in her girls team made up of her roomies. After a solid swim by Lauren, they managed to hold off the chasing packs for the win in their heat!

Oh Spazzy

Next up, was the much anticipated Majestic Eagles. A team of very good looking triathletes, dressed in colours ready to take on the opposition.

Karin, nailing down a heat winning swim tagged off to Claire, who camera in hand sprinted up to Celeste on the bike. Here Celeste put together a strong ride keeping her team in the lead, ready for the handoff to the Majestic himself on the 1k. Derick, being the final member of the team put his rock climbing skills to use as they flew over the wall winning their heat by over 2 minutes.

The Majestic Eagles, with the Majestic Himself!

After a quick rest, the guys had their second heat racing on behalf of the Killer Pace Bunnies. A team made up of Scott, Andrew, Derick, Eddie and Winston. Unfortunately due to injury, Winston has had to sit out todays races, and Grant subbed in for him as the alternate.

Killer Pace Bunnies in Action

Scott in a once again UBCTC Heat winning swim donned a horrifically pink speedo leaving very little to the imagination and passed off the torch to Eddy who carried the team up to the bike in the lead. After a few rough negotiations on the corners Derick passed the line for Andrew to start running in strong contention for the lead. Starting a little fast, Andrew pulled into the lead, but slips back a position finishing the 1km sprint just behind the lead runner. The Killer Pace bunnies hit the wall and quickly climb over finishing second in their heat but comfortably moving on.

Good Lord

Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts with other UBC REC activities, Melanie VS was not able to compete this afternoon resulting in either an automatic advancement, or a surprise placement in a heat tomorrow, requiring her to show off her skills in up to 3 races in one day.

Barry Claman raced with his fraternity brothers, and unfortunately was too quick on the bike that photo documentation was not possible, could this be a sign of things to come? Also, they won their heat easily.

Finally, unofficial UBCTC swim coach Liam raced in a co-rec team, catching up many spots on the bike along with battling a few minutes of hail. My only complaint, why wasn't he wearing bike shoes?

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the individual races, along with many more team efforts.

With this weather warning, anything could happen!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back At It!

I know I've been lacking on the blogging front lately, but its for a good reason! I'm finally able to get out and do things without headaches and I have been taking full advantage of that.

It feels SO good to be back training. I took the beginning of the week pretty easy and built throughout and have realized that my head is pretty much good to go for intensity work.

Managed to squeeze in nearly 10 hours of training this week and maybe a little more if I do anything tonight. What pleases me most however, is that at yesterdays bike practice I brought my heart rate up to 188 without any strain on my head, and then today the UBC tri club had the aquathon (500m swim / 2.7km run) and despite the pain of lack of fitness I felt confident pushing myself hard the whole way.

With that, I am declaring the concussion behind me. Now don't get worried mom, I'm still being careful, not drinking and managing my sleep, but as far as training is concerned I am going strong and confident with it.

Breaking down that Aquathon to evaluate my fitness, the 500m swim took 7:45 which is not ideal. The weekend of the concussion I swam a long and strong 500 in 7:12 feeling like I could have gone faster. So I have clearly lost a lot of strength in the pool. The run however, right before the concussion I was running just ahead of a teammate Matt Reeve, and today I was able to somewhat hold it together and ran just behind him so my running fitness is much better than my swimming.

Finished 4th, behind Elliot (guest appearance), Nathaniel and Matt. Was a fun race.

The team did well today, a lot of impressive races, Nathaniel held off Matt and I quite easily, and Scott showed huge improvement in his swimming. Unfortunately I don't know how many of the others did because I didn't really see them, but people seemed pleased. UBCTC will be hard to beat at Storm the Wall next week!

Long story short. Storm the Wall, 8 days away, 11 days until the final. Bring it on!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This is why I ride

Sure a few reasons were left out. Such as the speed, or wind in your hair, or shaving your legs. But I do like the spandex reference.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Green Light

I'm pleased to announce, that this my 200th post carries with it good new!

I've been given the green light to start training again starting this weekend. Unfortunately "training" is going to have to be pretty relaxed for now, but at least it means I can get on my bike guilt free and stretch my legs. The Tri club is doing a 10k bike TT this weekend, I won't be able to participate, but at least I can ride out to cheer people on and help organize. A step in the right direction.

The reason for all the caution is because Storm the Wall is coming up in 3 weeks and in order to be able to go 100% there, then I need to make sure not to overdo it too early.

I'm still a long way from being perfect (on the health front at least) although I'm sure people would argue against that, but at least this is progress.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Concussion Update

Tomorrow I go to the Doctor to find out if I'm clear to resume my normal life again. It has been 4.5 weeks since I got the concussion and the headaches are going away. For the most part I feel as I always did, and only notice a difference when there are pulsing lights (bulb in the kitchen was going out so was flickering) or I have to concentrate on something really hard (like simple math). I haven't tried my luck with exercise, however, keeping my fingers crossed I will get the green light.

Wish me luck!

Mental Toughness

Pro Cyclist Jan Ullrich

This is probably the best article I’ve read yet on how to improve your mental game. The website also has great information on power, training and cycling. Check it out here.

Found the article posted on another blog

If you don’t read this whole clip at least take this in:

I once asked a champion cyclist how they went so fast for so long. They didn’t mention anything about training, nutrition or recovery. Their reply centred around, “I go as hard as I possibly can, until the pain becomes unbearable, then I back off half-a-turn until it subsides, and that’s the pace I know I can sustain. Because I know I can hurt more if I have to and I now know the pain isn’t as bad as it was; and that makes me happy.” A pro looks at pain as something to be embraced not something to be avoided.

Could I live the life of a pro cyclist?
Let’s turn that question on its head. Could a cycling pro do your job? Whatever job you do today, with all its intricacies, nuances and traps that only you know about because you’ve learnt from years of experience that you won’t find documented in any procedures manual or handbook; could it possibly be done as well as you do it now, by someone practicing for a couple of hours, two nights a week and a bit of a longer session on a week-end morning? The answer is probably a resounding, emphatic, NO!

So, that nails that then. Re-align your expectations to match the efforts and sacrifices you can make. Please don’t think you can go out and buy the Lance Armstrong or Chris Boardman training manuals, follow them to the letter and make yourself a better cyclist. At best you’ll become overtrained; at worst you could make yourself seriously ill. Thinking you can do it and actually doing it are two completely different things. While you’re at work Lance was on his bike or sleeping, that’s the difference.

We’ll never be as fit, as fast, as strong, as durable, or as focussed as a professional cyclist because our next salary cheque doesn’t depend on it. But just as we can buy and ride the same equipment as the pro’s we can learn some mind techniques and tools to help address one of sports biggest factors that’s importance is often overlooked. The mindset.

Changing your mindset is free, it’s capacity to expand is unlimited, it’s something you can’t buy as it’s something you already have. The mindset is something only you can control. It’s the one thing that you can adopt from the pros that will make much, much more difference than duplicating their equipment, training regimens or nutrition strategies.

How a pro thinks

A pro never loses a race; they just ran out of time. “We’d have stayed away if the others had worked.” “We were catching them but we started the chase too late.” “I wasn’t going for the win, this is a preparation race.”

Someone else may win the race but a pro, never loses it. Although attributed to pros, these factors are highlighted in the main by team leaders. A team leader has that extra mental toughness. A pro thinks they’re super human; a team leader believes they are super human. That’s why they’re the team leader.

There may be riders as physically gifted in the team (the super domestiques for instance) but they don’t have that final killer instinct that sees them get stronger as the pressure mounts. I’m not the world’s greatest fan of Lance Armstrong but even the most hardened cynic has to admit his mental strength was beyond question.

Never mind cycling, what about other sports? Senna and Mansell, Schumacher and Hill in F1? Fergusson and Wenger in football? Australia and England at cricket? Sampras and anyone else at tennis? When all of these aforementioned people were on the top of their game the one thing that stood out was their mental strength and fortitude, despite any physical evidence to the contrary.

Even when the odds were stacked against them, they’d find a positive to cling to that they would use to lever open a tiny nick, from which they’d create a gaping hole in the confidence of the opposition. Once inside the head of their opponents it was as good as over.


Is your motivation intrinsic or extrinsic? You may not realise the difference first off, but the answer has a massive influence on the success of your expected outcome.

Intrinsically motivated athletes, compete because they want to and because they enjoy the competitive element of pushing their body to its limits. Extrinsically motivated athletes compete because they have to and because they enjoy the external rewards of trophies and fame. Intrinsic athletes are capable of self-motivation, extrinsic athletes require external stimulus (the reward) to gain motivation.

For intrinsics, the prize was never the ultimate aim anyway; it was there as the icing on the cake. If it’s won, it’s won, if not at least they tried their best. Trying your best isn’t in a pro’s vocabulary. To reach your full potential it can’t be in yours.

Keep the persona and attributes of an intrinsic person, because invariably they are nicer people, but when training and preparing for an event flip your mindset to extrinsic. When you throw your leg over that bike youmust become extrinsically motivated. Learn the difference and learn to switch. You cannot begin to imagine how much difference it will make to your training, preparation and success. Extrinsics don’t “go for a ride” they train!

Effort & Intensity
Motivational drive is what gets you through the pain of sustaining race winning efforts and intensities during the non-reward phase of your competition preparations; or training as we call it!

Lance Armstrong always made a big deal out of the six-hour training rides he’d do in the rain, when everyone else was sitting indoors. Do you honestly think that the other pros don’t ride in the rain? It doesn’t matter whether it was true or not, Armstrong believed it. I’m out in the rain, Ullrich’s eating pies, here’s another success in the Tour. An equation that’s as simple as it was flawed. But it’s what kept Armstrong on the bike and it’s what kept him focussed on the prize.

It doesn’t matter what it is or how true or accurate it might be. Find something that you can latch on to that will get you through the effort and intensities you need to prepare for success.

We all have off days and sometimes think I’ll not go out because it’s raining, it’s going to rain, it’s cold, I’m tired etc, etc. Never decide if you’re going to go training until your in your kit and ready to go. Prepare your bike, get your bottles ready, get dressed, put your shoes on, then and only then decide if you really should go out.

Try to convince yourself to at least complete the warm up phase of your session before coming to a final decision. If you still don’t feel fully committed, then go home and use it as a recovery ride for preparation for your next big session! Turn the failed ride in to a positive ride!

Training and Competing

Make an absolute distinction between training and competing. Identify training races or events and use them as preparation for your big day. Don’t ride a series of races or sportives thinking you’re going to win them all. Because if you don’t you’ll enter the failure mindset.

Start your non-objective, preparation events with a preparation mindset. Ride them looking for weaknesses on which you can work to become a better, stronger, faster rider. Identifying a weakness, or under-developed strength(!), is a positive thing. Finding out your climbing could be better is a good thing because now you can develop a training plan to climb better.

Suffering Strategies

Pro’s don’t feel pain the way we do. That’s probably a lie, a better way to explain it is that pro’s don’t think about pain the way we do.

If a pro rider and a non-pro rider, without any external indicators like heart rate monitors or power meters, rode at 90% of their physical capacity, you’d get a different level of perceived effort from each one. The non-pro would indicate that they were flat out, 100%, and couldn’t possibly go any harder. The pro would tell you they were at 80% and could give more if they need to. Same effort, same suffering, different perception.

A pro rider trains very, very intensely or does a recovery ride. Non-pro’s often train in the “dead zone”. Where pro’s ride at 30 mph or 15 mph, non-pro’s almost always train around 20-22 mph. Non-pro’s don’t ride for sustained periods at the extreme levels of their pain threshold. Therefore when they do suffer, the suffering seems more intense.

Instead of going for a three hour, steady, flattish ride, go for a one hour ride screaming up short hills; do some high-intensity speed work, do some sprint intervals. As Dave Whitt says, “hurt in training, enjoy the race.”>

The same level of pain can have two completely different perceptions depending on how it’s being dished out. Consider you’re on the front of a 30-strong group, riding at 25 mph, with your heart coming through your chest, the sweat burning your eyes, the lactate screaming in your legs, a finishing sprint coming up, and the man behind you can’t hold your wheel and everyone is being strung out and getting dropped.

Now imagine all those sensations but you’re the last man of that 30 strong group. The same level of pain has a completely different feel depending on whether you’re dishing it out or having it dished out to you! And that, dear reader, is all to do with the brain.

The Message

Don’t just think differently, perceive differently.

As I said before this is a massive subject and one to which I can’t really do justice in one article. Start to believe in yourself and your abilities then adjust your objectives to the time, equipment and abilities you have available. Whether you’re trying to achieve an Island Games Medal or completing your first sportive, the effort may be different but the rewards and total satisfaction for an objective well met are exactly the same.

I know a lot of riders that have the physical attributes to be a winner in their category or discipline, they just don’t believe in themselves enough to close the gap between where they are and where they could be. To realize your potential, sometimes it really is as simple as changing your mindset.

Don’t let the Thought Police and your inner voice control your results. Thinking like a pro may not make you ride like a pro but it will make you a better, stronger, happier rider. And it’s a lot easier than an hour on a turbo!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Olympic Experience Recap

Soon, as in REALLY SOON, I'll have an Olympic Recap ready. Life has been really busy but lots of fun. With my post concussion lifestyle I haven't really kept up on the blogging. Hopefully I'll get back to it soon.