Escape From Alcatraz

Today I had a crazy idea.  Well, maybe it's not so crazy...

Many of you know that I'll be in San Francisco in February.  Me along with a few fellow students will be representing UBC at an engineering seismic design competition.  I'm pretty excited about it, a free trip to San Fran, who wouldn't be?  The few days I'll be there will be loaded with seminars and stuff that I will need to attend but there should be time to do some sightseeing.

I started to think of what I wanted to go see: the Golden Gate Bridge, Berkeley, Alcatraz... and then I thought, wouldn't it be sweet to swim from Alcatraz to shore?

    The Rock in all its Gloriousness
I grew up believing that it was an almost impossible task but it doesn't look that bad.  It's 2.4km off shore and it turns out a lot of people have done it.

There are still some details to work out.  Safety first right, so I need to make sure there is a boat with me in case things go wrong and to prevent becoming fish food by some speed boat's propeller or something.  I have a friend attending Berkeley right now and I'm really hoping he'll be able to help make this possible for me.

Anyway, more details to come later.  I was just so excited with the idea I had to share it.

5km Failure

I don't think it would be fair, or realistic, to only share my successes in sport.  Although today did not turn out the way I had hoped, the experience that I gained will be beneficial to my long term success.

If you have been reading my previous posts, you will have seen my goal (and slight obsession) with running a sub 19 min 5 km.  I attempted this last week, details and story can be found here, and was unable to clock a determined sub 5 min time due to measurements that were off... I'm not going to repeat last week's blog.  Anyway, since I theoretically achieved this goal I figured I would run 5km at the track and get an official time under 19 minutes.  I thought I had this in the bag.

It was a beautiful day today and I couldn't resist making the attempt.  I enlisted one of my fellow class mates to go with me and off we went.  I could tell during my warm up that it wasn't going to be as easy as I had anticipated.  My legs felt like they were lacking the power I needed them to have.  Regardless of this I decided to go for it anyway figuring that after a couple of laps they would be feeling right and things would go well.  I was wrong.

My plan was to run 90 second laps.  This would lead to an overall time of 18:45, allowing some breathing room in case I had a bad lap or two.  I ran my first lap in 80 but then I got back on track running roughly: 88, 89, 91, 92, 92.  At this point I was having a hard time holding 92 and I forgot all about that extra 11 seconds I put in the bank from my first lap.  As I neared the end of my seventh lap I decided to call it quits finishing that lap in a slow 95 seconds.  I just didn't have the juice.

After I went home feeling slightly discouraged I began analyzing the event and realized that I had forgotten about that fast first lap and realized that had I actually held on, even though my laps were getting slower, I could have quite possibly accomplished my goal.  I decided that I was going to skip swim practice that afternoon and head back to the track and try again.

I had a good lunch - trying to put the energy back into my legs, relaxed for a while, drew up a new race plan and off I went back to the track.

I felt sore and weak, probably a result from the earlier attempt, but decided to proceed.  The race went almost exactly as the first attempt except I ran 8 laps instead of 7 before I decided to quit.  Actually I ran 8 laps, took a minute rest to catch my breath, then ran the last 4.5 laps to at least finish the race.

Do I feel bad that I quit?  Actually no, I don't.  My goal wasn't to do a 5k; my goal was to do a sub 19 min 5k.  I knew that I wasn't going to be able to hold that pace and so there was no need for me to run a 19:05 5km, I've already done that.

I'm surprisingly not that disappointed - I mean, I was initially, but after contemplating the events I've come at peace with it.

My Reasons:

  1. Occasional failure makes success more enjoyable.  When I do reach this goal, I will know that it didn't just come easy and that I worked for it and earned it.  I will be proud of it.
  2. This failure has caused my to look at my current training program and see my definite short falls and point out what needs to change.  This will not only help me with this 5k goal of mine, but will provide me with greater gains that will help me in the long run (excuse the pun).  Had I not failed today, I may not have realized the changes that must be made to my training program and would have missed out on possibly months of additional gains.
My Promise:

I have not quit.  I will reach this goal.  I will give a report on my success before the end of this year.  Count on it.

What a Bad Day Looks Like

I came across this video and thought it was funny enough to share on my blog.


It's sweet holidays like Halloween that make being a dad so much fun. My girl Kaylen did me proud today. I thought we would knock on a few doors and she would get tired and want to go home, I mean seriously, the girl's got the attention span of a puppy - but no. After about an hour, her Halloween basket already over flowing, I ask her, "do you want to go home or do you want to get more candy?" Stupid question apparently because the response was, "more candy. I want more candy!" She went from 5:30 to 7:00, not bad for a two year old.

Earlier in the day we did the traditional pumpkin carving. Kaylen was quite proud of her pumpkin. I of course carved it but she picked out the design. She wasn't too fond of the guts though.

At 5:30 a couple of Kaylen's friends came over and we headed out trick-or-treating. It was not planned at all, but the three of them went out as bugs: a butterfly, bee, and lady bug.

The night was going well until we saw some kids with freaky looking masks and Kaylen panicked. She was pretty scared but when one of them waved and said hello she realized that they were happy monsters and she was alright.

UBC housing is a great place for trick-or-treating. Tons of families, and no cars. When trick-or-treating time was about to be begin we saw cars rolling up and parking in visitor's spots. The place is a gold mine and the locals know it. It's very chaotic and fun. During the one hour that Janelle was home handing out candy, she counted 397 kids; that's a kid every nine seconds! There is really no point in closing your door and waiting for kids to knock because they don't stop.

Question for parents: how many of you steal your kid's candy when he/she's asleep?

Our pumpkins:

Janelle's on the left, Kaylen's in the middle, and mine on the right.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Here's a couple short videos of Kaylen gutting her pumpkin, she starts out pretty dainty but then gets into it, sort of.

5km Run Results

Last night I ran a 5km.  With a PB set in the early spring of this year of 19:13, I was hopeful to drop that time by at least 14 seconds to go sub 19min.  As the time drew near to leave my home and start heading over to the UBC Triathlon Club office to meet my fellow racers (26 in all) I started pulling out the Vincent Lavallee excuses. I was thinking about all the Doritos and Reese Peanut Butter Cups I had eaten the day before (dang you Safeway and your sales!).  My nutrition for the past couple of days was worse than poor and I have been sleep deprived lately because of the demands of school.  With all that on my mind, I was still hopeful of reaching my goal.  Lacing up my new Mizuno Wave Revolver racing flats, I was determined to reach my goal.

The route was a 900m block near UBC campus in the Endowment Lands.  It's nice because there is very little traffic and the terrain is relatively flat.  The biggest challenge was tracking my pace time.  Normally I like to time each km but with the loop being a hundred meters short of that I had to time myself per every 900m.  I figured I needed to run each lap in 3 minutes and 25 seconds which would bring me in just under 19 minutes.

The race started, light rain, dark, and a little cold - but not bad.  My first lap was 3:11, well above my goal pace.  I felt good but decided to slow it down to prevent a burn out.  My pace reduced to be on track and more or less stayed that way for the duration of the race.  I slowed a little at the end but my fast first lap more than accounted for that and I was well below my goal time.  After rounding lap 5, with half a lap to go to reach 5km I was feeling confident that I would reach my goal.  I had some gas left in the tank, picked up my feet and ran a good finish.

When I crossed the finish line I heard someone yell out my time: 19:04.  I was crushed.  I had executed my run well and it went according to my plan.  I assumed that I had miscalculated the time I needed to run each lap in and went home.

I later retrieved my lap times from my watch and imported the numbers into an excel spreadsheet I keep for all my time trials.  I began to scratch my head because my pace was good and I should have finished in under 19 minutes.  Did I run the last 500m slower than my goal pace?  That didn't seem right, that last 500m felt good.  I was confused until a saw a facebook status update from Scotty-Doo stating his time for a 5.1km.  Suddenly it all began to make sense.  Apparently the course was slightly mis-measured.  According to three people running the race with gps watches, the route (after averaging the three numbers) was 5.13km.

By using my average pace and scaling my time down to what would have been 5km, my time should have been 18:35.  This would have been great.  I feel like I earned that time yet I don't quite feel right claiming it.  I have been debating over stating my 5km best time as 19:04 - even though the course was long, or 18:35 - even though it's not official.  I've decided for now that my 5km PB is 19:04.  I feel somewhat ripped-off but I just don't feel right guessing what my time would have been.

This experience has inspired my to run another 5km.  I want that sub 19 minute time and I wont stop until I get it.  In three weeks there is a race called the Fall Classic.  They have 5/10/21.1 km options.  I was originally planning on running the half marathon but seeing how I haven't been doing any distance training as of late, this seems like the perfect opportunity for me to reach my goal, and have an official time to go along with it.  I'm no longer upset.  I'm looking forward to this next race.

5km Pre Race

Today is the UBCTC's 5km race. I'm a little bummed that we don't get to do it at the track. Not only does this mean I will be missing out on the elevation advantage (flat track), but perhaps more importantly, I will be losing an oh so important timing advantage. Being able to check my pace every 400m (or even 200m if I really wanted to) is quite helpful, especially later on in the final 2km when my legs are starting to get tired. Last year I set a new 5km personal best with a time of 19:13. I am planning on beating that today by at least 14 seconds; that's right - I'm planning on sub-19. This is all part of my goal to go sub-39 at the Sun Run in Vancouver.

There hasn't been a whole lot of talk for this event, unlike the mile race we had last weekend: example 1, example 2. Maybe it's nerves, or maybe people are beginning to recognize their place in the standings. I'm thinking today will shake some things up. With Winston Guo only 3 points behind Nathaniel Flipper Janzen in the race for second place there is a lot at stake. Flipper hasn't been known as being an exceptionally fast runner, but after strong showings at the uphill race, and the mile run, eyes will be on him to see if he can prove himself today by going the distance. Vincent Lavallee, I don't believe, has yet had the chance to stand at the top of the figurative podium and reign over any of the Fall Classic events. Vince is a strong runner, as shown with his sub 1:24 half marathon time earlier this month. Maybe he's not the quickest sprinter, but he is one of the favorites for the longer distance events. His main competitor will be Barry Claman, who may not be human. Test results for alien origins are pending, which were ordered following an impressive sub-5min mile last week.

I'm looking forward to testing out my new racing flats as shown below. I tried them out last week at the mile but I haven't yet had the chance to see how my feet will feel in them over longer distances. Anyway, good luck to all my friends racing tonight. I hope you all do well, I just hope I do better. Is that bad?

Winstorm the Fluffy Bunny

On the eve of the mile showdown, perhaps the most prestigious event of the Fall Race Series events, I stumbled upon an amazing post by a fellow club member. Many know him as Winston Guo, but I know him as Winstorm. He is often under estimated, perhaps it's his friendly personality, or his tiny physique; whatever the reason - this underdog is a major contender.

We've been calling him the pace bunny for this event for one simple reason: many of his main competitors are expected to be able to out kick him. In order for Winstorm to win, he needs to beat them early. With his lightning fast pace he hopes to bring others to their knees by forcing them to red line early in the race and break down long before the final 200m.

So it will be a battle of wits, courage, and shear determination to decide who will be the victor, and who will be lunch meat.

Winstorm I wish you the best of luck, because I'm hungry...


Nathaniel Janzen is an exceptional swimmer, no doubt. This Saturday is the UBCTC's first event of the fall race series - the uphill bike TT. Key word there is bike. Fish ain't got no legs. You may be fast in the water Mr Janzen, but this fisherman is about to can your meat for profit.

Big News!

Due date April 21st. Need I say more?

UBCTC Ride and Eats

Everyone else is posting about the UBCTC's first major event of the year - our welcome BBQ, I might as well too.

It was awesome. We started with probably the largest group ride in the history of the club. I was at first a little worried as there wasn't a whole lot of order in the ride, people weaving all over the place, but it worked out. We went out to Iona Beach and back. Very windy, apparently gusting up to 50km/h. The Iona Beach section is, I don't know, maybe about 10-15km long - and flat. Perfect for doing TT's (time trials). We were taking it easier heading West, with the strong headwind there wasn't a big point in pushing it. I was averaging about 20km/h. On the way back I wanted to see what kind of speed I could sustain and ended up holding 54.5km/h. I thought it would have been cool to get a speeding ticket, until I had to pay it. Luckily, no cops.

Below is a picture of our group at Iona:

Following the ride was a skills clinic that I entirely missed because I needed to pick up the food from my pad and help set up for the BBQ. I counted about 48 people in attendance. It's really exciting to see so many people getting involved in the club.

Big things are happening in the club. If we can maintain our strong attendance we will be forming different groups for our long runs, and bike rides to help everyone train at a level that will be beneficial to them. It will require a lot more organization than we are used to but no one has any problems with that. It's exciting to see triathlon growing so fast. I just read that the Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series saw an increase of 40% in participants this year over the previous year.

I'm excited for our Fall Race Series to begin this week. I don't think I'll win anything but it's always good to have friendly competition. We've decided that instead of having a yellow jersey for the points leader, we will have a cape. It's going to be pretty funny watching somebody running or biking around with a cape flapping behind them.

Shooting in Squamish

So I went shooting today. Picked up some clay pigeons from Canadian Tire, 4x4'd off a logging road in Squamish, and blew some stuff up. I went with a couple of my classmates Grant and Aaron. It would have been a normal occasion had I not accidently called the RCMP. You see, my phone was in my pocket and I had it locked so it can't call anyone - anyone but the cops that is. Aaron and I just finished shooting up a 19L jug of water when I heard this women's voice yelling, "Hello! Hello!" from my pocket. I think to myself, oops, my pocket has called someone again. I pick up the phone and say hi. The lady explains she is from the RCMP and is wondering what the emergency is. I apologetically explain that it was my pocket that called and that it was an accident. She explains that she needs to send a car to make sure everything's alright and asks were we are. I tell her we are in the middle of the woods hiking and that we are alright. She agrees that that's fine and lets me go. I then turned my phone off and pulled out the battery so they couldn't track me through gps.

I can't help but wonder what she's thinking. An emergency call is placed and there is gunfire in the background with no response for about a minute. Oh well, no harm done. It was a fun day. See a couple of pictures taken from the guilty cell phone below.

The Beginning

This is the first blog post of my life.

I'll start with a brief summary of my summer:

If you know me, you'll know that I'm obsessed with racing - not Nascar, but triathlons and running. I was very pleased this summer with the races I was able to do, and the results I was able to achieve. First was a fantastic 10km race called "The Longest Day" located at UBC. It's a race around campus which celebrates the longest day of the year, although not necessarily held on that day. It was the first evening race I had ever done. I had set a goal to run a sub-40 minute 10k before the end of the season and I was hoping this would be it. I'm very happy to report I finished with a time of 39:55.8, 4 seconds to spare. I give a lot of credit to the UBC Tri Club, particularly our student running coach Vincent Lavallee, for pushing me to my limits as my previous best was 46:59. I recommend this race to everyone. Not only was the route awesome, the race is followed by the feast of all feasts. Never have I seen such a plethora of food following a race.

Next was a Half Ironman I completed in June in Victoria, centered around Elk Lake. It was my first Half Ironman and I was nervous about how it was going to go. I had never done a group open water swim and I had heard horror stories. Someone showed me this hilarious Clif Bar Commercial that helped me to know what to prepare for:

It was all that and more. People were swimming all over each other, getting kicked in the face, and fighting for any available inch of unoccupied water. It was so fun. Adding to the nerves was a build up of about 4 months of smack talk between me and a fellow UBC Tri Club member, Winston Guo. With my pride on the line I was forced to give it everything I had and ended up finishing in under 5 hours, which was about 20 minutes faster than I was expecting. I was very happy.

The last race I did was in early August in Nelson, the Cyswog 'n' fun. This was a 1/4 Ironman and it followed an intense heat wave in Vancouver the week before. Thanks to the 30-39 degree weather here, the otherwise hot interior BC climate would have been more of an issue. It was a great road trip with Winston and Scott that was full of smack talk. It became a matter of Scott's stellar swimming skills vs my superior running. Normally I wouldn't brag but Scott talked so much smack I need to inform everyone that I smacked his rear end as I ran past him in the cycle to run transition. Sorry Scott, but next time you want to run your mouth like that, you might want to start running your legs instead.

As for employment: with the poor economy, student summer jobs in engineering were scarce and I was very pleased to be fortunate enough to land a job with a structural engineering firm here in Vancouver called Fast+Epp. It was a great experience, highlighted by a major role I played in the design of a health care centre in a little town called Lower Post, BC.

The last holiday of the summer was spent with my wife at the Walnut Beach Resort in Osoyoos for our 5 year anniversary. Janelle's parents were kind enough to fly over to Vancouver to watch our daughter for a few days. We had a great time jetskiing in Osoyoos Lake and tubing down the Penticton canal.

Now I'm back at school. The UBC Tri Club has a new race series that will be starting up in a couple of weeks that will include a multitude of events designed to level the playing field. There will be time trials, underwater swimming distance, flat tire changing, and more. See the UBC Triathlon Club Blog to follow the results.