Victoria Marathon Report

The Victoria Marathon has come and gone and I am happy to report that I was able to complete it in a new personal record time of 3:36:31.

Going into this event I had a lot of doubt and uncertainty. Haunted by memories of my first marathon 5 years prior, I figured I was in for a lot of pain and a slower than desired time. I decided about a week ago after talking to fellow UBCTCer Melanie van Soeren to run with her for as long as I could and then finish what was left on my own after she dropped me. She told me her goal time was 3:40 - Boston Marathon qualifying time for females her age putting us at a 5:15/km running pace. Following this pace, the best I could finish would be 3:40 but more than likely, I figured I would come in closer to 4 hours. I had this window in mind and was psyched for race day.

Race day came and I finally found Mel in the pack of runners waiting to start with 1 minute to spare. We chatted for a minute and then came to find out 20 seconds before the race started that her new goal was 3:30 running a 5min/km pace. This was 15 sec/km faster than I had planned for and was faced with the need to make a split second decision to risk burning out and running the faster pace, or sticking with my 5:15 plan and running alone. Well, of course I had to gamble and stick with Mel. It was the right choice.

Before I continue, I need to mention how incredible this race course is. It was so nice to be back in Victoria, running through scenic Beacon Hill Park, and along the water on Dallas Rd and Beach Dr. Mostly flat, with slight undulating hills. The spectators are so supportive and the volunteers were great. It's a well run event and I recommend it to anyone thinking about making the trip here to do it.

Continuing on: We started running and impressively stuck to our pace quite well. We both were feeling great and frequently made comments to each other about how awesome the race was going. I held onto Mel for about 32 km when I knew I couldn't hold the pace anymore, and she seemed to be speeding up. I wished her good luck and cut it back. At this point I was well ahead of my 3:40 best case scenario goal and was quite happy to have that as my new worst case goal - did that make sense?

My pace became slower and slower as my untrained legs began to hate me for putting them through this, but I need to say, the pain was nothing like my previous marathon. I guess although I didn't log a lot of long distance runs this year, my experience that I've gained over the years, as well as all the Half Ironman triathlons I did must have helped. In fact, I never walked (besides through the water stations to drink); well, I sort of did once but found it to be more painful than running so I figured why walk when I can run and get it over with sooner?

I ended up finishing better than 3:40 as mentioned above by 3 and a half minutes. Considering how I signed up for this thing last minute and only directly trained for it for three weeks I am ecstatic about the result!

I need to do a big shout out to Mel and say thank-you for your excellent pacing, without her help I know I would have been a lot slower.  She did great by the way, coming in at 3:30.

I'm waiting for the professional photographers to post race day photos on their website that I can swipe but until then, I've got one photo stolen from Scott's facebook that he took of me at 41.2km.  Thanks Scott and Celeste for cheering me home!

41.2 km in and still this good looking!
Thanks to my Garmin I've got my splits as follows:

1 - 5:14
2 - 4:48
3 - 4:54
4 - 4:49
5 - 4:57
6 - 5:03
7 - 4:51
8 - 4:47
9 - 5:00
10 - 4:54 - 50:01 10km Split
11 - 4:54
12 - 4:51
13 - 5:03
14 - 4:52
15 - 4:44
16 - 4:45
17 - 4:55
18 - 5:02
19 - 4:51
20 - 4:51
21 - 5:01 - 1:45:09 Half Way Split
22 - 4:45
23 - 4:53
24 - 4:55
25 - 4:51
26 - 4:51
27 - 4:53
28 - 4:52
29 - 4:51
30 - 4:47 - 2:29:04 30km Split
31 - 5:07
32 - 4:58
33 - 5:17
34 - 5:07
35 - 5:29
36 - 5:34
37 - 5:28
38 - 5:56
39 - 6:02
40 - 5:40
41 - 6:03
42 - 5:26 - 3:36:31 Finish

I think it's pretty obvious where I really started to hurt. I hadn't trained my body beyond 30km in 5 years and it shows but it doesn't matter, I'm happy. I actually dropped a minute from 20 to 30 km so I think that's cool.

I want to put a big congrats out to Winston Guo for reaching his goal of qualifying for Boston with a time of 3:07:53 and to Vincent Lavallee for running a blistering 2:58:14 and becoming a true runner. Good job guys, you inspire me. And with that said, my goal for next year - qualify for Boston (3:10)!

8 days to go!

Days until the marathon: 8

Lately I've been debating for race day whether to run fast up front and put some time in the bank but resulting in a really slow pace at the end, or starting slow and trying to hold that pace the whole way through, theoretically finishing at the same time. The second option seems like the better one but it's also so risky. I haven't ran longer than 30km in 5 years so I have no idea how my body will respond when I hit that point. Will I even be able to hold the slower pace? I might be a snail at the end either way.

To test out my options, today I ran 22km at a slower than normal pace with the hopes that I could judge how I felt at the end to see if I could hold this pace for much longer. At the end I was starting to hurt but could still pick up the pace to sub 5:00 min/km if I wanted to which was a good sign but I still don't know how I'll feel after 30km. I guess I'll just have to wait until the marathon to find out. I think I'm going to try the slower steady pace.

Since I'm not competitively running this marathon I had an idea that might be fun. I'm thinking about taking my camera with me on the run. I'll take pictures of my friends at the start. I'm thinking about taking a picture of my face every 5km just to see the progression of pain. Also, instead of spectators taking pictures of me, I'll take pictures of them. It's like a club where the outside is the inside, and the inside is the outside. Doesn't that blow your mind?

The Road to the RVM continues

Days until the marathon: 13

About 20% of my year's total running mileage has occurred within the last month. Continuing my current training plan all the way until the marathon, that number will change to 30%. Surprisingly, it actually feels kind of good to be pounding the pavement a lot more again. Prior to triathlons, I started as a runner, and my running was my strength last year. This year I spent most of my time focusing on biking which paid off well but my running suffered as I hardly did it at all.

Today I decided to join up with the UBCTC for their Monday evening run through the UBC Endowment Land Trails and ended up running 10.5km at an easy 5min/km pace.  What was great about it was two things:

1. There were tons of people there, maybe the largest showing I had ever seen at a club running event, more than last year anyway. Actually, I didn't recognize more than half of them. It's nice to see so many people expressing interest in triathlon and in my opinion, finding a great group of people to train with.

2. How easy it was; we had done 8.5km and were almost done the run, I had to peel off to make it a little longer because I didn't want to stop. Sure we weren't going fast or anything, but I started to feel like this kid, or at least how I would feel if I were wearing such a sweet costume, hmmmm, Halloween is coming up...

It's great to see the progression and really fall in love with running again. I was starting to think of myself as a cyclist but now I see there is no way that I could give up running.

Sure, my training has started too late to make this marathon turn out amazingly, but I hope, that when the marathon is over, I can keep this motivation up and keep on running. It's exhilarating.

Longest Run This far

Days until the marathon: 14

Yesterday I set out on my longest run of the year.  Having ran 25km the week before I wanted to up it to at least 30km with the possibility of 34km. With rain the days previous I had been psyching myself for a cold and wet morning but as it turned out, it was quite lovely. It was a nice cool overcast morning, then the sun came out, and then there was a light breeze. With the day being as nice as it was I really had no excuses I could pull out.

I guess there's no need to drag this out into a long story.  Simply put, I ended up running 30.5km. It was slow and painful and tiring and it made me start to regret signing up for the marathon. Thinking about having to run another 12km at that point did not appeal to me. Trying to get into marathon shape in 3 weeks apparently wasn't the brightest idea. Oh well, too late now.  I'm not dropping out and I will finish, I just might be walking like a cowboy for a week or two after.  I guess I should be working on my Howdy's and Yee-Haw's.

My self designed training plan says it's now time to taper. No more long runs.  I plan on doing about 10km on Monday, 12km on Wednesday, and 22km on Saturday.

Marathon Training Event #2

Days until the Marathon: 18

Today was to be a short run - about a 12km run home from work but I did something else instead. There are a few guys from my office that do the Grouse Grind every week and since it`s nearing the end of Grind season, today I decided to join them.  Not quite marathon training (there are no mountain climbs in the course) but I think it`s got to help somewhat.

I`ve done the Grind a couple of times this year but both times I was going up with people at a more leisurely pace so I was excited to hit this one hard, go at my own pace, and see what I could accomplish, not knowing what to expect.

I started the trail with a slight jog; I figured I should make some good time while the trail was somewhat less steep. Almost immediately I started to sound like a train and my legs felt like they wanted to cramp. I realized there was no way I was to hold that pace all the way to the top so I settled down into a quick groove. I hit the 1/4 mark in 12 minutes. Now I need to mention that the trail is marked at 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and finish but these marks are for elevation gain - not distance, so since the first quarter is the least steep, it's also the longest. From that I figured my finishing time would be about 45minutes.

I continued on and hit the 1/2 mark in 8 minutes but from there I had to slow down a little because my legs were giving up on me. The next 1/4 took me 10 minutes and the final 1/4 took 8 minutes for a total time of 38:22.

Now that I've got a time I now have a benchmark for next year.

I would like to take this opportunity to put a plug out for my co-worker Duncan who is travelling to Tanzania next year to help out with the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance which specializes in bringing medical supplies and treatment to families in Africa who have little or no access to healthcare. He will help to oversee the structural design of a new healthcare center. Over the next month he will be doing the grind as often as he can and is looking for pledges (1-10+$/grind) to help fund his volunteer trip. If this intrigues you at all see his blog here: Instructions on how to donate can be found on his blog.

Marathon Training Begins

Yesterday I decided since the Victoria Marathon was only 3 weeks and 1 day away I should develop a training plan and start training for it. I ventured out on my longest run of the year; the plan: 25km.

I ran from my place down to Ambleside Park, back along the water to the Lions Gate Bridge, over the bridge to Stanley Park and down to and around the Seawall, and then back home. I was about 10km into my run and feeling great.  I had previously thought that running for 20km without biking 90km right before (which is what happens during the Half Ironman Triathlons) would be a cinch and thus far it appeared I was right. It didn't take long before I was proven wrong.

At about 16km my legs were hurting and with 9km to go my run turned from enjoyment to pure endurance. Anyway, I got through it.  I made 25km in 2:10. I feel confident that I will finish the marathon and I'm setting my goal time for sub 4 hours.  I'm pretty sure that with a few more weeks of training I would be able to go sub 3:30 but I'll save that for another year.  There's no point in pushing myself too hard and getting injured.

On a side note: one thing I forgot about was nipple chaffing.  Yes I'm one of the unfortunate ones who suffers from such.  There was a point on my run, and even now, where I wonder what hurts more, my legs or the nips. I'll have to remember to lube up before my next long run.

So with three weeks left before race day, meaning only two training weekends remaining, I plan on running a 30-34km run next Saturday and a 20km the week after to taper with a couple 10km runs in between.

On an additional side note: I had never done the whole Stanley Park Seawall before and it is quite gorgeous.  I saw Third Beach for the first time - it might be the nicest looking beach I've seen in Vancouver. I also ran about 7 feet away from a skunk.

Banff Race Report

This past weekend was the season ending triathlon for the Subaru Western Triathlon Series - the Banff Triathlon.  It was a long way to travel for a race (1700km round trip) but seeing as it was it's inauguration I had to attend.  This race only offered Sprint and Olympic distances so I took a break from my usual Half Ironman distance to attempt my first Olympic of the year (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run).

My race season had mostly been met with disappointment, posting much slower times than last year, and getting beaten relentlessly by Storm who no matter how far ahead of him I got on the swim or bike, he always managed to catch and surpass me on the run.

With the race being on a Saturday morning, the crew decided to leave Thursday evening after work, drive as far as we could, camp, and then continue on the next morning.

After hitting Sicamous, it was time to start looking for a place to camp.  Luckily we had our Splinter of Ninja Camping with us - Michael Duncan - who with unparalleled trained eyes managed to find obscure and hidden abandoned roads stemming off of the Trans-Canada Highway.  After a couple of failed locations we were fortunate enough to find a preemo spot near an old mine.

Setting up Camp in the Dark
Ninja Camping!
Morning stroke and I was able to fully take down my campsite and pack all my belongings back into the car before one generally good looking guy even got out of his sleeping bag.

The seven of us soon were off and back on the road.  Passing through Golden we saw a family of mountain goats chillin on the side of the road.  We stopped at Lake Louise and ingested some of the surrounding area's beauty.  We eventually made it to Banff and set up our camp at the gorgeous Two Jack Lackside campground - I highly recommend it.  The scenery was unlike the hustle of downtown Vancouver - instead of people and buildings tearing into the sky there were rugged mountains freckled with wildlife.

Excitement was in the air as the town of Banff was ready to welcome us into their home to race.

The team decided to hit the bike course to see what would be in-store for us the following day.

It was simply breathtaking.

As the day progressed and the evening settled in we looked for a place to eat.  I have come to find that my pre-race meal of choice is Thai Chicken Bites and pizza at Boston Pizza.  I like to order extra Hawaiian  pizza that I can eat the next morning for breakfast.  Every time I have had this meal pre-race I have had a good race and this proved to be no exception, but I get ahead of myself.

After enjoying a delicious meal, we headed back to camp to light a fire and make smores.

There is something about a campfire that just completely settles the nerves.  11pm came and it was time for bed.

Race morning:

We had heard the day previous that due to the combination of cold water temperatures and mountain air that the swim leg was to be shortened from 1500m to 750m.  At the time I was quite disappointed by the announcement because the swim is where I make up all my time on Winston and this was my last chance to beat him this year (It's great to have friendly rivalries to keep motivated). I figured it was game over between us. But when I stepped into the water a few minutes before the race started I began to feel grateful for the shortened duration. As I looked in people's faces - seeing the obvious discomfort from the frigid glacial water I tried to forget my own.  I soon started to shiver while wearing my wetsuit and noticed others shivering as well.  I think it was a smart idea to shorten the swim as hypothermia was a real threat -just ask Jared Penner who later pulled out of the race suffering from mild hypothermia himself.

Two Jack Lack
The swim was tough.  The 1500m altitude brought shortness of breath and the cold water seemed to freeze my arms so I could hardly bring myself to stroke.  I got through the swim and from thereon out it was a great race.

I decided to take my time in T1 - toweling off and putting on additional layers.  I burned 9 minutes and 5 seconds but I didn't regret it because although it was raining and windy, I was comfortable on the bike.  I left T1 in 163 place out of 350 but was able to pass 95 people on the bike, entering T2 in 68th - not bad. Although my body was warm, my feet were frozen.  So frozen that I couldn't feel them and struggled with putting my running shoes on.  I burned another 3 minutes in T2 but then I was off.

This turned out to be my greatest run of the year. It started off with frozen feet, but within a kilometer my toes were met with a burning sensation as they started to thaw. After about 5 minutes I ran into Winston and realized that he was about a minute and a half behind me (up until this point I had thought he was ahead of me).  I was feeling strong and was hoping I could hold him off for once.

I ran the first 5km in 22 minutes and at this point I was still feeling good and decided to pick up the pace (mainly because I could now feel my feet). I finished the last 5km in 21 minutes for a total 10km time of 43:14.  It was nice to be able to run a negative split.  I finished the race in 2:15:17 and was pleased to finally vanquish my foe who raced a solid 2:16:37 finishing only two spots behind me. Success!

My friends all did well.  Special congrats to Scott for finishing first in the 20-24 age group and Winston for finishing second in the same age group category.

Scott and Winstorm owning the Podium
I was going to leave in the early afternoon to hit the road back home and try to get back in a decent hour but they announced that there would be a draw for a Blue Triad frameset and you had to be there to win it. I figured the odds weren't great but good enough to stick around.  And am I glad I did.  My number was called and I won!  It was very exciting.

Blue Triad
I then drove all the way home, walked in the door at about 5:00am and slept for the majority of the next day.

What a fantastic weekend!

What am I Thinking?

Ever do something spontaneously stupid? I fear I may have done just that.

See, I got an email update about the Royal Victoria Marathon - as I have regularly since completing the race 5 years ago - and thought to myself, Maybe I should sign up this year? So what if I have hardly been running this year? So what if race day is only 37 days away? So what if the time I start training for it is about the same time that I should be about to start tapering?

With all that reasoning, or maybe anti-reasoning if such a thing exists, it's not hard to believe that I had to sign-up.  I just completed my online registration and I am officially in for this year's race.

I am in no way expecting a good time, this is more of a completion race.  But seeing how my PR is 4:33 it shouldn't be to hard to beat (coming from someone with no training).

Wish me luck!

Sooke Half Ironman Race Report

If you have read my race reports for races 1, 2, and 3 of the season you will have heard that my results have been less than impressive this year.  I've struggled with poor training and nutrition issues that could have been avoided and I was really hoping that this race in Sooke would break the cycle and I could finish one Half Ironman that I could be proud of in 2010.  Knowing that this would be my last chance I began planning how I would achieve success shortly after the Vancouver Half Iron blunder.

I turned my focusing largely towards the cycling leg.  Luckily I have a friend at work training for the Gran Fondo and he was also looking to get some extra training in which provided me with the motivation I needed to wake up at 5am a couple days a week for a pre-work ride up Mt Cypress.  Pulling in the extra mileage prooved to be worth the effort.

In addition to picking up my cycling time and continuing my open water swim sessions at Kits Beach Thursday evenings, I developed a nutrition plan that began a week before the race.  Simply: eat carbs, carbs, and more carbs.  I ate so much pasta that sufficeth me to say, I'm in no rush to eat spaghetti again.

Finally race weekend arrived, I knew that my weakness would lie in the run as I hadn't ran for over a month.  I decided to race the swim and the bike, and accept whatever happened on the run and I set a finish time goal of sub 5:10.

The day before the race Winstorm, Derrick, and I loaded up my car and off we went.  The weather was unlike the beautiful sunshine that we had been blessed with over the last couple of months with drizzling rain and light wind but I didn't mind.  I was determined to have a good race regardless of the weather.  A few hours later, we arrived in Sooke and met up with fellow UBCTC members Vince, Mel, and Ceilidh and finished our final preparations for the race on Sunday.

Sunday turned out to be a pretty nice day, blue skies and sunshine.  There was a mild headwind on the bike but it wasn't too bad.  I decided that for this race I would not wear my Garmin for the swim concluding that the risk of losing it in the water was not worth the benefit of wearing it so I left it connected to my bike all morning and lost track of time.  Upon returning from my final pre-race bathroom visit Winston mentioned that we had less than 10 minutes to the start of race.  I wasn't near ready: still wearing my jeans and needing to finish setting up my bike so I somewhat nervously quickly got it done.  Winston and I hurried to the lake for the swim, being the last two to arrive just in time to hear the announcer say we had 10 seconds to start.  I guess my warm-up is out.  The cannon went off and so did we.

The swim was marvelous.  I've never felt so good in the water.  Typically I do the swim in about 35 minutes but this time I came out with a time of 33:33.  I was happy to accept this delightful beginning.  I came out of the water in 22 place.

I got on my bike to start the scenic 4.3 lap bike course.  As usual, I took the first lap a little easy, spinning up my legs and becoming familiar with the terrain.  After finishing the first lap I started to race and finished the next lap 2 minutes faster.  After that I felt even better and dropped another two minutes off my next lap and then held that pace for the last lap.  I was passed by a few people but passed others for a net gain of 4 spots and came off the bike in 18th place.  Unfortunately two of the people who passed me were in my age group putting me in 4th place.

Getting off the bike and onto the run knowing that 2nd and 3rd place in my age group were not too far ahead I ran strong trying to catch them.  I'll mention that first place in my age group belonged to Vince who was having a great race and was simply untouchable.  Having not run for a month prior I didn't know what to expect but all that extra mileage on the bike seemed to help as my legs felt fresh.  I forgot my Garmin on my bike so I had no idea of my pace but I figure I was holding 4:30 pace.  Within the first 5km I caught and surpassed my age group competition and estimate that I got up to a 3 minute lead on who was now in third place as I was now in second.  After hitting the turn around on my first lap of the two lap run course and the terrain changed from downhill to uphill I died.  My legs shut down and my place slowed.  The remainder of the race was quite painful.  I got passed by one guy in my age group and I knew that the next guy was about a minute behind so I had no time to lose.  I ran slow, but I ran and held onto my spot finishing 18th overall and claiming third in the M25-29 category.

My final time was 5:08 so I was happy to achieve my goal of sub 5:10.  I was so delighted with the day that I started an impromptu dance party which Derrick, Winston, and later Vince were excited to join in on.

It was a great race and a great day spent with great friends.  Congrats to everyone for completing their races all with great times

Vancouver Half Iron Race Report

This post will be lame because I'm too lazy to come up with something sweet to say or even post any pictures.

I did the Vancouver Half Iron this past weekend and it went a little something like this:

The swim was nuts.  It was my first beach start ever - typically you start in waist deep water, and for some reason it was more ferocious than usual.  I'm used to bumping into people and receiving / dishing out little kicks but on this swim I got kicked in the face, then kicked in the groin, and later smacked on the back of the head.  Who does breast stroke at the start of a swim?  Seriously, if you're going to be kicking out to the side, swim out of the way, and not where you are going to be assaulting my junk.  With that said, I was overall happy with my swim performance, coming out of the water in just under 35 minutes.

I was excited to use my new Garmin Forerunner 310XT Multi-sport GPS watch to track my race.  I spent a little time the night before learning how to use the multi-sport function but on race day I forgot and screwed up my timing.  About 5 minutes into the bike I reset my watch so I wasn't exactly sure what my time was for the rest of the race.

The bike was my worst bike this year.  I don't know what happened.  I've felt strong the last couple of weeks and even the day before we went on a short bike ride and my legs felt strong, but on race day they just felt empty.  Normally it takes me a little while to get going as I adjust from swim to bike but on this race it was the opposite.  I thought I had a decent first lap of a four lap course but then I got slower and slower each time, allowing more and more people to pass me.  It got pretty depressing.

By the time I got off the bike and was in T2 eating a Snickers bar (most delicious Snickers bar of my life by the way) I starting thinking about pulling the plug on the race.  It's hard when you have a personal best you want to improve on but know there is no chance.  I thought to myself, do I really want to run 20km just to do worse than I did last year?  I was hungry and depressed but wasn't made up on my mind so I started out on the run knowing that the run course passes by the transition area every 5km and I could drop out in 5km if I wanted to.  I got about 1 or 2 km in when I decided, yep - I'm dropping out and I started to walk.  I don't know if it was fatigue or that stupid Shaun White Oakley ad I saw on the bus stop that really annoyed me.  You know the one, Inside Outlaw or something like that.  I don't know why that bugs me so much but every time I see it I'm annoyed.

When I neared the 5km mark I couldn't bring myself to quit just yet so I ventured on.  I ran into Scott Chris who was volunteering that day and I stopped and chatted with him for a couple of minutes.  I continued walking for about 5 minutes and then started to run.  For some reason, I just continued to run and never stopped again until the race was over.  I was feeling pretty good and even skipped a few aid stations.

I ended up finishing in 5 hours and 23 minutes.  Not great, but not bad considering how much I walked on the run.  For some reason I had it in my mind that I was going to finish in around 5:45 so when I came to the finish I was pleasantly surprised.

Oh well, maybe I just need to accept this year as a write-off.  My performance has been pretty lame but at least I'm getting some good experiences.  So far in this race series I have experienced cold, depression, and bonking.  Learning how to deal with these problems is only going to help me achieve my main goal right now which is to complete Ironman Canada in under 11 hours in 2012.

The next race is in Sooke next month.  I'm considering sitting this one out but we'll see.

Anyway, hats off to all my friends who raced this past weekend.  Many achieved new pb's and new distances.

Shawnigan / Victoria Half Ironman Race Reports

Triathlon season is alive.  I just finished my second Half Ironman 3 days ago and it's hard to believe the next one is just 11 days away.  My training this year has been less than stellar so as to be expected my results have not been that great so far, but there have been some positives.  Race reports below.

First race of the season was at Shawnigan Lake on May 30.  It was an amazing trip with about 10 people from the UBC Tri Club heading out for the adventure.  Big thanks to Celeste's mom for putting us all up.  The race started with a swim in freezing cold waters.  I'm glad I went in early to let my body adjust to the temperature because the shock when my face hit the water was unbearable at first.  Soon the water was fine to swim in and the real challenge was how the cold would be affecting me later on in the race.

When I got on the bike I had a hard time getting my legs going because they were so cold.  I keep telling my legs to spin but they wouldn't listen.  It was a 4-lap course around the lake and my first lap was okay, but then my second lap was a couple minutes slower and wasn't going well.  When I hit the third lap something happened - my legs came alive and my adrenaline was pumping.  I started yelling at myself to push.  Not in my mind, I'm talking full out yelling out loud.  I'm sure people thought I was crazy.  Every time my legs started to burn I just keep yelling, "oh yeah! I love it! I love the burn!"  This lap was 3 minutes faster and I held that pace for the next lap passing a lot of people.  It was the first time I had a faster second half so I was pretty happy about that.

The run was average.  I'm not running as much this year, and what was once my strongest event has now seemed to become my weakest.  I held a consistent 5:00min/km pace for the whole 21 km and finished in just under 5:15.

My legs were tired but as I approached the finish line I had the idea to ninja kick across the end, so I did.

Thanks to a small amount of people in my age group and two of them dropping out of the race I surprisingly finished 3rd in my age group.

I had three weeks to go until my next race in Victoria.  I decided to start going to the open water swims at Kits Beach with Vowsa to work on my open water swimming and sighting.  This proved to pay off as my Victoria swim time was about 6 minutes faster than at Shawnigan.

The bike course in Victoria was pretty tough.  There are a lot of rolling hills which take a toll on the legs and it got pretty painful near the end but I pushed through.  I started the run feeling okay, legs were sore, but I was pushing through and they started to warm up.  I was able to catch up to and pass a couple of people in my age group so it wasn't going too bad.

For a couple of days prior to the race I had been a little sick and my appetite wasn't that big.  This was my problem in Victoria.  Near the end of my first lap of a two lap run course I started to feel hungry.  I`ve never felt hungry in a race before and I knew this was going to be trouble.  I started to feel light-headed, which turned to dizziness.  I began to run zigzagged and my vision was going in and out.  Clearly I was bonking.  I considered trying to push through it and hopefully making it to the finish but I sensible decided that the smart thing to do was to pull the plug.  I finished the race but I walked from 15km on and so I was passed a lot.  I dropped 74 spots on the run.  I ran the last 500m or so and finished just under 5:30.

Sure the race didn`t go well, but I dropped a lot of time off the swim, and my bike ride was relatively good.  It was slower than Shawnigan but the course was a lot harder so that was fine.  I just need to work on my running and I should be able to come in sub-5 consistently.  I also dropped a minute off both transitions.  So there have been improvements.  Hopefully I can plan my nutrition better and have a good race in Vancouver July 4.  I think it`s too soon to make any substantial gains on the run but hopefully by the Sooke race at the end of August I`ll be cruising.

Here are the results:

Swim: 39:24
T1: 3:23
Bike: 2:44:19
T2: 2:28
Run: 1:45:23
Finish: 5:14:55

Swim: 33:17
T1: 2:10
Bike: 2:47:12
T2: 1:28
Run: 2:04:46
Finish: 5:28:51

My First Century

Over the last few weeks I have been trying to increase my base mileage on the bike in preparation of the Half Ironman race series that I'm doing that starts this weekend.

A few weeks ago I did my first mountain climb up Cypress which nearly killed me, luckily there was an ice cream truck on the way down and we stopped for some much needed sustenance.

Vince enjoying his Spideysicle

The week after that we decided to tackle Mt Seymour.  It was painful but I didn't near death so I considered that an improvement over the week before.  We added some extra miles so that when I got home I had done 125km that day.

At the top of Mt Seymour

Our victory food, Cinnamon Buns from Cobs

Sunday night I was planning out my bike ride for Monday and I got the crazy idea to do a Century which is a 100 mile ride, that's 161km.

I woke up Monday morning feeling a little sore from my 20km run Saturday afternoon but was still determined to complete my first Century.  I packed a lot of food to ensure my body would be fueled for this undertaking and left to meet the boys.  I knew Vince and Matt would be coming but I wasn't sure who else would be coming.  When I reached the meeting place Sherwood was there waiting and shortly after Barry arrived.  My plan was to take the ride nice and easy so that my legs would hold out but with these two there I knew that wasn't going to happen; I don't think they have a slow gear, so I was a little worried about how this ride would proceed.

Once the whole party was together we set off.  Our ride to Deep Cove was not insanely fast but near the end of it I was having trouble just staying in their draft; clearly I was the weakest link there.  I managed to hang on and soon we cut over to Mt Seymour.  I decided to take the ascent easy and I was surprised at how much nicer that felt.  After Mt Seymour we once again stopped at Cobs Bread for some tasty snacks and then proceeded onward.  We went to Indian River Road and then headed west to Horseshoe Bay.  Now it was time to head home.

At about 136 km in I was riding over the Burrard Bridge, Vince pulled off and Barry, Sherwood, and Matt sped on ahead so I was on my own.  I surprising felt pretty good except for some mild discomfort in my gut.  I knew that I would be under 100 miles if I just went straight home so as I reached the University Endowment Lands I continued to loop around campus to get the extra miles that I needed.

As I continued my ride, the pain in my stomach grew stronger and stronger.  It became sharp and breathing became a burden.  Every time I drank or ate anything it hurt.  I pushed on anyway.  Fears of some internal rupture filled my mind but I pushed them aside and kept riding.  And then, believe it or not my spleen ruptured!  I didn't know what it was at the time but the sharp shooting pain in my stomach forced me to stop my bike.  I fell to the ground grasping my mid section in agony.  I knew something was wrong so I called 911.  Everything after that was a blur, I have mild recollections of the ambulance ride but mostly I just remember waking up and having the doctor explain to me what happened.  Okay, not really.  No rupture.  But that was the scene that played in my mind.  I pushed on.  It was strength vs will, me vs the road.

My bike computer wasn't working so I had no idea what my total distance was.  I knew that after Vince and I separated I had to complete 26 more km to reach the 100 mile mark and I thought I had done it.  I went home and mapped out my ride.  The total distance: 100.002 miles.  Talk about calling it close.

My First Century

It feels great having accomplished this goal.  It was a challenge but rewarding and that's what it's all about.

Brylee Drew Wight

There have been a lot of amazing things happening in my life lately but this post is devoted to the best one of all.  My newest daughter, Brylee Drew, was born Tuesday April 27 at 5:45am.

Janelle was given the due date of May 1 but for the four days previous to Brylee's arrival, Janelle had been having a lot of contractions on and off.  Sunday night was looking quite likely as they started to become quite regular.  She called me and told me to come home, I was at the school studying for a final exam the next morning.  I came home and for the next few hours the contractions continued and then all of a sudden they stopped.  I was bagged, and due to the lack of sleep and loss of study time I was in no shape to right a final exam Monday morning.  Luckily my prof was very understanding and he let me post-pone my writing until Thursday.

On Monday Janelle felt no movement from the baby all day which was quite unusual for Brylee who liked to kick a lot.  She called the midwife at about 4pm and she was told to head to the hospital for an assessment.  It turned out everything was fine which was a major relief.  We explained to the midwife that we would really like her to induce labor.  This typically would never happen before a due date unless there was some medical reason but Janelle's family is known for quick labors and Kaylen was pretty fast and there was some concern about having a baby in the car.  There was also the issue of final exams; I already had one postponed, and I really didn't want to postpone any more, not to mention all the study time I had been missing.  To shorten the story they decided to break Janelle's water at about 10:30pm Monday night and then we were to wait.  By 2 nothing had happened so they gave Janelle Oxytocin and at 3:15am she started having contractions.  They woke me up from off the floor at 3:45 as things were getting going.  And at 5:45 Brylee came out.  2.5 hour labor with only 4 minutes of pushing, not bad.

Brylee was 7lb 10oz, blue eyes, brown hair, 20in long and healthy.

She is the most adorable little baby, I realize I'm biased but she is really cute and we are all really excited to have her.

The labor went great and both Brylee and Janelle were able to come home from the hospital that afternoon which was a good sign.

Me with Brylee a few minutes after she was born

Kaylen loving being a big sister

Our newest family photo

On her way out of the hospital

It didn't Janelle long to start putting bows in her hair

Our cute little girl

Happy mommy with her baby

Eyes wide open

Oh Canada

I would have to say that my Olympic experience has been amazing.  It first became real to me when I drove to Maple Ridge at 5:30am to meet a group of people that I would be carrying the Olympic Torch with.

The Torch Relay
It was an experience I will never forget.  A group of about 15 of us met in the town hall to receive instruction on what was to be done, we were given our torches, and driven to our legs of the relay.  Before they dropped the first person off, they asked us all to share our stories of why we were chosen to be a Torch Bearer.  It was inspiring to hear the stories of ordinary Canadians doing extra-ordinary things.

I was excited to carry the flame for sure, but I was worried that the experience wouldn't be that great because I was scheduled to run at 7:13am in a tiny town and I couldn't talk any of my friends to come out and watch.  I figured there might be 2 or 3 people on the side of the road and that would be it.  I was wrong.  Maple Ridge was full of Olympic spirit.  When I got dropped off, the whole side of the road was lined with people, hundreds of them.  They had flags, and cameras, and smiles, and cheers.  It was amazing.

As I was standing at my start point waiting to go a looked down the road and saw it, the Olympic Flame, the same flame that had been lit by the sun in Greece, that had traveled by boat, by plane, by car, and by foot, it had traveled tens of thousands of kilometers and had been carried by thousands of people.  Excitement filled my body as I realized that it was coming to me.

Previously I had wondered how I should carry the torch: should I walk and make the moment last as long as I could, or should I sprint it as fast as I could, or what?  When I saw that flame coming to me I knew there was only one answer - I was to run it with Olympic pride.

My First Event - Sweden vs Slovakia Women's Hockey
The Olympics had started and I was enjoying watching it on TV and figured that would be the extent of it.  Then I got a slew of texts from one excited Janelle exclaiming she had won ice hockey tickets.  She entered a draw and her best friend's name was picked, she offered to babysit, then her name was picked, and she said "Never mind".  We all got to go together to Thunderbird Arena here on campus and sit on the front row.  It was women's hockey which in my opinion is not to the same caliber as men's and Canada wasn't playing; however, it was a great time.  Just the whole atmosphere. Flags waving, people cheering, everyone having a great time.  The buzz continued.

Downtown Explorations
I went for a bike ride downtown to check out the Olympic venues and Pavilions.  The line-ups were huge but I saw what needed to be seen and then came back the next day with Janelle and Kaylen.  We started by Science World and worked our way past Olympic Village, through downtown, and to the Waterfront were the Cauldron was.  It was neat to see all the flags up and take pictures of things.  Robson St is a zoo; they have blocked it off from traffic and there were people everywhere.  Pretty cool to soak up the excitement around here.

Canada vs Russia Men's Hockey Quarter Final
Janelle and I had considered blowing some dough to buy some Men's hockey tickets for a Canada game.  We undulated from yes let's do it, to no it's too much.  When Canada became scheduled to play Russia in the quarter finals I just couldn't resist.  Many predicted this to be the Gold Medal Game with two amazing powerhouse teams.  Most people wanted $750-$1000 per ticket.  I wasn't going to pay that much.  I started the morning by emailing a bunch of people on Craigslist with low-ball offers.  I basically said that if the game is about to start and you are worried because no one has bought your tickets give me a call and I'll buy them off you for cheap - better than losing out on the money.  After a few nasty replies I figured that maybe this wouldn't work.

My next idea was to head to the venue with a pocket of cash and see what scalpers were looking for.  They wanted $900-$1000 a ticket.  The game was scheduled to start at 4:30 and it this point it was 3:30.  I thought an hour before the game started they would start to get worried and sell for cheaper but apparently they had tons of time, and more than likely the cost would go up as the time went by, and I'm an idiot, and to get out of their faces.  Janelle was worried that I was going to get punched out.  What do you expect - scalpers - they are the scum of the world, you can't reason with them.

I realized that an hour before was too early to low-ball so we took off for a while and planned to come back at 4:15.  I figured we would be missing the first period as we were busing back home because there was no way we were getting tickets.  As we approached the venue I saw a guy holding up about 10 tickets.  This guy has got to be getting desperate I thought.  I asked how much and he said $600 each.  That's the best I've heard so far.  I offered $500 each and he tried for $550 but I was firm on 5 and he took.  As we were walking away I saw two guys, who we ended up sitting beside at the game, buy two tickets for $600 each.  Suckas!

Because we got our tickets so late we walked in the building right as they were about to drop the puck.  From the entrance way I could hear the chants: GO CANADA GO! GO CANADA GO!  It was electrifying.  As I walked up the stairs to the seating area into the arena the sound got louder and louder.  I looked out at thousands of people all wearing red and white, cheering as loud as they possibly could for Canada.  As I joined in I cannot describe the feeling I had.  It was worth every penny.  And the game was great - we stomped them Russians.  I read a good article describing the feeling in the building partially copied below:

"Both Russian and Canadian fans in Canada Hockey Place tonight created something like a force field in the building, especially in the moments before the opening faceoff—a bizarre collective energy that I’ve never experienced at any gathering in my life. It’s one of those things that make meetings between two hockey-mad nations so memorable. And I’ll remember this one for as long as my memory works."

After the romping of Russia the celebrations continued into the streets.  It was an experience I'll never forget.

Are you Still With Me?
The Olympics have been great.  It's wonderful to be here and to catch in all the patriotism that is not usually seen in Canada and to feel the excitement.  I guess there's only one thing left to say:

Hardcore Time

Okay, I realize that everyone has a different definition of the word hardcore.  I think it can pretty much be summed up by this picture:

Or of course we have this one:

There are so many sport heroes and legends to draw inspiration from.

With race season fast approaching I have determined that it's time to stop mindlessly training and time to get serious again.

With that said I've decided to set a goal to log 180km of running starting now by the end of March.  That may not seem like a lot but keep in mind I am also swimming a couple of times a week and cycling every week as well.

I invite any one else to set new goals for themselves.  Please feel free to share them with me and we can work to push each other.

500m Swim Test Set

The UBC Triathlon Club has started it's new spring race series which means there should be some good smack talk coming up.

Today I did the 500m swim test set.  The team did this a couple of weeks ago but because of my San Francisco trip I missed it and had to make it up today.  I wasn't really sure what to expect going into it as I'm a little unsure of my swimming abilities.  When I joined the club back in September of '08 my best 500m swim time was about 10:38 or something like that which is about 2:07 per 100m.

The swim is usually my least concern with my triathlon training since it's the shortest distance and the least time is usually lost in a race and I have focused more on running and cycling.  This year has been a little different though.  I decided that I wanted to pick up my swim time a little bit for the '10 race season.  In January I was comfortably swimming at a 1:50/100m pace and my goal is to be able to hold a 1:40/100m for a half Ironman swim of 1900m this summer.  I know I'm not quite ready to hold that pace and was expecting somewhere around 8:45 for this test set.

I did my warm up and was not feeling particularly well and considered putting this off until Thursday but decided to go for it anyway.  I started my set and was feeling great.  I didn't feel like I was pushing too hard, but more like I was holding a strong steady pace.  I ended up completing it in 8:29 which is a new pb for me.  Yeah!  I know it's no stellar time when compared to some of the other people I swim with but it's good for me and I'm happy about it.  It's fun to train towards goals and see them become realized.  That's one of the things I love about triathlons - your progress is easily measured and you can see benefits to the work you put in - it's a very rewarding sport.

I would like to pay a little tribute to my buddy Winstorm.  We have been bugging him for the last year or two about how slow he is at swimming.  He has now in his 5th year with the club and it seems like as long as I've been there his swim time has remained constant and he has watched newbies come in at a slower lane, later to join his, and then to pass him.  Well, he is proving that he has that fighter's spirit and has seen drastic changes in all events, but lately with a big jump in his swimming.  Good job Winstonian, looks like you might be a threat this summer after all.

On a side note, I just realized that the Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series starts in 3 months and I don't feel anywhere near ready.  It's amazing how fast the off-season went by.  It's time to get hardcore again.  Hourrah!

Alcatraz Swim Video

Here's a link to my Alcatraz Swim courtesy of Water World Swim - thanks guys.

My Escape from Alcatraz

I woke up this morning at 5:30am with a sense of suspense, anticipating the swim ahead of me.

I walked from my hotel in Ghirardelli Square to Hyde St Pier to meet my guide Pedro Ordenes of Water World Swim at 7:00am.  We met the boat captain and were off to Alcatraz.  I was excited.  The conditions were perfect: calm wind, flat seas, and the sun was just starting to come out.  I was ready to jump in.

I plunged off the side of the boat and when I surfaced I was infused with excitement and began to swim.  The excitement quickly turned to anxiety.  All my fears, coupled with the frigid water temperature, consumed me and my breathing got out of control.  I felt like I was about to start hyperventilating.  I decided to stop swimming and float for a minute to catch my breath and calm myself down.  After doing that I felt great and was ready to continue swimming.

About midway through my swim I thought about what I was doing - swimming from Alcatraz - and I started to get pretty pumped.  Every time I breathed to my right I could see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance which just added to my excitement and I really started to enjoy myself.

I got a little confused with the landing spot and aimed for the wrong location.  I ended up about 200m down current of where I wanted to be and had to swim straight against the current next to the pier.  I wasn't moving fast as the waves were fighting against me.  They were rolling up and down and I started to get a little dizzy.  Seeing people on the pier looking down at me and probably thinking I was crazy gave me all the fuel I needed to push through it.

I eventually made it to the beach and when I got out I could not stand up straight.  I stumbled around for a while trying to reach equilibrium and fight off the spins until I couldn't fight it anymore and leaned over to vomit.  Luckily I only had a banana to eat and there wasn't much to come out.  After that I felt great.

By then the boat had docked and Pedro came over to present me with a certificate and give me a t-shirt.

So I did it; I survived; I escaped from Alcatraz.

United Airlines...They Suck

Last week we were considering our options of how we were going to transport our model building to San Francisco.  We could send it through UPS or Fed-Ex or attempt to check it is over-sized luggage.  The box we built to transport the building is about 66"x22"x22" and weighs approximately 50lbs.  I called Fed-Ex to see what they would charge to take it to San Francisco - $190 for ground shipping.  Our preference was to take it onto the plane with us so that we would know when it would arrive since if it's late we would get disqualified.  I called United Airlines to see if we could check our box.  I gave the lady on the phone the dimensions, she added them up 66+22+22=110".  She said that their restrictions are that the total linear dimensions needed to be under 115" which we satisfied and that we should have no problem.  Great!  We decided to follow that option since the cost was better, only $175, and we wouldn't be worrying about when it would arrive.

On Saturday I get a call from one of my team mates and he says we're screwed.  I'm like, what's the dealio?  He says, "we can't check our box!"  Apparently in addition to the maximum total linear dimension of 115", they also have a policy that no side can be longer than 62".  It's now too late to do ground shipping through UPS or Fed-Ex so the other option is to send it express at a cost of $1100.  I'm pretty steamed.  I called United to see if they would make an exception since it was one of their employees that failed to inform me of this restriction and because of her error I potentially need to pay an extra $900 to get my box there in time?!  They would not budge but suggested I call their cargo department and send it as air cargo.

I decided to call the cargo department and was put on hold for 42minutes and 16seconds.  What the heck is taking so long?  Finally I get to talk to someone.  He asks me for my account number and I say I don't have one and he informs me that they don't deal with non-registered shippers since 9-11.  Thanks a lot customer service for wasting my time with a pointless phone call which nearly wasted an hour of my life.

I call customer service back.  I speak with a supervisor.  He begins to tell me that I should have looked into their restrictions earlier and that he is not responsible for what some employee might have told me.  Talk about service.  Apparently the reason they couldn't make any exceptions for us is that the cargo area simply can't fit items longer than 62" - that's what he tells me anyway.  I call his bluff - how about skis? - I ask.  To make a long story less long - he failed to help me in any way - he wouldn't even apologize.  So I yelled at him and vowed that I would never fly United Airlines again.  Did that accomplish anything?  No.  Did it make me feel better?  Yes.

So two of my team mates cancelled their flights and are driving the box down instead.  It's all being taken care of, just a nuisance that could have completely been avoided if United Airlines didn't suck so much.

It feels good to rant.

Anyway, this is an old song and you have probably heard it already but it's speaking true to me right now so if you've got some time feel free to check it out.

The next few weeks

For the past few months there have been a number of events that I have been looking forward to which are now all about to happen within a couple weeks of each other.

First, my brother-in-law Scott is getting married in Edmonton January 30.  We are all flying out there this coming Friday morning for the weekend.  I am not looking forward to the cold.  We get so spoiled here in Vancouver where the winters are so mild.  I've become a major wuss when it comes to cold weather.  They have asked Kaylen to be the flower girl and we've been pumping her up for that.  Hopefully she actually walks down the aisle - I'm a little worried she'll start doing somersaults or start showing off some of her new dance moves she learned from dance classes over the last couple of weeks.  When you put a 2.5 year old in charge of something you never know what's going to happen.

Second, my San Francisco trip.  Last semester a group of classmates and I were designing and analyzing a 5 foot high model high-rise building to withstand the shaking of three earthquakes modeled after earthquakes that were recorded over the past few years.  The largest of these earthquakes is the Kobe earthquake of 1995.  Over the last three weeks we have been working relentlessly on building our designed model to take to San Francisco to test it in a competition against a bunch of American schools.  I'll post some pictures of the building soon so you can see what it looks like.  For the competition we had to design a team T-shirt and I came up with the idea seen below.

I was bored in law class last week and thought of this.  UBC Engineers are well known in this area for hanging VW beetles off of bridges.  About 8 years ago a bunch of students went to san Francisco and hung a bug off the Golden gate Bridge, see picture below.  I thought it might be fun to remind them of this.  Anyway, I drew up a conceptual sketch and gave it to a team member who then gave it to her sister who is an animator and she then took by not so amazing piece of art and made it look like the above image.

As I mentioned previously, while I'm down there I thought it might be cool to swim from Alcatraz to shore.  I spent a lot of time looking up the viability of this idea and it is soon to become a reality.  There is a guide down there that helps people do this for his job.  He will be taking care of the permits and providing the boat assistance.  Basically, my safety is covered so there is no need to worry.  I'm doing the swim Tuesday Feb 2, at 7:00am.  The water will be freezing but oh well; I'll worry about that later.

Lastly, the Olympic Torch Relay.  I will be carrying the torch February 8 at about 7:13am in Maple Ridge BC.  I will be running along Route 7 from 228St to 227St in the odd chance that anyone wants to come watch.

I'm quite excited about all of these things and I'll definitely keep you all posted and how everything goes.  Hopefully I'll get some good photos to share.