Friday, December 31, 2010

My Plans for Tonight - New Year's Eve

I just received this email from the host of the party we plan to attend tonight. I am so glad that things are planned well! 


we are so happy that you can all make it this evening!  the schedule for tonights festivities are as follows:
  • 7PM - arrive at [...] and relax with appies and vino in front of the fire
  • 8PM - commencing of the final raclette of 2010 and the savouring of the cheeses
  • 9PM - commencing of the final regret of overindulgence of the cheeses for 2010
  • 10PM - discussion of new year's resolutions and fond rememberances of 2010
  • 11PM - realization that we have one more hour of overindulgence before resolutions begin
  • 12PM - commencing of 2011 and mandatory playing of auld lang syne
  • 1PM and beyond - celebrate new year's eve in other time zones and party like it's 2010!
we will have plenty of food and wine, but please feel free to bring your favourite beverage of choice to ring in the new year.


And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup !
 and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
 for auld lang syne.

see you all tonight!


Please note the following correction:  The final time on the schedule should read "1AM" - not "1PM".  Please do not bring your pajamas (unless for comedic effect only)!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Functional Threshold Power Test @ Home

So I was keen to see how my own performed Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test (based on the Training and Racing with a Power Meter book) would stack up against the one done at Peak Performance. Granted, the conditions are not even remotely the same with just being in the middle of the holidays, only two weeks sine the Peak test, having done my strength training in the morning, and coming from a long swim and strong run the day prior -- and the results show it. But nonetheless, interesting to see the results. 

This is the protocol: 
20 min warm-up
3 x 1 min at 100+ rpm with 1 min recovery
5 min recovery
5 min go-like-stink-balls-to-the-wall-all-out-effort
10 min recovery 
20 min strong TT pace
10 min recovery / cool-down

Taking the average power from the 20 min (250W) and subtracting 5% = 237.5W 
Let's be nice and call it 240W is my FTP based on this test. 

And yes, I *think* I could have gone a little harder in the TT part but one gear harder (where I started the segment) and I would have really ground it and was not sure I could have kept it for the duration. So I geared down and upped the cadence (avg 93 rpm). Wish I had a gear in between... 

Here now are the actual results: 


% of FTP

Power (W)

Peak Result
Interval Dur.
1 – Active Recovery
< 55
1 - 132
1 - 180
2 – Endurance
56 – 75
133 - 180
181 - 230
3 – Tempo
76 – 90
181 - 216
231 - 260
4 – Lactate Threshold
91 - 105
217 - 252
261 - 280
8 – 30 min
5 – VO2 Max
106 - 120
253 - 288
281 - 305
3 – 8 min
6 – Anaerobic Capacity
121 - 150
289 - 360
306 - 320
30 sec – 3 min
7 – Neuromuscular Pwr
< 30 sec

Peak is much higher in the FTP: 270 vs 240 watts. But interestingly, the 5 min all-out effort generated 337W average which is inline with the level 6 of this test but way higher than Peak's. 

I guess I'll really have to perform the "Fatigue Profile Test" to make sense of this kind of distribution :-)

(still don't know how to share the TrainingPeaks data - or whether this is possible)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Peak Center Bike Blood-Lactate and VO2max Test... Aborted

I had a 10:00 AM appointment at the Peak Centre for Performance today for a Blood-Lactate and VO2max test on my new Cervelo P2. 

When I tried to put my rear wheel into the bike at Peak I was simply not able to get it in. And I know now how to do it unlike when I first took the bike home! 

What happened was that the slightly too short (got a longer stem) break cables pulled in an odd way on the rear break while the handlebar was turned in the car. This resulted in the breaks being stuck in a too tight position not letting the wheel in. We managed to finagle the brakes open and the wheel in. 

I know I had to go to SpeedTheory afterwards to get this all adjusted. Then we got everything set up and the warm up for the test started. He (the dude administering the test - I forgot his name) had me warming up at 170 watts and it felt super hard -- obviously I was worried. When he did the second calibration he noticed that something was off... so he checked the breaks and sure enough they were rubbing. So we calibrated again and he asked me to warm up a few more minutes at 170 watts. 

Now it felt quite easy and right. So the test started and all was well through 170w, 200w, 230, 260w, and into 290w. With about a minute into 290w I all of a sudden I could not keep my customary 90 rpm any longer -- not even 80 rpm. The dude kept encouraging me to keep up the cadence but I felt like I completely blew up. Eventually I tried telling him -- with the VO2max mouthpiece in my face -- that he needs to check the break and eventually he did understand me. Break was fine he said... but then realized that the wheel was rubbing on the frame. WTF!!?? 

Somehow the retaining screw must have gotten out of whack and when I started putting a little harder effort in the wheel shifted and started rubbing. Of course we needed to abort and the results are pretty much useless as we can not say with certainty when the rubbing started. 

New appointment for made for Monday evening and off I was to SpeedTheory to have them have a look at the whole thing. 

At SpeedTheory I met up with Jeremy who was able to help me out right away and made sure that (a) the retaining screws are placed correctly, (b) there is nothing wrong with the wheel, tire, or frame where it was rubbing, and (c) fixed up the break cable to give it a bit more length so it won't pull in the car. Great service and awesome job as is customary at SpeedTheory! 

So now I have to be fairly good all weekend to be fresh for another go at it on Monday. 

Here is the Garmin readout for the go while I was on:
The cadence is all off as it got confused with the second magnet they put on for the CompuTrainer. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DCRainmaker Rocks

OK, the guy reviewing pretty much every gadget I drool over is giving away a Garmin 210 watch. And yes, I am drooling right now....
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Portland Marathon Race Report

10-10-10... today was marathon day in Portland, Oregon. And I was pumped to race well in it. All the training up until the last long run with the group two weeks out went really well.

Then, on a Tuesday evening run with 11 days to go, I pulled my left hamstring quite out of nowhere. But I went immediately in physio and did all the right things to heal it -- ice, compression, rest, light spinning, and actual physio treatment. And besides, I just pulled it and didn't tear it. So confidence was high that by race day I'd be fine. Then, last Sunday, I decided to just dash across the street against traffic and sure enough I pulled it again. Shit! Nothing but my own bone-headed move to blame...

So treatment back to square one. Or two, or three, or whatever...

Luckily I made seemingly good recovery progress and decided I could try and race. I had some suggestions to run it slower, but there wouldn't have been much point in that - at least in planning to go for a time that is not meaningful to me. So betwen my physio Timberly and my coach Lara and myself we all agreed that I would go out on my original pace with the first 5km slightly slower and preceeded by a good but slow warm up, hamstring massage with "The Stick" in the morning, and run with a thigh compression sleeve. We totally realized that there would be some remaining risk that I pull it again and I fully accepted that. I'd have to decide what my options are if and when that happens based on how it feels. Good plan in my mind.

Yesterday before 5am Esther was so lovely as to drive me to the train station (she is the best!) where I took the bus to Seattle and from there the Amtrak to Portland.

Compared to Europe, train travel here feels like it is stuck in the dark ages! OMG I wouldn't even know where to start... maybe something for a different blog post.

Arriving in PDX at around 1:30 I had enough time to drop my gear at the hotel and go pick up my race package, go back to the hotel to change and meet the rest of the gang for a quick 30 min shake-out-the-legs-run. First time running for me in 11 days! Went really well though.

At the race expo I also picked up a pair of 2XU compression tights and a "The Stick" (Google it; these things are great!). Maybe I can put the rolling pin I used to use back where it belongs :-) These things are so much cheaper in the US plus there is no sales tax in Oregon!

For an early dinner we went to Macaroni Grill and the food was super good.

For some reason as tired as I was I couldn't really sleep. So come 4:45 this morning I was quite bagged. Still pumped and ready for the race though.

Everything went totally per plan and felt great! Until mile 5 that is... all of a sudden the hamstring went tight and within 10 or so steps I knew I pulled it something fierce.

After some initial hobbling I tried running slower... not much change. So I tried running at a faster pace... not too good either. Tried just generally to change my gait... also no luck. But what I did notice was that with every change it was better for a bit. So in the end I decided to grit my teeth and run through it as best and as long as I could.

I really did not want to have another DNF on my record! So my goal changed from 3:35 to "just finish any way you can!" and don't stop or walk.

I actuallt managed to keep an 8:00 min/mile pace up until about 11 miles at which point I started bleeding time. Then there was a big and long hill up to St. Johns bridge and my hamstring was not happy with that for one bit. After the bridge I kept on haemorrhaging time like its going out of style...

In the end I managed to not walk or stop (if I had stopped for even a short time I doubt I would have been able to start running again) and finished in 3:51. In the last 5k the only thing that kept me going was the thought of the medical tent at the finish where I could get some ibuprofen. When I finally made it there I could barely stand up and the guy told me "sorry, we don't have any drugs. " In retrospective I totally get that. And he was kind enough to tie 2 ice bags around my leg which had the additional benefit of the added compression.

So... not what I wanted, but something we knew could happen. And I am glad I had the mental fortitude to push through and finish.

Now: burger and beers (yes, plural!)

Next week: check in with Timberly why I keep pulling it. Maybe the root it somewhere else... the hip or so?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ironman Canada 2011

On August 29th this year we went to Penticton, BC to watch the Ironman Canada race. But we also volunteered at the event which put us in the priority line-up on Monday to register for next year's race. And that we did! YAY!! 

I am totally excited and quite in awe of the event. Having seen some of the athletes come in anywhere from 10 (and the winners are obviously faster than that but I was on shift until the 10hr marker) to 17 hours is amazing. Of course I have time goals in mind for myself, but frankly I have no idea yet how realistic they are... 

For now I enjoy the idea that I will be participating in this awesome event and not think too hard and in detail of what my training plan will look like. Right now I am concentrated on getting ready for the Portland Marathon on 10-10-10. There I hope to finally improve on my personal best marathon time of 3:38 as by next year I cannot in good conscious use that time as a PB any longer... it is four years old this year and getting close to its best-before date. 

My training buddies Lawrence and Gen are already deep into the detailed training plan development, but I need to compartmentalize or I go nuts. Sure I know the key milestones:  training start in mid November, First Half Marathon in February, Oliver Half Ironman in early June, perhaps a training camp around that time, and maybe even an early-year triathlon (Delta Tri maybe?) but that's about it. 

I'll work on the details in the 2nd recovery week after Portland and get serious with the training around November 15. Until then it is running focused with just enough swimming and biking to not get completely rusty. 

Android Blogger Interface

So I got this Android Blogger app today in hopes that I actually start blogging a bit more.
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Holy Cow! (and cow bells)

No, really: HOLY SHIT! This was harder than anything I have done before or am keen on doing anytime soon.

But first things first: Thank you all for the many well-wishes!! And apologies for not having responded to the individual emails. I only have my smart phone and unlocked WiFi it hard to come by -- and without it, well... it isn't all that smart really. I am writing this on my brother-in-law's laptop with the WiFi we have here at the hotel in Bavaria.

We arrived in Immenstadt on Friday afternoon after having driven the longer part of the bike course already. This happened to be also the "easy" part of it -- although it appeared to be far from easy. Then it was already time to go to the registration, Team Canada meet-up and photo, and the Parade of Nations. When this was all done it was too dark to drive the rest of the bike course and we postponed it to the Saturday.

Saturday I did my mini-tri with a swim in the lovely Alpsee, met up with my family, and later in the afternoon, still drove the upper (and tougher!) part of the course. Again... holy shit! I could not really fathom that we were supposed to do this on the bike the next day. On many of the uphills I had to gear the car down to 2nd and still was having a tough time making it up the hills. Oh brother...

Prior to that, the most realistic goal would have been about 5 hours on the bike -- or 26 km/h average. After having driven the course I revised that estimate to 25 km/h average and was not even sure if that was anywhere near realistic...

The mandatory pre-race briefing in the evening was as usual somewhat informative but nothing really to write home about. More interesting was the fact that my brother arrived from near Hamburg while the briefing was on and we had still a nice - albeit short - evening together.

Sunday - Competition Day
Getting up at 4:30 AM with all the gear already packed the night before in the three bags we were provided with: run gear, bike gear, and training gear, I had a light breakfast and we were off by 5:00 AM. I was so nervous...!

I decided already before the trip that short of losing my bike, I would let nothing - and absolutely nothing! - bother me and take away from the experience. I was determined to have a good time even if I end up not having a good result. And I do think that this attitude helped me a lot to cope with the nerves.

We arrived at the bike drop off pretty much by 5:30 AM. Since I scouted the whole area the day before, this was all pretty quick including the bike gear bag drop-off.

Over to the swim start and run gear drop-off, we then met up with Team Canada team mate Kathy and her husband and sat around for a good hour to wait until 7:00 AM - and get even more nervous. The Elites and the 55+ AG competitors were off at 7:00 AM and only at that time were we allowed to cross the timing mat at the start to check the chips and enter the warm-up area. I was in the water by 7:10 AM to start getting warmed up.

Swim: Totally relaxed and exactly as I expected. Some slight drift off course every now and so often but not too bad. It would have been nice to have more buoys as the course was a U-shape of 1,800 - 400 - 1,800 meters and especially on the way back we had the sun straight into the eyes. As long as the swim was - and 4k is damn long! - I really enjoyed myself and it was only the onset of boredom that made me look forward to the finish. I expected to be done is 1:20 and beat that by 1 minute.

Garmin readout:

T1: Long run into the transition - made longer by me forgetting to grab my gear bag and having to run back - and somewhat of a chaos in the change tent. We had to wear our run number on bike as well and so I packed the race belt with the number attached in my bike bag. When I put my bike cloths on I must have overlooked it and/or completely forgot about it. Right now I have Lara's voice in my head "I told you to wear it under the wetsuit!" but we were specifically told that this was not allowed. I am not sure how anyone would have noticed, but there we have it. I ended up coming out of the first transition in 0:04:39 without my number on. Oh well...

Garmin read-out:

Bike: Did I mention "Holy Shit!!"? It started out tame enough for the first few kilometers until we hit Kalvariensberg... straight up for some 400 meters; then it went on rolling until it just kept going up and up and up and... you get the point.

Over the next 30 or so kilometres it basically went up with some short steep downhills and no flats. Also in there: about four more sections that were extremely steep. Forget the North Shore Trifecta... this was an order of magnitude harder!

Starting at about the 40k mark I had to go #2 real bad and there were absolutely no porta potties at the any of the aid stations. Weird -- and stupid frankly! So I was quite uncomfortable on the better part of the bike ride in that regard. This, then, caused me to stop taking in fuel as much as I should have. I had enough fuel for 5 hours and took in a little more than half that; plus some bananas and extra water. This all despite the heat: the forecast was for 26°C in the shade but it was much hotter I am sure! Actually the in-the-sun temperature up in the Alps was easily in the mid 30's.

On the plus side: there were supporters and spectators everywhere shouting encouragements and many had cow bells - some of the bells of enormous sizes. And I heard a lot of "Go Canada Go" shout outs. Really cool! And where there were no people with cow bells, there were, well, cows with cow bells... And the scenery was absolutely breathtaking.

On the second loop of the hurt locker Esther and her family were at the lower part of Kalvariensberg to cheer us on. This was a real "Tour" experience... the spectators on both sides on the road and really in your face cheering and shouting like mad -- leaving only about a meter width to go up that damn hill. Awesome!

In the end I finished the bike quite exhausted and well sun-burned in 5:13:16. Pretty much the revised average of 25 km/h.

Garmin read-out:

T2: I was sure that there had to be a toilet at the transition... and I was also sure that my run number must have been in my run bag since I obviously missed it in my bike bag... but alas, neither was the case.

For the number the race official in the transition decided that we should just pin the (heavy paper / cardboard type) number from my run bag to my tri suit. Sounded sensible enough at the time. As for the bathroom, my tummy hurt so much by now that the thought of strapping on a quite heavy fuel belt was absolutely out of the question! I decided I will have to make due with what is offered on the course. I know... huge gamble, but this was how it had to be!

And off I was out of T2 in 0:03:20. Despite what those transition times look like, they were actually not all that bad - considering the logistics and whatnot.

Garmin read-out:

Run: Well, that cardboard run number lasted maybe 200 meters on my suit, when I dumped a cup of water at the very first aid station over my head. So I just held it in my hand for a bit and kept running.

After about 2km - in the city centre of Immenstadt - I could not stand it any longer... I had to go. And go now! So I just went off the run course into the next Café and used their bathroom. Quite relieved, I tried putting my tri suit back on and in the process of zipping it up (it zips in the back!) my little zip cord extension came off. Not a chance now that I can zip it. Oh well, screw it, after all it is hot enough and I am just fine leaving it unzipped. I also stuck the number under the leg of my suit thinking this would hold... nope.

About 30 minutes later I started to feel really good and had a good pace going. As for the fuelling and overall strategy, I planned to walk through all the aid stations and take in a mix of cola, isotonic drink, and water at each station. It always amazes me how awesome luke-warm, almost-flat, cheap no-name cola can taste in a situation like that :-) At some some of the aid stations I also had a bit of banana and this worked really well.

After 11k I even joked that this is too easy when I ran by where Esther and the family were. After 21k... not so much anymore. I finished the first 10k in about 1:05 including the bathroom stop, the second 10k in 0:55, and then I started to really struggle.

In the last loop I walked some even outside of the aid stations and even at the 29k mark for a bit to have enough energy to run into the stadium and finish. Finishing the last 10k in about 1:05 again and the whole the run in 3:05.

Garmin read-out:

So I crossed the finish line with a total time of 9:45:21 with only 45 minutes to spare for the time cut-off and a DNF. Close!

I was really hoping to not finish slower than 9:30 but I am totally content with the result as I gave all I had. I know that if my fuelling and the bathroom issue would have worked out differently this could easily account for the extra 15 minutes - more even.

Anyway, it is what it is and I am pleased. And sunburned to a crisp. And sore as heck. And ready for some more Beer and Schnitzel - and rest.

It was also fantastic to have so many of my family here (brother, 2x brother-in-law, one with wife and kid, uncle and aunt) and have a Esther as a supporter and fan extraordinaire and photographer.

Here are some photos on Esther's Flickr page: more photos will come when we have more time.

Also, here is a link to my brother-in-law's blog with some pictures (click on August):

Some Numbers:
  • 4k swim, 130k bike, 30k run in 9 hours and 45 minutes (1:20, 5:20, 3:05)
  • I finished 83rd in my age group (M40-44) out of 99 finishers and 116 starters.
  • Overall I finished 457th out of 579 finishers and 668 starters (not counting the Elite Athletes).
  • There were 12 Canadian Age Groupers (+1 Elite). I finished 6th Canadian and 2 of our team did not make the time cut-off.
  • One of the Canadians crashed on the bike and from what I hear had awful road rash down the side and back - and he still finished the race! In 8:39:44!! Ahh to be in the 20's again...

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Ride2Survive

It has now been nearly three weeks since the "big day" and I am still somewhat in awe of not only what I have accomplished for myself but what the entire group has accomplished - both for the cancer community with the fund-raising and awareness building as well as athletically. And, oh boy, what a big day it was!! I don't seem to get tired of telling people (and I am sure some wish I would!) and reminding myself: 400km - 12,000 feet of climbing - 15 hours of net riding time over the span of 19 hours - about $300,000 raised for the Canadian Cancer Society with almost $3,500 from the über-generous friends that have supported me. BIG DAY indeed!

Here now some of my ramblings on how this all came about and how I perceived this wonderful experience.

It all started very shortly after last year's Ride To Conquer Cancer. My friend Tim told me about this other ride to support cancer research called "Ride2Survive". A ride in which the riders get bussed up to Kelowna on a Friday and then spend the better part of Saturday riding back to Delta. What?? Are you kidding me?? All the way from Kelowna to Delta in one day? Surly not! But I Googled it and there it was. And I was quite intrigued...

We started talking some more about it and eventually made the plan to participate in 2010. We got other people roped into the idea as well and started forming a small team. Initially it was Tim, Lawrence, Kehl, and I. Then Alex, with whom we did the R2CC last year, was also keen and joined us. And when I told my friend Sean about it he was all over it as well. Over time, unfortunately, two of the team members had to bow out with injuries and two more were not able to commit to the required training time due to family commitments. So on Ride Day there was only Alex and I left. But we did have the pleasure of having the moral support, and so much more, from the other team members.

Sometime in late January we had the first R2S orientation meeting in Delta. It was interesting and when they presented the training plan for 2010 we quickly realized that we would not be able to have many training rides with the group. For once it would be very hard for us to go out to Delta as neither Lawrence nor I have a car, and also their training plan did just not jive with our combined R2S and Triathlon training plans. In the end I only managed to ride with that group twice but was very glad to get those rides in.

There were some training rides that really stuck in my mind though (all links go to the Garmin data for that ride):

  • Late last year a 3-hour ride in the pouring rain - by myself! Go figure… it rains and all of a sudden no one could make it.

  • First Century - a ride of 100 miles - that even included Mt. Seymour

  • The North Shore Trifecta: Mt. Seymour followed by Cypress Mountain and then Horse Shoe Bay. And yes, I know, HSB is not really a mountain but just some "rollers". But after Seymour and Cypress, every little hill felt like a mountain to me.

  • First 200k ride! If I recall correctly I did the second 100k on my own.

  • That crazy ride where we cycled to South Surrey to meet up with Leigh and Heather on 0-Ave. This ride had it all… torrential rain, sunshine, great company, great roads and shit roads and even some highways we were not supposed to be on. A garden variety flat and a spectacularly blown out tire as well as some stress injuries. Oh yea, and a Massey-Tunnel-Bike-Shuttle-Schedule-misread-by-Klaus… (sorry boys!).

  • And my favorite training ride: Whistler and back the day after my birthday. Fully supported by the most awesome TKU (Tracy and Kehl Union) who made sure we always had something to eat, our water bottles re-filled, and were safe and well entertained.

  • Finally, my second and last training ride with the R2S group I was able to do. We were supposed to do Cypress at the end but the weather was so horrible that it would simply be too unsafe. So the ride captains decided to do a loop around UBC instead. This was probably the coldest I have been on a bike!

Two weeks before Ride Day my training plan had the Oliver Half Ironman on it and while I thoroughly enjoyed the race, I did not do nearly as well on the swim and bike portion than I was hoping for. But Oliver is always a treat, I learned some more racing specific things (like not to have expired yogurt that has been cooking in the car the day prior for breakfast) and so I am not complaining.

On the Thursday before Ride Day I took the day off work, went with Esther to her store - the Minuteman Press on SE Marine Drive - in the morning and took a quick spin on my bike out to River Road and back. Then I drove to Delta to drop the bike off at Cap's South Shore Cycles and used the remainder of the day to prepare and make sure I did not forget anything to the next day.

Friday morning I went with Esther to the store again where Alex and a friend of his picked me up for the ride out to Cap's in Delta. There we got our ride numbers; fixed the fenders to make sure the flaps are long enough just in case it rains; loaded our gear and ourselves on the assigned busses and off to Kelowna we were.

I packed plenty of lunch stuff and reading material. The lunch stuff I really needed - but not the reading material… We first listened to a recording of stand-up comedian Russell Peters and followed by several episodes of season 1 of Modern Family. Lots of laughs! Quick stop in Merritt and the bus trip was over in a hurry.

In Kelowna we first checked into the Accent Inn where we Alex and I would share a room for whatever little sleep we expected to get. Next we went back to the church that was our Kelowna staging point, where dinner was going to be served and where we would have our ride-eve meeting.

The bikes were fitted with the fenders, handle bars turned straight again, the pedals put back on, ensured that the tires had the right pressure, and finally we put the ride numbers and some Ride2Survive stickers on.

While we were fussing with our toys err bikes, the awesome volunteers from the church made us a classic spaghetti dinner with meat sauce (no meat option available as well), Caesar salad, and garlic bread - and a wicked carrot cake for desert. Yum!!

While the church volunteers fixed the dinner, the R2S volunteers prepped tons of food for the next day. (Again with the food… always with the food… by now you surely will have noticed a pattern.)

After dinner we milled about a bit while the volunteers and the ride captains had a meeting on their own. After that there were a few more words of thanks and reminders of the rules for the next day from Kerry Kunzli - the driving force behind the R2S with his wife Vicki and daughter Aimee.

At around 7:00 PM we went around the room - some 100+ people - and everyone briefly mentioned their reason for participating in this event; whether as volunteer, solo or relay rider. This was incredibly emotional! Though it also had some funny moments and laughs. As insidious as cancer may be, this really showed that it has not been able to kill our good humor and the spirit of the people.

All the stories were deeply personal and moving, but three particularly stuck out:

First the well-spoken boy (I am not sure how old he is as I am not good with guessing ages - but not 15 yet) who so bravely told the story of how his mother passed away from cancer not long ago.
Then the lady who volunteered and was able to do so because of a new treatment option that allowed her to avoid chemo. New treatment that was discovered because funding was available for research!
And last but not least Dennis who 18 months ago was diagnosed with lung cancer. Dennis never smoked, worked in a coal mine, or had contact with asbestos - cancer didn't care. After having had a good part of his lung removed and was in extensive treatment he wanted to do something meaningful for the cancer community and signed up for the Ride2Survive. But he also wanted to do more… so he contacted Lance Armstrong, told him about his fight with cancer and what the Ride2Survive is doing, and got a letter from Lance in response just before the ride. Dennis told us that he spoke to some 17 doctors who worked on him during his ordeal and asked them why they came to work in BC. One common theme among the answers was because of how much the community here cares and supports cancer research with events such as this.

All in all, very powerful stuff!

Suddenly it was past 9:00 PM and it was time to try to get at least some sleep. Well, good luck with that… the excitement running pretty high and we had to get up early. Really early! Like 2:25 AM early!! There were going to be volunteers starting to shuttle people from the hotel to the church starting at 3:00 AM.

If we are willing to believe Alex unconditionally, I was snoring half the night and he got even less sleep. Well… I am not so sure about that?!

In any case, we did get up brutally early and were ready to head out of the door just before 3:00 AM. Actually… Alex did look a little tired.

Breakfast at the church was much needed coffee and oatmeal - and the group was off at 4:00 AM sharp!

As we rode out of Kelowna with the sun coming up it was absolutely stunning! We stopped briefly in Westbank after less than an hour of riding to load up some more food, adjust clothing as needed (it was still pretty nippy), and go for another quick pee-stop. (notice to my triathlon friends: yes, some people actually stop what they are doing to pee)

From here we stopped approximately every hour to hour-and-a-half for about 10 minutes to ensure we always had enough water and/or energy drink and food - and of course bio breaks.

The food available was absolutely astounding - both in quality and quantity! There were bananas, oranges, nut mix, sticky rice balls with all sorts of goodness in them, savory crepes, roasted potatoes, chips, luncheon meats, pretzels, twizzlers, and so much more! And that is not even counting the two longer stops where we also had warm food. To put it into perspective: over the 19 hour time span that included 15 net hours of riding at 25.3 km/h average speed covering 380 km… I gained weight!

The Volunteers! OMG the volunteers were awesome all around, but specifically when it came to fill up water bottles. At all stops they came and took the bottle/s from you and asked what you needed: water, eLoad, or Refresh. And next thing your bottles were filled and back to you or even on your bike already. And every stop all of the 80+ ride bags were lined up in case we needed anything. So they hauled all the bags out the truck, lined them up, and at the end loaded them back into the truck - for over a dozen rest stops! At the lunch/dinner stops there was no need to go to the food tables - the volunteers had a plate full with delicious food in your hands before you had chance to even think about getting one. At the Merritt lunch stop a volunteer asked me if I wanted some desert while I was still eating my main plate and I told her "thanks, maybe later, for new I want to see if there is some soup". Before I finished my plate she came back with soup for me! So lovely!! And yes, I also had some desert after that :-)
And at the Hope dinner stop she remembered me and asked if she could get me some soup.

As for the physical challenge, I was quite worried about going over two passes and being able to keep up with the group. Right at the beginning the Pennask Summit with an 800 meter climb over 30km and then the Coquihalla climb. But all my worries were unfounded and my training - including the constant pushing by Lawrence - did the trick. At all times I had good energy and found the pace very manageable. I was even able to briefly give some other riders a push that appeared to be struggling.

Here is a link to the Garmin output for the ride. Unfortunately the last 17.5 km are missing as my Garmin 310XT finally ran out of power. The actual end point was at Cap's South Shore Cycles on Scott Road and 80th Ave.

Having fuelled and hydrated properly - again due to the outstanding care and assistance by the volunteers - and using the energy and drafting benefits of the group along with the quite frequent mini breaks, I never felt depleted or physically exhausted. The hardest part for me was the mental fatigue. Getting up really early and having a 20+ hour day, 15 of which were spent cycling in a tight group where one has to be quite alert, does take quite a toll. The next hardest thing - or maybe this was the hardest, I am not sure - was the behind… Ouch! Let me just say: thanks for Chamois Butt'r! And also thanks for high quality cycling gear and the R2S veterans who recommended bringing as many kits as one has. I wore a total of three changes of gear - and liberally applied the Chamois Butt'r with every change! And still, toward the end I rode many a kilometer standing up.

Speaking of the end… coming up on Scott Road and towards 80th Ave and Cap's was totally surreal! Now Alex and I were riding together and he was so tired that he kept hitting all the potholes. By now it was pitch dark! The closer we got, the more people lined the road and cheered. Many - most - of them dressed in yellow to commemorate cancer survivors and victims alike. Except on the bikes we could really not see many details what with all the darkness and flash photography. The feeling was indescribable! Amazed at what we had done; happy to be off our bikes for the day; glad to see so many people coming out to support us; dead-freaking-tired!

Once we were in the parking lot and off the bikes our friends and supporters found us pretty quickly. Of course Esther was there, as were my friends Grahme, Kevin, Kehl, Gen (with cowbell), and Lawrence. Kevin also made good on his promise to cheer me in with a Stella at the ready - not that there was any doubt about that. And oh boy did that beer taste good! And it was all it took to get me completely plastered… cheap drunk I was that night for sure.

Alex' wife and son and his friend who drove us out to Delta the day before (was it really only the day before??) were there as well.

Kehl volunteered as the driver once again and gave us all a lift home. Once there I pretty much collapsed into bed and slept the better part of Sunday!

Participation in an event like this would not be possible without the help of some totallysuperwickedawesomecool people:

  • Before all, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my lovely wife Esther who has supported me all the way through training and not complained about the many Saturdays that I spent on the bike for the better part of the day. Or about when I was home that I was so knackered that I was not of much use for anything…

  • More than 60 individuals who supported me and donated almost $3,500 in total to the Canadian Cancer Society.

  • Tracy and Kehl (aka the TKU) who offered their time for an entire Saturday as support crew for one of our very long training rides - to Whistler and back.
    Thank you both so much - and we still owe you dinner!

  • Special thanks also to Lawrence who had to make the painful decision to pull out of the ride just over a month before Ride Day and who kept me very honest in the training. Dude… it paid off in spades; thanks!

  • All the other athletes - triathletes and runners alike - from the The Right Shoe training groups who kept giving me encouragement.

  • Big thanks to my tri and running Coach Lara Penno for her constant advice, unfailing moral support, and development of the training plan.

  • My buddy and lone remaining team mate, Alex, for hanging in there with the training despite missing a lot of time with his beautiful son.

These are just the people that made it possible for me to be part of this. Big, huge, heartfelt thanks to all of you!!

There are countless more people who must be thanked for making the entire ride a reality. This begins of course with the Kunzli family and extends from there to all the volunteers on the ride as well as in Kelowna and in Delta; the Ride Captains; the businesses that supported the R2S in various ways - first and foremost Cap's South Shore Cycles; the police officers who gave up their personal time off to escort the riders for the majority of the ride; and so many more.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Will I do it again? Probably; but not next year. Next year is booked solely for Ironman Canada - training and racing. After the R2CC last year and the Ride2Survive this year I think it is also not such a bad idea to give my network of friends a break from being hit up for donations. No matter how good the cause! They all have been so incredibly generous for two years in a row that it seems somewhat indecent to keep asking.

But I am not ruling it out that I am going to participate as a volunteer!

Should you do it? Absolutely!! If you ride a bike even just a very little - err scratch that. Even if you do not ride a bike at all but are not opposed to the idea of it and can commit to an admittedly somewhat time consuming training ride schedule, you CAN DO IT! And you will love it. And you will feel great about yourself. And you will have done something phenomenal to help beat cancer. And you will have improved your fitness level beyond what you thought possible. And so much more!

And if you cannot commit to the training or riding a bike is not for you, you can always volunteer and have just as much fun - without the saddle sores!

Official Ride2Survive Pictures on Flickr

Letter from Lance Armstrong to Dennis and the R2S Group

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jeez... I really need to post more often...

I just realized that I have not posted on this blog since over a year and a half. With the exception of some race updates.

So here is what (roughly) happened since the last post of November 2008...

  • I changed jobs and now work at HSBC Bank Canada since March 2009
  • I had a personal best time at the Vancouver Half Marathon in May 2009
  • I finished my first Half Ironman in Oliver in June 2009
  • I finished the Ride to Conquer Cancer
  • I did the Half Iron in Sooke in September of 2009 and qualified for the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in 2010 in Germany
  • I put on a really crappy marathon performance in Victoria in the Fall of 2009
  • I decided to participate in the Ride2Survive in 2010
  • I had a quite decent performance in the Vancouver Half Marathon early in May of this year
  • Now I am gearing up for another Half Iron in Oliver next weekend
  • In three weeks the Ride2Survive is on and I am stoked
  • August 1st - if all goes as planned - I'll toe the start line at the ITU LD Worlds (4-130-30) and hope to not completely embarrass myself
  • After that I'll focus again on running for the Portland Marathon on 10.10.10
  • Next Year: Ironman Canada if all goes well
  • And the year after that... who knows, but the idea is to take a year off "Big Plans" and just ride, swim, and run some and maybe do a marathon or so. 2012 is for re-charging.
Not much of a post I know... but hey! At least it is something.